[fwd] What Is Going On in Yugoslavia? What Is Going On in The World?
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Wed Dec 13 15:38:09 MST 2000
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Author: Ivan Angelov, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Social & Civilization Aspects of International
What Is Going On in Yugoslavia?
What Is Going On in The World?
People from far away may rightfully expect that we in Bulgaria would
know more on the situation in Yugoslavia at least in view of the
geographical proximity between the two countries. Sorry to disappoint
It is true that in the months, weeks and days before October 1 the air
was thick with talk on Yugoslavia. The numerous, high-volume as a rule,
statements, messages and commentaries on this issue though were hardly
telling anything different from the already well-known maxim that
"Milosevic is bad and has to go."
The v o l u m e has obviously decreased after October 6 when the "Evil
of Humanity" has disappeared from the political arena. Very illogically
the interest of the mainstream media towards the events in this country
has disappeared together with him. Hardly anything has been said about
the way in which this has taken place or about the events that
accompanied Milosevic's decision to quit. Pictures of fires in downtown
Belgrade appeared on the front pages of the newspapers but people had to
guess who and for what purpose have set up those fires. E-mails and
Internet communications have also become scarce or practically
Under these circumstances the question of "What's going on" and "What
has really taken place in Yugoslavia" these days obviously remains
without a satisfactory answer at least to people who are genuinely
interested in the course of events both in this country and in the world
as a whole.
The usual answers to such a question may be, of course, that what has
taken place there are early elections.
Our first concern is dealing with the extent to which the word
"election" may be rightfully attributed to what has been going on within
and around this country in the period before, during and after October
1, 2000. We feel it essential that both Yugoslavian citizens and their
immediate neighbors like us, as well as all the people around the world
give at least to themselves, to begin with, an adequate answer to that
question. It is necessary not so much for the purpose for accusing this
or that personality, institution, country, government or political
ideology and orientation, but as one of the possible ways of clarifying
what kind of world we are really living in and what we can expect out of
it in near or more remote future.
One of the things which is really annoying in this situation is that
neither Yugoslavia authorities nor the opposition - neither leaders nor
ordinary citizens - neither experts in law nor humanitarians - actually
no one either in Yugoslavia, its immediate neighbors or the world over
has even for a single moment questioned or speculated over the idea to
what extent elections may be considered normal, fair or if they should
take place at all in a situation when a country or a part of its
territory is occupied by foreign troops.
Perhaps since such practices have been commonplace in the world for
decades they have already become a norm of Law? If this is so, then
certain corrections or amendments should be made in all its Charters,
documents and provisions, so that nowadays and future generations the
world over will know that there is nothing wrong in the presence of
foreign troops on a certain country's territory and that it is not only
compatible but also desirable for the free-will expression of its
It is interesting how the people in the divided Germany or the
anti-Communist protestors in countries like Poland, Hungary or
Czechoslovakia would have accepted this some ten years ago. Or, who
would be able to convey this message to those Bulgarians who still
question the legitimacy of the 1946 "Anti-Monarchy" Referendum carried
out in the presence or ex-Soviet troops?
Nevertheless, recently we see that elections in the presence of foreign
troops still continue to be carried out or are encouraged in a growing
number of countries or regions in the world. Bosnia and Herzegovina are
just another fresh example of it. Elections are encouraged also in
Kosovo, though it is not even a formally independent country but a part
of another established state.
Developments of this kind both in former decades and nowadays seem to
provide enough basis to suggest that perhaps in the realities of the
world today elections as a process of free will legitimate expression is
getting more and more devoid of its original contents and meaning. It is
rather assuming the functions of covert of intentions, activities and
interests that may have little or even nothing to do with all this.
Perhaps nowadays elections are becoming more of a ritual to pronounce
blessing (or maybe blasphemy?) over a certain state of things
(established by o t h e r means) than a functionary way of expressing
the will of the respective electoral bodies.
In the case with our neighbors this Fall ahead-of-term-elections have
turned out to be just one of the whole series of conditions imposed on
them by means of threat for an immediate use of force by military,
economically and politically exceeding powers. Dayton and other p e a c
e agreements and settlements have been reached in the same way, not to
mention the "peace" in Kosovo...
