Monday, January 15, 2007

"Fools' Crusade" Chapter Three [21]



This final section of part 2, "Slovenia: The End of Solidarity," gets in one final snide shot at the anti-militarism of the Slovenian ruling elite. Similar to the previous section, there's less than meets the eye here.

The first paragraph notes that independence for Slovenia meant the loss of privileges by JNA army staff and their families. Yes, Diana Johnstone seems to believe that a primary motivation for Slovenia's secession was a run on real estate--the homes of career officers and staff. Apparently, she feels the eviction of JNA staff from their state-owned homes was a human rights catastrophe. I don't wish to trivialize the genuine hardships such actions certainly had on the families involved, and the loss of pensions she also cites counts as a genuine hardship and tragedy in my book. But her outrage at the loss of access to state-owned assets by high-ranking military personnel contrasts rather badly with her indifference to many of the victims of the Yugoslav conflicts.

She goes on to note that the Yugoslav army was designed for defense, and that many people in the army sincerely believed in the Yugoslav ideal and in the Titoist slogan of "brotherhood and unity." All of which is true, but hardly of central importance. The country was breaking up, being torn from the inside by inflamed nationalist passions insufficiently restrained by a federal government ill-equipped to function without Tito at the top.

Johnstone imagines she has caught Slovenia's elite in a hypocritical bind when she notes how eagerly the leadership embraced the possibility of joining NATO. The revamping of the military to meet NATO standards means that local, territorial defense is no longer to be a priority of Slovenia's military.

Well, what of that? The idea is that NATO members look out for each other, and that individual nations, particularly the smaller ones, should no longer focus their resources on (hopefully) redundant defensive forces. Johnstone ignores the obvious rationale behind membership in a military cooperative pledged to mutual defense of its members. It would, indeed, be wasteful and counter-productive for a small member state to focus on autonomous defense of its sovereignty in such a situation. But I doubt very much that she cares about the reality of the situation. It simply provides her with more material with which to insinuate without any constructive argument emerging.

This section--and the part on Slovenia--concludes with the observation that the secession of Slovenia set the stage for a far bloodier conflict in Croatia. This is true enough; it is also an observation made by just about every observer and student of the conflict. Johnstone could have saved the reader a lot of time had she skipped her facetious analysis of Slovenian nationalism and merely stated so.

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