Tien An Men on Terazije

There is not much time left. Western journalists as well as everybody else are bitterly divided on the best course of action for the victorious Serbian opposition in how to get rid of Milosevic. Those emotionally involved in the region like Roy Guttman - want to see him in the Hague, those that are not, like Wall Street Journalís Max Boot, think it's stupid that the US is ready to sacrifice democracy in Serbia over justice for Bosnian victims, justice that might never be successfully carried out. David Binder, joining Boot on that, is asking where is the US senator that brokered the Marcos peaceful leaving the Philippines to exile in Hawaii, when one needs him - well there is Ahtisaari in Moscow, and there is UN envoy Dienstbier joining the chorus of those who wish to spare Milosevic the court trial. Of course, there is always the other way a dictator may go - the way Caucescu went, the way Louis XVI went.

But there is growing fear that Milosevic won't end that way - because he still appears to be in surprisingly good control over his security apparatus. In Serbian cities many shops are now closed - "closed because of theft" as they say, and kids instead of going to school are blocking streets with garbage containers, but in Belgrade the students were turned away from marching to Slobo's residence - the police was friendly, but it did turn them away, and that despite Maki's reckless display of rebelliousness. The Public Transport Trade Union head was arrested and the Public Transport strike in Belgrade was broken, with buses back on the streets.

Railroad strike is successful so far, with Montenegro cut off from Serbia and therefore eerily quiet. Djukanovic waits for situation in Serbia to come to some conclusion. And Kosovo is basically so rift with everyday crime, that the elections do not seem as being realistically timed.

The most important strike in Serbia, however - the strike of coal miners at Kolubara (2/3 of Serbia's coal is mined there; Serbia is largely dependent on coal for its electric power; Nis already lost power) - appears to be broken down by the police as I write this - Belgrade courts ordered arrests of 13 strike leaders and 30 bus- loads of police were sent to Kolubara.

For the good news - Swiss banks froze $57 millions of Milosevic's cronies and corporations. But this move might have come to late to save the president-elect from the wrath of Milosevic's police.

Milosevic is out on state TV addressing the nation. He threatens the public that Yugoslavia will break up if Kostunica takes over. He is also repeating how opposition is on NATO payroll, etc. I guess, he will order their execution as traitors, after he declares himself the winner by inquest on the October 8, the second round of his elections, boycotted by Kostunica.

I don't know if Serbian public realize that Yugoslavia DID break up under HIS leadership. It broke up in seven pieces (I count 2 Bosnians)! And if he remains in office, Montenegro is for sure going to declare and win independence - which under Kostunica it might not get recognized by the International Community. This is the most blatant, sarcastic lie he came up with - it out-does even Slobo.

And as for the opposition being on the NATO payroll, let's go to the Binder's article. Of $25 million ear-marked for Serbian democratic opposition, only some $800+ thousands actually reached the streets in Serbia - the rest remaining in coffers of various middlemen NGO-s 'deeply caring' for people in Serbia (writing reports, feasibility studies, fellowship studies, etc.). That's hardly surprising to me, being aware that NGO business is just a part of the new economy, the way to employ surplus college graduates in wealthy countries.

That's what brings us to the US presidential debates. Lehrer had to ask Gore and Bush twice whether they would send military to Serbia to save the democracy - since on the first try they successfully avoided answering the question. On the second time, they both say no, no way. It is amusing how the debates were 'downsized' to fit the attention span of the channel surfing American viewer - from 5 minutes talk / 3minutes rebuttal of Nixon-Kennedy debate format to 2 minutes / 1 minute format for Gore-Bush. Still, the candidates were boring. They repeated themselves too much.

Gore said about a zillion times how he'd put the social security in the lock-box. But even 80 years old today do on-line trades (true: I just helped set-up a computer for an 82 year old lady who does all her trading over Schwab on-line)! And after arguing that the stock market TREBLED in the time of his vice-presidentship, Gore sounded very unconvincing in his opposition to Bush's plan to invest $1 trillion of social security money on the Wall Street. I understand that Roosevelt is turning in his grave, since he created Social Security precisely as a safety net against the vagaries of the market. But this is not the thirties. Most of production is done abroad in the sweatshops. The volatility and social unrest is therefore exported to the client countries. Nobody seriously believes that 1929 market crash is possible any time soon. And with putting such a large bulk sum on the markets, the markets would instantly rise, increasing the value of that money. All NGO-s invest in funds and stocks as well. Soros's OSI for example holds position in Perkin-Elmer, guys who designed the computer that parses human genome (that fits Soros's intense desire to make the history books).

Bush, on the other hand, started every other answer with "this country needs a leader" mantra. Yet, when he was asked what he would do with the situation in Serbia, he said that he would gladly let Russians to "step up to the plate." So much for the leadership. But, wait a minute - Gore, when asked about the self-evaluation of his performance in unexpected crisis situation, readily listed his action over Kosovo situation. And what exactly did he do? He sent Russian foreign minister to Belgrade to present American terms to Milosevic. No wonder, people like Jesse Helms want to jump out of their shoes in Congress. Those two guys would love to have Russia, of all places, do their bidding. On what planet they exactly live, I wonder? They both come from political dynasties (I wonder when the US will become a monarchy - I mean Roman Republic at one point became an Empire - when most of the political offices became held in the families...). They both were born with silver spoon in their mouth. And they both consider 'leadership' as a situation where they have others doing things for them, particularly those menial tasks like taking on recalcitrant foreign dictators.

While Gore opposed in the debate letting Russia take over the Serbia negotiation as of yet - since it is obvious that Putin did not yet buy into the US policy there - the State Department, burdened by its bombing legacy, effectively already passed the ball to Putin. And he promptly dodged it by running away all the way to India. Yes, he agreed to meet Kostunica and Milosevic, but he didn't say what is he going to tell them. Milosevic, while refusing to meet Ivanov (he wouldn't let anybody below the rank of chief of state moderate this, I believe), might agree on meeting Putin. Kostunica, not having much choice, already accepted the invite.

The State Department, meanwhile, announced that Russia should hand over Milosevic to The Hague, if he comes there for that meeting. So, they already killed it. I guess, after the debate, in which Gore had to appear to be taking leadership on this issue, they did not have a choice. Putin probably wanted to wait until after the October 8 for the meeting, because there will be much clearer situation then from his perspective and much easier job for him. He is facing opposition at home - the opposition that still demands support for a role of Milosevic in Yugoslav government. So, next week there will be Kostunica, the president-elect according to September 24 elections and Milosevic, the president-elect according to October 8 elections and Putin hoping to make them agree to tolerate each other in a some sort of a power sharing agreement. That was easy to sniff out for Albright, I guess, hence this sudden demand to hand Milosevic over, as a way to prevent that meeting.

But, the alternative plan is not put on the table. And if Kostunica fails to prevent the second round (and there is less and less time), either we will have to accept the humiliation by Milosevic once again or the Tien An Men on Terazije may not be avoidable.

Terazije is the name for the Belgrade downtown area where most of the daily social life happens
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