Hypocrisy in the Hague


Author’s Note: “The author acknowledges the pivotal role of Michel Chossudovsky’s article ‘Dismantling Yugoslavia, Colonizing Bosnia’, Covert Action Quarterly, 1996, as primary inspiration and source material for this article.”

The international community has proudly trumpeted the conviction of the Bosnian Serb General, Radislav Krstic – the man who supervised the massacre of thousands of Muslims at Srebrenica – in the International War Crimes Tribunal in the Hague. Up to 12,000 Bosnian men and boys were gunned down at what was supposed to be a UN “safe haven”. General Krstic was sentenced to 46 years in prison for the crime of genocide é the first time a conviction of this nature has been applied in Europe since the Nazis. It is also the first time that the Tribunal has convicted anyone of genocide.

Yet an analysis of the facts surrounding the Bosnian crisis reveals the blatant hypocrisy of the international community’s support of the Tribunal. This is not to assume that Krstic was not guilty of the atrocious crime of supervising the genocidal massacre of innocent civilians at Srebrenica, but to highlight the politicised exploitation of the Tribunal by the West to draw attention away from the role of the international community in establishing conditions conducive to genocide in Bosnia right from the outset. The Tribunal has, due to the fact that much of its funding is supplied by the United States, become incapable of investigating the criminal role of the international community in the Bosnian crisis. While war criminals such as Milosevic, Mladic, Krstic, among others, certainly played their unconscionable roles in carrying out and directing the most horrific of atrocities, the international community played an equally é if not more é significant role in deliberately engineering a humanitarian catastrophe in the region.

Contrary to the mainstream opinion, crisis in the Balkans was not simply the outcome of historically rooted ethnic tensions, but was largely manufactured by Western macro-economic and political policies. Politico-economic intervention by the West primarily under U.S. guidance culminated in the disintegration of Yugoslavia, leading to a catastrophic war. Western policies were undertaken on the basis of long-standing interests in the Balkans that further provided the motivation for establishing a military presence in the region. Analysis of the crisis demonstrates that the Western powers had no intention of resolving the conflict in the region for humanitarian reasons, but rather were directly responsible for having engineered the collapse of Yugoslavia to serve strategic and economic interests related to U.S./NATO expansion.

I. The Roots of Ethnic Antagonism

The conventional wisdom espoused by most commentators is that the Balkans crisis was the result of a deep-rooted aggressive nationalism, arising out of ethnic and religious tensions that are rooted deep in history. The public has consistently been fed stories of ‘Balkan power-plays’ and the clash of political personalities in explaining the causes of conflict. However, there is a fatal flaw in this widespread notion that the break up of Yugoslavia was merely the result of ethnic tensions that had a long history in the region, and which eventually became uncontrollable – a notion adopted for example by Balkans historian Misha Glenn. What is left out in such narratives is an adequate explanation of the causes of the sudden aggravation of ethnic tensions. As is noted by the distinguished British economist, Michael Barratt Brown, “What Tito created was a Yugoslavia in which people could live together in relative ease and freedom. Given that, why then did it all disintegrate after fifty years?” Indeed, it is a matter of historical record that ethnic conflict in Yugoslavia was preceded by a politico-economic crisis that racked the federation from the beginning of the 1980s, provoked primarily by foreign interference. In the 1980s, Anthropologist George Vid Tomashevsich – a Professor at the University of Buffalo é while admitting that the Yugoslav Federation was in itself entirely “viable”, had warned against foreign interference in Yugoslavia, noting that it would inevitably result in the aggravation of ethnic tensions leading ultimately to the catastrophic break-up of the Federation. He noted that massive political and economic restructuring was essential for this to occur. In a letter to the New York Times, Professor George Vid Tomashevsich forecasted that “splitting up the admittedly imperfect but viable Yugoslav Federation would be virtually impossible without drastic and brutal political and economic surgery, which at best could not fully satisfy any of the separated parts. Every conceivable divorce between Serbia and Croatia would of necessity involve not only a painful partition of Bosnia and Herzegovina but also the explosive question of the ethnic identity of the Yugoslav Moslems and nightmarish ex-changes of hundreds of thousands of uprooted Serbs and Croats from the disputed territories…” Here Tomaschevsich had virtually anticipated the entire essence of the Bosnian conflict that erupted in the 1990s, but most critically he had also noted the crucial fact that such a sudden conflagration “would be virtually impossible without drastic and brutal political and economic surgery.” II. U.S. Interests and Policy in the Balkans