The threat of direct use of force, i.e., of starting another war, has
remained hanging permanently over Yugoslavia also after the idea of the
early elections has been accepted or, rather, imposed on it. Obviously
this has been considered normal. Also, as completely in the order of
things have been considered, practices as the official allotting of 5
millions for the head (alive or dead) of the President of the country
which evokes very sad comparisons with the times of Chinghis Khan, the
Osman Conquests or the days of Nazi occupation in the World War II. Then
there have come series of top-level declarations and decisions, adopted
by foreign supreme legislative and executive bodies, directly concerning
not only the course of the election campaigns but also their immediate
results and outcomes. Unprecedented parallel counting up of the votes
has been organized with direct financial support from abroad in places
outside the country. Military exercises with NATO participation have
been carried out in the immediate neighbouring countries. NATO's Deputy
Secretary General has visited neighbouring countries in the very eve of
the elections and the US Chief of Staffs, Gen. Henry Balton - did the
same immediately after them. Hours before the vote top EU and NATO
officials even forbade one of the electoral candidates to declare a
possible victory of his in the oncoming elections.
Here we would not like either to comment or to take any of the sides of
this both direct and extramural debate. What we find especially annoying
and appalling though is that practically no institution and no
individual in the world has found a way of expressing any concern with
the legitimacy of such activities towards a sovereign country. And let
us make it clear once again that all these suggestions have been made in
an atmosphere which directy presumed the very real possibility of
another use of force, perhaps even more massive and destructive than in
the days of the Kosovo crisis.
The events of 1999 have clearly shown that neither the UN nor anybody
else in the current world is willing or capable of averting such course
Sadly enough, this has no other analogue in the recent History of
International Relations but in Munich Deal of 1938, the capture of
Abyssinia and the rape of Manchuria in the years before the World War
II. (We do not know, but perhaps there have been some sensible arguments
in the German, Italian or Japanese writings of those days in favour of
smashing the non-democratic regimes in those parts of the world which
they considered as zones of special interests. This issue has never been
discussed and, as far as it is known, these operations of the countries
mentioned above are always referred to as examples of outright
aggression in all writings and documents on International Relations and
Law. Or perhaps, in the view of the recent developments in the world,
these issues of International Relations and Law will also have to be
revised? Really, have there ever been elections in Abyssinia or
Manchuria prior to their occupation by Italy and Japan in these days? Or
perhaps, it is time to forget qualifications as "aggressor countries",
referring to the activities of those great powers of the near past? Or
else, there should be a sound evidence to prove that the state of
affairs in nowadays Yugoslavia has been so much less democratic than,
say, the situation in Abyssinia and Manchuria in the 30-ties, as to
provoke a fully justified threat and use of force on the side of the
predominant big powers of today?
Even if we assume that anything and everything may be considered allowed
with respect to "an enemy of Humanity" as big as Milosevic, still it
remains at least questionable to what extent practices like these can
and should be attributed to the concept, the process and the procedure
Obviously once accepted (or rather imposed or forced upon) the idea of
this Fall's early elections from its very beginning has been nothing
else but a way of providing the necessary covert preconditions and
atmosphere for carrying out the next stage of what has actually turned
out to be a very special war effort against this country and its
established institutions. (Here we would like to make it clear that this
paper is not indulged in any way in the debate of the various "pro" and
"con" of the sides directly engaged in the conflict or in the debate
around the reasons that have brought it about.)
It cannot be but annoying and troubling that much of what has happened
and is possibly going on in Yugoslavia (no matter what the possible
reasons and motivations for it could be) is fitting almost perfectly
into the definition and descriptions of what is known in the specialized
literature on military issues as L.I.C. (Low-Intensity Conflict).
(See at least Rod Pascal, LIC 2010. Special Operations and
Unconventional Warfare in the Next Century, Future Warfare Studies.
Published with the Institute of Land Warfare Association of the U.S.
Army, 1990, Brassley's Inc., US.)
