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Dr. Sean Gervasi (continued):

The Struggle for Mastery in the Balkans

Back to the beginning of the article.

We have been witnessing, since 1990, a long and agonizing crisis in Yugoslavia. It has brought the deaths of tens of thousands, driven perhaps two million people from their homes and caused turmoil in the Balkan region. And in the West it is generally believed that this crisis, including the civil wars in Croatia and Bosnia-Herzegovina, was the result of internal Yugoslav conflicts, and specifically of conflicts between Croats, Serbs and Bosnian Muslims. This is far from the essence of the matter.

The main problem in Yugoslavia , from the first, was foreign intervention in the country's internal affairs. Two Western powers, the United States and Germany, deliberately contrived to destabilize and then dismantle the country. The process was in full swing in the 1980s and accelerated as the present decade began. These powers carefully planned, prepared and assisted the secessions which broke Yugoslavia apart. And they did almost everything in their power to expand and prolong the civil wars which began in Croatia and then continued in Bosnia-Herzegovina. They were involved behind the scenes at every stage of the crisis.

Foreign intervention was designed to create precisely the conflicts which the Western powers decried. For they also conveniently served as an excuse for overt intervention once civil wars were under way.

Such ideas are, of course, anathema in Western countries. That is only because the public in the West has been systematically misinformed by war propaganda. It accepted almost from the beginning the version of events promulgated by governments and disseminated through the mass media. It is nonetheless true that Germany and the US were the principal agents in dismantling Yugoslavia and sowing chaos there.

This is an ugly fact in the new age of realpolitik and geo-political struggles which has succeeded the Cold War order. Intelligence sources have begun recently to allude to this reality in a surprisingly open manner. In the summer of 1995, for instance, INTELLIGENCE DIGEST, a respected newsletter published in Great Britain, reported that,

"The original US-German design for the former Yugoslavia [included] an independent Muslim-Croat dominated Bosnia- Herzegovina in alliance with an independent Croatian and alongside a greatly weakened Serbia." (7)

Every senior official in most Western governments knows this description to be absolutely accurate. And this means, of course, that the standard descriptions of "Serbian aggression" as the root cause of the problem, the descriptions of Croatia as a "new democracy", etc. are not just untrue but actually designed to deceive.

But why? Why should the media seek to deceive the Western public? It was not simply that blatant and large-scale intervention in Yugoslav affairs had to be hidden from public view. It was also that people would ask questions about why Germany and the US deliberately created havoc in the Balkans. They wanted inevitably to know the reasons for such actions. And these had to be hidden even more carefully than the destructive actions of great powers..

At root, the problem was that the United States had an extremely ambitious plan for the whole of Europe. It is now stated quite openly that the US considers itself a "European power". In the 1980s, this assertion could not be made so easily. That would have caused too much dissension among Western allies. But the US drive to establish its domination in Europe was nonetheless a fact. And the United States was already planning what is now openly talked about.

Quite recently, Richard Holbrooke, the Assistant Secretary of State for European affairs, made the official position clear. In a recent article in the influential journal FOREIGN AFFAIRS, he not only described the United States as a "European power" but also outlined his government's ambitious plans for the whole of Europe. Referring to the system of collective security, including NATO, which the US and its allies created after the second world war, Mr. Holbrooke said,

"This time, the United States must lead in the creation of a security architecture that includes and thereby stabilizes all of Europe -- the West, the former Soviet satellites of Central Europe and, most critically. Russia and the former republics of the Soviet Union." (8)

In short, it is now official policy to move towards the integration of all of Europe under a Western political and economic system, and to do so through the exercise of "American leadership". This is simply a polite, and misleading, way of talking about the incorporation of the former Socialist countries into a vast new empire. (9)

It should not be surprising that the rest of Mr. Holbrooke's article is about the necessity of expanding NATO, especially into Central Europe, in order to ensure the "stability" of the whole of Europe. Mr. Holbrooke states that the "expansion of NATO is an essential consequence of the raising of the Iron Curtain." (10)

Thus, behind the repeated interventions in the Yugoslav crisis, there lay long-term strategic plans for the whole of Europe.

As part of this evolving scheme, Germany and the US originally determined to forge a new Balkan order, one based on the market organization of economies and parliamentary democracy. They wanted to put a definitive end to Socialism in the Balkans. (11) Ostensibly, they wanted to "foster democracy" by encouraging assertions of independence, as in Croatia. In reality, this was merely a ploy for breaking up the Balkans into small and vulnerable countries. Under the guise of "fostering democracy", the way was being opened to the recolonization of the Balkans.

By 1990, most of the countries of Eastern Europe had yielded to Western pressures to establish what were misleadingly called "reforms". Some had accepted all the Western conditions for aid and trade. Some, notably Bulgaria and Rumania, had only partically accepted them.

In Yugoslavia, however, there was resistance. The 1990 elections in Serbia and Monetenegro kept a socialist or social-democratic party in power. The Federal government thus remained in the hands of politicians who, although they yielded to pressures for "reforms" from time to time, were nevertheless opposed to the recolonization of the Balkans. And many of them were opposed to the fragmentation of Yugoslavia. Since the third Yugoslavia, formed in the spring of 1992, had an industrial base and a large army, that country had to be destroyed.

From the German point of view, this was nothing more than the continuation of a policy pursued by the Kaiser and then by the Nazis.

Once, Yugoslavia was dismantled and thrown into chaos, it was possible to begin reorganizing this central part of the Balkans. Slovenia, Croatia and Bosnia-Herzegovina were to be brought into a German sphere of interest. Germany acquired access to the sea on the Adriatic, and potentially, in the event that the Serbs could be overwhelmed, to the new Rhine-Danube canal, a route which can now carry 3,000 ton ships from the North Sea into the Black Sea. The southern reaches of Yugoslavia were to fall into an American sphere of interest. Macedonia, which commands the only east-west and north-south passages across the Balkan Mountains, was to be the centerpiece of an American region.

But the American sphere would also include Albania and, if those regions could be stripped away from Serbia, the Sanjak and Kosovo. Some American planners have even talked of the eventual emergence of a Greater Albania, under US and Turkish tutelage, which would comprise a chain of small Muslim States, possibly including Bosnia- Herzegovina, with access to the Adriatic.

Not surprisingly, Germany and the US, although they worked in concert to bring about the dismantlement of Yugoslavia, are now struggling for control of various parts of that country, notably Croatia and Bosnia-Herzegovina. In fact, there is considerable jockeying for influence and commercial advantage throughout the Balkans. (12) Most of this competition is between Germany and the US, the partners who tore Yugoslavia apart. But important companies and banks from other European countries are also participating. The situation is similar to that which was created in Czechoslovakia by the Munich Agreement in 1938. Agreement was reached on a division of the spoils in order to avoid clashes which would lead immediately to war.


7. "Bonn's Balkans-to-Teheran Policy", INTELLIGENCE DIGEST, ll-25 August, 1995.

8. Richard Holbrooke, "America, A European Power", FOREIGN AFFAIRS, March/April, 1995, page 39.

9. The crucial point is that Eastern Europe and the countries of the former USSR are to adopt the institutions prevailing in Wastern Europe, i.e., capitalism and parliamentary democracy.

10. Holbrooke, loc. cit., page 43.

11. Joan Hoey, "The U.S. 'Great Game' in Bosnia", THE NATION, January 30, 1995.

12. Jacob Heilbrunn and Michael Lind, "The Third American Empire", THE NEW YORK TIMES, January 2, 1996.

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New "Great Game" in the Caspian Sea

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Last revised: Dec. 29, 1998