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US policy in the Balkans: recipes for violence

by vladimir Fri Dec 14th, 2007 at 05:21:16 AM EST

US policy in the Balkans: recipes for violence

There are theories circulating that US policy in the Balkans is benign and stability seeking. Those that promote these theories point to repeated US failures to facilitate peace in the region as blunders and errors for which they hold individual American diplomats accountable. The Vance-Owen plan, which was a real opportunity to reestablish the foundations of peace in the Balkans in January 1993, was scuttled by the US's James Baker. That led to a ruthless period of violence. The Rambouillet agreement was also scuttled, this time by the US's Madeleine Albright. That led to more violence. The current position expressed by Condoleeeza Rice will probably also lead to violence. What may help this final round of negotiations to succeed is the fact that today, contrary to 1993 and 1999, the American military is extremely overstretched and Russia is feeling significantly stronger. Nevertheless, it seems that whenever the US is involved in a peace plan in the Balkans, the result is not peace but war. The question of whether this is diplomatic blunder or orchestrated strategy is an important and controversial one that should have far reaching implications on EU-US relations.

The theory put forth often by international experts is that US administrations seem to unintentionally (albeit systematically) mismanage international diplomacy, which then leads to accidental chaos. Simply put, this is unfathomable. If the United States government, with its nuclear arsenal and awesome military armada which annually spends $600 billion, or the equivalent of 50%-60% of the world's total spending on arms, can "unintentionally mismanage" international relations to the point of causing war then we all have grave cause for concern. If this is true, given their dismal track record, American Diplomats should be denied a space around future tables reserved for negotiating sensitive conflicts that can degenerate into violence.

The other theory, which would seem more plausible, is that there is no smoke without a fire; US administrations are well oiled war machines with countless advisors, analysts and strategists receiving updated assessments from armies of informers throughout the world - including the Balkans. Baker and his colleague Warren Zimmerman must have known that by torpedoing the Vance-Owen plan Bosnia would slide into war. Madeleine Albright also knew that by including a clause demanding that Serbia allow NATO free reign within Serbia proper, the deal would become unpalatable to the Serbs and war would be inevitable. To make things worse, this clause was included following the Serb delegation's acceptance of an initial agreement tabled by the Americans, which would have granted Albanians in Kosovo self rule, guaranteed by an international military presence. Blunder or intent? In both instances, the evidence would support that war was the US regime's precise intent in the Balkans. And war was indeed the result.

What, one would ask, does the US have to gain from violence in the Balkans? One of the answers is that the wars allowed the US to divide local ethnic groups in order to establish two military bases on ex Yugoslav territory; a modern, fully equipped air base in Tuzla, and another major army base in Kosovo - Bondsteel. It is highly likely that these military base would not be there today had the Vance Owen plan been implemented. Yet these bases form an integral part of a broader network of new military logistics and readiness centers throughout central and Eastern Europe.

The justifications for intervention in the Balkans offered by the NATO protagonists are numerous, but certainly not linked to the humanitarian or philosophical considerations that are oh so often produced, such as ethnic cleansing, punishing aggression or rewarding democracy. These considerations have rarely and possibly never been drivers of American foreign policy anywhere in the world - whether in Saudi Arabia, Turkey or with South America's dictatorships. Likewise, Srebrenica, Gorazde and Racak are not the defining cornerstones of American policy in the Balkans, although they are atrocious realities of this war - as they could have been of any other war. The atrocities, real in many cases, serve the purpose of selling US foreign policy to the public and justifying the US regime's torpedoing of every viable peace plan which was or is on the table. This was the case with the Lisbon Agreement which was sunk because "the Serb aggressor should not be compensated". It was also the case in Rambouillet. Both resulted in a campaign of "bombing for peace" which should be understood in the context of a grander US plan in the region.

The geopolitical motivation behind the US regime's quest for war in the Balkans is a subject that deserves a long discussion, but the major reason which was certainly on top of the Pentagon's priorities when it was advising Baker-Albright-Clinton and today Rice, was avoiding a return of Russian economic, political and eventually military influence in South-East Europe. This is still a key component driving US policy in South-East Europe as it is with Greece, where deep concern with the current military and energy deals that Athens signed with Russia are proliferating among the American intelligence community.

The same geopolitical motivations were behind the Pentagon's efforts to separate Montenegro from Serbia. Here, the values of democracy and the rule of law were disregarded as the US administration provided financial and political support to Milo Djukanovic who is little more than a corrupt street thug wanted by Interpol. The geo-strategic objective was clear: by separating, then integrating Montenegro into Euro-Atlantic structures, the risk of resurgent Russia establishing naval bases in the Adriatic would all but disappear. The construction of NATO military infrastructure on ex Yugoslav soil to guarantee that Russians are kept at bay is truly impressive. The sheer size of the built bases speaks volumes of the US's geo-strategic intent to subdue the region and keep it by force for an undetermined period of time.

Another reckless policy that the Pentagon has been promoting in South-East Europe with its efforts to support Albanian separatists in Kosovo is to do away with the concept that national boundaries are inviolable. It seeks to set a new precedent which could plunge Europe - from Spain to the Caucuses into chaos, by opening the door to demands emanating from all ethnic, linguistic or cultural minorities to establish their own nation states. Whether this could spell the beginning of slow disintegration of the European Union, from the Basques, to the Catalans, to the Flemish, Scots, Welsh and who knows which other ethnic group tomorrow, remains to be seen. But it is clear that the temptation will be significant for minorities throughout Europe to seek greater self-rule.

