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CHAPTER FOUR

THE DISSOLUTION OF YUGOSLAVIA

 

 The Battle of Vukovar

 Old Friends and Loyal Allies

 

The European Community (EC) had interested itself in a settlement of the conflict in Yugoslavia and to that end had formed The EC Peace Conference on Yugoslavia. The Conference was under the chairmanship of Peter, Lord Carrington of Great Britain. A leading member of the Conference was DeMichaelis the Italian Foreign Minister.

After a nominal success in arranging a cease-fire in Slovenia, the Conference faced the prospect of a real war, as the Ustashas crossed the Danube in a move to seize Serb-populated territory in Northern Croatia. Lord Carrington called the presidents of the six republics and the two autonomous regions in Yugoslavia to meet with him at an EC Peace Conference on Yugoslavia to be held in the Hague.

When they were all assembled, Carrington, sizing up the situation, brought Tudjman and Milosevic together in a private meeting where they hammered out a compromise acceptable to the two men. Carrington then promised to formalize their compromise and to circulated it among the collective presidents as a basis for a general peace agreement.

When Milosevic and his associates returned to Belgrade, the generals of the Yugoslav army urgently proposed a quick and sure military end to the conflict with Croatia. No more hesitancy. No more holding back. The chips were down. Every thing was ready to go, planned to the last detail: a three pronged attack that would take Zagreb in 48 hours, and spell finish to the new Croatia. Milosevic hesitated, consulted his aides and associates, consulted his close allies, the Montenegrins, then he told the generals that he and his associates preferred the Carrington Plan. They chose to go along with Carrington. Alas for Yugoslavia, they trusted Lord Carrington.

Milosevic’s sin was not that he was hard and cruel, but that he was indecisive and soft.

If Carrington had done as he had promised, the Federation would have been preserved with the agreed, peaceful departure of Croatia from the Federation. And Carrington could have been credited with a truly heroic achievement and a great contribution to humanity. But the good Lord Carrington had something other in mind than the peaceful resolution of a conflict in the Balkans. He was after the dissolution of Yugoslavia.

On television Carrington comes across as a stuttering old granddaddy. He proved to be a sly old fox and a master of dissimulation and deceit. To the text of the peace agreement hammered out with Milosevic he added a stipulation, namely that before anything else was done all the republics and autonomous regions must first have become independent and sovereign.. By a stroke of the pen he would have all of them initiate and approve the dissolution of their nation. If Carrington counted on the prevailing winds of ethnic nationalism, on the temptation of sovereign power suddenly devolving on each of the presidents, on the prospect of quick and easy international recognition, on the promise of entry into the Common Market, on the fear of being left behind in the wreckage of a collapsing nation, he was right. The assembled collective presidents were suddenly shown the draft of his peace proposal, and asked to vote for or against it. They all, save Milosevic, casting aside any thought of the Yugoslav Union’s past achievements and its future potentials, voted to accept the Carrington plan. It amounted to a collective rejection of the Yugoslav union.. All save Serbia. Milosevic expressed his outrage, and walked out of the hall.

The Serbs were most shocked and dismayed by the defection of the Montenegrins, their old and trusted ally. With Montenegro was still in, there remained the elements of the Federation, drastically shrunken but a federation all the same. There would still be a Yugoslavia and its laws and constitution. Without Montenegro, even the pretense of federation was gone. Milosevic and his closest associates called the President of Montenegro to meet with them. Under the pressure of their questioning the Montenegrin admitted that the Italian foreign minister DeMichaelis had bribed him with the offer of special trade preferences for Montenegro and a munificent sum for himself. ( If such bribery was used to bring Montenegro into line, It is hard to imagine that the same tactic was not used on the Presidents of the other republics as well ). Under the threat of exposure the Montenegrin wrote a letter to Lord Carrington to say that on further thought he had changed his mind and now rejected the proposed peace agreement.

Yugoslavia had been substantially dissolved and destroyed by this combination: deceit and trickery by the British lord, and corruption and bribery by the Italian foreign minister. The old stereotypes are alas, not always wrong.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Battle of Vukovar

Tudjman and his new Ustashas had crossed the Danube and were on road in the direction of Belgrade. A Yugoslav army unit on the same road was moving in the direction of Vukovar. Tudjman then had either to retreat or take a stand.. He might have chosen to fight it out in the field, on the plain, in the woods or hills, in any case out in the open. Or he could have taken his stand on the opposite bank of the Danube. Instead he ordered his troops to establish themselves right in the lovely old city, the Serb City of Vukovar.

