Friday, January 12, 2007

"Fools' Crusade" Chapter Three [18]



The previous post closed with a quote regarding the importance of the military as a unifying institution in communist Yugoslavia. Although one might question the legitimacy of a tradition of "brotherhood and unity" being held together by a very large and well-armed military, Johnstone's point is not baseless. Every institution has an institutional culture, and the JNA was largely staffed by officers who truly believed in Yugoslavia and the Yugoslav ideal. And military service was one way in which Yugoslavs of different national groups were mixed together and forced to interact without the familiar comfort of their homes and 'their people.'

However, if one is to turn to the military as the sole defender of national unity when the leaderships of the different geopolitical units are intent on breaking up and separation, not 'brotherhood and unity,' is the direction the political winds are blowing, then what response to the crisis can one legitimately expect? It is one thing to turn to the military as an institution capable of reinforcing and indoctrinating a sense of unity during peacetime or when such unity is a realistic political possibility. It is quite another to turn to the military to hold the country together when it is breaking apart.

Which is not to say it would always, in all cases, be wrong to use the military to hold a country together. But Diana Johnstone implies these issues without actually addressing--or even acknowledging--them.

Furthermore, she ignores the other half of the Yugoslav military system--the territorial defense forces, which did NOT encourage inter-republic mixing, and which, much more than a standard standing army, did have the potential to militarize society.

At any rate, the important point, for Johnstone, is that the Slovenes were insincere and dangerously anti-unity. Also, and most ominously from her point of view, they were pro-Western. As we will see in the next post.

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