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[Nettime-bold] [ot] [!nt] \n2+0\ NATO - social swarms of western serfs

Soft Money and Hard Threats

By Sara Flounders, Co-Director, International Action Center
September 27, 2000

On Sept. 26 the State Election Commission in Yugoslavia announced the 
results of the Sept. 24 elections. The candidate backed by the U.S. 
government and the European Union, Vojislav Kostunica, received 48 
percent of the vote to President Slobodan Milosevic’s 40 percent. 

Since neither candidate received more than 50 percent, a run-off election has 
been set for Oct. 8. 

Kostunica’s immediate reaction was to reject participation in a run-off 
election and demand that Milosevic concede defeat. Bill Clinton, Britain’s 
Foreign Secretary Robin Cook and other NATO leaders who bombed 
Yugoslavia in 1999 also demanded Milosevic concede.

The first point for the whole international movement that opposed NATO 
war against Yugoslavia to keep in mind is that the Yugoslav elections were 
not “free and fair.” Imperialism stole the election through its blatant pressure, 
bribery and interference.

The elections raise a vital question. Will Yugoslavia be turned over to the 
Western banks and corporations? Will the assets of industrial enterprises be 
broken up and sold off, as they have been in every other country in Eastern 
Europe, Russia and the former Soviet Republics? Will the majority of the 
population be relegated to living below the poverty line?

The Sept. 24 elections involved three layers of voting. Besides the 
presidential vote, there were also municipal elections, in which the U.S.-
backed opposition won many cities and towns. 

There was also an election for the Yugoslav Federal Parliament. The coalition 
of the United Left, the Socialist Party and the SP’s sister party in 
Montenegro won a strong majority of both houses. In Montenegro it was 
unopposed, as the pro-Western government abstained from the election. 
Under Yugoslav law, Parliament has more rights than the president and 
directs the government, electing the prime minister.
But a setback for Milosevic in the presidential election puts more at risk than 
the future of one individual. He was the main target of the war carried out by 
U.S. and NATO—the imperialist world powers—and because of that he has 
come to symbolize Yugoslav resistance. In addition, he was at the center of 
the coalition of forces that led Yugoslavia during the 78 days of bombing.

All the social gains of an independent country that had broken free of 
imperialist enslavement and held out during years of encirclement and war 
are now endangered.


In this election the U.S. and European Union governments used every 
possible dirty trick, corrupt practice and payoff, and then bragged about 
them. Threats of bombing, promises to end nine years of sanctions, 
intimidation and military maneuvers heightened the tension.

On election day the Pentagon and Croatia held their largest joint military 
exercises ever--a joint landing on an island in the Adriatic near Montenegro, 
part of Yugoslavia, to simulate an invasion. Fifteen British war ships have 
now moved into the Mediterranean. A U.S. aircraft carrier in the Adriatic Sea 
has moved closer to Montenegro.

The major media here—the New York Times on Sept. 20 and the Washington 
Post on Sept. 19--have described in detail the exact amounts funneled into 
the opposition parties, radio and TV stations and newspapers. The U.S. 
Congress publicly voted on $77 million in open interference. Then on Sept. 
25, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill to send another $105 
million to aid anti-Milosevic forces in Serbia and Montenegro.

These articles describe suitcases of cash handed over at the border, endless 
supplies of computers, fax machines, cell phones and the trainers to use 
them. These goods have been passed to the opposition through front 
organizations, NGOs and media outlets. 

Weeks before the election, Western-funded polling organizations announced 
that Kostunica would win a sweeping victory. For the West’s media 
monopoly beaming into Yugoslavia, there were only two options. Either 
Milosevic would lose or there would be massive fraud. 

The U.S. State Department announced that even if Milosevic won by 
overwhelming odds, Washington would refuse to accept the results. 


Those who opposed NATO bombing in 1999 and all the militant activists 
who have taken on the International Monetary Fund, World Bank, 
globalization and sweatshops have a stake in what happens next in 

Are they ready to stand in solidarity with whatever steps are necessary to 
keep another country from being forced under the boot of the IMF and 
World Bank?

Washington, London, Paris and Berlin have openly intervened and bragged 
of it. In the face of these admissions, those in office in Yugoslavia have 
every right to void the elections and disqualify the opposition.

In the United States, France, Britain or Germany, would such an election have 
been allowed to continue? In the United States no political organization is 
permitted to accept funds from another government for political purposes 
unless it publicly registers as an agent of a foreign power. The U.S. ruling 
class is determined that only it should control the electoral process.

Any U.S. politician found accepting contributions, bribes or payments of any 
kind from a foreign government is disgraced, attacked and could face criminal 

Just the allegation that the Clinton administration accepted a contribution 
from an ethnically Chinese businessperson who might have had contact with 
China sent every politician running for cover. 


It is important to recognize that the Yugoslav government has the moral right 
to nullify this election on the basis of outrageous outside interference. It has 
every right to refuse to proceed with further elections under conditions of 
war, sanctions and occupation. 

