Where to start delving into such an expansive subject?
While in the years of Boris Tadić Serbia relinquished any political leverage for defending its occupied province of Kosovo and Metohija, the events made a hopeful turn with the surprising victory of Tomislav Nikolić in the presidential election in May of 2012. While the deeply corrupt administration of Tadić simply had to go for the sake of - so was hoped - Serbia's salvation, the pre-mature announcement of Nikolić's victory, coming from Brussels of all places, signaled that the post-Tadić era may not bring the substantial changes Nikolić's voters had hoped for. And outside of changing the cast, the decades-long scenario for Serbia's destruction kept being adhered to. Nikolić's politics is a continuation of Tadić's, with a lot of acceleration and a lot more deception.
Only a year later, the Serbian political leadership de facto recognized the secession of Kosovo. Although they deny it in a very amateurish and sloppy way, Serbia's leaders did agree to recognize Kosovo's Albanian government as it sees itself, as well as the borders, customs, tax jurisdiction, symbols, and the legal systems. Anyone who can read the documents they signed with Hashim Thaci can see nothing but a not-so-implicit recognition. On top of that, the Ivica Dačić-Aleksandar Vučić axis of power has been forcing the insofar resilient Serbs of Kosovo to abolish their self-rule and subject themselves to the rule of Hashim Thaci's administration. And they have been doing this while feigning great difficulties in preserving Serbia's integrity and emphasizing the imperative of Serbia continuing on its path towards the European Union. Meanwhile, the statements from Brussels and Berlin have been clear: without the explicit recognition of the Republic of Kosovo, Serbia cannot hope to ever join the Union, regardless of what else it concedes along the way and what dangled carrot it bites into from now to then. When you willingly concede a trench to the advancing enemy (and the leading EU countries have been the foremost promoters and sponsors of Kosovo's secession from Serbia, even fighting a war against Serbia to that end), and you justify the deed by the desire to please the enemy and get taken over by it, your allegiances are clear beyond questioning: you are the agency of your people's enemy.
The amount of deception involved in the process of giving up Kosovo at the orders of Brussels has been mind-boggling and defeating. The levels and the nature of deception are not characteristic only to the Kosovo narrative; it is omnipresent, but it is most obvious here, because the Kosovo issue is more straightforward than, say, the broad and vague subject of corruption.
The tabloids, ever-ready to serve any regime, came to dominate Serbia's news arena by appealing to the lowest instincts of the average readers, in the dirtiest fashion of Hollywood's and CNN's "dumb-it-down" methods.
Vučić's omnipresent "war on corruption" has been the best example of this.
Vučić, in slapping together the cabinet after the election last year, took for himself several unrelated posts and carved up the cabinet so that he gradually became identified as the increasingly dominant force within it, despite the fact that he was not the prime minister. The image of a dictator has been in the making by the public relations architects for some time and the Serbian public has been carpet-bombed by it through the ubiquitous tabloids. Although he hasn't been formally in charge of any aspect of any state mechanism that could be reasonably expected to lead and execute the fight against corruption, the ostensible victories have been associated with his name. The strongest effect of the so-called "war on corruption" has been the raising of the profile of Vučić. In all actuality, and this is becoming more painfully obvious, this "war" was nothing but a decoy needed to protect the true baron robbers of Serbia from punishment. After a year of bombastic arrests, well-publicized by the tabloids well ahead of time, all we could see was a selective justice, or no justice at all, for the sake of removing the politically inexpedient out of the way of advancement of others who wanted to take their place and their loot. We could also see no attempt to reform the judicial system as a force in reducing corruption. We saw a man being put up on a pedestal; this man, armed with self- and regime-serving tabloids, deceived the public that there was a fight against those that robbed it and that he was the one to be praised for it. More than a year later, some of the arrested have been let go, some have been kept in detention, some have been indicted but not tried, and most of those who the Serbian public equates in guilt with those targeted are still walking the streets, more powerful than before. Meanwhile, it's never been easier to buy a master degree, to perform a surgery without any expertise, to run an energy conglomerate without any qualifications, to procure a favor, to fix a public bid... How do you imagine fighting corruption with the same Minister of Interior, the same state police chief and the same special prosecutor for organized crime in place? If Dačić, Milorad Veljović and Miljko Radisavljević wanted to fight and not to protect the corrupt, they would've started years ago. Or are we saying they were prevented by their boss, Tadić, from fighting corruption? Why hasn't Tadić been brought to justice then?
To sum up, the Serbian public was deceived to think that the regime change brought relief and that the new regime is "fixing problems," as Serbs like to word it, while, in effect, there has been no interruption in the process of subordinating and plundering Serbia. In hindsight, the only reason the regime change was necessary was the continued deception: Tadić and his cohorts were bringing the dissatisfaction to the boiling point, so the fresh faces and fresh impressions were needed. The process could only continue uninterrupted if the critical mass of people does not get enraged by the installed puppets' actions to the point where it'd rise up and drag them into the streets, or, God forbid, do something more serious, like pull its savings out of the banks and commit mass credit default.
