Vlado Bevc


Why Serbian-Bosnia

Viewing the carnage and heart-rendering savagery of the conflict in Bosnia the makers of the public opinion, dutifullyechoed by the media, profess to be at a loss as to what must bethe root causes of this war. They keep repeating the timeworn assertion that there is no established Western policy onBosnia, that the European community cannot decide on taking effective action, that the United States cannot act without its "allies," and that indifference and lack of information account for the vacillation and paralysis of the World Powers which everyone expected to confront aggression. Such writing is reminiscent of the Soviet-controlled news media repeating the party line contradicting the most palpable andwell-known facts. If one proceeds from the premise that the member states of theUnited Nations are intent on carrying out the principles set forth in their charter, the fact that naked aggression against the sovereign state of Bosnia and its systematic destructionis being countenanced by Europe and the United States is indeed puzzling. However, when a situation cannot be explained by a given hypothesis and when that hypothesis is contradicted by the observed events at almost every step, itis time to abandon it and look for other explanations. In the first place, it is not true that the United States of America and Great Britain have no policy on Bosnia. They do: it is still the same policy that has been established for the Balkans by Stalin, Churchill and Roosevelt at Yalta which has never been abandoned, viz., there shall be a fifty-fifty division of western and Soviet interests in Yugoslavia. The fact that the statesmen who made the Yalta agreement no longer are at the helm of their respective empires does not vitiate the agreements they made in the slightest. And indeed this is the policy which we see defended and salvaged today by the so-called "peace plans" devised by Peter Carrington, David Owens, Cyrus Vance and Richard Holbrooke. On the face of it this policy may seem no different than Neville Chamberlain's old policy of Munich where territory of a sovereign state was given to a persistent aggressor by the Great Powers. There is, however, something more involved inthe case of Bosnia than outright appeasement -- the aggressor in Bosnia's case is an old-time associate and partner of Great Britain and the United States whom the two superpowers find impractical to abandon in view of the potential he has for the future. I submit that the situation in Bosnia is not the result of some lack of correct assessment, indecisiveness or vacillationon the part of the European Union, Great Britain and theUnited States, nor is it an unfortunate escalation of ethnic rivalries into an armed conflict. Rather, I think, the war in Bosnia is the result of a logical continuation of the British and American foreign policies which had a vested interest in the preservation of Tito's Yugoslavia. Yugoslavia has rendered very valuable services to those two powers in the cold war: it weakened the attempts of the Soviet union to extend its influence in the area beyond the agreed fifty percent, it blocked the Soviet Union from a convenient access to the Mediterranean Sea, it was instrumental in the establishment of the nonaligned bloc, and it must have been a very convenient partner and conduit of the arms dealers. The buildup of Iraq's technology is an example of such activities. The business involvement of some American diplomats accredited to Yugoslavia were in all likelihood only a peripheral reflection of the much deeper business associations of the United States and armament industry with the Yugoslav regime. A strong Yugoslav People's Army, supported by the Pentagon, must represent a vested interest of which neither the United States nor Great Britain are ready to divest themselves.The important question here is: in what future foreign policy undertakings and in what capacity will the Yugoslav People's Army be useful to the American and British interests? Why are the American and British policy makers so eager to ensure that the rump state of Yugoslavia keep, through the thinly disguised device of a Bosnian-Serbian republic, a sizeable part of the Bosnian territory? First, irreplaceable munitions and armaments plants of the Yugoslav defense industry are located in Bosnia and, second, most of those plants are located in areas which are not necessarily within predominantly Serb regions. Both circumstances give to Bosnia-Hercegovina an importance that far outweighs the considerations of ethnic politics. Yugoslav strategic planning for the eventuality of an attack from abroad always provided for a retreat to the redoubt of the central Yugoslavia, that is, Bosnia, which with itsdifficult mountainous terrain, would allow the Yugoslav army to hold out indefinitely, and eventually wear down and repel the invaders. Consistent with this planing, Yugoslavia built most of its major armaments and munitions plants in Bosnia so that a continued supply of arms would be assured. This places the present Bosnian situation in the proper perspective. An independent Bosnia retaining the Yugoslav armament industry's installations would involve risks for the survival of the Yugoslav Army. Defense experts agree that the loss of the defense industry in Bosnia-Hercegovina would represent a serious problem for the Yugoslav People's Army especially if the supply of Russian petroleum and spare parts were interrupted. While reserves do exist it is a question of how long will they last. Consumption of ammunition and spare parts increases dramatically in wartime and the Yugoslav Army's logistical capabilities have been displaying signs of weaknesses already in 1992. The chain of events which has already been witnessed in Slovenia and Croatia could in Bosnia-Hercegovina cause a paralysis of supply of vital materiel needed by the Yugoslav People's Army to maintain its combat readiness, continue the war, and perhaps start other wars. Examination of the map of the proposed partition of Bosnia-Hercegovina makes it clear that the demarcation lines could only have paid secondary attention to the ethnic considerations and that the map has been drawn so as to ensure continued Yugoslav control of the armaments industry.

