Hague Tribunal Exonerates Slobodan Milosevic for Bosnia War

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Re: Hague Tribunal Exonerates Slobodan Milosevic for Bosnia

Postby admin » Sat Jun 10, 2017 3:16 am

Template Revolutions: Marketing U.S. Regime Change in Eastern Europe (EXCERPT)
by Gerald Sussman and Sascha Krader



Financing is the mother’s milk of regime change, particularly for organising communications, media, and propaganda, staging protests, conducting poll watching, and managing the campaign of selected opposition candidates. With a commitment of $23 million in USAID spending towards the strategic objective of ‘democratic transition’ in Serbia (with a population of 10 million) in 2000 (US Embassy in Yugoslavia 2002), the opposition was empowered and emboldened to contest the election and force Milošević from power. If there were any doubt about State Department objectives, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, its propaganda channel and website aimed at Central and Eastern Europe and Russia, was quite explicit. It declared that total U.S. government assistance to the anti-Milošević Serbian student movement Otpor and the Democratic Opposition of Serbia was $10 million in 1999 and $31 million in 2000 (Bacher 2002).8 George Soros's Open Society Institute provided the opposition an additional unspecified pool of money (Corwin 2005).

U.S. funding also supported ostensibly nonpartisan NGOs that were contesting Milošević's authority. One NGO, the Centre for Free Election and Democracy (CeSid), in fact worked hand-in-glove with the Democratic Opposition multiple political party alliance in Serbia (Cevallos 2001). CeSid was created by disgruntled anti-Milošević activists following the protests of 1996-1997 and was funded by Soros’s Open Society Institute and NDI, which trained its leaders in Bulgaria (MacKinnon 2007, 41, 44, McFaul 2005). On election day, each Serbian poll monitor was paid five dollars (U.S. Institute of Peace 2004), a little more than the average daily wage.9

Other recipients of Western aid included the oppositionist Radio B92 (McClear, McClear, and Graves 2003, 19), the Association of Independent Electronic Media, which received NED funds for a campaign named ‘Rock for Change, Rock the Vote’, and the Belgrade Center for Human Rights, which also got a NED grant to ‘encourage Serb academics, journalists and civic activists to participate directly in the formation of policy for the democratic political opposition’ (NED 2006).10 NED has a link prominently featured on the Center’s web page.


Planning for the overthrow of Milošević involved a highly coordinated effort by local and foreign agencies. A Western-funded international conference on Serbia's future was held in Bratislava in 1999, co-organized by the U.S.-based East West Institute and the Slovak Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The East West Institute is a conservative think tank whose honorary chairmen are George W. Bush and Helmut Kohl and whose purpose is ‘to help support the development of democracy and free enterprise in Central and Eastern Europe and Russia’ (Peace Direct 2005). Following the conference, a task force was organized to build connections between pro-Western Serbian entities and organizations in the international community, including the Council of Europe, the German Marshall Fund of the United States, and the European Parliament (Minić and Dereta 2007, 89-90).

Regional coalition-building, funded and overseen by foreign donor agencies, was part of a broader strategy to remove vestiges of the Russia-leaning old guard. America's Development Foundation, essentially a non-profit (oddly labeled an ‘NGO’) under the wing of USAID, together with the State Department, NED, and other ‘democracy promotion’ groups, used USAID/Romania funds to start a program in 2000 called ‘Romanians for Serbian Democracy’, linking Serbian opposition NGOs with their Romanian counterparts (America's Development Foundation, 2007).

Throughout the region, media training has been vital in pursuing U.S. foreign policy objectives and local regime change movements. During the 1990s, USAID’s media assistance to Eastern Europe and the former Soviet republics amounted to $175 million (Hoffman 2002). In preparation for Milošević's overthrow, the United States in 1999 was spending ‘more than $1 per Serb’ on media assistance (McClear, McClear, and Graves 2003, 14) as a way of destabilising the Serbian government. As USAID explained:

The goal of USAID’s Office of Transition Initiatives (USAID/OTI) was to fund programs and media outlets that could disseminate messages pushing immediate political change. USAID/OTI characterised its activities as ‘pushing the reform agenda’ (cited in McClear, McClear, and Graves 2003, 30).