Foreign interference spearheaded in particular by the United States, but also followed through by the Western European powers, appears to lie at the root of this issue. Several specialists have noted the instrumental role of the West’s macro-economic policies in providing just the sort of “drastic and brutal political and economic surgery” which precipitated and lay at the roots of the disintegration of Yugoslavia. The process of macro-economic and political intervention in the Federal Republic was initiated by the United States, and appears to have been undertaken with extensive planning rooted in long-standing strategic and economic interests in the region. In February 1999, a hint of this planning was revealed by James Hooper, Director of the Balkan Action Council and former Balkan affairs chief of the U.S. State Department. Speaking at the Holocaust Museum, Hooper stated that it was necessary to accept that the Balkans “are a region of strategic interests for the United States, the new Berlin if you will”. He further described the Balkans as “the testing ground of NATO’s resolve and U.S. leadership.”[4]

Other commentators have noted the interests of the United States and other Western European countries in the Balkans. The New York Times, for example, observed that the U.S. in particular intended to extend and consolidate its hegemony in Eastern Europe (including Yugoslavia), as well as other regions of the world, in the post-Cold War years. The policy of NATO-led expansion has been given a new lease of life by the demise of the Soviet Union, which has granted the U.S. a much freer hand in world affairs. “Now, in the years after the cold war, the United States is again establishing suzerainty over the empire of a former foe”, reported America’s newspaper of record. “The disintegration of the Soviet Union has prompted the United States to expand its zone of military hegemony into Eastern Europe (through NATO) and into formerly neutral Yugoslavia.”[5] A further report in the respected British newsletter, The Intelligence Digest, clarifies that the expansion into the Balkans has been propelled fundamentally by commercial interests,[6] a notion corroborated by a report in the Nation by U.S. Balkan expert Joan Hoey, which points out that the international community has been eager to retain access to regional resources.[7]

Two declassified documents in particular throw significant light on the nature of U.S. planning in this regard. In 1982, a National Security Decision Directive on Eastern Europe (NSDD 54) stated that “the primary long-term U.S. goal in Eastern Europe” was “to [censored…] facilitate its eventual re-integration into the European community of nations”, and thereby into the U.S.-dominated global economy.[10] U.S. policy therefore aimed to eliminate “the collectivized property forms and other gains won by the socialist revolution in Yugoslavia”. This, however, also implied “destroying the multinational state as well.”[11]

According to available evidence then, the method by which the U.S. would achieve its goal of reintegrating Eastern Europe into a “world order… ultimately backed by the United States”,[12] was via the dismantling of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. This was reported, for instance, by The Intelligence Digest, which noted that: “The original U.S.-German design for the former Yugoslavia [included] an independent Muslim-Croat dominated Bosnia-Herzegovina in alliance with an independent Croatia and alongside a greatly weakened Serbia.”[13] Western strategy therefore originally aimed at carving up the region into three mini-states.[14] That the U.S. had indeed intended the disintegration of the Federal Republic in this manner was actually admitted explicitly by then U.S. Ambassador to Yugoslavia Warren Zimmerman. The U.S. Ambassador acknowledged in a 1992 interview regarding U.S. policy in the Balkans: “We are aiming for a dissolution of Yugoslavia into independent states” – he added the qualification “peacefully”.[15] However, as already discussed above, the dissolution of Yugoslavia could only happen through severe political and economic surgery which would aggravate ethnic tensions to potentially fatal levels, making civil conflict virtually inevitable.[16]

