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We forgot that you were here

The Balkans have been very quiet for what seems to be the longest time. Or, if not exactly quiet, then so overshadowed by other events that I had almost forgotten about them. Almost. But I have always regarded the region as an occasionally dormant volcano as opposed to a dead one.

In that context, this rather gloomy editorial from the Asia Times is worth reading:

When the outcome of a tragedy is known in advance, it finds ways of occurring earlier than expected. In this case, the fate of 100,000 Serbian Christians who remain in Kosovo may pre-empt the debate over Europe’s eventual absorption into the Muslim world.

The author makes no attempt to disguise his own sympathies so caveat lector.

I sometimes wonder how the last Balkan war would have played out without the NATO (read American) intervention. Very differently I suspect. In the event of another eruption, does the USA have the available resources and sufficient political will to perform an encore?

54 comments to We forgot that you were here

  • Freeman

    In the 1990s I perfectly well understood the reason for NATO bombing of Serbia, or so I thought, and of course I supported our actions against those uncivilised Serbs. Since then a lot more background has become public knowledge (historians probably knew all along), and it appears that Muslim provocation had much to do with Serbian aggression.

    The story as related by Serbs is that after WWII the Muslim population in Kosovo was around 30%. For whatever reason, the Muslim population then began to expand rapidly, reaching the highest birth rate in the world of some 8+ children per married female. The confidence given by a majority Muslim population then lead to initial attacks on Christian Serbian families and the inevitable retalliation.

    In the light of what we have subsequently seen of Islamic ambitions for Europe my sympathies have somewhat changed. Much as I like our American friends, they surely cannot now imagine that Europeans and Serbians would willingly give up the whole of Kosovo. For once, I support the Russians; partition is the least worse option.

  • Rob

    The Serbs do have some truth in that tale – a Serbian Muslim political leader named Izetbegovic wrote The Islamic Declaration. His party also gained more power than the more tolerant Islamic party (echoes of the popularity increase of the DUP/Sinn Fein in Northern Ireland).

    I am somewhat confused by the interpretation that the author of the article puts on Russia’s attitude towards Islamic states. I have visited Red Square and seen the numerous churches with their pinnacles – a crucifix driven through a crescent – which speaks of a strong anti-Islamic history (Russia versus the Ottomans). However, Putin has made huge steps in reconciling with Muslims, going so far as to call Russia an “Islamic state” and getting Russia an observing seat on the Organisation of the Islamic Conference. For Russia, with its massive population problems (huge decline in Slav males of working age, male Muslims crossing the border and intermarrying Slavic females and raising crops of Muslim children) – Islam is a force they want to absorb, not offend.
    This desire to use Islam as a tool is one I think both sides (the West and the Rest) still have, despite the end of the Cold War. It’s one that will assuredly cause them more grief than gain.

  • Since then a lot more background has become public knowledge (historians probably knew all along), and it appears that Muslim provocation had much to do with Serbian aggression.

    I must disagree pretty strongly. The actions of the Serbian state and its para-military supporters actions under the truly savage Milosevic regime have to be seen NOT within the context of just a Serbian-Muslim dispute but rather within a broader and by no means clearly separate Balkan war. The expansion and collapse of a Greater Serbian Yugoslav state also involved war against Christian Croatians, Christian Slovenes and secular Bosniaks, not just Bosnian or Kosovar Muslims.

    The breakup of Yugoslavia started in Kosova in 1989: that is where Milisovic made it clear that the old Yugoslav balancing act was over and he was going to create a greater Serbia and Muslim insurgency was in direct opposition to the brutality of what was being done to them, not outside agitation (though that did happen later once the Serbian regime let the genie out of the bottle).

    Sorry but the Serbian population of Kosova deserve about as much sympathy as the Sudenten Germans who cheered the arrival of Hitler in 1938.

  • Subotai Bahadur

    I most strongly doubt that America will have the resources or the will to enter into another Balkan war. Our last intervention was driven by three factors; a domestic need by President Clinton for a foreign distraction, an attempt to build political credit with Islamists [for use in the Middle East], and the manifest lack of will and ability of Europeans to take care of a problem in their own back yard. With the current political dynamic of the Democratic Party here being to push for abandonment of the war and the Middle East as soon as they can find a way to do it without accepting responsibility, with the rest of the country not in a mood to do anything to support Islamists regardless of what the Democrats want, and after learning the hard way that in general alliances with Western European countries are worthless; we are going to let you deal with the problem or not as you will.

    Given the lack of both will and ability within the EU, y’all are going to have a really nasty clash of civilizations right on your borders. Western Europe has pretty much used up whatever goodwill it might have had in America in the past. Americans do read the European press, and we hear the insults and complaints from European governments. We may still stand with the nations of Eastern Europe, as they are not all that eager to be dictated to by either Moscow or Brussels, and they understand that there are times you have to fight. That concept has been lost in Western Europe, and you will eventually discover that as much as you will sacrifice anything for “peace”, sometimes the other guy just wants war.