In Serbia, according to a local marketing professional, ‘every word of the opposition's one-minute and five-minute core political messages used by opposition spokesmen across the country was discussed with U.S. consultants and tested by opinion poll’. Anti-Milošević candidates and supporters ‘received extensive training on how to stay ‘on message,’ answer journalists' questions and rebut the arguments of Milosevic supporters’. Youth group activists with American-paid training were taught how to handle journalists (Dobbs 2000). Various U.S.-government media training grants were channeled through Freedom House, the International Research and Exchanges Board (IREX), Internews, and other American and local groups in Ukraine and Georgia (Mitchell 2006; U.S. Embassy in Ukraine, no date).

Several Eastern European political groups involved in regime change used nonviolent organizing tactics adapted from the writings of a controversial American author on the subject, Gene Sharp. A former research professor at Harvard University, Sharp is the founder of a strangely named research center in Boston called the Albert Einstein Institute, which claims Gandhi as its inspirational mentor. In 2004, AEI printed 12,000 vernacular language copies of Sharp’s manifesto for non-violent regime change,11 From Dictatorship to Democracy, for the use of opposition forces in Ukraine (AEI 2004, 12).

USAID and Freedom House additionally funded the publication and dissemination of 5,000 copies for the Eastern European region. Otpor adapted parts of Sharp’s earlier book, The Politics of Nonviolent Action, for a document they called the ‘Otpor User Manual’ (Bacher 2002). In the summer of 2000, the International Republican Institute brought Sharp’s AEI colleague, Robert Helvey, to Budapest to train Otpor in strategic nonviolence (U.S. Institute of Peace 2000).12 Activists trained at this seminar then returned to Serbia, where they provided training in fear management and strategic nonviolence every week until the 2000 election (Miller 2001). The Ukrainian youth group Pora was said to have considered Sharp’s book their ‘bible’ (Strijbosch 2004).
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Re: Hague Tribunal Exonerates Slobodan Milosevic for Bosnia

Postby admin » Sat Jun 24, 2017 8:03 pm

Branding Democracy: U.S. Regime Change in Post-Soviet Eastern Europe (EXCERPT)
by Gerald Sussman



Bulldozing Milosevic from Power

With the successful overthrow of Milosevic in 2000, the State Department had perfected a "revolution template" - or what Beissinger (2006) calls a democracy "module." The template began taking shape in the 1980s in Slovakia, Croatia, Romania, and Bulgaria and became for the whole Eurasian region a cost-effective, non-militarist option for vanquishing left-wing and nationalist political leaders. [13] The first template application was in Bulgaria in 1996, where NED and IRI, and their mostly young, eager volunteers, "discovered" that "NGOs could tilt an election in favor of America's preferred candidate" (MacKinnon 2007, 30) by unifying the opposition and then creating and funding exit polls. The template also involved a "flexible" array of political, financial, technical, and branding and marketing tactics (see Sussman and Krader 2008) to stir up a militant public mood, get people into the streets, and force either an election or a post-election surrender of power by the incumbent.

One Kazakhstan researcher analyzes the uses of marketing in politics this way:

"[B ]randing" technology is a tool of psychological manipulation. The counter-elite works hard to synchronize public consciousness by imposing behavioral and identification matrices on society as a form of fashionable behavior: external and internal forces employ psychological, semiotic, and other mechanisms to plant conscious and subconscious identification with the opposition and its aims in the minds of the people. This makes it much easier to plant political ideas later (Tastenov 2007).

Other foreign-inspired tactics were also at work. One of the keys to defeating what the United States considered an unworthy leader was the unification of disparate, pro-Western opposition behind a single political candidate. NED's affiliated institutes, especially IRI and NDI, moved freely throughout Eastern Europe carrying this message of consolidation. NDI contributed to the template by financing the Bulgarian Association for Fair Elections and Civil Rights to oversee exit polls that year (NDI, 2001). Exit polling was next arranged in Romania in 1997 through support to the Pro Democracy Association (Pro Democracy Association 2004); Slovakia in 1998, where the IRI conducted a "parallel vote tabulation"; and Croatia in 1999, with USAID, NED, Freedom House, and other international financing of a poll watching group, Citizens Organized to Monitor Elections (GONG) (Jasic 2000; MacKinnon 2007, 31-33).

