PHOENIX, ARIZONA Topic: BALKAN AFFAIRS
© 1993 by Bob Djurdjevic
SERB SARAJEVO, Bosnia, September 1993 - "We have to teach them (the former Communist officers) once again that when a Serbian officer gives his word, that's something sacred," said Dr. Radovan Karadzic, president of Bosnian Serbs, during our recent late night-early morning meeting in Serb Sarajevo.
Dr. Karadzic, a psychiatrist by profession, was referring to a need for "re-education" of the former Communists in the Bosnian Serb army to whom lying and cheating had been a natural way of life for so many decades under the rule of the late Yugoslav President Tito. At the same time, he was also referring to a need to reestablish the moral values and a proud military tradition of the Serbian army, which despite its small size became one of the most celebrated military outfits in World War I.
After being practically decimated by the advancing German and
Austrian forces in the early years of the war, the Serbs retreated via
Albania, to recuperate and regroup on the island of Corfu, Greece.
When they returned to the battlefield on the Thessalonika front, on
September 15, 1918, they launched a counterattack against the Central
Powers' forces with such a ferocity that neither their own rear guard, nor
the French or the British units in reserve, could keep up.
In just 46 days, relentlessly pursuing the retreating enemy over the
rugged mountainous terrain, they were in Belgrade, some 400 miles to the
north. The day was November 1,
1918. Two days later, the
Austro-Hungarian Empire capitulated. On
November 11, Germany surrendered. World
War I was over.
North American students learn in their history classes that it was a Serb's
assassination of an Austrian archduke in Sarajevo that started World War I.
Few are aware, however,
that it was the Serbian Army's military prowess that led to its swift end.
But, the contemporaries knew that:
the history of this war is written, the most celebrated chapter will be
entitled - Serbia. The Serbian
army had displayed miraculous heroism; the Serbian nation has suffered
untold hardships. Such
sacrifices and determination cannot go by unnoticed,
They must be rewarded."
Lansing, U.S. Secretary of State, (1915-1920)
Lansing would be probably turning in his grave now if he knew how the
current generation of American politicians is "rewarding" his
Serbian friends. The cruel and
genocidal sanctions which deprive an entire nation of access to medicines
kill not just the soldiers on the battlefield, as the Germans, Austrians,
Turks and Bulgarians did, but also the women and the children.
back in Bosnia, some former Yugoslav Army officers have managed to rekindle
a fighting spirit among the Serbian troops there and in Krajina (a Serb
territory in Croatia). Despite
their Communist heritage, Generals Ratko (the word means "warrior"
in Serbian) Mladic and Momcilo (a "spry, young man") Perisic,
stand out in this respect.
Mladic was the commander of the Yugoslav Army unit based in Knin, Serbian
Krajina, when the Croatian war broke out in the summer of 1991.
Now, he is the top field general of the Bosnian Serbs - by all
accounts the military victors so far in the Bosnian war.
Even the anti-Serbian NEW YORK TIMES has written flattering stories
about him. The following is an
example of this general's lore, based on my Yugoslav sources:
Earlier this year, General Mladic and (UNPROFOR's Swedish) General
Wahlgren were negotiating a cease-fire agreement in Srebrenica.
Wahlgren accused the Serbs of using the white painted U.N. vehicles
and wearing blue helmets when entering Muslim villages, then shooting up the
civilians who thought that they were the UNPROFOR troops.
General Mladic said that that was not true.
"We are positive about that," Wahlgren replied.
Mladic asked for details, such as the names of villages, the dates
and times of the alleged incidents. Wahlgren
gave it to him. Mladic then
called in one of his aides, gave him the piece of paper and whispered
something in his ear. The aide
walked out. Meanwhile, Wahlgren
and Mladic continued their discussion of other issues.
After a while, the aide returned and whispered something into Mladic's
ear. Mladic then turned to
Wahlgren and said, "your reports are false."
"But, we are certain of it, " Wahlgren insisted.
"What are your sources?" Mladic asked.
"The (Muslim) ham radio operators," Wahlgren replied.
Mladic grinned. "Some
sources!" he replied sarcastically.
"I am telling you such reports aren't true."
"But, we insist..." Wahlgren started to say, before Mladic
interrupted him. "Eat
shit!" Mladic yelled, staring at the Swedish general angrily.
stunned interpreter paused and looked at Mladic hesitantly.
Wahlgren also must have sensed that something was seriously wrong. "Translate!" Mladic ordered the interpreter.
He did. It was now
Wahlgren's turn to look at Mladic in shock.
The two stared at each other for a few seconds in silence.
Then, without saying a word, the Swede calmly went on to the next
item of business. The tension
had eased. It was clear that
Wahlgren now believed Mladic. A
four-letter word had helped the two generals find a common language.
