“Soft despotism is a term coined by Alexis de Tocqueville describing the state into which a country overrun by "a network of small complicated rules" might degrade. Soft despotism is different from despotism (also called 'hard despotism') in the sense that it is not obvious to the people."

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Serbia Puts Down a Marker: No to US and UK.

Serbia bans US and British election monitors
By Vesna Peric Zimonjic in Belgrade Independent
Published: 12 January 2008

Serbia's electoral commission has barred US and British observers from monitoring its presidential elections in protest over the countries' support for Kosovan independence.

A member of the commission from the ultra-nationalist Serbian Radical Party (SRS), Slavoljub Milenkovic, said yesterday that the US and Britain would be prevented from sending monitors for the 20 January elections "because their countries want to destroy us and grab Kosovo away from Serbia".

The US and most EU nations back independence for Kosovo, which is populated by some two million ethnic Albanians. It has been run by the UN since 1999, when a Nato bombing campaign forced Belgrade to end its crackdown on an armed insurgency of Kosovan Albanians.

After more than two years of internationally sponsored negotiations, Serbia, backed by Russia, still fiercely opposes the imminent independence of Kosovo and has refused any solution other than broad autonomy. Belgrade did not react yesterday to a report in The New York Times that claimed the US and Germany have agreed to recognise the independence of Kosovo, and will push the rest of the EU to follow suit after the outcome of the Serbian presidential elections, the second round of which is to be held on 3 February.

Senior EU officials told the paper that the US President, George W Bush, and the German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, had agreed that it was imperative to secure the stability of the western Balkans by coordinating the recognition of Kosovo between the US and the EU.

Nationalism and anti-Western sentiment are growing in Serbia as it seeks to keep Kosovo from breaking away. The issue of Kosovan independence, which had been on the back-burner since 1999, came into sharp focus after international negotiations over the province began in 2005. Those efforts finally collapsed at the end of last year, prompting the Kosovan government-elect to warn that it would go ahead and declare independence in early 2008.

It provided a further opportunity for the conservative, nationalist government of Prime Minister Vojislav Kostunica to rally Serbs, most of whom consider Kosovo to be the cradle of their medieval state and religion. His harsh rhetoric on Kosovo has created an atmosphere resembling the nationalist era of former leader Slobodan Milosevic.

Mr Kostunica's frequent diatribes against the EU and its planned mission for Kosovo are pushing Serbia away from signing the Stabilisation and Association Agreement with the EU, which would give Serbia freer trade access to the European Union. Alongside this, Serbia's reluctance to hand over the remaining war crimes indictees is also not helping relations.

Mr Kostunica's insistence on closer ties with Russia also worries many. Serbs are deeply split over the issue, as no significant aid has ever been forthcoming from Russia in the recent past. No major Russian investments have been allowed since the fall of Milosevic in 2000.

However, Mr Kostunica's government now seems ready to sell the family jewellery, Oil Industry of Serbia (NIS), to Gazprom, Russia's state-run energy giant, in a murky deal for a knockdown price of €400m (£300m) by the end of next week, a move that anaylsts say could further endanger Serbia's access to the EU.

The European Commission yesterday voiced concern over the sale of NIS. Spokesman Krisztina Nagy said: "The Commission hopes that the sale of an important asset such as the Serbian oil company will be open and driven by objective, commercial and economic interests."

Serbia finds itself at a crossroads over the conflicting issues of Kosovo, the EU and relations with Russia just days before the presidential elections, which are considered crucial for the country. Voters are to chose between the reformist and pro-Western President Boris Tadic, and the ultranationalist SRS candidate Tomislav Nikolic. With their choice, they will also decide if Serbia will continue down the road of EU integration or return to its nationalist, isolationist past.


  1. Is a Serbia that is in allied to the Russian Federation isolationist by definition?

    Or just not a lackey to the buerocrats in Brussels.

    Will NATO go to war to secure Kosovo's annexation by Albania?