III. American and European Macro-Economic Interference in Yugoslavia

Given that the disintegration of Yugoslavia had been an integral dimension of U.S. strategy in the Balkans, it is unsurprising to find that massive macro-economic intervention in Yugoslavia began in the early 1980s. Secessionist tendencies based on social and ethnic divisions escalated in the wake of the increasing impoverishment of the Yugoslav population, which resulted from the first phase of macro-economic reform imposed by the United States on the Federation under the tutelage of international financial institutions. University of Paris economist Sean Gervasi reports that this first phase of macro-economic reform initiated in 1980 shortly before the death of Marshall Tito, “wreaked economic and political havoc… Slower growth, the accumulation of foreign debt and especially the cost of servicing it as well as devaluation led to a fall in the standard of living of the average Yugoslav… The economic crisis threatened political stability… it also threatened to aggravate simmering ethnic tensions”.[18] Unless Marcovic agreed, Yugoslavia would be cut off from the IMF, the World Bank and the entire capitalist world. Only if he complied with the U.S. demands would economic aid and trade continue, leaving Marcovic in an effective Catch 22 situation: If he refused to comply with U.S. requirements Yugoslavia would face utter economic isolation from the international community; yet compliance with U.S. requirements hardly had better prospects. The 1989 IMF loan accompanying Yugoslavia’s compliance was tied to a brutal, U.S. imposed austerity programme that cut wages to workers and subsidies to state industries throughout the country, devalued the currency, ordered the shutting down of numerous state owned industries, and the lay-off of tens of thousands of workers.[19] Indeed, Marcovic himself had warned the U.S. that the reforms to be imposed were “bound to bring social problems [including] an increase in unemployment to about 20 percent and the threat of an increased ethnic and political tension among the country’s six republics and two autonomous provinces.”[20]

Marcovic accepted President Bush’s proposal, culminating in the passing of official  legislation in the U.S. regarding the new politico-economic relations to be held with Yugoslavia. On 5 November 1990, the U.S. Congress passed the 1991 Foreign Operations Appropriations Law 101-513, a piece of legislation that echoed the face-to-face U.S. order to Marcovic discussed above, enshrining the transaction into an integral part of U.S. law, but with additional stipulations of catastrophic import. The Foreign Operations Appropriations Law enforced the almost immediate severing of all aid, trade, credits and loans from the U.S. to Yugoslavia within six months. It also ensured more specifically that all U.S. personnel in international financial institutions such as the IMF or the World Bank, were to implement the severing of all credits and loans. The Law ordered separate elections in each of the six republics that compose Yugoslavia, with each republic requiring the approval of election procedures and results by the U.S. State Department as a condition for the renewal of aid to the separate republics. In this respect, the State Department was only to permit funds to groups defined by itself as “democratic forces”.[21]

Most significant is a revealing CIA report of the time which anticipated the impact that the Foreign Operations Appropriations Law would have on the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. According to the New York Times, the CIA report “predicted that the federated Yugoslavia will break apart most probably in the next 18 months and that civil war is highly likely”, if the injunctions of the bill were implemented. The U.S. policy established a precedent in the Balkans for the other Western powers. With such decisive action undertaken by the U.S. toward Yugoslavia in 1990, the European powers were certainly not going to allow themselves to be mere bystanders to the enforced break-up of a country within their own continent. The U.S. Foreign Appropriations Bill effectively signalled that Yugoslavia and, indeed, the entirety of the Balkans, were once again ready for the taking. With the U.S. leading the way by its own interventionist example, the European powers were spurred to implement similar policies. Hence, by February 1991 the Council of Europe mimicked the U.S. measures with its own political and economic demands related to the internal affairs of the Yugoslav Federation. Their demand was similar to that of the U.S.: Yugoslavia must hold multi-party elections or otherwise face absolute economic blockade. [23]

Ultimately, the result was that the Yugoslav federal government went into crisis, being unable to pay the huge interest on its foreign debt, or to arrange the purchase of raw materials for industry. Credit collapsed and recriminations broke out from all sides. There remained an isolated influx of U.S. funds to small right-wing nationalist parties in the separate republics, consisting of fascist organisations not prominent since the defeat of the Nazi occupation by the antifascist partisan movement nearly 50 years ago. These previously insignificant ultra-nationalist groups, conveniently falling under the evidently flexible label “democratic forces”, were thus suddenly revived under the reception of covert support. Becoming the primary beneficiaries of funds and arms, they consequently went on to play their major role in fuelling ethnic and nationalistic divisions, expanding and consolidating power amidst an economic crisis that included the devaluation of currency, the freezing of wages, the cutting of subsidies, the closing down of state-industries which were unprofitable for Western capitalist investors, and the increase in unemployment to 20 per cent. Hence, there arose an increase in strikes, walkouts, political and economic tensions, and nationalist antagonisms.[24]