Let the city of Vukovar be their fortress. Tudjman’s troops emplaced their weapons and stored their munitions and materiel in the midst of the city and readied themselves for battle, for assault and counter assault with the city of Vukovar as their battle center.

The troops, presumably his bravest and best, under the command of Dedakovic also presumably the bravest and best of his commanders were left to face up to and defeat the Yugoslav army or resist it to the death in this first and perhaps critical battle of the war. Then President Tudjman, Minister Susak and their associates took off to the safety and comfort of Zagreb.

Tudjman’s decision to make a fortress out of the city of Vukovar rather than facing his enemy in the hills and fields might have been justified strategically for, as we know from the experience of other embattled cities like Madrid in the Spanish Civil War or Stalingrad and Leningrad in World War II, the resistance of an army entrenched in such an embattled city is enormously difficult to overcome. In an old city like Vukovar with its narrow twisting streets there would be no room for movement or maneuver by attacking tanks or motorized vehicles. Shooting and shelling would simply destroy more buildings and knock down more walls creating mountains of stone, brick and debris as a barriers to the advance of the attacker and as a shield and shelter to the defense.

But if Tudjman’s decision might be strategically justified, from the human standpoint it was terrible and cruel. By his deliberated choice Tudjman doomed that lovely old city to destruction and its people to mass slaughter and exile. For that the Croats stand responsible.

Was Tudjman’s choice a military necessity? On film for the BBC Tudjman declaims that he had to put his troops in Vukovar to protect all the cities behind Vukovar Had he allowed the Serbs to walk into Vukovar, he says "it would have been a disaster." He is a liar. There are no cities behind Vukovar; Behind Vukovar flowed the broad Danube.. Certainly he could have crossed back over the Danube and made the river his line of defense, if any defense was necessary for in fact the Serbs were not out to conquer Croatia. In this and in every other instance their clear and final aim was to regain Serb-populated land. The Serb city of Vukovar was the limit of their claim in Northwestern Croatia and they did not intend, nor did they to go beyond it. Otherwise they would have followed the retreat of the beaten Croat troops across the Danube and pursued them into Zagreb. Tudjman’s decision to take a stand in Vukovar and see the city destroyed, had no military rationale but, as we shall see, it had another purpose.

What made the choice to destroy Vukovar easier for Tudjman and a delight for Susak was the knowledge that Vukovar was a Serb city. The population in the center was mixed. In the suburbs the population was solidly Serb.. Hence for the most part it would be Serb property that was destroyed, mostly Serbs who were killed, Serbs who fleeing a destroyed city would become refugees on the road without home and hearth.

What was the Yugoslav army, or any army to do when a fortified city stands athwart its path, and where shells from the enemy guns hidden in the bowels of that city spit out a stream of death, and where enemy troops emerge from that city to attack and seek to destroy them? What could that army have done? The Yugoslav force could lay siege to the city, cutting off the supplies coming into the city from the outside in the hope that developing shortages would force a surrender. The Yugoslavs did try to cut off or control the import of supplies into the city, but an effective siege surrounding the city would have required more troops than the Yugoslav force could deploy. In any case, if supplies and especially supplies of food were effectively cut off it would be the Serb civilians who would left to starve long before the Ustashas troops felt the bite of hunger. Alternatively the Serbs might attempt to take the city by direct assault fighting house by house, street by street, hand to hand, killing Serb and Croat civilians in the darkness indiscriminately, in a form of conflict where all the advantages would be with the defense. Or finally the Yugoslav army could do what all modern armies do when faced with an enemy concentrated in some form of defensive construction: namely, shelling (or if aircraft are available, bombing) those enemy concentrations and reducing those defensive constructions to rubble. That is what the Yugoslav army tried to do, shelling the city in the attempt to hit troop concentrations and to destroy the gun emplacement, stores and positions of their enemy.. Incidentally but inevitably this must wreak mass destruction on the city and its population..

