Geert Lovink on Wed, 18 Dec 96 07:35 MET

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nettime: usia, b92, 101, hdz, sds and soros


What is USIA?  During the wars of Yugoslav succession it kept
amazingly low profile.  It's shortwave powerhouse, Voice Of America,
covered the events but the usual American aggressive marketing skills
were conspicuously absent from the effort.  It was therefore pleasant to
see VOA deciding to transmit Radio B92 program in Serbia after "a
flooding" temporarily shut off B92's transmitters in Belgrade.  It
worked, too: Milosevic's people quickly put the Radio back on air,
concluding indubitably that it does them less damage if it's range is kept
limited to downtown Belgrade.  One may spend hours wondering why
methods like this were not used in the near past.

This week USIA is bringing Veran Matic, the editor-in-chief of B92, to
the U.S. Veran is well groomed for the event.  It is his third.  USIA on
occasions bring odd species from the exotic Third World countries and
then show them around in a sort of a human rights freak show.  Veran
proved to be a good game.  He posses a good humor, and he doesn't
speak English fluently.  Also, he is the enemy of "our" enemy, i.e.
Serbian president Milosevic.

The situation is somewhat murkier with Croatia.  Tudjman is not
considered an enemy.  USIA, though, did tour Croatian human rights
activists as well (from Croatian Helsinki Committee, Anti-War
Campaign and Dalmatian Action), but they misbehaved and at the end of
their tour they were a liability and USIA was glad to dispose of them. 
USIA never invited them back.  USIA, however, never brought over
anybody from Radio 101, Arkzin, Feral Tribune, or any other
independent Tudjman-plague-fighting media.  Why don't give it a try? 
Or is Tudjman still considered so vital for the U.S. national security
interests in the region, so that, in the eyes of American government, the
opponents to his dictatorship do not deserve the same benevolent
treatment as the opponents to Milosevic's dictatorship?

Instead of bringing over editors of Radio 101 and Arkzin, USIA
conducted a poll on Tudjman's popularity, miraculously concluding that
still around 80% of Croatian citizens support their Conducatore.  One
question is how did USIA come up with a number greater than any
number from any similar poll done in Croatia - even the one conducted
by Tudjman's party (HDZ) themselves?!  The other question is why did
USIA come up with that number - or why did they resort to that poll in
the first place?  To whom did they need to prove that Tudjman is still
strongly in power despite almost 200,000 people demonstrating against
him in streets of Zagreb last month?

Did Tudjman's popularity maybe suddenly rise after he bestowed a high
military medal on the shoulders of  Tihomir Blaskic, a Croat currently
held at The Hague International War Crimes Tribunal?  In that case the
USIA poll would confirm the New York Times latent suspicions that
Croats are essentially Nazi off-shots.  Did USIA want to prove that?  I
mean - if Croatia and Croats remain unpopular close-to-Nazi people,
then the U.S. government should have an easier job of maintaining the
good-for-business regime in place there, or am I wrong? 

Besides, New York Times ia kind of loosing its touch - Chris Hedges
recently declared both Zagreb opposition and Belgrade students
dangerous right wing nationalists.  I guess he would label a bunch of
Vietnam war protesters who carried an American flag, mostly naively
believing that would protect them from police brutality, hardened
American right-wing nationalists, too.  Since when, however, is the
U.S. woried about nationalism, anyway?

Did Tudjman's popularity maybe suddenly rise after he fired his Interior
Minister - Jarnjak - over the head of his Prime Minister (who heard
about it on TV)?  Apparently, Tudjman fired him for allowing
demonstrations to happen.  Actually, Jarnjak wanted to "do something",
but the Zagreb police was resilient and viewed the entire event basically
as an inter-HDZ power struggle (after the news of Tudjman's terminal
illness became evident and confirmed), so they did not want to intervene
in the internal party matters.  This was common during the previous
(Yugoslav communist) regime, too: riot police would come out and kick
ass only when the mandate was clear and when they knew who was in
charge (otherwise they would wisely stay in barracks protecting their
own rear ends).  Tudjman, now, is basically re-asserting his power:
giving the medal to Blaskic, firing Jarnjak and playing tennis for national
TV to show that he is in perfect health.  However, it is outrageously
inappropriate that USIA releases a boost to him after he just fired his top
cop for *not* sending tanks against his citizens (or should I call them

Notwithstanding embarassingly obvious attempts by West to keep both
Tudjman and Milosevic in power, Obrad Kosovac of HTV (Croatian
Television) attacked the world wide conspiracy (headed by George
Soros, of course) of starting demonstrations in Zagreb and Belgrade
simultaneously - trying to overturn democratically elected governments
in Croatia, Bosnia and Serbia.  I can't wait to see Tudjman heartily
embrace Izetbegovic and Milosevic to together plot how to defend
themselves from Soros Evil Empire.  And how about Tudjman and
Milosevic being responsible for demonstrations?  They both did moves
that were clear to cause public outcry.  They both then allowed for
demonstrations to flourish.  They both consequently used the
demonstrations to blame foreign enemies for trying to overthrow them,
rallying the "silent majority" back to their support.

January 15 - the day when the Croatian Telecommunications Council
will reconvene and grant or deny the Radio 101's broadcasting license -
is closer, and Tudjman might want to use it as an ultimate test of his
power.  Are we ready to let him win?


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