To understand the motivations behind such Machiavellism, one need only look at the post WWII period during which the United States, relatively unscathed by the fighting, was left as the sole industrial and financial powerhouse on earth. Today, a destabilized, divided and bickering Europe would offer less attractive perspectives for investments and would serve to, inter alia, reinforce the US's positive net inflow of wealth. This would effectively reduce the threat of the Euro becoming the major international reserve currency at the expense of an already weakening dollar.

Those who say that the Clinton-Baker-Albright (and now Rice...) teams have benign, stability seeking policies in Europe are apologists of the US regime's military efforts to subdue and dominate the Balkans at whatever the human cost. By propagating these beliefs, they offer comfort to the hawks that, whether on left or right, have nothing worthy to offer the world but violence.

What is necessary is forceful condemnation of the US regime's multiple incursions to foment war in the Balkans, and its latest attempts to arm twist the international community into accepting Kosovo's independence without the UN Security Council's agreement. Not doing so is siding with the very same interest groups who are responsible for progressively eroding individual liberties within the United States. Human rights, freedom of expression or the freedom to live in peace shouldn't be the exclusive rights of American citizens. The deplorable demise of the US opposition is a result of the same forces which are at work in the Balkans. With the Democrats also trumpeting that "might is right" in the international arena, one can only question what their commitment will be to reversing the dramatic erosion of individual freedoms at home. Probably none. which leads us to the next question: where will the Pentagon stop?


Display:
It looks as if it's worked. You can change time zone settings yourself.

You lost the recommends though. I'll put a comment in the Salon asking for new ones.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Fri Dec 14th, 2007 at 05:49:48 AM EST
Thank you.
by vladimir on Fri Dec 14th, 2007 at 05:56:04 AM EST
[ Parent ]
No problem. Don't forget to log in with username vladimir + vdr's password, though.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Fri Dec 14th, 2007 at 06:20:50 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I'm not sure I buy this theory as a long-term one.

How would you explain then the United States' deep reticence to recognizing Croatia and Slovenia? The US was at diplomatic loggerheads with the EU and especially Germany on these issues back in 1991. If they wanted disintegration, why wouldn't they have supported recognition back then?

I'm not saying I disagree with your theory, precisely, but I do feel as though the US acted more out of opportunism than long-standing policy.

Why was Baker so adamantly opposed to German recognition in the first place? I would encourage you to look at US military ties with the Yugoslavian Army in the 1980s, and US defense industry ties with Yugoslavia. Milosevic may be a neat parallel for the Saddam Hussein of the 80s. Both intricately linked with American military-industrial base. Ronald Reagan's Dep. Secretary of State, Lawrence Eagleburger, had his hand in many Serbian affairs.

I'm still of the opinion that the US scuttled both Vance-Owen and Rambouillet for other reasons. Humpty-dumpty fell off the wall, and the US recognized it and inserted themselves into the fray. You also have to remember that many EU and US liberals had absolutely no love for the Vance-Owen plan. Samantha Powers, a lead voice against the Bosnian genocide, called the plan a treachery, one that rewarded the Serbs and bought them time (of course, she doesn't analyze the plan's remarkable similarity to the Dayton Plan).

Madeleine Albright's behavior can be easily explained as well. She clearly had revenge on her mind, and she was shocked when the Serbs initially agreed to the harsh demands of Rambouillet. Yes, I know that Bondsteel was already in the works, but it would have been actualized even if there had been an agreement a Rambouillet. This is the same woman whose infamous utterances ("Yes, sanctions are worth the death of 500,000 Iraqi children," and then to Colin Powell, "What good is your army if you're afraid to use it?" and finally, "Winter will come early to Kosovo," a few days BEFORE the Racak massacre) prove that she has very little tact and even worse diplomatic skills. Isn't it easily explainable that she was just a fuck-up?

by Upstate NY on Fri Dec 14th, 2007 at 10:20:42 AM EST
Yes, cockup fits the evidence far better than conspiracy. the US wasn't really interested in the balkan countries, I got the feeling that they felt that as they were ex-Yugoslavian, ie fairly firendly anyway, having them sign up was a shoo-in. They were fixated on wooing Poland, Czechoslovakia (as then) and th Baltic states. This was a distraction they didn't want or need.

The US had to be dragged kicking and screaming into the "peacekeeping" efforts, there was a lot of cross-pond diplomatic effort to bring the US onside at the time.

Also I well remember the dismay at the Vance-Owen plan within W europe; if the US take the blame for de-railing it, then such a move received widespread support. I'm just not convinced they did it deliberately.

As for NATO having free reign, I think that was mere opportunism to see if they could wean newly freed countries into the US sphere of influence. It wasn't intended to force NATO on anyone, simply remove an impediment if the countries wanted to - naively or not that was my reading of it.

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Fri Dec 14th, 2007 at 11:20:18 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Having read some of your other posts on ET, I didn't really expect you wold buy the theory, even though it is clearly presented.

First, I've noticed you take advantage of every opportunity to mention Serb "genocide" in Bosnia. Given your knowledge of ex-Yugoslav events, to the point of providing details of Madeleine Albright's emotinal reactions to specific events at Rambouillet, how is it possible that you are not aware that the International Court of Justice ruled in February 2007 that Serbia did not commit genocide in Bosnia. If you are aware of this ruling, why do you personally persist in calling it genocide ? Are you in posession of some evidence that the the ICJ did not have at the time it made its verdict ?

Regarding your affirmation that war was the result of blunder and not design, I can only repeat what I said in my article. If the world's most powerful state commits blunders of this nature, we all have reason to be gravely concerned. Given the US administration's track record of blunders in the Balkans, I can only urge the Europeans to thank Ms Rice for her efforts in Kosovo and show her the way back to Washington. I am certain that the EU would have much better chances of finding acceptable, peaceful solutions in its own back yard without US "support".

by vladimir on Fri Dec 14th, 2007 at 11:28:22 AM EST
[ Parent ]
75,000 Bosnian Muslims killed. Do you think all of them were involved in fighting?

I do have an expansive definition for genocide. I admit. But I see no harm in that. Just don't slaughter a lot of people and you can avoid the genocide label.

That being said, I don't think Kosovo was a genocide. You see the difference?

I presented my case about the US's interests in the Balkans. You haven't refuted it. So, I guess I can't agree with your final comments. I seriously want to know why the US was not in lockstep with EU countries at the beginning of the Balkan wars.

by Upstate NY on Fri Dec 14th, 2007 at 11:42:43 AM EST
[ Parent ]
A number of reasons could explain why the US was not in phase with the EU (Germany) on this one in the 1980s and 90s
> because Germany was charting its own course at the time without prior US "approval"
> because of disagreements about the new perimeters of influence in the region (namely between US and Germany)
> because of disagreement about who would get which ex Yugoslav asset (mines, industry, real estate)

... culminated in public maneuvering which exposed rifts between the US and its European (German) ally.

by vladimir on Fri Dec 14th, 2007 at 04:11:22 PM EST
[ Parent ]
So now Germany and the US have colonized the ex-Yugoslavia? Is this what the EU is about as well? A division of spoils?
by Upstate NY on Fri Dec 14th, 2007 at 04:54:37 PM EST
[ Parent ]
You know, I really wouldn't rule it out. We need a revolution.
by vladimir on Fri Dec 14th, 2007 at 05:47:08 PM EST
[ Parent ]
But it appears that the ICJ ruled that Serbia had failed to prevent genocide in Bosnia, and that Serb forces had committed "acts of genocide".
Because the war in Bosnia and Herzegovina was a consequence of instability in the wider region of the former Yugoslavia, and due to the involvement of neighboring countries Croatia and Serbia and Montenegro, there was long-standing debate as to whether the conflict was a civil war or a war of aggression. Most Bosniaks and many Croats claimed that the war was a war of Serbian and Croatian aggression, while Serbs often considered it a civil war. A trial took place before the International Court of Justice, following a 1993 suit by Bosnia and Herzegovina against Serbia and Montenegro alleging genocide (see Bosnian genocide case at the International Court of Justice). The International Court of Justice (ICJ) ruling of 26 February 2007 effectively determined the war's nature to be international, thus exonerating Serbia of responsibility for the genocide committed by Serb forces of Republika Srpska. The ICJ concluded, however, that Serbia failed to prevent genocide committed by Serb forces and failed to punish those who carried out the genocide, especially general Ratko Mladić, and bring them to justice.

Despite the evidence of widespread killings, the siege of Sarajevo, mass rapes, ethnic cleansing and torture conducted by different Serb forces which also included JNA (VJ), elsewhere in Bosnia, especially in Prijedor, Banja Luka and Foča, as well as camps and detention centers, the judges ruled that the criteria for genocide with the specific intent (dolus specialis) to destroy Bosnian Muslims were met only in Srebrenica or Eastern Bosnia.[4] The court concluded that the crimes, including mass killings, rapes, detentions, destruction and deportation, committed during the 1992-1995 war, were "acts of genocide" according to the Genocide Convention, but that these acts did not, in themselves, constitute genocide per se.[5] The Court further decided that, following Montenegro's declaration of independence in May 2006, Serbia was the only respondent party in the case, but that "any responsibility for past events involved at the relevant time the composite State of Serbia and Montenegro".[6]


Source: Wikipedia - War in Bosnia and Herzegovina
by Gag Halfrunt on Fri Dec 14th, 2007 at 03:22:37 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Everyone can only decide these questions for themselves. The ICJ is a political body just like any other. I would not take their word as gospel.
by Upstate NY on Fri Dec 14th, 2007 at 03:44:56 PM EST
[ Parent ]
You are aware of course that the idea you offer of the ICJ being a political body like any other casts doubt on any "official" figure produced; Red Cross estimates for Srebrenica,  UN figures for killings in Fallujah, OECD figures for election results in Ukraine... you name it.

Which suits me just fine 'coz in general, I extremely skeptical of what they have to say. :)

by vladimir on Fri Dec 14th, 2007 at 06:08:37 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Bad idea to take Wikipedia as a sourc for debate on this one... really.
by vladimir on Fri Dec 14th, 2007 at 04:14:01 PM EST
[ Parent ]
If the world's most powerful state commits blunders of this nature, we all have reason to be gravely concerned.

Yes, we do.

We have met the enemy, and he is us — Pogo

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sat Dec 15th, 2007 at 01:30:42 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The people in this region have been fighting one another for 1000 years. Why?

Explanations about differences in religion or language are not an explanation, only a description. During most of this period the quality of life of the various factions wasn't appreciably different, the resource availability was similar and the chances for expanding land holdings limited.

Not only have these groups been in a near constant state of antagonism, but they have managed to drag in neighboring states and even more distant ones time and again.

Let's assume that in the last cycle of violence the US was really motivated by humanitarian impulses. This is seen as an exception, so what did Austria or Turkey or Germany or Hungary get out of involvement in earlier conflicts? The small amount of territory and a fractious population doesn't seem much of a reason to get involved.

Attributing intervention to nationalist pride is just giving irrational behavior a label. The world is perfectly capable of doing nothing when the Tutsi and Hutu murder each other (happening again this week in Congo) so what's so different about the Balkans?

Policies not Politics
---- Daily Landscape

by rdf (robert.feinman@gmail.com) on Fri Dec 14th, 2007 at 11:03:00 AM EST
Stavrianos' History of the Balkans Since 1450 paints a different picture than the one you give as to constant fighting in the region.

There is only one area that saw a lot of fighting, and that is in the Krajina in Croatia. That's also the area between the Austro-Hungarian Empire and the Ottoman Empire. Serbs were actually recruited to that area as a bulwark against the Ottomans. But the Bulgars, Albanians and Serbs were firmly entrenched inside the Empire, and for hundreds of years, there was no fighting. The 19th century saw the first independence movements in the region, and there was a great deal of fighting then, but it was against the Ottoman Empire.

I would subscribe to your point of view for the 20th century, especially the first two decades.

Afterward, the Balkans were swept up in Axis-Ally intrigues with Albania, Bosnia, Croatia, Bulgaria, lining up with the Nazis and the Serbs and Greeks lining up with the Allies.

After the war, nothing happened until the 1990s.

As to the geostrategic importance of the region, it used to related solely to the Danube, and the fact that this river was key for trade. But now with oil and gas pipelines stretching from the Caspian to the Black Sea and the Adriatic, the region has become important for other reasons.

by Upstate NY on Fri Dec 14th, 2007 at 11:48:28 AM EST
[ Parent ]
See this from Wikipedia:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kosovo_Polje

The fact that the place resonates with the population to this day shows that 700 year old animosities lie just below the surface. To hold a grudge for 700 years means that something is going on, even if the level of violence is suppressed by the rulers.

Yugoslavia was a "success" because Tito kept on lid on things, not because he fixed them. Once the top of the pressure cooker was removed, boom!

I remain puzzled.

Policies not Politics
---- Daily Landscape

by rdf (robert.feinman@gmail.com) on Fri Dec 14th, 2007 at 12:01:08 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I know all about that. But it's not a grudge. It's their commemorative history. The USA has the same exact thing. The Turks do. So do the Greeks. So do many peaceful countries. The US has Bunker Hill, to give just one example.

I would contest this idea of a pressure cooker being removed causing the mayhem. It was not that which caused it. It was the division of land/property without any regard for a fair division among all ethnic groups. That's what caused it.

by Upstate NY on Fri Dec 14th, 2007 at 12:08:36 PM EST
[ Parent ]
"... has become important for other reasons."

Are you refering to the land grab for the Serb Trepca mine complex North of Mitrovica, which is estimated to be worth over $5 Trillion dollars with one of the largest coal reserves in Europe?

by vladimir on Fri Dec 14th, 2007 at 01:42:32 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Erratum: that's US$ 5 billion.
by vladimir on Fri Dec 14th, 2007 at 02:06:27 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Coal reserves are good...

...for those who still use coal.

Other reasons: oil and gas pipelines from the Caspian into Europe.

by Upstate NY on Fri Dec 14th, 2007 at 02:30:48 PM EST
[ Parent ]
http://www.economist.com/images/20070414/CEU957.gif
http://www.eoearth.org/upload/thumb/9/97/Balkan_oiltransprojects.JPG/350px-Balkan_oiltransprojects.J PG

Unless you have better maps, I must admit that I don't quite get it.
Russian influence in SE Europe & the Adriatic seems more plausible to me as a cause for concern - even in the 90s, when Russia was in decay.
Empires come & go & come & go.

by vladimir on Fri Dec 14th, 2007 at 05:58:21 PM EST
[ Parent ]
A possible explanation indeed, although in the facts it was probably in effect mixed up with blunders and simple lack of interest from the US: not enough oil in the Balkans. Kicking Russia out didn't appear then as the priority it is now, Russia was crumbling and nobody was envisioning the Putin resurrection to happen so quickly.

However, there is another component of US opportunism that played a part: after the fighting begun on the ground, the EU wanted to do something about it (some sort of Balkan angst, after all it's basically the backyard), and yet remained mired in a mess of century old alliances, hesitations, failure to commit adequate resources for a real intervention. Basically, they couldn't do anything without the US leadership, and for this very reason the US restrained from any decisive action until the self-inflicted damage to the EU was such that a common military policy became totally unthinkable for many years to come. The damage to the balkans in the meantime was a negligible collateral for Washington. Because at that time, a stronger Europe around a reunited Germany was the most obvious challenger they could think of, not Putin.

Pierre

by Pierre on Fri Dec 14th, 2007 at 11:44:23 AM EST
Basically, they couldn't do anything without the US leadership, and for this very reason the US restrained from any decisive action until the self-inflicted damage to the EU was such that a common military policy became totally unthinkable for many years to come.

This is the most common conspiracy theory in Russia as well. With an occasional extra twist that it would have been impossible to contemplate Euro (and EMU before that) as the world's reserve currency while a war was going on in Europe's backyard, and so not doing everything possible was a smart thing to do for the USA. Recognising Kosovo is another match going into the same fire.
by Sargon on Fri Dec 14th, 2007 at 12:50:38 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It doesn't explain the US's reluctance to follow Europe's lead on recognition. Consider that this is what set the region on fire in the first place.
by Upstate NY on Fri Dec 14th, 2007 at 12:59:31 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It is an interesting question, so I figured checking The Dismantling of Yugoslavia: A Study in Inhumanitarian Intervention (and a Western Liberal-Left Intellectual and Moral Collapse) for a possible answer might be enligthening. I will just run through and cut comments focused on the US and EC (as the EU was namned then) acting in Yugoslavia around 1990 and then see what comes out of it.

Monthly Review

The collapse of the Soviet bloc a decade later deprived Yugoslavia of Western support for the unified state. As the last U.S. ambassador to Yugoslavia purportedly instructed Belgrade upon his arrival in April 1989: "Yugoslavia no longer enjoyed the geopolitical importance that the United States had given it during the Cold War.

Monthly Review

Had Western powers supported the federal state, Yugoslavia might have held together--but they did not. Instead they not only encouraged Slovenia, Croatia, and later Bosnia-Herzegovina to secede, they also insisted that the federal state not use force to prevent it. Diana Johnstone recounts a January 1991 meeting in Belgrade between the U.S. ambassador and Borisav Jovic, a Serb then serving on Yugoslavia's collective State Presidency. "[T]he United States would not accept any use of force to disarm the paramilitaries," Jovic was told. "Only `peaceful' means were acceptable to Washington. The Yugoslav army was prohibited by the United States from using force to preserve the Federation, which meant that it could not prevent the Federation from being dismembered by force"12--a remarkable injunction against a sovereign state. Similar warnings were communicated by the EC as well.

Monthly Review

One way this was accomplished was by the EC's September 1991 appointment of an Arbitration Commission--the Badinter Commission--to assess legal aspects of the contests over Yugoslavia. This body's work provided a "pseudo-legal gloss to the [EC's] opportunistic consent to the destruction of Yugoslavia demanded by Germany," Diana Johnstone writes.14 On each of the major issues contested by the Serbian republic, the commission ruled against Serbia. Yugoslavia was "in the process of dissolution," the commission's notorious Opinion No. 1 stated when published on December 7, 1991. Similarly, Opinion No. 2 held that "the Serbian population in Croatia and Bosnia-Herzegovina...[does not] have the right to self-determination," though it "is entitled to all the rights concerned to minorities and ethnic groups under international law...." And Opinion No. 3 declared that "the [former] internal boundaries between Croatia and Serbia and between Bosnia-Herzegovina and Serbia...[have] become frontiers protected by international law."15 Remarkably, the commission recognized the right of republics to secede from the former Yugoslavia, and thus affixed the right of self-determination to Yugoslavia's former administrative units; but the commission detached the right of self-determination from Yugoslavia's peoples, and thus denied comparable rights to the new minorities now stranded within the breakaway republics.

Monthly Review

Germany in particular encouraged Slovenia and Croatia to secede, which they did on June 25, 1991; formal recognition was granted on December 23, one year to the day after 94.5 percent of Slovenes had voted in a referendum in favor of independence. EC recognition followed on January 15, 1992, as did U.S. recognition in early April, when Washington recognized Slovenia, Croatia, and Bosnia-Herzegovina all at once.

The picture I get is that the formal recognition played only a minor part in the breakup and that in the important part of forbidding the federal government to use state violence against the militias, the EC and US cooperated.

Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se

by A swedish kind of death on Sat Dec 15th, 2007 at 11:20:06 AM EST
[ Parent ]
But none of this contradicts what I've been saying. For the US to be against recognition and also against the use of force at the same time is not a contradiction. As for the consequences of the end of the Cold War, that too seems to be a rather obvious consequence, but we know that in 1991-1992 Germany and the US were already in disagreement over recognition.
by Upstate NY on Sat Dec 15th, 2007 at 12:20:29 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Upstate NY:
For the US to be against recognition and also against the use of force at the same time is not a contradiction.

Telling another country that it may not use force to keep together is essentially telling separatist movements that they may use force without risk of being punished by the government. It is in effect quite a strong endorsement of separatism.

But it then remains a good question why US, Germany, and the rest of the west were split on recognition.

Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se

by A swedish kind of death on Sat Dec 15th, 2007 at 01:48:01 PM EST
[ Parent ]
You're assuming there will be a use of force. It's not automatic.

For instance, look at Slovenia. The US didn't want to recognize Slovenia either, and there wasn't much use of force from Slovenia's side.

We'll have to disagree on this. I simply don't see the contradiction between stressing to the Serbs that they should put down their weapons while at the same refusing to recognize the countries that wanted to separate.

by Upstate NY on Sat Dec 15th, 2007 at 08:54:28 PM EST
[ Parent ]

Based on newly released documents of the CIA, NSC, DIA and the US State Department Intelligence & Research Division, which were declassified between March 1992 and September 1998, it's clear that as early as 1971, CIA experts on Yugoslavia were considering the violent breakup of the country with the secession of Vojvodina, Kosovo, Macedonia and of course Croatia and Slovenia.

Most of those scenarios revolved around US/NATO providing political, military and financial support to Slovenian and Croatian "Western leaning" separatists. Saying that the US was against the recognition of Slovenia and Croatia while at the same time supporting the delivery of arms to Croatia's nationalists and the training of KLA guerillas in Germany just does not make the mark.

