Vol. 18 No. 3 · 8 February 1996

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Winners and Losers

It seems principled of Misha Glenny (LRB, 4 January) to heap praise on The Death of Yugoslavia by Allan Little and Laura Silber, for their book’s argument runs strongly counter to Glenny’s own views of the war.

Silber and Little state their ‘single core thesis’ at the outset: ‘under Milosevic’s stewardship, the Serbs were, from the beginning of Yugoslavia’s disintegration, the key secessionists.’ Glenny, by contrast, has often underlined Croatia’s responsibility, and Bosnia’s too, for what has happened. He recently told a Croatian paper, Arkzin, that if Croatia had yielded to the local Serb leaders’ initial demand for cultural rights, there would have been no war at all. Surely this is naive: without denying any of the Croatian regime’s vindictive chauvinism or likely ambitions, we may doubt that the Serb question in Croatia could have been resolved locally, despite Serbia’s interest in raising national tensions in Croatia, and its incomparable resources for achieving this, not least the Yugoslav People’s Army.

I have long supposed that Glenny translates a disgust at Croatian nationalism into an exaggerated assessment of Croatia’s part in the final crisis and war. Hence the gem of his review is its judgment of Croatia’s President Tudjman. When Tudjman announced a year ago that Croatia would refuse a further extension of the UN peacekeeping mandate, Glenny’s response was to dismiss the decision as brinkmanship (LRB, 9 March 1995). Now it turns out Tudjman has been uniquely far-sighted, ‘by far the most skilful politician in the former Yugoslavia’. Milosevic, on the other hand, has failed because he ‘completely ignored the international factor’, and ‘realised too late’ that the Great Powers would dictate a settlement.

This perverse analysis is disproved by Milosevic’s adroit handling of international mediation since 1991. As for Tudjman, he has been efficient enough, in his repugnant way, but until quite recently he seemed to have little going for him except international recognition of Croatia and its borders. Paradoxically, his two best assets were the much maligned Unprofor, which stabilised the country while giving the Great Powers a bad conscience, and Serb intransigence in Croatia and Bosnia, which blocked any solution acceptable to other parties. Tudjman’s boldness a year ago turned these burdens into the levers of a solution. Otherwise, he has been outstanding only for devotion to a primitive and vicious programme of national homogenisation (exercised against Serbs and Muslims, though also against Croats who dissent or live in the wrong part of Bosnia). He hung on long enough to benefit greatly from the US peace initiative fronted by Richard Holbrooke, itself born of frustration at local Serb leaders’ rejection of peace plans which were pro-Serb anyway. Who except Tudjman could have been used to beat the Bosnian Serbs to the point that they would accept the tabled deal? The Bosnian Government was never up to the task. Against the grain of earlier experience, in 1995 Tudjman turned out to be in the right place at the right time. And Croatian Serbs paid the price.

Glenny’s about-turn on Tudjman is predicated on a fundamental error. Like so many Western policy-makers (including Holbrooke himself), Glenny supposes Milosevic really was motivated by an agenda of pan-Serb national interests, involving sturdy defence of Serbs outside Serbia or even a scheme of unification. Now this agenda has been trashed in Croatia and damaged in Bosnia. So Glenny describes Milosevic as having gone ‘wrong’ and Tudjman as having superior gifts.

‘The Serbs lose,’ says Glenny, but which Serbs? Dayton confirmed near-victory in Bosnia for both Serb and Croat national agendas. Whether the margins of defeat will prove wide enough to subvert the worst intentions on all sides will probably become clear this year. Meanwhile the apartheid principle wins; the self-styled Republika Srpska, a polity founded on genocide, is recognised as ruler of half the land; and Glenny’s commotion over Serb loss is misplaced, not to say scandalous.

The record shows that Milosevic was always too realistic to believe a pan-Serb agenda, was ready to betray it from early on, indeed expected to have to do so as pressure mounted, but could hardly run that risk unless ‘forced’. As early as August 1992, the London Conference indicated that he need fear no hostile intervention in Bosnia. The Vance-Owen Plan confirmed this. Milosevic backed the plan and its successors, distancing himself from the Bosnian Serb mafia, who were forever drunk on the early gains which he had bestowed.

