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The west in the dismemberment of Yugoslavia

Yugoslavia, burning from an attack with rocket projectiles by Bristol Beaufighters

Since the official dismemberment of Yugoslavia in the early 1990s, the world has been fed with the presentation of the conflict in the Balkans as the result of aggressive nationalism.

The world has been told that it has all been the result of historical ethnic and religious tensions with no mention whatsoever of the economic and social causes of the conflict.

No headlines about the role of international finance capital or debate around the strategic interests of the USA and Europe in laying the foundation for the breakdown of Yugoslavia. And, certainly, no mention of the West´s involvement under U.S. guidance or recognition of how this hidden history has gone a long way in pushing the ethnic and social conflicts that ended up with Yugoslavia.

The illegal US-NATO bombing of Yugoslavia and the war itself, had nothing to do with minority rights and everything to do with imperialist power politics. US-NATO propaganda had created the conditions for all kinds of elite, chauvinistic and separatist movements throughout the region, including those in Serbia.

It was intended to make people fall into their trap, set by means of simplistic analysis the incessant reiteration rather than understand the real causes behind this ongoing human tragedy, learn the pertinent lessons and act consequently.

The dismantling of Yugoslavia had a very widespread support from the a number of Western intellectuals and the mainstream media who had swallowed and helped propagate the standard narrative with remarkable credulity.

Their work made a major contribution to engineering consent to the ethnic cleansing wars, the NATO bombing attacks, the neocolonial occupations of Bosnia and Kosovo, and the wars that followed against Afghanistan and Iraq.

The massive trial of Milosevic, with 295 prosecution witnesses and 49,191 pages of courtroom transcripts, failed to produce a single credible piece of evidence that Milosevic had spoken disparagingly of non-Serb “nations” or ordered any killings that might fall under the category of war crimes.

Not surprisingly, this had a disastrous effect on the political and social cohesion of Yugoslavia. Despite mass opposition to the social and economic disintegration by workers from all ethnic groups, the 1990 elections saw separatist coalitions taking power in most of the republics.

Cooperation with the central federal authority in Belgrade virtually ceased. Within the Serbian republic, the autonomy of areas with opportunistic leaders on all sides began to deliberately foster social, economic and ethnic divisions in order to strengthen their own hands.

Militias, loyal to separatist leaders and parties appeared, further widening ethnic splits as well as hastening the fragmentation of the workers movement.

Although there was some disagreement between the US and Germany over whether or not to encourage the immediate break-up of Yugoslavia, it was not long before Germany was actively encouraging both Slovenia and Croatia to secede.

All of this combined to lay the basis for the alleged “decolonization” of the Balkans. Both new states were then quickly recognized by Western powers and this provided the pretext for the outbreak of war between Croatia, Bosnia, the leftover of Yugoslavia (Serbia and Montenegro) as well as Serbian nationalist residents all over the republics.

Besides the transparent desire to continue the US-NATO push eastwards, stimulating an insecure and still weak Russia in the process, there was also the geopolitical importance of the Balkan region as the crossroads between Western Europe and the oil rich Middle East and the Caspian region.

Above all, the bombing of Yugoslavia served to replace the non-existing rivalry between economic or political systems that was present in the former Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (SFRY) and for the submission of its leftovers to the dictates of free market capitalism.

Manuel E. Yepe

Manuel E. Yepe Menéndez is a lawyer, economist and political scientist. He is a Professor at the Higher Institute of International Relations of Havana. He was Ambassador of Cuba, Director General of the Latin American News Agency Prensa Latina, Vice President of the Cuban Radio and Television Institute, National Director, founder of the Information Technology System (TIPS) of the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) in Cuba and Secretary of the Cuban Movement for Peace and Sovereignty of Peoples.