The Yugoslav army came to the outskirts of the city, surrounded it, set up its artillery and began pounding the Croat emplacements. The guns from within the city replied in kind. After a time the defenders needed more military supplies. Particularly they wanted more heavy artillery. Evidently their communications weren't getting through to their rulers in Zagreb for there was no response to their requests. In the darkness of night Commander Dedakovic with some of his men slipped out from the city, moved, heads down, through the cornfields, evaded enemy patrols and walked for fifteen hours, to Zagreb. On the way two were killed. In Zagreb Dedakovic saw President Tudjman. He pleaded for the artillery. Tudjman promised to deliver it to him. But when Dedakovic made his way back to his troops in Vukovar, no new supplies had been delivered. No new supplies were ever delivered.

The Croats were beaten and retreated from the city,.

Then something remarkable happened.

Dedakovic, the Commander of the Croat troops in Vukovar, went public. Through the media, he accused Tudjman of having deliberately thrust his troops virtually into the jaws of death, then of abandoning them, and that this was done deliberately, to exploit their misery and suffering and that of a city under bombardment, and that it was done for no other reason than to stir up international sympathy for the plight of the Croats. (BBC.) That was Dedakovic’s testimony.

The Battle of Vukovar with all the death, destruction and suffering that it entailed had been planned by Tudjman, with Gojko Susak at his side, simply and solely as a propaganda ploy. This is on the testimony of the Commander of the Croat forces who fought in Vukovar. It is what Dedakovic said, and no one could know better the truth of what he was saying. The Croat adventure in Vukovar, including the destruction of the city, including the fifteen thousand who died, including the half a million in flight from a destroyed city left on the road in search of shelter and sustenance, all that (and let there be no mistake about this) was designed and packaged by Tudjman and Susak simply as a propaganda ploy to be delivered to the Germans.

They called Vukovar the very prototype of ethnic cleansing. Half a million were driven out of the city that Tudjman had deliberately chosen as a battle field, driven into the street, onto the roads, carrying their salvaged possessions, in search of a resting place. It was, they told us, the beginning of, and the ultimate case of ethnic cleansing. They forgot to tell us that Vukovar was a Serb city. They forgot to tell us it was the Serbs who were cleansed. They forgot to tell us that the city was destroyed and its people were driven out by the deliberated choice of the Croats, by Tudjman and Susak’s decision, the needless decision to make the city into a battlefield. And let there be no mistake the destruction of Vukovar was a part of the package designed by Tudjman and Susak, implemented by Tudjman and Susak, and delivered to the Germans as a propaganda ploy in a move, perfectly coordinated with the plans of Hans Dietrich-Genscher the German Foreign Minister. And the witness to this betrayal was none other than the Croat officer who commanded the Croat troops under artillery fire in Vukovar.

That propaganda ploy was delivered to the Germans at the very moment Germany needed it to hammer the laggards of the European Community into a quick, into an immediate international recognition of Croatia and Slovenia as independent sovereign states. Putting the wealth and power of the new Germany on the line, waving the Battle of Vukovar falsely alleged as an atrocity against the poor and helpless Croats, and with the support of the American Cabal, Hans Dietrich-Genscher bludgeoned the members of the European Community against their will and good judgment into granting the two rebel states Croatia and Slovonia immediate international recognition.

When the last of the Croat army, clad in the uniforms of the Ustashas flying Ante Pavalic’s checkerboard banner, had gone back across the Danube, peace returned to the Serb-populated region of northern Croatia in the vicinity of Vukovar. The eye of the press had shifted elsewhere but what was not reported was significant enough. There was no ethnic displacement, no ethnic persecution, relationships were neighborly. So they would remain until Tudjman, with American backing, returned again.

Later the Germans and the Americans would justify the concrete exercise of their outrageous anti-Serb bias on the grounds that the struggle was over territory that was internationally recognized as belonging to the sovereign and independent nations of Bosnia and Croatia. Hence the very presence of Serbs on land they had lived on and owned for centuries before there even was a Bosnia and a Croatia, constituted an illicit invasion of internationally recognized territory ! Internationally recognized? In the instance of Croatia that international recognition is to be equated to the initiative and the brutal command of Germany, and the supine and cowardly acquiescence of the United States..

Observe them, Tudjman, Susak and Dietrich-Genscher in their cold and cruel calculation, and let it be a warning to the world. The children of Adolph Hitler and Ante Pavalic are with us, already at work. In the cycle of Palingenesis, their day is returning..