The West kept thinking confrontation with Milosevic was still at issue when secret collaboration was the name of the game. We were so loath to give him a solid pretext for treachery that in August 1994, he showed the way and broke with the mafia. We played our part, with a strategy of Nato in the sky plus local forces on the ground that might have worked in 1992 in service of a far better settlement. Fascinated as he is by cardboard quarry – Clinton’s ‘brainless’ team, ‘fatuous’ critiques of the UN, Tudjman’s foresight – Glenny ignores this abyss of deceit. It is clear that Milosevic never urged a rational strategy on Serbs outside Serbia, and consistently opposed the unification of ‘Serb lands’ across state borders. Beset by political crisis, he expediently promoted a war; when he finally gets us to stop it, four years later, on his terms, the world is grateful and his domestic opposition is in shreds. Following his masterful performance at Dayton, and his appearance in Paris at Clinton’s side, how many politicians must wish they could be as ‘crass’ as Milosevic!

Mark Thompson

Misha Glenny claims that in the Dayton settlement ‘the Serbs lose’ and ‘Croatia wins’, something he attributes to the success of Croatian President Tudjman in winning international backing, which Serbia’s Milosevic failed to attempt. The truth is the opposite, even in crude territorial terms. As a result of its Bosnian-Serb proxies’ persistent contempt for the UN, their taking of UN hostages, assault on ‘safe areas’ and threats to drag Nato into a new Vietnam, Serbia has won recognition for its client Republika Srpska and been awarded 49 per cent of Bosnian territory, including the former UN ‘safe areas’ of Srebrenica and Zepa, despite being on the verge of complete military collapse at the time of the final ceasefire in October 1995. Croatia’s proxy Croatian Republic of Herceg-Bosna is, by contrast, presently in control of only 23 percent of Bosnia, which Dayton reduces by a further 4 per cent. The Bosnian-Croat statelet consists of economically worthless Western Hercegovina and south-west Bosnia, plus the isolated enclaves of Zepce, Kiseljak and the Lasva valley. Indeed, the Dayton territorial settlement represented a net gain for the Karadzic Serbs in relation to the front lines of October 1995. Croatia gave up to the Karadzic Serbs territory equal to 4 per cent of Bosnia, including the strategically important towns of Mrkonjic-Grad and Sipovo, leaving Croat-controlled Jajce a vulnerable enclave. The Croats’ only compensation for these losses is the single Posavinan town of Odzak. The creation of a Croat statelet in Bosnia, made up mostly of mountains with an entirely black-market economy, at the price of the displacement or ghettoisation of two-thirds of all Bosnian Croats, scarcely makes Tudjman the primary victor. The Dayton settlement moreover rules that the ratio of military forces between Croatia, Bosnia and Serbia should be 2:2:5 in favour of the latter. Since one-third of the armed forces in Bosnia’s portion is to go to Republika Srpska, Dayton in effect guarantees a Serbian military preponderance of 5.66:3.33 – i.e. 17:10 – over the Croatians and Bosnians combined.

Glenny further claims that the Croatian move into Krajina in August 1995 was ‘the first time in the conflict that the international powers actually approved an act of ethnic cleansing’. This is nonsense. All the international ‘peace plans’ for Bosnia-Hercegovina have been predicated on the successively more generous legitimation of the Karadzic Serbs’ possession of lands that they had ethnically cleansed. The Vance-Owen Plan, for example, gave them possession of the majority-Muslim towns of Kljuc and Sanski Most, scenes of some of their worst atrocities. The Owen-Stoltenberg Plan gave them in addition the large majority-Muslim town of Prijedor as well as all the majority-Muslim towns of East Bosnia except Gorazde, Srebrenica and Zepa. The Serbian conquest of the ‘safe area’ of Srebrenica and massacre of thousands of its inhabitants in July 1995 took place only after General Mladic had intercepted a directive of UN Special Envoy Yasushi Akashi advising that Srebrenica be abandoned. US intelligence was aware a Serbian attack was pending, but took no action to prevent it, or even to inform the UN or the Western Europeans. Likewise, the conquest of the second ‘safe area’ of Zepa took place only after Malcolm Rifkind had announced that the town could not be defended. The Americans viewed the destruction of Srebrenica and Zepa, as well as of Krajina, as ‘tidying up the map’ in preparation for a ‘peace’ settlement, and even suggested giving Gorazde to the Karadzic Serbs in exchange for land around Sarajevo, though this would have amounted to ‘ethnic cleansing’. It is noteworthy, however, that President Milosevic was not the subject of any Western threats over the conquest of Srebrenica, though it was planned and executed by his Chief of Staff, General Momcilo Perisic. By contrast, Tudjman’s offensive against Krajina provoked a threat from the UN mediator Carl Bilt to prosecute him for war crimes, even though the Croatians in Krajina, unlike Perisic’s Serbian forces in Srebrenica, were taking back territory that legally belonged to them, not conquering someone else’s.

