Democracy Deployed

After a very long night of speculation, Bush II emerged as the clear winner of this year’s state-worshipping ritual. It was a resounding victory for the War Party, as it would have been even if the votes had gone otherwise; Kerry was no less belligerent, only somewhat more polite about it. Both Bush’s victory speech and Kerry’s concession asked God’s blessing for America; but what they mean by "America" is in fact its antithesis – the American Empire.

The British commentator who commented Tuesday that this election would "decide the fate of the world" was wrong. It may have decided the fate of America, signaling the final abandonment of values of the Old Republic, and it may well decide the fate of millions of individuals in the path of Imperial weaponry in the years to come. The greatest irony is that the "choice" between Bush and Kerry was no choice at all: both New England patricians favor the welfare state at home and the warfare state abroad. Candidates who opposed either concept were simply never given a chance.

One can only hope that this anticlimactic experience may convince at least some people opposed to the madness of war that democratic governments are not inherently peaceful, and that democracy is not the ultimate form of government. In fact, it may well be the ultimate political weapon of mass destruction.

A Most Democratic Occupation

"Voting is nothing more than a periodic public affirmation in the faith of systematic violence as a social system," wrote recently Butler Shaffer, a law professor in California and a libertarian philosopher par excellence. The truthfulness of his observation was demonstrated quite graphically in the occupied Serbian province of Kosovo.

The purpose of Oct. 23 elections, organized by the UN occupation authorities, was to manufacture legitimacy for the eventual declaration of Kosovo’s independence from Serbia. Indeed, the "success" of the elections was cited in all media as "proof" that Kosovo is ready for a decision on its final status. But were the elections really successful?

Well, no one was killed – which, given the violent nature of occupied Kosovo, is something to brag about. On the other hand, just over 50% of Albanians bothered to vote. The persecuted ethnic Serbs abstained almost entirely. Despite enormous pressure by every Imperial institution and the last-minute plea of President Boris Tadic (which seemed to cement his reputation as a stooge), only 0.03 percent of eligible Serbs showed up at the polls.

While the occupiers have expressed their regret, they also savagely attacked the Serbian Orthodox Church and Serb leaders in general, accusing them of "obstruction" and "intimidating" voters. Allegations of intimidation stem from just one anonymous quote, repeated throughout the Western press:

Asked by a Reuters reporter if he planned to vote, a Serb in the divided city of Mitrovica replied: "Are you joking? They’d kneecap me." (BBC)

As there is no verb in Serbian for "kneecapping," one could certainly argue the Reuters reporter – or his translator – had an overactive imagination. But the occupiers had the soundbite they needed. No matter that the real intimidation came from UNMIK, NATO, the EU, and the UN, whose representatives claimed repeatedly that a boycott of elections would mean the Serbs would forfeit their right to be heard in status talks (as if they ever intended to allow them that right in the first place).

Similarly, one should question the sincerity of UNMIK’s pronouncements to Serbs; Viceroy Jessen-Petersen’s public appeal for Serbs to vote appeared on the morning of the poll in the International Herald Tribune. Given the tardy timing and the choice of the medium – hardly one accessible to Kosovo Serbs – his sugary plea was obviously a hand-washing gesture for the Imperial public.

There is little doubt that UNMIK will fill the 10 spots in the "Kosovo assembly" set aside for Serbs with quislings who agree to collaborate with the occupation authorities. They will not be "representative" in any way of the 99.97 percent of people who chose to boycott the polls, but to UNMIK, NATO, Brussels, and Washington that will be entirely irrelevant. So much for democracy, then.

Also, no one should mention that the supposedly successful and democratic election is now subject to a complete recount

What "Standards"?

Kosovo’s UN administration is a product of the 1999 war, an illegal aggression waged by the "democracies" of NATO. The five viceroys so far may have all been Europeans, but the deputy head of mission has been a career American diplomat, for whom the occupation has been "a great, personally rewarding experience."

What is taking place in Kosovo may seem like an aberration, but is in fact regarded as a template for the future. For example, the impunity of NATO’s attack and invasion of a sovereign country, based on fabrications and propaganda, made the 2003 attack on Iraq that much more plausible.

For almost five years, UNMIK and NATO claimed everything was going well. In March this year, Albanian mobs proved them fatally wrong. What happened then illustrates the sheer vileness of the Empire in action. Instead of admitting its mistake and seeking redemption through actually pursuing justice, Kosovo’s occupiers first denied any wrongdoing, and then chose to reward the murderers and arsonists by accelerating the status decision.

