BFP Exclusive- Joe Biden in Munich: Incentivizing the US Balkan Vassals

Biden's imperial blessings of his Balkan interlocutors to enforce the neoliberal, militarist dogma against their own people's interests

The 51st Munich Security Conference, the erstwhile gathering of the Cold Warriors, took place from February 6 to February 8, 2015. This year's conference was probably the most politically contentious in the living memory. The participants witnessed an open and direct clash of views regarding the situation in Ukraine between the US and NATO political leaders on one side, and the Russian political leaders on the other. If the relations between the US-NATO Empire and Russia continue deteriorating at the pace we have seen in the past ten months, I seriously doubt that the conference in this format will be able to convene next year.

The highlights of the conference included the PR stunt of the Ukrainian president Petro Poroshenko who, during his speech, held up several Russian passports alleging that they belonged to the Russian soldiers fighting in Ukraine,[i] and, earlier, the audience's booing and laughing at the comments of the Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov.[ii] For me, however, the most interesting was the inadvertent double entendre of Philip M. Breedlove, NATO Supreme Allied Commander in Europe (SACEUR), who said that "what we [US and NATO] need to do is to put the truth out".[iii] Yes, exactly, to put it out and extinguish it like a brush fire! The US-NATO intelligence and military forces have been experts at doing that for many decades now.

Enter Balkan Vassals

As every year since at least the turn of the 21st century, the Balkans' leaders contingent at the conference was quite numerous. According to the official list of the participants, almost all Balkan countries were represented at the highest level.[iv] There were the presidents of Slovenia Borut Pahor, of Croatia (the newly-elected) Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović, of Macedonia Gjorge Ivanov, of Bulgaria Rosen Plevneliev, and the former president of Turkey Abdullah Gül; the prime ministers of Serbia Aleksandar Vučić, of Montenegro Milo Djukanović, and of Kosovo Isa Mustafa as well as the foreign ministers of Bosnia Zlatko Lagumdžija, of Albania Ditmit Bushati, of Romania Bogdan Aurescu and of Turkey Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu. Noticeable was the absence of anyone from Greece, which most likely has to do with the recent radical electoral shakedown of the established Greek political elites by SYRIZA. The more or less direct critics of the US foreign policy such as the president of Serbia Tomislav Nikolić and the president of Republika Srpska Milorad Dodik were also absent.

Several Balkan leaders took part in the official program of the conference. At the panel entitled "Beyond Ukraine - Unresolved Conflicts in Europe" held on the second day of the conference, one of the participants was the prime minister of Serbia Aleksandar Vučić, while the chair and moderator was the president of Slovenia Borut Pahor.[v] It is interesting to note that among the panelists were also the president of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev and the prime minister of Georgia Irakli Garibashvili.This is a clear example that in the panel organizers' NATO-inspired geographical imagination, these two countries are also in Europe (that is, in Europe perceived as the segment of the US-NATO Empire). More generally speaking, this is yet another proof that geographical terminology does not represent an objective state of affairs, but is an interpretation dependent on political and ideological viewpoints.

It is important to note that Serbia is one of the few countries in Europe which did not join the US-EU sanctions against Russia and this is why its leaders have been under a strong pressure of the officials of the US-NATO Empire. The prime minister Vučić, who is very close to the prime minister of Montenegro Djukanović, a long-time operative of the US deep state, has publicly tried to chart the middle path, which is also reflected in his comments during the panel.[vi] However, the unresolved issues regarding the Serb-Albanian relations in Kosovo (whose statehood is still a matter of contention even within the EU) and the process of Serbia's integration into the EU (plus the various perks available to those who favor US policy goals) have made Vućić an easy target for the official and unofficial "carrot & stick" policy. This is why his advocacy of the "third way" has increasingly become emptied of meaningful content and turned into no more than a rhetorical ploy to placate the Serbian voters who are traditionally inclined to Russia.

