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Yugoslavia was a mosaic of people, languages, religions, and cultures. Serbia, Croatia, Slovenia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Macedonia, and Montenegro were the six republics which joined together to form the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (FRY). The chapter briefly examines the histories of the six republics which were under the control of different empires at different points in their histories.

Josip Broz Tito became secretary general of the Communist Party in 1937. Tito called for a meeting of the Anti-Fascist Council for the Liberation of Yugoslavia in 1943 and became premiere in 1945 when the constituent assembly proclaimed Yugoslavia a federal republic.

In 1968, western Macedonia and ethnic Albanians in Kosovo staged violent demonstrations demanding equality and republican status for Kosovo. Political and cultural tensions between Serbia and Croatia strengthened nationalist sentiment in Croatia.

One of the major problems plaguing Yugoslavia in the 1980s was an economic crisis and economic disparities widened as Slovenia, Croatia, and Serbia became more developed than Kosovo, Macedonia, and Montenegro. By 1991, conditions were ripe for the collapse of Yugoslavia as ethnic conflicts pitted one republic against another and republics against ethnic minorities within those republics.

As Yugoslavia edged toward brutal conflicts, the United States and the western powers actively promoted the breakup of Yugoslavia to serve their own interests. The U.S. and other European nations supported conservative separatist groups in the republics.

Slovenia and Croatia declared their independence in 1991. Croatia's attempt to achieve independence was a bloody struggle because of the large Serbian population living there. Croatia, with the assistance of the U.S., launched a bloody offensive against its Serbian population. The atrocities against the Serbs in Croatia were at least as horrifying as anything that occurred in Kosovo later.

In March 1992, Bosnians voted to secede from Yugoslavia and immediately afterwards the western powers recognized Bosnia as a sovereign state despite the unresolved festering ethnic problems. Thirty-two percent of the population were Serbs who did not want to secede from Yugoslavia. The Serbs in Bosnia rebelled, with the support of Serbia, in order to retain their territory in Bosnia. Croatia sent troops into Bosnia to support the Muslim population. American and NATO military intervention to support the Muslims with arms and troops escalated the conflict. NATO began air strikes on Bosnian Serb military units in 1994 and engaged in carpet bombing of Serbian territory in 1995.

One of the most publicized battles in the war was the Serbian siege of Sarajevo, the capital of Bosnia. Although Serbian forces committed atrocities in Sarajevo, the Bosnian atrocities against the Serbs were just as great. The three infamous marketplace massacres in Sarajevo in 1992, 1994, and 1995 were blamed on the Serbs when, in fact, there is evidence that the Muslims were responsible for the massacres.

The heavy U.S.-led NATO bombing of Serbian targets in Bosnia forced the Serbs to capitulate and seek an end to the conflict. In November 1995, the western powers led the peace negotiations which resulted in the Dayton Accords.

Kosovo, a province of Serbia, waged a fierce battle for its independence during the negotiations. The majority of the inhabitants of Kosovo were Albanians but there was also a small Serbian population living there. After Tito’s death, there was a surge of ethnic Albanian and Serbian nationalist sentiment. Ethnic Albanians were taking over land belonging to the Serbs, attacking Serbian churches, and raping Serbian girls.

In 1981, ethnic Albanians, led by students, protested in the streets against Belgrade to demand higher wages, greater freedom of expression, and republic status for Kosovo. Demonstrations by both Serbs and Albanians continued throughout the 1980s.

In 1989, Slobodan Milosevic became president of Yugoslavia and he implemented a new constitution which deprived Kosovo of rights achieved in the 1974 constitution. When ethnic Albanians protested the change, police opened fire on the crowd killing 24 people. Albanian members of the assembly declared Kosovo's independence and Serbia dissolved the assembly provoking more demonstrations. The first organized violence occurred in 1996 when Albanians attacked Serbian refugee camps with grenades.

The slow and apparent lack of progress of the protests drove ethnic Albanians to form the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) who were dedicated to the use of violence to achieve independence for Kosovo. Serbian forces responded more harshly as the acts of terrorism perpetrated by the KLA escalated.

Two major factors contributed to the growing strength of the KLA: the drug trade and support from the U.S. In 1998, the western perspective on the conflict began to shift from a condemnation of the KLA as a terrorist organization to a condemnation of the actions of the Serbian forces in Kosovo. The U.S. began equipping the KLA with very sophisticated weapons.

On March 9, 1998, the U.S., Germany, the U.K., France, and Italy met in London and established conditions which the FRY had to meet in order to avoid punitive measures. The London meeting ignored the actions of the KLA who were brutally attacking the Serbs and focused exclusively on the actions of Serbian forces. The conflict in Kosovo had become a civil war with outside powers supporting the KLA. Near the end of 1998, stories about ethnic cleansing of Albanians in Kosovo began to surface. This and other myths were part of the propaganda campaign to win public support for a war against Serbia.

Western governments were seeking a method to back up diplomacy with force against Serbia. On February 6, 1999, the Kosovar Albanians and Serbs were summoned to a meeting in Rambouillet, France. The U.S. was not interested in negotiations and established an inflexible set of demands in advance. No sovereign state would accept the terms proposed by the U.S. Accepting these demands would result in a military occupation of Yugoslavia and Belgrade refused the ultimatum. The propaganda campaign was now complete. The Serbs had been accused of atrocities in Kosovo and now refused to sign a peace agreement.

American leaders repeatedly trumpeted their noble objective to wage a humanitarian war to rescue ethnic Albanians. The bombing of Serbia began on March 24, 1999. The stated intent of the NATO bombing campaign was to avoid civilian targets but hospitals, factories, towns, villages, utilities, a prison, a ski resort, and buses were bombed despite the fact that they had no military purpose. The NATO bombing caused $100 billion in damages.

After the bombing, a team of international lawyers filed a request with the International Court for the Former Yugoslavia requesting that the court investigate NATO leaders for possible violations of international law. Their request carefully documents the possible violations and describes in detail the damage caused by the bombing. Louise Arbour, Chief Prosecutor, refused to consider the case. She reassured the lawyers that NATO leaders intend to abide by international law.

NATO leaders, including President Bill Clinton, violated the UN and NATO charters and the Geneva Conventions. President Clinton lied about the atrocities committed by the Serbs and about the selected targets.

Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind...Albert Einstein

by vbo on Wed Mar 22nd, 2006 at 06:02:19 AM EST

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