The Yugoslav Wars Of The 1990s Are A Reminder That War In Europe Will Happen Again

By the Shoebats

“…speaking oppression and revolt” (Isaiah 59:13)

“There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.” (Proverbs 14:12)

So many are herded these days by armchair revolutionaries without heading the Ultimate Guide: “My people, your guides lead you astray …” (Isaiah 3:12).

If I say today that dismantling the European Union is an evil thing, the sycophants of such revolutionaries will scornfully comment “you are insane – you do not know what you are talking about”. The ones who go the correct path in history suffer much; but at the end of things, Noah (only one man) was right and the whole world that was wrong perished.

Looking at the European Union, one sees a tremendous amount of hatred for this institution. We saw Britain sever itself from the Bloc; we hear anger about mass immigration and how it is destroying the White European demographic; we also see frustration for the indifference that the EU had towards the country most devastated by coronavirus — Italy, which is also the third largest economy in the EU and thus of huge geopolitical significance; we also see another economic crises looming, and a significant prospect for a second wave of migrants which will only exasperate growing nationalist sentiments. In other words, what we see in the EU is fragmentation, a breakdown of the biggest economy on earth. One thing that we know about the breakdown of unions — such as what happened with the US Civil War — is that it implodes into violence between those who are revolting and those who are trying to maintain cohesion.

One of the most recent examples of this is what occurred with Yugoslavia from the 1960s and 70s — when autonomy movements sprung from the various regions of the State — to the 1980s, when nationalism intensified tremendously — to the 1990s when we saw the nationalisms of Serbs, Croats, Bosnians and Albanians escalate into horrendous violence.

Let us first inquire briefly into the history of Yugoslavia and then on how the various ethnic tensions escalated into the Yugoslav Wars of the 1990s. Yugoslavia began as the Kingdom of the Serbs, Croats and Slovenians, which was formed in 1918. The fall of the Austro-Hungarian Empire in the First World War opened the door for the “liberation of the Slavic population” from centuries of being ruled by various empires. The newly freed territories — not wanting to be ruled by other countries like Italy, Austria or Hungary (this was the sentiment of the Croats) — joined Serbia and Montenegro in what would be the first multinational State of South Slavs (Yugoslavia literally means “South Slavic Land”). In 1929, the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats, and Slovenians was given a new name: the Kingdom of Yugoslavia, ruled under the Karađorđević Serbian royal line.

During the Second World War, on April 6th of 1941, Nazi Germany invaded the the Kingdom of Yugoslavia. The Nazis broke Yugoslavia into smaller regions to be ruled either directly by Germany or by Nazi allies. Resistance to the Nazis was strong, as there were two anti-fascist movements that formed: the “Centniks” ran by Dragoljub Mihailovic, and the Yugoslav Partisans directed by the general of the Communist Party of Yugoslavia, Josip Broz, or better known as his nickname, “Tito.” During the German occupation, Croatia formed into a fascist Independent State of Croatia (it was really just a satellite for Germany). This Croatian state was called in Croatian, “Nezavisna Drzava Hrvatska” (or the NDH), and it would work under subordination to Hitler’s regime. The NDH would direct the government of Croatia, known as the Ustasa, and unleash a reign of fury and terror that saw the massacre of hundreds of thousands of ethnic Serbs, Jews and gypsies. What is also disturbing is that while the Ustasa saw Serbs as lower than animals, they saw Bosnian Muslims as “Croatian nobility” and the “purest race,” since they were not perceived as Slavs but as pure Aryans. The fixation with racial purity was truly at the core of the Ustasa ideology. In the words of Dzalto:

“Over the course of World War II, in an attempt to create an ethnically pure Croatian State, the Ustasa regime and its military formations (led by Ante Pavelic) would torture, kill, and expel hundreds of thousands of Serbs. Together with Serbs, tens of thousands of Jews and Roma were also killed in the NDH.”

And it wasn’t as if none of the Serbs did not take part in genocide. During the Second World War, neighbors turned on neighbors in a horrific rage of bloodlust and vengeance. The Cetniks — Serbian nationalists — massacred Bosnian Muslims under the justification of revenge for the killings of Serbs. Albanians harbored an intense antagonism for Serbs and this — as we can imagine — also stemmed from a history of violence. For example, the Albanian inhabitants of Kosovo and Metohija, went through oppression after the defeat of the Ottomans in the Balkan War of 1912.