As usual, there are clearly differences between public posturing (US declarations that they're against independence, for peace and what not) and the financial, military realities on the ground (who gets the arms & the money).

It's not what we say but what we do that defines who we are.

by vladimir on Sun Dec 16th, 2007 at 04:41:57 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Intelligence & Research Divisions, eh? You mean brainstorming sessions. And this surprises you. Over and over again, I've asked you the question, and you completely avoid it. What did the US gain by refusing to recognize Coratia and Slovenia? Answer that.

"Saying that the US was against the recognition of Slovenia and Croatia while at the same time supporting the delivery of arms to Croatia's nationalists and the training of KLA guerillas in Germany just does not make the mark."

This comment seems like a blatant contradiction. I'm arguing that the US opposed German policy. You write that the US was against recognition even while Germany was training KLA guerillas. As though this is a contradiction. It's not. The US has one policy. The Germans had another. This is central to my original point. How can you miss this?

Not to mention the fact that Germany had helped train the KLA long after the period we are talking about (1991). The KLA hardly existed as such back then. They came into existence after the fall of the Albanian ponzi scheme years later.

"It's not what we say but what we do that defines who we are."

Well, you have to get the story straight first.

by Upstate NY on Sun Dec 16th, 2007 at 11:17:25 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Intelligence & Research Divisions, eh? You mean brainstorming sessions. And this surprises you.

Doesn't surprise me at all. It confirms my thesis that Washington is a major protagonist in the violent breakup of Yugoslavia - and not the "peace maker" it portrays itself as being.

You write that the US was against recognition even while Germany was training KLA guerillas.

No I don't. I say that the public posturing of the US was against recognition in 89-90-91 and I give a number of reasons for this (see my previous posts).

The US has one policy. The Germans had another.

Don't buy that. George H. W. Bush (Senior), president of the US from 1988-1992 proclaimed on numerous occasions during his tenure that Germany was America's strategic partner. You don't make that kind of statement if you've got a serious foreign policy disagreement with your "strategic partner". Conclusion: US and Germany were partners in which the roles were well defined and distributed (it's a classic in business negotiations).

If the world's sole surviving superpower in 1990 wanted peace, why didn't it offer a balanced peace plan to the parties - for example: the right to autodetermination for eacht ethnic group: Albanians in Kosovo, Serbs in Croatia, Serbs in Bosnia, Croats in Bosnia, ... etc?

And I don't buy "bludner" as the answer, given the armies of men & women that work on "brainstorming" scenarios, as you pointed out.

by vladimir on Sun Dec 16th, 2007 at 03:07:20 PM EST
[ Parent ]
You're making wild leaps in logic about CIA research and planning. These people are paid to project scenarios. That's their job.

I WROTE: "You write that the US was against recognition even while Germany was training KLA guerillas."

YOU WROTE: "No I don't. I say that the public posturing of the US was against recognition in 89-90-91 and I give a number of reasons for this (see my previous posts)."

A. In your earlier sentence you stated that US policy was contradictory because the US refused recognition while Germany was training the KLA. You did write this.

B. I see absolutely no reasons explaining why the US refused recognition when in reality it wanted to recognize Slovenia and Croatia.

"Don't buy that. George H. W. Bush (Senior), president of the US from 1988-1992 proclaimed on numerous occasions during his tenure that Germany was America's strategic partner. You don't make that kind of statement if you've got a serious foreign policy disagreement with your "strategic partner"."

Hmmm, America and Germany are strategic partners therefore they never disagree.

Gotcha.

by Upstate NY on Sun Dec 16th, 2007 at 08:28:12 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Upstate NY:
Over and over again, I've asked you the question, and you completely avoid it. What did the US gain by refusing to recognize Coratia and Slovenia? Answer that.

Actually, vladimir takes a stab at a reason:

vladimir:

As usual, there are clearly differences between public posturing (US declarations that they're against independence, for peace and what not) and the financial, military realities on the ground (who gets the arms & the money).

In effect, that recognition was withheld for some time for public relations reasons. It looked (to some group, for some reason) better if Germany went first. Plausible? Sure. True? Don't know.

Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se

by A swedish kind of death on Sun Dec 16th, 2007 at 03:20:53 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I still don't see an answer.

Public relations, you say?

How is that an answer? Rather vague. The US was concerned about how hurting the Serb's feelings would play out in front of a somnabulistic American public?

As for looking better if Germany went first, that would be easily done by standing aside, but instead the US denounced and blocked Germany's moves in the UN. This was well known at the time.

by Upstate NY on Sun Dec 16th, 2007 at 08:23:33 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Saying that the US was against the recognition of Slovenia and Croatia while at the same time supporting the delivery of arms to Croatia's nationalists and the training of KLA guerillas in Germany just does not make the mark.

There is clearly some confusion and misunderstanding here. Le me restate:

[ Upstate NY ] saying that the US was against recognition of Slovenia and Croatia while it [the US] was supporting at the same time the delivery of arms to Croatia's nationalists and the training of KLA guerillas in Germany just does not make the mark.

I thought that was clear, but sometimes, when you have to put your ideas on paper quickly, it's just not crystal clear. I hope now it is.

As for looking better if Germany went first, that would be easily done by standing aside, but instead the US denounced and blocked Germany's moves in the UN. This was well known at the time.

