Has the Color-Spring ‘Maidan’ come to Serbia?

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May 3rd, 2016 ~ Fort Russ News ~

~ By: Joaquin Flores ~

On Saturday, April 30th, the US staged a successful protest in Belgrade, inaugurating the next phase of the push to destabilize Serbia with the liberal plus nationalist alliance. On the nationalist side is the DSS and Dveri who want closer ties with Russia and oppose Serbia’s entry into the EU and NATO. Their criticisms of the present government of Vucic began over his moves to bring Serbia closer to the EU and NATO. But over the last several years, they have gradually made common cause with Vucic’s liberal opponents, whose issues with him are the opposite: they view him as being disingenuous about his official pro EU position, and lambast him for a series of delays and foot-dragging maneuvers which echo similar complaints registered by the EU’s officials. 

At the present time, the US and EU are farther apart on matters of war and stability than they have been since the 2003 period, when EU leaders opposed the US’s middle-east interventionism. While the EU has said it wants Serbia to eventually become a member, it is no hurry to do so. A series of internal problems, a weakening Euro and conflict in Ukraine over related issues, can shed light on why the EU simply cannot take in new member states. Meanwhile, the US is pushing a different course, one of regional destabilization, and a general push to bring elements of chaos from the Middle East into the Balkans. 

And so the Serbian state, not just the government, is scheduled for deletion. In its place would be at the very least three additional micro-states including Vojvodina in the north with a capital in Novi Sad, and cutting out a south-west entity of Sandjak with a capital in Novi Pazar, with a radicalized Islamic-Bosniak government, looking towards Sarajevo for support. The US actively supports and funds such secessionist movements through its various direct and indirect institutions.

So it is not difficult to understand that efforts to topple this government will lead to the short destruction of the actual state. That said, while DSS and Dveri are playing the nationalist side of the liberal plus nationalist alliance, they have many principled and intelligent leaders and supporters who, during the next phase of the present political crisis, may be able to make a critical turn and oppose attempts by the liberal side to impose its openly pro-EU and pro-NATO will. 

L to R: Sasa Radulovic, Cedomir Jovanovic, Boris Tadic, Bojan pajtic, Sanda Raskovic Ivic, Bosko Obradovic

The color-spring tactic is a well understood method, and has particular stages, structures, and social-psychological dimensions in connection with mass politics that can be easily diagnosed. 

Of course, Serbians too can normally recognize this tactic when it happens in Syria, Egypt, Armenia, and even recognize that it happened in Serbia before. But it is difficult for a people to see the process when it is happening, in real-time, when they are in the middle of it. Emotions take over, political jargon becomes a mantra, the planners of destabilization using even experimental methods like NLP (neuro-linguistic programming), and advanced social psychology which is weaponized and used against mass publics. 

Inside of Serbia, among nationalist supporters of the opposition, it is nearly impossible to understand they are being used because the population almost always gets caught up in the official vs. alternative media discourse. The target population is induced into a form of group-think, and recite the talking points of mainstream media institutions like Balkans CNN and similar. This doesn’t happen all at once. On the nationalist end, which is fully aware that the US wants to destabilize Serbia, it begins with criticisms of Vucic for basically legitimate reasons. But when this same milieu is exposed to other kinds of criticisms, stemming from an entirely separate and liberal world-view, it is only the ‘generalized’ criticism of Vucic that is important. The liberal criticism gets absorbed by the nationalists, for the very fact that it is general criticism. 

Indeed, Serbs are politically educated, but their passions are being manipulated, redirected, and turned inward. It is normal and rational that no one wants to feel they are being made a fool, or that they could so easily be duped. 

Serbs are projecting their desire to have full sovereignty onto their leaders, and this is good.

But this basic psychological need is being warped into its opposite. The Serbian nationalists hate Vucic in fact for being a real representation of reality. They hate that Serbia is a quasi-vassal state that reasonably seems to be on the way to becoming a full vassal state. And they hate the leader of their country, but this is a projection of national shame onto the national representative. This is an outright manipulation of Jungian and Freudian psychology, and outside the realm of rational discourse. We can understand this in simple terms as a man who is a slave, and hates this condition of slavery. But hatred of this condition is warped into hating the other slaves, for these are the objective reminders, the real-existing representations of the condition of slavery itself. 