  • I am strongly tempted to agree with Subotai. The U.S. response was ham-handed, and hurt ethnic minorities under M’s regime as much as it hurt Milosevic himself. After a one-year commitment that’s already been ten, and Kosovar muslims clearly intending to cause at least as much trouble as Kosovar Serbs, I can’t imagine that the U.S. will really care at this point.

    We have some real issues with whether Russia can use this as leverage against Georgia, but directly… why is this America’s problem?

  • The U.S. response was ham-handed, and hurt ethnic minorities under M’s regime as much as it hurt Milosevic himself.

    Rubbish. The only reason Kosova did not end up like Srebrenica writ (very) large was the NATO military action.

    All you had to do is look at what the Milosevic regime did elsewhere to see what was going to be the outcome if he was allowed to do what he wanted.

  • veryretired

    Sorry. Even if we had the means, there is absolutely no interest in another military adventure, esp. in and for Europe.

    You’re on your own. And it’s about time, too.

    Good luck.

  • In the event of another eruption, does the USA have the available resources and sufficient political will to perform an encore?

    Short answer: no.

    Somewhat longer answer:
    Look at what is happening in Darfur. The EU would like nothing better than to have the US sort things out there, all the while having nothing to do with it and preserving their good relations with China and Russia. The hints have been broad and frequent. We have ignored them. Yes, we could shut down the Sudanese air forces in a few days. Yes, we could supply airlift capacity for whatever peacemaking (not peacekeeping) forces were needed. Yes, we would love to do it. No, we will not do so on our own initiative. Nothing less than a formal appeal and a firm commitment of troops will suffice after the Franco-German betrayal of Iraq and Afghanistan. We might even hold out for a UNSC resolution, just to watch the French squirm.

    If something blows up in the Balkans again, we will purse our lips, look grave, talk at length about multilateralism and international law, and kick the problem down the road to the UN. We’ve seen it done and we took careful notes.

    Europe needs a new chump. This one has wised up.

  • Sunfish

    France and Germany formed a joint military formation back in the 1990′s, with much fanfare and honking of horns.

    Let them pacify the Balkans. There is little love here for “old” Europe here, even among the people who opposed the liberation of Iraq. Unless a Balkans civil war threatens Poland or the Ukraine or the Baltic republics, it just won’t be our problem now even if intervention would be justified.

    I’m a little more outward-looking than the average here, but I’m not unsympathetic. Serbians and Bosnians frankly remind me of domestic violence incidents where, about every 2-3 months I get called to the same address to deal with the same violence, but the couple takes turns on which one is the ‘predominate aggressor’ and needs locked up. “Arm them both and let them finish it themselves” starts looking reasonable after a while.

    Okay, okay, that’s fatigue and cynicism talking rather than principle.

  • Sunfish

    When I said ‘I’m a little more outward-looking than the average here,’ “here” refers to Colorado, USA, and not Samizdata.

  • David Murphy

    Perry. I really can’t understand your illogical Serbophobia! The Yugoslav Civil War war was messy and nasty, made more so by feckless and ignorant outside intervention. But of all the cities in former Yugoslavia, only Belgrade remains multi-ethnic and cosmopolitan. Zagreb is now devoid of Serbs. Those that were not killed fled to Belgrade. Krajina was cleansed of hundreds of thousands of non-Croats in a matter of days by the Croatian army with tacit US and EU support. Pristina was ethnically cleansed of Serbs, Jews and Roma by the KLA after NATO expelled the Yugoslav army. In contrast, Belgrade, with a majority Serb population, remains the peaceful and secular home to thousands of Croats, Albanians, Slovenes, etc, many of whom would have described themsleves as Yugoslav in the old days. Take tour pick, Perry – Pristina (the narco-terrorist KLA)? Zagreb (Ustasha)? Sarajevo (Jihadists)? Belgrade (secular, tolerent, free and rather fun)? I know which I prefer.

  • I am still quite wondering why NATO even bothered with that part of the world. Its not liked they got thanked by anyone for doing it. I too wonder what would have happened if NATO had stayed out of it and let them just get on with it.

  • Gabriel

    Sorry but the Serbian population of Kosova deserve about as much sympathy as the Sudenten Germans who cheered the arrival of Hitler in 1938.

    Interesting you mention WW2; usually pro Bosniak and Croation patisans prefer not to bring that up, but I guess you have no shame.

    In fact, as you well know, it is Bosnian Muslims (and to an only slightly lesser extent Croats) who deserve as much sympathy as Sudetan Germans. The latter supported Hitler because of ethnic affiliation and they paid the price (good). The former simply because they were despicable people. What punishment have they recieved?

  • Stephan

    what exactly did milosevic do elsewhere? the bosnian serbs and their massacres in bosnia were not his doing, he did partially arm them ,but had little control over lots of their actions. As far as Kosovo goes, whats the proof? why no publicity for his trial? Because he made a mockery of its proceedings and the “evidence” against him. Where are the supposed mass graves of Kosovars in that province? Its very convenient to say that he would have done this or that had NATO not intervened.. It absolves one of having to proof that he actually would have.

