Science In Serbia

            Every country has its mafia, but Serbia is the only one where mafia has its state    (Zoran Djindjic)

There is nothing extraordinary in the science in Serbia. It would not deserve particular attention of the European scientific community, if it were not for the fact that  the case of Serbia turns out extraordinary, indeed.

Let us start with an extraordinary question: would it be possible a state in contemporary Europe to sucumbe to a fashist rule (or  communist or any other totalitarian government)? The answer is extraordinary too – yes. The case in point is Serbia.

The trick is marked by Kosovo (see, e.g. P. Grujić, Kosovo Knot, 2014). When this southern province of Serbia, Kosovo and Metohia (Kosovo in the following) was occupied by NATO, after the military intervention in 1999, Serbia lost control over  this  region of a mixed ethnic population, mainly Slavonic, Albanian and Roma. By occupying the province NATO took control over the territory and SAD established a military base near Prishtina. About  40.000 corps  have been placed at Kosovo  (KFOR) . Formal status of Kosovo is UN protectorate under UNSCR 1244. After the occupation the overwhelming majority of non-Albanian population (Serbs, Croats, Roma, Montenegrins, Jews,  etc) left Kosovo. After that hundreds of thousand Albanians from Albania (and possibly Macedonia) settled into newly acquired territory. The population of the capital Prishtina raised from 200.000 to a number estimated to be well above 600.000. In 2008 Kosovo’s Parliament declared independence. Up to now 108 states recognized Kosovo as an independent state, with 23 from EU (out of 28), whereas 85  have not. Since then there has been enormous pressure on Belgrade government to recognize Kosovo independence, since it is such a recognition only which would substitute  the protectorate status of the occupied territory. (Situation appears similar to the Cyprus case, where the Turkey occupied part of the island, which cann’t be recognized as an independent state, since the Cyprus government refuses to do this).

In order to prevent an eventual treachery act of a Serbian government, the preamble of the Serbian constitution reads: „Kosovo and Metohia are integral parts of the state of Serbia.“ Before the overthrow of Milošević’s regime in 2000 it was Socialist Party of Serbia (SPS) and Šešelj’s Serbian Radical Party (SRP) who ruled Serbia, in a fashist style. Since majority of the electoral body prefered  the pro-European orientation, a group of MP Radicals separated from Šešelj’s SRS and founded a new party Serbian Advanced Party SAP), led by th former deputy and the present day president of Serbia, Tomislav Nikolic and the former general secretary and the present day prime minister Aleksandar Vučić. The new party retained all of the bagage of the original party, except for the new pro-Europen politics. In the next elections the coalition SAP and SPS lost the  election by a margin, but won the following round four years ago, by a margin too, and took over the government. And then an interesting phenomenon emerged on the Serbian political sene. The same people who agitated eagerly against EU a few year ago got the firm and steady support from the same EU. So much that  they became European favourites! The explanation for this quirk is simple – evidently a deal with EU was made: We support your governing Serbia (by whatever means) and you hand over Kosovo. As simple as that. So much for the political background.

What all this has to do with science? Much and nothing, depending on the way one looks at the prospects of the science as such in a society which undergoes serious social transformations. To appreciate the issue we compare the period under Milošević’s rule, and the present day situation.

Because of Serbian involvement in the Bosnian conflicts sanctions were imposed on Serbia in 1992, including the scientific sector. Serbia was banish from all scientific organizations, conferences, projects etc (see, e.g. P. Grujić, Physics World, June 1993; October 1994). Here we stress that Milošević and his regime were direct product of the Tito’s communist (sic) regime. Those who opposed his rule did it for two different reasons: some because he was communist and the other because he was not communist enough. This ideological determination is important to keep in mind when considering the present day Serbia.

In 1996 SRP, essentially fascist organization, joined the SPS (communists) and Serbia got a weird black and red ruling coalition. During this regime science and higher education were seriously damaged, (see, e.g. P. Grujić, Physics World, September 1998; Nature, 394, 20 August, 1998; Europhysics News, 30, No 1, 1999; Euroscience News, No 9, October 1999), with consequences still present, in particular in the science sector. When Milošević-Šešelj regime was overthrown in 2000, situation was much improved, but by 2012 election, when the red and black coalition took over the power, the devastation of the Serbian society was resumed. But this time with an almost incredible turn. While in 1990-ieth Serbia was punished via (or because of) Milošević’s regime, this time it suffers because the international community, mainly EU and USA, support the essentially the same red and black coalition. As we mentioned above – the quirk is called Kosovo. Here it is how it works.

It is a common practice when a new party wins the election and takes over the government, it replaces some old staff in the state institutions by its own members. The point of difference between the democratic and totalitarian regimes lies in the extent of the “reshuffling”. When Hitler took over German government he annihilated the previous state staff, replacing it by the Nazi members. By reconstructing the state institutional structure he established absolute control over Germany. Since Germany was one of great powers (at least potentially), it was crucial for Europe to prevent the establishment of Hitler’s regime. As we know, European great powers realized it too late, with consequences we know now. On the other hand Franco’s Spain did not present a threat to Europe and was left aside, and recognized by the European democratic states. After all, it is not an ideology which makes aggression, but people. There is nothing aggressive in the Christian ideology, but remember Crusades! Equally, communism is not aggressive by itself, but we recall Baltic States, Eastern Europe etc. Tito’s regime in Yugoslavia was not aggressive either (if we ignore the Trieste case), but was as brutal within Yugoslavia, as Hitler was generally. Moreover, Hitler had no internal enemies within Germany (apart from Jews and bicyclists), whereas Tito annihilated all Serbian people with the connections with the Royalists during the wartime, real or fictive ones.

What he did with Germany Hitler did the same with the rest of Europe, with consequences we know. But what about small countries like Serbia? A totalitarian regime may cause serious disturbances in the surrounding area, but it need not present global threats. Never-the-less, the continental community tries to rein the autocratic regime in order to spare the continent from unnecessary troubles, as the case with Milosevic was. But what if a totalitarian regime takes the power, but for some reasons does not threat the surrounding states? If, for instance the continental community sees the splitting of the state as guarantee for the peace, as the case with Serbia shows? What if this community supports the totalitarian government as long as it promises to deliver a part of the country as the price for its political survival? And what are the consequences for the internal sectors of the fascist states, like science? We shall try to answer these questions in the following.

But before we do this, a few words on a general subject about the state and law are in order. There might be good laws in a state of civilized subjects, bad laws in a state of high quality population, good laws and bad people and bad laws and bad men. Serbia is a candidate for EU and must fulfill a great number of internal and external regulations necessary for joining EU. It is in the process of doing it and we may assume that in the perspective Serbia has good laws. Does it mean the internal situation is improving from the human standpoint? Recall that Germany had during Hitler good laws (except, of course, those concerning Jews and bicyclists). Russia during Stalin, Chine during Mao Ze Dung, they had also good laws (after all they were internally stable societies). The trick lies in the way you tell the joke, as that joke about jokes says. The case in point is the now infamous Šešelj trial at the Hague Tribunal. The latter does not know what to do with this creature, for formally he did nothing against the positive law.  It reminds us on the difference between the criminal and satanic characters. One recalls the cases of Alkibiades in Athens, Catiline in Rome, Defoe’s Selkirk (known as Robinson Crusoe), and other creatures who were too clever to be caught in the net of the lawful society. After all it is the old tradition that Satan is cleverer than God, as Adam and Eve found themselves for their (mis)fortune in Eden.

Devastating terror  by Tito after the WW2 still bears its consequences in Serbia, and we now experience the similar process, albeit in a somewhat more subtle and perfidy form. The process of fascization of society is not directed by amateurs, since the political idol of the present Prime Minister Aleksandar Vučić, Vojislav Šešelj, did his PhD thesis entitled The Political Essence of Militarism and Fascism. Now we turn to the science under the new rulers.

