Belgrade adopted the "American look" during the rule of Zoran Đinđić (2000-2003), who was ideologically closer to European socialists. Vojislav Koštunica, who at the time presided over Yugoslavia, was a scholar of American politics and philosophy; he had translated the "Federalist Papers," published a study on De Tocqueville's "Democracy in America," and praised Hannah Arendt's "On Revolution," a paean to the American revolution and republican spirit.
Many other Serbian politicians, philosophers and intellectuals have been fascinated by American values and ideals. However...
Everything changed with February 17. The majority of the Serbian political class and intelligentsia now thinks ill of the USA. Having any sympathy for American policy is considered a sign of feeble-mindedness (or lack or morals). Even classic American values, from liberty to rule of law, are seen as having been betrayed by the Americans themselves. The minority voices that advise the Serbs to stop opposing U.S. policy invoke "pragmatism" and "realism" - i.e. the argument of force – rather than some moral or political superiority of the American position.
After everything that happened in 1995, 1999 and 2008, the United States have no true friends in Serbia. There are spokesmen and followers, yes, but no friends - no one left who believes we share the same values. Once, American friends in Serbia shared the ideals of freedom and democracy. Today, American "friends" in Serbia mostly share American money. That's symbolic, in a way. The eager translator of the "Federalist Papers" and the commentator on "Democracy in America" is today dismissed by the American government as a "hardline Serb nationalist." Meanwhile, Washington praises the politician who restored the notion of the "iron broom" into domestic political discourse as a "young and dynamic pro-Western leader." Again, that's symbolic."
(Slobodan Antonić, writing in Politika, March 20, 2008)
Something will have to change, Antonić concludes: either the sign, or the U.S. policy towards Serbia. His bet is that after the May 11 elections, there will be a new symbol in the Serbian government's press room. I would not be surprised.
The one people in the Balkans that actually believed in American values, that actually admired America, whose community in America has always proudly served in the military (leading the way in Congressional Medal of Honor recipients, for example) and took pride in being the ally of America in two world wars... and that's the people Washington picked to demonize, embargo, besiege, bomb and occupy? It almost beggars belief.
This - rather than oil prices, or deficits, or the falling dollar - is why America won't be a great power much longer. It has betrayed its own principles and values in pursuit of power.
I notice that no one in Washington is asking "Who lost Serbia?" they way they asked about China, Korea, or Vietnam. Maybe because they know the answer. And maybe because the question isn't who lost Serbia, but who lost America?
They know the answer to that, too.