In Eastern Europe, the first target for regime change that seemed vulnerable to election defeat was Serbia's president Slobodan Milosevic. In the late 1980s, NED "began handing out generous doses of dollars in every corner of Yugoslavia, financing opposition groups, buying up hungry young journalists with dreams of a new life, and financing trade union opposition, pro-IMF opposition economists such as the G-17, and human rights NGOs" (Engdahl 2004, 239). Bypassing the United Nations, the United States and NATO initiated efforts in 1999 to dislodge the Serbs from Kosovo and Milosevic from power through a campaign of bombing Serbian-controlled military and civilian installations in Kosovo and Serbia proper, with 37,000 bombing sorties in 78 days. The United States used this "softening up" opportunity to next organize a movement to oust Milosevic by political means and further balkanize the remnants of what had been a multinational Yugoslavia. [14]

Starting in the late 1990s, NDI flew selected Serbian opposition party leadership to Poland to get them to solicit advice from Polish party activists (Roelofs 2003, 186). The U.S. consulting firm Penn, Schoen and Berland (PSB) entered the picture, and after polling for potential opposition candidates, determined that the anti-communist constitutional lawyer Vojislav Kostunica was the most likely person to beat Milosevic (Dobbs 2000). A Washington Post reporter described the US. political initiative this way:

Held in a luxury hotel in Budapest, the Hungarian capital, in October 1999, the closed-door briefing by [political consultant Doug] Schoen, a Democrat, turned out to be a seminal event, pointing the way to the electoral revolution that brought down Milosevic a year later. It also marked the start of an extraordinary U.S. effort to unseat a foreign head of state, not through covert action of the kind the CIA once employed in such places as Iran and Guatemala, but by modern election campaign techniques (Dobbs 2000).

This was a return engagement for PSB. The company had done polling for the opposition in 1992, at a time when the United States showed no interest in defeating Milosevic (Barker 2006c). [15] Acting on this advice, the U.S. secretary of state, Madeleine Albright, and German foreign minister, Joschka Fischer, brought presidential contenders Belgrade mayor Zoran Dindic (who was later assassinated) and opposition party leader Vuk Draskovic to Budapest, where the two Serbian politicians were pressured to drop out of the race. IRI and NDI had earlier exercised similar counsel in Bulgaria and Romania, getting pro-Western leaders to capitulate to Washington's preference (MacKinnon 2007, 30-31).

On the popular front, the United States, through IRI, NDI, Freedom House, and other groups, worked closely with selective student and youth leaders. Particular attention was given to the student and youth organization Otpor, established in 1998, to foment a "color revolution" against Milosevic. In its 2000 annual report, NED elaborated on the funding support for opposition media, unions, and student groups that it provided prior to the September 2000 elections. "Otpor was the single largest recipient of NED funds during fiscal year 2000, with two grants totalling US $237,360" (Lamont 2009, 192). In support of Otpor and other anti-Milosevic civic organizations, the U.S. government alone spent, according to various estimates, as much as $40 million (Barker, 2006a; Barker 2006c), which would be the equivalent of another country pouring in about $1.2 billion to steer an electoral outcome in the United States. Additional funds came from the German Marshall Fund, the Project on Transitional Democracies (a spinoff of the U.S. Committee on NATO, founded and directed by a neoconservative, Bruce Jackson), the Westminster Foundation, and the International Center on Nonviolent Conflict (Lane 2009, 127). OSI's deputy director related how Soros's Open Society Institute asked a Slovak, Pavol Demes, to carry cash across the Serbian border to personally deliver to Otpor political activists (Treadwell, personal communication, 2007). Demes is now CEE director for the German Marshall Fund of the United States, based in Bratislava.

