Spitfire List Web site and blog of anti-fascist researcher and radio personality Dave Emory.

For The Record  

FTR #157 The Dissolution of Yugoslavia

One seg­ment

Detail­ing impor­tant but (in the U.S.) large­ly unrec­og­nized aspects of the Balka­ns war, this pro­gram doc­u­ments the ear­ly his­to­ry of that con­flict, with par­tic­u­lar empha­sis on Amer­i­ca’s involve­ment. Dri­ven by a geopo­lit­i­cal and ide­o­log­i­cal per­spec­tive gen­er­at­ed by Ger­many and the Vat­i­can, the Unit­ed States treat­ed Yugoslavia as the last bas­tion of hard-line, Sovi­et-style com­mu­nism in Europe.

Fol­low­ing diplo­mat­ic recog­ni­tion of the Croa­t­ian and Sloven­ian inde­pen­dence by Ger­many, the EU and the Vat­i­can, the Unit­ed States lent polit­i­cal, eco­nom­ic and mil­i­tary sup­port to the forces work­ing to break-up Yugoslavia. Indeed, the U.S. had been deeply involved with Croa­t­ian fas­cist ele­ments since the con­clu­sion of World War II.

Hav­ing been armed by Ger­many, Croa­t­ian armed forces began attack­ing Serbs liv­ing in the new­ly inde­pen­dent Croa­t­ia. When the Yugosla­vian Nation­al Army (JNA) inter­vened to pre­vent the slaugh­ter of 5,000 Serbs at Vuko­var, they were brand­ed aggres­sors. Pun­ish­ing eco­nom­ic mea­sures were tak­en to pres­sure the Serbs, exac­er­bat­ing their already pre­car­i­ous eco­nom­ic sit­u­a­tion.

A sim­i­lar pat­tern man­i­fest­ed itself in Bosnia. The Mus­lim forces of Ali­ja Izetbe­gov­ic attacked Bosn­ian Serbs, who, like their Croa­t­ian coun­ter­parts, had exer­cised the right to self gov­er­nance read­i­ly accord­ed the Croats and Bosn­ian Mus­lims by the inter­na­tion­al com­mu­ni­ty. This exer­cise was brand­ed aggres­sion, Mus­lim eth­nic cleans­ing of Serbs was ignored, JNA attempts to pro­tect the Bosn­ian Serbs were met with vig­or­ous cen­sure and the with­draw­al of the JNA from Bosnia was ignored.

It should be not­ed that Bosn­ian Croats had seced­ed, as had the Serbs, but were not pun­ished for their acts. Like­wise, when the Croa­t­ian Army inter­vened in Bosnia, they were not threat­ened with mil­i­tary retal­i­a­tion. On the oth­er hand, the Serbs were threat­ened with NATO air strikes. A Bosn­ian no-fly zone was selec­tive­ly enforced. This selec­tive enforce­ment effec­tive­ly pre­vent­ed the Serbs from uti­liz­ing their supe­ri­or air pow­er against the Bosn­ian Mus­lim forces, while allow­ing Bosn­ian Mus­lim air units to oper­ate against the Serbs.

The pro­gram high­lights three major attempts by the Unit­ed States to con­trol Yugoslavia. The first entailed the use of Milan Pan­ic, a Ser­bian-Amer­i­can mil­lion­aire busi­ness­man. Eager to improve rela­tions with the U.S., the Yugoslavs wel­comed Pan­ic’s entry into Yugosla­vian pol­i­tics. It should be not­ed that Pan­ic was a Unit­ed States cit­i­zen. When Pan­ic became Prime Min­is­ter of Yugoslavia, it was ille­gal under U.S. Law. Pan­ic used his posi­tion as Prime Min­is­ter to attempt to under­mine Pres­i­dent Slo­bo­dan Milo­se­vic.

Fol­low­ing defeat in an attempt to unseat Milo­se­vic, After the Yugosla­vian Par­lia­ment returned a vote of no con­fi­dence in him, Pan­ic resigned as Prime Min­is­ter and returned to the U.S. Fol­low­ing the Pan­ic gam­bit, then Sec­re­tary of State War­ren Christo­pher attempt­ed to pres­sure Yugoslavia on behalf of the Bosn­ian Mus­lims, hold­ing the puni­tive sword of NATO air strikes over the heads of the Serbs. The third U.S. attempt to con­trol the Serbs saw a con­tin­gent of Amer­i­can mil­i­tary offi­cers trav­el to Bel­grade as part of a U.S. pol­i­cy group, that pro­ceed­ed to attempt to dic­tate pol­i­cy to the Yugosla­vian lead­er­ship.

Blunt­ly warn­ing of the lethal con­se­quences of refus­ing to acqui­esce to U.S. demands, the con­tin­gent left the Serbs uncon­vinced.

The Amer­i­can response to Ser­bian intran­si­gence was to coor­di­nate a joint Croat-Bosn­ian Mus­lim offen­sive against the Serbs, with sig­nif­i­cant Amer­i­can back­ing (includ­ing NATO air strikes.) It should be not­ed that U.N. peace­keep­ing forces point­ed­ly ignored signs of a Mus­lim mil­i­tary buildup. The Bosn­ian Mus­lims then pre­cip­i­tat­ed the offen­sive by killing two U.N. peace­keep­ers. The killing was then blamed on the Serbs. (Record­ed on 5/16/99.)


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