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May 10, 1993
. Vreme News Digest Agency No 85
Point of View: End of an Experiment

Political Debauchery

by Stojan Cerovic

After seeing what took place in Pale, all in Belgrade are asking themselves: who are these people? How can they do this to us? Those expressing the greatest surprise are the ones who only last week were still declaring war against the world, who had rushed off to the front, and sworn by Karadzic and Plavsic and their right to defend their hearths. Dobrica Cosic and Slobodan Milosevic are surprised. Perhaps even the TV Serbia director is surprised. They are wondering what kind of Serbs are these, if they have no respect for them, Mitsotakis and the Patriarch. The rest of us are wondering what kind of an Assembly it is when it doesn't vote as it is told to.

First of all, these are experimental beings created in TV Serbia's laboratories, trained for years to recognize and reject common sense arguments regardless of their origin. They have a deeply rooted aversion to all that does not include the Holy War for the Serbian Cause; they have been given adequate historical, moral and all other explanations; their identity and character have been molded in that of crusaders. Such beings are not capable of noticing when the experiment has been stopped, and they don't believe it, even when they are told so by the experimenters themselves. It wouldn't help much if Dobrica Cosic were to eat up the Memorandum before their very eyes.

These are people who have killed and who have been killed. How many of those deputies can face the end of the war with a clear conscience in a state proclaimed an international protectorate? One in which they will not be passing judgment and drafting the laws? What if they can't wait for an international intervention to take place, because foreign bombs will bury traces of their crimes? They know best how the territories they have captured, and which they would have to return, look.

The deputies in Pale must have concluded that the creators of the war had come to persuade them that the war which they had practically won, had been wrong, and that they must admit to the futility of all the victims and crimes. At the same time they were told that they are in the right, and that the Vance-Owen plan is a catastrophe. In the name of national unity, they were asked to think of Serbia, while they really wish to drag Serbia into the war as much as possible, including anyone else.

The matter has failed, and very convincingly at that. The entire Belgrade delegation managed to win two votes, and it remains debatable as to whose arguments were most convincing. Those put forth by Cosic, Milosevic or Arkan. It proved that Seselj had an enormous advantage over Milosevic in the Assembly. Milosevic suffered his greatest defeat at the precise moment when he had made the best move of his career. He had directed the war, but peace depends very little on him, and there is nothing for him in Bosnia.

The Belgrade-Pale axis has split definitely. Both sides faced this fact and made their decisions consciously. Karadzic is depriving himself of Serbia's help and risking a NATO operation, while Milosevic has lost his political goal, the one which justified everything, and which resulted in sanctions against Serbia. But, Karadzic is avoiding the risks of peace and Milosevic is moving away from war. They are moving away from one another. Bosnia's fate now depend's on God's will which is being carried out with the help of the Security Council, while unfortunate Serbia has been left to look to Milosevic and itself.

To abandon the dream of a state of all Serbs may look easy only to those who have never dreamed it. However, as far as Dobrica Cosic and many others are concerned, the acceptance of the Vance-Owen plan is tantamount to the abandoning of the revolution, the class struggle and the dictatorship of the proletariat by the Communists. The greatest delusions are the hardest to abandon. Cosic tried to persuade the deputies at Pale that they were not defeated while it was obvious that he himself felt as if the sky had fallen on his head. He had just exhausted his second great delusion, and it remains unknown if he would have been any happier if the deputies had listened to him. But how to sympathize with someone whose idea of general happiness has produced so much misery, and who is suffering because the impossible has not become possible?

Let us hope that the idea of a Greater Serbia has finally been abandoned, at least by its main supporters. But, the attempt at achieving it is taking its revenge on this small, ordinary Serbia, which is broken and lonely. The rallying of all Serbs has been the only political idea and goal for years, so that now, neither Milosevic nor a good part of the opposition cannot perceive politics as something other than extending the state, or asking citizens to make sacrifices and deny themselves.

There is of course the problem of stopping Seselj and of reducing his party to a reasonable size, which might not be all that easy. Seselj is continuing with the same line of thinking and expects to be rewarded for his consistency, albeit in the direction of insanity, crime and political debauchery. If he ever had a chance, then this is his greatest one. Now, during the first days after the big turnabout, while the inertia still holds and while the memory of the common goal now abandoned by Milosevic is still fresh. But his party will disperse very quickly. As soon as careerists realize that they are moving irretrievably out of reach of authority.

In this operation of Serbia's political disinfection, the opposition parties should show a certain responsibility and restraint. The sequence of moves is clear: Milosevic must first be allowed to finish his war adventure, and to pull away from the greatest dangers because they are a threat not just to him, but to all. He cannot be forgiven and all cannot be forgotten, but let him get home first. The settling of accounts must wait a little - especially by those who have never asked him much about what he was doing in Bosnia, but just complained over the world's injustice and the anti-Serbian conspiracy.

Serbia should now draw some conclusions from the colossal failure of a hegemonic ideology and politics. I don't know who could be competent in the formulating of an alternative, anti-Memorandum platform, but if one does not show up soon, there will still be many opportunities for bungling, recklessness and disasters. There is Kosovo, there are the minorities, there is the unfortunate and hastily patched up relationship with Montenegro. All this could prolong the conflict with the world interminably. The problem lies in the fact that a policy has been defeated in Serbia, but not the consciousness and reasons which generated it. The fact that the idea of an all Serb state failed is regarded as an injustice, as a yielding in the face of greater powers and their interests, or as the result of diplomatic inadequacy and technical and methodological mistakes. Such an explanation opens the road to a repetition of the same idiocies, especially while there is a belief that Serbs cannot live with anyone. Serbia will become smaller than it is, or it will learn to live with others and work hard at renewing those links with its surroundings which it can. Without taking by force from others and without deceiving itself about its greatness. The principle of joined vessels does not apply to different peoples, even when they live together. No one can grow at the expense of someone else.

At this moment Serbia's future looks bleak, even in comparison to Bosnia. The war will finally come to an end, and a protectorate will last until people learn to control themselves. They will then be able to start from scratch, albeit from terrible ruins. Mankind will try to ease a bad conscience and will help the country stand on its own feet. Serbs who stay there might start believing in a year or so that what they can't agree to now, and which they view as a defeat and catastrophe, was in fact a lucky break. Belgrade could even find itself envying Sarajevo.

Serbia has started falling down on the inside. It is defeated, shamed, lonely and still convinced that it is in the right. With Milosevic, his style and regime, nothing new can be started, no window opened. No one knows where the windows and doors are, nor if there are any in this dungeon. The people are sitting in the darkness and watching a shadow theater performance. That is all we have been offered of reality.

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