  • Perry. I really can’t understand your illogical Serbophobia! The Yugoslav Civil War war was messy and nasty, made more so by feckless and ignorant outside intervention.

    First hand experience with the consequences of Greater Serbia, that is why.

    But of all the cities in former Yugoslavia, only Belgrade remains multi-ethnic and cosmopolitan. Zagreb is now devoid of Serbs. Those that were not killed fled to Belgrade.

    Untrue. I personally met many Serbs in Zagreb between 1991 &1996. I hung out with a very cosmopolitan crew in Zagreb during much of the war and I even met a Serbian officer in the HV (admittedly a rarity) in 1992 serving in the section of front opposite occupied Petrinja. I also met a group of HV Domobranstvo (militia) north of Sibenik who had Serbian members.

    Krajina was cleansed of hundreds of thousands of non-Croats in a matter of days by the Croatian army with tacit US and EU support.

    That ignores the fact the Cetniks murdered a great many of the Croatian inhabitants of the area when they started the war in Croatia in Glina, and there was widespread collaboration with Cetniks by the local Serbian population. A lot of the Serbs who fled 1995 had a very good reason to not want to face retribution at the hands of the people whose property they had appropriated. Also, Milan Martic told the Serbian non-military Serbian population to evacuate to the Serbian occupied part of Bosnia at the start of Operation Storm (the Croation attack on Krajina), whereas the Tudjman government actually told the Serbian civilian population to stay in their homes. This is all a matter of historical public record, not just my opinion.

    Moreover not all the Serbs fled Krajina as not all had any reason to. How do I know? I went boar hunting with a couple in a forest just outside Glina in 1997 & 1998. Sure, some revenge killings did happen when the HV reoccupied the area but compared to what happened in the rest of the Balkans, the HV stayed in relatively good overall control of their troops.

    My opprobrium for the Serbian nationalists and their supporters, tacit or active, is quite justified by their actions.

  • Also to describe Zagreb as ‘ustasa’ is preposterous.

    I have actual had the misfortune to briefly met Drobroslav Paraga, who used to head the HSP, and they were the real paleo-fascists and their para-military HOS (I was told much of which was wiped out in Vukovar) were the real ‘ustasa’.

    However the HOS militia were not under the control of the Croatian government and were eventually forced disband. Tudjman was a real jackass in oh so many ways but the HDZ government was not the ustasa.

  • I am still quite wondering why NATO even bothered with that part of the world. Its not liked they got thanked by anyone for doing it.

    You know not of what you speak. When I was there during the later parts of the war (ie. after Clinton reversed the de-facto pro-Serbian policies being followed in the US and UK), all you had to say was that you were either American or German and anyone who was not a Serbian nationalist would go out of their way to say thanks!

    I too wonder what would have happened if NATO had stayed out of it and let them just get on with it.

    A lot more Srebrenica style mass murders in Kosova, that is what would have happened. They had ‘form’ so this is hardly a wild supposition.

    Also just for the record, actual NATO involvement was what lead to victory in Kosova but not in the war in Bosnia-Herzegovina. US and German (and in fact Hungarian) assistance allowed the Croatian HV and HVO to become very well equipped and trained and also enabled the Bosnian Armija to become better supplied, but it was the HV/HVO and Armija fighting on the ground that actually defeated the various Serbian armies. The NATO involvement was, in real military terms, a few trivial air attacks.

    Of course the strategic air campaign against Serbia during the Kosova confrontation is another thing altogether and that was a serious application of force. But the widely held notion in the west that “NATO won the war in Bosnia and Croatia” is preposterous. Just saying.

  • Freeman

    Perry:
    I am sure you know far more about the messy politics and unattractive characters in that area than I shall ever comprehend, so perhaps you can help me here.

    If it comes to the crunch, would it be fair to say that (oversimplifying) our broad choice would be either to support the Christian fascists or to support the Islamofascists?

    Or should we wash our hands of the whole shambles? In practice, I suspect this is what any EU intervention would amount to, and cannot envisage the US getting seriously involved again after the thanks they got last time.

  • hovis

    Or should we wash our hands of the whole shambles?

    Unlikely we can wash our hand of anything – whilst we may not want to know them – “they” will want to know us one way or another. Few people in England cared about Serbian nationalism in 1914.

  • I know a lot more about Croatia and Bosnia-Herzegovina than Kosova, but my understanding was the KLA are for the most part nationalists who happen to be Muslims rather than islamofacist (of course it might suit some to claim otherwise but I would like to see proof before swallowing that). Unless things have changed I was not aware the KLA wanted to impose Sharia and an Islamic state, they are more interested in being a aprt of a Greater Albania (which is not an Islamic state) because they are rather keen to never be subject to what the Yugoslav government did to them from 1989 onwards (which seems kind of understandable). Hostility to the Belgrade in Kosova did not come out of nowhere.

