Monday, January 09, 2017

No, THIS is what meddling in elections looks like

What began as isolated cases of Putin Derangement Syndrome years ago morphed into full-blown hysteria in 2016, when the Clinton campaign and its media enablers latched onto the accusations of "Russian hacking" to explain the humiliating disclosure of their plots and operations via internal emails from the DNC and John Podesta's private Gmail account.

On Friday, January 6, the Director of National Intelligence published a "report" basically asserting the Clintonites were right, and that Putin Himself ordered "interference" in US elections through, um... RT? The lion's share of this amateurish collection of "we assess" and "we believe" was devoted to RT, inexplicably relying on a primer produced in 2012 (so, there goes the argument the current conflict is due to 2014 "Russian aggression" in Ukraine...). The report, however, does say that "Disclosures through WikiLeaks did not contain any evident forgeries"  - meaning that the Clintonites lied when they said the purloined emails were being tampered with.

My assessment is that talk of "Russian hacking" is a desperate ploy to argue that Trump's victory was somehow the fault of malicious external forces, rather than Clintonite detachment from reality, logic and the American people. To borrow the Bard's description: A tale told by snarky idiots, full of sound and fury, but signifying nothing.

Now if you want to hear a story of how a country's democracy was actually meddled with... stay awhile and listen.

The "color revolution"

Yugoslavian parliament on fire, October 5, 2000.

The date is October 5, 2000. The place: Belgrade, Serbia, Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. "Spontaneous popular protests" erupted in the morning as activists of the Democratic Opposition of Serbia (DOS) claimed that President Slobodan Milošević had stolen the September 24 election, that the DOS candidate Vojislav Koštunica had won more than 50% of the vote, and that the runoff the government called for was therefore unnecessary and fraudulent. They then  proceeded to sack the Parliament building and burn the ballots stored therein, thus making their claim impossible to prove.

When police and military chiefs declined to confront the protesters, Milošević chose to resign and hand over power to Koštunica on October 7. Within two months, DOS won a parliamentary majority and its leader Zoran Đinđić became Prime Minister. A great victory for democracy, right?


DOS was basically cobbled together by the US government, its activists attending secret training seminars across the border in Hungary for months and bringing "suitcases of cash" into the country on their way back. Since Đinđić was polling in single digits, the Americans handpicked Koštunica, a mild-mannered law professor with an entirely unobjectionable past. By striking a deal for Milošević to depart peacefully, Koštunica disrupted the plan to install Đinđić through the force of arms - militia recruited from organized crime and Special Forces units was ready to go - meaning that Đinđić had to run for office on the ticket "DOS-Vojislav Koštunica." He then spent the next 26 months ruthlessly trampling Serbian laws in an attempt to purge Koštunica and his party from power - going so far as to abolish Yugoslavia itself.

Đinđić's disrespect for the law was legendary; it is telling that the favorite insult of his supporters for Koštunica was to call him a "legalist." By mid-2001, Đinđić's regime arrested Milošević on trumped-up charges and then sent him to the war crimes tribunal in The Hague through extrajudicial rendition.

Jacobin rule

But when Đinđić managed to secure all the levers of power in Serbia, he was assassinated under very murky circumstances in March 2003, and replaced by the even more fringe elements of DOS. Shortly before he was shot by a sniper outside the government seat, Đinđić complained about having to take orders from NATO ambassadors. The people who replaced him used the chaos of the assassination to purge their former mobster associates and blame a secret network of Milošević supporters whose existence was never proven. By the end of the year, however, they had made themselves so hated among the people that they lost the general election - to Koštunica.

The stooge

Within six months, Washington had a new stooge in place: Boris Tadić eked out a runoff victory over the Radical Party leader Tomislav Nikolić in June 2004. After his inauguration - a crude ripoff of the American ceremony - Tadić hastened to Washington and promised he would "do everything he can" to fulfill any and all US demands in perpetuity. In February 2008, he once again eked out a victory over Nikolić. (Shortly thereafter, the occupied Serbian province of Kosovo declared independence with US backing - and the regime in Belgrade did absolutely nothing to stop them). Then he called a general election - and lost to Koštunica and Milošević's old Socialist Party, now led by Ivica Dačić.

The set-up

Enter the ambassadors, again. After "friendly chats" with Americans, Brits, Germans, etc. Dačić - who ran on a platform opposing DOS and Tadić - suddenly changed his mind and entered a coalition with Tadić. The Socialists went from being blamed for all the failures of the "democratic reformers" after 2000 to being the bright shiny hope of Serbia's Euro-Atlantic integrations.

Meanwhile, the Radicals went from the biggest opposition bloc to almost extinct, after Nikolić and his followers left the party in September 2008 - taking the parliamentary seats with them, under a law enacted by DOS - and reinvented themselves as the Progressive Party. That was also masterminded by US and British consultants. Actual Serbians would have been cognizant of the fact that the historic Progressives in Serbia were an undemocratic party used by the last Obrenović king for a pretense of democracy, and vanished after losing a free and fair election to the Radicals.

The new stooge

Anyway, in 2012 Dačić jumps ship once again and makes a pact with the Progressives, who take over from Tadić. Nikolić's deputy Aleksandar Vučić became the First Deputy Prime Minister in Dačić's cabinet, but did not rest until he could become full Prime Minister in 2014. And though it ran as opposition to Тadić's betrayal of Serbian interests in regards to Kosovo and EU negotiations, within months the new government proved to be worse in every respect. As in, more beholden to foreign masters and more disdainful of the people that ostensibly got it elected.

Democracy, what's it good for?

I know it's a lengthy tale, and I applaud you if you stuck with me so far. Even so, it barely scratches the surface of how the Clinton, Bush and Obama administrations systematically defiled every principle of democracy, human rights, rule of law, national sovereignty, international law, or common sense, in order to install and maintain a client regime in Serbia. The US outright created political parties (DOS, the Progressives) and assembled post-electoral coalitions (Tadić + Dačić in 2008, then Dačić-Vučić in 2012).  There have even been claims that the 2014 elections were shady, and that Vučić manipulated ballots to arrange for some parties to enter the parliament while others were left below the 5% threshold.

The entire sordid experience has soured the Serbians on "democracy" in which it absolutely makes no difference who one votes for when it's the ambassadors who make and unmake governments, and give them marching orders. Notably, Russia refused to counter this US meddling by sponsoring its own puppet party, despite the fact that not a small number of Serbians explicitly asked it to.

Make of that what you will.


dave said...

@CubuCoko What do you know about the Belgrade - Kosovo train crisis? I know they painted the train with the text "Kosovo is Serbia".If the train just recently got painted with that text, then i think Belgrade tried to provoke the Albanians (we all know they are nuts) because of elections or they really want to annex northern Kosovo (Belgrade thinks they have Trump and Russia on their side?). If the train was long ago painted with that text then the Albanians were the ones provoking Belgrade. Anyway i think the Trump presidency will have big geopolitical repercussions in the Balkans.

Reggie Meezer said...

Yes, that is a great example of meddling in elections. In keeping with your January 9th post, here's another entity that always has foreign meddling in their elections: