The following is Part I of Peter Gowan, The Twisted Road to Kosovo, published as Issue No. 62 (1999)
of Labour Focus on Eastern Europe|
I. National Rights and International Powers in Yugoslavia's
Western powers usually legitimise military interventions in terms of a proclaimed
commitment to some universalist norm or to some goal embodying such a norm. These declared goals can
oscillate, but they are important, because a central element of their foreign policy, particularly when
it involves starting a war, is the support of their domestic population. In the Anglo-Saxon countries,
the domestic populations like to think of themselves as the guardians and promoters, through their states,
of the most civilised, humane, liberal and democratic values in the world. It is true that they have
short attention spans and are generally far more ignorant of the world outside their borders than the
populations of many other countries. But at least the elected officials of their states can get into
some domestic trouble if the declared norms and goals are not remotely implemented or if implementation
is carried through with such barbarity that they seem to contradict other, perhaps more basic norms and
So today, the attack on Yugoslavia is justified as aiming to end the repression of the Kosovo
Albanians through granting them their human rights. It may be a NATO protectorate, it may be autonomous
within Serbia, it may involve partitioning Kosovo, it may even entail an independent Kosovo, it may be
built under Rugova's leadership or under the KLA leadership. We simply don't know. These norms are only
the latest of a whole series of such principles enunciated by the NATO powers since the start of the
Yugoslav crisis in the late 1980s. It would tire the reader's patience if we were to list all the norms
and goals proclaimed by these powers since 1989. A recitation of the entire list would be tiresome and,
in any case would tell us little about the real operational goals of the NATO powers in Yugoslavia over
the last decade. For they have operated within that theatre not under the governance of this or that
universalist norm geared to improving the lot of the peoples of the area, but under the spur of their
state political interests and state political goals. These real objectives of the Western states have
usually been governed by aims that have had little to do with the human rights of the citizenry. Yugoslavia
has, for a long time, been the cockpit of Europe: an arena in which Great Powers have sought to gain
political victories in the wider European political arena. At the same time, the operations of the Western
powers within the Yugoslav theatre have been a major - some would say, the major - cause of many of
the barbarities that have confronted Yugoslav men and women in the past. A balanced judgement of the
March 1999 NATO assault on Yugoslavia necessitates a study of the whole tragedy.
powers and the collapse of Yugoslavia
The post-World War Two Yugoslavia was in many respects a model
of how to build a multinational state, although, from the start, the incorporation of Kosovo into Serbia
was an anomaly.(1) The Federation was constructed against a double background: an inter-war Yugoslavia
which had been dominated by an oppressive Serbian ruling class; and a war-time slaughter in which the
Nazis made use of the earlier Serbian oppression to use Croatian fascism for barbarous slaughter and
also exploited anti-Serb sentiment amongst the Kosovo Albanian - and some elements in the Bosnian Muslim
- population to bolster their rule.
The new Yugoslav state's solution to the national question was
cemented by some key structural principles: first and foremost a socialised economy and society directed
towards social equality and development; secondly a sophisticated constitutional order designed to ensure
full rights and equalities for all the main nations and peoples in the country; thirdly a territorial
division into republics that would ensure that the previously dominant Serb nation - the largest nation
in Yugoslavia - would not again exert dominance over the other Yugoslav nations; both constituent nations
and republics were furnished with rights of equal constitutional status; and finally the state was politically
anchored in a transnational Yugoslav Communist Party rooted in all the Yugoslav nations.(2) The Communist
Party exercised a monopoly of political power but, despite the oligarchic character of the new state,
the Communist Party enjoyed wide support within the population as the guarantor of all the other positive
elements in the system and as the force which had led a successful resistance against fascism.
to ease Serb sensitivities over the fact that very large parts of the Serbian population were left outside
the boundaries of the new Serbian republic, the Communist leadership allocated Kosovo to the Serb republic
as an autonomous province. They viewed this as a temporary measure until their goal, shared by the Bulgarian
and Albanian Communists, of a Balkan Federation could be established. In such a federation the borders
dividing Albanian communities could wither away. But the Stalin-Tito split blocked this possibility.
There was one further structural element in the post-war Yugoslav state's stability: the joint concern
of the USSR and the USA to maintain the integrity of Yugoslavia as a neutral state on the frontiers of
the super-power confrontation in Europe.
The collapse of this state was the result of both internal
and external factors. Assigning comparative weight to the external as against the internal factors
in the generalised crisis that shook Yugoslavia in 1990-1991 is a complex matter. But without understanding
the roles of the Western powers in helping to produce and channel the crisis, it is difficult to understand
the disintegration of Yugoslavia. Yet this Western role has largely been overlooked in Western literature.(3)
From debt to crisis
The fundamental cause of the Yugoslav collapse was an economic crisis. This
was then used by social groups in Yugoslavia and in the West to undermine the collectivised core of
the economy and push Yugoslavia towards a capitalist restoration. The economic crisis was the product
of disastrous errors by Yugoslav governments in the 1970s, borrowing vast amounts of Western capital
in order to fund growth through exports. Western economies then entered recession, blocked Yugoslav exports
and created a huge debt problem. The Yugoslav government then accepted the IMF's conditionalities which
shifted the burden of the crisis onto the Yugoslav working class. Simultaneously, strong social groups
emerged within the Yugoslav Communist Party, allied to Western business, banking and state interests
and began pushing towards neoliberalism, to the delight of the US. It was the Reagan administration which,
in 1984, had adopted an NSC proposal to push Yugoslavia towards a capitalist restoration.
undermined a central pillar of the state: the socialist link between the Communist Party and the working
class. The forms and effects of the break varied in different parts of Yugoslavia. First in Kosovo in
1981, where the links between Yugoslav communism and the population had always been weakest and where
the economic crisis was most intense, there was an uprising demanding full republican status for Kosovo.
Within the mobilisation there were separatist tendencies, wanting to unite Kosovo with Albania. (At the
time, the Kosovo Albanians were constitutionally an autonomous province of the Serbian republic but
that status gave them far more extensive rights and power within Yugoslavia than national minorities
generally enjoy in West European states). However, in response to the separatist tendencies, the central
state began to reassert its power and harshly to repress those deemed to be unreliable.
Then in Serbia,
there was an attempt by parts of the intelligentsia to reorganise the link between the Communist Party
and the people on a Serbian nationalist anti-Kosovar basis, a movement which the Serbian Communist leader
Milosevic ultimately joined and led.(4) It mobilised populist Serbian anti-Albanian chauvinism as a
new basis for maintaining popular support for the Communist Party while actually implementing the Reagan
administration's 'structural adjustment' programme being processed through the World Bank.
the Communist leadership opposed Milosevic and sought new legitimacy by agitating for greater autonomy,
with the obvious ultimate goal of splitting away from Yugoslavia altogether. Thus in Slovenia capitalist
restoration would be seen as a means towards Slovenia 'joining Europe'. Similar nationalist trends emerged
in Croatia, though largely outside the Communist Party. All these attempts to replace the socialist link
between leaders and peoples with new ideologies embraced the symbols and discourses of pre-1945 Yugoslav
bourgeois nationalisms. This shift towards pre-war values on the part of former Communist leaders and
others building new pro-capitalist parties was not a peculiarly Yugoslav phenomenon: it occurred right
across the Soviet Bloc and the rise of such trends was generally welcomed in Western capitals where attempts
by parties to maintain socialist links with the working class were seen as the main enemy to be combatted.(5)
Western governments had, after all, for years been funding nationalist émigré organisations from all
over the region, supporting groups such as the Anti-Bolshevik Bloc of Nations and the like.(6)
This was the situation in 1989 when the Soviet Bloc started to crumble. As it did so
the USA withdrew its earlier commitment to the maintenance of the integrity of the Yugoslav state. This
shift by the USA signalled the general view in the main Western powers: none of them had a significant
stake in Yugoslav unity and all of them were pushing for a rapid switch to capitalism in the region,
a switch to capitalism to be brought about through induced economic slumps destroying the collectivist
social gains of populations under socialism. The populations were expected to put up with their loss
of social rights and economic security because they had the prospect of later 'entering Europe' - a phase
which meant joining the rich club of the EC. This package of policies and conditionalities worked initially
in much of East Central Europe, uniting the populations around governments taking the shock therapy
road to capitalism. But in two states in produced splits and political fragmentation: Czechoslovakia
was one and Yugoslavia was the other.
In the Yugoslav case, the tactic's destructive role took a particularly
virulent form for two reasons: first, because of the zeal of Western policy makers in introducing their
new paradigm in their first two cases - Yugoslavia and Poland, where the shocks were introduced simultaneously
on 1 January 1990 by the same people - Stanley Fischer from the IMF and Geoffrey Sachs as special adviser
to the Polish and Yugoslav governments; but there was a second reason as well: some European governments
actually wanted the break-up of Yugoslavia, something not true in the case of any other part of East
Central Europe at that time. Their pressure thus combined with the general Western drive for capitalism
to speed the break-up during 1989-90. On one side were a number of European states eager to gain independence
for Slovenia and Croatia; on the other side was the United States, eager to ensure that Yugoslavia paid
its debts to Western banks and 'globalised' its political economy through Shock Therapy in order to
ensure a regime in the country open for the Western multinationals.
The forces eager to see the break-up
of Yugoslavia through independence for Slovenia and Croatia were the Vatican, Austria, Hungary, Germany
and, more ambivalently, Italy. Since the mid-1980s, the Vatican and Austria had started an active campaign
in East Central and Eastern Europe to rebuild their influence there and by 1989-90 the Vatican was openly
championing independence for Slovenia and Croatia. By 1990 Austria's government was equally open. In
the words of a study by the International Institute for Strategic Studies, Austria had "a remarkably
open and sometimes brazen policy aimed at helping Slovenia and Croatia in their efforts to leave the
[Yugoslav] Federation."(7) The Austrian media denounced what they called 'Panzer Communism' in Yugoslavia
and 'primitive Serbs' while the Austrian government went so far as to include the Slovenian Minister
for External Affairs, Dmitri Rupel, in Austria's own delegation to a CSCE meeting in Berlin. Although
Austria presented its drive for Slovenian and Croatian independence in terms of 'democracy' and the 'democratic
rights' of the Slovenians and Croatians, such concerns were hardly uppermost in the Austrian state, given
the fact that for decades Austria had, according to Zemetica,
been striving to assimilate the Slovene
minority in the Klagenfurt Basin and the Croats in Burgenland" and "had been flagrantly and consistently
brushing aside its obligations towards minorities under the 1955 State Treaty.(8)
The real goal of
Austrian policy was to expand Austria's regional influence since it "saw the Yugoslav crisis as an auspicious
moment for self-assertion".(9) In the summer of 1991 the EC was finally prompted to warn Austria that
if it continued its energetic efforts to break up Yugoslavia it would be excluded from eventual EC membership
but even that threat did not stop Austrian efforts.
The Hungarian government of Jozef Antall, elected
in the Spring of 1990, adopted a policy very much in line with that of Austria, but with additional Hungarian
goals vis a vis Serbia's Voivodina Province. As Zametica explains, the Hungarian government,
the Yugoslav crisis, consistently favoured and covertly aided the secessionist struggle of Slovenia and,
particularly, Croatia. The Kalashnikov affair of early 1991 revealed that wide sections of Hungary's
officialdom were implicated in the illegal and large scale supply of weapons to Croatia.
was secretly supplying automatic assault rifles to Croatia in late 1990. And in July 1991, at the very
height of the crisis between Serbia and Croatia, the Hungarian Prime Minister declared that the international
treaties designating Hungary's southern borders with Serbia and in particular with Voivodina were treaties
made only with Yugoslavia. This, he said, was an 'historical fact' which 'must be kept in view'.(10)
And, referring to the 1920 Treaty of Trianon, Antal spelt out just why Hungary was so vigorously supporting
Croatia's secession: "We gave Vojvodina to Yugoslavia. If there is no more Yugoslavia, then we should
get it back."(11)
These manoeuvres by Austria and Hungary to break up Yugoslavia were, of course,
then overshadowed by the German government's drive to derecognise Yugoslavia through giving recognition
to Slovenia and Croatia. The German government's open championing of Yugoslavia's break-up did not occur
until the late Spring of 1991, but long before that both Slovenia and Croatia were getting encouragement
from Bonn for their efforts. The German campaign has usually been explained by Kohl's domestic electoral
interests. But the weakness of this explanation lies in the fact that it was Foreign Minister Genscher
- not a Christian Democrat - who seems to have been the driving force behind the German policy. And there
was thus a focused and co-ordinated coalition involving Austria, Germany, Hungary and the Vatican all
pushing for the same goal: Yugoslavia's break up.
This campaign was not, of course, supported by the
United States. It championed Yugoslav unity as did Britain and France. But for the US unity was not
the main thing: its policy was principally governed by its concern to ensure the imposition of Shock
Therapy on the country as a whole via the IMF. In 1989 Geoffrey Sachs was in Yugoslavia helping the Federal
government under Ante Markovic prepare the IMF/World Bank shock therapy package, which was then introduced
in 1990 just at the time when the crucial parliamentary elections were being held in the various republics.
One aspect of Yugoslavia's Shock Therapy programme was both unique within the region and of great political
importance in 1989-90. This was the World Bank-organised bankruptcy mechanism. Whereas in the rest of
East Central Europe in the early 1990s, governments decided to keep the overwhelming bulk of insolvent
enterprises going and postponed the implementation of draconian bankruptcy laws (perhaps aware of the
earlier Yugoslav experience), the World Bank programme had a devastating effect in 1989 and 1990 in Yugoslavia.(12)
The bankruptcy law to liquidate state enterprises was enacted in the 1989 Financial Operations Act which
required that if an enterprise was insolvent for 30 days running, or for 30 days within a 45 day period,
it had to settle with its creditors either by giving them ownership or by being liquidated, in which
case workers would be sacked, normally without severance payments. In 1989, according to official sources,
248 firms were declared bankrupt or were liquidated and 89,400 workers were laid off. During the first
nine months of 1990 directly following the adoption of the IMF programme, another 889 enterprises with
a combined work-force of 525,000 workers suffered the same fate. In other words, in less than two years
"the trigger mechanism" (under the Financial Operations Act) had led to the lay off of more than 600,000
workers out of a total industrial workforce of the order of 2.7 million.(13) A further 20% of the work
force, or half a million people, were not paid wages during the early months of 1990 as enterprises sought
to avoid bankruptcy. The largest concentrations of bankrupt firms and lay-offs were in Serbia, Bosnia-Herzegovina,
Macedonia and Kosovo.(14) As Michel Chossudovsky explains in his analysis of this episode:
earnings were in a free fall, social programmes had collapsed; with the bankruptcies of industrial enterprises,
unemployment had become rampant, creating within the population an atmosphere of social despair and hopelessness.(15)
This was an critical turning point in the Yugoslav tragedy. Markovic in the Spring of 1990 was
by far the most popular politician not only in Yugoslavia as a whole but in each of its constituent republics.
He should have been able to rally the population for Yugoslavism against the particularist nationalisms
of Milosevic in Serbia or Tudjman in Croatia and he should have been able to count on the obedience of
the armed forces. He was supported by 83% of the population in Croatia, by 81% in Serbia and by 59%
in Slovenia and by 79% in Yugoslavia as a whole.(16) This level of support showed how much of the Yugoslav
population remained strongly committed to the state's preservation. But Markovic had coupled his Yugoslavism
with the IMF Shock Therapy programme and EC conditionality and it was this which gave the separatists
in the North West and the nationalists in Serbia their opening. The appeal of the separatists in Slovenia
and Croatia to their electorates involved offering to repudiate the Markovic-IMF austerity and by doing
so help their republics prepare to leave Yugoslavia altogether and 'join Europe'. The appeal of Milosevic
in Serbia was to the fact that the West was acting against the Serbian people's interests. And these
appeals worked. As Susan Woodward explains:
"In every republic, beginning with Slovenia and Croatia
in the Spring, governments ignored the monetary restrictions of Markovic's stabilisation programme in
order to win votes..."(17)
After winning elections, they worked hard to break up the country. If
Western policy for Yugoslavia had been a Marshall Plan which the federal authorities could have used
to rebuild the country's economic and social cohesion the whole story would have been different.
is not a case of being wise after the event. Western policy makers were very well aware of the issue
at the time. In 1989-90, the US government faced an acute trade-off in its Yugoslav policy. The State
department was concerned in 1990 about Yugoslav political stability. In 1990 the CIA was warning the
Bush administration that Yugoslavia was heading for civil war within 18 months.18 The dilemma was well
brought out by a journalist at a press conference given by Secretary of State Baker on 5 July 1990 in
Washington. The journalist asked:
"I noticed in the remarks that you made today that were distributed
to us, you expressed some concerns about the situation in Yugoslavia. Now, how does conditionality apply
to the kind of problem that you have described in Yugoslavia, which is less to do with the central government
and more to do with the different republics. It is not clear whether Belgrade could deliver some of the
things that you want. How will that be judged?"
Baker, normally laconic, replied with some feeling
but more evasion:
"The question you raised is a very, very good question. There will have to be
some serious thought given to the degree to which you look at the republic level as opposed to looking
at the central government level. And you are quite right. There are some things in some countries with
respect to which the central government can deliver on; and in other countries that cannot be done."(19)
But the US government as a whole opted for the priority of the Shock Therapy programme over Yugoslav
cohesion. Thus was the internal dynamic towards the Yugoslav collapse into civil war decisively accelerated.
The only European states which did have a strategic interest in the Yugoslav theatre tended to want to
break it up.
It would be wrong, of course, to suggest that there were no other, specifically Yugoslav,
structural flaws which helped to generate the collapse. Many would argue that the decentralised Market
Socialism was a disastrous experiment for a state in Yugoslavia's geopolitical situation. The 1974 Constitution,
though better for the Kosovar Albanians, gave too much to the republics, crippling the institutional
and material power of the Federal government. Tito's authority substituted for this weakness until his
death in 1980, after which the state and Communist Party became increasingly paralysed and thrown into
crisis. But if the Western powers had been remotely interested in putting the interests of the Yugoslav
people first, they had adequate levers to play a decisive role, alongside Yugoslavia's federal government,
in maintaining the country's integrity. Instead, the Western powers most interested in Yugoslav developments
actually assisted, politically and materially, in bringing about the collapse.
and the framework leading to atrocities
In 1990-1991, then, Yugoslavia was in the grip of a dynamic
towards break-up despite the fact that the overwhelming majority of its population did not favour such
a course. A break-up would also violate a cardinal principle of the new post-Cold War state system enshrined
in the CSCE and the Treaty of Paris of 1990: that inter-state borders in Europe should not be changed.
Instead, internal arrangements within states should be put in place to ensure adequate rights for all
groups. But the Western powers were not prepared to enforce such principles in the Yugoslav case because
Germany did not want to and the other states did not have any strategic interest in doing so. In the
early summer of 1991, James Baker flew into Belgrade for a day to take a look at Yugoslavia's crisis
before flying off with the remark: "We have no dog in this fight". Norms not relevant to Western state
interests were ditched. In the early summer of 1991 German and Austrian efforts to advance the break-up
achieved a triumph by getting the EC to mediate between Slovenia and Croatia and the central Yugoslav
authorities. The EC states were eager to enhance their foreign policy role and standing through such
mediation. They therefore accepted a role that implied Yugoslavia's destruction: mediation between forces
within a state over that state's unity implies a repudiation of the state's sovereign authority.
break-up might have been possible without great bloodshed if clear criteria could have been established
for providing security for all the main groups of people within the Yugoslav space. This was such a vital
issue not just because Yugoslavia was a multi-national state in which different national groups were
thoroughly intermixed, but above all because the revival of inter-war and war-time bourgeois nationalisms
was the general East European political and ideological correlate of Shock Therapy social transformations.
And several of these nationalisms bore symbols which struck fear and panic into the minds of many of
Yugoslavia's peoples. Ensuring the practical application of clear and just principles for handling these
national questions was literally a life-and-death issue. This was what the Western powers were taking
responsibility for once they got involved in 'mediation'. And Western powers were taking responsibility
for this cardinal issue because only the Western great powers could give post-Yugoslav entities the rights
of states in the inter-state system. And everybody knew that.
The problem here was that the constitutional
arrangements, furnishing rights to Yugoslavia's republican territories and its nations and peoples,
were arrangements that were premised upon Yugoslavia remaining an integrated state. There were two
cardinal structural issues here. The first was a division of the country into republics in such a way
that the non-Serb nations would not fear that Yugoslavia would become a Serb-dominated state. To achieve
this, as Branka Magas explains, required "winning Serbian acceptance of the new constitutional order
which was to divide - more in form than in fact - the Serb nation inside post-revolutionary Yugoslavia."(20)
Thus large parts of the Serb population were placed within other republican territories or within autonomous
provinces which enjoyed greater autonomy than, say, the Basque country in today's Spain. The Serbs were
thus split up between Serbia proper, Croatia, Bosnia, Vojvodina and Kosovo. This was, indeed, a question
"more in form than in fact" within an integrated Yugoslavia, but it became, of course, a division more
of fact than of form in the context or Yugoslavia's break-up. But Yugoslavia's constitutional principles
did provide a key to its resolution for the Constitution gave rights to nations of equal force to the
rights of Republics. Thus, under these criteria, the Serb nationals in, say, Croatia, were the subjects
of national rights which could not be overridden by the will of the Croatian republic. But how was this
issue to be dealt with in a context where the Yugoslav constitution was collapsing?
major issue concerned the major non-Slav nation within Yugoslavia, the Kosovo Albanians. While post-war
Yugoslavia divided the Serbs within the state, it divided the Albanians both within the state and between
Yugoslavia and Albania. As a result, there were always understandable tendencies within the Albanian
communities of Kosovo and Macedonia that would have preferred to unite all Albanians in a single Albanian
state. With the break-up of Yugoslavia, for many Yugoslav Albanians that became a realistic possibility.
How was (and is) that problem to be dealt with?
The Croatian question
The answers which the
Western powers gave to these two cardinal questions contributed very directly to the bloody cycles of
butchery in the Yugoslav theatre during the 1990s. In 1991 the Western powers, led by Germany, gave their
answer on the question of the Serb population in Croatia. They said Croatia should be entitled to independence
on grounds of self-determination and within the boundaries of republican Croatia established within post-war
Yugoslavia. Self-determination was established by the fact that a referendum of the Croatian nation had
voted for independence. This was a formula for war between the Croatian nationalist government and Croatia's
Serb population because it violated the principles for handling the national question established in
the post-war Yugoslav constitution: it denied the Serbs in Croatia their sovereign national rights.
that constitution the will of a republican majority could not override the equally valid will of a constituent
nation. Thus the vote of the Croatian majority for independence could not override the rights of the
Serb population which had to be equally respected. The political leaders of the Serbian population
in Croatia organised a referendum on whether to remain within an independent Croatia and the result
was an overwhelming rejection. According to the Yugoslav principles Croatian independence should have
been dependent upon a prior resolution of that conflict of rights and democratic wills.
EC states during 1991 ignored this, rejecting the Yugoslav idea that the Serb nation had rights equal
to the Croatian republican will. Instead the majority of EC states adopted the view that the Serb population
of Croatia should accept their status as a national minority within an independent Croatia. This approach
should, of course, have implied that CSCE principles for protecting minority rights must be guaranteed
before Croatian independence was recognised. But the Croatian government rejected the granting of such
And the German government decided to brush this CSCE principle aside and recognised
Croatia without any prior commitment by the Croatian government to adequate minority rights for Croatia's
Serbian population. This German position thus involved a double betrayal of Croatia's Serbs: a betrayal
of the Yugoslav principles concerning their rights and a betrayal of the CSCE principles concerning their
rights. It was bound to drive the Croatian Serb population towards war under the leadership of Serb nationalism.
And it led the American mediator Cyrus Vance to call the resulting war 'Genscher's war', referring to
the German Foreign Minister. This may be an exaggeration: it was also Tudjman's and Milosevic's. But
it was Genscher who made it clear to the Croatian Serbs that they had nobody to depend on for their
rights but the force of their own arms and those of Serbia.
As to why the German government took this
stand is an issue which remains obscure. The line of German diplomats that it was driven by domestic
pressures is not convincing since the Auswärtiges Amt [foreign office] led the whole drive. As we shall
see, there were other interpretations at the time. But equally important is the question as to why the
other EC powers were prepared to accept the German line. The bargaining on this issue reached a climax
at an all-night meeting of European Political Co-operation on 15-16 December 1991 in Brussels. At that
meeting Chancellor Kohl got the British to support him by offering John Major two big carrots over the
Maastricht Treaty: the British opt out on Monetary Union and a British opt out on the Social Charter
(rights for workers within the EC). And at the same time Kohl promised that he would not recognise Croatia
and Slovenia until they had implemented full minority rights for their minorities (essentially rights
for Croatia's Serb minority). But having made that big concession, Kohl then proceeded to renege on it,
unilaterally recognising Croatia and Slovenia on 23 December without any minority rights being guaranteed.(21)
The question then is why did the other main Western powers accept this German unilateralism? And
the answer is twofold: first, the US did not accept this big German demarche: it finally decided to move
on the Yugoslav crisis. As far as the other EC powers were concerned, Yugoslavia was simply not an important
strategic issue for them: far more important was the Maastricht Treaty (and, for the British, being
able to opt out of central parts of it).
It is also worth stressing that the EC was not only acquiescing
in Tudjman's rejection of CSCE principles for the large Serb population in Croatia. It was equally ignoring
the right of the Kosovar Albanians to CSCE standards of minority rights within Serbia's province of Kosovo.
The reason was simple: no Western state had any stake in that issue.
One group in the West had, in
fact, come to grips seriously with what was at stake if appalling inter-communal slaughter was to be
avoided in Yugoslavia. This was the Badinter Commission, which had been set up by the EC in August 1991
as an arbitration commission of senior international jurists to tackle basic issues of rights in the
context of Yugoslavia's dissolution. At first, during the Croatian/Slovenian crisis, the Badinter Commission
took what might be called a German line: when asked by the Serbian government to arbitrate on the issue
of Serbia's border to Croatia, the Commission cited a case from a dispute between Mali and Burkino Faso
which said that post-colonial boundaries should not be changed. It also rejected the relevance of the
will expressed in a referendum of the Serbian population in Croatia against being part of an Independent
Croatia. At the same time it opposed recognition of Croatia on the grounds that it was not respecting
minority rights. But over Bosnia, the Badinter Commission took a different view, closer to earlier
Yugoslav jurisprudence: it said that Bosnian independence should not be accepted unless substantial approval
was given to such independence by all three peoples within Bosnia - the Bosnian Serbs, the Bosnian Muslims
and the Bosnian Croatians. Thus, while the EC took an 'historic rights' approach to recognising borders
in the Croatian case (and in the Kosovo case) it took an approach of recognising the democratic rights
of all national groupings in the Bosnian case. Since the Bosnian Serbs were bitterly against a Bosnian
independence which would cut them off from the Serbs of Serbia, Badinter's line implied no acceptance
of Bosnian independence. This was also the German line in January 1992 and it was largely accepted by
the European Community. But at this critical juncture, the United States intervened vigorously in the
Yugoslav crisis for the first time.
US intervention: playing the Bosnian card against an emerging German sphere of influence|
1991 the United States's declaratory policy was one of supporting Yugoslav unity. But in reality the
US stood back from the Yugoslav crisis, simply watching the chaotic manoeuvrings of the European powers
on the issue. The US no longer had any significant national interest in Yugoslavia.(22) But it was pre-occupied
by one overriding European policy issue: ensuring that Western Europe remained firmly subordinated to
the Atlantic Alliance under US leadership. And this was viewed by the Bush administration as a serious
problem as a result of fundamental features of the Soviet collapse. First, NATO - the military cornerstone
of the Alliance - had lost its rationale and there were moves in Western Europe (and the USSR) to build
a new security order in Europe that would tend to undermine US leadership. Secondly, the new United Germany,
liberated from US tutelage, seemed to be building a new political bloc with France through the Maastricht
Treaty with its stress on a Common Foreign and Security Policy leading towards 'a common defence'. This
seemed to be more than words since Germany and France were in the process of building a joint military
corps, the so-called 'Euro-Corps' outside the NATO framework - a move that profoundly disturbed Washington
and London. And thirdly, Germany's drive in relation to Yugoslavia seemed to be geared not simply to
domestic German constituencies, but to the construction of a German sphere of influence in Central Europe,
involving Austria, Hungary, Croatia and Slovenia and perhaps later drawing in Czechoslovakia and eventually
and most crucially Poland. This seemed to be the only explanation for the extraordinary assertive unilateralism
of Genscher and Kohl, running roughshod over their EC partners in December 1991 and sending a signal
to the whole of Europe that Bonn had become the place where the shape of the new Europe was being decided.
This was not acceptable to the Bush administration. As Eagleburger explained, Germany "was getting out
ahead of the US" with its Croatian drive. In other words the US interpretation of Genscher's drive to
break up Yugoslavia was far from being that it was just a sop to Catholic domestic constituencies and
the editor of the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. In response to this challenge, the US administration
decided to take over the political lead in the Yugoslav crisis.
But just as Germany's various declared
universalist norms and goals were in the service of not of the Yugoslav people but of German political
influence, so the United States was not, of course, entering the Yugoslav theatre to calm the storms
of war and provide new security for Yugoslavia's terrified peoples. Quite the reverse. The Bush administration
was entering the scene to push Germany and the European Union aside but it was going to do so by laying
the basis for a new and much more savage Yugoslav war.
Washington's chosen instrument for taking
the lead was that of encouraging the Bosnian government to go for independence and therefore for a Bosnian
war. Bosnian independence was opposed by the German government and the EC. They aimed to try to hold
the rest of Yugoslavia together. The US administration decided to put a stop to that by launching a
drive for Bosnian independence which got underway in January 1992 just as the EC was following Germany's
lead in recognising Croatia and Slovenia.
Germany had turned the internal Yugoslav crisis into its
own problem definition: Europe must defend independent Croatia against Serbian/Yugoslav aggression. Now
Washington would provide a new problem definition: Europe and the world must defend an Independent Bosnia
against Serbian/Yugoslav aggression and, perhaps, if tactically useful, against Croatian aggression as
well. Thus did the US enunciate the great norm that would eventually provide it with European leadership:
self-determination for the Bosnian nation and defence of its independence against aggression.
A state without a nation
There was a factual problem with the American line: there was no Bosnian
nation in a political sense or in a Yugoslav constitutional sense. There were, instead, three nations
in Bosnia, none of which had a majority of the population. As of the 1981 Census Bosnia contained the
following main national groups:
It was evident from voting results that the majority of Bosnia's own
population was not going to respect the authority of an independent Bosnian state. (The Croatian nationalist
leaders had supported Bosnian independence but only to facilitate Bosnia's being carved up). And it was
equally obvious that large parts of that population would go to war rather than accept the state. The
American government knew this perfectly well. So by pushing the Izetbegovic government to launch a drive
for independence, the Bush administration was pushing for war.
As far as the Izetbegovic government
was concerned, it had been bitterly opposed to the German drive to grant Croatia independence because
it had been sure that this would increase pressures within Bosnia for independence and thus civil war.
Izetbegovic had made an emotional plea to Genscher in December to draw back in order to save Bosnia,
but to no avail. But after Croatia's recognition and with the US government urging Izetbegovic to go
for independence, the Bosnian government must have been given strong political and material commitments
by the US government in order to persuade it to launch a course that was certain to produce an atrocious
civil war in which both Bosnian Croats and Bosnian Serbs would be sure to gain support from their respective
If, at this time, the United States had decided to back the EC and German positions to keep
Bosnia within rump Yugoslavia and to shore up its security in that context, the Izetbegovic government
would certainly have refrained from a step which was bound to produce war.
That this was the attitude
of the Izetbegovic Government was demonstrated in March 1992 when it reached agreement with the Bosnian
Croat and Bosnian Serb leaders under the auspices of the EU at a meeting in Lisbon to establish a confederation
within Bosnia based upon three ethnically based cantons. But as the New York Times later explained the
United States government persuaded Izetbegovic a week later to repudiate the agreement he had made and
choose instead a sovereign Bosnia and Herzegovina under his presidency, saying that this was justified
by the referendum on 1st March on independence. The problem with that referendum was that although the
Bosnian Muslims and Croats overwhelmingly endorsed it, the Bosnian Serbs boycotted it, warning that is
was a prelude to Civil War.(23)
If the United States had backed the EC and German positions on
Bosnia it would have conceded to Germany game set and match in the European politics of Yugoslavia's
crisis. It was this policy of the use of Yugoslav developments for wider US European goals which led
the US down a road which required it to trample under foot the Badinter Commission and post-war Yugoslav
jurisprudence on national rights: a government representing a minority of Bosnia's population was to
be encouraged to ignore the expressed democratic will of Bosnia's other communities - the Bosnian Serbs
and Croatians - and attempt to establish a Bosnian state without a Bosnian nation. The politics of this
strategy would consist of presenting the Bosnian civil war as aggression by Serbia using the Serb nation
in Bosnia as its vicious fifth column. Quite predictably, Serb paramilitary groups, some of them en route
to the Krajina, were beginning to wipe out Bosnian Muslim villages. An appalling and vicious war was
unfolding among the Bosnians.
The war was a policy success for the US, which took control of events
in the Yugoslav theatre and very successfully polarised European politics around those who supported
the 'Bosnian nation' versus those who supported a drive for 'Greater Serbia' - a state uniting all Serbs
- a drive for ethnic cleansing and barbaric massacres. Decisive in the success of the US operation were
precisely the barbaric methods employed by the one wing of the 'Bosnian nation' - the Bosnian Serbs -
against the Bosnian Muslims. But also important were the covert supply of weapons to the Bosnian Muslims
by the US and the reconciliation between Germany and the USA over wider European policy.
But of course,
there were other consequences of the US's playing of the Bosnian card, two in particular: first, the
biggest nation in the Yugoslav arena, the Serbs, were having their national rights trampled underfoot
by the Western powers insofar as US policy was successful. This meant that they would rally to Milosevic's
Serbian government as their protector (and it also meant that Western liberal democratic politics could
hardly triumph in a Serbia whose people were being victimised by Western liberal democratic states).
But the second consequence was that Yugoslavia's fourth biggest nation, the Kosovo and Macedonia Albanians
with their national aspirations to freedom and unity, were also to be ignored by the Western powers,
though they were simultaneously powerfully damaged by America's Bosnia policy: for they were trapped
in the mercy of a Serb nation, enraged by Western disregard for their national rights and swinging over
to nationalist extremists; left within a Serbian republic frozen in a nationalist authoritarianism, with
600,000 ethnically cleansed Serb refugees, refugees cleansed by NATO-led forces in the Bosnian war. Without
the context, it is hard to believe that Milosevic could have won the Serbian elections in 1993 and 1996.
That in itself would not have solved the problems facing the Kosovo Albanians. But it would have opened
a path towards a peaceful resolution of many of their problems.
Cat and mice - and fox - over
During 1992 and 1993, the United States appeared to be uninvolved in the Bosnian war, appeared
to be still ready to let the West Europeans lead with their Vance-Owen mission and with their British,
French and other troops under UN mandate. Thus, the media-surface of the political side of the war seemed
to be a cat and mouse game between the EC plus Vance-Owen playing cat and the leaders of the various
sides in the war playing mice. Vance-Owen would one moment seem to catch the mice and get them to agree
a peace-deal, but the next moment one of the mice would escape, the deal would collapse and the EC would
have to start again.
But to understand what was really taking place, we must bring the actual US tactics
into the picture. The US was making sure that the Izetbegovic government had sufficient resources to
carry on the war (by breaking, along with other states, the arms embargo) but at the same time it was
using the continuance of the Bosnian war to ram home a clear political message to Western Europe. At
this time, the French and Germans were attempting to build the EU and WEU independent of the US-led NATO.
The Bush and Clinton governments were bitterly opposed to this. But they were going to oppose it not
just in words but through the Yugoslav facts.
Paul Gebhard, Director for Policy Planning in the Pentagon,
explains the position at this time. The West Europeans were trying to develop 'a European Security and
Defence Identity in the WEU outside NATO. US criticism of European institutions, however, can only be
credible if European policies are unsuccessful.'(24) And he goes on to point out that the key European
policy was the UN/EC Vance-Owen plan for Bosnia. He goes on:
"The EC claimed the lead in setting
Western policy at the start of the Yugoslav crisis...The Europeans may have thought that Vance's participation
as the US representative was sufficient to commit the US to whatever policy developed. By having a former
Secretary of State on the team, they may have expected to bring the US into the negotiations without
having to work with officials in Washington. This approach reflects a desire in European capitals for
'Europe' to set the political agenda without official US participation on issues of European security."
Gebhard goes on to describe the trip of Vance and Owen to Washington in February 1993 to try to persuade
the US of their plan.
"Vance and Owen argued that the deal.....was the best that could be crafted
(implying that US participation would not have produced a better deal for the Muslims)...Without its
participation, the Clinton administration was not committed politically to the plan....."
an understatement on Gebhard's part: the Clinton administration was committed politically against the
plan because it was an independent EU plan. And by quietly undermining the plan it successfully undermined
West European attempts at independent European leadership. As Gebhard explains:
"Because of the situation
in Bosnia, the EC was unable to set the agenda for European security without the full participation of
the United States....The political influence and military power of the US remain essential to security
arrangements in Europe."
In short, the interests of the peoples of Bosnia simply didn't figure. Much
more important geopolitical interests were at stake for the Clinton administration than bringing the
war to an end.
New German-American partnership and the road to Dayton
As the Bosnian war
continued through 1993 and 1994, the rivalry and mutual suspicions between Germany and the United States
over various broad European issues gave way to a new unity around a new political programme for Europe
and the Atlantic Alliance. One vital step to this was the Uruguay Round Agreement - embracing a common
vision not just for 'trade' in the usual sense of that word, but actually for the expansion of Atlantic
capitalism across the world through the strategy of 'globalising' national political economies. But another
absolutely crucial step was the Brussels North Atlantic Council meeting of January 1994. This meeting
took two fundamental decisions: first, to expand NATO eastwards into Poland; and second, the adoption
of the twin, seemingly purely technical-military concepts of "Combined Joint Task Forces" and of "separable
but not separate" European military capabilities.
These decisions, essentially taken by the USA and
Germany, marked the big policy shift on the reorganisation of European international politics after
the end of the Cold War. To understand their significance we must look at the broader debates and political
battles between the Western powers over the shape of the post-Cold War European order. This debate can
be divided analytically into its political side and its military side.
The political concept
The collapse of the Soviet Bloc had re-opened the question of how to structure and channel
power politics across Europe. There were three big ideas in the early 1990s and two of them were absolutely
unacceptable to the USA:
Option1.A pan-European collective security system, embracing Russia and the
USA as well as all the other states of Europe, in an institutionalised framework - a much strengthened
and streamlined OSCE - that would be norm-based: clear rules which all should enforce and which would
lead all to gang-up on any state that breached them.
Option 2: A two-pillar power structure involving
the EU and WEU in Western Europe and Russia and the CIS in the East. NATO would fade into the background
as an ultimate guarantor of its members security, while the WEU/EU would expand into East Central Europe,
something Russia could have lived with.
Option 3: NATO under American leadership would take command
of European politics. The OSCE would survive in a minor technical role; the WEU/EU would not be allowed
to have a policy-making authority and a command structure autonomous from US supervision through NATO;
and NATO would expand East but would exclude Russia. So Europe would be re-polarised further East between
a US-dominated Western Europe and a weakened Russia. Germany would be expected to discuss Eastern issues
first with the US and its Western partners rather than having the option of discussing with Russia before
bargaining with its Western partners.
Options 1 and 2 would have undermined the American power position
in Europe. But during the early 1990s there was resistance to Option 3 not only from the Russians but
also from many European states. But it became a vital issue for the US to get this option into reality.
The great problem with Option 3, however, was that it would necessarily exclude Russia. American leadership
through NATO could only be possible insofar as Russia was not a member of NATO. If Russia was in NATO
it would not be possible for the United States to brigade the West and central European states into a
common policy on this or that policy issue affecting the space around NATO. American leadership through
NATO precisely required Russian exclusion. Only Options 1 and 2 therefore gave Russia a central place
in European international politics. But the decision to expand NATO Eastwards into Poland was in essence
a decision to go for Option 3 - American leadership.
During the early 1990s the US has been pushing
forward its very delicate campaign to turn NATO as an institution into the dominant pan-European politico-military
force. The first step in this diplomatic effort had been launched at the Rome meeting of the North Atlantic
Council in November 1991: this created the North Atlantic Cooperation Council (NACC) to develop consultative
links with the entire former Soviet Bloc region. It could be explained as an attempt to reassure the
former Bloc at a time when the USSR was collapsing. Russia (with a strongly pro-Western government in
1992) participated in NACC. The next and really crucial step in the campaign was taken at the January
1994 NATO summit. This decided to expand NATO's membership Eastwards and, to prepare the way, it established
a new mechanism, the so-called Partnership for Peace (P4P). At the time, some saw the P4P as a possible
alternative to NATO enlargement, but for the US it was a stepping stone to such enlargement.
may, at first sight, seem to have little to do with these security debates among the Western powers.
But what was going on was not just a 'debate': it was a political battle over the political shape of
Europe in the future. And such battles between the Western powers are fought not only in words but also
by deeds and by creating facts. And in this context Yugoslavia was a central arena for winning arguments
by deeds and by creating facts.
Thus, if the EU had successfully handled the Yugoslav crisis in 1990-91,
that would have given a great boost to Option 2 above. The fact that during the Bosnian war the United
States found that it could not do without political help from the Russians meant the formation of the
Contact Group and implied an inclusive collective security approach to European affairs - Option 1.
But with an agreement between Germany and the United States on making NATO the central pillar of the
new European system and on expanding NATO Eastwards, the way was open for putting that German-American
approach into practice in the Yugoslav theatre. Success there would then feed back onto the wider European
political field with the actual expansion of NATO into Poland. The P4P scheme legitimised practical
political and military cooperation between NATO and ex-Yugoslav states, enabling joint security and military
planning. US military co-operation with both Macedonia and Albania could now be legitimated under the
By 1994 Germany was coming round to the idea that the notion of an autonomous West
European instrument was impossible: it had to be a US-led NATO instrument. The January 1994 Brussels
Summit decisions on "Combined Joint Task Forces" and of "separable but not separate" European military
capabilities were essentially decisions to kill off the idea of building the WEU as an autonomous military-political
power bloc. Instead the WEU would become simply another hat which the European NATO members could use
for operations that the US approved of but did not wish to become involved in. The Combined Joint Task
Forces concept essential brought French forces and the Euro-corps with the NATO framework and the principle
of separable but not separate meant that there would be no separate European policy planning or command
structure: only NATO, one and indivisible. Thus the French concept of the early 1990s of an autonomous
(from the USA) European Defence Identity was dead. The language of the European Security and Defence
Identity was retained, but only as a notion of the West Europeans doing more within NATO, under US supervision.
And again, the Yugoslav theatre could be the anvil on which the new joint task forces could be forged.
The Yugoslav road to the new NATO
During 1994 and 1995 these shifts on the new role of NATO
politically and militarily in the New Europe fed back into the Bosnian conflict. There were, at first,
acute tensions between the US and the British and French because the US wanted to demonstrate its enormous
air power with strikes against the Bosnian Serbs but that threatened the safety of the British and French
troops on the ground. The tensions reached the point where some thought NATO might even split on the
issue as the British even threatened such a split. But during 1995 an effective set of tactics emerged.
First, the US adopted the German approach to wrapping up the Bosnian war by building a coalition of Bosnia's
Muslims and Bosnia's Croats in conjunction with an alliance between the Bosnian Government and the Croatian
government against the Bosnian Serbs. This was a great success against the Serbs, ethnically cleansing
them from both Croatian territory and parts of Bosnian territory.
Secondly, NATO could swing into
action vigorously 'out of area' with British and French forces as well as US air power and the Croatian
and Bosnian Muslim forces driving the Bosnian Serbs back into defeat. And the whole operation under US
leadership was crowned with a European political triumph for the US in the form of the Dayton Agreement.
And the US tried to argue that the key to victory had been their air strikes, showing how central the
US was to 'European security' as a result.
The fact that Dayton did not produce a politically genuine
Bosnian state was, from a US point of view, a mere detail, wrapped up in too much complexity for European
electorates to notice such detail. The US has taken command of Yugoslav affairs and of the high politics
of Europe through the reorganisation of NATO and the new German-American partnership.
approach to the new Balkan backlash.
To understand the US decision to launch war against Yugoslavia
on 24 March 1999 we must understand how events have 'progressed' in both the Balkan theatre and in the
broader regional European context since Dayton. The big change in the Balkan region was the Albanian
explosion leading to the collapse of an effective Albanian state, which still continues, and the destabilisation
of both Serbia and Macedonia by the arrival of the KLA, itself in large part a product of the Albanian
The real politics of Dayton did not involve creating a viable Bosnian state: it involved
a NATO Protectorate in Bosnia - in effect a NATO dictatorship - which would survive politically through
keeping the two main states in the area, Croatia and Serbia, in line. The Croatian government has not
actually stayed in line, since it has integrated the Bosnian Croat population into Croatia. But the Milosevic
regime did keep in line, though it could not keep the Bosnian Serbs themselves in line because their
majority has viewed Milosevic as a traitor to the Serb nation by agreeing to Dayton. What US policy did
not wish to contemplate, however, was a Greater Albania, since this would upset the applecart in Macedonia,
Bulgaria and possibly between Greece and Turkey. But paradoxically the blow-out of the Albanian state
in 1996-97 has opened the door to the possibility of a greater Albania.
The Sali Berisha government
of Albania up to 1996 was a corrupt dictatorship which rigged elections and imprisoned the leader of
the opposition, but he served American policy well because he sealed off the border between Albania and
Yugoslavia and gave no encouragement to the national aspirations of the Albanians in Kosovo and Macedonia.
(Berisha seems actually to have been a find of British intelligence and as a result the British were
very reluctant to see him overthrown).
But with the popular uprising that overthrew Berisha, the Albanian
state was completely shattered, its security forces melted and their arms were seized by the population
- some 750,000 Kalashnikovs were privatised amongst other things. Despite Italian military intervention,
the new Socialist government of Nano, just out of Berisha's jail, could not impose order on Albania's
territory and could not seal the borders with Macedonia and Kosovo. This gave an opening to the Kosovo
Liberation Army, an organisation whose leaders had once admired Enver Hoxha but now opened itself to
all those who rejected the reformist and pacifist stance of Ibrahim Rugova, the moderate Albanian leader.
The KLA offensive gained a very receptive response both in Kosovo and in Macedonia where the national
aspirations of the Albanians had long been repressed, especially, of course, in Kosovo. The KLA offensive
in Kosovo got under way in February 1998 and was very effective, killing large numbers of Serbian officials
and security personnel across the province.
Dealing with the KLA
This presented the NATO
powers with a series of acute dilemmas. On one side, there was the European interest in preserving state
stability for all the states of the region. This was an interest mainly governed, for the West Europeans
by a fear of refugee waves when states collapse. But there was also a US interest in state stability,
deriving from Dayton. Dayton was not proving a success. And the US administration was under pressure
to fix a date for its withdrawal from its Bosnian commitments. These state stability concerns pointed
towards one clear policy direction: rely on Milosevic, who, unlike Tudjman, was sticking to Dayton, to
restabilise the borders of Albania and Macedonia by putting the KLA to flight.
If the Western powers
opted to do nothing and let events in the Western Balkans take their course, the result could be Macedonia's
collapse into civil war, possible Bulgarian involvement, more bloody confrontations in Albania and the
danger of a Greater Albania, upsetting the balances between Greece and Turkey. As the Economist put it
"The West's biggest worry is that the war will spread to Kosovo's two neighbours, Albania
and Macedonia. The separatists use both countries (and Montenegro) as havens and as conduits for arms."(25)
NATO's posture was, therefore, from early 1998 to back Milosevic. The signal for the Yugoslav government
to launch its counter-insurgency war against the KLA uprising was given by the United States special
envoy to the region, Ambassador Gelbard. The BBC correspondent in Belgrade reported that Gelbard flew
in to brand the KLA as 'a terrorist organisation'.
"I know a terrorist when I see one and these men
are terrorists," he said... At the time, the KLA was believed to number just several hundred armed men.
Mr. Gelbard's words were interpreted in the Yugoslav capital, Belgrade, as a green light for a security
forces operation against the KLA and the special police conducted two raids in the Benitsar region in
It is important to remember in this context that for the US government in the 1990s, the official
designation of a group as a terrorist organisation has large and precise policy consequences for all
the agencies of the entire US state. It is therefore not something that a senior US official does lightly.
It is a major policy decision with a powerful message to all relevant interested parties, not least,
in this case, the Yugoslav and Serbian governments. And this was the political posture of NATO throughout
much of 1998.
But was it also the policy? This is much less clear. There is no doubt that it was the
policy of the West European states right up through Christmas 1998. They wanted a negotiated solution
between the Kosovo Albanian leadership and the Serbian government in the context of a cease-fire between
the government and the KLA. They condemned any atrocities by either side and, right through from October
1998 into January 1999, EU General Council statements tended to present the KLA as the major obstacle
to a cease-fire and as the main violator of UN resolution 1199 of September 1998, prompting retaliatory
action by the Serbian security forces.
But the great enigma is what the US policy during 1998 actually
was. This puzzle focuses on the behaviour of US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright. It is inconceivable
that Gelbard could have designated the KLA a terrorist organisation without her approval. The Yugoslav
theatre was high on the State Department policy agenda, after all, with very large US troop deployments
in the area. Yet as soon as the Serbian government responded to the Gelbard signal, Albright pounced.
On 7 March 1998, just after and in response to the Serbian security force operation in the Benitsar region
of Kosovo, she declared:
"We are not going to stand by and watch the Serbian authorities do in Kosovo
what they can no longer get away with doing in Bosnia."( 26)
Two days later she reserved the right
for the US to take unilateral action against the Serbian government, saying, "We know what we need to
know to believe we are seeing ethnic cleansing all over again."(27) She then swung into action with
emergency meetings in London and Bonn and success in gaining some rather minor sanctions on Yugoslavia,
along with a denial of visas to Serbian officials involved in any way with the action in Kosovo. But
not satisfied with the Contact Group's sanctions package, the United States left the door open to military
intervention. When asked about that possibility, Robert Gelbard, Clinton's special envoy to the Balkans,
told a Congressional hearing.... "we aren't ruling anything out".(28)
At the same time, Albright
got the North Atlantic Council to declare that:
"NATO and the international community have a legitimate
interest in developments in Kosovo.... because of their impact on the stability of the whole region."(
This Albright drive is on the face of it utterly at odds with the Gelbard signal. Robert Gelbard's
discourse was the language of war against the KLA, Albright's was that of preparing for war against Milosevic.
If Gelbard was so utterly at odds with Albright's line as he seems to have been he would have been
swiftly fired. But he was not. So Gelbard and Albright must have been playing two different instruments
in counter-point in a single score.
There are two obvious possible scores. The first is that Gelbard
had the melody line and Albright was just giving a contrasting backing. In other words, during most of
1998, the operational US policy was to back the Serbian government against the KLA while pretending to
do the opposite. Thus Albright's anti-Milosevic, bomb-threatening rhetoric was simply a cover for public
consumption, and a necessary one, given the orgy of vilification of Milosevic promoted by the US administration
during the Bosnian war and given the fact that the key US partners in the region, such as the Bosnian
Muslim leadership in Bosnia and US-funded Serbian opposition groups, would not welcome too friendly a
relationship between the US and Milosevic. A further argument for this interpretation is the fact that
NATO's line as well as the official line of the EU and of the Contact Group (which included Russia) during
1998 was at the least broadly neutral between the Serbian authorities and the KLA, but tended toward
the side of the former.(30)
But there is a second possible score at work in US policy during 1998, one which gives Albright the
melody line: in other words, from February 1998, the US was actually manoeuvring for a war against Serbia,
using the KLA insurgency and the Serbian counter-insurgency as the occasion for an Air War. And the evidence
for this interpretation of events is the much more persuasive one. First of all, the Washington Post
in late March argued this strongly. It cited unnamed Clinton administration sources to the effect that
Washington's actual policy had been to prepare diplomatically for an attack on Yugoslavia right from
the start back in February 1998. In reported on 23 March, the eve of the launching of the air war that,
"the diplomacy that led up to yesterday's final warning was designed and built in Washington." And it
went on: |
"Some critics have seen a lack of resolve in the successive warnings Washington has issued
since [February, 1998]. But what critics see as vacillation is described by policy makers in Washington
as orchestration of international backing for military force, much as they said they accomplished in
What the Washington Post is suggesting here is not that the US policy was to unilaterally
attack Serbia. It is saying that the US policy was to get the whole of NATO into a position where NATO
would attack Yugoslavia. Thus, the US would be engaging in a series of political offensives within NATO
to try to drag its allies into a collective war against Yugoslavia. And the Post's reference to US tactics
vis a vis Iraq in 1990 is also thought-provoking. It suggests the Clinton administration used the same
entrapment tactic towards the Yugoslav government that the Bush administration used against Saddam Hussein
In the summer of 1990, the US Ambassador to Iraq, in her meeting with Saddam Hussein at
the height of his crisis with Kuwait, knowing that Iraqi troops were massing at the Kuwaiti border, had
informed him that the US has no vital interest at stake in his quarrel with Kuwait, regarded Iraq as
a bulwark in the region and regarded the dispute as purely a matter between Iraq and Kuwait. This was
a signal for Saddam Hussein to take Kuwait. The possible explanation for Gelbard's signal to the Serbian
authorities is that US diplomacy was setting a similar trap for the Yugoslav state: encouraging it to
launch an all-out Turkish or Colombian-style - or in the classic examples, the British Malayan operation
in the 1950s or the American Vietnam operations in the 1960s - counter-insurgency operation against villagers
and clans supporting the KLA. Once the counter-insurgency was underway, the US had the factual basis
for pushing the West European powers towards launching a war.
This interpretive framework makes sense
of a number of otherwise puzzling features of NATO's Kosovo politics during 1998. First, there was the
big push by Washington for NATO air-strikes in June 1998, by which time NATO military planning for an
attack on Yugoslavia was completed.
In that month, White House spokesperson Mike McCurry asserted
"must immediately withdraw security units involved in civilian repression, without
linkage to...the 'stopping of terrorist activity."(32)
In parallel, Pentagon spokesperson Kenneth
"We don't think that there should be any linkage between an immediate withdrawal of forces
by the Yugoslavs on the one hand, and stopping terrorist activities, on the other. There ought to be
complete withdrawal of military forces so that negotiations can begin."(33)
In other words, Washington
was insisting that before any cease-fire or negotiations on a Kosovo peace settlement, the Serbian authorities
must withdraw all their forces for Kosovo, handing over the territory to the KLA. Thus, the US was effectively
insisting that Yugoslavia either hand over Kosovo to the KLA or face NATO bombing. As Gary Dempsey explains,
the US was demanding that Serbian government
"effectively hand over one of its territories to an
insurgency movement.....This...led many ethnic Albanians to further conclude that the Clinton administration
- despite its official statements to the contrary - backed their goal of independence.... Although US
policy was officially opposed to independence for Kosovo, Washington would not allow Belgrade to forcibly
Thus as early as June, 1998, Washington was sending absolutely clear signals to the
KLA to step up its insurgency against the Serbian government, and seeking to use Serb security forces
counter-moves as a pretext for an air war against Serbia. But it had to be, politically, a NATO air
war even though factually the US Air Force would be doing it. The European NATO powers resisted. So Albright
had to pull back.
During the summer of 1998, while the West European and Russian positions continued
to block Albright's NATO bombing option, the Serbian government carried on its counter-insurgency and
in September, the US administration attempted to get a UN Resolution that could serve as the pretext
for an air war. The result, Security Council Resolution 1199, was anything but adequate from Albright's
point of view. The resolution required the following: a cease fire by both sides; peace talks between
the Serbian Government and unnamed Kosovo Albanian leaders for an internal settlement whose nature
is not specified; the Serbian security forces were called upon to end all military action against civilians
while at the same time the resolution demanded of the Kosovo side that "the Kosovo Albanian leadership
condemn all terrorist action and emphasises that all elements in the Kosovo Albanian community should
pursue their goals by peaceful means only"; the resolution further called for the international monitors
to be able to carry out their work in Kosovo and it demanded efforts by the Yugoslav authorities to take
adequate humanitarian measures for the civilian population over winter.(35)
Yet although this resolution
could not be used to legitimate a military attack on Serbia, Madeleine Albright did use it for her rhetoric
of threats of NATO attack. In early October she declared at a press conference before a Contact Group
meeting that she would bomb Serbia if it didn't comply with Resolution 1199.(36) She also threatened
to bomb Serbia because the winter was approaching and Kosovar refugees coming out of Kosovo could be
exposed to terrible hardships in the Albanian mountains.
Thus, time after time during the spring,
summer and autumn of 1998, Albright combined vitriolic language directed against the Yugoslav government
with repeated threats of NATO bombing. This is a curious style of diplomacy. One result was that every
time the Yugoslav government agreed to anything from the Contact Group, Albright would claim that it
was backing down because of her rhetoric about bombing - an absurd claim, since the Yugoslav government
would know very well the state of opinion in the Contact Group at that time. And whatever the Yugoslav
government resisted could give Albright ammunition for increasing the volume of her rhetoric and to claim
that 'this time' NATO should not be bluffing. She also adopted the tactic of holding press conferences
just before going into Contact Group meetings and using such occasions to demand that the NATO powers
stop pussy-footing around with Milosevic and show some backbone. In short, she appeared to be trying
to create, through her own constant bombing threats, a mounting credibility crisis for NATO, along the
lines of, 'If we don't do it this time, NATO will be a laughing stock'.
When, on 13 October, Richard
Holbrooke brokered an agreement with Milosevic under which the Serbian and Yugoslav forces in Kosovo
would be scaled down and there would be a cease fire monitored by a large force of OSCE monitors, Milosevic
stipulated that the Contact Group must ensure the cease-fire on the KLA side. Albright hailed this as
a triumph for her threats of aggression against Serbia. This was an important turning point, because
the American government managed to get control of the leadership of the OSCE monitoring force. And it
placed it under the command of William Walker, a key organiser of the Contra terrorist war against Nicaragua
in the 1980s and US Ambassador to El Salvador, presiding over the mass slaughter in that country during
the Reagan administration.
Walker's first act was to make sure that the OSCE monitors did not move
swiftly into Kosovo to monitor the cease fire launched on 13 October. He held them back for over a month,
while the KLA used the breathing space of the cease fire and reduction of Serbian forces to redouble
their military efforts in the province. Thus, the Serbian government has, in effect been tricked by
Albright. And there were signs, at this time, of tensions between Albright and Holbrooke. When the OSCE
monitors did arrive on the scene, we may presume that Walker proceeded to do what he was good at, namely,
the art of US backing for Contra-style operations against target states. A study of his activities in
Kosovo in late 1998 has yet to be published. But we would be stretching tendentiousness beyond the point
of decency to imagine that he was pre-occupied mainly with OSCE-style norms.
In late October, Albright
set in motion a new tactic that would prove an effective instrument for manoeuvring the West European
NATO members into war. The West Europeans seem to have been pressing Albright that what was needed was
a peace conference which would bring the two sides together to reach a settlement - a kind of Dayton
for Kosovo. Albright has subsequently revealed that she had been opposed to this: had wanted to go straight
for the jugular of the Serbian state with the US Air Force. But in late October she swung round to the
conference idea because she won the right to draft the text of the draft agreement to be put to such
a conference. She got Christopher Hill to draw up the draft and he completed his work in early December.
When the draft became available to the Serbian government, they were outraged.
The reason was simple:
the Rambouillet text was not for negotiations between the various Kosovar Albanian groups and the Serbian
government. Its essence was an ultimatum from NATO to Serbia that Belgrade must, in effect, allow NATO
to establish a protectorate over Kosovo for three years or face a bombing campaign. The document did
not, of course, use these words. It spoke of a NATO-led military 'compliance force' to supervise the
transformation of the situation in Kosovo while it remained juridically a province of Serbia. But in
political-military fact, NATO would hold the power over Kosovo. Once she had lined NATO's key European
members behind the Rambouillet draft, she had her NATO war in the bag.
The Rambouillet peace conference
was not actually a peace negotiation at all. The US administration absolutely refused to let the Serbian
government meet and negotiate with the Kosovar Albanian groups. And at the same time, Albright made assurance
doubly sure by introducing a new stipulation into the text: Appendix B, which gave NATO's 'compliance
force' the right to roam freely across the whole of Yugoslavia! In other words, Kosovo could become not
just a NATO protectorate but the bridgehead and base for a war against the entire Serb state. And to
complete the picture, the entire Rambouillet conference was packed to make it seem that the US administration
had little to do with proceedings. It was chaired jointly by the British and French governments. The
British were not a problem, of course. The question was: could the French government decide to repudiate
the results of a conference that it was supposedly leading?
Once the war was underway, various West
European leaders like Robin Cook have tried to explain their complete reversal of their 1998 policy on
the Kosovo problem by claiming that the behaviour of the Serbian security forces during the winter of
1998 forced them to reconsider their whole approach and opt for a war against a sovereign state without
even UN authority. But the evidence of Cook's own statements and of those of the EU General Affairs Council
of EU foreign ministers suggests that this is simply a falsehood. Thus, for example, at their General
Affairs Council on 8 December 1998, Cook and the other foreign ministers of the EU assessed the situation
in Kosovo. The report of the meeting in the Agence Europe Bulletin of the following day stated:
the close of its debate on the situation in the Western Balkans, the General Affairs Council mainly expressed
concern for the recent 'intensification of military action' in Kosovo, noting that 'increased activity
by the KLA has prompted an increased presence of Serbian security forces in the region.'"(37)
the EU saw the KLA as the driving force undermining the possibility of a cease fire and a compromise
solution. They were simply on a different line from Albright. And they continued to be right through
The full details of how the US government dragged the West European states into the current
air war against Yugoslavia have yet to emerge. The Rambouillet tactic was very clever. Albright's long
campaign to build up through her own rhetoric a mounting credibility crisis for NATO was also effective.
In addition, the decision-making rules of the North Atlantic Council, NATO's supreme policy making institution
are not quite what they seem. On the face of it, NAC decisions are supposed to be by 'consensus'. This
sounds like unanimity, but it is not. Instead, it is supposed to sound like 'No one against'. But this
is also not right as Albright explained at a press conference, when asked about German and Italian resistance
to a NATO war. She indicated that NAC procedures could bounce such opponents into support for war, with
this convoluted statement:
"I would also say, in terms of the use of force, while there may not -
all the members of the Contact Group may not agree on that, as I said this morning, if it is necessary
to use force I believe that NATO - well, first of all, they are increasingly - their own procedure is
now one that shows that they are prepared to act; and those that do not agree would not have a veto over
This is a rather important issue for both those who have already been killed by
NATO bombing and for those who risk being killed in future NATO wars. It seems that only the US has a
veto in the NAC. Other states have a voice that depends upon their political power: joint opposition
by France and Germany could, we assume, stop a NATO attack 'out of area'. But opposition by, say, Italy
and Greece could not stop such an attack. They could refrain from direct military participation by their
own forces, but should not publicly oppose NATO in the event that the US led some of the key European
states into action.
We know that the UK and France were brought on board and, as we will argue in
Part II, the St. Malo Declaration in early December 1998 was probably a key stepping stone in the French
re-alignment with London and Washington. We also know that the German Finance Minister, Oscar Lafontaine,
opposed the war and resigned from the government over the issue, while Schröder was prepared to go along
with the possibility of war by early March 1999. But we do not know why. Obviously the German defence
ministry and the Bundeswehr leaders were keen to show German public opinion the German army in action
at last for the first time since the Second World War, and the German state is keen to move towards Germany
becoming a military power with the capacity to project power abroad in order that West European military
leadership is not left in the hands of the British and the French. But the details of the German involvement
after many months of resisting such a NATO attack remains obscure. The absolutely crucial 'detail' here
is why both the German and French governments were prepared to abandon their position that an attack
on Yugoslavia, like any other NATO action out of area, should have the backing of the UN Security Council.
Of course, such backing could hardly be granted by the UNSC, since the NATO attack involved aggression
against a sovereign state and thus drove an armoured division through the defences of the UN Charter.
But that makes it all the more interesting to know why Germany and France capitulated.
With such backing
from Western governments, Russia remained the only obstacle. And without a search for backing from the
Security Council, Russia was no obstacle at all, unless it was prepared to threaten tactical nuclear
weapons. Of course, the attack tore gaping holes through the NATO-Russia Founding Act of 1997 in at least
five places. But that Founding Act had and has no legal status whatever. It is just a piece of paper
for domestic Russian consumption to pretend that Russia is actually involved in European security decision
making with NATO. In reality the so-called Permanent Joint Council of NATO and Russia is expressly banned
by the US Senate from playing any role beyond an informative one vis a vis Russia.(39) Thus Russia could
be brushed aside.
Thus, for 14 months Madeleine Albright led a US diplomacy for a war against Yugoslavia.
To achieve this end, she needed to inflame the conflict between the KLA and the Serbian state and she
did so, with signal after signal to the KLA that the US bomber command was on its way to help, signals
which also told the Serbian and Yugoslav state to raise its efforts against the KLA and its sympathisers
in Kosovo to fever pitch while preparing the whole state for NATO aggression. The NATO aggression against
Serbia on 24 March then, by definition, roused the passions of all sides to murderous, all out violence.
The big question is why? Of course, the US administration was programmatically hostile to the continuance
of the political regime in Serbia. People assume this hostility derives from the alleged involvement
of the Yugoslav government in atrocities during the Bosnian civil war (repackaged in Washington propaganda,
of course, as an attack by the Serbian state on Bosnia). But this does not seem to be the basis of Washington's
programmatic hostility. After all, the US government sought to encourage the leadership of the Yugoslav
military to overthrow the elected government of Serbia, and the leadership of the Yugoslav military
with whom Washington sought an alliance were numbers one and two on Washington's so-called war crimes
suspect list. Washington's programmatic hostility was directed, then, not at the Yugoslav military but
at Milosevic and the Serbian Socialist Party. They had stood out throughout the 1990s as a force opposed
to the globalisation of the Serbian economy.
But this was, in our judgement, not a sufficient reason
for the NATO attack. We will examine in Part II the wider European political motives for Washington to
want a NATO war in the Balkans in 1999.
There is a powerful impulse within the
electorates of the NATO states for their states to give a lead to the world and really help the less
fortunate overwhelming majority of humanity to improve their lives and strengthen their security and
welfare. But we must bear in mind two unfortunate facts: first, that the NATO states have been and are
hell bent on exacerbating the inequalities of power and wealth in the world, in destroying all challenges
to their overwhelming military and economic power and in subordinating almost all other considerations
to these goals; second, the NATO states are finding it extraordinarily easy to manipulate their domestic
electorates into believing that these states are indeed leading the world's population towards a more
just and humane future when in reality they are doing no such thing.
The fate of Yugoslavia in the
1990s has been a classic case of this general story. NATO electorates thought their states were trying
to help in Yugoslavia, even if they were not 'doing enough'. In reality these states are not about helping
the Yugoslav people: they are about helping themselves alone, if necessary by plunging the Yugoslav people
into barbaric wars. There are occasions when advanced capitalist countries will help the populations
of other states. But these occasions are rare, namely when the welfare of the populations of these other
states is a vital weapon in a struggle against another powerful enemy. This applied to US policy towards
Western Europe when it was threatened by Communist triumph in the early post-war years. But the welfare
of the people of Yugoslavia has been irrelevant to the NATO powers in the 1990s because these powers
have faced no effective enemies whatever.
