jacdon at jacdon at
Sun Oct 8 10:49:01 MDT 2000


By Jack A. Smith

President Clinton characterized last week’s right-wing coup in
Yugoslavia against the government of President Slobodan Milosovic as a
great triumph for democracy and human rights.  In our opinion, the
events leading up to the assumption of power in Belgrade last Saturday
by Vojislav Kostunica stemmed from U.S./NATO intervention, an extension
of last year’s 78-day bombing campaign.

In addition to promises to end punishing sanctions and to help rebuild
what it destroyed last year, Washington spent an estimated $100 million
to insure Milosovic’s defeat, scapegoating him for every problem that
has plagued Yugoslavia for the past decade.  Its major success was to
bribe the 18 warring opposition parties to finally unite against the
government as the Democratic Opposition of Serbia (DOS), with Kostunica
as the candidate.  Kostunica (heretofore a minor nationalist player in
Serb politics) won the September election 49% to 39%.  According to the
election rules, a runoff election would be held Oct. 8 if no candidate
won at least 50%.  Kostunica himself had demanded that stipulation.
But, with strong backing from Washington and NATO governments, Kostunica
refused to participate in the runoff, insisting--without ever producing
proof--that he had won the election in the first round.

Within days, hundreds of thousands of people supporting the DOS arrived
in Belgrade to take possession of the Parliament building and
government-owned media.   Milosovic refused to order the army and
security forces to fire at the demonstrators (to prevent loss of life, a
civil war, and U.S./NATO military intervention). Recognizing the coup
was a success, Milosovic stepped down and Kostunica was sworn in as

Why did the U.S. prefer a rightist coup to a runoff election?

Milosovic may have lost the first round, but his SPS/SNP coalition did
well--obtaining 74 of 138 seats in the Yugoslav Parliament, which means
it was in a position to influence the election of the prime minister and
cabinet and to interfere with inevitable privatization schemes.  (Not
even the DOS challenged the firm parliamentary election results.)  One
theory, advanced by the International Action Center’s Sara Flounders,
is that Washington hoped the mass demonstrations in Belgrade would
provoke a civil war, leading to the overthrow of the entire left-leaning
government, not just the head of state. The Milosovic government may
have presided over the dismantling of much that was left of socialism in
Yugoslavia, but unlike other European former communist states, it
retained certain left social programs and remained distant from NATO.
Washington's objective is to install a government of the right in
Belgrade which will rid itself of remaining traces of socialism and shed
its antipathy to NATO.

Now, Kostunica will have to govern with an opposition parliament as well
as an extremely shaky coalition that could break apart at any time.  In
this regard, the U.S. is now doing everything possible to prevent
Milosovic from returning to politics in Yugoslavia because it realizes
he still has a strong following.

Another theory, put forward on by Michel Chossudovsky  and Jared Israel,
et al, in that “the DOS didn't want to participate [in the runoff
because] they were worried about the 40% of the electorate that
abstained in round one. Most of these people are nationalists, firmly
opposed to NATO. Under no circumstances would they vote for DOS which
they see as connected to NATO. So Kostunica could well lose a runoff

At this stage, all the facts of the matter have not come out. As such,
it is premature, to say the least, to stand with the Clinton
administration and NATO--as have some on the left--and applaud recent
events in Belgrade as though they represented a people’s victory.
For alternative, progressive  articles and analysis about the Yugoslavia
situation, we recommend these websites: the International Action Center,;  the Emperor’s New Clothes,;
Jay’s Leftist and progressive internet Resources Directory,; Workers World newspaper,    (end)

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