Bolivia, Yugoslavia and US Ambassador Philip Goldberg

Michael Karadjis

I feel forced to write to correct some confusion that has been circulating regarding the current US ambassador to Bolivia, Philip Goldberg, who has been supporting the so-called “autonomy” referendum by the Bolivian oligarchy.

A continuous line has come out that Goldberg “has experience in partition” because he allegedly participated in the dismemberment of Yugoslavia. This tends to be a secondary point alongside a more general point that erroneously compares actual oppressed nations, such as the Kosovar Albanians, the poorest people in Europe, who have striven for independence for over a century, with the rich oligarchy of low-lands Bolivia, engaged in an imperialist-backed destabilization of the Bolivian revolution.

Along with Kosova, some also list Tibet and other examples of so-called “secessionism” as being related to the Bolivian oligarchy’s campaign. One feels compelled to add Palestine, Eritrea, Bangladesh, East Timor, Aceh, Tamil Ealam and other national liberation struggles by oppressed peoples just to make it consistent.

Much more could be said on the unscientific nature of such comparisons, but the essential point is that when Lenin was advocating the right of *oppressed nations* to self-determination he would have been surprised to see people a century later managing to confuse this with any “right” of *oppressor classes* to the same.

If struggles by oppressed nations and oppressor classes are now going to be all lumped together as “secession,” perhaps we ought to go back to the long “struggle” of the white Rhodesian elite against Britain, and declare it fundamentally similar to the struggle of the black Zimbabwean masses against that elite – both advocated “secession” from Britain.

The claims about Goldberg and the Balkans appear aimed at fitting out this false comparison with a coordinator. If the same bad guy, now stirring up the Bolivian oligarchy to “secession”, previously also pushed for “secession” of nations of the former Yugoslavia, then this proves how wicked those peoples of the Balkans were for struggling for self-determination against an oppressive regime.

The problem is, it is a house of cards. According to one such article, by Marina Menéndez Quintero (Bolivia Is One Sole Nation) in Juventud Rebelde:

“The activity of US Ambassador Philip Goldberg —who was an assistant of Richard Holbrooke, identified as one of the strategists in the disintegration of Yugoslavia— and whose arrival in Bolivia is related to the break out of the first separatist actions...”

Similarly, we read:

“Between 1994 and 1996 he was Special Assistant to Ambassador Richard Holbrooke, one of the strategists behind Yugoslavian disintegration … Goldberg, recognized as an expert in stoking ethnic or racial conflicts and his experience in Bosnia’s ethnic struggles preceding the breakup of the former Yugoslavia, would be key in Bolivia.”

(Roberto Bardini, The Ambassador of Ethnic Cleansing, May 3, 2008,

Let’s look at the chronology. Yugoslavia broke up in 1991-92. At that time, Goldberg’s boss Holbrooke, a Democrat, was nowhere near either the then US Republican government, or the Balkans, so could hardly have been a “strategist behind Yugoslavian disintegration.” In any case, the US Republican regime of George Bush I strongly opposed the “secession” of the non-Serb Yugoslav republics, and supported “the unity of Yugoslavia” to the bitter end. It was full of folk like Eagelburger and Scowcroft (and Kissinger just behind the scenes) up to their eyeballs in Yugoslav commercial and other connections.

US State Secretary Baker went to Belgrade in June 1991 on the eve of Croatia’s independence referendum – also the eve of the Serb-dominated ‘Yugoslav’ army’s massive 6-month bombing and ethnic cleansing war against that republic – and declared the US was for the maintenance of “the unity of Yugoslavia” by all means, and called the Croatian and Slovenian referendums “illegal and illegitimate.” A clear green light to Milosevic to launch his war. Even after the following 6 months of slaughter, when the EU and Russia finally recognised the constitutionally legal independence of the two republics in January 1992, the US still refused for several more months.

Clinton’s Democrat regime did not take power until January 1993, by which time the former Yugoslav federation was long gone. Now there was a horrific war going on in Bosnia, one of the now independent former republics, as Serbia and Croatia and their Bosnian proxies ethnically cleansed the Bosnian Muslim plurality of the population from vast areas of that country in order to partition Bosnia between them. The EU obliged with one after another ethnic partition plan to recognise this ethnic cleansing. The idea that these “Bosnian ethnic struggles” of 1992-95 could have “preceded” the disintegration of Yugoslavia in 1989-92, as suggested above, is quite a leap of faith.

Goldberg arrived on the scene in 1994. As explained, between 1994 and 1996, Goldberg was special assistant to Holbrooke, then Clinton’s chief of Balkan diplomacy. And in this capacity, Holbrooke certainly was an architect of partition: not of Yugoslavia, but of Bosnia.

Holbrooke’s crowning achievement was the 1995 US-engineered Dayton partition plan of Bosnia, which ended the war on Serbian terms. In half of Bosnia, a ‘Serb Republic’ was recognised, despite Serbs being only 30% of the population, and despite this territory having been ethnically cleansed of about a million non-Serbs, about half its pre-war population. This included the whole of east Bosnia, formerly overwhelmingly Muslim in population, which had suffered genocide at the hands of Milosevic’s thugs in 1992. Holbrooke’s “peace” plan recognised this genocidal disappearance of this Muslim majority (along with 1700 mosques destroyed to make sure no-one suspected the Muslims were ever there).

