Reality Rift

To hear the Imperial commentariat say it, Russia is not a democracy. It doesn’t matter that its presidential elections on March 4 were documented in real-time by nearly a hundred thousand webcams, or that it featured five candidates, or that the winning candidate legitimately got the sort of majority Western politicians can only dream of. Simply put, the Empire’s preferred candidate – an expatriate oligarch playboy – didn’t win, and therefore the vote is to be considered rigged, undemocratic and illegitimate.

On the other hand, the Empire considers the government in Serbia entirely democratic, even though it was never actually elected. The current regime is actually an alliance of two coalitions that ran against each other in May 2008. Following the intervention of foreign ambassadors, they decided to set aside their differences from old Communist days and divide the spoils of power. Empire’s favorite politicians in Serbia run the gamut from corrupt and treasonous to deranged bigots, but the man who translated the Federalist Papers is derided as a "hardline ultranationalist" – whatever that is supposed to mean.

How can this be? Well, a high-ranking EU official pretty much admitted – during a 2007 Serbian election, actually – that democracy means whatever he decides it means. Consider also that one previous American Emperor famously quibbled about the meaning of the word "is" – and then recall that his administration and ideology have been lovingly restored by the present one.

Proving Ground for Hubris

To believe that reality can be shaped with nothing more than will-to-power is clearly a delusion. The problem arises when such belief is embraced by Imperial policymakers, and they actually succeed – to some extent, at least – in bending reality to their will. The Balkans Wars of the 1990s provided the opportunity to create a myth of the chivalrous Empire riding to humanitarian rescue – and of the evil Serbs, in need of being redeemed by “democracy”.

Not actual democracy, mind you. That would be too dangerous. Instead, the Empire staged a “revolution” in October 2000, using techniques developed specifically for the purpose to whip up popular anger over a “stolen” presidential election. Lo and behold, in a simply amazing coincidence, the protests culminated in the torching of the Parliament and the ballots therein, thus conveniently making it impossible to ascertain who actually won the contested vote.

That particular pattern – create a crisis by challenging a vote and then either force a new election or simply seize power outright – has been repeated elsewhere since. The most highly publicized of these “theme revolutions” – Ukraine – has been rolled back, and attempts at regime change in Russia and Belarus have likewise failed. But so long as Serbia can be invoked as an example of success, the revolution business will continue to boom, and the Empire’s delusions about creating reality will have some purchase in fact.

The Cartoon Opposition

It isn’t just the government in Serbia that is unelected, but what passes for the main opposition party as well. The “Serbian Progressive Party” was established in 2009, when the interim leader and a number of parliamentary delegates seceded from the Serbian Radical Party. They style themselves the largest opposition party in the country, but they never actually stood for election.

Furthermore, they “oppose” the government by claiming they’d implement the same policies, only better (!). For example, Progressives’ leader Tomislav Nikolic argues: “We want to be a new EU member but without joining NATO and without giving up on Kosovo.”

Yet that pre-requisite for talks about the candidacy (let alone negotiations) with Brussels are that Belgrade “normalizes relations” with the separatist regime in its occupied southern province. In other words, don’t call it recognition, just abandon any claim to the territory and treat it as a sovereign, neighboring state. And war is not war, but “kinetic military action,” all depending on the definition of “is.”

Also, EU officials are already saying that no Eastern European country has joined without first joining NATO, so Serbia ought not expect special treatment. Neither the government nor the “progressive” opposition are willing to tell this to the public, though, preferring fairy tales and brazen lies. The media, controlled either by the government or by foreign interests, happily oblige in maintaining the blackout.

Candidacy Gambit

On March 1, Brussels officially gave Serbia EU candidate status. The decision came on the heels of an “agreement” between Belgrade and the Pristina regime to allow “Kosovo” to be represented internationally, yet another in a string of Serbia’s unconditional surrenders. The EU had everything to gain and nothing to lose. The candidacy itself means nothing for Brussels; for example, Turkey has been a candidate since 1999, and there is no sign of it ever joining the EU. Consider that in Imperial eyes Turkey can do no wrong, while Serbia can do no right, then try and calculate Serbia’s odds.

The simple truth is that the EU doesn’t really want Serbia. It wants the territory of Serbia, but not the Serbs, or the Serbian state, or Serbian history, culture, anything. This mirrors the attitude of Austria-Hungary and Germany a century ago, and then 30 years later. Given the origins of the EU, or its current leadership, that ought not come as a surprise.

The Tadic regime, however, has staked everything on servitude to Brussels and Washington. Belgrade may now have to cancel trade treaties with Russia, borrow more from international banksters, and implement the legion of stifling EU regulations. Surely that will give a boost to the economy thoroughly ruined by 12 years of “democratic” abuse that followed war and sanctions.

Rather than Tadic’s fantasy vindication of his policies, the candidacy play actually resembles the circus with the SAA in 2008, also an empty gesture designed to intervene in Serbian elections.

Slaying the Dragon

The pesky thing about democracy, both real and make-believe, is that it does require the show of obeisance to the ballot box every so often. Limited to a 4-year parliamentary mandate by the Constitution – which it wants to change, but lacks the required majority – the government has called a new general election for May 6 this year.

Last time around, the “democrats” and “reformers” promised a better life. This time they won’t bother, and campaign on nothing but fear: if you don’t vote for us, they tell the befuddled populace, your lives will get unimaginably worse. Once again, Serbia is facing Franklin’s choice. This time, ignorance is not an excuse.

In the reality-based community, where words have meaning regardless of political expediency and desires of power, it is clear that the government in Serbia has nothing to do with democracy, and is in fact a puppet regime lacking all legitimacy. But this is bigger than a small Balkans country: so long as it can impose its will so completely on Serbia, the Empire will have a reason to believe it can shape all reality, everywhere.

Then again, no amount of Imperial tantrums could conjure a “better” reality in Russia. And there is definite symbolism in the fact that the Serbian vote was scheduled for May 6. In the Orthodox calendar, that is the feast of St. George, the fabled dragonslayer and liberator of the pious from a treacherous ruler.

Perhaps it will prove appropriate.

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.