In 1991, General Perisic (then a colonel) was the commander of the
Yugoslav Army elite artillery base in Zadar.
Now he is "the Colin Powell of the Serbian Army."
"Zadar was the place where the artillery officers used to go to
for special training," a Yugoslav military source explained.
When the Croatian war started in the summer of 1991, the city of
Zadar turned off the water and the electricity to the base.
Perisic responded by giving the Croatian authorities a deadline of
noon, the following day, to restore these utilities, "or else he would
punish them." Perisic did
not say how.
The noon hour came and went and the water and electricity had still not
been restored. At about 14:00,
Perisic got on the phone and called the mayor of Zadar. He asked the mayor if the Croatian authorities intended to
lift the blockade of the barracks. The
Croatian mayor just laughed and told the colonel basically to go stuff
himself. Speaking very calmly,
Perisic replied that in that case, the mayor had exactly five minutes to
clear his family out of his home. The
mayor was still laughing. "Oh,
yeah? he said. "And who do
you think you're kidding?" But,
he told his family to get out just in case.
At 14:05, a surface-to-surface rocket landed on the mayor's house.
There was some minor damage to the surrounding houses, but the
mayor's home was totaled. By 16:00, the water and the electricity were restored to the
Yugoslav Army barracks.
"You see, that's how this man operated," our source said.
"He was tough with the enemy.
And he was tough with his own soldiers.
When some of his officers questioned his decision to fire upon the
mayor's home, fearing that they might miss it, Perisic said that if they,
the artillery elite of the Yugoslav Army, could not hit a house from four
miles out, we'd better all surrender and go home."
a result of his tough-minded tactics, Perisic managed to get all his
soldiers out of this Croatian (read enemy) city without a loss of life.
That's certainly a heck of a lot better than what had happened with
most Yugoslav Army garrisons in Croatia.
Or for that matter even with the American troops in Beirut. Or Grenada. Or
Somalia... Or Haiti...
And just think - if upstart rebels like these gave us such a hard time, what would it be like going up against a modern army of a country where soldiering is "in the blood" of the nation? Secretary Lansing could have certainly vouched for that. And any of the French and British generals who served alongside the Serbian troops on the Thessalonika front.
Of course, they are all gone now.
And younger generations always seem to want to make their own
mistakes. But, if we can't handle the Aidids of this world, why mess
with generals like Mladic and Perisic?
Especially since we have no business in any of these trouble spots in
the first place.
© 1993 by Bob Djurdjevic
JAHORINA, Bosnia, September 1993 -
A low-flying aircraft screamed overhead, halting my conversation with
some Serb soldiers in mid-sentence. It
was one of the NATO planes enforcing the "No Fly Zone" over
Bosnia. An older man waved his
arm angrily toward the sky and swore. Inside
the hotel on Mount Jahorina, near Sarajevo, the Bosnian Serb parliament was
young soldier from the Srebrenica district, one of the areas where the U.S.
food drops for the Bosnian Muslims took place last winter, only smiled.
"Whenever American planes dropped the 'humanitarian aid',"
he said, "we knew that the next day an attack by the Muslims
would follow." That's
because the supposed "U.S. air drops of food actually contained
ammo," he explained. The
soldier was speaking calmly, matter-of-factly, as a person who is used to
treachery. There was not a
trace of anger or indignation in his voice.
Just mild sarcasm. And
quiet confidence. After all,
despite such U.S. duplicity, the U.N. sanctions against Serbia, and the
satanization of the Serbs by the Western media, this young man and his
comrades have been winning the war on the battlefield - at least so far.
the Serb politicians seem to have concluded that the time has come to
appease the enemy. The
president of the Bosnian Serb parliament, Momcilo Krajisnik, and the Serbian
president, Slobodan Milosevic, issued a statement on October 15, in which
they said, "it is necessary to help the Bosnian Muslim community, who
are now in a very difficult predicament."
could not help but recall a 1938 photo of the jubilant British Prime
Minister Neville Chamberlain, declaring, "peace in our time," upon
return from Hitler's Germany. It was foolish to believe then that you can appease a
bellicose enemy by tossing him a few bones. It
is equally foolish today for the Serb politicians to show sudden empathy for
Muslims. Except if that's only
their public façade - a
new-found craftiness picked up from a devious enemy.
see, the Bosnian Muslims have no intentions of giving up.
"The Muslims will wage a guerrilla war of 30 to 40 years, if
necessary, to retrieve the lands lost to the Serbian nationalists," the
Bosnian Muslim president, Alija Izetbegovic, vowed (see the NEW YORK
TIMES, October 11). "The
only way out of the situation the Muslims are (in) now is to regain
consciousness and participate in the religious war," declared Husein
Muratovic, a Muslim military commander in Northeast Bosnia, in a recent
interview with the Muslim paper, LILY.