Assistance consisted of a fluid package of funding, materials, and other support and mobilization mechanisms designed around promotional tactics, heavily drawn from U.S. political practice. (See Sussman 2005; Sussman and Krader 2008). Further to this effort, the U.S. government set up a series of radio transmitters on the periphery of Serbia to bring the Voice of America and other foreign news sources to Serbians (Cevallos 2001). Albright was a major force behind the overthrow that became known as the "bulldozer revolution" (named for a rebellious driver of what was actually a loading tractor). U.S. support was contingent, based on Albright's demand on the Serbian opposition for cooperation with the United States in arresting Milosevic so that he could be taken to The Hague and tried for war crimes (Lamont 2009, 182).

Otpor was seen by U.S. groups as a crucial instrument for regime change, and, according to a NED official, Paul McCarthy, millions of dollars in direct U.S. assistance were placed in offshore accounts for its use, while secret meetings were held with student leaders in Montenegro and Hungary attended by American government and quasi-government (e.g., NED, IRI) officials. Additional covert aid was supplied (Cohen 2000). According to a political watchdog group, the International Endowment for Democracy, in March 2000, IRI paid for some two dozen Otpor leaders to participate in a seminar in Budapest on how to carry out nonviolent political action. The main text employed for regime change came from an American academic, Gene Sharp, who in an interview confirmed his link to the event. A colleague of Sharp and former Defense Intelligence Agency officer, Colonel Robert Helvey, was the principal lecturer (Raman 2000; Sharp, personal communication, 2008). His presence was paid for by the IRI. Otpor leader Srdja Popovic boasted that the struggle for power centered on the control of "propaganda":

A battle for 'media space' began, with Otpor producing low-cost propaganda materials, such as posters, handouts, stickers, and graffiti, using only black and white shades on all propaganda material to solidify 'brand recognition.' The movement was able to cover every available physical space and 'managed to a surprising extent to shape, if not to control, the terms of the debate.' ... The strategy of presenting Otpor as the national victim of government repression drew conversions, as stated here, even from within the ranks of the government (Popovic 2001).

Aided by American PR firms (which generated most of the "news" about Yugoslavian events; Salander 2007), Otpor's campaign was celebrated in the West for its masterful marketing and branding techniques. [16] In fact, the slogans that Otpor activists recited and spray painted on walls were first tested by opinion polls and vetted by American advisors. Otpor and Democratic Opposition of Serbia (DOS) spokespeople were also taught how to handle journalists and "stay on message." Lauding the success of the propaganda campaign, DOS marketing specialist, Milan Stevanovic, commented: "The foreign support was critical... this was the first campaign where our strategy was based on real scientific research" (Dobbs 2000). Some of these "scientific" campaign tactics on behalf of Otpor came from the Serbian company Strategic Marketing (currently a joint venture with the American market research firm, A.C. Nielsen, and British PGM Consulting), "which ran a series of focus groups on behalf of the opposition coalition and the Otpor student resistance movement with financial support from Western democracy groups."

Strategic Marketing had a marked imprint of American style ad campaigning. Every one of Otpor's and the other opposition groups' pretested "core messages" was designed to "sell" regime change much in the same way that soft drinks are marketed. Srdan Bogosavljevic, CEO of Strategic Marketing, said "We approached the process with a brand to sell and a brand to beat ... The brand to sell was Kostunica. The brand to beat was Milosevic" (Dobbs 2000).

Logos were critical to the marketing campaign. Otpor's black-and-white fist logo was graffitied on walls, printed on stickers, emblazoned on t-shirts (and later copied by Georgia's Kmara youth movement). USAID paid for 80 tons of stickers reading 'Gotov je' (He's finished), which young Otpor activists pasted on every available flat surface throughout Serbia (Dobbs 2000). Peter Ackerman (see Chapter 2), an American executive producer of a propaganda film about the fall of Milosevic, "Bringing Down a Dictator," boasted that Otpor "became a ubiquitous brand-name, as familiar as Coca-Cola and Nike" (Ackerman, DuVall, York, and Zimmerman 2000). Otpor co-founder, Ivan Marovic, concurred: 'Our idea was to use corporate branding in politics .... The movement has to have a marketing department. We took Coca-Cola as our model' (quoted in Traynor 2005).