Holbrooke’s partners in the Dayton crime were Milosevic and his Croatian partner Tudjman, in fact it is often called the Holbrooke-Milosevic-Tudjman plan. The biggest losers were the Bosnian Muslims and mixed Bosnians, who had fought to retain a multi-ethnic constitution, reflecting the multi-ethnic reality that had been Bosnia, and the population spread of Muslims throughout the mixed republic.

Even Srebrenica, a Muslim enclave in east Bosnia which had just been overrun by Serbian general Mladic in July 1995, a couple of months before Dayton, where 8000 Muslim captives were summarily slaughtered in Europe’s largest massacre since World War II, was ceded to the Serb Republic.

Even worse, Holbrooke has been accused of having given the green light for the Bosnian Serb army to take Srebrenica. In a 2005 interview with the French magazine Paris-Match, he admitted his initial instructions from national security adviser Anthony Lake were to sacrifice the three remaining Muslim ‘enclaves’ in East Bosnia – Srebrenica, Zepa and Gorazde – to the Serb nationalists. He has long claimed he rejected pressure to abandon Gorazde, leaving the question of the other two unclear. The same issue of Paris-Match had an interview with the chief prosecutor of the Hague Yugoslav war crimes tribunal, Carla del Ponte, who claims that western officials held a meeting with Milosevic, Karadzic and Mladic in 1995, to discuss the plans to seize Srebrenica.

The reason for such dealing was that the US felt the map to divide Bosnia 50/50 needed first a little “tidying up” (which was also the Bosnian Serb leadership’s condition for signing Dayton) – and a Muslim ‘enclave’ still rudely sticking out into east Bosnia, from where all the rest of the Muslim population had been expelled, was considered too untidy.

So the dismemberment of *Bosnia*, not Yugoslavia, appears to be Goldberg’s major experience in partition and dismemberment.

However, while still unrelated to the dismemberment of Yugoslavia, the Bardini article also makes another assertion about Goldberg’s career. It says that “after serving as Deputy Chief of Mission in Santiago de Chile between 2001 and 2004, Goldberg went once more to the Balkans to head the Kosovo mission, where he worked until 2006 to break away Serbia and Montenegro.”

However, it would be quite a remarkable achievement if he had really worked to break Serbia and Montenegro apart, given that US policy was to oppose separation, and to the last moment advocated Montenegrins vote against separation in their referendum. The US State Dept even invited the four leaders of the anti-independence Montenegrin *opposition* coalition to Washington for official talks in the month just before the referendum. The Montenegrins did not take this US advice (or the even more forceful EU advice).

Indeed, why would the US want separation? At the time, the US was the fifth biggest investor in Serbia; especially after buying Serbia’s major steel plant; by contrast, after Montenegrin independence, much of Montenegro’s coastline, and its only significant factory, a huge aluminium plant, along with a connected bauxite mine, were bought up by Russian oligarchs. Between them, the aluminium plant and bauxite mine account for nearly one fifth of Montenegro’s GDP.

A final assertion comes from Roger Burbach, who claims that during his Kosova mission of 2004-6, Goldberg “played a central role in orchestrating Kosovo's independence from Serbia, which it had been a province of for centuries” (‘United States Maneuvers to Carve Up Bolivia with Autonomy Vote’, May 5, 2008,

Just as an aside, Kosova was conquered by Serbia in 1913, that is less than a century ago, against the wishes of the overwhelming majority of its inhabitants, who were then and are now Albanians. In all that time it has never held the people down in any way other than repression – that is a straight out fact. It is unfortunate for an astute commentator such as Burbach to be speaking about Kosova being a province of Serbia “for centuries,” an invention of the Serbian Orthodox and Chetnik ultra-right, a view rightly rejected for 40 years by Titoist Yugoslavia.

But that is not the issue. Did he “play a central role” in “orchestrating” Kosova’s independence? In fact, through most of this period (2004-6), US policy remained opposed to independence.

The UN-led negotiations between Serbia and the Kosovar Albanian leadership only began in December 2005, late in Goldberg’s term. In response, US Senate Resolution 237 (Voinovich, Lugar, Biden) made no mention of independence, but called on the negotiations to reach a “compromise” that satisfies the aspirations of the people both of Kosova and of Serbia, and stressed “the anticipated discussions of the long-term status of Kosovo should result in a plan for implementing the Standards for Kosovo, particularly with regard to minority protections, return of property, and the development of rule of law as it relates to the improvement of protection of minorities, the return of internally displaced persons, the return of property, and the prosecution of human rights violations.”

Towards the end of Goldberg’s term, the US began to hint for the first time that independence was one of the possible options. American UN ambassador, neo-con extremist John Bolton, noted in early 2006 that “Independence is a possible outcome,” but stressed “parties must be ready to engage on key issues, including minority rights, decentralization and the status of religious sites -- issues that will allow Kosovo to remain multi-ethnic regardless of its status.” It is unlikely Bolton was being disingenuous in saying independence was only one option, because Bolton has since come out furiously opposed to US recognition of Kosovar independence (Warning Light on Kosovo,, and denounced the US State Department for allegedly pushing "an anti-Serb policy for over 15 years now.”

In any case this had no influence on the position of the Kosovar Albanians, who had always striven for nothing less than independence, and had voted for it in their 1991 referendum by a margin of over 99 percent.

US leaders were coming to understand that to prevent their independence would require a counterinsurgency war launched either by Serbia or NATO, and was gradually deciding this was not worth it, especially inside Europe, and so limiting, restricting some kind of “conditional independence” with large concessions to the Serb minority might be the best route. But even this was not yet official policy during Goldberg’s term.

It was not until early 2007, well after Goldberg had left, that UN negotiator Marti Ahtisaari decided the talks had reached impasse and so put forward a plan for highly restricted “supervised independence” with significant autonomy for Serbs. Interestingly, the very *restrictions* imposed on Kosova’s independence make it closely resemble the kind of “state” the US wants to negotiate for the Palestinians. It was only then that the US officially came out supporting that position.

But what of Goldberg himself? It is feasible that he may have secretly represented an already more solidly pro-independence faction in the US ruling class, and so went about “orchestrating” it in various undercover ways. But if so, no evidence whatsoever has been produced for such a scenario. Actually, he was instrumental in *pressuring* the Kosovar Albanian leadership to take part in status negotiations with Serbia at all; at the time, the Kosovar Albanians rejected this. Kosova Assembly speaker Nexhat Daci expressed the view that “Independence is non-negotiable, not under any circumstances. Other things, all other issues should be negotiated with the international community and Belgrade; that includes the treatment of minorities, the lack of cooperation between minorities, the issue of free movement in the region.” (‘US envoy to Kosovo says time has come to prepare for status talks’, text of report by Kosovo Albanian television KohaVision TV on 16 August 2005).

Goldberg however stressed that “the status issue has to go through talks” and stated “You know there are people who are saying this isn't going to be a negotiation. Well, it is. Even if you take as your premise a certain position in the final status, which we all know on this side [Kosovo] means independence, on the other side [
Belgrade] means something else. There are still a whole lot of issues that flow from that. What are the rights and obligations of certain communities here; decentralization and how that will have an effect on the future of Kosovo; the north of Kosovo and what will happen there, because we all know that there has been a different reality there than in the rest of Kosovo.”

He stressed the need for Kosova to have a better policy towards the Serb minority: “The majority needs to accept that there are minorities here, who have every right to live in safety, security, with their own language, with their own culture. That, in many ways, is part of the decentralization effort to assure that by putting a policy behind the rhetoric. I think that the institutions need to be more welcoming of minorities and more willing to offer opportunities to people. I think safety and security is not yet what we would like.” (U.S. Mission Head Talks To RFE/RL About Province Status Issue,

All gloss? Perhaps, but I’ve seen no evidence to the contrary.

What we have therefore is accusations regarding separating Kosova from Serbia which appear unclear and unlikely, accusations regarding separating Montenegro and Serbia which are considerably more unlikely if not impossible, and accusations regarding orchestrating the disintegration of Yugoslavia which are a straight chronological impossibility.

But that the key period when Goldberg was at the Balkan desk of Washington’s leading Balkan negotiator Holbrooke was the period when his leader was centrally involved in the racist partition of Bosnia which recognised the Serbian ethnic cleansing and genocide of Bosnia’s Muslims by granting a purified ‘Serb Republic’ on half of Bosnia’s territory. And, perhaps by accident, *this* partition actually has more in common with the partition he is now engaged in in Bolivia, because the Bosnian Serbs were not an oppressed nation in Bosnia, but on the contrary, the most powerful section of population, politically, economically and militarily.

A final point can be added regarding the broader issue of the incorrect comparison. It is no accident that the Bolivian oligarchy is mainly focused on “autonomy” rather than outright “independence.” Obviously not that they have any more right to the latter either, of course. But it is better for their purposes to advocate "autonomy" because the whole point is they are not a nation and do not see themselves as one, they are a reactionary part of the Bolivian nation aiming to overthrow the revolution in their nation.

And the great irony of this is that if one did want to make absurd comparisons with a national question in a different part of the world, then what Serbia offered Kosova, that Kosova rejected in favour of independence, was ... "autonomy"! Which interestingly enough is also what
Indonesia offered Timor in 1999 - the referendum was "autonomy" v independence, not “subjugation to Indonesia” v independence. And what Israel has offered the Palestinians for decades in place of a Palestinian state is "autonomy."

Not that autonomy is a bad thing if accepted by the people at stake, just that if you make
unscientific comparisons, they at least ought to be with the same thing. In all these
cases, the oppressed nation rejects autonomy because they don't trust a regime that has oppressed them for ages to rule them in any way, and in the case of Kosova, because autonomy was precisely what they previously had that got ripped up. Still, nothing much to do with
Santa Cruz in any case.

Yet if these people writing these things really do think that the entire Kosovar Albanian nation is nothing but an oligarchic counterrevolutionary cabal (against which revolution I don't know), then they should be warning
Serbia's right-wing regime against its offers of autonomy. It should instead advocate a war of bloody suppression; or failing that, it should prefer full separation so that the counterrevolution is less able to undermine the government. "Autonomy" would appear the worst option.


info said...

Thank you for your very informative and highly nuanced history lesson regarding Amb. Goldberg and some of the other US State Dept. supporting cast of characters involved in the breakup of Yugoslavia.
I have no proof to dispute any of the facts you presented, but that doesn't mean the allegations you dispute are not correct. Many crimes go unpunished for lack of proof; though it is not in dispute the crimes actually occurred. Case in point--9-11; an as yet proven crime that many believe (me included) was a false-flag operation created in large part as a pretext to war on Afghanistan and Iraq.
Part of your argument used public declarations of innocent or humanitarian intent by some of the same people alleged to have been involved with, or orchestrating the breakup of Yugoslavia then, and Bolivia today. Given the history of US' predisposition for falsehoods to hide true intent, why on earth would anyone believe anything coming from Washington, regardless of the party holding the Presidency? Imperialism most often takes a long-term view and strategy and the willing participation of many actors, and in the case of the US, of both major political parties.
Actions speak louder than words, and it is one’s actions that most often show true purpose and intent.
You listed a number of nations covered by the bloody fingerprints of the US government, especially in the support of despotic regimes more than willing to serve US interests as puppets, rather than be killed for refusing to do so. John Perkins' "Economic Hit Man" more than amply tells how the game is played, and the consequences of refusal to play by imposed rules. This despite official US denials, of course.
Lastly, we seem hindered by perceptions and differences in perspective. You claim “And the great irony of this is that if one did want to make absurd comparisons with a national question in a different part of the world, then what Serbia offered Kosova, that Kosova rejected in favour of independence, was ... "autonomy"! Which interestingly enough is also what Indonesia offered Timor in 1999 - the referendum was "autonomy" v independence, not “subjugation to Indonesia” v independence. And what Israel has offered the Palestinians for decades in place of a Palestinian state is "autonomy."”
Your ad hominem attack about others’ “absurd comparisons” my friend, is akin no less, to the pot calling the kettle black!
Let me suggest that the instances you cite might not be seen in the same way as you describe them, by those personally involved. For one example, the Kosovars were not looking for independence or autonomy—they were looking to stay living. And for another example, the Palestinians whose land was taken from them by Israel were not looking for autonomy—they were and are looking for justice--instead of the virtual prison and genocide imposed upon them by the Zionists.
Like I said—it is largely a matter of perception—and where you see no evil, I definitely see lots of it—both there and in the secessionist movement (regardless of what you call it) in Bolivia.

Nestor G said...

True, just Bosnia. He needed the partition of Yugoslavia first. And then he partitioned Bosnia. Among other reasons why, _to deliver a final blow and a couple of bloodbaths to the idea of reunification of Yugoslavia_, as well as to make it sure the Serbs outside the Serbian Republic would never raise their heads.

Yes, of course.

"Just" Bosnia.

It is as if some British Ambassador had fostered partitioned, say, "just" an evil and bloodstained partition of Illinois after the defeat of the North by the South in the American Civil War and during the bloody intersectional battles that would have followed (most probably)

david montoute said...

The first commentator regards this article as "nuanced". I don't see anything nuanced about this piece at all. It's nothing more than a rehash of tired old Serb-basing, the media staple of the 1990s. There might be something to discuss if there were actually any straight facts in the article, but there aren't. Statements like "the US Republican regime of George Bush I strongly opposed the “secession” of the non-Serb Yugoslav republics, and supported “the unity of Yugoslavia” to the bitter end" are utterly ridiculous and totally contradicted by the public record.

As Michael Parenti notes : "In November 1990, the Bush administration pressured Congress into passing the 1991 Foreign Operations Appropriations Act, which provided that any part of Yugoslavia failing to declare independence within six months would lose U.S. financial support. The law demanded separate elections in each of the six Yugoslav republics, and mandated U.S. State Department approval of both election procedures and results as a condition for any future aid. Aid would go only to the separate republics, not to the Yugoslav government, and only to those forces whom Washington defined as “democratic,” meaning right-wing, free-market, separatist parties. "

Similarly, terms like "genocide" thrown around to describe Bosnia's brutal, three-way civil war are way off-base. Two fairly recent and extremely comprehensive studies put the death toll ON ALL SIDES at around 100,000. Now, a glance at the breakdown of the CIVILIAN portion of casualties shows that each ethnic group (Serb, Croat & Muslim) suffered more or less equal losses.

With respect to Kosovo, the author objects to comparisons between the KLA terrorists and the Crucena oligarchy because albano-kosovars were poor, whilst the Crucenos are rich. This is irrelevant to the argument over Washington's intentions vis a vis seccession. In both cases, the Albano-kosovars and the Crucena elite are merely pawns being used in a wider game.

Finally, in discussing areas of vital strategic interest to the Empire, there is no such thing as "Democrat" policy or "Republican" policy - there is only one overall objective - open markets and submissive governments.
How a given Administration decides to pursue that goal may vary - but for Karadjis to claim that Bush senior "supported" Milosevic & the FRY, whereas Clinton opposed it, is a fantastic assertion. As any Yugoslav knows, Washington and Berlin long had Yugoslavia's demolition on the back-burner - it merely took the end of the Cold War to set their plans into motion.

info said...

Agreed on all counts--my choice of terms was perhaps a poorly crafted attempt for brevity--when I said nuanced, I meant it to describe a selective use of the author's 'facts'--some of which I then made an admittedly weak attempt to refute. What can I say--I live to learn-- causing me to wonder what term you might have used instead of nuanced?
Also,I wasn't aware of the terms of the 1991 Foreign Operations Appropriations Act, and appreciate your history lesson.
Otherwise, we seem to mostly agree, at least in regard to the willful dismantling of Yugoslavia on behalf of the divisive, destructive forces of global corporate empire.

Michael Karadjis said...

Well I was first going to respond to John’s reasoned comment, but now that david montoute has send his vitriolic comment, I feel the need to respond to that first in order to not leave such a lot of fiction on line unanswered for too many hours.

Montoute seems to think he is ‘nuanced’, but writes nothing more than a rehash of tired old Chetnik-philia. Note I use a political term, ‘Chetnik’, to denote a certain kind of politics; by contrast, his claim I am “Serb-bashing” by criticising the policies of particular Serb governments falls into the same class as the Zionists’ use of the term “anti-Semitism” to castigate anyone daring to criticise their policies.

Contrary to Montoute, the “public record” fully supports my assertion that the US government supported the “unity of Yugoslavia” to the bitter end, regardless of the way Milosevic was (allegedly) trying to achieve this. He quotes Parenti, but while Parenti is a good bloke, he is also apparently capable of story-telling. Parenti writes:
"In November 1990, the Bush administration pressured Congress into passing the 1991 Foreign Operations Appropriations Act, which provided that any part of Yugoslavia failing to declare independence within six months would lose U.S. financial support.”
I would like Montoute to find this document – I cannot find it on line, I have a hard copy, but I am not in a country where I can access it at the moment. But I know it says nothing of the sort. Neither the Bush administration, nor this bill, ever advocated independence for the republics, let alone demanded it as suggested here. If you believe such fiction, you supply the text.
There are other inaccuracies. This bill – which was to cut off a mere $5 million in aid – was not the result of “pressure” by the “Bush administration.” The bill was moved by Bush’s key opponent, Bob Dole, and a couple of supporters, who were on the outer in that administration and constantly tried to embarrass it.
Bush’s Assistant State Secretary Eagleburger then contacted Helen Delich Bentley, a pro-Serbian Maryland representative with Serbian roots, and who was heavily financed by the Serbian lobby, to vigorously campaign to block the bill, ensuring a 6-month delay. When the amendment ultimately passed, in May 1991, Secretary of State Baker invoked the State Department’s discretionary authority to prevent it taking effect.

In justifying use of discretionary powers to quash the bill, the State Department explained that Yugoslav unity was a key US objective and that the Yugoslav federal government was doing its best to achieve this and thus should be financed and not deprived of US funds:
“By unity we mean the territorial integrity of Yugoslavia within its present borders. We believe that the ethnic heterogeneity of most Yugoslav republics means that any dissolution of Yugoslavia is likely to exacerbate rather than resolve ethnic tensions.
“The U.S. will not encourage or reward secession; it will respect any framework, federal, confederal, or other, on which the people of Yugoslavia peacefully and democratically decide. We firmly believe that Yugoslavia’s external or internal borders should not be changed unless by peaceful consensual means.
“Over this period, Yugoslavia as a whole has made significant progress toward observance of CSCE principles, and the Yugoslav people and their leaders have preserved a commitment to dialogue under increasingly difficult circumstances.
“Yugoslav Prime Minister Markovic and Stipe Mesic have sought to resolve this impasse constitutionally. Their efforts are critical to the continuity of Yugoslav federal authority and to further all—Yugoslav democratic and market reform.”
Interestingly, the main criticism of the Milosevic Serbian republic government government of the time – which should not be confused with the federal Yugoslav government although they were in practice growing into one – was precisely that Milosevic was *blocking* the Yugoslav constitution by blocking the accession to the presidency of the Croat Stipe Mesic – as constitutionally mandated in Yugoslavia’s rotational system of presidents from each of the 8 federal units. The US felt that this secessionist action by Serbia threatened the all-important Yugoslav unity just as the Croat and Slovene independence referendums did, which the US vigorously denounced.
The problem was that the armed forces of the “united” Yugoslavia were becoming one and the same with the armed forces of Serbia, as the absolute Serbian dominance of the officer caste was pushing the Yugoslav army to act on Serbia’s behalf in Croatia, as it had previously done by helping Milosevic unconstitutionally smash the legal autonomy of Kosova.

So when Baker went to Belgrade in June 1991 and gave the remarkable speech about Yugoslav unity at al cost and condemning the “secessionist” republics, he gave a green light to Milosevic to go in full scale.
Meanwhile, while Parenti and ‘Workers World’ etc go on about this attempted cut off of 5 million by Bush’s opponents, the US had supplied the Yugoslav army with some 180 million dollars worth of weaponry just in the period since Milosevic had taken power in 1987 (and many hundreds of millions more before that). Yet in September 1991, at the instigation of Yugoslavia’s UN representative and the British Tory minister Douglas Hurd, the US supported a UN arms embargo on all of Yugoslavia, which naturally damaged the ability of the republics under attack to get arms, not the Serb-controlled Yugoslav army, already the fourth major military power in Europe at the time.
Montoute’s claim thus that “Washington and Berlin long had Yugoslavia's demolition on the back-burner - it merely took the end of the Cold War to set their plans into motion” is nothing but a statement of faith, based on nothing. By the way, I do not even think it is true of Germany, and can argue that case too, but even if it were, it is the opposite of the truth regarding the US, which in any case at that time was deeply worried about German advances in the region.
Further, I made no claim that there was a different Republican and Democrat policy on Yugoslavia – I merely demonstrated that it was the Republican party at the time that was in charge in the US, not Holbrooke’s Democrats, and its policy was vigorously against Yugoslav break-up. I did not suggest the Democrats had a different view at the time. And by the time the Democrats came to power in January 1993, Yugoslavia was long gone. In fact I showed that Clintons Democrat regime, Holbrooke in particular, played the key role in the dismemberment of Bosnia, in a way that provided for an overwhelming victory of Serbian war aims.
On Bosnia, you write:
“Two fairly recent and extremely comprehensive studies put the death toll ON ALL SIDES at around 100,000. Now, a glance at the breakdown of the CIVILIAN portion of casualties shows that each ethnic group (Serb, Croat & Muslim) suffered more or less equal losses.”
Then you obviously haven’t read them. Muslims – 43% of the population – accounted for 83% of civilian casualties. The 1700 mosques destroyed compares to the 34 Orthodox churches destroyed – a ratio of 50 to 1. Read my analysis of it here:

david montoute said...

So Parenti is a “storyteller”? It must take one to know one! Mr. Karadjis seems to think that fictions can be made truth by simply throwing enough words at a subject.
US/EU hostility to the SFRY was no secret. US ambassador Warren Zimmerman spent more time in Pristina with Kosovar separatist leaders than in his own embassy. He is widey recognized as the man who ignited the Bosnian war by encouraging Izetbegovic’s rejection of the Lisbon Agreement. The UN-imposed sanctions on SFRY in 1992 came (amongst others) at US behest. Not to mention M16’s plot to assassinate Milosevic in a staged car crash in that same year.
All this and more was enough for State Department undersecretary George Kenney to resign in 1992 in protest over Bush Administration policy in Yugoslavia.
In his original article, Karadjis has State Secretary Baker calling the Croatian secession”illegal”, but Baker was merely stating a fact (it was illegal under both Yugoslav and international law). It tells us nothing. The Clinton Administration described the KLA as “terrorists” (also a statement of fact) and then went on to wage a war on behalf of those same terrorists only months later. Adhering to what politicians say takes one’s analysis nowhere. We must watch what they DO – and this is the point John was making.
As for “Milosevic’s war against Croatia”, it’s pure fantasy. When in 1992 Milan Babic, the president of the Krajina Serbs announced that they would join with Serbia, Milosevic & the Serbian assembly rejected Babic’s declaration. The Serbian government expressed its view supported the UN mission and a negotiated political settlement with the Croats.
Similarly: “Milosevic unconstitutionally smash[ed] the legal autonomy of Kosova”

Actually, Kosovo’s legal autonomy was not “smashed” but reduced, and brought into line with more normal international standards. And it was not Milosevic who did this, but the Yugoslav Parliament through a legal vote.
So yes, Karadjis IS a Serb-basher. He does not criticise “particular Serb governments”, but rather the actions of Serbs as a whole over the entire decade of the civil war(s). This is obvious in his extreme partiality and total lack of criticism of the secessionists. From the fascist Tudjman, to the fundamentalist Izetbegovic to the UCK narco-gangsters, they’re all just poor oppressed people trying to shake off the evil Serb yoke. With stories like these, Karadjis should send his C.V. to Ruben Costas – why, Santa Cruz is also suffering from “centralist oppression”.
This is my last communication on the subject, as I have no desire for circular argument with propagandists. The ridiculous “Chetnik” accusation says it all, and makes it clear (if it weren’t clear already) that Karadjis sees Yugoslavia in the manichean terms of the ethnic chauvinists. For who else uses such terms?

Michael Karadjis said...


Thanks for your reasoned comment, even if you decided t go with the flow later. However, some things you write suggest you have completely misunderstood my point.

For example, you write:

“I have no proof to dispute any of the facts you presented, but that doesn't mean the allegations you dispute are not correct. Many crimes go unpunished for lack of proof; though it is not in dispute the crimes actually occurred.”

“Part of your argument used public declarations of innocent or humanitarian intent by some of the same people alleged to have been involved with, or orchestrating the breakup of Yugoslavia then”

“Where you see no evil, I definitely see lots of it—both there and in the secessionist movement (regardless of what you call it) in Bolivia”

John I’m completely bedazzled as to where I suggested any “innocence” let alone “humanitarian intent” by US imperialism, or where you think I “see no evil.” You must have been reading a different post.