Blocked a German move in the UN? Germany has about as much power in the UN as Zanzibar (ok, a bit more). Are you suggesting that Germany's letter to the Secretary General of the UN informing him of German's intent to recognize Slovenia and Croatia in December 1991 was a "move at the UN"? France was against recognition at the time as was most of the EU - so there was no need for the US to "block" anything at the UN.

Let me repeat my reasons why the US was publicly against German haste to recognize:

1. Public posturing, for a number of reasons including keeping relations smooth with the rest of the EU which was against recognition.

2. US-Serb negotiations that were underway and that could have provided the US with a much better deal than the one it struck with Bonn - yes we're talking about spoils.

3. US-German disagreement about spoils.

Let's go back to 1991. The CIA plans for the breakup of Yugoslavia since the 70s.The "right" people are promoted to power - or supported by the US and Germany once they made it to the top. The arms are delivered in the 80s. Everything's ready to roll, when all of a sudden, the Soviet Union collapses. This provides an opportunity to the US to extend its influence over all of ex-Yugoslavia... which it tries to do, putting it at odds with Germany, on the other hand, which wants to consolidate its influence over an independent Slovenia and Croatia. There's disagreement about spheres of influence and who gets what. Political maneuvering ensues.

As a Swedish kind of death summarizes: Plausible? Sure. True? Dunno. Unless you are Kohl or Bush or Tudjman or Milosevic or Baker... or one of their close pals, chances are you won't know for sure which (if any) of these 3 hypotheses is the real reason behind what happened.

To conclude, I don't think that it serves your case to focus exclusively on this single issue of a US-German "public rift" in December 1991 as the key element disproving the thesis that the US's long term goal and interest was in the breakup of Yugoslavia and its forceful integration into Euro-Atlantic structures.

by vladimir on Mon Dec 17th, 2007 at 03:32:24 AM EST
[ Parent ]
"[ Upstate NY ] saying that the US was against recognition of Slovenia and Croatia while it [the US] was supporting at the same time the delivery of arms to Croatia's nationalists and the training of KLA guerillas in Germany just does not make the mark."

Again, your understanding of the events does not correspond to the timeline. There was no training of KLA guerillas in 1991. I really can't see how you make the claim that the US was against recognition and for training the KLA at the same time. It is, frankly, preposterous.

Lastly, it wasn't just Germany that the US was against. You paint the picture that France was also against it. Here are articles about the US's disagreement with the EC:

http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9E0CE1D6113CF935A25752C0A964958260
http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9E0CE3D6123CF935A25752C0A964958260

I've only asked you a thousand times, but tell me what the US gains by disagreeing with the ENTIRE EC at the time. What literally is to be gained?

by Upstate NY on Mon Dec 17th, 2007 at 09:09:27 AM EST
[ Parent ]
You are misunderstanding me again (it must be my English!). I'm not saying that the US was AGAINST recognition and FOR training the KLA. I'm saying the US was FOR recognition, and FOR training the KLA albeit not publicly at first. I know that the training of the KLA came later - I mentioned it to support my thesis that the US has been supportive of secessionist movements throughout ex-Yugoslavia.

Europe, on the other hand was AGAINST recognition, except for Germany:

http://www.globalbritain.org/BNN/BN06.htm

The CFSP established by Maastricht immediately proved itself inadequate in dealing with the crisis in Yugoslavia. EU diplomacy worked on the assumption that problems could be solved by tinkering with the structure of the Yugoslav federation, rather than seeing the federation itself as the source of the problem. The EU's refusal to recognize the secession from the federation of Croatia (despite the fact that this was the will of 92 per cent of the vote in Croatia's referendum) led Germany to threaten to recognize Croatia unilaterally. Unwilling to break ranks from a determined Germany which was prepared to smash the very CFSP it had advocated so strongly if it did not get its own way, the rest of the EU caved in and followed Bonn's lead.

And the NYT says the same - December 15th 1991:

http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9D0CE7DA113AF936A25751C1A967958260

Chancellor Helmut Kohl's spokesman, Dieter Vogel, said on Friday that the Bonn Government would wait until after a meeting of European Community foreign ministers in Brussels on Monday before announcing recognition, which has been opposed by the United Nations, the United States and by the European Community. But officials made clear that Bonn's decision would not be affected by the outcome of Monday's meeting.

by vladimir on Mon Dec 17th, 2007 at 11:05:56 AM EST
[ Parent ]
"You are misunderstanding me again (it must be my English!). I'm not saying that the US was AGAINST recognition and FOR training the KLA. I'm saying the US was FOR recognition, and FOR training the KLA albeit not publicly at first."

It's not a failure of your English. It's a failure of your logic. We are discussing here whether the US was initially predisposed to the breakup of Yugoslavia. The fact that they recognized the secessionists later while the KLA was being trained is not being disputed at all. This is the essence of my very first post on this subject.

You write: "I know that the training of the KLA came later - I mentioned it to support my thesis that the US has been supportive of secessionist movements throughout ex-Yugoslavia.""

How does that support your thesis if it came later AFTER the US recognized the new republics? It doesn't support your thesis at all.

"Europe, on the other hand was AGAINST recognition, except for Germany:"

I just linked to you in the previous post NY Times articles which showed that the US was AGAINST recognition even as the entire EC was for it.

