Last month, the German ARD television network broadcast a report entitled, “It All Began With a Lie.” The main thesis of the program, which was first aired on February 8 and then rebroadcast on February 19, was that high officials of the German ruling SPD-Green coalition used fabrications and manipulation of facts in order to counter the growing public opposition of the NATO bombing of Yugoslavia in 1999.
The report was damning enough to be the subject of a German Bundestag debate on February 16, and current Defense Minister Rudolf Scharping and Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer were especially taken to task for having misled the German public into believing that Yugoslav forces were committing “genocide” against the Kosovo Albanians and that the only reason that NATO was intervening was out of “humanitarian” grounds.
Perhaps even more fascinating than the said ministers’ exposed falsehoods was a statement made by a German political figure during a live debate following the report’s second airing.
Willy Wimmer, a defense policy official with the opposition Christian Democratic Union recalled a defense policy conference he had attended in Bratislava after the bombing and the strikingly direct explanation for NATO’s intervention given by an American defense spokesman at the conference. The spokesman said: “We waged that war because we have to undo the strategic mistake Eisenhower made in 1943-44.”
What was that mistake? During this critical period, the Allies made the fatal-for-the-Balkans decision to withdraw their support from the only truly Western-oriented military resistance movement on the territory of German-occupied Yugoslavia, the overwhelmingly Serb Yugoslav Army in the Homeland, led by General Draza Mihailovic, who had made the cover of Time magazine in 1941 as “Europe’s First Guerilla.” Instead, the Allies threw their support (and arms and propaganda aid) to the communist Partisan movement, led by subsequent Yugoslav dictator, Josip Broz, better known as Tito.
Years later, it turned out that the Allies had been misled by Soviet intelligence moles within their own ranks (specifically, within British Intelligence), including the infamous Kim Philby, into thinking that the Partisans were doing the fighting against the Germans, while Mihailovic’s forces were “collaborating.” Actually, it had been the other way around, but the disinformation accomplished its task. The well-armed communist forces combined with the oncoming Red Army and Yugoslavia was lost for the West. Mihailovic was hunted down by Tito’s forces and, after a show-trial proving his “treason,” executed in July 1946, despite strong objections from many Western governments. The fact that President Truman awarded him a posthumous medal was little consolation both for Mihailovic and the Serb nation that, despite being the first to rise in the name of freedom, had fallen under communist slavery.
All this is very important for understanding the dynamic of U.S. actions in the Balkans in the 1990s and the implications of those actions today.
During the post-World War II period, while Yugoslavia was lost to the West as a democratic country, it did come to serve a useful purpose as a buffer between the Iron Curtain and Western Europe, thanks to Tito’s subsequent rupture with Stalin. This was all very useful until the arrival of Gorbachev and the crumbling of the Berlin Wall that soon followed. Yugoslavia had lost its purpose and could be done away with, at least as a communist entity. Thus, then-U.S. Ambassador to Yugoslavia, Warren Zimmerman, could openly state in a January 1992 interview given to the Croatian newspaper Danas: “We are aiming for a dissolution of Yugoslavia into independent states peacefully.”
Nine years of bloody war later, we have seen just how “peaceful” this dissolution has been. And, of course, it is to be wondered just how such a statement has escaped the attention of all the newfangled globalist international law “experts” who are currently howling for the arrest of “war crimes” suspects and their extradition to the Hague Tribunal. For the Ambassador’s statement was a call for a direct violation of the 1975 Helsinki Accords, which guaranteed the integrity of international borders. But that is another matter.
Now, it is fair to say that the U.S. did not lead the process of Yugoslavia’s dissolution. The main actor in this process was the newly reunified Germany — which practically blackmailed the rest of Western Europe into recognizing the breakaway republics of Slovenia and Croatia — in return for accepting the Maastricht Treaty that has led the looser European Community into becoming the ever-more tightly knit European Union.
Still, Germany was hoping to extend its influence by forming new client states. However, the EU was unable to extinguish the fire the Germans had started and the wars of succession dragged on and took more and more lives. The U.S. stepped fully into the picture, bombed the Bosnian Serbs in 1994 and 1995 in order to strike some sort of a balance in Bosnia, and forged the Dayton Accords of December 1995, which were supposed to end the Yugoslav conflict. The U.S. has been in the driver’s seat in the Balkans ever since, but peace has not arrived. Five-and-a-half years after the Dayton “peace,” under the noses of a 40,000+ NATO force in Kosovo, a new war is threatening to break out. As for Bosnia, it is a clinically dead state held together only by the almost-dictatorial powers of its High Commissioner and the NATO forces on the ground.
The point is, in trying to iron out one “strategic mistake,” the U.S. may be falling into another. And this is a perfect example of how short-term, seemingly realpolitik policies, can have long, or even medium-term effects.
In 1943, the West abandoned its only natural cultural and ideological allies in the area, the Serbs, in order to secure the short-term goal of driving the Germans out. Moreover, the West directly aided the communist forces antithetical to the very values it was fighting for at the time.
In the 1990s, the West again acted against the principles it had helped create itself in Helsinki in 1975 and methodically dismantled the sovereign country of Yugoslavia. This time, history took its revenge much more rapidly. The Balkans have perhaps never been more unstable. And they will continue to grow increasingly unstable as long as the tendency to fragmentize its backbone, the Serbs, continues.
The Russian leader, Vladimir Putin, put it directly last week, as the new fighting in southern Serbia and Macedonia erupted, saying that the reason lay in NATO having driven the Serb forces out of Kosovo after the bombing campaign of 1999.
Serbia has at last overthrown the communist yoke imposed on it by both East and West in 1944, and has restored its old democracy. Yet the West, in the guise of NATO, continues to tie Serbia’s hands. And the major Western media are still caught up in a campaign of blaming Serbia for the breakup of Yugoslavia. The prediction here is that, as long as that continues, the Balkans will continue being unstable and bloody. NATO troops are certain to be caught up in this, no matter how hard they try to avoid casualties. And once the taboo of killing Western soldiers is definitely broken, the cycle of violence will escalate even more rapidly — the political price back home is sure to follow.
When the great liberal internationalist balloon at last bursts, it will be realized once again that states are living organisms themselves, not to be tampered with lightly, not to be dissected in vivo and rearranged according to mad scientist delusions. However, as the liberal laboratory now encompasses the greater part of the world, the resulting explosion will not leave anyone unscathed.
Aleksandar Pavic in Belgrade has covered Yugoslavia’s historic election and its dramatic aftermath for WorldNetDaily.com.