What is the position of science in Serbia and how the new political establishment organizes scientific politics? First of all, they merged ministries for education and science into a unique Ministry for Education, Science and Technological development. The first consequence of such an arrangement, in the actual situation when every ministry shares a definite amount of money from the state budget, is that the scientific sector is placed into an inferior position vis-à-vis the educational one.  Because of its specific kind of activity, science is deprived of the primary means of protest, that of strike, unlike the educational sector. Nobody cares why you have not produced a sufficient number of papers, necessary for advancing on the professional ladders, whether you are lazy, incompetent or were striking in protest for the low salary, bad working conditions, insufficient funds etc.  Recently a five-month strike was going on in Serbian grammar and secondary schools, because the new government had lowered down the salaries for the teaching staff. If the strike succeeded, the amount of fund for the science would be used to satisfy demands of teachers and scientific researchers would pay the bill. What is even more damaging is the actual law reduces salaries (not only in the educational sector) from a fixed level upwards, what means that the middle class and upper (very thin) classes are particularly targeted. It is not by accident, of cause, for the present ruling government got hold of this position by the votes of the bottom of the social pyramid and relies on the support of the same social losers. The same holds for the pensions, which were recently reduced in a nonlinear way, with low pensions spared from the reduction, with the same rationale as for the salaries.

This promotion of the lower class population, albeit in an indirect way appears the direct outcome of the populist politics which some political movements pursue. This results in devastation of the upper levels of the social pyramid, with capable people leaving the country. Their positions in economics, science etc take over less competent professionals and the overall quality of the society suffers. We shall see now how it affects Serbian science.

Like other sectors in communist countries science has always been under the political grip. The researchers were divided into three classes: (i) political and military leaders and their offspring; (ii) ordinary Party members; (iii) the rest of the scientific community (second rank citizens). Scientific institutes have been founded whose skeletons are tightly controlled by the Party, though they were open to all capable young people. Generally, those not Party members have the status of Athenian metoikoi, though formally all citizens “are equal”, as Orwell would put it. Those “second rank citizen” scientists could advance their scientific status, could become member of the Academy of Science and Arts, are eligible to be awarded a medal for their achievements, but they could not be directors of the research institutions, deans of the university, ministers for science, MP, member of the government etc.  And this was exactly the status Athenians non-citizens, like Aristotle had. With one essential difference: Aristotle was deprived of the political rights because he was not born Athenian, whereas the majority of the Serbian ruling class came from the regions outside Serbia, west from the river Drina (so-called Dinaroids). This appears the direct outcome of the wartime history: Tito occupied Serbia in 1944/5 bringing his partisans from the western region of Yugoslavia – Croatia and Bosnia – over river Drina. In an elite Serbian research institute, for example, entire administrative staff, including the general manager, is recruited from the Dinaric population.  During Milošević regime the majority of the scientific staff was against his autocratic rule, but officially the same institute provided full support to Milošević’s politics.

Before we attempt to describe the present situation, a parallel between the postwar Serbia and Serbia under the rule of the SAP and SPS seems in order. All democratic societies appear the same more or less, but dictatorship differs from case to case, better to say from dictator to dictator. After WWII Yugoslavia was the victim of Titoism, just as SSSR suffered from Stalinism. It is wrong to ascribe a particular social or political system which describes single-person rule. Tito was one of the richest men in the entire world, living in a royal palace, whose appanage required the labour of a great deal of Yugoslavs. Never-the-less he called himself a communist, as did his cronies, too. Further, as some political systems have been demonized, often for good reason, those autocrats who introduce any of these are very careful not to reveal the essence of their autocracy that could be classified as fascism, for instance. It is the case of the present day Serbia. This is important to stress since it is essential for the external perception of what is going on in a country which applies for the EU membership.

It was Šešelj’s SRP and Milošević’s SPS who organized military interventions of their paramilitary forces in Croatia and Bosnia. Now, the government and Parliament consist of the members of the same parties, whose only common aim is to keep power, by convincing the Europe they are pro-European politicians. The fact to stress here is that the leaders of EU are well aware of this, what makes them accomplices of a dirty, though tacit, conspiracy, whose aims are (i) to recognize Kosovo and (ii) to pay it by  allowing fascization of Serbia.

Every political revolution implies turning over the social pyramid: It is the bottom of the social structure which holds the upper hand (inverted pyramid). In a somewhat exaggerated terms, the social scum emerges on the top of the political organization. We have seen it at the French revolution, Russian October revolution (which was, in fact, rather a counter-revolution), Hitler’s revolution, Tito’s ”revolution” etc. A sort of social revolution is going on in Serbia, with the difference that this time it is led by intruders from over Drina river, Dinaroids, like Šešelj, Vučić and the offspring of the ruling class from Tito’s time. What the ongoing fascization is making unique, is the fact that it is carried out with the tacit approval of the EU leaders. How is it being done?

In the process of accommodating the internal administrative structures with the European standards, Serbia is required to make a number of changes in the juridical and other state sectors. One of the requirements is the reduction of the public sector staff. Now the government fires a considerable number of state employees, with a great publicity and is consequently awarded by commends from the EU leaders. What is much less publicized is that ruling parties members are employed at the posts of the expelled ones. The final number of employees may even be larger than before. Actual situation may be now even worse, but government enjoys the support of the “international community”, what means that her ruling position is ever stable after each of the Serbia’s “fulfillments” of demands from the external factors. This sort of “cooperation” works very well.

Another example is the Serbian constitution. Its preamble, as mentioned above, prevents recognizing Kosovo province as an independent state. Now the government, more precisely premier Vučić, plans to reduce the number of MP “for the economic reasons”. He will then delete the “fang” of the opposition and smoothly proclaim the recognition of Kosovo.

The strategy of taking absolute control over the country, exercised by the government is applied at all lower levels of the society, a sort of fractal structure, as elaborated elsewhere (P. Grujić, Euroscience News, No 9, October 1999, pp. 4-5). Just as Hitler eliminated all other parties after taking over power, the present ruling quasi-communist and semi-fascist coalition has succeeded in reducing the opposition to a symbolic presence, starting from the republic level down to the smallest municipal ones.

How it works at research centers? We take as illustration an institute which happens to be regarded the elite scientific institution in Serbia. New management was formed with the members predominantly from a single, recently founded research unit. New recruits to the institute were taken predominantly to this department, at the expense of the other laboratories, whose staff is constantly diminishing. Further, there was a practice in the institute that retired researchers could continue to do research at the institute and may be engaged in all other activities. One of the first steps taken by the new management was to: (i) kick out the retired colleagues, who constitute the backbone of the research and some of them working in the institute since its founding (1961). They are deprived not only of making use of their offices, but also of the common space like the seminar rooms etc.  As senior staff these people were pioneers in their fields, running seminars and other things at the state levels. They are forbidden even to organize symposia and other scientific meeting. The management even did not bother to inform these senior staff in person, but did it by e-mail circular letters.

The management abolished the highest scientific board and founded new one, with a restricted number of members, with new members chosen according the general policy of eliminating possible opposition to the “new order”. Thus, just as Serbia is becoming ”single party state”, some scientific institutes  are becoming ”single laboratory research centers”.

Transition from a (quasi) liberal society to the totalitarian regime is always accompanied by a spontaneous corruption passing to the state organized one. We have seen this phenomenon with Hitler, Stalin and Tito, when the very partition of the political power was a well organized corruption. At the present state of transition from a quasiliberal to the semitotalitarian regime Serbia appears in a mixed state. Practically it means that the political positions are misused to acquire individual gains which otherwise on would never achieve in a legal way. High rank politicians who failed to graduate at a faculty obtain university diploma at the departments which did not exist before, to be abolished after politicians ”graduate”. At one of the private universities, whose dean claimed to got his PhD at LSE (what passed unnoticed by the school administration), government members obtain PhD diplomas for conspicuous plagiarism. Opposition made much noise about one drastic case with a minister, but in vane. It is expected that soon all members of the government will be in possession of PhD diplomas and Serbia will be proud to have the most educated government in Europe.