It is hardly fair for Glenny to present himself as an impartial analyst, when he is universally regarded by Bosnian campaigners as a hostile source, but not by their Serbian counterparts. On every issue during the course of the war, he has taken the side of Milosevic’s Serbia, at the level of practice if not of rhetoric: he opposed recognition of Croatian and Bosnian independence, opposed lifting the arms embargo against Bosnia, favoured easing sanctions against Serbia, opposed air-strikes and repeated highly dubious stories of Bosnians bombing their own people to provoke Western intervention against the Serbs.

The Western European intelligentsia has not, as Glenny claims, offered ‘uncritical backing’ for some ‘Wilsonian concept of self-determination’. The dominant characteristic of the approach to this war, in Western Europe and the US, has been the contradiction between intellectuals’ and politicians’ denunciation of aggression and ethnic cleansing in principle and their determination to collude with and legitimise it in practice. Dayton represents the triumph of this approach.

Attila Hoare
Yale University

Misha Glenny writes: When I said that the Croats win and the Serbs lose, I was using the Dayton Agreement rather loosely to refer to the overall settlement of the wars in both Bosnia and Croatia – which I assumed, clearly erroneously, was obvious from the context.

Tudjman had three war aims: to secure international recognition of Croatia (tick); to end the Serbian question in Croatia (tick); and to prevent the establishment of an independent Bosnia-Hercegovina (tick). Without international support, this would have been impossible.

Milosevic never crystallised his war aims, preferring instead to switch and reduce his territorial ambitions (the idea of a Serb-dominated Yugoslavia is replaced by a Yugoslavia without Slovenia, which in turn gives way to a Yugoslavia without Slovenia and Croatia but with those parts of rural Croatia where Serbs live, which is then rejected for Serbia and Montenegro with Bosnia and Macedonia, then without the latter etc etc).

Hoare works on the assumption that Serb aims, as defined by Milosevic, were and are the creation of a Greater Serbia. Mark Thompson goes to another extreme, suggesting that it was always Milosevic’s intention to shed the peripheral territories beyond the borders of Serbia and Montenegro.

If Hoare is correct, one can only conclude that the Serbs have failed pretty miserably. Not only have they lost the Krajina, presumably for ever: the economies of Serbia, Montenegro and especially the Republika Srpska (RS) have been ruined. They are also regarded as pariahs in Europe and beyond. In addition, there is no sympathy spared for Serb civilian victims of this war.

Hoare may consider that victory. I do not. As regards his digression into percentages, I observe that Hoare neglects to mention the Bihac pocket, which in theory comes under the control of Sarajevo, but in practice is utterly dependent economically on Croatia. Indeed, the entire Bosnian-Croat Federation is dependent on Croatia’s goodwill – it would not be too strong to suggest that Croatia has succeeded in creating a Bosnian vassal, whose status, economic and military strength will be at the mercy of Zagreb.

With reference to Hoare’s point about the military division, he may wish to remember that the population ratio between the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (FRY) and the RS, on the one hand, and Croatia and the Federation, on the other, is 18:11.5. He is also forgetting that Croatia has been able to ignore with equanimity the UN arms embargo imposed on the former Yugoslavia in September 1991 and there is no reason to imagine that it will halt the modernisation of its army just because of the Dayton Agreement.

Thompson’s argument appears more sophisticated. Indeed he may spot some similarities between things I have said and things he has said. He is demonstrably wrong, however, when he says I believe that Milosevic was motivated by a pan-Serbian agenda. I was the first person to note, in my book, that Milosevic instrumentalised every stage in the Yugoslav crisis to destroy opposition within Serbia to his rule. I have also frequently noted that Milosevic constituted the FRY quite clearly as being the Republics of Serbia and Montenegro (although its constitution does not rule out territorial expansion through agreement). I have often pointed out that Milosevic refused formal recognition to both the Serb Republic of Krajina and the RS.

But to credit Milosevic with a strategy which provoked the entire war as a way of controlling Serbia and jettisoning the peripheral territories is absurd. This flies in the face of substantial testimony provided by Slavoljub Djukic, Borisav Jovic and Ivan Stambolic, inter alii, concerning Milosevic’s aims. These aims changed as Milosevic began to understand his failure. The Serbian President pushed for the maximum amount of control over the maximum amount of territory where he could sustain it. When he discovered that he could not sustain it, he dropped it as an expedience. The reason he could not sustain it was that he had succeeded in alienating the entire international community (including, in my opinion, Russia).

Like many of my critics, Thompson chooses to concentrate on those things he disagrees with and conveniently forgets what I have written about Serbian nationalism, for example, as the most dynamic force on the road to conflict. I suspect if he were to reread that substantial part of my book, he might find my description of Milosevic’s rise and the Serbian bureaucracy’s intentions weirdly similar to Little and Silber’s.