    Will we fight the Christians, to support the mussulmen?
    What ever happened to the War on Islamofascists?

    As to the Serbian oil assets, it looks like they import 70,000 barrels per day, the CIA says:
    Oil - production:
    14,660 bbl/day (2003)
    Oil - consumption:
    85,000 bbl/day (2003 est.)
    Oil - exports:
    NA bbl/day
    Oil - imports:
    NA bbl/day
    Oil - proved reserves:
    38.75 million bbl (1 January 2006)
    Natural gas - production:
    650 million cu m (2005 est.)
    Natural gas - consumption:
    2.55 billion cu m (2005 est.)
    Natural gas - exports:
    0 cu m (2005 est.)
    Natural gas - imports:
    2.1 billion cu m
    note: includes Montenegro (2004 est.)
    Natural gas - proved reserves:
    46.17 billion cu m (1 January 2006)

    The other aspects of their economy, sickly to say the least.

    Labor force:
    2.961 million for Serbia (including Kosovo) (2002 est.)
    Labor force - by occupation:
    agriculture: 30%
    industry: 46%
    services: 24%
    note: excluding Kosovo and Montenegro (2002)
    Unemployment rate:
    note: unemployment is approximately 50% in Kosovo (2005 est.)
    Population below poverty line:
    note: data covers the former Serbia and Montenegro (1999 est.)
    Inflation rate (consumer prices):
    15.5% (2005 est.)
    Investment (gross fixed):
    14.2% of GDP (2005 est.)
    revenues: $11.45 billion
    expenditures: $11.12 billion
    note: figures are for Serbia and Montenegro; Serbian Statistical Office indicates that for 2006 budget, Serbia will have revenues of $7.08 billion (2005 est.)
    Public debt:
    53.1% of GDP (2005 est.)

    All in a country, that with Kosovo is "slightly larger than South Carolina " with 10 million people.

    Median age:
    total: 37.3 years
    male: 35.9 years
    female: 38.8 years (2007 est.)
    Life expectancy at birth:
    total population: 75.06 years

    Total fertility rate:
    1.69 children born/woman (2007 est.)

    What's the point?

  2. dRat,

    What's the point?

    Maybe they want a future better than that of prostitution?

  3. From Rat's statistic, it looks like they'll have to hire out to somebody.

  4. They're going to sell the family jewels to Putin. A good way to assert one's independence. Some situations have no solution, I quess. The peasants will have to buy their own gas and oil from Putin. Well, after all this time, they are long suffering, and used to it.

  5. Albania, Kosovo, Serbia, Russia--all run by criminals. There's really not much to choose. ggrrnite.

  6. True. But so is the US. And the UN.

    So what we're really arguing about is the distinction in the level of sophistication and subtlety of these these criminals. And which is worse.


  7. There is no possible US interest served by Kosovo independence. We ought to start in some small may to roll back the nonsense of seeing interests where they do not exist.

    Let's try this: For any country that 80% of the US population cannot find on a map, our interests do not meet the threshold of involvement.

  8. Here's my contribution to the Pakistan Post that disappeared:
    An al-Qaeda offensive against Musharraf?

    Just after CNN reported that terror bombings in Pakistan had reached "unprecedented" heights; and not long after Bill Roggio reported security services had arrested the leader and five members of a Lahore-based suicide cell another suicide attack killed 22 people outside a high court building.
    At least 22 police and civilians were killed and 70 wounded in the attack. The blast was described as "powerful."

    Geo News reported the attack was conducted by a suicide bomber wearing a vest. The police were standing guard preparing for a protest by lawyers.
    "Six or seven [police]constables lost their lives on the spot while others succumbed to their injuries on way to hospital and in the process of [receiving] first aid," a doctor told the Associate Press of Pakistan, the government’s news service.