The Bosnian war produced terrible atrocities, reminiscent
of the atrocities perpetrated in the Spanish Civil War, in Ireland in the 1920s by the Black and Tans,
by the Wehrmacht and Einzatsgruppen on the Eastern front in the second world war, by the Americans in
Vietnam or by the Turkish security forces in Eastern Turkey today. These atrocities were not perpetrated
only by the Bosnian Serbs, but theirs were the most visible cases. No doubt more such atrocities have
been perpetrated in Kosovo by the Serbian security forces who are, at the time of writing, being targeted
for extermination by the NATO powers.
It is surely right that institutions should be built that can
put a stop to such atrocities and can punish their perpetrators. But we face an acute dilemma when we
confront this task because we know enough about the dynamics of politics to be able to identify not only
the perpetrators of atrocities, but the international actors who helped and help create the conditions
in which such perpetrators arise. And in the Yugoslav case, the Western powers, by their deliberate
acts of commission and omission played a central role in creating the conditions in which barbaric acts
were bound to flourish.
Yugoslavia was a case where policy makers in Western powers were given ample
warning by their intelligence services as to the dynamics being unleashed and the core executives of
these Western states took steps that exacerbated the tendencies towards barbarism. These states were
simply not governed by an ethic of responsibility for the human consequences of their power plays. And
it is surely the case that many of the perpetrators of atrocious acts committed them in response to
Hobbesian circumstances created by the great powers.
There is something deeply disturbing about a
system of Western power politics which can casually and costlessly make a major contribution to plunging
Yugoslavia into turmoil and wars, can then use these wars to further their geopolitical ends and then
seek to make political capital out of War Crimes Court judgements of perpetrators of atrocities in whose
rise the Western powers have played such a large part.
And we should not forget the broader picture
into which the power plays of the Western powers must be situated: the systematic use of economic statecraft
in Eastern Europe since 1989 to impose political economies on the region geared overwhelmingly to a single
goal: maximising economic advantage for West European and American capital in the region. This economic
statecraft had shattered social structures not only in Yugoslavia but in most of the Former Soviet Union
and in much of the rest of the Balkans. In many cases it has shattered political systems as well. The
Albanian blow-out and the Bulgarian economic collapse of the mid-1990s are just two examples of this.
What gives this economic statecraft an especially sinister aspect is the fact that such economic emiseration
actually furthers the geopolitical goals of the United States in Europe. The current attack on Yugoslavia
would not be taking place if it was not for the current extreme weakness of Russia with its economy shattered.
And the entire rationale offered for the need to have a NATO licence to strike into East Central and
Eastern Europe lies in the existence of shattered societies and states and economies in whose shattering
the Western states have played such an absolutely central role.
A Western policy which put the human
security of the people of East Central, Eastern and South Eastern Europe first would involve a new Marshall
Plan for the entire region involving a development-oriented framework for the region. But that would
involve scrapping the whole mercantilist and imperial economic programme of the EU and the IMF/World
Bank towards the region. There is not the slightest sign of a preparedness of the Western powers to change
course on these issues. Instead, the successful extermination of the Yugoslav conscripts in Kosovo will,
no doubt be followed by 'aid' for gangster mafias of the kind which flourish in the aftermath of any
devastating war, as is evident in NATO's Bosnian protectorate today.
The story of Western involvement
in the region is obscured by a poisonous Western imperial propaganda which turns reality on its head.
This propaganda says that the Balkans cause the West no end of trouble because of the appalling characters
who live there. The reality is that the Western powers have caused the Balkan peoples no end of suffering
because they use the region today, as yesterday, as a theatre for their European power-politics manoeuvres.
1. On the historical background of Kosovo's place in post-war Yugoslav history, see Branka
Magas's prescient article under the name of Michelle Lee, 'Kosovo Between Yugoslavia and Albania, New
Left Review 140, July-August 1985
2. Though its roots within Kosovo were very weak, in contrast to
those of the Albanian Communist party in Albania.
3. The great exceptions among Western authors have
been two outstanding works of scholarship and courage. Susan Woodward's The Balkan Tragedy (The Brookings
Institution,1995)on which I have drawn heavily in this article; and Catherine Samary: Yugoslavia Dismembered
(Monthly Review press, New York,1995)
4. On the evolution of the Serbian intelligentsia, see Branka
Magas, The Destruction of Yugoslavia (Verso, London, 1993) pages 49 to 76.
5. The starting point
for a serious analysis of both Milosevic and Tudjman lies in seeing them as species of wider East European
genuses: Milosevic's similarities with Illiescu in Romania and Tudjman's with Antall in Hungary or the
Christian Nationals in Poland are obvious. But of course, the contexts in which they operated differed
6. Such émigrés from Croatia were to play a significant role within Croatian nationalism
in the 1990s.
7. John Zametica, The Yugoslav Conflict (Adelphi Papers, No. 270, The International
Institute for Strategic Studies, London, Summer 1992), page 49.
8. ibid. The 1955 State Treaty between
Austria, the USSR and the Western powers laid the basis for Soviet withdrawal from Austria in 1955 and
established the framework for Austria's sovereignty as a neutral state. On the Treaty, see Sven Allard:
Russia and the Austrian State Treaty (The Pennsylvania State University Press, 1970)
9. John Zametica,
The Yugoslav Conflict, page 50. Austria seemed to have hopes for rebuilding a kind of 'Habsburg' sphere
in Slovenia, Croatia and Hungary.
11. Susan Woodward, Balkan Tragedy, Chaos and Dissolution
After the Cold War (The Brookings Institution, Washington DC,1995), page 219.
12. It is true that
in Hungary a World Bank-inspired bankruptcy mechanism also inflicted needless damage, but on nothing
like the Yugoslav scale. Elsewhere, government's chose to pay lip-service to bankruptcy mechanisms during
the transition-slump, while in practice maintaining the bulk of their industrial enterprises alive within
the state sector.
13. World Bank, Industrial Restructuring Study, Overview, Issues and Strategy
for Restructuring, Washington DC, June 1991
14. This whole episode is analysed in Michel Chossudovsky,
"Dismantling the Former Yugoslavia" Labour Focus on Eastern Europe, No. 54, 1996.
These statistics come from opinion polls published in Borba and Vjesnik in May and July 1990, cited in
Robert Hayden, The Beginning of the End of Federal Yugoslavia: The Slovenian Amendment Crisis of 1989
(The Carl Becker Papers, No.1001, University of Pittsburgh, December 1992); also cited in Woodward,
op.cit. Page 129.
17. Susan Woodward, op. cit., p.129.
18. The CIA report was later leaked. Its
contents were explained in the International Herald Tribune 29th November 1990, cited in Zametica,
op.cit. p. 58.
19. "Baker Says East Europe Aid for Reform, Not Status Quo." Secretary of State Baker's
press briefing following a meeting of the Group of 24, Tracking Number: 145648 Text:TXT404, 3Fm Re (Background
for the Houston Economic Summit, US Information Agency, 07/05/90)
20. Branka Magas, The Destruction
of Yugoslavia (Verso,1993), page 34.
21. For a full account, see Susan Woodward, op. cit., p. 184.
22.As it happened, the Bush Administration was staffed at the top by long-time Yugoslav experts: Eagleburger,
in charge of European policy, was a former Ambassador and Scowcroft, head of the National Security Council
had been in the Belgrade Embassy and had written his Ph.D. on Yugoslavia. Woodward says that one of
the reasons for US passivity during 1990-1991 was that both men had had business interests in Yugoslavia
and questions were already been raised in the US about the possible influence of these interests on US
policy towards the country. See Woodward, op. cit. P. 155.
23. The New York Times, 17 June 1993.
24. Paul R. S. Gebhard, The United States and European Security, Adelphi Paper 286 (International Institute
for Strategic Studies, London, February, 1994) Subsequent quotations of Gebhard are taken from this same
25. Economist Leader: "Milosevic again in Kosovo: The struggle to contain ex-Yugoslavia's
fighting is far from over" The Economist 6 June 1998.
26. Steven Erlanger, 'Albright Warns Serbs
on Kosovo Violence', New York Times, 8 March 1998, p. A6.
27. Anne Swardson, 'West, Russia Agree
on Sanctions for Belgrade', Washington Post, 10 March 1998, p. A13.
28. Philip Shenon, 'US says
it might consider attacking Serbs', New York Times,13 March 1998, p. A1.
29. Colin Soloway, 'Serbia
attacks Ethnic Albanians', Washington Post, 6 March 1998, p. A1
30. In an earlier version of this
text, published in New Left Review, I subscribed to this interpretation of US policy during the period
from March to October 1998.
31. Barton Gellman, 'Allies See No Credible Alternative', Washington
Post, 23 March 1999, p. A12.
32. Steven Erlanger, 'Serb's Promises are just first step, US says',
New York Times,17 June 1998, p. A6.
34. Gary T Dempsey: Washington's Kosovo Policy:
Consequences and Contradictions', Policy Analysis, No.321, 8 October 1998.
35. UN Security Council
Resolution 1199 (1998), adopted by the Security Council at its 393rd meeting on 23 September 1998.
Madeleine Albright Press Conference, 8 October 1998, London, UK. As released by the Office of the Spokesman
US Dept of State.
37. Agence Europe, No.7559, 9 December 1998, p. 4.
38. Madeleine Albright Press
Conference statement, 8 October 1998, London. As released by the office of the Spokesman US Dept of State.
39. See the Senate Resolution ratifying NATO's enlargement and laying down US policy on the Russia-NATO