My post was about the role of the US, specifically Goldberg’s boss Holbrooke, in the bloody partition of Bosnia, a partition that gave 50% of that independent, UN-member state to the massively armed Serb nationalists as an ethnically cleansed ‘Serb Republic’, despite the fact that Serbs only accounted for 30% of Bosnia’s population, and that the territory that made up “Republika Srpska’ was not natural ‘Serb ethnic territory’ but territory that previously had a population mixed rather equally, meaning a million Muslims and Croats had to be forced out to create this cleansed ‘state’. The reason it was not a “three way contest” as apologists for Serb nationalism believe is that the formerly Yugoslav, now Serbian, army, inherited all the massive weaponry from that army, which had been the fourth largest military force in Europe, and used it against an essentially unarmed Bosnian people. Yeh, sure, a “three way contest” just like Israel v Palestine is purely a “two-way contest,” as if we haven’t heard enough of such liberal claptrap.

I regard the US-imposed Dayton accord as an unmitigated victory of reactionary Serbian nationalism and I regard it to be a US-inspired crime to impose this accord against the multi-ethnic republic of Bosnia.

I further outlined that the US and Holbrooke were complicit in the Bosnian Serb Chetniks’ capture of Srebrenica, where they put to death 8000 Muslim captives in the largest massacre in Europe since WWII. No ‘humanitarian intent’ there John, and plenty of evil.

I pointed out that Holbrooke could not have been a “key strategist of Yugoslav disintegration” because it was a chronological impossibility – read my post. I also pointed out that the Bush regime at the time opposed the break-up of Yugoslavia at the time, and certainly did not “orchestrate” it. If you thought that was a suggestion of ‘humanitarian intent’ by Bush, again you are reading something else into it, and making assumptions about my view on the forced and violent attempt to “keep Yugoslavia together”, as if that spoke for itself. On the contrary, I do not see the provision of $180 million of arms to a brute like Milosevic for him to use “to keep Yugoslavia together” – nothing but code by Milosevic for the bloody creation of Greater Serbia – to be ‘humanitarian’. And this is an action John, not mere words.

I did not see Milosevic’s 1991 war against Croatia “to keep Yugoslavia together” – the destruction of 40% of Croatian industry and railroads, killing 10,000 people, ethnically cleansing a quarter of a million Croats from one third of Croatia in order to set up a “Serb Republic” there, the bombing of the UNESCO city Dubrovnik (with almost zero Serb population) and the utter destruction of historic, mixed (but Croat majority) Vukovar – as “humanitarian”. So the US/UK move for an “arms embargo” in the UN, effectively on Croatia since Serbia was loaded with weaponry, while this war was going, was one of the many *actions* - not words – that were evil.

Then as the Croats were finally advancing some 6 months after the slaughter began, the US sends in Cyrus Vance to impose the ‘Vance Plan’ under which the ethnically cleansed ‘Serb Republic’ remains for the time being, and Serbia gets to take all the heavy weaponry of the old ‘Yugoslav army’ – the legal property of all Yugoslavs, not only of Serbia – out of Croatia and into … Bosnia, their next target, a fact which the US knew very well. An action of unmitigated evil John, not “words.”

Actions do indeed speak louder than words, as you say, and I was denouncing the US actions, the only difference I have with some people is that we have a different view on both what the actions were, and the nature of those actions.

I do concede that some of my quotes from Goldberg re Kosova towards the end of my article may have led to confusion that I was suggesting he was motivated by “humanitarianism,” though I think its still a stretch. Again perhaps you are presuming that the independence of Kosova is somehow evil and so US declarations not supporting independence are therefore “good.” That’s quite a presumption. In my opinion, the 9 years of US/EU/NATO/UN occupation of Kosova which precisely *denied* the Kosovars the elementary right to self-determination was the evil. That does not mean it is “good” now that it has accepted a form of limited independence, merely that there was no alternative. But in case there was confusion, I would add two paragraphs to my original article following these quotes where I ask “All gloss? Perhaps”:

"All gloss to cover a devious plan to “give” Kosova independence anyway?
Perhaps, but I’ve seen no evidence to the contrary. These statements
suggest that Goldberg was fully in line with US policy at the time,
which had not yet made a clear decision either way. Until then, the US
had always opposed the democratic right of the Kosovars to
self-determination, to not be shoved back under the rule of a state that
recently tried to annihilate them. It was only gradually emerging from
this dead-end."

"The point about these statements where they refer to rights for the
Serb minority and decentralization (ie Serb autonomy) etc is not that we
should believe any supposed “humanitarian” intent in them, but rather
this was now the propaganda for the US keeping control. Just as the US
had falsely invoked “humanitarian” concern for the oppression of the
Kosovar Albanians by Serbia to justify its terror-bombing war in 1999,
so since then it falsely invokes “humanitarian” concern for the
oppression of the Serb minority by the Albanians in order to justify a
decade of NATO and UN occupation of Kosova and *denying* it
independence, and now posing huge restrictions on its independence, to
be policed by continuing NATO and EU occupation."

Hope that clarifies things.

Finally your point on my comparison of the oppression, and national liberation struggles of the Kosovars, Palestinians and Timorese. You write:

“Let me suggest that the instances you cite might not be seen in the same way as you describe them, by those personally involved. For one example, the Kosovars were not looking for independence or autonomy—they were looking to stay living. And for another example, the Palestinians whose land was taken from them by Israel were not looking for autonomy—they were and are looking for justice--instead of the virtual prison and genocide imposed upon them by the Zionists.”