On November 29th, 1945, the name for Yugoslavia became the Federal Peoples Republic of Yugoslavia. The main “nations” of Yugoslavia were Serbs, Croats and Slovenes, but others were included into the multi-ethnic state, such as Macedonians and Albanians. In Bosnia and Herzegovina, Muslims were considered either Serbian or Croatian.

In the Post-war era, in the year 1948, the Yugoslav Communist Party did the unexpected: after years of being one of the strongest supporters of the Soviet Union, severed ties with Stalin. Yugoslavia’s breaking away from the Soviet Union — and thus losing its alliance with the Soviets — left it in a vulnerable situation, being open to Soviet invasion while at the same time being susceptible to Western exploitation of ethnic tensions. To quote Davor Dzalto: “the break with the Soviet Union put Yugoslavia in an extremely weak position, exposing it to the very real possibility of a Soviet invasion in the moment when Yugoslavia did not have any trustworthy allies in the West it could confidently count on.”

In 1963, the Yugoslav state would go through another name change: the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. In 1968, the Central Committee of the League of Communists of Bosnia and Herzegovina recognized Muslims within Yugoslavia as a separate Islamic nation. This was officialized in 1971 when the census permitted Muslims to classify themselves as “Muslim, in the sense of nationality.”

Yugoslavia was suppose to be the “South Slavic dream” wherein South Slavs could live in unity and harmony within a single state. But regardless of this, there were still ethnic tensions that sprung from centuries of violence. There was a strong sentiment, especially amongst Croatians, that Yugoslavia was an oppressive state directed by a policy of Serbian domination. This opinion would be one of the biggest fuels driving the urge for independence by the Croats and Slovenians. For the Serbs, who were the most scattered population in Yugoslavia, it was important to have a unified state where “all Serbs” could live, without fear of violence from Croatians or Albanians (two people who have quite a long history of hatred with Serbs). The Serbs wanted to maintain cohesion, while the others — like Croats, Slovenians, etc. — wanted to see Yugoslavia fragment and their own independent states form. The idea of an independent Croatian state was to the horror of Serbs living in Croatia, on account of the horrific massacres done to Serbs by Croatian fascists. Albanians living within Yugoslavia wanted to be part of “Greater Albania” and this desire manifested into violence. Even after the Second World War, violence between Serbs and Albanians continued to take place on occasion. Many Albanians also held resentment for the Serb and state police and this escalated into open hostility.

In the 60s and 70s, Croatian militants launched a series of terrorist attacks within Yugoslavia in a time known as the “Croatian Spring”. For example, the “Croatian Liberation Movement” did a terrorist attack on a theater in Belgrade in July 13 of 1968, killing one person and injuring 85 people. On April 7, 1971, the Yugoslav Ambassador to Sweden, Vladimir Rolovic, was murdered by Croatian fascists, members of the “Croatian People’s Resistance”. In 1972, there was an attempt at starting a violent revolution in Bosnia and Herzegovina by the nineteen members of the “Croatian Revolutionary Brotherhood.” Regardless of the turbulency of ethnic tensions, Yugoslavia was in a significant global position, so much so that the infamous diplomat, Zbigniew Brzezinski, once said that “Yugoslavia was, together with [the] USA and [the] USSR the only country which had managed to position itself as a factor in the global arena.” Jimmy Carter even praised Tito as “a great world leader” and “a remarkable man” who deserves “respect and admiration”. It was after the death of Tito in 1980 when the nationalist antagonisms really spiraled into full on violence in the bloodiest conflict in Europe after the Second World War.

When the Balkan peoples started killing each other, the carnage shocked the world. It was not just the mere violence that disturbed, but also the fact that it was taking place in Europe and after a matter of some decades after World War Two. Various chimeras were lingering in the air of the global consciousness. One popular idea was that of the darling of many, the false prophet of democracy, Francis Fukuyama, whose prophecy of the “end of history” when the whole world would be under “liberal democracy” got people to never really conceive that such violence would erupt in Europe again. The gore that was shed in the Balkans ambushed the naive minds of the masses who truly believed that Europe would be in a perpetually peaceful state. Such is the paradox of civilization: people accept this particular narrative that fashionable things — be it certain ideas or technology — indicate the morality of a society. The problem with such a way of thinking is that it is vacuous of any historical perspective; for the most advanced of civilizations — from the Romans to the Aztecs — force such a narrative to fall flat right on its face.