The truth is that Serbia does not have full sovereignty, but Serbs want to arrive at through politics what they could not achieve through war. Vucic is also a semi-vassal to the western powers which want to destroy Serbia, but his rational political need to represent Serbia as ‘winning’ (this was the campaign slogan), and himself as having power, is meant to build confidence and support among Serbian people. But by the organizers of the color-spring coup, this strength is attacked, and the real existing weakness is exposed. People have compassion for weakness, but weakness is not a quality suitable for a leader.

That Serbs are inwardly focused on relatively petty issues of ‘transparency’ and a marginal difference in election results is a great success on the part of the US. This is the language of post-war Serbian politics.

But Vucic is a reflection of Serbia’s division, not the cause of them. It is irrelevant that Vucic has done this through purchasing media power, through threats, through corruption, and through manufacturing consent. That is a larger philosophical problem with representative democracy itself; there are zero models in the world where electoral outcomes are not greatly influenced by these ‘corrupting’ mechanisms. 

Alexander Vucic

Thus the psychological condition of the unwitting supporters of the color-spring tactic begin to embrace the following irrational supposition: 

“Vucic is strong, because he is weak – we can mobilize now to attack him while he is strongest, which can succeed because he is weak. Everything he does as a show of strength is a sign of the regime’s weakness. This weakness is bad for Serbia because it puts us into the hands of the enemy, and what we need instead is a government based on strength. Democracy is a lie and was imposed on us by the enemy, but Vucic is bad for concentrating power in Serbia and bucking the EU’s democratic norms of rule of law and transparency. All of this makes us look uncivilized to the west, and we want to appear responsible to them, but of course the problem is that we are being drawn closer to the west and everything they represent is hypocritical.” 

Corruption in liberal democratic political processes is the norm and is correctly understood as part of the game itself, and absolutely not ‘breaking the rules’ of the game. 

Thus, it is hypocritical for official power centers and major institutions of US power, like the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) to officially lambast Vucic for his autocratic tendencies, (http://foreignpolicy.com/2016/04/15/the-budding-autocrats-of-the-balkans-serbia-macedonia-montenegro/) and his lack of transparency. 

When nationalist opposition leaders parrot these talking points, it is a somewhat pathetic hand-me-down cynicism and hypocrisy of both Washington and Serbia’s liberals. 

These hand-me-down talking points are evidence that the nationalist opposition is not the captain of the opposition ship. They are not calling the shots – they will be protesting in their hearts against Vucic’s conciliatory realism in relation to the EU and NATO, but it is the liberal power structures that will be empowered to take power and complete the process of Serbia’s destruction in the event that the Vucic government is toppled. 

The broader geopolitical reality is this: the US is actively working against the EU’s energy needs, and would rather create a Fourth Balkan War than allow the EU and Russia to agree on trans-Balkan energy projects, or a Chinese Silk Road and transportation project.

While accusations about Vucic’s corruption are probably true, it is entirely beside the point: Vucic’s approach is a rational-realist approach to actual political management, which is in fact pervasive in 100% of all cases in the world. This is how it works in all western-style liberal-democratic societies. The nationalists understand this, and yet parrot liberal talking points.

The tactic of the color-spring revolution is adjusted to the internal political and social psychological climate of each targeted nation-state. In Serbia, then, to succeed, the tactic must seem organic and must not rely on the traditional levers or vectors of more overt foreign influence. 

For a country that has previously experienced a color revolution, it must be something of an inverse tactic; it must appear quite different from how it was applied before. The mantra that ‘this time it’s different’ is nevertheless pervasive, to the ultimate defeat of the Serbian cause.

Another element of the propaganda of the color-spring tactic is to confuse the public’s understanding of cause and effect. Vucic then goes from being correctly understood as the product of Serbian reality, to the creator of Serbian reality. He goes from being the target of instability, to the source of instability. It doesn’t need to be said that the tactic cannot work otherwise. Populations do not want instability. The main accusation used in the science of the color spring tactic, is to accuse the target of instability as being the source of it. The solution they propose is for the government to step down, ostensibly to end the instability, but by definition is in fact the final realization of it.