Ethnic tensions with the clear potential of flaring into an outright “civil war” were therefore a direct product of macro-economic intervention and political interference by the international community. As late as 1988, an enterprising U.S. journalist deployed in Belgrade could hardly find any proof of ethnic fervour with all the corresponding social tensions implied therein. On the contrary, he found that the initial impact of IMF shock therapy consisted of huge and repeated strikes among other labour actions, as opposed to the rise of ethnic tensions. Only when macro-economic and political restructuring had successfully eliminated all options for a normal economic life did ethnic tensions – exacerbated by the rise of Western-backed nationalist groups who were previously of minor significance – become rife, escalating to dangerous proportions.[25] As the economist Michael Barratt Brown thus rightly observes, “In these circumstances the break-up of the federation was inevitable”.[26] U.S. historian Barry Lituchy, a specialist in European history, has aptly described this process of Western  politico-economic intervention in Yugoslavia as “a time bomb that permanently destabilized the country”.[27]

IV. Economic Destabilisation Preceded and Caused Ethnic Antagonism

The international community’s intervention thus resulted in the reversal of Yugoslavia’s economic and social achievements in the post-war period prior to 1980. Observers point out that the Federation had at this time been a regional economic success whose laudable achievements included the growth of GDP at an average of 6.1 per annum over a twenty year period (1960-1980); free medical care with one doctor per 550 population; a literacy rate at the order of 91 percent; life expectancy at 72 years;[30] IMF structural adjustment programmes meant that state revenues were used up in servicing Belgrade’s foreign debt, although they should have gone as transfer payments to the republics and provinces, particularly in this precarious time of escalating social tension and disorder. As a result of this severing of the main financial links between Belgrade and the republics, macro-economic reform led to the collapse of Yugoslavia’s federal fiscal structures, thereby fatally damaging its federal political institutions. Nationalist groups who continued to be in receipt of covert international support were able to increasingly exploit the situation, thus dramatically fuelling secessionist tendencies that fed on economic factors as well as ethnic divisions. The escalation of nationalist politics throughout Yugoslavia was exacerbated by the increasingly unequal distribution of wealth in the Yugoslav federation under macro-economic reform that favoured Slovenia and Croatia. This in turn further aggravated ethnic resentments, rivalries and separatist nationalism. Thus, as Barry Lituchy rightly records, “nationalism was only the ideological shell within which capitalist restoration was politically expressed, it was not the source of the conflict.”[31] This combination of processes rooted ultimately in Western interference was instrumental in “virtually ensuring the de facto secession of the republics.”[32]

In this environment of manufactured discontent and ethnic factionalism, the rise of Serb nationalism amidst the dislocation of the republics was an entirely predictable consequence. When the republics’ respective Communist Parties fell apart, only the army, predominantly officered by Serbs, was left to hold the country together. The army backed the appearance of “strong man” Slobodan Milosevic to save the federation. “If the strong man had great Serb ambitions, that was inevitable in the circumstances” that had been engineered under international tutelage. Thus, the massive aggravation of ethnic tensions arose as a consequence of economic restructuring under the tutelage of Western financial institutions. This does not remove responsibility from the various parties for their role in the ensuing conflict. However, it highlights that the economic and political chaos essential to establish circumstances conducive to the conflict were deliberately manufactured by the policies of the United States and Western Europe. The Western powers attempted to destabilise the country through the dismantling of the Federation into several manageable mini-states under international financial control.[34] Macro-economic reform and political manipulation wreaked economic and political havoc resulting in disintegration of the industrial sector and the dismantling of the Yugoslav Welfare State. As Canadian economist Michel Chossudovsky records, “Macro-economic restructuring applied in Yugoslavia under the neoliberal policy agenda has unequivocally contributed to the destruction of an entire country”.[35]

V. Conclusion

The conventional understanding of the causes of the Bosnian conflict is therefore not only inaccurate, it also veils the instrumental role of the international community in engineering the conditions which were predicted to be catastrophic for the country. Instead, the consequences of Western intervention é i.e. cultural, ethnic and religious divisions – are highlighted and dogmatically presented as the only roots of the crisis. Yet ethnic conflict was, in reality, the result of an ongoing process of politico-economic restructuring deliberately introduced by the Western powers with the explicit objective of dismantling the existing socialist system, and carving the country into separate manageable client states integrated into the international economic system.

