Tuesday, July 26, 2005

US supports racist fanatic in Bosnia 1997

US supports racist fanatic in Bosnia

By Michael Karadjis


ATHENS -- The US/NATO-controlled “stabilisation forces” occupying Bosnia have come out openly on the side of Bosnian Serb President Biliana Plavsic in her power struggle with the clique around former president Radovan Karadzic. This has included direct intervention by US troops to help Plavsic replace pro-Karadzic forces in the police stations of Banja Luka.
Plavsic is being portrayed as a “moderate” compared to the “hardliners” around indicted war criminal Karadzic.
However, Plavsic was a fanatical advocate of the Serb nationalism which led to the murder of 200,000 people in 1992-95 – the great majority of whom wee Muslims - and the ethnic cleansing of all non-Serbs from the 50% of Bosnia now known as “Republika Srpska”.
A founding member along with Karadzic of the ultra-nationalist Serb Democratic Party (SDP) in Bosnia, she never showed any moderation while this party and its heavily armed militias carried out their plans for a single state for all Serbs wherever they lived, even as a minority.
When this included the systematic massacre of 8,000 Muslim men and boys following the capture of Srebrenica in July 1995, Plavsic stood with those advocating more of the same.
`Most radical of all'
The leader of the massacre, General Mladic, believed that with 70% of Bosnia in their hands, there was no need to do the same to Gorazde and Bihac, which could entail risks of foreign intervention. Criticising Mladic, Plavsic boasted, “I was the most radical of all, because I believed that in a war, every soft solution demands more lives”.
NATO's “moderate” has some interesting views. Of Seselj, the ultraright leader of the Serb Radical Party inside Serbia and the Chetnik militia in Bosnia, which carried out the most atrocious crimes in 1992, Plavsic said: “He came to us, he went to the front, his presence meant so much to those people. The news that Seselj was at the front hit the morale of our enemies fearfully.”
Of the butcher Arkan, she said: “When I went to Bielina, when I saw the young heroes, when I saw what they had done there, it immediately occurred to me that all his actions were of such nature, and I said: `That is a Serb hero'.” What she saw that “they had done”, was hundreds of dead bodies in the streets of Bielina in April 1992.
On Bokan, leader of the terrorist “White Eagles” militia, she claimed, improbably, that “Bokan is a man who has a great deal to offer in the intellectual field”.
And on Karadzic himself, in May 1996: “Who should surrender Karadzic [to the international tribunal for war crimes]? I can't imagine any Serb who could do such a thing.”
Plavsic has not moved a centimetre on the central question of maintaining an ethnically pure Serb state. The US claims that Plavsic is in favour of implementing the Dayton Accords, while Karadzic is trying to block them, but it does not have in mind the central humanitarian point of Dayton: the right to return to their homes of the more than 2 million refugees, mostly Muslims previously living in what is now Republika Srpska.
Only several thousand refugees have returned anywhere in Bosnia, almost none to Republika Srpska. Several attempts by Muslim refugees to return to their homes have been violently turned back by racist mobs, without any attempt by the “stabilisation forces” to help.
Different bases
The Plavsic-Karadzic struggle centres on the geographic separation of their two power bases. Karadzic's power base is in Pale in eastern Bosnia, which borders on Serbia. But 80% of the population of Republika Srpska lives in north-west Bosnia, around the capital Banja Luka, from where Plavsic rules.
The two sections are linked by a tiny corridor around Brko in the north. Tens of thousands of Muslims and Croats were slaughtered in this largely non-Serb region to create this corridor.
Similarly, the small population of eastern Bosnia is due to the fact that before the war, the overwhelming majority of the population were Muslims, who were all expelled. The region around Banja Luka always had a strong Serb presence -- here they had to expel “only” 50% of the population.
Karadzic and the clique around him have engaged in massive theft since the beginning of the war. They control the companies Centrex and Select Implex, which monopolise all cross-border trade in arms, drugs, cigarettes, alcohol and fuel -- legal and illegal.
The Karadzic clique has amassed immense wealth while the bulk of the population live in misery. That's what the war of conquest was all about: Serb nationalism was a useful cover for careerists to grab control of former state property. In similar vein, Arkan is now a big-time banker in Serbia.