What appears to gall both Hoare and Thompson is my refusal to concede that Croatia may behave like Serbia but get away with it. ‘Who except Tudjman could be used to beat the Bosnian Serbs to the point that they would accept a settlement?’ asks Thompson. (I wonder who will be used to beat the Bosnian Croats into respecting crucial parts of the Federation Agreement. Tudjman, perhaps?) I would venture that Robert Frasure and Milosevic would have eventually beaten down the Bosnian Serbs, but some of Mr Frasure’s colleagues in Washington felt otherwise.

Srebrenica, both Hoare and Thompson may recall, occurred after the collapse of the Frasure-Milosevic negotiations. They did not collapse because of the Bosnian Serbs but because of resistance to the Frasure deal led by Al Gore and Madeleine Albright. The final collapse of the Frasure plan (thanks also in part to diplomatic pressure which Tudjman applied on Washington via Germany) persuaded all three sides in the Bosnian and Croatian conflicts to seek a military solution. Before Srebrenica, the Bosnian Government attempted its disastrous breakout from Sarajevo. Mladic subsequently sought and received permission from the Yugoslav Army leadership (and almost certainly Milosevic) to attack the three enclaves, while Tudjman increased the concentration of troops around the Krajina in preparation for the final assault. Before the plan had been shouted out of court in Washington, Silajdzic had urged Frasure to do all he could to make it work – otherwise, he told Frasure, there would be a bloodbath.

After the collapse of Frasure-Milosevic, the Americans decided to go the whole hog with partition and cleansing. As regards Hoare’s comments about international responses to cleansing, he must learn to differentiate between a priori approval of the cleansing of the Krajina, as given by the Americans to Tudjman, and the construction of peace plans which accommodated cleansing operations after the event. The expulsion and massacres of the Muslims in northern and eastern Bosnia, for example, were roundly condemned by all members of the international community who at the time were still committed to solutions which did not permit partition. The American green light for the Krajina action specifically encouraged the creation of ethnically homogeneous states in the Balkans as a solution to the overall crisis and the message was lost on nobody in Bosnia-Hercegovina.

For reasons of space, I have not answered all the specific charges levelled at me by the two correspondents. For the record, I reject them all. On a final note, for those convinced that Thompson is able to gaze into abysses where others like myself are not, I recommend they read pages 293 and 294 of his book, The Paper House. His tender vision of a Bosnia saved thanks to the resolute decision of the international community to recognise the country’s independence certainly made me chuckle as I sat in the Hotel Ilidza reading it in early May 1992 with shells crashing all around me.

‘We’ must be ‘they’

‘Women: what are they for?’ I assumed the provocation in the title was ironical, as Adam Phillips discusses in his article the beliefs of a man whose misogyny made Freud himself distinctly uneasy (LRB, 4 January). Then we find Adam Phillips telling us that before we condemn Fritz Wittels for his resentment at women having lives of their own, and at their being sexually unavailable, ‘we should consider whether we have never had this thought ourselves; and what we do with it once we have had it.’ We? Oddly enough, no, we have never had this thought ourselves. But perhaps we are not included in Adam Phillips’s ‘we’? In which case, I guess, we must be ‘they’. And to ask what women are for is obviously not, for some men, an ironical question.

Sarah LeFanu
Claverham, Bristol


In his stimulating though also amphibologous essay on Europe (LRB, 25 January) Perry Anderson several times takes issue with the argument I made in another place (TLS, 5 May 1995). The first of his objections is based on a wilful misunderstanding. Anderson sets me up to be arguing that a clear ‘dividing-line must be drawn’ between what I describe as a second Europe of some twenty states (15 of them post-Communist) more or less set on course for EU-rope, and a third Europe comprising Russia, its adjunct Belarus, Ukraine and (my words) ‘perhaps also’ Serbia. He contrasts this with my previous – but in fact continued – advocacy of rapid extension of EU and Nato membership to the new Central European democracies, starting with Poland, the Czech Republic and Hungary.

Anyone who goes back to my TLS essay will see that I am very far from arguing that a ‘dividing-line must be drawn’. In fact, Anderson rightly quotes me as objecting to an instrumentalisation of the notion of ‘Central Europe’ to draw an ‘absolutely clear historical dividing-line between the so-called Visegrad group and, say, the Baltic states or Slovenia’. (Incidentally, it’s another canard to suggest that East Central European ideas of Central Europe all go back to Friedrich Naumann and the Germans. What about Palacky or Masaryk, to name but two non-German progenitors?) I do suggest that there is currently a significant difference between, on the one hand, the large array of mainly small post-Communist states, with a strong desire for membership of the EU among their political élites and a majority of public opinion, varying historical, political and economic qualifications for membership, and acceptance of their theoretical claim to membership by the political leaders of the EU, and, on the other hand, a smaller number of states, two of them large, where those conditions do not apply.