In 1997, the role of the international financial institutions operating under Western tutelage in the collapse of communism in Moscow, led the Wall Street Journal to assert editorially that the IMF was now the single most destructive force on earth. The same Western financial institutions have clearly played a similarly destructive role in the sudden disintegration of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia that culminated in the Bosnian war, and a string of new Balkans crises. As U.S. political economist Jude Wanniski thus accurately observes, “The Fund, for the most part controlled by the international banks through their influence at the U.S. Treasury, is truly the satanic force that precipitated the crisis in the Balkans.”[36]

Such policies that impose themselves upon the internal affairs of a sovereign state are clearly nonsensical within the framework of Western humanitarian benevolence é yet they do, however, become intelligible within the framework of Western self-interest. The war that erupted in Yugoslavia did so as a direct result of a planned sequence of Western macro-economic and political interference. The humanitarian catastrophe of Bosnia had been thus been consciously engineered by the Western powers under U.S. leadership, in accordance with a variety of longstanding strategic and economic objectives. The example of Yugoslavia therefore calls into fundamental question the motives of the international community in undertaking what are ostensibly supposed to be humanitarian operations, when it is their own policies which have been responsible for igniting one of the worst wars in the late Twentieth Century, one whose legacy continues to be in effect to this day.

This has extremely significant implications for those who are concerned about conflict prevention and resolution. To implement meaningful measures to decrease the chances of conflict, it is essential to confront the fundamental causes of such conflict. The example of Yugoslavia illustrates that it is essential to understand the role of the international community under U.S. leadership in the aggravation of conflict. Indeed, this example demonstrates that it is absolutely necessary, if not urgent, to consider the implications of the West’s role with respect to the structure of world order, because without addressing this structure and whether it is actually conducive to peace, it will remain increasingly difficult to move toward a genuinely more peaceful world. The catastrophe that engulfed Yugoslavia leading to the Bosnian crisis, and which even now threatens to engulf the entirety of the Balkans, shows that unless the structure of world order and the Western powers’ role within it is properly addressed, it will not be possible to forestall outbreaks of future conflict which may result from the inherent flaws in this role. While the conviction of war criminals such as Krstic is to be applauded, the studious avoidance of the complicity of the United States and Europe in humanitarian catastrophe by international institutions must be resolutely condemned. Unless this issue is properly addressed, and with appropriate urgency, institutions such as the Hague’s International War Crimes Tribunal will fail to convict the global players who are responsible for churning out catastrophe after catastrophe, war criminal after war criminal, genocide after genocide. Until then, meaningful justice will never be served, and the blood of innocent men, women and children will continue to stain this earth.


[3] Tomashevsich, George Vid, letter to New York Times, 1 April 1980.

[4] Cited in Grossholtz, Jean, ‘How to Think About War, or A Pox on Both Your Houses’, Peacework, May 1999. Peacework is the monthly journal of the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC).

[5] Heilbrunn, Jacob and Lind, Michael, ‘The Third American Empire’, New York Times, 2 January 1996.

[6] ‘The Commercial Factor Behind NATO’s Extended Remit’, Intelligence Digest, 29 May 1992.

