Dismantling Yugoslavia, colonizing Bosnia
As heavily armed U.S. and NATO troops enforce the peace in Bosnia, the press and politicians alike portray Western intervention in the former Yugoslavia as a noble, if agonizingly belated, response to an outbreak of ethnic massacres and human rights violations. In the wake of the November 1995 Dayton peace accords, the West is eager to touch up its self-portrait as savior of the Southern Slavs and get on with “the work of rebuilding” the newly sovereign states. But following a pattern set early on, Western public opinion has been misled. The conventional wisdom holds that the plight of the Balkans is the outcome of an “aggressive nationalism,” the inevitable result of deep-seated ethnic and religious tensions rooted in history. Likewise, commentators cite “Balkan power-plays” and the clash of political personalities to explain the conflicts.
Lost in the barrage of images and self-serving analyses are the economic and social causes of the conflict. The deep-seated economic crisis which preceded the civil war is long forgotten.
The strategic interests of Germany and the U.S. in laying the groundwork for the disintegration of Yugoslavia go unmentioned, as does the role of external creditors and international financial institutions. In the eyes of the global media, Western powers bear no responsibility for the impoverishment and destruction of a nation of twenty-four million people.
But through their domination of the global financial system, the Western powers, in pursuit of national and collective strategic interests, helped bring the Yugoslav economy to its knees and stirred simmering ethnic and social conflicts. Now it is the turn of Yugoslavia’s war-ravaged successor states to feel the tender mercies of the international financial community.
As the world focuses on troop movements and cease fires, the international financial institutions are busily collecting former Yugoslavia’s external debt from its remnant states, while transforming the Balkans into a safe-haven for free enterprise. With a Bosnian peace settlement holding under NATO guns, the West has unveiled a “reconstruction” program that strips that brutalized country of sovereignty to a degree not seen in Europe since the end of World War II. It consists largely of making Bosnia a divided territory under NATO military occupation and Western administration.
This article appeared originally in Covert Action Quarterly, No. 56, Spring 1996