Plavsic has rallied against this theft because it is leaving the rest of her state a desert. Teachers and doctors get their pay six months late, while unemployment reaches 90% in some areas.
Young people in particular choose to leave en masse. According to Miodrak Zivanovitz from the anti-nationalist Liberal Party, “Sure we now have our own country with its own constitutions and institutions ... soon, however, we won't have any people.”
Such conditions are a particular problem for north-west Bosnia, not only because most Serbs live there, but because, far from the Serbian border and almost enclosed by the other half of Bosnia (the Muslim-Croat Federation) and Croatia itself, its economic survival depends on developing economic relations with these states.
That can occur only if concessions are made at least to the superficial aspects of the Dayton agreement. Dayton stipulates that the two halves of Bosnia are still part of a very loose confederation.
For Plavsic, this is meaningless enough to accept, to allow economic development; the hot-heads around Karadzic can openly talk about splitting from Bosnia and merging with Serbia precisely because, with their wealth, they don't need to consider the consequences.
US interests
In her drive to get rid of Karadzic, Plavsic's interests have merged with those of the US. US domination of the region depends on its ability to be seen as the power broker between the mutually hostile Serb, Croat, Muslim and multi-ethnic forces.
As the US has no interest in pushing the right of return of refugees, it needs a high profile, symbolic action, also part of Dayton: the trial of major war criminals. At the top of the list is Karadzic.
A trial of Karadzic, and perhaps Mladic and some other outstanding butchers, would allow the US to get on with the real business of rebuilding its old bridges with the Serb nationalist forces and sweeping under the carpet the bulk of those responsible for ethnic cleansing.
Their extreme anticommunism and their stated desire to save Europe from “Islamic fundamentalism” could make them natural US allies, especially given the old political and economic links between the US and the Serb regime, which it initially saw as a bulwark against a pro-German Croatia in 1991.
For the same reasons, the US has pressured Croatia's President Franjo Tudjman to hand over some prominent war criminals and allow Serb refugees to return. This will allow a similar whitewash of Tudjman, although the war criminals claim he gave the orders.
Dilemma for Milosevic
For the Slobodan Milosevic regime in Serbia, the Plavsic-Karadzic struggle is a dilemma. Both despise Milosevic, whose ruling Serb Socialist Party they still see, improbably, as a continuation of the old Yugoslav Communist Party.
In particular, both see him as a traitor for signing the Dayton accords. Plavsic has long refused even to talk to Milosevic due to this “betrayal.”
Now, however, the views of Plavsic essentially agree with those of Milosevic. He knows that adhering to certain legal niceties of Dayton is the best way to preserve his “greater Serbia”.
He has no interest in adventurous plans by Karadzic and his own right opposition for absorbing the Republika Srpska into Serbia. He knows that the new Serbian bourgeoisie will reign supreme in the half of Bosnia now totally Serb, while economic relations with Croatia, and through Croatia with Europe, would be threatened by unnecessary illegal actions.
Economic relations with the outside world through the lifting of remaining sanctions also require the sacrifice of Karadzic and Mladic. But here Milosevic has a major problem.
If Karadzic and Mladic are forced to testify at the war crimes tribunal, Milosevic himself will be implicated. At the opening of the war it was Milosevic and his army that armed, trained and financed the butchers loyal to Karadzic, Mladic, Seselj and Arkan.
Meanwhile, Plavsic's “pure” Serb state will remain a monstrosity. Not only will she not discuss the return of Muslim and Croat refugees -- the majority of the population -- but the Republika Srpska hardly represents Bosnian Serbs.
Its population of 800,000 includes 200,000 Serb refugees, mostly those expelled from Croatia in 1995. However, the pre-war Bosnian Serb population was about 1.4 million. Around 200,000 Serbs remain in their original homes in what is now the Muslim-Croat Federation, while about 600,000 Serbs fled abroad during the war, in order to escape being drafted.

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