ans thought it would be a good idea to include Washington inrnthe itinerary, assuming that a possible testimony by Milosevic’srnopponents before the Senate Foreign Relations Committeernwould be welcome to the White House and the State Department.rnWhen they contacted the administration, however, theyrnwere told that the proposed visit was “undesirable,” becausern”the opposition in Serbia is composed of nationalists who arernno better than Milosevic.” I was told—off the record, ofrncourse—that a “strong signal” was given to the Canadians that,rnin Washington’s view, they should not go ahead with the visitrnthemselves.rnAnd so the sanctions remained, and so did Milosevic. Theyrnbecame inseparable. The sanctions had proved an absoluternboon to Milosevic. First, he could blame them for the abysmalrneconomic situation in the country, which was in fact due to thernstructural defects of an inefficient socialist economy—an economyrnhe was unwilling to reform on political grounds. Secondly,rnhe could use the sanctions as a pretext for the policy of gradual,rnand (by 1995) total, abandonment of the western Serbs,rnthereby eliminating a potentially serious threat to his powerrnbase in Serbia proper.rnWorse still, Milosevic could observe with equanimity the exodusrnof about a quarter of a million predominantly young andrnwell-educated urban Serbs in 1992-95, whose decision to emigraternwas most often prompted by the sanctions. Those whornhad provided the backbone of political opposition to his governmentrnin 1990-91 were leaving, and he was staying. Thernfruits of the sanctions are obvious only now, when his power hasrnbeen shaken. The near-destruction of the remaining urbanrnmiddle class—which was hit hardest by the sanctions—meansrnthat the critical mass for that final push is simply lacking in Belgrade,rnregardless of the looming social, economic, and moralrncollapse of the nation.rnHaving already reached my own conclusions about the viewrnin Washington concerning Milosevic, I was not surprised thatrnthe United States persisted with the same course in the fall ofrn1992, when it had an opportunity to do otherwise. The primernminister of the mmp Yugoslav federation at that time was MilanrnPanic, a flamboyant Californian businessman who was installedrnwith Milosevic’s approval but soon refused to do his bidding.rnIn order to enhance his credibility. Panic was desperatelyrnappealing for even a token gesture of support from Washington.rnHe had specifically asked that humanitarian deliveries of heatingrnoil be exempted from the sanctions (the winter season wasrnapproaching) and hinted that such a symbolic gesture would atrnleast give him some leverage in his attempts to unify the opposition.rnBut Panic was rebuffed by the United States. It was clearrnthat his conciliatory policy—exemplified by the complete withdrawalrnof the last Yugoslav troops from Croatia—went unrewarded.rnThe benefactor was Mibsevic, yet again, who couldrnridicule Panic as a pathetic buffoon, a trickster who was bluffingrnthe nation with his claim that he could count on Westernrnsupport against the president of Serbia. Emboldened, in Decemberrn1992, Milosevic called snap elections.rnIn spite of considerable handicaps (the greatest of which wasrnstate control over the media, especially television) Milan Panicrn—^by now Milosevic’s unrestrained opponent and presidentialrncandidate of the opposition—was unexpectedly doingrnquite well in the polls. The gap between him and Milosevic,rnconsiderable at the beginning of the campaign, was reportedlyrnshrinking fast. And then, yet again, a statement came fromrnWashington which suddenly improved Milosevic’s position.rnJust two days before the vote in Serbia, the lame-duck Secretaryrnof State, Lawrence Eagleburger, declared that—in his opinionrn—Slobodan Milosevic should be indicted as a war criminal.rnNow, this man Eagleburger knows his Belgrade, and understandsrnthe Serbian mentality. He had spent many years in Belgradernand had been culturally attuned to the place well enoughrnto know of inat, that hardheaded and often self-defeating spiternso typical of the Serb psyche. Eagleburger must have realizedrnthat the best way to rally people around an increasingly unpopularrnleader was to “tell” them just how bad he was, especiallyrnfrom the “American” point of view. There can be but littlerndoubt that he was fully aware who would be helped by such arnstatement. Unsurprisingly, the clip with Eagleburger’s diatribernwas eagerly carried by state television and all governmentcontrolledrnmedia in Serbia. I know personally of an oldrnBelgrader, a lifelong anticommunist, who voted for Milosevicrnthat one time—”just to show the Americans.” Poor fellow,rnlittle did he know that he was acting just as expected, andrndesired, by those same Americans.rnOnly someone unacquainted with the true objectives andrnmodus operandi of American foreign policy will be surprisedrnby such a gap between officially proclaimed objectivesrnand reality. Let us therefore jump four years to our time, and tornthe massive wave of antigovernment protests which swept overrnSerbia last November. It took more than a week of continuousrnstreet protests in Belgrade for the State Department to issue thernfirst (mild) rebuke of Milosevic. “The Serbian leader continuesrnto be a necessary diplomatic partner,” pontificated the NewrnYork Times in a November 28 editorial, while American diplomatsrnin Belgrade were quietly advising protesters to refrain fromrndemanding Milosevic’s resignation. The British ambassador inrnBelgrade, Ivor Roberts, enjoyed unrestricted access tornMilo,sevic, and had been active in trying to diffuse the currentrnwave of protests. Such ambivalence prompted the Times (ofrnLondon) to bewail Western disregard for “the ruthlessly undemocraticrnnature” of the regimes in Serbia and Croatia, warningrnthat the view of Milosevic as a pillar of regional stability wasrninherently flawed.rnSo what is the secret of Milosevic’s success in making himselfrnindispensable? The answer is simple: his readiness to playrnthe role of the New Worid Order Gauleiter in the Balkans. ThernSerbs of Bosnia and Croatia, unwilling to submit to FranjornTudjman and Alija Izetbegovic but unable to resist withoutrnhelp from Serbia itself, were doomed to defeat once Milosevicrndecided that they could pose a threat to his undisputed authority.rnIn the words of Vojislav Kostunica, a leading oppositionrnpolitician in Belgrade,rnMilosevic decided some time in early 1993 that hernwould rather have total control in a very small Serbia,rnthan risk competition from Pale and Knin. The logicalrnoutcome of this was his preference for the Croatian victoryrnin the Krajina, and for the Muslim hegemony inrnBosnia. That explains why he did nothing to help thernSerbs in Croatia, and that’s why he has sold the BosnianrnSerbs down the river at Dayton.rnBy betraying the struggle for self-determination of the Serbsrnwest of the Drina, by calmly stabbing them in the back, Milosevicrnhas shrewdly purchased the lasting benevolence of thosernJUNE 1997/25rnrnrn