To make the deception even graver, the economic side of things doesn't look any brighter. While the NATO aggression on Serbia left its infrastructure and industrial production in shambles, as was the war's objective, the violent regime change colloquially referred to as the Fifth of October (of 2000), opened the already trembling floodgates for marauding Western imperial shock therapists and economic hit men. For the past 13 years, the economic narrative of Serbia has been one of corrupt privatization processes, artificially induced defaults, forceful acquisitions, rising unemployment, decline in production, a loan upon a loan from the IMF and other imperial loan-sharks, the ever-expanding political power of economic tycoons and the fire sale of all of Serbia's valuable economic assets that anyone was interested in. And, most tellingly, the siphoning of live cash out of the county in alarming amounts. In other words, a re-colonization. A war on corruption is an impetus, but unless the indictments start with the likes of Mlađan Dinkić and other corrupt government officials, it remains a hoax. After all, only those elected and appointed to serve the public can be corrupt. But the Empire would never install a regime that would work in the interest of the Serbian public and against its own.
That's another change the new regime introduced. In the spirit of Nikolić's campaign promise, the only one he kept, Serbia's new regime has turned to all four sides of the world in looking for buyers and colonial masters, as opposed to Tadić's customary sycophantic gaze into the West. UAE's crown prince Mohammed bin Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan is leading the way in buying off Serbia's remaining defunded and defunct assets. Apparently, the colonization seed-and-bait money is coming from the Persian Gulf now, so Dinkić, who always had his ear to the tracks, is in charge of filtering it through, and siphoning the profits out and around. The Islamic influence in general is gaining ground in Serbia, through investments and culture, and the regime is doing nothing to slow it down. Remember, one of Belgrade's premier parks still boasts a statue of former Azerbaijani dictator Heydar Aliyev, erected in his honor by Tadić and Dragan Đilas, the mayor of Belgrade, because Aliyev's son, the current dictator, spent some money beautifying the park. Mind-boggling, I say.
Serbia hoped for a change when Nikolić beat Tadić on the third attempt. After all, Nikolić was a radical nationalist, who, for 17 years prior to his split with the Serbian Radical Party, had been ranting against the practices that brought Serbia to its knees. It was clear Nikolić and his sidekick Vučić weren't the same politicians before and after the summer of 2008, but understanding what any Serbian nationalist would be up against in trying to come to power, and figuring that the old Radical notions of the united Serbdom weren't feasible anymore, and imagining the rift within the party starring Vojislav Šešelj on one and Nikolić and Vučić on the side, a lot of Serbian moderate and progressive nationalists secretly hoped Nikolić and Vučić were trying to deceive the Empire.
The most damaging, but potentially the most cathartic effect, however, was the cooptation of the traditional nationalist political current into the imperial agenda. It is damaging for an obvious reason: the patriotic ideology has no more significant outlets or outfits as Nikolić and Vučić didn't just crossed to the dark side, but brought along a lot of moderate nationalists as well, depriving them of the opportunity to align with their true ideology. An entire range on the political spectrum has been occupied by the followers of Nikolić and Vučić for years, because of who they were and what they said. Even those nationalists who didn't like the two, flocked to their support in opposition to the colonial regime of Tadić's Democratic Party. Now, while some have awakened and others are beginning to, the Nikolić-Vučić range still occupies a significant voting bloc. Some people vote for Nikolić's and Vučić's Serbian Progressive Party by instinct, some have conveniently flown over from losing parties, but more importantly, a lot of nationalists will abstain from the process completely, thus giving up their power as citizens and contributing to the imperial agenda remaining dominant.
Of course, Serbia won't get better for it and that brings out the cathartic aspect of the otherwise damaging effect of cooptation. Ideologically, the Progressives have become indistinguishable from their opponents and predecessors in power, and the trend shows that while they still occupy a large chunk of the nationalist range of the ideological spectrum, they will be sliding into the realm formerly held by the Democratic Party and squeeze it out or get enmeshed with it. Tabloids, propaganda and deception can't put bread on people's tables, and as a colonial regime, the Progressives and their Socialist allies, together with their esteemed advisers, cannot do anything to help Serbia's economy and living standards, if they cared to, just like the Democrats couldn't and won't.
The question is how long can the Empire continue stringing up and recycling puppets before the disenfranchised Serbian people draw the line, and how long will the nationalists who flocked to the Progressives keep making up excuses for Nikolić and Vučić, before realizing they have been deceived, humiliated and betrayed. Fortunately for the Empire, while the polyarchical socio-political system it has built in Serbia doesn't stop people from distancing themselves and opposing the colonial regime, it does prevent them from grouping together under a single banner. The opposing ideological realm is cut up into very small groupings that are generally disappointed offshoots of dominant currents and that have no common ground to stand on. The Empire is not safe from having its colonial regime overthrown, as the popular energy can be built up to that end, but it seems safe from facing an alternative system, opposed to it, being set up.
What concerns me the most is that the Empire, once its puppet masters feel their interests have been satisfied as much as the current regime was capable of, or once they see a real threat to the puppet regime in the form of accumulated popular opposition, would usurp the energy built up around the opposition, activate trained activist cells dormant within the NGOs the Western funds and institutes have set up and financed, stage another violent coup and concoct a new political narrative that will extend its domination over Serbia.