The US-NATO Empire's goal of bringing Serbia more tighly into the fold represents a strategic necessity for the imperial cause because this year Serbia holds the chairmanship of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE),[vii]  and OSCE will be a key player in administering any peace deal regarding the conflict in Ukraine, as is for instance envisioned by the latest revisions of the Minsk Agreement.[viii]

 Biden's imperial blessings

That things are going in this direction is shown by the very cordial meeting between Vučić and the US vice president Joe Biden at the Munich Conference. After Vućić reported that Serbia was about to sign a new agreement with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and implement the IMF austerity program (recently rejected as inhumane by the Greek government, for instance), Biden was no doubt impressed. He told Vučić that he was doing "an excellent job" and invited him to visit the US at the earliest opportunity.[ix]

In this respect, it is important to recall that since the beginning of the Yugoslav conflicts in the early 1990s, Biden has articulated some of the most aggressive anti-Serb political positions in the US, even advocating a military occupation during the NATO bombing campaign in the spring of 1999.[x] Obviously, Vučić knew all that and yet, in the style of a typical (want-to-be) US vassal, chose to ignore it and, for the sake of private political gain, put the valid interests of the Serbian citizens on the back burner. Who knows perhaps the next thing we hear from Vučić might be that NATO bombed Serbia for the Serbs' own good, the line of thinking frequently voiced by the former NATO General Secretary Andreas Fogh Rasmussen?

Vučić also met with the ubiquitous State Department high official, Victoria Nuland, for whom he (frankly) said that she had "a great deal of decision-making authority" not only in Europe, but also in other places.[xi] Of course, we all recall the extent of Nuland's imperial powers before and during the violent coup d'etat in Ukraine last February.

Apparently, in order to swap the vassal-type stories and experiences, Vučić also arranged a meeting with Djukanović in Munich.  Djukanovic had just completed his own meeting with Biden, one of the several they have had over the years, both in Europe and in Washington DC. Considering that Djukanović has been a willing subject of direct control by the US deep state mechanisms for more than 15 years, Biden accorded to him more attention and care than to Vučić. They had a carefully planned photo opportunity session with both of them seated like royalties in front of a stage set decorated with the US and Montenegrin flags.[xii] The report of their meeting was later the front page news in the state-run Montenegrin media as well as in the so-called independent media funded by the US donors.

Biden praised Djukanovic's efforts to get Montenegro into NATO as quickly as possible and promised support to his "trusted friend". Biden is of course aware that close to two-thirds of the Montenegrin citizens do not favor NATO membership,[xiii] but he and other members of the US Establishment are agressively pushing for it anyway, notwithstanding their high-brow discourse on democracy, human rights, and the rule of law. As has been shown in countless examples, these "values" are trampled under foot everytime they come into conflict with the interests of US military-industrial-banking complex. The case of the NATO propaganda in Montenegro is far from being an exception. Still, it is encouraging to see that the number of those supportive of NATO in Montenegro has remained low over the years, even though the Djukanović government spent millions of euros on the propaganda efforts. The key illegitimate aspect of the whole thing is that the money spent comes from the state budget, and hence is also coming out of the pockets of the majority of Montenegrins, who oppose NATO and prefer military neutrality instead.

Biden also met with the prime minister of Kosovo Isa Mustafa.[xiv] Mustafa has recently been appointed to this position, and his party is in a coalition government with the long-time US deep state operative Hashim Thaçi. In a typical imperial fashion, Biden immediately invited Mustafa for a visit to Washington, DC and promised his full support.

The US has a direct interest in propping up the Kosovo's corrupt political oligarchy, because one of the biggest US military bases in Europe - the infamous Bondsteel, used as a secret torture site by CIA, according to the 2005 Council of Europe report[xv] - is located there. In fact, many experts, including William Engdahl, believe that one of the main reasons for the NATO attack on the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, and  the later fierce US support for Kosovo's declaration of independence is directly tied to the effort to build and operate a huge military base there.[xvi]

Other US officials present at the Conference, including several senators, also met with various Balkan leaders and sought their commitment to the US-NATO policy goals. For instance, the former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright who is now the chairperson of the National Democratic Institute (NDI), the key organization pushing the imperial agenda under the cover of democratic "principles", met with the foreign minister of Bosnia-Herzegovina Zlatko Lagumdžija.[xvii] Lagumdžija is a US asset on the Bosnian political scene, who frequently extols the benefits of NATO membership,[xviii] even though the insistance on that idea is sure to lead to the break-up of the constitutionally already very fragile country:

After the Munich Conference was over, Biden flew back to the imperial capital, while his Balkan interlocutors returned to their respective fiefdoms, brutally devastated by imperial neoliberal policies, with renewed incentive and determination to keep enforcing the neoliberal, militarist dogma against their own people's interests.

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Filip Kovacevic, Boiling Frogs Post contributing author and analyst, is a geopolitical author, university professor and the chairman of the Movement for Neutrality of Montenegro. He received his BA and PhD in political science in the US and was a visiting professor at St. Petersburg State University in Russia for two years. He is the author of seven books, dozens of academic articles. He has been invited to lecture throughout the EU, Balkans, ex-USSR and the US. He currently resides in San Francisco, and can be contacted at




















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