[7] Hoey, Joan, ‘The U.S. “Great Game” in Bosnia’, Nation, 30 January 1995. As pointed out by political analyst and former U.S. Attorney-General during the Lyndon Johnson Administration, Ramsey Clark, at the January 1996 Prague Conference on the Enlargement of NATO, the U.S. has indeed has long-standing interests in Eastern Europe, including Yugoslavia. “Don’t think that NATO isn’t planning the map of Europe every day, knowing exactly what it wants it to look like. Don’t think they don’t know the composition of the peoples, the physical terrain and the natural resources, the industry and all the rest. They’re working on it constantly,” warned Ramsey Clark. “And if you think a country is too small for them to be interested in, you just haven’t seen anything. Was Grenada bigger? There’s never been a military engagement in history where so many armed troops went so far to attack so few. A people with no defense. The Pentagon inflicted more casualties per capita on the Grenadian population than the United States lost in World War II. Don’t think there’s not a purpose to it. Not long after Tito died, as the influence of the Soviet Union declined and its capacity to intervene in anything became negligible – which made the Persian Gulf War possible – the plans to divide Yugoslavia were under way. There can’t be any doubt about that. Just look at our legislation, look at what so many people have said in memoirs and other things. The plans were under way. And there are lots of interests in there… The purposes of dismantling Yugoslavia have to be understood. Germany obviously had a keen interest. Everybody knew when it was dismantled there would be hell to pay. The United States used ways to direct the violence, and for four or five years now the violence has been directed in the way the United States likes to fight a war – ‘You and them fight’.” (Clark, Ramsey et. al., Nato in the Balkans: Voices of Opposition, International Action Center, New York, 1998)

[10] A leaked 1990s Pentagon document provides considerable background insight into this expansionist dimension of U.S. policy. “Our first objective is to prevent the re-emergence of a new rival… we must maintain the mechanism for deterring potential competitors from even aspiring to a larger regional or global role… It is of fundamental importance to preserve NATO as the primary instrument of Western defense and security as well as the channel for US influence and participation in European security affairs… We must seek to prevent the emergence of European-only security arrangements which would undermine NATO.” This is rooted in the “dominant consideration underlying the new regional defence strategy”, which is the U.S. “endeavour to prevent any hostile power from dominating a region whose resources would, under consolidated control, be sufficient to generate global power”, these regions including Western Europe, East Asia, the former Soviet Union and the Middle East. In accord with the principle of maintaining “the sense that the world order is ultimately backed by the United States”, these regions should therefore be integrated into the US-dominated global capitalist system, and thereby brought under U.S. hegemony. (New York Times, 8 March 1992; International Herald Tribune, 9 March 1992; Washington Post, 22 March 1992; Times, 25 May 1992) Indeed, the hegemonic and almost imperialistic tenore of U.S. foreign policy was explicitly indicated in a declassified top-secret post-war planning report produced by the U.S. State Department’s policy planning staff, headed at the time (February 1948) by George Kennan: “We have about 50 per cent of the world’s wealth, but only 6.3 per cent of its population… In this situation, we cannot fail to be the object of envy and resentment. Our real task in the coming period is to devise a pattern of relationships which will permit us to maintain this position of disparity without positive detriment to our national security. To do so we will have to dispense with all sentimentality and day-dreaming; and our attention will have to be concentrated everywhere on our immediate national objectives [including that of “devis[ing] a pattern of relationships which will permit us to maintain” the “position of disparity” between the West and the rest of the world]. We need not deceive ourselves that we can afford the luxury of altruism and world-benefaction… We should cease to talk about vague and… unreal objectives such as human rights, the raising of living standards, and democratization. The day is not far off when we will have to deal in straight power concepts. The less we are then hampered by idealistic slogans, the better.” (Policy Planning Staff, ‘Review of current trends: US foreign policy’, 24 February, 1948, FRUS, Volume 1, Part 2, pp. 510-29)

[11] Lituchy, Barry, ‘The CIA War in the Balkans (and its Defenders)’, The College Voice, College of Staten Island, CUNY, May 1995. Barry Lituchy is Professor of European History at Kingsborough Community College, City University of New York.

[12] 1990s Pentagon document cited in note 10.

[13] ‘Bonn’s Balkans-to-Teheran policy’, Intelligence Digest, 25 August 1995.

[14] Hindsight reveals that this strategy was later modified to carve the region into only two such states involving the de facto partition of the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina between the Republic of Croatia and the Republic of Serbia.

[15] U.S. Ambassador Warren Zimmerman in an interview with the Croatian daily Danas, 12 January 1992.

