CHAPTER FOUR: CROATIA: NEW REPUBLIC, OLD REACTIONARIES
Anyone who takes up the cause of Bosnian mulit-ethnic nationalism and who defended efforts to maintain the territorial integrity of the Bosnian state during the war of aggression maintained by Belgrade's proxies must, at some point, come to grip with the problem of Croatian nationalism as practiced and exploited by Franjo Tudjman and the HDZ in both Croatia and Bosnia.
I am not for one second suggesting that any sort of equivalence can be drawn--as loathsome as the rhetoric used by the HDZ leadership, including Croatia's wartime leader, there was clearly never any systematic, prewar planning for large-scale ethnic cleansing. Comparisons between the numbers of Krajina Serbs who fled in the wake of "Operation Storm" (over 200,000 people, at least a third of the entire prewar population of Croatian Serbs) and the Muslims of the Drina valley in eastern Bosnia are not as damning as Parenti, Johnstone and others would like us to believe since they substitute quantitative data for qualitative information.
However, the following points are not in doubt, and should not be downplayed by anyone who wants to lift the cloud of disinformation from the Bosnian war:
1) Franjo Tudjman was a genuine nationalist.
2) The HDZ was a hardline nationalist party that utilized extreme propaganda and worse, aimed at non-Croats--primarily ethnic Serbs.
3) The HDZ in Hercegovina often acted in bad faith, and the attempt to set up the statelet of "Herceg-Bosna" was little different, in rhetoric or in substance, from the efforts to create Republika Srpska by force.
4) "Operation Storm" was an often brutal operation that favored vengeance against the Serb civilians of the breakaway Krajina republic at the expense of justice and fundamental respect for human rights.
I could list more, but hopefully any informed reader will already know what I am trying to convey. Downplaying the sins of nationalist Croats simply because the HDZ has much less blood on its hands, and because the Croat republic was at a distinct disadvantage at the onset of war in terms of military and infrastructural resources only leads to further obfuscation. And, it should be noted, it provides ammunition for those like Parenti, who wish to create a bogus case for equivalence.
The case of Croatian nationalism and the darker motives of the Tudjman regime merit serious attention. Such concerns will inform my review of Chapter Five, in the next post.