The Parliament has every right to establish a criminal inquiry into the funding 
sources of the opposition. Government prosecutors have every right to 
indict and jail the politicians and publications that have corrupted the 
election process. 

The masses have every right to go into the streets and denounce the 
opposition parties and publications as agents of a foreign power.

Kostunica, until now a minor politician considered a Serb nationalist with a 
long history of anti-Communism, consistently maintains that he has not 
accepted any money from the West. He has even criticized the NATO 
bombing and sanctions. No Yugoslav politician could win significant votes if 
seen as a NATO stooge. 

It may be true that he personally has not pocketed any money. But 
Kostunica has surrounded himself with political parties and organizations 
that are toadies to the NATO countries. His whole campaign has been 
publicized by radio and television stations and newspapers wholly and 
openly financed by grants from Washington and Berlin. 

He is supported by the U.S. and European imperialist powers because his 
political program, even if it criticizes NATO, embraces the very policies that 
NATO is demanding. He is the easiest of the politicians to make into a pawn 
because he has no personal base. He is the candidate of a bloc of 18 small 
feuding political parties that have no common interests or ideology. They are 
united only by opposition to the government and their willingness to accept 
foreign funds.


The big U.S. monopolies and banks and Washington itself have never 
accepted an election as “free and fair” if it put their class interests in danger 
or brought the masses onto the scene. Since the end of World War II the 
U.S. has organized the overthrow of more than 50 governments.

In Chile in 1973 the CIA organized a military coup to drown the progressive 
legally elected government in blood. It did the same in Iran in 1953 and in 
Guatemala in 1954.

In 1990 the U.S. orchestrated the overthrow of the Sandinistas in Nicaragua. 
Washington had cobbled together a 20-party coalition whose only aim was 
to overthrow the government and restore the old propertied class. It 
promised to end the “Contra” war and sanctions and provide massive aid if 
the popular Sandinistas were defeated. 

In this situation, much like the one today in Yugoslavia, Washington 
succeeded in manipulating the election to drive out the Sandinistas. But the 
U.S. never came through with the aid, and now some of the lowest-paid 
sweatshops in the world operate in the “Free Trade Zones” of Nicaragua.


Yugoslavia, like Nicaragua, illustrates the dangers of holding an election in 
the midst of an unrelenting war, sanctions and occupation of part of the 
country by foreign armies. With their dominance of the world media, the lure 
of material goods, the bribes and the threat of further punishment, these 
powers were able to reach right into the country. 

President Milosevic was trying to get a mandate by calling a vote when the 
opposition seemed divided, weak, discredited. But the imperialists quickly 
strengthened them using tactics refined over decades of interventions.

Yugoslavia, a small, beleaguered country maneuvering to survive, has 
allowed dozens of openly pro-imperialist parties to maintain offices, staff, 
publish newspapers, organize and to participate in elections. These 
concessions have only further emboldened the enemies of the Yugoslav 

Even though the imperialists complained that they were not allowed to 
monitor the elections, hundreds of foreigners did come in as election 
observers and certified that they were “free and fair”--that the government 
honestly and legally abided by all election procedures. But this shifted 
attention from the actual fraud taking place: the massive intervention and 
intimidation by imperialism.

The political opposition was allowed to engage in practically unrestrained 
acceptance of foreign assistance, advice and media hype. The whole process 
was corrupted by an army of Western advisors and pollsters.


Reports from election observers and even the big-business media show there 
is a hard core of working-class support for Milosevic from those who see him 
as a defender of the country against NATO. Even among those who naively 
voted for Kostunica out of anger against Milosevic, there are many who 
want to resist Western imperialism.

The question facing the Yugoslav masses now is will the Western 
multinationals, on the basis of this election distorted by intervention, be able 
to capture the state apparatus and open the door to super-exploitation?

Will the enemy that failed to break Yugoslavia’s resistance with 78 days of 
bombing be able to take over by manipulation of an election--or will the 
government be able to resist? 

If the left organizations and patriotic parties in Yugoslavia resist, will the 
progressive and working-class and anti-war movements in the West defend 
them against an inevitable propaganda blitz from the West and a possible 
new military campaign?


One contribution to this effort could be a Commission of Inquiry to examine 
the corrupting role that the U.S. government, the European Union, their 
NATO military arm and their international financial organizations played in 
the Yugoslav election.

This Inquiry could gather and publicize information on these institutions’ 
efforts to subvert and overthrow the Yugoslav government. It could also 
gather information on the open and secret funding of political parties, 
organizations and publications by U.S. government agencies.

The Inquiry could deepen international understanding of Yugoslavia’s 
problem by incorporating testimony and reports on U.S. intervention in the 
internal affairs of other governments. This would include the overthrow of 
other popular governments in Guatemala, Panama, Chile, Iran and Indonesia 
and also intervention in elections in Italy, Haiti, Nicaragua, Guyana and 

Activists in other NATO countries could organize their own Commissions of 
Inquiry and public hearings to examine how this latest intervention violated 
their laws. Similar information came to light earlier when hearings and 
tribunals in many countries put U.S. and NATO leaders on trial for war crimes 
against Yugoslavia.

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