    The Stratfor Geopolitical Diary says things could get worse. When "the Islamic New Year begins in Pakistan on Friday ... it could bring increased Shiite-Sunni violence,
    and further threaten President Pervez Musharraf's hold on power." The version of the report behind the subscription wall tallies a number of indicators none of
    which bode well for Pakistan, such as capital flight and a collapsing real
    estate market. The Islamic New Year is apparently signals the start of the
    yearly sectarian feud the world over. "Muharram is not only the first month of
    the Islamic calendar, it is also the month in which much Shiite-Sunni sectarian violence occurs in the Muslim world, especially in Pakistan." But this time,
    al-Qaeda may attempt to exploit the season of ill-will to add impetus to its
    campaign against Musharraf. This is why the country abounds with rumors that,
    should an outbreak of sectarian violence occur during the initial days of
    Muharram, the government might exploit the situation and further postpone
    elections. It is not at all clear, of course, whether this will happen. What is
    certain, however, is that conditions are explosive and such speculation is not

    Read more!
    posted by Wretchard

    What a mess

    Bill Roggio
    captures a sense of the tangled web that is Pakistan in four
    pithy paragraphs. (Emphasis mine) Pakistani security forces have captured the
    leader of an al Qaeda suicide cell which was behind the attack on the Sargodha
    military base last fall. Ahsan al Haq and five cell members have been detained
    by Pakistani security forces in the city of Lahore,
    Reuters reported.
    "We recovered explosives and jackets used for suicide bombings at
    his house next to a madrassa (Islamic school)," and anonymous intelligence
    official told Reuters. "All of them admitted they were behind the Sargodha
    attack and were planning to carry out similar attacks, even against
    politicians." Al Haq is a retired Pakistani Army major "was said have been close
    to Afghan Muslim guerrilla commander Younis Khalis, who battled Soviet forces in the 1980s and later had links with the Taliban," Reuters reported. "Haq ran a
    militant training camp in Afghanistan during Taliban rule." ... The Sargodha Air
    Force Base is a nuclear weapons and missile storage facility in central Punjab
    province. The Taliban and al Qaeda have conducted multiple strikes on or near
    Pakistani nuclear facilities, as well as against military and police facilities
    situated near nuclear facilities. There have been two suicide attacks at
    Sargodha since the summer of 2007. A fanatical suicide ideology (al-Qaeda)
    propagated through the school system (madrassa) endowed with sympathizers in the
    local Army (as represented by the retired Major) ready to carry out their
    program to seize nuclear weapons and rule the world! Not since the days of the
    Republic Serials have the villains and situations been so outlandish.
    Read more!
    posted by Wretchard

  9. Why does the Kosovians not wanting to be prostitutes become a vital interest of the US, mat?

  10. dRat,

    I don't know why Kosovo independence should be in the US' interest, let alone vital interest. But Lady Liberty has been pushing for Jihadi expansionism pretty hard and pretty consistently, at the expense of Jews Christians and others. The only reasonable reason why that might be, that I can come up with, is that the Saudis have you by the balls, and that it is them that are really running the show.

  11. As we've, amigo, that is not a factual case, the Saudi's exceptional influence, based upon oil.

    Nope, the policy towards the Sauds is older than Israel, dating back to when the US was energy independent. 194

    "..February 14, 2005, marks the 60th anniversary of the historic meeting between Saudi Arabia's King Abdulaziz and then U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt aboard the cruiser USS Quincy at Great Bitter Lake in Egypt. These two visionary leaders forged an enduring relationship that has weathered many challenges from the Cold War to the terrorism we face today.."
    Frances Townsend

    Editor's Note:

    Last week Ms. Frances Townsend, President Bush's Homeland Security Advisor, representing the United States at the recent Counter Terrorism conference in Riyadh, noted the upcoming anniversary of FDR's and Ibn Saud's meeting and the importance of the event. In observance of the 60th anniversary of the meeting and the "enduring relationship" that resulted, we are pleased to begin a presentation of essays, articles and interviews that address this seminal event in US-Saudi diplomatic history.

