Thursday, January 11, 2007

"Fools' Crusade" Chapter Three [17]

[Well, after a too-long break, I have another copy of Ms. Johnstone's magnum opus, and I'm feeling well enough to do more than lay on the couch watching movies and sports, and taking my supper through a straw. It hasn't been a banner year so far.

At any rate, let's pick up where we left off...]



When we left off, we were considering the following quote:

"In the late 1980s, attractive young Slovenian intellectuals toured Western European capitals to alert human rights activists and anti-militarist journalists to the dangers of Yugoslav militarism. These youthful Slovenes spoke in terms of the values shared notably by German Greens, such as pacifism and human rights."

You can almost hear her sharpening her knives, can't you? Those "attractive young" intellectuals just must have been too good to be true, don't you think? And those Greens they allegedly resembled the most? Cue the orchestra--GERMANS!

She elaborates on this theme a little more; pointing out how the anti-militarist youthful idealists of Slovenia appealed to Western liberal sentiment since they seemed so 'like us.' They said all the right things, opposed all the same evils (death penalty, nuclear power, etc.), and so forth. Most notably, they opposed the militarization of Yugoslavia and the Yugoslav People's Army, the prime instrument of that process. The reliance on localized militia units and the ability to mobilize enormous numbers of soldiers--this was the fourth-largest army in Europe, remember--is not news to any regular readers of this blog, I'm sure.

Let's see what devious undercurrents Johnstone has detected:

"In Yugoslavia, anti-militarism had implications not necessarily obvious to foreigners, since it was aimed at an army that was the last strong Federal institution holding the country together..." "Universal military service was the principal "melting pot" in multinational Yugoslavia, the guardian of the spirit of "brotherhood and unity," the repository of the anti-fascist tradition going back to the wartime partisan struggle."

The image of "brotherhood and unity" being defended by the fourth-largest army in Europe is a curious one, but we should resist the urge to be too glib in dismissing Johnstone's reasoning here. There were many generals in the JNA who truly believed in Tito's vision and who, therefore, had to be removed so that Milosevic had a mainly Serb--and nationalist Serb, at that--leadership at the helm.

We will consider this quote further in the next post.

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