Reasoning that brands were more powerful than even charismatic leadership, Otpor organizers enlisted twenty-odd revolving surrogates (Stefanovic 2000), who represented their organization through prepared logos and messages. Marovic explained to National Public Radio's Bob Garfield:

In the 20th Century, branding was done by connecting a movement to the leader, so everybody remembers Lech Walesa, or Nelson Mandela, or Mahatma Gandhi. In Serbia, Georgia, and Ukraine, branding was done not by connecting to leaders. Leaders could have been blackmailed or bribed or even maybe killed. You can't do that with brands or ideas (Garfield 2004).

The United States played an inside-outside game. As long as neoliberal-oriented Serbian opposition groups were willing to assert themselves, they relied on the external support they needed, through state, quasi-state, and NGOs instruments, to build up the propaganda assault on Milosevic. In testimony before the European Affairs Subcommittee of the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee, James Pardew, deputy secretary of state for Kosovo and Dayton Implementation, stated: "Well, we work through nongovernmental organizations. We have established ... a ring around Serbia, which is using international broadcasts, but we're offering that to independent voices in Serbia ... using [U.S.] international facilities." By "independent voices," he meant those pursuing a line in consonance with that of the U.S. agents. Pardew's superior, special envoy to Yugoslavia, Robert Gelbard, testified that: "We're supporting Montenegran television and radio so that they can be another voice for the Serb opposition" (U. S. Senate 1999). According to Gelbard, during the previous year the Yugoslavian government's voice, carried via Serbian TV, was "shut down" (i.e., bombed) (cited in Israel and Varkevisser 2000).

In 1998, Paul McCarthy, program officer for Central and Eastern Europe at the NED, issued a statement to the U.S. Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe, offering the following assessment of the requirements for U.S. and NED action in Yugoslavia:

Western organizations should increase direct support to the independent media in Serbia, Montenegro and Kosovo. Special attention should be given to supporting the independent electronic media in Serbia, such as Radio B-92 and TV Negotin ... The Association of Independent Electronic Media (ANEM) should continue to be aided ... covering all of Serbia/Montenegro .... Assistance should target the establishment of small "underground" print shops and distribution networks .... Think tank programs focusing on practical policy development can also be helpful in identifying and nurturing new leaders .... Funding must also be directed at developing the leadership skills of NGO activists .... Western funders must be prepared to support alternative educational institutions .... [O]ne of the most important tasks is to increase cooperation between trade unions and political parties .... Finally, support should be increased for cross-border programs, which promote the transfer of experience and advice from more advanced Eastern European countries (NED 1998).

In short, the United States and NED were planning not simply democracy assistance but the reconstitution of the regional state system, what had previously been the political entity of Yugoslavia.

Gelbard added that the Clinton administration was encouraging the official radio propaganda organizations, the Voice of America and Radio Free Europe/ Radio Liberty, which ringed Serbia's borders, to provide Serbians with outside and internal opposition perspectives on domestic events in that country (U.S. Senate 1999). Within Serbia, the VOA also assisted independent Serbian radio transmitters, which, as McCarthy indicated, included the station called B92. In the early 1990s, NED and Soros's Open Society Institute (OSI) had funded Za Mir ("Peace"), a media network based in Bosnia. NED also funded the National Independent Journalists for Central and Eastern Europe through the Washington, D.C.-based Institute for Democracy in Eastern Europe. It presently supports the International Journalists' Network (Barker 2008; Network of Independent Journalists 1993). A Guardian foreign correspondent, Jonathan Steele, determined that the behavior of NED (as well as the British Westminster Foundation) was not consistent with the neutral claims such organizations made about supporting pluralist democracy in the region, inasmuch as funding local opposition radio stations for regime change is hardly non-partisan. "They [NED] have no shame" (Steele, personal communication, 2008).