What is the actual situation in Serbia now and in particular in science is difficult to estimate, since the regime manipulates with numbers and provides various estimates at different occasions, often contradictory ones. Once one faces a totalitarian regime majority of criteria fail to help. The additional trouble with Serbia is the fact that the overwhelming majority of the ruling regime, at all levels, come from the area across river Drina, where different ethics hold. Cheating, stilling and similar asocial acts appear there as a sign of the natural wit to be appreciated. Those people do not consider Serbia as homeland, but rather as occupied country, convenient to plunder.

What future for science in Serbia may be expected? Under the present conditions, just as the middle class is being devastated by the new rulers, the average level science will continue to provide standard research results. As for the high-level science Serbians (nota bene not Serbs, but Serbians) will share the world production, but in foreign laboratories, like USA, France, Germany, Britain, etc. Metoikoi do not win Nobel Prize. After all Serbia is not Athens.

Petar Grujić, PhD, FInstP

Scientific adviser, retired

October, 2015-10-14, Belgrade

A Geopolitical Convergence Between The US And Russia

The end of the Cold War era in 1989 brought during the first coming years a kind of international optimism that the idea of the „end of history“ really can be realized as it was a belief in no reason for the geopolitical struggles between the most powerful states. The New World Order, spoken out firstly by M. Gorbachev in his address to the UN on December 7th, 1988 was originally seen as the order of equal partnership in the world politics reflecting „radically different international circumstances after the Cold War“.[1]

Unfortunately, the Cold War era finished without the „end of history“ as the US continue the same policy from the time of the Cold War against Moscow – now not against the USSR but against its successor Russia. Therefore, for the Pentagon, the Cold War era in fact never ended as the fundamental political task to eliminate Russia from the world politics still is not accomplished. Regardless the fact that in 1989 Communism collapsed in the East Europe, followed by the end of the USSR in 1991, that brought a real possibility for creation of a new international system and global security[2], the eastward enlargement of the NATO from March 1999 (the Fourth enlargement) onward is a clear proof of the continuation of the US Cold War time policy toward Moscow which actually creates uncertainty about the future of the global security. After the end of the USSR and the Cold War, there were many Western public workers and academicians who questioned firstly why the NATO has to exist at all and secondly why this officially defensive military alliance is enlarging its membership when the more comprehensive Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe (the CSCE, today the OSCE) could provide the necessary framework for security cooperation in Europe including and Russia.[3] However, the NATO was not dissolved, but quite contrary, adopted the same policy of the further (eastward) enlargement likewise the EU. The Kosovo crisis in 1998−1999 became a formal excuse for the enlargement of both these US client organizations for the „better security of Europe“. The EU Commission President, Romano Prodi, in his speech before the EU Parliament on October 13th, 1999 was quite clear in this matter.[4] However, if we know that the Kosovo crisis followed by the NATO military intervention (aggression) against Serbia and Montenegro was fully fueled exactly by the US administration, it is not far from the truth that the Kosovo crisis was provoked and maintained by Washington, among other purposes, for the sake to give a formal excuse for the further eastward enlargement of both the EU and the NATO.

A dismissal of the USSR by M. Gorbachev in 1989−1991 produced a huge power vacuum in the Central and East Europe that was in the coming years filled by the NATO and the EU. The eastward enlargement of both the NATO and the EU emerged in due time as a prime instrument by Washington to gradually acquire control over the ex-Communist territories around Russia. A standard Western academic clishé when writing on the eastward enlargement of the EU is that those ex-Communist East European states:

„… wanted to join a club of secure, prosperous, democratic, and relatively well-governed countries. They saw themselves as naturally belonging to Europe, but deprived of the opportunity to enjoy democracy and the free market by Soviet hegemony and Western European acquiescence to that state of affairs. With the fall of Communism this historical injustice had to be remedied, and accession to the EU was to make their return to Europe complete“.[5]

However, it is not clear why seven West European states currently out of the EU are not able to see all mentioned advantages of the EU membership. Even one of the member states (the UK) decided in 2016 to leave the club (Brexit) and one of the chief reasons for this decision was exactly the eastward enlargement as the critical idea of all East European states to join the EU is to live on the West EU member states’ financial support. Nevertheless, from the geopolitical perspective, the new EU member states coming from the East Europe (from 2004 enlargement onward) are the US Trojan Horse in the club, who are openly supporting the American foreign policy of the imperial design, but with their prime duty as the members of both the EU and the NATO to take an active participation in the coming Western military crusade against Russia in the form of the WWIII. However, these East European nations are going to be the first to experience direct consequences of the war as being a critical part of the Western front line combat zone against Russia.

Surely, one of the most fundamental anti-Russian actions in Europe at the post-Soviet era was the US decision to expend the NATO eastward by offering full membership to three ex-Warsaw Pact members: Poland, the Czech Republic and Hungary. Therefore, Reagan-Gorbachev agreement from Reykjavik in 1988 was unilaterally and brazenly violated by Washington under the formal excuse of a combination of events−V. Zhirinovsky’s showing in the 1993 elections in Russia, domestic pressure upon B. Clinton from his Republican opponents at the Congress, and what the US administration saw as the abject failure of the EU to provide an answer to a European problem of the Yugoslav civil war (1991−1999). Washington quickly accused the Europeans to be unable to deal with the Yugoslav crisis that was a major test which the EU failed to pass, but honestly speaking, all the EU peace-making efforts dealing with the Yugoslav crisis really failed for the very reason as they were directly sabotaged by the US diplomacy. Nevertheless, the first new action by the enlarged NATO, only two weeks after its Fourth enlargement, was a savaged bombing of Serbia for the sake to put her Kosovo province under the NATO occupation. This action finally forced V. Putin to compel the „Western clown“ B. Yeltsin to resign on December 31st, 1999.

It has to be recognized that the Cold War bipolarity after 1989 was, at least up to 2008, superseded by the US-led unipolarity – a hegemonic configuration of the US accumulated hyper power in global politics that presented quite new challenges to the international relations. However, after the event of 9/11, the US administration started to act on the accelerating achievement after the Cold War of supreme political and military power in the globe for the sake to complete a mission of a global hegemon. The US administration, however, purposely presented the 9/11 attack as the work of (only) a network of Al Qaeda, a Islamic terrorist organization led by Osama bin Laden who was a Saudi millionaire’s son but as well as „who learned his terrorist trade, with U.S. assistance, fighting Soviet forces in Afghanistan in the 1980s“.[6] The US administration of the President George W. Bush responded very quickly and by the end of 2001 a Taliban regime in Afghanistan, that was a radical Islamic regime which was providing a base of operations for Al Qaeda, became demolished and the biggest part of the country occupied or controlled in a coalition with the US satellite states. That was the beginning of the announced „War on Terrorism“ that actually had to serve as a good excuse to further strengthen the US position as the global policeman followed by the invasion of Iraq in 2003. Therefore, a policy of a global unipolarity – a condition of a global politics in which a system of international relations is dictated by a single dominant power-hegemon that is quite capable of dominating all other states, became an order of the day for both the Pentagon and the White House.