    The answer is not in the oil, but in global politics.
    The New World Order.

  12. As we've discussed and shown ...

    Could have moved to ethanol blends, distilled in the Americas, replacing all the Saudi oil imports, by now, if the mandate was given on 15Sep01.

  13. Could've, should've, but didn't. The reality is, as of today, you and your clients are still dependent on ME oil. Until that changes, you do what the Saudis ask you to do.

  14. Experience with offshore oil platforms can be very useful in offshore wind farming. If big oil can be maneuvered into this lucrative new energy industry, I think an important segment of the old bureaucracy can be pacified.

  15. Only because the "Bi-Partisan Leaders" want it that way. Or we could be changing course now. We are not.

    The Sauds are not "making" the US do things that the US does not want to do.

    The source of US policy, it's motivations are somewhere else, not in untoward Saudi influences.

    The Sauds at least as dependent upon US, than we on them. More so, actually.

  16. "The Sauds at least as dependent upon US, than we on them. More so, actually."

    Don't let swagger get the better of you. The only thing the Saudis are dependent on is high oil prices. Al Qaeda and the Russians are there to supply this.

  17. So the Sauds are not threatened by the Iranians?
    The same Iranians that are an existental threat to Israel, Europe and the US?

  18. What does that have to do with dependence on the US?

  19. $20 Billion in modern weaponry, the US Navy in the Gulf.

    150,000 troops of the US military between Iran and Saudi Arabia, in Iraq.

    Would think that'd be obvious

  20. There are plenty of arms suppliers from which the Sauds can buy modern weapons. And politically they'd be better off without the US hanging about.

    Would think that'd be obvious too.

  21. Led Zepellin - 1970 - Royal Albert Hall

  22. But the Sauds want the best, the Russian equipment does not meet the US standards.

    The Sauds want that qualitative advantage over Iran that only US equipment provides. Othewise they only have parity, not an advantage.

    The also have parity with Israeli equipment, by buying US. Along with US pilot training that goes along with the equipment.
    Prince Bandar an example of the results of that US training.

    Without US equipment and training, the Sauds would be at a disadvantage, vis a vie Iran or Israel. With the US they have superiority over Iran, parity with Israel.

    Without US they have neither

  23. This comment has been removed by the author.

  24. The Saudis don't need US arms to defend against the Iranians. British, French, Russian, Chinese, Israeli arms, etc., will do just fine. And without the US hanging about, the Iranians lose their propaganda card.

    As for parity with Israel, the Sauds never were and never will be at parity with Israel. That's a redherring scarecrow strawman.

  25. Don't think so, amigo.

    Pakistani nukes, US aircraft.
    That equals parity.

    Like it or not.

  26. If they have Pakistani nukes, why would the Saudis need US aircraft?


  28. Chinese or Russian missiles are no good?

  29. Not as good as US attack aircraft.

    That's why the Sauds buy US, get the best.

    Which is why they need US, more than we need them.

  30. "Not as good as US attack aircraft."

    They're not? Why not? How are aircraft superior in delivering Nukes?

  31. That which is yours will always return to you.

  32. USA only wants Kosovo's natural resources they do not care one bit about the so called Kosovo Albanians who claim the want an independent country but are hell bent on waving the Albanian flag around. Funny that I thought the Kosovo Albanians created their own flag for an illegally fake state?! Does this not only go to show that it is Albania who really wants a greater Albania?!

  33. What I want to know is where is the evidence that links the Albanians to Illyrians? Hmmm...there is none!!!

    Also why can not the Albanians acknowledge that the Thracians lived in present day Kosovo? Afraid that there may be evidence linking some other culture to Kosovo thus giving them more right to claim Kosovo as theirs?

  34. The USA is at it again trying to make a gold rich area in Pakistan fall under their protection by getting the local people to claim independence.

    Funny they never go into countries they have nothing to gain from.

