Serbia: Strong People; Weak Leaders

The painful history of Serbia, bombed twice by NATO in the ’90s, remains overshadowed globally. The nation’s attempts to align with the West ended in betrayal, revealing the West’s control agenda. Recent events paint Serbia’s leader as a ‘Putin,’ facing external pressures.

| Updated: 28 December, 2023 4:05 pm IST

The Serbs have a traumatic recent past. They have been ‘democracy’ bombed by NATO twice – once in 1995 and then in 1999 – when they were what could be called ‘leftover’ Yugoslavs. Leftovers, because Croatia, Slovenia, and Macedonia, all had announced their independence from Yugoslavia by then.

To be carpet bombed twice would be nightmarish for any nation – big or small. Top it up with the heady Uncle Sam celebratory era of the unipolar moment, zero internet connectivity, completely controlled media, and absolute opacity about its intent and actions. So, during the second phase of ‘humanitarian’ bombing, NATO “launched its 78-day round-the-clock aerial assault on the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia without the approval of the United Nations Security Council. Over a thousand NATO warplanes delivered over 2,000 airstrikes in nearly 40,000 sorties, dropping over 20,000 bombs over the former Yugoslavia, killing thousands of civilian men, women, and children, as well as upwards of a thousand Yugoslav soldiers and police. NATO employed weapons considered criminal by international law…”

This pain or agony of the Serbians has had little to no reception around the world. Orthodox Serbs or Yezidis, unlike, say the Palestinians, don’t make good ‘victims’ – they are not newsworthy. This terrible catastrophe that NATO unleashed in the region remains reduced to just one word in the Western media: Balkanization. The reasons offered sound as flimsy as the West’s mouthful, ‘rules-based international order’, sounds these days.

The rare few people and institutions that wanted to collate the plight of the Serbs for the Western audience (read that as ‘English speaking audience’) have managed so, thanks to the convenience of the internet and the rise of alternate media. Let me lift a couple of more sentences from one such publication, to cement the ‘humanitarian’ nature of NATO bombing: ‘A NATO Spanish pilot confirmed that NATO jets were “destroying the country, bombing it with novel weapons, toxic nerve gases, surface mines dropped with parachute, bombs containing uranium, black napalm, sterilization chemicals, sprayings to poison the crops and [more]”, going on to call it “one of the biggest barbarities that can be committed against humanity.”’

And here is the funny thing: Both – Yugoslavia first, and Serbia later – tried to ‘befriend’ the West, by suspending (if only temporarily) their Slavic/Russian roots and culture. If that reminds you a little about India before 2015 – trying to Westernize to its best ability, forgetting/forsaking its civilizational/cultural roots – you would be on the right track there.

But let us get back to the Balkans. What got into them that made them think that they could be equal partners with the West?

Frankly, I do not know. It was Josip Tito, the popular communist revolutionary and leader of Yugoslavia, who had decided during the Cold War era, that a shift towards the West would be a good idea. This led to John Foster Dulles secretly (1954) offering him an alliance to stand against the Soviets; which would later morph to a level where Tito had to undertake an obligation to block the movement of Soviet forces into Italy. Since the country was already a NAM member, the IMF would secure an entry, bury it in debt, and eventually propose economic restructuring during the 80s. Yugoslavia was thinking it was being independent while there was already an official U.S. policy with National Security Decision Directive 133 during the mid-80s that decided destabilizing it would be a good idea. Eventually, the West would hack Croatia-Slovenia-Macedonia off the map, flood Bosnia with Wahhabi terrorists (that would massacre Serbs and create a pretext for NATO bombs), and in their final act serial-bomb the Serbs and achieve a complete disintegration of the country.

Once that was accomplished, the West propped their candidate of choice Slobodan Milosevic as the leader of Serbia. But he too, fell out of favour as he decided to continue with the socialist legacy of erstwhile Yugoslavia; that was the red line that he wasn’t supposed to cross. He tried to suck up to his Western handlers, by ditching the Serbs of Bosnia and Croatia, leaving them to suffer and die, but the West decided that it was too little too late. The Western media turned Milosevic into a villain (equivalent to Hitler). In 2000, a colour revolution was orchestrated (the Bulldozer Revolution), which overthrew Milosevic. He was arrested under the pretext of ‘war crimes’ – something that the International Criminal Tribunal at The Hague quietly cleared him off later (the Western media buried this news conveniently).

Milosevic died of a heart attack alone in his cell in The Hague and denied surgery that could have saved him. From being the West’s choice of candidate once, he died as The Butcher of the Balkans.

Now it is the turn of another poster child of the West – Aleksandr Vucic – to turn into a villain. The unavailability of the ‘Hitler’ tag (it hangs around Milosevic’s neck), has made the media dub Vucic as ‘Putin’. This, despite Vucic doing the bidding of the West, like making ‘concessions to the Western elites and their besotted Serbian minions and acolytes in their employ.’ His government has ‘clinched an “Individual Partnership Action Plan” with NATO, the same alliance that bombed it for 78 days in 1999.” Also, it is “an official EU aspirant and has informally recognized Kosovo & Metohija’s self-declared “independence” at Brussels’ urging.” Furthermore, “Serbia voted against its historical Russian ally at the UN over Ukraine in solidarity with its new Euro-Atlantic partners.”’

So why is he now the ‘Putin’ of Serbia? Because he didn’t join the ‘sanction Russia’ wagon, given Serbia’s gas dependence on Russia (reminds you of New Delhi?). And he didn’t want to send weapons directly to Ukraine (against Russia); he wanted a third-party transfer of the same. But such is the West’s lust for total control that these two appeals triggered them to unleash their toolkit gang.

Though it looks like Serbia just managed to avert a colour revolution and a coup, it has a treacherous journey ahead, even considering the waning power of the West.

Arindam Mukherjee is a geopolitical analyst and the author of JourneyDog Tales, The Puppeteer, and A Matter of Greed.

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