With the US military invasion of Afghanistan in 2001 and Iraq in 2003 the US stood alone (with the military support by the UK as the fundamental American client state after 1989) at the summit of the hierarchy of the international relations and global politics up to 2008 when Russia finally decided to protect its own geopolitical and historical interests in some part of the world – in this particular case at the Caucasus. The US, in the other words, became in the years 1989−2008 the sole state in the world with the military and political capability to be a decisive factor in the global politics at any corner of the world. In these years, the US military expenditures exceeded all other states combined – a clear sign of a hegemonic global policy of Washington. It seemed to be that the US had an extraordinary historical ability to dictate the future of the world according to its wishes and design as America became a single world hyperpower as the universal empire stronger than Roman or British empires.

By definition, the empire is an universal state having a preponderant power and being in a real ability to act independently without any restraint.[7] Therefore, the empire is working alone rather than in concert with other states, or at least with those whom we can call as the Great Powers[8] – a fundamental mistake and sin which finally provokes an apocalyptic animosity and clash with the rest of the world. This animosity, from historical perspective, after certain time provokes a blowback by the others that exactly, in the case of the US empire, came from Russia in 2008. The Central Caucasus, the East Ukraine and the West Middle East today became the regions of direct clash of geopolitical interests on the global chessboard between declining US empire and the rising economic, political, financial and military power of Russia. The US even from 1990 (the First Gulf War) crossed the moral boundaries in abusing its hyper power through defiant and brutal unilateralism, becoming, as all other universal states (empires), hated and feared rogue civilization („rogue gangster state“ according to Stephen Lendman). The universal state is acting as an international outlaw by its own rules, values, norms and requirements like the US and its NATO satellites in the case of barbaric bombing of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia for 78 days in 1999.

According to Noam Chomsky, in fall 2002 the most powerful state ever existed in history declared the basic principle of its imperial grand strategy as a self-intention to keep its global hegemony by the threat to use or by use of its own super-powerfully equipped military arsenal that is the most critical US dimension of power in which Washington reigns supreme in the world.[9] It was clearly confirmed by the White House on September 17th, 2002 as a part of the US national security strategy that was going to be no longer bound by the UN Charter’s rules governing the use of force:

„Our forces will be strong enough to dissuade potential adversaries from pursuing a military build-up in hopes of surpassing, or equaling, the power of the United States“.[10]

The hawks of the US hegemonic world order after 1989 openly emphasize the necessity of America’s self-serving pre-eminent role in the world politics, as Hillary Clinton, for instance, put it at her confirmation hearing as the US Secretary of State in 2009:

„So let me say it clearly: the United States can, must, and will lead in this new century… The world looks to us because America has the reach and resolve to mobilize the shared effort needed to solve problems on a global scale – in defense of our own interests, but also as a force for progress. In this we have no rival“.[11]

However, those H. Clinton’s words were ungrounded as the US empire already was in the process of declination. The gradual decline and probably ultimate demise of the US empire, as any other empire in history, can not be understood without previous knowledge on the nature and driving forces of the imperial system. After 1991 the USA remained to function as a „military society“ as there were, for instance, the Roman Empire or the Ottoman Sultanate. That is to say more precisely, the driving force behind the US empire left to be an „external objective“ – the perceived needs to reconstruct the world according to its own values and norms. However, such very ambitious project requires a very systematic policy of overall mobilization of the whole society, economy and politics. As such mobilization all the time implies sacrificing a particular sector of domestic economy for the sake to realize the expansionist aims, the system’s functioning is basically reinforced by the need to replenish resources used up at the previous stage[12] – the need which the US simply could not accomplish successfully.

The US, as a matter of fact, already found itself very costly to maintain its own military dominance in the world. The American soldiers are deployed in almost 80 countries from the Balkans to the Caucasus and from the Gulf of Arden to the Korean Peninsula and Haiti. The US administration is today constantly trapped by the Imperial Overstretch Effect – the gap between the resources and ambitions especially in the foreign (imperialistic) policy which is formally wrapped into the phrase of „domestic security“ needs or international „humanitarian mission“. Undoubtedly, the US costly imperial pursuits and particularly military spending weakened the American economy in relation to its main rivals – China and Russia.

There are a number of scholars (N. Chomsky, M. Chossudovsky, etc.) and public workers (like P. K. Roberts) who predict that after the Pax Americana a multipolar system of international relations will emerge. The fact is that multipolarity, as a global system with more than two dominant power centers, is clearly advocated by V. Putin’s administration in Kremlin instead of both a bipolarity or unipolarity. This concept of multipolarity in international relations has to include alongside the US and the BRICS countries, Japan and the EU. As a multipolar system includes several comparatively equal Great Powers, it is by the nature complex system and hopefully more prosperous for maintaining the global security. The world is in fact from 2008 at the process of power transition that is surely the dangerous period as a hyper power of the USA is directly challenged by the rise of its rivals – Russia and China. Subsequently, the current Ukrainian and Syrian crisis are the consequences (a global „collateral damage“) of such period of power transition which already marked the beginning of a new Cold War that can be soon transformed into the Hot Peace era. Nevertheless, the US administration is not anymore in position to run with the Bush Doctrine[13] that is the unilateral grand strategy of the George W. Bush’s administration in order to preserve a unipolar world under the US hegemony by keeping America’s military capacity beyond any challenge by any other state in the world as, certainly, the US hegemony is already challenged by both Russia and China. Those two countries are currently in the process of making their own alliance bloc advocating multilateralism as cooperative approach to managing shared global problems and keeping a collective security by collective and coordinated actions (a groupthinking) by the Great Powers.

The fundamental task of the US foreign policy after 1989 is to protect its own concept and practice of the unipolar geopolitical order in the world, while Russia with the other BRICS countries is trying to create a multilateral global geopolitical order. The BRICS group of countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) are clearly expressing the global phenomena of the „Rise of the Rest“ against the US unipolar hegemony. The rise of the BRICS marks a decisive shift in the global counter-balance of power toward the final end of America’s hegemony. A significance of these four fast-growing economies and their global geopolitical power is already visible and recognized with the predictions that up to 2021 the BRICS countries can exceed the combined strength of the G-7 countries.[14] Therefore, here we are dealing with two diametrically opposite geopolitical concepts of the world order in the 21st century.[15] The current Ukrainian and Syrian crises are just practical expression of it. From the very general point of view, the US administration is not opposing the Russian geopolitical projects because of the fear of the reconstruction of the USSR, but rather for the sake of realization of its own global geopolitical projects according to which Russia has to be a political and economic colony of the West like all the former Yugoslav republics are today but just formally existing as the „independent“ states. The most immediate US task in dealing with Russia after 2000 is to prevent Moscow to create an Eurasian geopolitical and economic block by (mis)using the EU and NATO policy of the eastward enlargement in the East Europe and the Balkans. Ukraine in this matter plays one of the fundamental roles as, according to notorious US Russophobe of the Polish origin Z. Brzezinski, Ukraine is a new and important space on the Eurasian chessboard as a geopolitical pivot for the reason that its very existence as an independent country helps to halt Russia to become an Eurasian empire what means a center of world power. Therefore, the US policy in the East Europe has to be concentrated on turning all regional countries against Russia, but primarily Ukraine which has to play the crucial role of stabbing the knife to Russia’s backbone.[16]

The Huntington’s thesis about the unavoidable clash of the antagonistic cultures at the post-Soviet time basically served as academic verification of the continuation of America’s hegemonic global policy after 1989. The author himself „was part leading academic and part policy adviser to several US administrations−and had occupied this influential space since the late 1950s“[17] what means that Huntington directly was participating in directing the US foreign policy during the Cold War. However, as the USSR together with its Communist satellites finally lost the war, but the US policy of the Pax Americana had to be continued and after the Cold War, Huntington actually by his article and later the book on the clash of antagonistic civilizations, as their value systems are profoundly different, paved the academic ground to the Pentagon to invent, a new and useful enemies that would give the US a new role and provide a new justification for America’s continued hegemony in a post-Soviet world. One of these enemies became a post-Yeltsin’s Russia as a country which decided to resist a global hegemony by anyone.