    Did they go and stop the carnage and bloodshed between the Tutsi and Hutu in Burundi (known again as Democratic Republic of Congo) and Rwanda? Hell no! Why? Because they had no natural resources that the US could swindle and lay claim too!!!

  35. Every country has criminals. Look at Australia it has sixteen of the most wanted criminals in the world!!!

  36. Isn't it ironic that if a person in Serbia loves their country and wants to protect its country's borders they are viewed as nationalistic. But yet if an individual in USA loves their country and wants to protect its country's borders or even illegally go to war on another country's sovereign territory they are viewed as patriotic.

    Dictionary Meanings:



    -A person who loves, supports, and defends his or her country and its interests with devotion.



    -Devotion to the interests or culture of one's nation

    Even in the Thesaurus nationalist can be subsituated for patriot:

    Main Entry: patriot

    Part of Speech: noun

    Definition: person who loves his or her country

    Synonyms: flag-waver, good citizen, jingoist, loyalist, nationalist, partisan, patrioteer, statesperson, ultranationalist, volunteer

    Antonyms: expatriot, traitor

    Where lies the difference, essentially a nationalist and a patriot are one and the same!

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  38. "There is no possible US interest served by Kosovo independence. We ought to start in some small may to roll back the nonsense of seeing interests where they do not exist.

    Let's try this: For any country that 80% of the US population cannot find on a map, our interests do not meet the threshold of involvement."

    Your statement is inaccurate, unrealistic and contradictory. You would do yourself a great deal to at least learn something, anything about a topic prior to declaring yourself judge jury and executioner.

    To say that there is absolutely NO interest in Kosovo is absolutely absurd. What exactly gives you the authority to declare that? Are you well read and or informed about Kosovo's issues over the last century? Does your government give you truthful information on the region, the culture, the subject of Kosovo's war for independence?

    I vividly remember the coverage of the Serbian "attack" on Kosovo. Who wouldn't? Just like any other preposterous lie they forcefeed us on the news it's jammed down the throats of the entire world like it's the end of the world. All day and all night they feed the obsession that they have created within us by telling us over and over about all the bad things that are happening (which are more often than not either blatant lies, or strange manipulations of THEIR policy being blamed on others). Yes, I remember very clearly the Serbian "attack" on Kosovo and the NATO bombings that ensued. But, hmm... I don't seem to remember hearing too much about the CIA funding and training terrorist organizations there prior to that. I don't remember hearing about all the attacks on Serbian police and government offices in early 1998. I don't remember coverage of Serbian churches and other cultural artifacts (most of which were older than US, ALBANIA and NATO) being desecrated while UN troops stand by and "protect". What exactly is being protected there? All of the oldest artifacts in the place are Serbian, which means that it's history is Serbian which means IT is Serbian! And we are standing by while our governments support terrorist organizations to take control of it and then allow it's citizens to destroy all of it's history? So that we can re-write with our pen, and in the manner which is acceptable to us?

    If there was no interest in Kosovo, why were CIA and BND agents funding and training the KLA prior to the 1998 escalation in attacks on Serbian police and government offices throughout Kosovo? Why is US spending $350 M to build, and $50 M/yr to run a military base (Camp Bondsteel), which oddly enough resides next to a proposed Caspian Sea Oil Pipeline?


    According to your proposal the US has NO interests anywhere. 80% of Americans could not find any other country other than their own on a map, therefore your theory has no bearing. This is not meant to be a slander or insult, this is sadly true. If it really pisses you off (or anyone else who is reading this) that much, grab a fucking map and go to the busiest place in your city and start asking people to find countries on a map for you trying to get 80% success. Good luck.

    Stop beleiving garbage news that are full of lies. Just because the next country that's on CNN is a place that Americans have never heard of and know nothing about doesn't mean that the CIA hasn't been planting their dirty seeds there for years. And it definately does not mean that there is no US interests there.