Armament Industries in Bosnia

Here is what is at stake in each place coveted by Serbia. In Novi Travnik: tanks and artillery; in Bugojno: weapons components; in Vitez: explosives; in Gorazde: gunpowder and ammunition; in Maglaj: gunpowder and explosives; in Konjic: ammunition; in Famos: engines, powertrains and vehicles; in Mostar: aluminum and practically all aircraft components. In addition to that, many other factories are absolutely essen- tial to the normal combat readiness of the Yugoslav People's Army. Without the "Soko" works in Mostar the Yugoslav air force would have serious problems especially if Russia and Europe cut off the supply of aircraft and spare parts. If the Yugoslav people's Army is denied the territory of the Sava Valley, Bihac, Livansko Polje, and western Hercegovina, Croatia would be greatly relieved. Loss of Bosnia-Hercegovina would seriously threaten the tactical advantage which the Yugoslav People's Army has with respect to Croatia. Getting all the Serbs within the fold of the fatherland or rather to extend the borders of the fatherland to include any and all settlements where Serbs live is not Serbia's primary objective. Its objective is to retain the vast Yugoslav armament industry Tito has built at the cost of the living standard of the Yugoslavs and by looting the resources of Yugoslavia's economically more advanced republics. The Vance- Carrington-Owen plan and its successive variations are simply the embodiment of the Serbian objective. From this anyone can conclude that the policy of The World (including the United States and certainly Britain) is firmly formulated. The objective of this policy is to support Serbia in holding onto the armaments industry in Bosnia by the force of arms regardless of whether it involves armed aggression, entails a dismemberment of a sovereign state which is a member of the United Nations, and genocide on a scale unseen in Europe since World War II. Once this conclusion is reached, its simple logic dispels all the dichotomies, dilemmas, puzzlement and bewilderment of the public opinion, or those who make it. This conclusion, however, inescapable as it may be, raises another question that is difficult to answer. A question that may not be explained away by attributing the tragedy of Bosnia to some Balkan savagery. It is a question that we seem to be afraid to ask because we are afraid to find out what the answer may be. It would take great courage for a paper in the United States to print this question. The question is: What does the West expect from Serbia, what favors may Serbia continue to render to those who have so steadfastly supported Tito's regime and who now support the ravages of the Frankenstein monster they created? As already mentioned, Tito's Yugoslavia had been very useful to the United States in the past. The British always had mining interests in Bosnia's tin, copper, silver, and gold and it appears that during the Tito's regime, the nationalization notwithstanding, the British pie was nicely put together again. Covert banking and money laundering operations always have been Yugoslavia's specialty. It was not out of the goodness of their hearts that the bankers for all practical purposes forgave almost thirty billion dollars of the national debt Yugoslavia owed to the West, mainly to the United States. Is it more of the same that is expected from Serbia in the future? Are there other plans, other contingencies, of which we are not aware, in which a strong Serbian-Yugoslav Army, the fourth largest in Europe, will play an important role? Is it not time that we stop sticking our head in the sand and start asking these dangerous questions? But then, who is there to take action, if we ever get the answers?