Who will defend against them?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Old Friends and Loyal Allies

It is all a matter of what Kenneth Boulding called The Image, that particular complex of ideas as to what is, what was, and what will be that is contained in the mind of each one of us and that serves as our reference base and as our point of departure in observation and thought. When I think the word Croat there comes to my mind the image of Ante Pavalic, racist, terrorist, defrocked priest, bigot, infinitely cold and cruel, obsessed in the fanatic hatred of Serb and Jew. I see Gojko Susak with his face of death and that of Reihl-Kir the man he murdered; and of a people who had, a generation ago, rallied to Pavalic’s Checkerboard banner and joined his armies of hate, who served the Nazis in fervent accord with their doctrines, and of the Croat Ustashas beating to death, throttling, burning, crushing, killing of a million innocents whose only affront was in being born a Serb or a Jew. Such I admit is the image (unjust certainly. I would never myself accept it as true ; but there it is, the image) summoned for me by the word Croat

But for Hans Dietrich-Genscher Foreign Minister of Germany, I presume the image summoned to his mind by the word Croat would be of an entirely different order. It would be for him an image of the massed magnificence of the victorious German army, master of the whole of Western Europe and on the edge of world conquest, of his own or his father’s regiment in those glorious days, of the meticulous perfection of their march, of the thunderous applause of the German mass, of the thousands of arms upraised in the Nazi salute, of the harsh exciting voice of the Fuehrer, of the gleaming golden eagles, of the assembled banners. Everywhere swastikas, black and white on field of red, and, marching beside the noble German ranks, the loyal Pavalic and his Ustashas warriors with their checkerboard banners upraised, brave Aryans all, not Serbian scum, our own little brothers; of a single mind with us, of a single heart. He, Hans Dietrich-Genscher of the new Germany remembered. He understood the value of old friends and loyal allies. They would be rewarded..

They were rewarded. From the start, the not-so-new Germany was Croatia’s unswerving friend and supporter. Is it unseemly for us to wonder why? or to see in the planned use of Vukovar as a propaganda ploy, Germany revealed as the Croat’s silent partner and collaborator. The United States via the State Department Cabal soon joined Germany in championing the international recognition of Croatia.

The international recognition of Croatia made a farce and a joke of the process. All the rational and traditional criteria of recognition were abandoned. Croatia was a rebel region of Yugoslavia still in a state of rebellion. It had never had internationally recognized or internally unchallenged borders. It had known only a mock sovereignty as Hitler’s puppet. Ironically as favor upon favor was heaped upon the land of the Ustashas, Serbia with its ancient roots and its heroic history was denied, and is still denied international recognition.

Aside from the horrors of its behavior as Hitler’s puppet, what in its current record gives reason that it should have been so quickly welcomed into the world community?

The newly "independent" Croatia wrote for itself a Constitution that is the most blatantly racist perhaps of any nation in the world. No one can be or can become a citizen of Croatia except by blood. Except By Blood. Even those who have lived in Croatia for generations, for centuries, are by Constitutional fiat, pariahs, outside the protection of the law. To this the United States, self-proclaimed champion of human rights, made no objection and makes no objection. Nor would you have learned of this abomination by reading The New York Times or by listening to Dan Rather.

A great brouhaha has been made about ethnic cleansing. No country in the world has ethnically cleansed itself so thoroughly as Croatia, and this with the help of troops trained and weapons obtained under American aegis.

We have reviewed the recent record of Croat behavior. It is not a record that Dan Rather or The New York Times ever told you about or that the State Department Cabal ever protested. It never protested Croat nationalism even at its most vile: the fanatic ethnic nationalism without rational grievance but driven only by deep seated ethnic hatred. It never protested the subversion of the Yugoslav Constitution under a tissue of lies and deception. It never protested the illicit creation of a new Ustashas following the Pavalic model, It did not protest the deliberate and arrant provocation that drove the Serbs of the Krajina to resist the denial of their established civil rights. It did not protest Croatia’s unconstitutional secession from the Yugoslav Federation creating the condition of civil war. It made no protest to the launching of hostilities by the very hand of the Croat Minister of War and his associates. It did not protest the purge of Croat civil servants who would not promote ethnic hatred and violence, exemplified by the arranged murder of Reihl-Kir. It did not protest the sacrifice of Vukovar as a propaganda ploy.

 

 
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