There were three factors that preceded the bloody fragmenting of Yugoslavia: the decentralizing of the Yugoslav government, economic instability, and nationalism. The first of the three took place in the 1960s and 70s when local governments in each of the republics gained more leverage and power, thus weakening the central Yugoslav government. Prior to this happening, there was already a certain amount of liberties that regional governments had. Yugoslavia was ruled under a collective presidency, consisting of members of each of the Yugoslav republics and autonomous provinces, which conducted themselves in harmony with the presidency and with the federal parliament. This system of government provided leeway for secessionists . Once the republics got more autonomy, it ended up breaking the cohesion of the state. The governing powers of these republics would be given more into the hands of nationalist political parties who wanted to shift their regions into independence from Yugoslavia.

Economic despair also foreshadowed the outbreak of revolt. Yugoslavia was sinking into debt due to major foreign borrowing. Also, the autonomy of Yugoslav republics allowed them to acquire debt, leading to many terrible investments by the numerous governments within Yugoslavia, which would prove detrimental to the economy. Putting the differences with the EU aside, there is an eerie similarity with the EU, wherein Mediterranean European countries — Spain, Portugal, Italy and especially Greece — became economically devastated from incessant borrowing and sunk into debts due to bailouts. Just as the bad economic situation was capitalized on by European nationalists, the bad economic situation in Yugoslavia would act as a perfect argument for nationalists pushing for secession.

After Tito’s death in 1980, the whole quagmire of political subversion and conflict fully exasperated. Rhetoric got more nationalistic, more vicious. Scholars Andrew Wachtel and Christopher Bennet write a description of the political atmosphere at that time: “The obvious basis of support for all such politicians was nationalism, and in each of the republics the most powerful political parties to emerge were formed on the basis of ethnic affiliation.” The 1980s saw more of an emphasis on “our national being” and how one’s ethnic group was being oppressed by another. In the late 80s there were more demands for less government centralization on the part of Yugoslavia, and an outright demand for independence coming out of Slovenia and Croatia. In 1989, Slobodan Milosevic became president of Serbia. With support from Montenegro, he consolidated his power and worked to take control of Yugoslavia.

In 1990, secessionism and nationalism obviously got more intense. There was even a small minority of Serb nationalist militants in Croatia who, in the words of VP Gagnon Jr., “rejected all compromises with Zagreb; held mass rallies and erected barricades; threatened moderate Serbs and non-SDS members who refused to go along with the confrontational strategy; provoked armed incidents with the Croatian police, and stormed villages adjacent to the regions already controlled by the Serbian forces and annexed them to their territory”. This would, of course, only worsen an already bad situation. Serbs were terrified of the idea of Yugoslavia breaking down, since they were Serbs throughout the regions of the country, and an independent Croatia, Bosnia or Kosovo, would mean persecution of ethnic Serbs. According to CIA analysts:

“the key question for Serbia is the ‘fate’ of the Serbs who dwell outside the borders of Serbia. This is the issue of the greatest psychological importance for Serbs, and no Belgrade leadership can lightly accept responsibility for splintering the unity of the Serbian people, the goal for which Serbs perceive they have fought — and won — four bloody wars in this country.”

When Slovenia severed from Yugoslavia, there was only a ten day conflict. The reason for this was because there was no significant Serb population in Slovenia, as opposed to Croatia or Kosovo where there were substantial numbers of ethnic Serbs. The real worry of the Serbs was fragmentation from countries like Croatia, Bosnia and Kosovo. However, the secession of Slovenia rippled into the bloody conflagration of the Yugoslav Wars. Islamic nationalism amongst Bosnians also became very popular. In 1990, Alija Izetbegovic became the first president for the newly independent Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Izetbegovic had a long history of rebellion. In 1946 he was arrested for his opposition to the Yugoslav regime. In 1970 he had a book published titled, Islamic Declaration, which was a mix between Islamic fundamentalism and nationalism. In 1983, he was sentenced to 14 years in prison for “Muslim nationalism” and anti-government activities.