    In an ideal world a pluralistic Kosova should be possible… in the real world Slobodan Milosevic made that impossible in 1989.

    Keep in mind that when Milosevic abolished Kosova’s autonomy and used violence to impose Serbian political dominance there, he kicked off the entire Yugoslavian War of Collapse as the Slovenes, Croats and Bosnians all saw that if Belgrade could do it to the Kosovars on the justification of protecting a Serbian minority, not only could they could do it anywhere (there were Serbs in most parts of Yugoslavia), Milosevic’s very public rhetoric suggested he actually intended to do exactly that.

  • nicholas gray

    Perry, 1991 to 1996 was over a decade ago! Does anyone else have more recent knowledge of these places? I am glad Milosevic is no longer in power, but we don’t hear much about what is going on there now. Are they functioning democracies?

  • I still have contact with people in Croatia and Bosnia but not in Kosova.

  • Subotai Bahadur

    1) RE: Sunfish- Here’s a coincidence. I am also a Peace Officer here in Colorado.

    2) There is no practical rationale for us to get involved in the Balkans again. Yes, WW-I was triggered in Sarajevo. However, the whole area had been a tinderbox for a generation, and if it had not been the assassination of the Archduke, it would have been something else. It is Europeans who are laying the fire this time; albeit actually with less of a sense of realism than last time. Europeans want to believe that Russia is not once again a threat there, and that the situation can be controlled without their engaging in combat. They are about to be sadly disabused.

    What has changed is the obsolete American perception that in fact Europe and the US have common interests and that an alliance between European countries and the US is to our mutual benefit. France, Germany, Belgium, and Spain are actively opposing the US on all possible fronts, while trying to retain the protective cover of a claim to be allied with us. Britain is in the process of deliberately dismantling its armed forces for the explicit purpose of ensuring that its foreign and military policy is subservient to the EU, and that it will NEVER come to the aid of the US again. Denmark, the Netherlands, and Italy still retain some sense of reality about the threats in the world; but that could be overturned electorally in a flash.

    To depend on nations like these when engaging in war [which any intervention in the Balkans would be] would be the height of foolhardiness. We have seen what use the “alliance” would be in a future conflict just recently. The sailors and marines off of HMS Cornwall were taken in Iraqi waters by Iranians. Leaving aside the pathetic response of HM government, and the behaviour of the prisoners; one has to remember that an act of war was committed on Britain by Iran and that the UK is both a member of NATO and of the EU. The prisoners themselves were and are EU citizens. When approached by Britain for a response; both the EU and NATO contorted themselves amazingly to avoid both their obligations to Britain and offending Iran in any way, even with diplomatic efforts. A major factor in the EU and NATO’s decision was because of the percieved “special relationship” between the US and the UK. If they will betray Britain because Britain is friendly to the US, it pretty much indicates that they will stab us in the back at the first opportunity.

    I note that immediately upon, and actually during, the seizure of the Brits that US forces on scene offered whatever back-up the Brits could ask for. We were refused. By the way, this is not to denigrate the courage and efforts of the majority of HM forces fighting alongside us. At least we hope that HMS Cornwall is an aberration. But the valor of British arms is being negated by British politicians; and those who fight at our side today will soon either be civilians or perhaps standing against us under an EU flag.

  • So far as I can tell Slobodan Milosevic is still dead. His party is a pale shadow of itself and seems to have merged to form a new grouping. In other words, talking about Milosevic today makes about as much sense as talking about Clinton or Major’s sins influencing policy toward the US or UK. Actually it makes less sense.

    Today, who is getting ethnically cleansed? Today, who is under threat? Today, who has responsibility that all the people of Kosovo will be safe?

    Talk about Milosevic is either incredibly backward looking and reactive, uninformed, or a smokescreen and I’m not sure which one’s worse.

  • ragingnick

    We bombed the wrong side in that war – the serbs were never a threat to US unlike the muslims.
    Klinton sould go on trial for protecting the Albanian islamoterrorist thugs. Serbs want to rid their country of those who want to kill them. Afterall, Albanians sided with the Nazis in WW2 and helped the Nazis slaughter thousands of Serbs.

  • Bartonian

    Disclosure: free market libertarian living in London, married to a Croatian refugee, regular visitor to there and BiH for family (one a paraplegic after multiple injuries fighting first for Croatia against Serbia then for Hercegovians against Bosnians), manufacture in Slovenia, trade with Serbia.

    Qu: ‘In the event of another eruption, does the USA have the available resources and sufficient political will to perform an encore?’

    Ans: Most likely spark to be within BiH (not Serb related) where internationally imposed settlement on territory has Hercegovians (catholic descendants of Croats) in co-owned areas with Bosnians (Mulims) which they have self-separated on ethnic lines, in ways the Hercegov’s think unfair. Lots of money coming in from Arab states to fund mosques, supply cheap petrol etc. Low level violence (drive by random potshots from both sides) mostly held down by Eufor. But simmering discontent.