Of course on the nationalist side of the alliance, many of its active organizers and all of its enthusiastic participants are entirely oblivious to the plot underway, and would actively and passionately deny it, resorting instead to the media-created talking points against Vucic. It is the next stage of an alliance, which the leaders of parties which ought to have nothing to do with each other, have sworn to maintain until the ‘Vucic regime is toppled’. The use of the term ‘dictator’ and ‘regime’ should be carefully noted, and understood.

The US’s direct assets like the openly pro-US and pro-EU Tadic, Jovanovic and Radulovic, (whom US Ambassadors Kirby and Scott publicly campaigned for) took the stage alongside nominally ‘intelligent’ nationalists like Raskovic-Ivic and Obradovic. 

What is ridiculous of course is that Vucic’s positions rest somewhere in between the extreme ends of the two ‘opposition’ groups, though nominally closer to the EU end. 

In fact, if the liberal plus nationalist opposition parties were to create a government together, the actual position that they would rest on and agree to would not be very different from the position of the Vucic government today. That is also a clear indicator that the politics of realism is being overtaken by the politics of the impassioned and the vitriolic. 

Cutting through the daily political jargon permeating print and digital media, we can focus in on the specific tell-tale contradictions of the two groups composing this liberal plus nationalist alliance. 

The first group, Tadic et al, are leaders of the pro-US, anti-Russian, pro-NATO political order either installed ‘from above’, or existing from the political space created thereafter by the US following the NATO bombing of Belgrade.

The second group, Raskovic-Ivic et al are the anti-US anti-NATO politicos who have made their careers denouncing NATO and the politics of the first group, while also attacking the more populist and traditional center of Serbian nationalist politics of the Radical Party because of its association with the war and the old regime. In this sense, this second group of nationalists also makes the same socio-psychological appeal to mass publics as the liberals, in wanting to make a break with the past. 

The first group, the US+EU group, denounces Vucic for ‘taking too long’ to enter the EU, and failing to meet the ‘transparency and accountability’ standards set by the EU – by which they mean foreign monitoring and direct political control by Brussels or Washington. They make apologies for NATO and, if in power, would push Serbia towards NATO membership (something which Vucic opposes). 

The second group, the anti-US, anti-EU group, denounces Vucic for the position that ‘eventually Serbia will enter the EU’, and in fact wouldn’t mind problems with transparency or accountability themselves if they were in power (and this is not a criticism, but reflects realism). 

But Serbians supporting the liberal plus nationalist alliance are hypnotized – Pensions, industry, wages, EU, NATO, Kosovo, Croatia, Albania, Russia, and regional destabilization no longer matter, even though at first they did – all that matters now is repeating the mantra: 

‘Vucic Bad, Corruption bad, Election rigged. Vucic must go!’.

Serbian ‘nationalists’ will sacrifice their state on the altar of the ideal, and strangely in so doing, have even lost sight of what that ideal was to begin with.

The US is forcing Vucic to make a fool of himself. That’s in part the reason for bringing in advisers like Tony Blair, to make sure that Vucic engages in some of the politics of self-defeat. Vucic is in fact a direct reflection of Serbia’s actual reality, there is in truth very little that is possible for him to do in either direction (either pro EU/NATO or pro Eurasia) beyond his current course. 

That frustrates people, because reality is frustrating, but then this frustration is anthropomorphized into the person of Vucic.

The entire color-spring tactic entirely depends on this phase, having friendly terms with the targeted leader, and various methods of carrot and stick diplomacy to get that leader to go along with a series of successively unpopular programs (reduction of pensions, privatization, austerity, debt, inflation and debasement of the currency, etc.). 

There is of course, much more to be said. In the coming weeks and months, the meandering intrigues will most definitely be difficult to project. There are numerous possibilities which can be mapped out, and some surprises are no doubt in store for us. The Serbian nationalists supporting this destabilization campaign may still be able to have their course corrected, and be a valuable counter-Maidan from within the Maidan, which has become one of Russia’s counter-hegemonic specialties. 

is the director of the Center for Syncretic Studies based in Belgrade. He is a
political consultant and president of the Independent Journalists Association
for Peace, and editor in chief of Fort Russ News. He has written extensively on
the Color Revolution tactic in connection with Fourth Generation Warfare) 

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