When Croatia declared independence from Yugoslavia in 1991, Germany was amongst the first countries to recognize an independent Croatian state. This recognition was, in the words of Chomsky, a “recipe for war.” Nothing changed and history repeated itself; just as Hitler’s Germany wanted to fragment Yugoslavia and backed the Croatian fascists, post-War Germany as well wanted Yugoslavia to disintegrate and backed Croatian nationalists (truly, fascists). Western countries were helping to pave the way for war within, and the destabilization of, Yugoslavia. As a declassified CIA document tells us, arms were coming in from numerous countries, into Yugoslavia:

“Foreign arms have been entering the Yugoslav republics for months, the products of smuggling, gray arms market transactions, and at least one confirmed government-to-republic sale. The acquisition of foreign weapons is extremely sensitive in Yugoslavia’s supercharged political atmosphere, and Belgrade reacted sharply to Hungary’s government authorized sale of assault rifles to the Croatian government. …It is quite likely that arms dealers from Israel, Europe and the Middle East have approached republic officials in Yugoslavia and concluded agreements with some of them. …The flow of foreign arms stepped up last year as Slovenia and Croatia began to see a more immediate threat of Army intervention. Private Slovene groups covertly acquired weapons last fall [redacted] and we believe that the republic government has been buying arms commercially on the gray arms market. Croatian representatives directly solicited US and European military support late last year, and senior republic officials have publicly acknowledged their efforts to acquire weapons in international arms markets. The Croats were rebuffed by Western governments, but the Hungarian government responded by authorizing a controversial sale of several thousand assault rifles. Hungarian officials and Yugoslav press reports claim they may also have received Czech weapons. At least one report indicates some Croatian paramilitary forces have been seen with weapons from Singapore and Germany.”

The details are reminiscent of NATO’s Gladio operations in which NATO intelligence agencies and military apparatuses armed and backed Right-wing paramilitaries in order to prepare them for a Soviet invasion and to conduct terrorist attacks on civilians as if it were done by Left-wing militants as a strategy of tension to ignite nationalist sentiments. But in this situation, it was a strategy of tension to ignite war between Serbs and their neighbors. There was also a preparation for revolt being done by soldiers within Yugoslavia. The Yugoslav Territorial Defense Forces (TDF), soldiers who were under the command of their respective republics and not the central Yugoslavian government, shifted their allegiance to paramilitaries and began training for guerrilla warfare The official military of Yugoslavia, the Yugoslav People’s Army, saw this as a direct threat and tried to disarm the TDF. But the soldiers of the TDF simply joined the armies of their countries to fight against Yugoslavia.

The Yugoslav Wars broke out and a bloodbath ensued, leaving around 140,000 people dead. What the war reminds us of is the reality of European war. We are so trapped within this warped paradigm that places the Second World War within the confines of paused time, as if what took place in that horrid conflict could never be repeated. The Balkan wars — and the very recent Ukrainian conflict — shattered such a notion. What is taking place within the EU, with Britain leaving the Bloc, with a strong secessionist movement in Catalonia, with tremendous anger towards the EU, with nationalist feelings continually rising high, with Germany boosting its military capacity for war, these are all signs of a breakdown of cohesion. If the EU continues to lose favor with its various member states, Germany — as former Yugoslav republics warred against their neighbors — could turn back to the warpath to establish her dominance.

People will point fingers at what we are saying as lunacy. But what we are saying is simply that history repeats, or that “thing that hath been, it is that which shall be” (Ecclesiastes 1:9). The true lunacy is denying that the song of history rhymes. Another form of craziness is indifference towards the reality of a coming war. The real reason why people act like they don’t care about what we are saying is because they really hate what we are saying. They hate that someone can point to Europe — civilized and technologically advanced — and warn against the rise of a German incursion. They want us to speak badly of immigrants because they hate the fact that immigrants are here, they hate the fact that the immigrant is not the enemy. What we are dealing with is not just nationalist groups, paramilitaries and fanatical militants, but an entire nonmaterial phenomena that is entrenched within the soul of the global consciences, from which emanates hatred, reactionary politics, oppression and revolt. It is an entire metaphysical disposition of the soul, a dimension of evil that we cannot comprehend.


Dzalto, Yugoslavia.