collapse. To reach ripe old age and die inrnbed, like Tito, is exceptional for a dictator;rnto set his country on the steady roadrnto democratic reform, like Franco, isrnunique.rnThe method of bringing down dictatorialrnregimes varies: from coup d’etatrn(when it is usually another dictator whorntakes over), the lost war (when the newrnpowers-that-be are installed by the victoriousrnparty), to popular revolt, oftenrnbloody and violent. The one method ofrnchanging governments which is alien torndictatorships is that of free and fair elections.rnElections have never been able tornterminate the tenure of a political powerrnstructure which refuses to regard the willrnof the people as the source of its legitimacy,rnor its legality.rnThe significance of what happened inrnBelgrade, Nis, and other Serbian citiesrnon November 17 and thereafter is thatrnwe have the final proof that Serbia underrnMilosevic is not even a nominal democracy,rnbut a dictatorship of one man,rnhis wife, and their motley crew ofrncronies, assorted thieves, ruffians, andrnscoundrels, variously known as the SocialistrnParty of Serbia, or the YugoslavrnUnited Left, but aptlv described by thernpeople of Serbia as “Red Bandits.”rnMilosevic’s brazen theft of a clear victoryrnfrom opposition parties has finallyrnclarified an important issue. Until lastrnNovember’s election he could evokernsome degree of electoral legitimacy. Itrnwas largely bogus, and based on gerrymanderingrnof constituency boundaries,rnon his blatant control of the media, andrnon persistent fraud. Nevertheless, untilrnmid-November his political opponentsrncould delude themselves that it was stillrnworth participating in elections stagemanagedrnby Miloseic, in spite of allrnsuch imperfections, in the hope thatrnmiracles could still happen.rnBy demolishing any such delusions,rnMilosex’ic has unwittinglv made a majorrncontribution to the cause of democracyrnin Serbia. After November 17, it has becomernclear that Serbia’s president willrnnever, ever gi’e up power through thernballot box. He has thus done a favor tornall advocates of real political change inrnSerbia.rnSome Western commentators havernexpressed surprise that Milosevic did notrnwant to give up power even at the level ofrncity and municipal councils, since all keyrnlevers of state power would still remain inrnhis hands. But they do not understandrnhis personality. For Milosevic, any alternativernto his own power is not legitimate.rnEven the current facade of a multipartyrnsystem he allowed only under pressure,rntreating it as something odious and temporary.rnAny division of power, to him, isrnequal to the beginning of the end ofrnpower itself.rnOn the other hand, opposition partiesrnand the people of Serbia are increasinglyrnaware that this is the key moment forrnthe country’s future. Succumbing tornMilosevic’s Diktat would be tantamountrnto the acceptance of rule by fiat, to thernabolition of all parties and of the last vestigesrnof parliamentarianism. This awarenessrnis finally beginning to transcend rivalriesrnwhich have plagued Serbia’srnopposition over the past six years.rnTo them, one key dilemma remains;rnHow to deal with the possibility of violence?rnIt is unrealistic to expect that thernregime which, for more than half a century,rnhas brought nothing but blood,rntears, and shame to the Serbian people,rnwill ever give up without violence.rnMilosevic is hoping to avoid it by attrition,rnhoping for gradual disillusionment,rnfatigue and loss of hope on behalf of thernprotesters, accompanied by some tokenrnconcessions b’ the regime, and followedrnbv “stabilization”—the like of which wernhave seen in East Berlin in 1953, in Budapestrnin 1956, and in Prague in 1968.rnIt may not work. Milosevic’s powerrnstructure is showing some signs of strain.rnOne hundred judges have signed anrnopen letter, having been shamed intorncondemnation of their pliant colleaguesrnwho have given the stamp of “legality” tornthe theft of opposition otes. His ministerrnof information has resigned in protestrnat the muzzling of the remaining freernmedia. His chief of army staff. GeneralrnPcrisic, is reliably reported to have toldrnhim that the military would refuse to bernused again, as in March 1991, whenrntanks were deployed against demonstrators.rnMilosevic’s last and most formidablernbastion is provided by the middle-rankingrnapparatus of power. From Tito’s davsrnhe has inherited thousands of communistrnapparatchiki, who had lost any pretensernof ideological zeal but who werernallowed, even encouraged, to grow morerncorrupt and arrogant than ever. Milosevicrntrusts those local mini-bosses becausernhe knows that they are up to theirrnnecks in shady deals, theft, corruption,rnand all manner of human baseness. Hernis well aware that this riffraff has nornchoice but to follow him to the bitterrnend. They have to, not because they arernloyal to “the Big Boss” personally, but becausernfor most of them the alternative tornpower is not retirement but well-deservedrnjail.rnAnother key source of hope forrnMilosevic is the underlying support forrnhim coming from Washington. It tookrnmore than a week of continuous streetrnprotests in Belgrade for the State Departmentrnto issue the first (mild) rebuke ofrnMilosevic. “The Serbian leader continuesrnto be a necessary diplomatic partner,”rnpontificated the New Yor^ Times inrna November 28 editorial, while Americanrndiplomats in Belgrade were quietlyrnadvising protesters to refrain fromrndemanding Milosevic’s resignation.rnSuch ambivalence prompted the Timesrnof London to bewail Western disregardrnfor the “ruthlessly undemocratic nature”rnof the regimes in Serbia and Croatia,rnwarning that the view of Milosevic as arnpillar of regional stability was inherentlyrnflawed.rnBy betraying the struggle for selfdeterminationrnof the Serbs west of thernDrina, by stabbing them in the back,rnMilosevic was shrewdly hoping to purchasernthe lasting benevolence of thosernwho run America. Indeed, it was withrnthe skins of the Bosnian and KrajinarnSerbs that he has turned himself fromrn”the butcher of the Balkans” into “a necessaryrnpartner.” The current view insidernthe Beltway is that, for all his domesticrntransgressions, Milosevic should stay inrnpower. Surely enough, appropriate liprnservice is being paid to America’s supportrnfor democracy in Serbia, and independentrnBelgrade media have been visitedrnby a few itinerant congressmen. Andrnyet, the Clinton administration is loathrnto see the fall of Milosevic—the manrnwilling to sign on the dotted line, provenlyrnunable to say “no” to the likes of DickrnHolbrook and Company.rnThere is a problem, though. Thernpeople of Serbia may present Clintonrnand Albright with an embarrassing faitrnaccompli, and get rid of Milosevic regardlessrnof the “friendly” advice fromrnWashington. Rather than wait for this tornhappen, America should reexamine itsrnBalkan strategy. The more Milosevicrnhas given, the less he is needed now.rnSince the deal imposed at Dayton hasrnbecome a fact of life for the oppositionrnparties in Serbia, Milosevic’s position asrnan essential pillar of this settlement hasrnended. His influence over the BosnianrnSerbs is in any event negligible.rnMARCH 1997/45rnrnrn