    But without this enforced co-habitation Islam would have a separate state in Europe. Forget Turkey with its avowance to secularity and a military to enforce it, an Islamic state in the Balkans is, I believe, the last thing Nato will tolerate. The EU too but less chance of them getting organised and escalating.. But there is a reason troops are still there in reasonable numbers. And that is to keep the lid on.

    A Greater Serbia has passed for at least a generation. Not so the tension of a separate Islaic state, as a toe-hold for a Europe wide Khalifate.

  • Vanya

    “I know a lot more about Croatia and Bosnia-Herzegovina than Kosova, but my understanding was the KLA are for the most part nationalists who happen to be Muslims rather than islamofacist (of course it might suit some to claim otherwise but I would like to see proof before swallowing that).”

    Yep, no hint of Arab-Islamic jihad supremacism at all, the Bosnian Muslims were just nationalists, plain and simple. Don’t be fooled by the Arabic inscription about jihad on their headbands, it’s merely for decorative purposes.

    http://www.serbianna.com/columns/savich/061.shtml

  • David Murphy

    Thanks for the clarifications Perry. I now understand that the forcible expulsion of hundreds of thousands of civilians is NOT ethnic cleansing if:
    1. it is carried out by Croats and their Jihadist allies.
    2. is is carried out against Serbs.
    3. it has the approval of the US, the EU and, most importantly, the Vatican.

  • Talk about Milosevic is either incredibly backward looking and reactive, uninformed, or a smokescreen and I’m not sure which one’s worse.

    Wrong. Milosevic is gone but the damage his policies did remains. The ethnic Albanian majority in Kosova do not want to be ruled from Belgrade because their experiences of that have not been very agreeable, to put it mildly, just as the Croat, Slovene and Bosnians did not want to be ruled from Belgrade. You will have have a heard time convincing any of those people to restore Yugoslavia, so why did you expect it to be different for the Kosovars?

    Partition Kosova into an independent Kosova (which can then unify with Albania if they will have them) and Serbian Kosovo and have done with it. If the current rulers of Serbia really are cut from different non-ethno-nationalist cloth than old dead Slobo, then why have they not been offering that solution?

    I can forgive the Kosovars for being a tad suspicious every time a Serbian politician or one of their truly unhelpful churchmen starts intoning about ‘sacred Kosovo Polje’ about just how dead Serbian ethnic nationalism really is.

    The Kosovars would have to be crazy not to want independence.

  • There is no practical rationale for us to get involved in the Balkans again.

    But is anyone actually arguing for that? The solution to the Kosova problem is clearly a political one.

    David Murphy:

    …most importantly, the Vatican.

    Thanks for that as it lets me know you are a moonbat who is not worth rebutting.

    We bombed the wrong side in that war – the serbs were never a threat to US unlike the muslims.

    Yes, all those terrorist attacks carried out by ethnic Albanians against the USA and Europe is just terrible. Oh, sorry, wrong parallel universe.

    Given that Albania (70% muslim) has been quite successful at not turning into an Islamic state (hell, they even sent troops to Iraq in support of the USA unlike most of the rest of Europe), I am always very suspicious of the real motives of people who claim unifying Kosova with Albania would not be a very effective way of taking care of several problems at once. The only problem is that many Albanians are rather ambivalent about Kosova.

  • David Murphy

    Perry. Even Carla del Ponte has pointed out that the Catholic Church and the Vatican conspired to hide Croatian war criminals! Very much like the Serbian Orthodox Church has helped their Serbian equivalents. The point is that this was a messy, savage and cruel civil war, made worse by US and EU meddling. It is not the case, ragingrick, that we backed, or bombed, the wrong side. We should have kept our noses out. As is we have supervised the expulsion from Kosovo of its Roma and Jewish inhabitants and most of its Serbs, whose churches and culture have been razed. Nice one Tony. But according to Perry, the ‘Serbian population of Kosova deserve about as much sympathy as the Sudenten Germans who cheered the arrival of Hitler in 1938′. Does that apply to the Roma and Jews as well?

  • Mitch, I’d just like to point out that the Rolls-Royce aero-engine company is already shutting down the Sudanese Air Force.
    They have ceased all contract renewals with them when the current ones run out, and I suppose that the current contracts will only be fulfilled out of a quite Quixotian desire to demonstrate good business practices.

    Ethical behaviour by a few more companies would prove to be quite a potent force if it ever caught on.
    And as a company is the basic Capitalist political entity, the political implications are interesting.

  • Bartonian

    David you say ”…The point is that this was a messy, savage and cruel civil war, made worse by US and EU meddling.’

    There are those on all sides of the confict that would agree with both points.

    But interested to know your evidence for
    ‘… made worse by US and EU meddling.’

  • David

    Bartonian, where do I start and where do I stop? Premature German and hence EU recognition (some would say encouragement) of Croatian independence. An arms embargo neatly side stepped by Clinton by allowing Iran to supply the Bosniaks through Zagreb (with the latter creaming off a few choice weapons). And of course the bombings, which intensified the terror on all sides.