"possession is 90% of law," an American proverb says.
Which means that the Serbs in Bosnia have the upper hand.
Before the war started, they owned about 64% of the land.
Now they control about 70% of Bosnia.
a naive belief that peace was what the Muslims were after, the Serbs offered
to return to the enemy not just some of their "war booty," but
also some of the land the Serbs had owned even before the outbreak of
hostilities. According to the
Geneva peace agreement, the Serbs would have ended up with only 52% of the
territory - 12% less than they had before the war!
anyone remember the last time a losing side in a war which it started (the
Muslims) got to dictate the peace terms?
And that the supposed "winner" (the Serbs) ended up with less
land than before the war? I
can't. Yet, that's exactly what the Serbs offered in Geneva.
Fortunately for the Serbs, the Muslims turned the deal down.
It was a clear message that peace was not high on their minds. More Serb territory was.
Serbs also should keep in mind that even without the open warfare, the
higher Muslim birth rate and their ensuing terrorism against Serb civilians,
will help their cause in Bosnia, as it had in the last 50 years in Kosovo.
Before World War II, the Serbs had a 60% majority in Kosovo. Now they are less than a 10% of the population.
to British intelligence reports, the Muslims are planning a provocation in
Kosovo, which would then be blamed on the Serbs.
"The ensuing widespread violence in Kosovo, the Bosnian
government believes, could then be used to induce Western militarily
intervention against Yugoslavia itself," the STRATEGIC POLICY
magazine reported in its July 31, 1993 issue.
all that, the Serb politicians are trying to be magnanimous?!
Why? Because they fear a
NATO intervention? Because they
think that a policy of appeasment would cause the U.N. to lift the
sanctions? If so, they are
wrong on both counts. The
chances of a U.S. intervention in Bosnia, or of its easing up on the
sanctions against Serbia, are just about nil.
The sanctions are likely to stay no matter how fast Milosevic wags
his tail now. Just consider the October 4 U.N. Resolution 871.
The embargo against Serbia was EXPANDED even though it was the
Croatians who violated the Vance agreements and attacked the Serb Krajina.
course, there was a time when policy of accommodation with the Muslims and
the Croats was desirable - before the war started.
But, after more than 250,000 people have lost their lives, it is
illusory to pretend that the three Bosnian ethnic groups can simply kiss and
make up. And even if the
politicians did it, the victimized people will never forget the loved ones
with each passing day, Serbia is getting weaker - physically, militarily and
morally. Time is on the Muslim side.
Which is why they rejected peace.
The Serbs should oblige and give the Muslim politicians what they
want - war. And not the
"limited" kind, either. "Limited"
wars never work. Who knows,
that may even spur some cooler heads among the Muslims to depose their
In any event, as Mr. Chamberlain had discovered, a lasting peace must be won not begged for. A "peace" which leaves old wounds festering is no better than war. It merely shifts the burden of war onto future generations. Just look at what happened in the former Yugoslavia. And pray to God that the Serbs have learned their lesson. Because their forefathers agreed to a lousy deal following the Serb military victory in WW I, their great-grandchildren are now having to fight again for their own land; their own statehood; their own rights.
Also, check out... Truth in Media Statement on the Kosovo War, "Wither Dayton, Sprout New War?", "On the Brink of Madness", "Tragic Deja Vu's," "Seven U.S. Senators Suggest Ouster of Milosevic", "Biting the Hand That Feeds You", "A Balkan Affairs Potpourri", "Put the U.N. Justice on Trial", "International Justice 'Progresses' from Kidnapping to Murder", "Milosevic: 'A Riddle Wrapped in a Mystery'...", "Kosovo Lie Allowed to Stand", "New World Order's Inquisition in Bosnia", "Kosovo Heating Up", "Decani Monastery Under Siege?", "Murder on Wall Street", "Kosovo: 'Bosnia II', Serbia's Aztlan", "What If the Shoe Were on the Other Foot?", "Serb WW II General Exhonerated by British Archives," "Green Interstate - Not Worth American Lives", "An American Hero or Actor of the Year?" (A June '95 TiM story) and/or "Clinton arme secrètement les musulmans bosniaques", "Kocevje: Tito's Greatest Crime?", "Perfidious Albion Strikes Again, Aided by Uncle Sam," "Lift the Sanctions, Now!" (1993)
Or Djurdjevic's WASHINGTON TIMES columns: "Chinese Dragon Wagging Macedonian Tail," "An Ugly Double Standard in Kosovo Conflict?", "NATO's Bullyboys", "Kosovo: Why Are We Involved?", and "Ginning Up Another Crisis"