Reply to a social democrat on Yugoslavia

Louis Proyect lnp3 at
Mon Sep 23 11:24:31 MDT 2002

In the latest "New Politics" magazine (a long-time Stalinophobic outlet in
the US launched by left Shachtmanites), there's a bizarre article by a
Professor David Walls. In the course of a diatribe against Project
Underground, which has on several occasions tried to present an alternative
to the pro-NATO press in the USA, Walls asserts:

"First, and most importantly, the unraveling of Tito's multi-ethnic and
politically balanced Yugoslavia was begun by Milosevic when he moved to end
the autonomy of Kosovo and Vojvodina provinces in 1989. Kosovo's Albanians
lost their legislature, their Albanian-language schools and employment
opportunities, and became second class citizens in a region where they were
a 90 percent majority. Milosevic refused for a decade to deal with Ibrahim
Rugova, the leader of a popular nonviolent movement to restore rights for
Kosovo's Albanians. These actions were interpreted by the other republics
of Yugoslavia as an attempt by Milosevic to establish Serbian domination of
the entire country. Although there are villains on all sides of the
Yugoslavian wars, Milosevic had the most power within the confederation and
the greatest responsibility for its collapse."


If you turn to the full article, you will be startled to find not a single
reference to "Tudjman" or "Croatia". Now there are some of us who have
become inured to State Department socialists like David Walls, but this
defies comprehension. How can one write such nonsense as above without even
addressing the role of Croatian nationalism?

A Lexis-Nexis search on "Tudjman" and "fascism" yields 153 hits. This is

The Guardian (London), August 7, 1995

The conquest of Knin seals Franjo Tudjman's lifelong dream

By Ian Traynor

UNTIL first light last Friday, Franjo Tudjman had fought two wars in four
years. And lost two. The first to the Serbs in 1991. The second to the
Muslims of Bosnia in 1993. But within 36 hours the Croatian sahovnica - the
red-and-silver chequerboard national emblem feared and hated by the Serbs -
was planted atop the ancient castle that overlooks Knin, the very heart of
the Serb insurgency, crowning the long career of a president who has passed
from communist fanatic to nationalist zealot.

It was the greatest military victory in Croatian history, Tudjman crowed to
the nationalist ravers who spilled on to the streets of Zagreb on Saturday
night. One thing is for sure. Tudjman will be donning the brilliant
white-and-gold uniform recently run up for him by a Croatian fashion
designer to parade before his army and people as Generalissimo, like a
throwback to some southern European triumphalist of the 1930s. Not so much
Hitler or Stalin as Mussolini or Franco.

Il Duce has been waiting a long time for the apotheosis marked by the fall
of Knin, doing two terms in communist jails for his unremitting
nationalism, and spending the past four years licking his wounds and
building his army after the military disasters of 1991. On the surface, it
seems a pitiful prize. A dusty, dowdy little railway town in the stark
Dalmatian hinterland, Knin is a kind of Balkan Crewe. But for a president
who talks millennia, not months or years, and is obsessed with posterity's
verdict, the conquest of Knin, where medieval Croatian kings once sat and
from where the Serb rebels crippled and partitioned his country, is an
orgasmic victory.

I guess it is easier to omit uncomfortable truths such as these. But if you
do, you should also also keep your trap shut and not have the chutzpah to
criticize Project Underground.

Louis Proyect

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