[16] That the “dissolution of Yugoslavia” could not happen peacefully has always been exceedingly obvious. As mentioned above, anthropologist George Vid Tomashevsich explained this fact as early as 1980 in a letter to the New York Times (1 April 1980).

[18] Lituchy, Barry, ‘The CIA War in the Balkans (and its Defenders)’, op. cit.

[19] Ibid.

[25] Memo to Secretary of State Madeleine Albright from Jude Wanniski, ‘Re: A Polyconomics Report, Six Years Ago [The IMF and the Balkan Crisis (5 May 1993)]’, Polyconomics, Inc., 8 April 1999,  http://www.polyconomics.com/. The role of Western macro-economic intervention in the break-up of Yugoslavia has been acknowledged in the above report by the leading conservative American political economist Jude Wanniski, former Associate Editor of the Wall Street Journal and founder of the internationally acclaimed independent research group Polyconomics, Inc.: “When the IMF shock therapy hit Yugoslavia, the initial form of social disorder was not ethnic friction but massive and repeated strikes and other labor actions. As late as 1988, an enterprising US journalist deployed in Belgrade had difficulty finding evidence of ethnic passionsé Ordinary people turned into ethnic monsters only after all their options for a normal economic life were destroyed. ‘Ethnic cleansing’ arrived only after ‘shock therapy’ had done its work. Finally, on December 14, 1992, when dinar devaluation reached the IMF’s theoretical ideal of infinite percent with the dissolution of the state that used to issue dinars, civilized life ended and was replaced by a ‘natural state of war’, as political philosopher John Locke predicted would invariably happen when organized government disappears from a people’s life.” Wanniski’s important report thus concludes: “With the collapse of communism in Moscow two years ago, The Wall Street Journal asserted editorially that the IMF was now the single most destructive force on earth. The Fund, for the most part controlled by the international banks through their influence at the US Treasury, is truly the satanic force that precipitated the crisis in the Balkans.”

[26] Barratt Brown, Models in Political Economy, op. cit., p. 266.

[30] Lal, Radhika, ‘IMF, Capital and US: The Economics of Imperialism’, Sanskrita, 2 October 1996. Radhika Lal is an economics graduate from the New York-based New School for Social Research.

[31] Lituchy, Barry, ‘The CIA War in the Balkans (and its Defenders)’, op. cit.

[34] According to Gervasi, for example, Western intervention – designed from the beginning to effectuate the disintegration of Yugoslavia – constituted the fundamental cause of conflict in the region. “The main problem in Yugoslavia, from the first, was foreign intervention in the country’s internal affairs. Two Western powers [in particular], the United States and Germany, deliberately contrived to destabilize and then dismantle the country,” reports Gervasi. “The process was in full swing in the 1980s [primarily via macro-economic policies] and accelerated as the present decade began.”Gervasi, Sean, ‘Why is NATO in Yugoslavia?’, paper presented to Prague Conference on the Enlargement of NATO, Czech Republic, January 1996. Canadian economist Michel Chossudovsky, Professor of Economics at the University of Ottawa expands on the nature of this process. He documents the macro-economic policies pursued by the Western powers “from the beginning of the 1980s”, with the view to “bring the Yugoslav economy to its knees”, thereby “contributing to stirring simmering ethnic and social conflicts”. Macro-economic reforms were imposed on Yugoslavia by Western financial institutions, “transforming the Balkans into a safe-haven for free enterprise.” Professor Chossudovsky takes note of “The strategic interests of Germany and the US in laying the groundwork for the disintegration of Yugoslavia”, from which sprang  “the economic and social causes of the conflict”. Western policies orientated toward the fulfilment of these interests – exemplified in “the role of external creditors and international financial institutions” – culminated in a “deep-seated economic crisis which preceded the civil war”. He remarks that “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,” he continues, “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.” (Chossudovsky, Michel, ‘Dismantling Yugoslavia, colonizing Bosnia’, op. cit.)

[35] Chossudovsky, Michel, ‘Dismantling Yugoslavia, colonizing Bosnia’, op. cit.

Mr. Nafeez Ahmed is a political analyst and human rights activist based in London. He is Director of the Institute for Policy Research & Development and a Researcher at the Islamic Human Rights Commission.