A new Russia’s foreign policy in the 21st century is especially oriented and directed toward refutation of predicting that the new century of the new millennium is going to be more „American“ than the previous one. It means that the US-Russian relations after 2000 are going from the US-led „New World Order“ to the multipolar „Resetting Relations“.[18] The last military success of the Pax Americana’s geopolitical project was the Second Gulf War (the Iraq War) in 2003 launched by the US Neocon President George W. Bush not only to kick out the „Vietnam Syndrome“, but more important to answer to all those experts who previously had been predicting an erosion of the US influence in the global politics. The architects of a post-Yeltsin’s Russia’s geopolitics, followed by all critics of the Pax Americana, are emphasizing a dangerous effect of an American soft power in the shape of popular culture, styles of dress, fast food, music, etc., as the products of a primitive sub-culture and a quasi-civilization. Therefore, the global duty of the civilizations at the time of the clash of civilizations is to fight against a quasi-civilization which degenerates a human face around the world. That is one of the critical tasks of Russia in world policy after 2000 as one of the escalating Great Powers. A rising power of the post-Yeltsin’s Russia as one of the leading countries which are challenging the US unipolar hegemony can be seen from the facts that only up to 2008 Russia succeeded to double its GDP, to triple wages in real terms and to reduce the unemployment and poverty.[19]

Prof. Vladislav B. Sotirovic

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[1] Jeffrey Haynes, Peter Hough, Shahin Malik, Lloyd Pettiford, World Politics, New York: Routledge, Taylor & Francis Group, 2013, 97.
[2] John Baylis, Steve Smith (eds.), The Globalization of World Politics: An Introduction to International Relations, Second edition, New York: Oxford University Press, 2001, 111.
[3] Karin M. Fierke, Antje Wiener, “Constructing Institutional Interests: EU and NATO Enlargement” in Frank Schimmelfennig, Ulrich Sedelmeier (eds.), The Politics of European Union Enlargement: Theoretical Approaches, London−New York: Routledge, Taylor & Francis Group, 2005, 99.
[4] European Commission, “Speech by Mr Romano Prodi, President of the European Commission, on Enlargement”, European Parliament Brussels, October 13th, 1999, SPEECH/99/130.
[5] Jan Zielonka, Europe as Empire: The Nature of the Enlarged European Union, New York: Oxford University Press, 2006, 49.
[6] Steven L. Spiegel, Jennifer Morrison Taw, Fred L. Wehling, Kristen P. Williams, World Politics In A New Era, Belmont, CA: Wadsworth/Thomson Learning, 2004, 329.
[7] On this issue, see more in [Robert Kaplan, Warrior Politics: Why Leadership Demands a Pagan Ethos, New York: Random House, 2002]. On the political ideology of a universal state, see [Elen Arveler, Politička ideologija Vizantijskog carstva, Beograd: Filip Višnjić, 1988].
[8] A Great Power is such state which is ranked among the most powerful states in the world according to hierarchical state-system. There are four fundamental criteria to identify a Great Power state: 1. It is in the first rank of military competence, having full capacity to protect its own national security and to influence other countries; 2. It is economically powerful state; 3. It has global spheres of interest; and 4. It use a “forward” foreign policy having actual, but not only potential, impact on international relations and world politics [Andrew Heywood, Global Politics, New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2001, 7].
[9] Noam Chomsky, Hegemony or Survival: America’s Quest for Global Dominance, London: Penguin Books, 2004, 11.
[10] White House, The National Security Strategy of the United States of America, Washington, September 17th, 2012.
[11] Amitav Acharya, The End of American World Order, Cambridge, UK: Polity Press, 2014, 51.
[12] Andrew C. Janos, East Central Europe in the Modern World: The Politics of the Borderlands from pre- to postCommunism, Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2000, 330−331.
[13] The Bush Doctrine dealing with the “War on Terrorism” is formulated in two messages delivered to joint sessions of the US Congress on September 20th, 2001 and January 29th, 2002 [Paul R. Viotti (ed.), American Foreign Policy and National Security: A Documentary Record, Upper Saddle River, New Jersay: Pearson Prentice Hall, 2005, 244−248]. The Bush Doctrine is directly supported by the USA Patriot Act of October 24th, 2001. The idea of Bush Doctrine is in fact very similar to the idea of the Reagan Doctrine of 1985 formulated to fight the Sandinista regime in Nicaragua.
[14] Andrew Heywood, Global Politics, New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2001, 447.
[15] Срђан Перишић, Нова геополитика Русије, Београд: Медија центар „Одбрана“, 2015, 221.
[16] On this issue, see more in [Zbigniew Brzezinski, The Grand Chessboard: American Primacy and Its Geostrategic Imperatives, New York: Basic Books, 1997].
[17] John Baylis, Steve Smith (eds.), The Globalization of World Politics: An Introduction to International Relations, Second edition, New York: Oxford University Press, 2001, 115.
[18] Roger E. Kanet, “From the ‘New World Order’ to ‘Resetting Relations’: Two Decades of US−Russian Relations” in Roger E. Kanet (ed.), Russian Foreign Policy in the 21st Century, London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2011, 204−227.
[19] Richard W. Mansbach, Kirsten L. Taylor, Introduction to Global Politics, Second edition, London−New York: Routledge, Taylor & Francis Group, 2012, 165.

Donald Trump On Kosovo In 1999

When I saw the media in Serbia reporting about Donald Trump’s alleged condemnation of the 1999 NATO attack on then-Yugoslavia, also known as the Kosovo War, I shrugged it off as disinformation. Most of them, I’m sad to say, are almost entirely dedicated to gaslighting the general populace, and as likely to spread confusion and cognitive dissonance as actual news.

It turns out that Donald Trump did talk to Larry King about Kosovo – but everyone is leaving out that this took place in October 1999. That is sort of important, though: by that point, the Serbian province had been “liberated” by NATO occupation forces, and the ethnic cleansing of non-Albanians by the terrorist KLA had been going on since mid-June.

Here is the segment touching on Kosovo, from the official CNN transcript (with my emphasis):

KING: But, we don’t know the – for example, you and Kosovo. Would you have done what Clinton did?

TRUMP: Well, I would have done it a little bit differently. And I know this would sound terrible. But look at the havoc that they have wreaked in Kosovo. I mean, we could say we lost very few people. Of course, we had airplanes 75,000 feet up in the air dropping bombs. But, look at what we’ve done to that land and to those people and the deaths that we’ve caused.

Now, they haven’t been caused with us and the allies because we were way up in the air in planes. But, at some point, you had to put troops in so not everybody could go over the borders and everything else, and a lot of people agree with that.

Now, would people have been killed? Perhaps, perhaps more. But, at least ultimately, you would have had far fewer deaths. And you wouldn’t have had the havoc and the terror that you’ve got right now. So, you know, I don’t know if they consider that a success because I can’t consider it a success.

KING: You don’t.

TRUMP: They bombed the hell out of a country, out of a whole area, everyone is fleeing in every different way, and nobody knows what’s happening, and the deaths are going on by the thousands.

He could be referring to the KLA ethnic cleansing of Serbs, Roma, and other groups here. But true to himself, Trump is being very vague and it is impossible to pin the statements down. At the time, he was considering running for the presidency, but ultimately decided against it.

It would certainly be interesting if someone asked him the same question today, 17 years later, when he is actually running for president (and may be getting the nomination, too).


Source: Gray Falcon

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Donald Trump’s Foreign Policy Adviser: Al-Qaeda Destroyed The Serbian Army In Kosovo

Republican presidential candidate, Donald Trump, published the list of his foreign policy advisers. One of them, claim the US media, is the worst choice possible.

