Saturday, September 18, 2010

"Yugoslavia: Death of a Nation" by Silber and Little [9]

Chapter 10: The Descent Into War Croatia and the Serbs February-June 1991

The situation in Croatia continued to deteriorate, as neither the SDS nor the HDZ were seriously interested in working out a peaceful compromise. The Tudjman government was playing a game of brinksmanship without being fully prepared, even as the Slovenians were much further along in their quiet preparations.

Tudjman and the HDZ took more and more provocative moves to challenge and threaten the breakaway Serb areas even as the SDS consolidated its hold over Serb majority areas through a combination of propaganda (which the HDZs extreme rhetoric helped legitimize) and strongarm tactics against moderates within the Serb community. In Slavonia, it took a sustained campaign of nationalist intimidation to force out the moderate leadership of the not-yet radicalized Serb natives.

In the meantime the JNA began to get dragged into the conflict, slowly morphing into a de facto "Greater Serbia" army in the process. The SDS began a clever strategy of taking provocative actions, egging the Croatian government into a response, which would then justify intervention by the JNA, which would move in to come between the two parties, thus demarcating more territory for separatist Serbs.

Chapter 11: Conversations of the Deaf The Last Chance Squandered May-June 1991

Last-ditch, half-hearted efforts at constitutional reform, and perfunctory and half-baked diplomatic signals from the United States gave only faint and illusory hope that war could be averted. Izetbegovic of Bosnia and Gligorov of Macedonia tried to convince the other republic leaders that it was not too late to avert war by reconfiguring Yugoslavia into what would be called an "asymmetrical federation", but the Croat and Serb leadership were not truly interested in the plan.

US Secretary of State James Baker and Ambassador Walter Zimmerman both gave the warring parties the same mixed messages, which ultimately added up to one clear message--the West was simply not paying that much attention.

Some of the concerned parties were sincerely interested in averting war, but they were not the parties in a position to do so. It was too late.


This is the end of Part Two; I apologize that this review has taken so long. The real reason isn't that I think the text is difficult to follow--anything but. I have been going chapter by chapter for the very simple reason that it has been years since I've read this book and I wanted to re-read it for the review. Which normally wouldn't be a problem, but with graduate school and other claims on my time it's been a slow process. I will try to pick up the pace and get this project moving a little quicker.

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