The U.S. radio invasion in Serbia was similar in approach to the VOA-sponsored Radio Marti broadcasts, managed by Cuban exiles, that the United States has been sending into Cuban airspace to destabilize the Castro government (Beissinger 2006, 20; Lewis, 1999). The VOA, RFE/RL, Radio Marti, TV Marti, and other formerly government-run broadcasting stations are now part of the nominally independent federal government entities, the International Broadcasting Bureau and Broadcasting Board of Governors. Radio Free Europe/ Radio Liberty, however, is a private corporation funded in part by George Soros (Talbot 2003). OSI was decisive on the media front. The hedge fund billionaire "channelled more than $100m to the coffers of the anti-Milosevic opposition, funding political parties, publishing houses and 'independent' media such as Radio B92" (Clark 2003). Soros also has been a financial supporter of Transitions Online (TOL), a journalist training program for Eastern Europe and Russia. Run by an American, Jeremy Druker, TOL aims to integrate all print media throughout the region (Roelofs 2003, 62). As of 2007, it had moved toward training journalists in the art of blogging and, most likely, now Twitter - perhaps in anticipation of media-savvy youth rebellions in Eastern Europe, Russia, and Central Asia. For the NED grants TOL receives, the main target country is Russia, with an emphasis on Internet security issues (Franko, personal communication, 2007).

Present during the Serbian election of 2000, a Washington Post reporter found that "U.S.-funded consultants played a crucial role behind the scenes in virtually every facet of the anti-Milosevic drive, running tracking polls, training thousands of opposition activists and helping to organize a vitally important parallel vote count." Election monitors were paid $5 a day out of Western aid funds, a significant amount given that Serbians earned on average $30 a month (Dobbs 2000). The private consultants were joined in the spectacle by the National Endowment for Democracy, which spent $282,000 in 2000 alone to help the Serbian opposition. The United States provided poll watchers at every polling station in Serbia, along with other, more subversive campaign activities. Part of the arsenal of U.S. taxpayer-funded regime change tactics included 5,000 cans of spray paint given to student activists to spread anti-Milosevic graffiti and some 2.5 million stickers and millions of t-shirts, funded by USAID, carrying the movement's catchphrase. IRI spent almost $75,000 to set up offices for Otpor in Belgrade and three other Serbian cities (Corwin 2005; Dobbs 2000). In 2004, IRI provided campaign training for the pro-Western Serbian president Boris Tadic (Theimer 2007).

After the overthrow and arrest of Slobodan Milosevic, Serbia descended into political disarray. As Senator Joseph Biden (later U.S. vice president) stated in public testimony at the U.S. Senate, just after the NATO bombing of Serbia (in his usual elegant style): "There ain't no Democrats in Serbia that I've found." In effect, he was acknowledging that the "democratic opposition" to Milosevic that U.S. policy described was anything but democratic, simply an invention to rationalize regime change. One of the U.S. hopefuls for a Milosevic successor, Vuk Draskovic, was described by Biden as "the Rasputin of the 21st century." U.S. special envoy Gelbard could only say in reply to Biden: "he's going to take a lot of work" (U.S. Senate 1999).

Serbia ranks poorly on measures of economic corruption, among the worst of the former Soviet aligned countries, and the government has been largely captured by private corporate interests. According to one study from the European Centre for Policy Studies, since the fall of Milosevic, Serbia has undergone a "seizure" of laws to the advantage of corporate business via influential political links in the parliament and government" (Pesic 2007). Serbian governments after Milosevic have done little to discourage persecution of ethnic minorities (see Human Rights Watch), particularly the Roma, but little of this catches the attention of the U.S. media, especially when compared to the "ethnic cleansing" that led to U.S. intervention.
The ousted leader's Socialist Party in the aftermath of his deposal shared power with prime minister, Vojislav Kostunica. Boris Tadic, reelected as president in 2008, is a strong advocate of Serbian membership in the European Union, though he opposes the independence of breakaway Kosovo. According to one poll, the Serbian public in 2006 regarded poverty as the worst problem facing the country (slightly worse than in 2001), with unemployment coming in second (by a much larger percentage than in 2001) (Begovic et al. 2007, 23).
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