Firstly, I’m glad you admit the Kosovars were “looking to stay alive”, in other words you admit Milosevic’s regime tried to annihilate them, and its not all “CIA propaganda” as the craven apologist set laughably claim. All the more reason why they deserve independence surely. But you are not correct that they were not fighting for independence. They have struggled for nothing less than independence for the entire century since they were conquered and subjugated in 1913. They have never accepted the legitimacy of that brutal subjugation, and I’m afraid that is simply a fact, not “my opinion.” Likewise the Palestinians, and Timorese, are/were also “looking to stay alive”, just as the Kosovars and Timorese are also “looking for justice” – not sure how you separate these concepts. Of course you are right that the Palestinians are not “looking for autonomy” – that was my whole point, that Palestinians, Kosovars and Timorese were all offered some BS “autonomy” by their oppressors but all rejected it in favour of independence.

As for Montoute’s reply to me, since it was again just vitriol and he went off in a huff and puff without being able to answer any of my substantial points, I won’t reply. In particular, this is probably enough on the Balkans for a Bolivia blog. However, I did initially write a reply to some of his obfuscation and certain extra pieces of fiction in his last reply, so if anyone wants it I can send it off line.


The Neither Party said...

Thank you for your informative response, and correcting me about some erroneous conclusions I drew from what you had written. It is all much clearer now, at least in regard to your view of history and the role the USA has played in the breakup of Yugoslavia.
I don't question your time line of the factual record. Even though history is written by the victors, documentation proves that certain events happened on certain days.
We both seem to agree that there was a bloodbath in Yugoslavia that did not occur prior to the initiation of the breakup, even though certain factions deeply resented the unification, and started their autonomy movement.
What we seem to disagree about is the role of the US and probably the UN and NATO in the breakup. You seem to rely more on what our government says, as opposed to what they do, usually behind the scenes. For example, it is now known that US Amb. April Glasby essentially gave Saddam Hussein a green light to attack Kuwait for allegedly using horizontal drilling techniques to steal Iraqi oil. After SH attacked, the US expressed shock that he did, and proceeded to launch the 1991 war on Iraq, supposedly on behalf of Kuwait. Is there publicly available proof that the US sucked and suckered SH (a former US ally and CIA agent) into actions which led to his undoing? Not that I am aware of. Still it is difficult not to follow the dots which clearly leads to that conclusion.
For another example, and the reason I jumped in to this discussion, take Bolivia where US public declarations in support of Bolivian unity are piously expressed by official US government declarations, even while sending many millions of dollars and other types of divisive consultations are sent to divide and destroy that nation.
Amb. Goldberg isn't necessarily the planner of either the breakup of Yugoslavia or Bolivia, but it is hard to argue that he and the rest of the cast of characters involved in both countries' internal affairs have not contributed to the mayhem which ensued there. It is undeniable that such destruction is in the interests of US empire to create instability and revolution or autonomy or secession or insurrections where dissolution of nations serve US corporate interests. Smaller independent countries are always easier to dominate/manipulate and/or conquer than larger ones, especially when surrounded by neighbors' animosity as a result of the breakup, which was the situation in Yugoslavia.
The way I see this in regard to Bolivia, is that the same forces with the same goals, the same policies and some of the same people are at work, despite official US denials to the contrary. If this is allowed to happen, Bolivia will be effectively divided and conquered, and their resources stolen in a manner such as they have been for the last 500 years.
Can we agree, and if not, why not?

dm said...

as regards your thesis on Washington's advance planning for Gulf War 1, yes, there is concrete evidence, other than the Glaspie transcript. The Defense Intelligence Agency's Officer for charged with anticipating Mid-East conflicts specifically and repeatedly warned of Iraqi tanks massing on the Kuwaiti border in July 1990. He was ignored on every occasion. Just after the war ended, Kuwait's ex-military attache in Baghdad revealed that he had too had repeatedly warned his government of an imminent invasion and been effectively gagged. His attempt to expose this at a press-conference was broken up by the police. Also, Pentagon documents from 1988/89 specifically identified Saddam & the Iraqi state as prime candidates to replace the USSR as the military's 'newest threat'. You can find this information in the published works of Ramsey Clark and John Pilger.
So you hit the nail on the head - US declarations mean nothing. The supposed 'War on Terror' is meant to be directed against militant Islam, and yet its centerpiece involves the destruction of the Arab world's most secular state.
The true ideology of the Nation-State demolition squad can be found in the elite foreign policy journals such as FP. Slavishly following official pronouncements (and offcial 'news' for that matter)leaves us all in the dark.

Andres Soliz Rada, Evo's first minister for Hydrocarbons explains in meticulous detail the specific interests behind the proposed secession in eastern Bolivia. They're almost all from apparently 'independent'sectors who speak through the mouthpieces of supposedly benign NGOs. The danger for Bolivia is in the use these interests will make of the new Constitution's regional and indigenous Autonomy provisions. The threat of Yugoslav-style fratricide is real.

BTW, good luck on finding common ground with the Manicheans.