The list of advisers is headed by Senator Jeff Sessions, and includes Keith Kellogg, Carter Page, George Papadopoulos, Walid Phares and Joseph E. Schmitz.

Phares is the former adviser to another presidential candidate, Mitt Romney.

Phares is described as a neo-conservative and “an academic who is involved in Christian militia wing of the civil war in Lebanon”.

US media deemed Phares as an inappropriate analyst of US foreign policy, while one of his statements that is being considered unfitting is regarding NATO’s bombing of Serbia and Kosovo.

“An all-out campaign by Al-Qaeda destroyed the Serbian Army in Kosovo and led to regime change in Serbia”.

In an analysis, published one year before Kosovo declared independence, Phares stated that “if that [independence] happens, then the same must also offered Bosnian Serbs.”


Source: GazzetaExpress

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French Documentary Exposes Ukraine’s Far-Right. But Can Europe Handle The Truth?

The activities of aggressive nationalist and neo-Nazi armed movements in present-day Ukraine are the focal point of Moreira’s documentary.  Their existence is not denied by any of his leading critics in France — even as they try to find excuses to justify their actions.

On Wednesday, 3 February, as I was about to start assembling this article on the very important documentary about the Maidan broadcast by the French independent television channel Canal + on Monday evening, 1 February, I was headed off by breaking news on Russia Insider, carrying links to the first half of the documentary in English voice-over and a couple of other key primary sources I had intended to work with. The second half was expected to come shortly. Although primary sources do not constitute reader-ready journalism, their apparent availability in English compelled me to alter my approach to the subject matter so as to ensure I would offer substantial added value through deeper research and comprehensive interpretation.

On Thursday morning, 4 February, the picture changed yet again. The half of the documentary on Russia Insider remained. However the complete file in French with English subtitles for the opening minutes had gone dead.  A black screen explained that the video has been taken offline for violating the copyright of its producers Premières Lignes Télévision, of which Mr. Moreira is co-founder.

Was this a sign of censorship, suppression of the documentary and its elimination from public viewing as was demanded in the days just prior to the planned airing by the Ukrainian authorities? Or was it simple and normal exercise of intellectual property rights?

Some pointers to answering this question may be found on the Canal+ home page, which  makes no mention of the offending video but offers a couple of excerpts from it. One is called “The Massacre of Odessa” and constitutes a 2minute28 second fragment.  Another two minute long fragment is dedicated to the interview with the violent former spokesman for Pravy Sektor (Right Sector), Igor Mosiychuk, who died in September 2015 in police custody, though this is not mentioned in the film. But the integral video is not on offer from the broadcaster.  At the website of the producers the video on display opens just to the trailer for the documentary, not to the documentary itself.

For these reasons I tentatively believe we are facing the issue of censorship. It also appears that the situation is very unstable with regards to pirated versions. As of today, 5 February, the link on Russia Insider, in fact takes you to the full original documentary in French with neither subtitles nor voice-over.

Though it will be little comfort to English speakers, there are things to learn from the original that were not picked up by Moreira and his producers, but are invaluable, so I urge those who can profit from it to do so immediately.  I have in mind in particular the local speech that one hears fairly well in the French original of the video beneath the narrator’s explanations. That local speech of four of the five leaders of the Ukrainian extreme nationalists/neo-Nazis who are interviewed or otherwise featured happens to be….Russian, not Ukrainian.

The odd man out is Oleh Tyahnybok, chief of the Svoboda party, who comes from and whose power base is situated in the historical center of the Ukrainian nationalist movement, Lviv, in the Western Ukraine. Lviv was once the capital of Austrian Galicia, which tolerated and perhaps even encouraged the Ukrainian nationalists before 1914 as a stick to poke the Russians in the eye. It was the intellectual cradle of the Maidan movement. All the others interviewed or otherwise featured are speaking native Russian: Dmitry Yarosh and Igor Mosiychuk of Pravy Sektor; Andrij Biletsky of the Azov Battalion; and Mark Gordiyenko, a leader of Odessa paramilitaries.

This fact stands in contrast to what we hear in one segment of the film, presenting militants from Pravy Sektor on the street outside a courthouse where a trial is taking place against one of their peers. They denounce a Russian-speaker who passes them on the sidewalk, calling him a traitor for Moscow, a ‘shit.’  Meanwhile their top chiefs are…Russian speakers.

I introduce this observation not as some idle bit of irony or absurd touch. It is central to what is wrong with Ukraine today. The country is in the grip of extreme nationalists who seek to impose what the British scholar Richard Sakwa has called a monist view of nationhood, one which does not admit of minorities or heterogeneity. Rainbow Revolution is not what the Maidan is all about. Like the Communism which held power in Ukraine before 1992, this new extreme nationalism can impose its will only by violence or the threat of violence. It is by definition the antithesis of European values of tolerance and multiculturalism.  All of this violence and intimidation is what Paul Moreira shows us graphically, frame by frame in his carefully constructed documentary. That it happens to take place under an ideology that incorporates elements of fascism if not Nazism is incidental but not decisive.

Since the continued availability of the pirated Canal+ documentary online is uncertain and it is, in any case, only French speaking, I will first provide here a brief summary of what Moreira shows on the screen. This is very basic journalism on the order of who did what.  Then I will proceed to offer what I hope readers will see as higher added value journalism, setting the political context for this documentary by looking at how it has been received critically in France.  From there I will conclude with some comparative remarks on the debate over Maidan in France as showcased by the Canal+ broadcast with a similar debate by U.S. print media that began in the months immediately following the 21 February 2014 coup d’etat in Kiev that installed extreme nationalists in positions of power.

Paul Moreira’s Scenario for Ukraine: The Masks of Revolution

Paul Moreira is a professional documentary film maker, not an area specialist. Like other successful journalists he travels the globe and has done films in Iraq, in Israel, in Burma, in Argentina to name just a few places. Like many of his peers, his philosophical outlook might be described as humanitarian leftist. He tells us at the opening of this latest work for Canal+ that he was drawn to the subject of Ukraine and the Maidan Revolution by what he saw at home on his television set.  Like most everyone, he

“…felt sympathy for these people who demonstrated day after day on the streets in winter conditions. They wanted to join Europe, to move away from Russia. They wanted the corrupt president Yanukovich to leave. They hoped for more justice, fewer inequalities.  But I was struck by one thing – the images of the American diplomat Nuland on Maidan distributing bread.  The Free World, its cameras, sided with the insurgents.”

Remarking those discordant elements, and especially the presence of flags with neo-Nazi symbols unfurled at post-Maidan demonstrations, he decided to go to Ukraine and see for himself what was going on. This documentary draws upon his interviews with leaders of the paramilitary groups and extreme nationalist politicians. It draws upon film footage from the massacre which killed 46 Russian-speaking demonstrators against Maidan in Odessa on 2 May 2014 and his follow-up interviews with people on both sides of the conflict. It presents footage on the violent demonstration of nationalist extremists before the nation’s parliament to enforce Maidan policies on the legislators, and recent footage of the Pravy Sektor militias operating a blockade of the highways leading from Ukraine into what is now Russian Crimea all in violation of government policy from Kiev.

During the course of the film Moreira intersperses footage intended to show the controlling hand of the US both before and after the coup d’etat of February 2014 that overthrew Yanukovich. Twice we see US Secretary of State Victoria Nuland handing out cookies on the Maidan to encourage the demonstrators in December 2013. We also see U.S politicians including John McCain, Joe Biden together with the neo-Nazi Svoboda party leader Oleh Tyahnybok on a podium in Maidan.

A longer segment takes place in September 2015, at the annual Yalta European Strategy Meeting in Kiev where Moreira tried to get some impromptu interviews from American Masters of the Universe. Surely the field was tempting and included Victoria Nuland and former CIA boss General David Petraeus, author of the surge in Iraq and current strong advocate for sending offensive weapons to Kiev.