In the aftermath of the Serb-boycotted elections, Viceroy Jessen-Petersen was interviewed by Reuters. He actually brushed off the open Albanian threats of violence to express concern about "Serb tactics":

"’I am concerned that there are clearly those determined to go to great lengths – even undemocratic means – to block progress, to block the way forward,’ he said. ‘That’s where the tension lies.’

"He said such tactics would not hold up a decision on independence, however: ‘Such obstruction should not be rewarded by an eventual delay in review of standards.’"

But of course, Serb "obstruction" to an illegal occupation and amputation of their land should not be rewarded, while Albanian ethnic cleansing should, and speedily. The "standards" Jessen-Petersen is speaking of are obviously a convenient fiction, defined any which way the Empire feels at the moment and quite inapplicable to the occupation authorities themselves.

And if anyone still harbors illusions about UNMIK’s sanity, here’s an excerpt from an official press release, quoting a deputy viceroy’s speech to graduating Albanian policemen:

"’There is no profession more noble, or more necessary, than the police to the preservation and maintenance of human rights principles and basic democratic freedoms,’ said Lawrence G. Rossin, the Principal Deputy Special Representative."

You can’t make this stuff up…

Revolting Exports

Apparently, Kosovo was merely a step toward a larger prize: securing control of Serbia. In October 2000, President Slobodan Milosevic of Yugoslavia (now just Serbia and Montenegro) resigned amidst what seemed a popular revolt following a contested presidential vote. The united opposition, DOS, accused Milosevic of "stealing the election"; the charge may well have been true, but as the DOS demonstrators burned thousands of ballot-boxes, it was conveniently impossible to verify. It did not take long for Washington policymakers to brag about funding DOS with "suitcases of cash" and claim credit for Milosevic’s ouster.

Originally a youth organization, Otpor ("Resistance") was credited with mobilizing the revolt. As it emerged that its members were trained and funded by the U.S. government and its enablers (e.g., George Soros), Otpor slowly lost influence and faded into political obscurity. The people of Serbia were soon disappointed by their "democratic revolutionaries," and eventually threw (some of) them out of power, to Empire’s great displeasure.

However, the core of U.S.-trained Otpor activists seems to have remained in the revolutionary business. In 2001, they trained a clone-group in Belarus, which targeted the pro-Russian president Lukashenko. In December 2003, they were behind Georgia’s "Rose revolution," which replaced American vassal Eduard Sheverdnadze with American vassal Mikhail Saakashvili. And according to recent reports, their latest "customer" is Ukraine, where a pro-NATO candidate is trailing the pro-Russian Prime Minister in the presidential runoff.

Bush II’s invasion of Iraq is not the only method of "regime change" used by the Empire – just the most obvious. For the more sensitive situations, there is always the "Serbian model": subversion, propaganda and lies, all under the guise of "democracy."

A Weapon of Conquest

Even a cursory glance at election coverage in any Eastern European country reveals a distinct pattern that has developed in the past decade or so. Whichever candidate is favored by the Empire is praised as a "democrat" and "reformer," while his opponent is inevitably tarred as "nationalist" or "hardliner." Whenever pro-Empire candidates lose, no matter how fairly, the elections are deemed "flawed" and "fraudulent." Whenever a pro-Empire candidate wins, no matter how fraudulently, the elections are praised as the pinnacle of democratic process. Elections in vassal states are routinely monitored by "independent" observers in Imperial service, but there are cries of outrage when the United States comes under similar scrutiny.

Obviously, this has nothing to do with fairness, popular will, representation, human rights, or indeed democracy itself – but everything to do with power. What befits the Empire is absolutely unacceptable coming from the vassals. The country founded on the principle of equality before the law has come to believe it is above the law; indeed, the Bush Doctrine insists America is the law.

Democracy, therefore, is not only a tyrannical form of domestic government, it has also become a weapon of Imperial conquest – a way for power-mongers in Washington (and to a lesser extent, Brussels) to take over nations and install compliant regimes without the trouble and expense of outright invasion.

It’s something to remember when contemplating the ballot box.

Author: Nebojsa Malic

Nebojsa Malic left his home in Bosnia after the Dayton Accords and currently resides in the United States. During the Bosnian War he had exposure to diplomatic and media affairs in Sarajevo. As a historian who specializes in international relations and the Balkans, Malic has written numerous essays on the Kosovo War, Bosnia, and Serbian politics. His exclusive column for debuted in November 2000.