  • ragingnick

    the plain fact is: helping out mu-slimes is always a bad idea.

    that war was the first stage in the battle for Europe against the islamofascists and not suprisingly klinton and the jew/ christian hating UN sided with the enemy.
    God help us if the demoncrats ever make it back into the whitehouse

  • But interested to know your evidence for
    ‘… made worse by US and EU meddling.’

    Bartonian, this is a code phrase for allowing the victims of the aggression of the Serbian state to have access to arms so that they could fight effectively against a Serbian enemy which had access to the arms and logistics of the JNA.

    The fact that German recognition is held up as a bad thing indicated the person saying it thinks the collapse of Yugoslavia was a bad thing. It was not.

    Also people often overplay the role of the USA in this (and just for the record, I regard this as Clinton’s finest hour), in fact the role of Germany is often very much misunderstood and very very much under-rated. Most of the weapons that ended up in the HV were not from the USA, they were from the large German stockpiles of former East German army equipment and they were shipped to Croatia via Hungary with the full support of the Hungarian government. Also once the Armija and HVO stopped shooting at each other (for which I mostly blame the Bosnian side), some of those weapons ended up in Bosnia too (and I am an eye witness to that fact) and not just with the HVO.

  • the plain fact is: helping out mu-slimes is always a bad idea.

    Then you are simplistic for seeing everything in terms of religion regardless of context.

    The muslims of Bosnia (the miniskirt wearing, alcohol drinking ‘muslims’ of Sarajavo?) opposed Belgrade not because they were muslims but because they were not Serbs… i.e. for exactly the same reason the Croats and Slovenes opposed Belgrade. Sure the Bosnians are (mostly) muslims and so they act (somewhat) like Muslims and practice their religion, but did it ever occur to you that maybe Muslims can do something for reasons other than the fact they are Muslims?

  • Nick M

    I’ll second Perry’s point there. I was in Bosnia in the mid 80s and to describe it as “Islamic” is about the same as calling England “Christian”. The fact we didn’t intervene sooner and more effectively allowed the Jihadi Islamists to flood in from abroad… That was our big mistake. That and to allow genocide to happen in Europe again.

    My chronology on this might be a little hazy, but that’s my take.

    OT (but hilarious): (Link)

  • Talos

    What ya’ll got here is a nice little border/ethnic/religous war thats been going on for nigh on 500 years. Thats alot of time for hate to build up. I can tell not many people here crack a history book too often, or you’d know how these situations alwayse end: with the utter destruction of one side or another. Anybody who tries to argue for a political solution that does not involve massive population relocation (as in moving them at least a couple of hundred miles from the conflict area to finally seperate the combatants) of one side or the other is doing nothing but talking about how to extend the agony a few more generations. The only way to gain lasting peace in this area of the world is to finally let one side or another die completely out. It’s a crappy solution but this is a crappy world.

  • Talos. massive population reallocation? Why? The Serbian population in Kosova is not massive and the solution is quite amenable to politics. Just partition the accursed place.

    And as for not reading history, I assure you I am rather well read.

    you’d know how these situations alwayse end: with the utter destruction of one side or another.

    And yet most of the rest of former Yugoslavia has eventually settled into a more or less stable form without the utter destruction of any side. Ditto Ulster, come to think of it.

    Götterdämmerung endings to conflicts may make for exciting reading but they are not really all that common in the modern world.

  • Sorry.
    The basic Capitalist political organisation.
    ‘Entity’ would be the Individual.

  • David

    “And there can be no return to the past, to the times when they the Serbs were spreading cancer in the heart of Croatia, cancer which was destroying the Croatian national being and which did not allow the Croatian people to be the master in its own house and did not allow Croatia to lead an independent and sovereign life under this wide, blue sky and within the world community of sovereign nations…They [Serbs] didn’t even have the time to take with them their filthy foreign currency or their knickers.” Dr Franjo Tudjman, President of the Independent State of Croatia, Croatian Radio, transcribed by BBC Summary of World Broadcasts, August 28, 1995, speaking during a train tour of what had been Serbian Krajina, in August, 1995, after Operation Storm.
    “…the collaborationist Pavelic [Ustasa] state represented the aspirations of Croats.” (Dr Franjo Tudjman, quoted in The Times, March 6 1990)
    “Thank God I am not married to a Serb or a Jew.” (Dr Franjo Tudjman)

    Tudjman was a bastard, but, hell, he was our bastard….