Moreira succeeded only in getting a sound bite from General Stanley McChrystal, who told him that the task of the day was to improve the militias and their links with the Ukrainian government. Moreira asked whether he was aware that the paramilitaries had attacked the Verhovna Rada the week before. With a dismissive smile before he made his getaway, McChrystal responded, “That’s a problem…”

One other relevant archival sequence shows Victoria Nuland testifying before Congress in May 2014 when  California Congressman (R ) Dana Rohrabacher asked if she was aware that there were neo-Nazis in the demonstrations and street violence that led to Yanukovich’s removal. Rohrabacher went after Nuland when she was being evasive, asking again whether besides the mothers and grandmothers with flowers there were very dangerous street fighters, neo-Nazi groups.  Nuland responded with more blather: “Almost every color of Ukraine was represented including some ugly colors.” For the record Rohrabacher concluded he took that to mean ‘yes.’ This segment all by itself would make it worthwhile for Americans to seek out the documentary to savor and share with friends.

Reaction to the documentary from Le Monde and other French journalists

On 31 January, that is one day before the release on Canal+ of Paul Moreira’s documentary, the leading Center-Left French daily newspaper Le Monde issued a stern critique of his work under the title “Paul Moreira gives us a distorted vision of the Ukrainian conflict.”

The paper’s reporter for Ukraine, Benoit Vitkine, says the extreme nationalists were only one part of the armed force behind the Maidan and charges Moreira with giving them far too great a role in the Maidan and its aftermath. Moreira shows them as major political force when in fact “their electoral results are laughable” says Vitkine. He also denies that they are ‘the new masters of the Ukrainian streets.’

The last point is debatable. After all Moreira gives us footage of paramilitaries demonstrating aggressively in the streets before the parliament to influence outcomes in the legislature. And we have scenes of their illegal blockade of the highway at the Crimean border, which is very literal control of the streets.  The first point is wrong not because the extreme nationalists have done well at the elections (they did not) but because the interpretation of their low popular support misses the point. It in no way contradicts their power and influence over the policies of the Kiev government and parliament achieved by ongoing, never-ending intimidation. This equals a devaluation of the Ukrainian democracy that is so celebrated in the West.

He accuses Moreira of omitting in his film mention of the Russian aggression against Ukraine. This, says Vitkine, explains the radicalization of part of the Ukrainian population and the decision of Kiev to arm the battalions of volunteers.  However, even if we were to accept the start of the story where Vitkine picks it up and not go back just a few months to the provocation that prompted Russian intervention on behalf of Crimea and the Donbass, Vitkine’s remark is only an excuse and does not deal with the resulting ugly reality. It does not provide a way forward.

Similarly Vitkine rejects the referendum in the Crimea that brought the peninsula into the Russian Federation, which Moreira took to be legitimate, and he rejects Moreira’s charge of US complicity in the installation of neo-Nazis to bring the Ukraine into realignment with its objectives.

In a word,  Le Monde’s key reporter on Ukraine is attacking Moreira from the standpoint of a narrative written in Washington. In this sense, the French Center Left is no less under the spell of Neoconservative ideology than the majority of the American Left of Center ‘Progressives’ in the Democratic Party.

That being said, Vitkine does toss one bouquet to Moreira for his treatment of the “events” of 2 May 2014 in Odessa, and the deaths of 42 pro-Russian demonstrators:

“Even if he overestimates the role of Pravy Sektor and assigns responsibility for this drama too peremptorily, the film performs a salutary piece of work by dwelling at length on this episode from the post-Maidan days that is often neglected.”

Lest we become too attracted to Moreira, the review in Le Monde concludes with haughty condescension:

“Otherwise, Moreira’s pose as the white knight who is exposing past truths that have been passed over in silence just doesn’t work.  This experienced documentary film maker has taken up a real subject. He has chosen to ‘see for himself,’ as he tells us. But he only saw what he wanted to see…”

Moreira’s response to Le Monde and two other critics, still before the airing of the film, appeared in French on the site and in English translation on the website of

Moreira cites the pressure which came from the Ukrainian authorities for Canal+ not to air the documentary, how he was denounced.  But he insists that the paramilitaries are a great threat to Ukrainian democracy and says denial of their existence and of the danger they pose so as not to play into Russian propaganda “means to become a propagandist oneself.”

Moreira accuses Le Monde journalist Benoit Vitkine of ”unusually violent writing.”  But what could one expect when the Left is attacking another sympathizer of the Left who seems to have lost his way and is leading others into confusion. Moreira’s answer to Vitkine and the various critics is point for point, restrained and confident.

After the airing of the broadcast, an “Open Letter to Paul Moreira” was published on the website of the French weekly Nouvel Observateur. Per Wikipedia, this news magazine “has been described as “the French intellectuals’ parish magazine”, or more pejoratively as “quasi-official organ of France’s ‘gauche caviar.’” This citation dates from 2006 and comes from a reputable American source who knows whereof he speaks, John Vinocur, reporter at the time for the Paris based  International Herald Tribune. It is also worth mentioning Nouvel Observateur is 65% owned by Le Monde.

Seven of the 17 journalists who signed the Open Letter work for French state media – France 24 and Radio France International. In this capacity, they are hardly independent journalists with regard to a subject as politicized as Ukraine. Three are with the Center Left newspaper Libération newspaper. One is with Nouvel Observateur.  Three are free-lance photo journalists.

The letter starts and ends with stinging reproaches to Moreira. But the contents go this way and that way. The critics raise serious weak points but also reluctantly acknowledge merits of the documentary. Meanwhile, without meaning to and notwithstanding the broad knowledge of the territory and its recent history to which they lay claim, they manage to demonstrate a seriously faulty understanding of what is going on in Ukraine and why.

Their letter is interesting for acknowledging the reality of the central issue raised by Moreira’s documentary: that there is a problem with paramilitaries in Ukraine. However, like Vitkine, they want to shift the discussion from that reality and find excuses in the war that rendered these paramilitaries heavily armed and a danger to the country’s future.

As rightful demonstration of their expertise, they call out Moreira’s mistake in calling the anti-Maidan forces “Russian origin Ukrainians” when in fact they are mostly ethnic Ukrainians who happen to speak one or another language depending on family tradition and geography. They fault him for failing to see that his interlocutors among the nationalist Ukrainians were responding to him in pure Russian.  The signatories insist that Ukraine is a genuinely bilingual society across its geography. But they are willfully ignoring what I said at the outset: this is precisely why the implementation of a single notion of the nation, a single state language can be accomplished only by force, which is dehumanizing and destructive of European values.

Like Vitkine, the authors reject the results of the Crimean referendum, pointing to the presence of Russian troops on the peninsula. But they themselves ignore the repeated polls and news reporting by disinterested third parties in the past year validating the results of the 2014 referendum.

They acknowledge that the paramilitaries were a problem but say they were brought under control during 2015. This is a questionable assertion given the continuing political instability in Kiev and the apparent extremist influence on the Verhovna Rada, frustrating the efforts of the Poroshenko government to implement the terms of the Minsk II accords. They are silent about Moreira’s footage from the Crimean-Ukrainian border.

Most emphatically, the authors reject the “theory of overthrow of the government in February 2014 by the paramilitary groups of the extreme right.”  In doing so, these journalists claiming expert knowledge of the recent history willfully ignore the substantial evidence indicating the snipers on Maidan and killings were false flags by professionals intent on enraging demonstrators and facilitating the seizure of power, not by the government’s Berkut forces. They overlook the critical role of Dmitry Yarosh and his forces in shredding the EU-Yanukovich written agreement on 21 February.

Like Vitkine, they salute the coverage by Moreira of the 2 May events in Odessa, but say vaguely it is not the only incident in Ukraine that has not been adequately investigated.  And they say that the French and international press has covered extensively the atrocities in Ukraine. This is unconvincing.