Does Anderson really think Russia or Serbia currently wants to join the EU, is set on a course to qualify for membership, or would find a claim to membership accepted, even in principle, by the political leaders of the EU? But identifying real differences (not least, between democracy and dictatorship) is a very different thing from insisting that a clear geographical ‘dividing-line must be drawn’. Indeed, I explicitly go on to envision ‘the longer-term possibility of a democratic Serbia re-oriented towards Europe’. The important point is precisely that one thing will lead to another, and EU-rope therefore has to start thinking now about how to make a functioning community of not just twenty but thirty member states.

Here comes his second objection, this time to my central argument for the importance of enlargement – especially at a time when the great gamble of monetary union seems increasingly likely to fail – and for the radical thinking about the structure and priorities of the Community that enlargement necessarily entails. Anderson argues that ‘the cost of integrating the Visegrad quartet alone would mean an increase of 60 per cent in the current Union budget.’ But that is only true if the applicants enter on the current terms of membership. Precisely because this is economically almost impossible for them, and unacceptable to influential constituencies in Western Europe, I argue that we have to give priority to rapid political membership – reverting to the original first purpose of the founding fathers of the European Community – combined with long economic transition periods, while at the same time trying to reform the bad system of the Common Agricultural Policy and structural funds, in which, for the time being, the new members might not participate. To characterise this project as ‘political embrace of the whole of Eastern Europe, under the guidance of Nato’ (‘guidance’ – where on earth does that idea come from?) ‘with power-sharing from Albania to Ireland’ is simply a caricature.

Most enjoyably but also most misleadingly, he conflates my views with those of the FO, the TLS, and what he calls ‘the wisdom of London’. The ‘wager in London’, he avers, is that widening will lead to loosening of the Community, and an end to federalism. This then enables him to pull an apparent rabbit out of his rhetorical hat. The ‘final amphibology’, he says, is that enlargement could actually lead to the opposite: a strengthening of Union powers in a new constitutional settlement. But that rabbit has already been skinned. This is exactly what I argued: ‘it would require more sharing of power and sovereignty; both in the form of Qualified Majority Voting, without which an EU of twenty or more member states would simply not work, and in the rather different procedures for what one might call Qualified Minority Acting … which is what is needed in foreign, security and defence policy.’ Others have made the same point. A British advocate of enlargement is not necessarily a Thatcherite. In the house of ‘London’ are many mansions.

I freely admit that, to use terms which will be familiar to Perry Anderson, the project I propose is a radical one. By contrast, Anderson’s argument seems curiously conservative.

Timothy Garton Ash
St Antony’s College, Oxford

Beyond the Pale

Wayne Koestenbaum (LRB, 25 January) says he is not into fist-fucking. Presumably he is not into jock-sniffing either, otherwise he would not wonder at how a ‘self-identified straight man’ like Arthur Danto could be traumatised by the sort of photographs he, Koestenbaum, finds ‘instructive’, yet also admit to having registered the size of his fellow soldiers’ cocks while in the Army. There is a world of difference between the sight of someone taking a shower and ‘acts beyond the pale of wedlock’. That said, Koestenbaum’s review prompted me to reread Sir Roy Vandervane’s pungent reflections on penises in Kingsley Amis’s Girl, 20. I include them here in the hope that Professor Koestenbaum may find them as instructive as Mapplethorpe’s photographs.

What about turning queer? you say to yourself. Plenty of facilities, these days highly respectable, pleasant companions, relatively inexpensive. And a prick is a splendid thing, and a splendid idea as well. It strikes you. The trouble is that in every case it’s got a man on the end of it. Which I’m afraid puts paid to it as far as I’m concerned.

Michael Barber
London SW19


I have some good news for those who think football is boring. My search for a suitable Trotsky quote to go on a football T-shirt has foundered on the harsh material reality that, at least as far as his writings go, Trotsky felt that football was something of a diversion from the class struggle. Indeed, as Ian Hamilton somehow fails to tell us, the game is becoming more and more bourgeois as a spectator sport (LRB, 25 January). Those who actually play it are still overwhelmingly working-class. Those who watch, at £15 a head minimum for a seat at White Hart Lane, are increasingly middle-class. The fact remains that however middle-class football becomes Arsenal will still play boring, counter-revolutionary football. Was Trotsky’s dislike of football formed by a visit with Lenin to watch them play?

Keith Flett
London N17

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