    Let us compare with Storm with Srebrenica. In both cases, a UN “safe area” was attacked. In Srebrenica, the UN at least tried to protect Muslim civilians; in Krajina, it did no such thing. Serbs evacuated Muslim noncombatants from Srebrenica; civilian Serbs who did not flee Krajina were killed. But Srebrenica is “genocide,” whilst Storm is a great victory over the dastardly Serbs.
    Let us now compare Storm with Kosovo. If Croatia’s conquest of Krajina was legitimate, because the existence of the VSK violated its territorial integrity, then why was Serbia not allowed to defend its borders in Kosovo? If obliterating the centuries old Serb populations did not disqualify Croatia from keeping Krajina and Slavonia, why does the messy struggle against the KLA disqualify Serbia from keeping Kosovo? If the Serbs did not have the right to ethnic self-determination in Krajina, how come the Kosovo Albanians (an ethnic minority within Serbia) have one? The KLA has ethnically cleansed Kosovo of most non-Albanians – I guess that based on the precedent of Krajina, that is OK because the victims are only Serbs and Jews and Roma.
    The hypocrisy of the US and EU in the Balkans is truly staggering. Clinton and Blair have succeeded where Hitler and Mussolini failed.
    But back in the present, my own view, for what it is worth, is that Serbia should get rid of the Kosovo albatross, and, in doing so, negotiate the best deal for the few remaining non-Albanians. This might involve partition. Serbia can then focus on rebuilding its economy, and combating the Wahhabi Jihadists in Sandzak.

  • Rob

    The prisoners themselves were and are EU citizens. When approached by Britain for a response; both the EU and NATO contorted themselves amazingly to avoid both their obligations to Britain and offending Iran in any way, even with diplomatic efforts.

    Subotai, the European Union publicly protested the kidnapping of those sailors and termed it ‘illegal’. I hardly see that as “contorting themselves amazingly”, and I don’t see how that can be justified. I am a Eurosceptic who believes Britain firmly belongs in the NAFTA and out of the EU, but I don’t think it helps to let our own narratives fly in the face of facts.

    Ditto Ulster, come to think of it.

    Perry, the situation in Yugoslavia has almost no resemblance whatsoever beyond the superficial ‘cultural conflict zone’ to the situation in Ulster.

    Vanya, let us not forget the sterling work done by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard in helping Bosnian Muslim forces set up and maintain training camps during the conflict.

  • civilian Serbs who did not flee Krajina were killed

    So the Serbian guys I went boar hunting with near Glina are, what, ghosts? And all the Serbs I met in Zagreb, somehow no one noticed them, eh? Try going there yourself. Hang out in the Serbian orthodoxy church in the centre of town.

    And are you saying Milan Martic did not tell the non-military Serbian population to evacuate Krajina at the start of Operation Storm? Also just to correct another of your factual error, Krajina was not a UN safe haven (a term with a very specific meaning).

  • Perry, the situation in Yugoslavia has almost no resemblance whatsoever beyond the superficial ‘cultural conflict zone’ to the situation in Ulster.

    I am personally involved in both places, so I am well aware of that, but what I was responding to was the notion that ethnic conflicts (and that is what Ulster and Yugoslavia both were/are) are only resolved with the annihilation of one side or the other, which is demonstrably untrue… thus your remark is actually fairly pointless.

  • “In the event of another eruption, does the USA have the available resources and sufficient political will to perform an encore?”

    Yes, and no.

    Any U.S. President committing U.S. forces to help the Europeans would cause a shit-storm of Biblical proportions Over Here.

    Here’s what we dumb Americans have noted:

    1. EU nations have gutted their military spending to keep their welfare state going.
    2. EU nations have never made a serious commitment to assist the United States in any effort against Muslim radicalism — Britain being the notable exception, and even they’re getting out of Iraq.
    3. EU nations have aided and abetted our enemies in the Middle East at almost every critical point, with military equipment, economic assistance and appeasement.
    4. With the tacit and sometimes overt support of the various EU governments, the EU media has criticised, belittled and undermined our efforts to combat radical Islamism.

    There are a few exceptions to all the above, but not enough to sway any opinions.

    Let me tell you: if the Russians chose this moment to drive through the Fulda Gap, we’d be telling the EU to fuck off refer the problem to the United Nations.

    The Balkans? What’s that?

  • David

    The term used was United Nations Protected Area (UNPA), set up as a consequence of the Vance Plan.

    Of course the VSK government advised its civilian population to flee the Croatian army advance. Had the Serbs not fled, the death toll would have been much greater. As is, many of those foolish enough to stay behind were killed (at least 1199 civilians, including 523 women and 12 children). Over 73% of the houses of Krajina Serbs were destroyed, which kind of ensured that “Tudjman’s cancer” would not return. Seventy orthodox churched were destroyed. Human Rights Watch documented the “the summary execution of elderly and infirm Serbs and the wholesale burning and destruction of Serb villages and property”.

    In Zagreb, Serbs working in the government and media were purged (as indeed were anti-Tudjman Croats). Many of those that opposed the HDZ new order “disappeared”. It was not uncommon for Serb civilians in the provinces to be taken away in the night by death squads. Many Serbs who stayed changed their names and/or religion to avoid harassment and discrimination.

    The demographics are clear – in 1991 Croatia was 12.2% Serb, in 2001 that figure was down to 4.5%. Over 100,000 Serbs lived in Zagreb, now only 2.4% of that city’s population of over 1 million are Serb.

