Engineering Revolution

Engineering Revolution: The Paradox of Democracy Promotion in Serbia

Marlene Spoerri
Copyright Date: 2015
Pages: 272
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  • Book Info
    Engineering Revolution
    Book Description:

    The nonviolent overthrow of Balkan dictator Slobodan Milošević in October 2000 is celebrated as democracy promotion at its best. This perceived political success has been used to justify an industry tasked with "exporting" democracy to countries like Belarus, Ukraine, Tunisia, and Egypt. Yet the true extent of the West's involvement in Milošević's overthrow remained unclear until now.Engineering Revolutionuses declassified CIA documents and personal interviews with diplomats, aid providers, and policymakers, as well as thousands of pages of internal NGO documents, to explore what proponents consider one of the greatest successes of the democracy promotion enterprise.

    Through its in-depth examination of the two decades that preceded and followed Milošević's unseating, as well as its critical look at foreign assistance targeting Serbia's troubled political party landscape,Engineering Revolutionupends the conventional wisdom on the effectiveness of democracy promotion in Serbia. Marlene Spoerri demonstrates that democracy took root in Serbia in spite of, not because of, Western intervention-in fact, foreign intervention often hurt rather than helped Serbia's tenuous transition to democracy. As Western governments recalibrate their agendas in the wake of the Arab Spring, this timely book offers important lessons for the democracy promotion community as it sets its sights on the Middle East, former Soviet Union, and beyond.

    eISBN: 978-0-8122-9020-2
    Subjects: Political Science

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. List of Abbreviations
    (pp. ix-xii)
  4. Introduction
    (pp. 1-10)

    The past decade has not been kind to the world’s democracy promoters. In Egypt, foreigners delivering aid to political parties have been arrested, their offices ransacked, and their efforts to leave the country denied. In Belarus, Uzbekistan, the United Arab Emirates, and Zimbabwe, democracy aid practitioners have been banned, forced to set up shop in neighboring states. In Russia, a controversial bill imposing strict controls on foreign-funded nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) was signed into law in 2012 after years of state-sanctioned harassment of foreign democracy promoters. That same year, Russian authorities dealt a final blow to America’s largest aid agency—the...

  5. CHAPTER ONE Promoting Democracy and Aiding Political Parties Abroad
    (pp. 11-28)

    Writing in the years following the fall of Milošević, democracy aid scholar Sarah Mendelson (2004: 88) predicted that aid to Serbia’s democrats would make history. And so it would. Scholars and practitioners have celebrated Serbia as democracy promotion at its best. It has been seen to “reveal the hollowness of the cliché that ‘democracy can’t be imposed by outsiders.’ ”¹ And its perceived success has given rise to an industry tasked with “exporting revolution” as a result of which, Serbia has gone on to influence cases of regime change spanning from Georgia and Ukraine to Egypt and Libya.

    But if...

  6. CHAPTER TWO The Absence of Aid in Milošević’s Serbia, 1990–1996
    (pp. 29-54)

    In the winter of 1990 Serbia staged its first postcommunist multiparty elections. Like its counterparts in Central and Eastern Europe, Serbia looked set to emerge from the ashes of one-party rule as a pluralist, if not an entirely liberal, democracy (Gagnon 1994; Pavlović and Antonić 2007; Ramet 1991). Yet as they had in Croatia and Slovenia before it, Serbia’s electoral results hailed not democracy’s onset but a rather more ominous turn of events: the forthcoming dissolution of the multi-ethnic Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. The outbreak of war and the atrocities that followed in the footsteps of Yugoslavia’s first multiparty...

  7. CHAPTER THREE Preparing for Regime Change, 1997–2000
    (pp. 55-120)

    For years after Milošević’s ascent to power, foreign leaders refused to intervene in Serbia on democracy’s behalf—opting instead to allow Serbia’s anti-Milošević opposition to go unaided. Opposition parties were seen as too nationalistic and too flawed to warrant support, and Milošević was seen as too strong and too crucial for regional peace. Such excuses ceased to convince in the aftermath of the Kosovo war. Exploiting Milošević’s electoral gamble to hold early presidential elections in September 2000, the transatlantic community undertook a multipronged effort to help Serbia’s democratic forces unseat Milošević.

    With foreign assistance, Serbia’s opposition ran a “grueling” campaign,...

  8. CHAPTER FOUR Democracy Promotion in Milošević’s Shadow, 2001–2012
    (pp. 121-171)

    In the days that followed Serbia’s “Bulldozer Revolution,” donors and parties moved swiftly to secure the opposition’s gains. For many, Milošević’s defeat spoke to the transformation of the Serbian regime—an alteration widely hailed as “revolutionary and irreversible” (Pešić 2001: 175; see also Podunavac 2005: 12–13), a “turning point for the Yugoslav people”(Uzgel 2001: 1), the “end of an era” (Birch 2002: 499), and “the beginnings of the consolidation of democratic rule in the Balkans” (Nielsen 2001: 1). In many respects, this initial wave of enthusiasm appeared well founded.

    Shortly after coming to office, DOS technocrats instituted a wide...

  9. CHAPTER FIVE Rethinking Aid’s Legacy in Serbia
    (pp. 172-186)

    On 5 October 2000, Slobodan Milošević became the last quasi-dictator of the twentieth century to fall from power as a result of mass protests. Yet his largely nonviolent ouster was in many respects just the beginning. Three years later, on 23 November 2003, large-scale public protests over contested electoral results would force Georgia’s president, Eduard Shevardnadze, to resign in what came to be known as Georgia’s Rose Revolution. Then, in January 2005, allegations of massive corruption, voter intimidation, and electoral fraud led to a repeat presidential run-off between Ukrainian strongman Viktor Yanukovych and professed democrat Viktor Yushchenko. Like Serbia and...

  10. Appendix. List of Interviewees
    (pp. 187-192)
  11. NOTES
    (pp. 193-210)
    (pp. 211-234)
  13. INDEX
    (pp. 235-240)
    (pp. 241-244)