Monday, September 27, 2010

"Yugoslavia: Death of a Nation" by Silber and Little [10]

Part Three: The Explosion of War

Part Three consists of three chapters which detail how the actual outbreak of hostilities in the former Yugoslavia, first in Slovenia and then in Croatia, and how the international community, most notably Europe, responded.

Chapter 12: "The Hour of Europe Has Dawned" Slovenia's Phony War, June-July 1991

Slovenia's 10 day long "war" of independence is now rightly regarded as a brilliantly-executed piece of political theater carried out by the Slovene and Serb leadership, with the JNA (and the people of Slovenia) largely in the dark as to the real game being played. Another party left out of the loop was the European Community, who sent a "troika" of leaders to Yugoslavia, where they managed to accomplish two things--"force" the Yugoslav leadership into concessions they already planned on making; and revealing just how naive European leaders were for the responsibilities of international diplomacy of this sort, and how fundamentally they misread the situation in the former Yugoslavia. The Europeans never seemed to grasp that the warring parties had clearly-defined goals and rational--if not moral--reasons for resorting to using armed force. The likelihood that European diplomacy was up the task was slim from the very beginning.

Chapter 13: "An Undeclared and Dirty War" The JNA in Croatia July-December 1991

While the war in Slovenia was a largely bogus and stage-managed affair with a pre-determined outcome, the war in Croatia was an all-too-real preview of the even greater horrors to follow in Bosnia. The use of heavy artillery against settled areas, followed by paramilitary forces; the cynical manipulation of the United Nations in order to consolidate gains; ethnic cleansing--it all happened in Croatia. Soon, it would all happen again, at greater extent and over a much longer period of time, in Bosnia.

Chapter 14: Yugoslavia A La Carte Lord Carrington's Plan September 1991-January 1992

This chapter details the failed efforts led by Lord Carrington to get what became known as the "Carrington Plan" agreed to by the various republic leaders, as well as other European diplomatic initiatives, most notably the Badinter Commission, which was driven by German diplomatic pressure on the rest of the EC and which ultimately made the Carrington Plan--which Milosevic at any rate was not going to accept--a moot point. In the meantime, Cyrus Vance was able to broker another deal, one which brought "peace" to Croatia in exchange for a de facto ethnic partition; i.e., the Serbs agreed to let the UN do the dirty work of policing the border between the Serb-controlled areas of Croatia and the rest of the republic.

By the end, the independence of Slovenia and Croatia had been recognized, that of Macedonia was held up by Greek protests (which still reverberate today), and Bosnia was faced with the choice of declaring an independence it was ill-equipped to defend, or remaining in a "Yugoslavia" which by this point was rather nakedly a "Greater Serbia." The Badinter Commission's findings were duly ignored by the EC in the interests of political expediency and deference to German insistence (the commission had rejected Croatia's application), and Lord Carrington's plan was forgotten.

What this chapter makes clear is that his plan was not nearly as ill-conceived, unrealistic, and morally vacuous as many of the famous Western-designed plans for Bosnia which were to come. Carrington understood that the republics--not ethnicity--needed to be considered the constituent units of Federal Yugoslavia. This is the main reason his plan was rejected by Milosevic. His plan also demonstrated how far the international community was willing to go to assuage Serb fears and concerns, contrary to later propaganda claims that the Serbs were being railroaded by an "anti-Serb" international community.


This concludes Part Three. Part Four: Bosnia, is next.


Anonymous said...

Why the French Hate Chomsky]

I think some of her criticism is driven by emotional issues.

Anonymous said...

Dear Kirk,

I am an intern at the Institute for War and Peace Reporting office in The Hague, Netherlands. I would like to bring your attention to a recent article that we believe would be of interest to you. IWPR is working with journalists from the Balkans, training them and jointly producing reports and radio programs on justice and accountability. IWPR has been providing unique and continuous reporting and analysis on the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia since 1995.

Would you be interested in being sent IWPR articles dealing with the former Yugoslavia, or interested in republishing our articles to your blog?

Bringing our stories to the attention of a larger audience is important to us and your consideration of this article would be a great help.

Keep up the good work on your blog!


Anonymous said...

Kirk, thanks very much for this rerun - it's very useful to have this synoptic overview as a reminder. I've had to come and catch up in bursts as I've been distracted by other matters recently, but once again your hard work on our behalf is much appreciated.

Kirk Johnson said...

Gabrielle, I would be delighted to receive articles from you! I am sending you an email as well, so you'll have my email address to respond to.

Kirk Johnson said...

Anonymous--I would agree with you; her "analysis" is laughable and very Chomskyesque in that she present tenuous connections as if they are the only reasonable interpretation of selectively chosen, context-free facts.

Anonymous said...

I can't get the Counterpunch link to work for me, but on the basis of what I found there instead, "Serbia surrenders Kosovo to the EU, I'd quarrel with Anonymous about Johnstone being driven by emotional issues.

When she writes "An armed separatist movement, with heavy support from the United States, where an ethnic Albanian lobby had secured important political backing, notably from former Senator and Republican Presidential candidate Bob Dole, carried out a campaign of assassinations in 1998 in order to trigger a repression which it could then describe as “ethnic cleansing” and “genocide” as a pretext for NATO intervention."
she's clearly up to her usual game of distorting reality for political purposes. She gives the impression of a rather cold fish. Which I guess you'd have to be to take the perverse wilfully cynical stance she does on for example the Bosnian rape camps.

Anonymous said...

Found it. She's not really sycophantic or emotionally driven, she's just a manipulative pusher of deceit.
"Chomsky’s criticism is laden with facts, a substance that seems to elicit ennui among contemporary French thinkers." I think it's more likely the absence of reliable facts and the ragbag of inaccuracy, innuendo and downright lies that induces ennui. Johnstone may not be waiting to hear him reappraise his analysis of Trnopolje but others of us are.