  • Subotai Bahadur

    Rob: The entire stated purpose for the existence of the EU is to have a common defense, foreign, and economic policy; said policy to be a counterweight to, and in opposition to, the United States. There are and were a number of options far short of war that the EU could have undertaken in support of Britain that would have pressured Iran. Britain was rebuffed and the member states refused to take any action under the aegis of either NATO or the EU to support Britain. It took more than a little diplomatic wrangling, arm twisting, and functional grovelling to get them to term it a “kidnapping” and use the word “illegal”; after they had in effect publicly told Iran that they really did not mean it. That, and several Euros, may buy a cup of expresso in Brussels, but has no practical effect. I hope that it is within the bounds here at SAMIZDATA and will not be deleted, but here is a link to a contemporaneous news article:

    http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/middle_east//article1593988.ece?Submitted=true

    I wish I could claim the authorship of this quote below from a much longer piece at TOWN COMMONS, because it lays out the situation with such clarity.

    1. The EU places their individual pecuniary interests above the interests of EU solidarity. There can be no future expectation of
    support by the EU for any particular member in any given scenario.

    2. There is likely a huge element of anti-Americanism playing into the EU decision to rebuff the UK and it is motivated in part to
    punish the UK for allying with America. Anti-Americanism has been a hallmark of leftist politics throughout Old Europe, and
    the constant drumbeat of negativity has had its effect. For example, in Germany, more people consider the U.S. to be a greater
    threat to world peace then Iran and radical Islam.

    3. The EU, which faces the same existential threat from Iran and radical Islam that the US and the UK face, is unwilling or
    unable to put its national security interests ahead of its short term pecuniary interests so long as the EU member nations feel safe
    under the umbrella of U.S. and U.K. protection.

    4. The EU is willing to rely on the United States and the UK to provide and pay for their security while they feel free to reap
    economic benefit wherever possible, including trading with the the very nation that threatens their security.

    5. The EU itself is wholly amoral with no sense of institutional loyalty. To motivate EU countries, one must offer them lucre or
    threaten their trade.

    6. The EU member states cannot be counted upon as allies as a group.

    To reiterate the original premise, there is no way that the US could or should go to war in the Balkans for the benefit of the EU, or Western Europe in general. The US may have been a fool to believe in an alliance with Western Europe after the fall of Communism. I hope we do not prove to be masochists in maintaining that discredited notion in the future.

  • Many of those that opposed the HDZ new order “disappeared”. It was not uncommon for Serb civilians in the provinces to be taken away in the night by death squads.

    You are delusional. Certainly pro-Belgrade Serbs did not fair well (what with there being a war there were well advised to get the hell out of Croatia if they were going to support the other side), but there were also Serbs in the HV (I met one) and whilst there were some murders of Serbs in Krajina (and elsewhere), it was mostly the work of HSP/HOS affiliated people, not the HDZ (this is weird as on other sites I am usually slagging off the HDZ, not defending it. I was always partial to the sadly disunited HSLS).

  • David

    How many refugees from Serbia do you know in Croatia? There are at least a million refugees in Serbia, amongst them many Croats who fled the New Order. Not that they were treated well, but that is another story. And are the widows of the disappeared, Serb and Croat, delusional too? By the way……some numbers – in 1991 Croats made up 1.24% of the population of Serbia (excluding Kosovo). In 2002 the figure was 0.94%. The decrease in percentage terms was caused by the increase in the number of Serbs who arrive perchance from Croatia.

  • You are a fantasist. The Serbs who supported Greater Serbia lost and as a result ended up displaced.

    Too bad. As it happens, I know of a few collaborationist Croats from Glina who are now stuck in Belgrade. That’s what happens when you back the bad guys and lose. They get no sympathy from me. The real mass murderer were your buddies however.

    We’re done here. Get lost and sing your pro-national socialist songs about Slobo elsewhere.

  • rc

    >I suspect. In the event of another eruption, does the USA have the available resources and sufficient political will to perform an encore?

    Excellent question! Answer: NO!

  • Paul Marks

    It seems my comment was not wanted. Fair enough, it was rather long – a vice of mine.

  • Sunfish

    Subotai Bahadur

    For example, in Germany, more people consider the U.S. to be a greater threat to world peace then Iran and radical Islam.

    I’m sure they do. We’d better stop invading France and Poland and North Africa and annexing the Sudetenland every half century or so.

    I’m starting to see the logic in your question about whether we should have bothered after WWII. The entire Cold War was about Europe. The whole thing was just to set the stage for when a bunch of Russians came across the Fulda Gap. To me, that means that the names on the wall all died protecting Europe, even though they were on the other side of the damn world.

    Next time, I don’t see the Balkans as really being our problem. We have allies on the continent, but would a war there really threaten Poland or Estonia or Italy or Holland or Denmark or Norway or (etc)?

    So, yes, I would fully support referring the matter to the UN to resolve with respect to international law and through the formation of a broad consensus and the avoidance of regrettable unilateral action.

    Not to wander far afield, but how much snow did you get?