NATO wants Macedonia in the fold of European nations arrayed against Washington’s perceived foes. But an old dispute in between that Balkans nation and neighboring Greece threatens the plan to further extend the alliance toward Russia’s borders. Macedonia being called Macedonia is not all there is to it.
With all the so-called “fake news” muddying the information waters, it’s hard for the average citizen to make heads or tails of geo-policy these days. One sure fire way to get a grip though, is to use a bit of reverse-truth psychology. By keying and comparing vested media interest like technocrat/oligarch Jeff Bezos’ Washington Post and other channels, for instance, anybody can get at the truth beneath all the subterfuge. Here’s a good example of what I mean.
Media: Creating Perception
This WaPo story on the Macedonia question tells of NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg in a media during a news conference with Macedonian Prime Minister Zoran Zaev following their meeting at the Government building in Skopje, Macedonia last week. The meetup, ostensibly one where the NATO boss “commanded” the Macedonian boss to solve the name game, it’s about the picture beneath the headline. In this version the AP text and context are used in the old-fashioned news reporting way, but the AP image on WaPo conveys a message for an American audience. In the photo for WaPo, Stoltenberg is pictured in a position of power, almost dictating to the Macedonia PM. In contrast, this RFE/RL U.S. propaganda channel report for the European audience uses virtually the same texts, but the image shows Stoltenberg cuddling up with Zoran Zaev in a typical man hug gesture. The difference being, Americans are being fed the NATO leads by strength message, while Eastern Europe gets the buddy-buddy imagery. There are more examples.
The Reuters audience in America is given Stoltenberg gesticulating like a Nazi dictator in the imagery with the heading “Macedonia told to resolve Greece dispute and implement reforms to join NATO” – and may I point out “told” being a command. Alternatively, at the New York Times’ Greece news outlet Ekathimerini Prime Minister Zaev is shown doing all the talking atop a story aimed at the Greek news outlet’s readership. In the latter piece the Greek sympathetic audience is led to believe NATO sides with the Greek naming preference to call Macedonia the Former Yugoslavian Republic of Macedonia (FYROM). The innuendo is subtle for those who know nothing of NATO and Washington PR, but as a media analyst, I assure you there is no coincidence. The title betrays the innuendo – “NATO chief: no Plan B for FYROM.”
Moving to Serbia, Russia’s closest friend in the region, we see NATO and Stoltenberg is shown professing in a huge image on InSerbia Magazine. “FYROM’s place is in NATO, says NATO chief” is the headline, and the text hints at a correlation in between EU and NATO membership for the English speaking Serb. Meanwhile, over at European Western Balkans, a regional portal for EU-related news in the region, the NATO boss is quoted promising what NATO can never deliver:
“We want to see your country as the heart of a democratic and prosperous region. Prime Minister, we want to support you.”
The Never-Ending Lie
This, of course, parrots the NATO press dogma of “we want you to succeed” – telling us ad nauseum propaganda is still going strong. But by now my point is well made. Now for the real truth behind the subterfuge.
Back in 2010, when Washington and Moscow were not so openly conflictual, RFE/RL’s Balkan Service reported on Macedonia’s hopefulness on being included for the South Stream natural-gas pipeline project that would transport Russian gas to the Black Sea and onto Bulgaria, where it would continue-on to Italy and Austria. It is in this propaganda channel piece, interestingly, that we find the most transparent clue for solving NATO’s keen interest in brining Macedonia in. According to this story, the West was promoting the construction of the Nabucco pipeline from Turkey to Western Europe instead of the Russian-led South Stream pipeline. And Macedonia’s role in the chain of countries along the route is made clear if we understand that Bulgaria, Serbia, Hungary, and Greece had already formally agreed to participate in South Stream, which is due to be completed by 2015, but has since been blocked by west geo-strategy.
Geography Never Lies
I am a geographer, and a former geography teacher, but most people are not so enamored with maps and so forth. However, anyone can look at the map of Europe and figure out the most expedient and economical routes for delivering natural gas from Russia or even Iran to Europeans. Ukraine having already been ruined for gas transit by the spread of what I would call the “NATO disease,” and Macedonia becomes fairly critical for expedient deliveries to Italy. Montenegro having already been lured into NATO, the direct line that would have gone through Macedonia was already spoiled for Russia. But Macedonia in NATO is not about blocking the pipeline now, it’s about Greece swaying away from the NATO pact as Turkey is doing. NATO and Washington on on defense now, and trying to fort-up fortress Europa (sorry Hitler term). From a strategic standpoint, if Greece strays away from the fold, then Albania, Montenegro, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, and Slovenia must form a sort of front line for NATO. This is both an energy strategy issue, political, and a military necessity. After all, this was one major reason for the US destruction of Yugoslavia in the first place. Who can forget Operation Deliberate Force, and the NATO-UN-US obliteration of Yugoslavia? And I quote from Sputnik:
“On August 30, 1995, then-NATO Secretary General Willy Claes announced Operation Deliberate Force, an air campaign directed at Bosnian Serb forces. The first combat operation in NATO history, the strikes set the stage for the eventual death of Yugoslavia, establishing a blueprint for destruction which the military alliance has followed ever since.”
My point here is not to regurgitate my own philosophies on what might have been had Yugoslavia remained intact. Instead, I reflect only to show how geo-policy from Washington and its satraps has never diverged. Mission critical in Macedonia is the same strategy as any other intercedence. Yugoslavia, the Caucasus, Iraq, Afghanistan, the Arab Spring – there is no letup. America’s hegemony is running guns and diverting energy and profits, just like always. The media connivances though, they have become more complex, more effective, and refined by the PR wizards backing the liberal order. So, the Washington Post, Reuters, the European branches of the “machine”, and even the international press agencies tailor the message. The ambassadors convey the will of western oligarchs, and the US war machine is merged with the money and influence team. Macedonia hasn’t got a chance now in my view. Russia doesn’t need the stepping stone, so the future of a struggling former Yugoslavian province has to kiss NATO butt or just fade away.
All the rest is for the national perspectives of Greece, Macedonia, and the wider Balkan arena. The dog and pony show, all over again.
Phil Butler, is a policy investigator and analyst, a political scientist and expert on Eastern Europe, he’s an author of the recent bestseller “Putin’s Praetorians” and other books. He writes exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook.”