Please explain to me why it benefits the US to refuse recognition even while Ireland and Norway elect to recognize?

by Upstate NY on Mon Dec 17th, 2007 at 12:19:26 PM EST
[ Parent ]
In that case, that leaves us with two options:
  1. US-Serb negotiations that were underway and that could have provided the US with a much better deal than the one it struck with Bonn - yes we're talking about spoils.
  2. US-German disagreement about spoils.

What's your theory?
by vladimir on Mon Dec 17th, 2007 at 12:40:57 PM EST
[ Parent ]
All this language is so vague. Spoils what where?

What deal with Bonn?

What are you talking about?

by Upstate NY on Mon Dec 17th, 2007 at 12:59:41 PM EST
[ Parent ]
If I understand vladimir correctly, the claim is this:
vladimir:
Let's go back to 1991. The CIA plans for the breakup of Yugoslavia since the 70s.The "right" people are promoted to power - or supported by the US and Germany once they made it to the top. The arms are delivered in the 80s. Everything's ready to roll, when all of a sudden, the Soviet Union collapses. This provides an opportunity to the US to extend its influence over all of ex-Yugoslavia... which it tries to do, putting it at odds with Germany, on the other hand, which wants to consolidate its influence over an independent Slovenia and Croatia. There's disagreement about spheres of influence and who gets what. Political maneuvering ensues.


We have met the enemy, and he is us — Pogo
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sat Dec 22nd, 2007 at 08:05:07 AM EST
[ Parent ]
You remind me of those who split the world up into two kinds of people.

Me, I also do that on occasion: there are two kinds of people in this world, I say, the kind of people who split the world into two kinds of people, and the kind who don't.

by Upstate NY on Mon Dec 17th, 2007 at 01:01:18 PM EST
[ Parent ]
What is vague? That a huge chunk of the industrial and services sectors in all ex Yugoslav republics were "privatized" mostly to Western business concerns at rock bottom prices? No Sir, from Serb mines to the Croat tourism sector - it's well documented. That's what I call the spoils of war. Is it vague that place is teeming with foreign occupation forces? No Sir - it's well documented and I call that spoils of war too.

If you are referring to my lack of "proof" regarding US German collusion, yes it's vague. Tudjman wasn't a buddy of mine. Neither was Slobodan. James & George even less. No, I don't have first hand accounts of the politics at play in January 1992 and this is not the kinda stuff you find on the newspaper stands. But that wasn't even the subject of my thesis.

by vladimir on Mon Dec 17th, 2007 at 02:14:06 PM EST
[ Parent ]
You still haven't answered the basic question: Why, when th entire EC had recognized the former republics, was the US still holding out?
by Upstate NY on Mon Dec 17th, 2007 at 02:54:00 PM EST
[ Parent ]
oh, let me see now. well.
can you repeat the question ?
by vladimir on Mon Dec 17th, 2007 at 03:58:12 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Why, when the entire EC has recognized the ex-Yugo republics, did the US refuse to recognize them?
by Upstate NY on Mon Dec 17th, 2007 at 04:58:15 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Now why on earth would you want an answer to a question like that?
by vladimir on Tue Dec 18th, 2007 at 02:02:50 AM EST
[ Parent ]
In Pierre's scenario, the US simply wasn't playing attention at the time, I suppose.

We have met the enemy, and he is us — Pogo
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sat Dec 15th, 2007 at 01:34:29 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Do nto blame on malice what can b blamed in incompetence..

I can see taht at certain points inteh past the Us would ahve prefered a rather unstable balkans.. well mroe liek .. nto completely stable... but given all th history it is a logn stretch to see a continuous policy ehing..

My bet: mostly cockup with some localize in time and space malice which is probably very difficult to discern.. becasue there have been some really major cockups.. and the US was ot alone on that...add Russia and the UE to the group.

A pleasure

I therefore claim to show, not how men think in myths, but how myths operate in men's minds without their being aware of the fact. Levi-Strauss, Claude

by kcurie on Fri Dec 14th, 2007 at 02:57:50 PM EST
Speaking as an American, I am puzzled as to why there is even a U.S. policy of any sort at all in the Balkans. Why doesn't Europe come up with a common defence policy of its own, disengage from NATO, and then work out a suitable regional solution with other national interests in the area?
by asdf on Sat Dec 15th, 2007 at 02:21:52 PM EST
Because of the empire thingy, you know. On both sides of the Atlantic.

Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se
by A swedish kind of death on Sat Dec 15th, 2007 at 02:24:51 PM EST
[ Parent ]
ok, so you tell me - why was the US opposed when Europe wanted to recognize Croatia. And what happened later - once all hell broke loose - to change the US position?
by vladimir on Mon Dec 17th, 2007 at 01:02:47 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, the U.S. has viewpoints and policies on every country around the globe.

The question is why, in an area that is clearly surrounded by Europe on all sides--practically in the middle, if you subscribe to the "eastern Russia is part of Europe theory"--does Europe even listen to what the U.S. has to say? It's about as clearly a European problem as can be pointed to, so who cares what the U.S. thinks?

by asdf on Mon Dec 17th, 2007 at 08:12:20 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The answer to that question is US power.

Think of the Cuban missile crisis. Cuba was a country firmly embedded in the North American geographic sphere. You could have asked the same question about the Soviet Union: who cares what they think. But the reality was that Soviet power bought it a place at the negotiating table, and allowed it to play out its politics in the Americas.

by vladimir on Tue Dec 18th, 2007 at 02:39:05 AM EST
[ Parent ]


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