"Low-Intensity Conflict" - according to its definition - "is armed
conflict for political purposes short of combat between regularly
organized forces" (I bid., p. 7). "It is not mid-intensity conflict,
which is armed conflict between regularly organized military forces"
(though it "may also include terrorist incidents, or even concurrent
insurgent campaigns"), neither a high-intensity conflict which is "armed
combat involving the use of mass-destructive weapons" (I bid, p. 8).
Further on, the Low-Intensity Conflict "definition surely includes a
terrorist act but excludes, for example, the usual hostage-taking by a
bank robber. It includes a counter-insurgency campaign in which a
regular-armed force is pitted against guerillas or irregulars. It
describes the activities of insurgents engaged in an armed attempt to
overthrow a government. The definition also encompasses the efforts of a
"peace-keeping force" (p. 7).
Though it is noted that "these definitions differ somewhat from the
basically blessed terminology of the US Army" there is a little doubt
left that "however they accurately reflect the intent of the U.S. Army
definitions" (I bid. p. 8).
Ten years ago, when Mankind sincerely believed that not a "New World
Order" but a New Epoch of Peace, International Confidence and
Cooperation was ahead, some specialists in military theory were
foreseeing that "insurgency, perhaps one of the oldest forms of warfare,
should be much in evidence in 2010." (6). In the days when the former
"Socialist Community" was giving up its Marxist ideology and destroying
its military potential, organizational networks and arsenals, concepts
have been elaborated, and obviously, plans made to "transform the
guerilla fighter from a 20th Century tool of Marxist states into a
major, 21st Century asset in the arsenal of Western powers. Western
supported and sponsored insurgents will be used for the purposes of
protecting and securing Western interests, and Western organizations,
possessing skills in supporting guerrilla forces will be held in
readiness for purposes of deterrence." (I bid. p. 6).
And further, "special operational forces are those military or naval
elements specifically organized, trained and equipped to conduct or
support insurgency, sabotage, psychological deception,
counter-terrorist, foreign assistance or commando-type operations. These
units are normally capable of performing rescue, reconnaissance, and
intelligent-gathering tasks." (I bid. p. 8)
Every country and government has, of course, all rights and even
obligations to foresee the most adequate concepts, skills and
technologies, which they find necessary in the military field as well,
so that, as the front-page of the Brassey's Future Warfare Series says,
"our children must learn to defend themselves and so must their
The fact that a country or even a group of countries (like the former
Eastern block) have, for one reason or another, unilaterally decided to
give up this duty of theirs, by no means entails any obligations on the
side of others. Still, since these countries have really left "doors
open" and practically no one there has been and is "against the West" at
least since 1989, the question remains what makes necessary that their
inclusion into the "New World Order" should be accompanied not only by
economic ruin but also by cases of outright sabotage, deliberate fires
or variety of both mid- and low-intensity conflicts.
There can be, of course, many meaningful answers to that question. A
great deal of them should be rightfully related to the inner situation
of these countries. Direct interference from abroad, on the other hand,
is by no means always easy to be found or proved. Neither its role nor
its importance should be too much exaggerated.
At the same time, what remains beyond any doubt is a certain very
dangerous lack of equilibrium as well as of discrepancy that has become
appallingly apparent in the world during the last decade of the 20th
Century. It is bigger and not less important even than the technological
and economic gap between the various groups of unevenly developed
The lack of equilibrium and the discrepancy are related to the fact that
while one of the two previously main configurations on the Globe, i.e.,
the Eastern block, has for one reason or another given up its combat
ideology and destroyed most of its military establishments and arsenals,
their counterparts from the Western Alliance have decided to maintain
and further perfect them.
Especially foreign citizens can hardly question autonomous decisions,
taken by governments of autonomous countries, However, by getting that
way Mankind seems to have lost one of its real chances to abolish war as
a means of politics and a way of settling disputes, both domestic and
international. So we come to the very important question of the moral
responsibility of the v i c t o r s in the Cold War, if somebody will be
willing to claim a victory in it, of course. Surprisingly enough this
issue has not been touched upon until now either by Bush or Gorbachov,
or by anybody else in a world, obviously suffering from an increased
number of trouble, especially throughout a decade that has been promised
to start an era of peace, brotherhood and prosperity for all.