We might conclude that these 17 journalists have written their Open Letter to safeguard their jobs with the French state media and their continued travel rights to Ukraine, which is essential to their careers. But the story does not end there.

One of the 17 signatories, Gulliver Cragg, who works for the France24 television channel, also published a very curious article on the Moreira documentary in other venues. Like all of the photo journalists and many of the other radio, television and print journalists in the list of signatories, he publishes on various platforms and for various audiences.  His side essay was written for the Kyiv Post and put online by the still more unpromising, a website devoted to the “struggle against fake information about events in Ukraine.”

Cragg’s essay opens and closes with harsh words for Moreira.  In the middle he has harsh words for the Ukrainian authorities, whom he blames for creating their own public relations disasters by misguided policies:

“…by naming a suspected neo-Nazi, Vadim Troyan, to be police chief in Kyiv region in Autumn 2014. Or appointing the Right Sector leader Dmytro Yarosh an official Defence Ministry adviser. Or allowing the Azov battalion, now integrated into the National Guard, to use the Wolfsangel symbol on their logo. Or failing, as Moreira points out in his documentary, to punish any Ukrainian nationalists for their role in the Odessa tragedy.”

Clagg acknowledges that this might lead outsiders to conclude that the far right has too much influence in Ukraine. Moreover, he blames directly President Poroshenko and Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk for simply not understanding all of this and not changing their behavior and their appointments accordingly.

And while he comes back to his conclusion that Moreira is blowing things out of proportion, he agrees that the existence of far-right groups in Ukraine and their influence, their weapons should be a cause for concern and constitute “a legitimate topic for foreign reporters.”

One may assume that Paris-based Clagg has no particular plans to visit Kiev any time soon given his follow-on remarks to the preceding:

“Ukraine’s leaders and media should engage with this issue and encourage a national debate. How do we define far-right? Where does patriotism end and bigotry begin? Where do we draw the line between activist and extremist? Politicians should be addressing these questions and speaking out against those whose views are not compatible with the European values Ukraine claims to espouse. And, crucially, they should be heard doing so on foreign media.”

And so grudgingly, even some of his critics have come out of their hiding places and put forward constructive suggestions. By prompting this, Moreira has performed a praiseworthy service, whatever the factual errors and interpretational limitations of his documentary.

The Maidan as presented in US media

First, it must be said that nothing like Moreira’s documentary has appeared on US television. Dark sides of the Maidan and in particular the question of the role of neo-Nazi groups and other violent extremists in fomenting and achieving the coup d’etat of 21 February 2014 have been discussed and debated in the United States but almost exclusively in print media with relatively low circulation and in the alternative internet media.

From the very beginning and up to time present, the fight over interpretation of the Maidan Revolution in the East Coast establishment has been very one-sided.  This is something I wrote about in April 2014 and published as the chapter entitled, “The uncivil war being waged in America’s East Coast-based liberal magazines of commentary’ in my book Does Russia Have a Future?  I will limit myself here to several salient points.

From the moment demonstrators first gathered in Independence Square in the days following President Yanukovich’s rejection of the EU Association Treaty, Yale professor of history and active propagandist of Neocon political views Timothy Snyder led the band in celebrating Maidan, with its promised  liberation of an entire nation from Russian oppression. He then brazenly denigrated anyone who suggested the Ukrainian revolution was tainted by a significant component of neo-Nazis.

Snyder’s most important soap box was the New York Review of Books, which is positioned as a Progressive bastion of humanitarian values and of American global hegemony as their special defender.

His reputation as an accomplished scholar and polyglot who published a widely acclaimed book on the Holocaust in the territories of Central and Eastern Europe which he dubbed the Bloodlands gave respectability to Russophobic and Ukrainophile rants that others writing in venerable peer publications of commentary like the liberal New Yorker, or the centrist Atlantic and frankly rightist New Republic in Washington. At the same time the editorial boards of the country’s newspapers of record – The Washington Post, The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal ensured that newspaper columns and op-ed pages set out the Washington narrative day after day. Opposing views were progressively choked off, finally getting no space whatever in mainstream.  One of the few exceptions in Establishment print media was The Nation, where contributing editor and Professor of Russian History emeritus at Princeton and NYU Stephen Cohen delivered detailed critiques of the factual and interpretational errors, of the utterly unscholarly debating conduct of Snyder and his comrades-in-arms.

Otherwise heterodox views became accessible only to determined truth seekers exploring the alternative media portals. I name here in particular one devastating critique of Snyder that Jim Naureckas published at FAIR.

Needless to say, critical views of Maidan and its neo-Nazi components got almost no attention in broadcast media.

In general, the situation of the Left of the American political spectrum and the Ukrainian question resembles closely what we have seen above in the critical response to Pereira’s documentary in France. Publications which promote liberal, humanitarian values in domestic politics have largely assumed what is an essentially a Neocon agenda in foreign policy, with Russia-bashing as a central point.  In this sense, there is nothing surprising that Le Monde and its daughter publication Nouvel Observateur are perfectly aligned with The New York Review of Books in blind admiration of Ukraine and its Maidan Revolution.

Nominally the United States does not have state controlled television and radio, unlike most European Union Member States. Its broadcasters are all ‘independent.’  Nonetheless, no American channel so far has shown the civic courage of a Canal+.


Much as I admire the courage and dedication of Paul Moreira and valuable as his documentary is for focusing on very troubling aspects of the post-Maidan political realities in Ukraine, he is an outsider to the subject matter who has missed some very relevant facts about Ukrainian society before his eyes.  His critics have missed the same points due to their ideological persuasions or lacking analytical skills.

The fact is that the population of Ukraine is very diverse. The major split between native Ukrainian speakers in the West of the country and native Russian speakers in the East of the country remains unchanged. Add to this the very many minorities of other nationalities, including Hungarians and Romanians who are especially numerous in territorial pockets.  The ambition of the post-Maidan government in Kiev and of the nationalist extremists who are maintaining pressure on it through intimidation by their paramilitaries is to forge a monist national identity.  This can be achieved only by violence and threat of violence.

The existence of aggressive nationalist and neo-Nazi armed movements in present-day Ukraine was the focal point of Moreira’s documentary.  It is not denied by any of his critics in France even if they try to forgive it by alluding to Russian aggression and the war in the Donbass.  Their insistence that it is just a small part of the paramilitary battalions, not to mention the general population, as revealed by electoral results, is intentionally misleading. Their point would have relevance if Ukraine were a functioning democracy.  The ability of these nationalist extremists to control parliament and operate illegal blockades as they do at the Crimean border proves that Ukraine is not a functioning democracy.

Those are the essential points which emerge from the Canal + documentary and its aftermath. For this we must express our deep appreciation to Mr. Moreira and the management of the television channel.

About the author:

G. Doctorow is the European Coordinator, American Committee for East West Accord, Ltd. His latest book Does Russia Have a Future? was published in August 2015.

Original source of the article:

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Book By Vladislav B. Sotirovic: “Global Research. Selected articles” (Second Edition), Vilnius, 2016

Book by Vladislav B. Sotirovic: Global Research. Selected articles (second edition), Vilnius: UAB “Mylida”, 2016

ISBN 978-609-408-840-7, UDK 911.3:32 So-121

The book reviews by:

  • Dr. João Carlos Graça, Lisbon School of Economics & Management, Lisbon University, Lisbon, Portugal
  • Prof. Dr. Krisztina Arató, Vice-director of the Institute of Political Sciences at the Faculty of Law and Political Sciences, Eötvös Lorand University, Budapest, Hungary
  • Dr. Christian Rossi, Department of Social Sciences and Institutions, Cagliari University, Cagliari, Sardinia, Italy

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