People in Western countries may really find it difficult to believe it,
but the very existence of this lack of equilibrium in the world reflects
also on an increased potential and inclination towards violence within
the former Eastern powers. Things like the unnecessary fires in downtown
Bucharest and Sofia during the so-called "velvet revolutions" in the
early 90s, the artillery shooting against the Russian Parliament in
1993, etc., could hardly happen without the belief (perhaps erroneous?)
that such acts would be correctly understood and probably supported by
the previous open adversaries in the West. Similar attitudes in Kosovo
and the rest of Yugoslavia have also been one of the decisive factors to
bring about extremities there.
Very much in the same way, once started, the idea of the-early elections
in Yugoslavia has followed practically all the main points and items of,
say, the Nicaraguan scenario of f r e e and f a i r elections in
1990. While the atmosphere around the country was thick with threats of
another war, a series of demonstrative murders of well-known
personalities took place in Belgrade and in other main cities. In
Nicaragua it meant: "This will continue if you do not vote for the r i g
h t candidate!" Warnings of this kind have obviously worked there. No
doubt they could not pass completely unnoticed also in Yugoslavia whose
population has survived during a decade of numerous conflicts and a war,
carried out by superior military powers. Even more discouraging than
that has been the fact that, with very few exceptions, there has been no
meaningful understanding and support from any institution or power in
the world for the efforts to maintain its independence and self-designed
way of development.
Activities and developments of this kind may be explained and
interpreted, of course, in various and even very contradictory ways by
the different sides that are actively engaged in them.
By no means, however, can and should any of them be rightfully
attributed to what is called and is known by legitimate political
process and procedures of which elections make an essential part. An
when, irrespective of all, this happens, there are all reasons to go
back once again to the same old question of all times: "Quo vadis? Where
are you going to, Humanity?"
This is necessary not only for the sake of the good expression but
because of what has been and is still at stake in today's Yugoslavia is
not only and not so much the fate of Milosevic, his wife, their
associates and parties. It is not only the life and destiny of the
people of Serbia, or the lives and destinies of its neighbouroing and
other adjoining countries, whose very existence is closely dependent on
the dilemma whether the Balkans will stay independent or not.
What is determined these days in Yugoslavia is also the course and the
quality of life of many generations in many other countries all over the
world, including those in the states that have been and are actively
engaged in the war against this country. Ten years ago, watching the
fall of the Berlin wall, Humanity has started dreaming of a coming Era
of Brotherhood, Peace and Prosperity. Obviously while it has been
dreaming, " the War keeps going on and on" as popular singers like Joan
Baize, Dean Reed and others used to sing for Civil Rights and Anti-War
activists in the 60s and 70s. It is only a temporary and a partial
consolation if wars and abuses of the International Law and the rights
of independent and dignified human life take place at seemingly great
geographic distances. Once they exist they have a marvelous capacity to
spread and even come back home in a boomerang way. This has already been
experienced by various nations in various epochs and parts of the world.
Like any system in the world, the political system of Yugoslavia has
also manifested a certain number of deficiencies, faults and even crimes
in the course of its existence. At the same time the people of this
country have turned out to be capable of maintaining a dignified and
independent position in the years both during the World War II and the
Cold War. Perhaps for this reason many people the world over expected
that the Serbs would be able to resist alone and even win once again a
victory over the overwhelming military powers challenging once again
their independence. Perhaps many of them these days are even
disappointed with the lack of sufficient resistance and even massive
sacrifice for the sake of that cause.
Obviously Humanity (or at least a substantial part of it) needs a n o t
h e r C h r i s t to suffer and die for it and - to be more exact - for
things and causes that it has not been able to keep and defend itself.
But does it has the right to expect suffering and sacrifice on the side
of others while it itself, with all its might, potentials and capacities
has proved practically incapable of doing anything to prevent practices
of abuses of the International Law, Freedom, Justice and Independence?
Why didn't any of the powerful members of the UN Security Council use
its "veto right" against the idea of an International Tribunal in Hague,
that has been set in discord with the UN legal procedures and practices?
On which basis then may any of these countries expect understanding or
support for its positions on the side of the world public in days when
it will need them?
Or what did the people of Yugoslavia's immediate neighbouring countries
do when military exercises with NATO's participation were taking place
on their territories in the eve and even on the very days of the f r e e
elections? Official declarations were made, of course, that "the
exercises have been planned long before the elections", and "can in no
way be interpreted as acts of interference into the internal affairs of
a sovereign country". Still the question remains open why these
exercises have not been put off when it has turned our they coincide
with so important political events in neighboring Yugoslavia? Or why did
no political party or a lawyer had expressed any doubt, concern or
protest, related to any of these numerous "accidental coincidences"? Or
why did the experienced NATO leaders not restrain from a participation
in these exercises in that period?
What is the value of all the talks of F r e e and F a i r Elections in a
country, a substantial part of which (Kosovo) is under occupation of
foreign troops? International Law still has to give adequate answers to
this and other questions of the same kind. What could be the legal
foundations of claims for early elections under such conditions? Could
even the decision of the Government of this country set a date for such
elections be considered legitimate under such circumstances?
Very surprisingly, so far questions like these have hardly been put. It
does not mean, however, that the answers to them have been given or that
there is no need to be given.
Obviously it will take quite some time until we ever learn the truth
about what has really happened recently in Yugoslavia or what is taking
place there now. Like elsewhere in Eastern Europe in similar cases we
will hardly ever learn why it was necessary to start fires in downtown
Belgrade or maltreat people who obviously could offer no resistance.
The joy and feasts in the streets of Belgrade over the "v i c t o r y"
apparently has not lasted long. Perhaps because the groups and u n i t s
(no difference how they are called) whose purpose has been to ensure the
t r a n s f e r of power, have just w i t h d r a w n or have been
assigned other specific tasks, like getting hold of banks, customs and
other important institutions. It seems as if the very name of the new
President, no matter if he knows or does not know about that, tends to
be repeatedly used as a kind of a substitute for all laws and all other
existing institutions and levels of state power in the country. When
observing all this from the proximity as close as a 100 miles away,
things remind us very much of a m o v i e that we, both in Sofia and
elsewhere in Eastern Europe, have already seen. Or, else, everything
looks as absurd as in the days and weeks when no doubt the most
Westernized country in Eastern Europe had to be destroyed for the
purpose of accepting and acknowledging... the Western values!
And what we already know very well out of personal experiences is that
hardly anything of what has been promised or expected before the crisis
and the v i c t o r y, will ever come true after them. The people of
Yugoslavia will still have to learn that.
Historic parallels are always somewhat risky. Still, what may be called
the "Fall of Belgrade" these days may be compared to a certain extent to
the Fall of Paris at the "Strange War"'s end in 1940. In both cases
there have been expectations of greater resistance and clearer
explanation of what has happened.
It has taken quite a time, great efforts and sacrifice until Humanity
has proved capable of stopping the spread of War and Evil across the
world in the first half of the 20th Century.
Will there be a need of another Stalingrad or El Alameyn, or ...
Armageddon to do this once again sometimes in the new Century? When and
where may this possibly take place? And who on which side is going to
It is hard to say now if developments of a similar scale and importance
may possibly take place once again, and what they may look like in the
times to come. Events in Kosovo and Yugoslavia have clearly manifested
that obviously so far Mankind is not capable of offering a mobilization
against war and abuses of Law, similar to say, a mobilization of such a
kind during the Civil War in Spain in the 30s. We can only guess what
may possibly happen in the future. What seems likely however, is that
national, ethnic or religious differences may at a certain time turn out
to be of minor importance in comparison with the moral ones. And the
choice will be as simple as that: "On the moral, the Human side or -
And there will be no room for abstentions.
Ivan Angelov, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Social & Civilization Aspects of International
October 10, 2000
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