In the middle eighties, when the regime admitted
there was an economic crisis in Yugoslavia, there was a joke, offering a solution: first
we declare war to America, then they win, and finally we become the 52nd American state.
Fifteen years later, a part of ex Yugoslavia found itself in the first part of the joke
and waiting for the second, while the end remained as absurd as before.
When the war began in Serbia, both the ruling party and the opposition stuck to the statements from the world, about the preparation of a kind of the Marshal Plan for economic reconstruction of the country, according to the example of Germany after the WWII. Help would, of course, be donated by the international community, which a few weeks later announced , under the guise of its military wing (better known as NATO) that, after a month and a half, a little less than two thousand targets out of six thousand marked targets in Yugoslavia were hit. Never mind, the authorities interpreted the Marshal Plan as a kind of a war compensation from those who did not even destroy everything they had planned yet, and the opposition as mercy from the West and foreigners' bad conscience about Serbian opponents of Slobodan Milosevic, who were stopped by air raids in their democratic attack on his political scalp. It was, of course, just a matter of time when somebody from the West would remind Serbs, who have an inclination for historical analogies, that the Marshal plan had been preceded by the process of denazification, which included beating not only Hitler out of the German collective conscience, but the whole cultural and mythical model with which Hitler involved his whole nation in the biggest crime in its history.
Courts: Sticking literally to the language and historical analogies, it would look like this: every adult Serb would be included in a four-year-long denazification, all members of the ruling parties would be tried and charged individually, the biggest shots would be hanged or they would escape to Argentina or Paraguay, because of the lack of courts and judges, who would also be tried (among the first ones, so that they could try the others later on), and radicals would immediately be found guilty and sent to build bridges. Members of the opposition, who promised to cut hands to the Moslems in 1990, would be banned from politics. A precise investigation would be made in order to find out who from the opposition used to share meals with Radovan Karadzic, and who was only pretending to do so. Those who sang Serbian patriotic songs would be sent to clear ruins in Pristina for six months, and those who possessed the most famous Montenegrin epic poem would be severely punished, which would mean that Milo Djukanovic would have the only copy, while Momir Bulatovic would read Emily Bronte in jail.
However, the language of reality cannot stand those outbursts of black humor, which means
that the idea of denazification should be taken quite seriously, if not as a
scientifically proven fact, than as something that Serbs perhaps could not avoid.
Denazification has its different aspects - historical, psychological, political, legal and moral ones - and they are all equally used in the consideration of this idea, which not only qualifies Serbian authorities as Nazi and genocidal, but also judges that the cances has developed so much among the people, that it is not enough to destroy its sources, but it is necessary to dig deeper.
History: Academician Andrej Mitrovic, an authoritative expert on Nazism claims that what is currently taking place in Serbia is neither Nazism nor nationalism. "A kind of a blind patriotism is dominant in this moment, and nationalism which was in its expansion in 1989, is only a strong streak within this patriotism. In this moment - when the bombing of a sovereign country, which, as a problem, could have been treated differently, began carelessly and imprudently - a lot of people accepted the patriotic idea and not the national one. National idea is only an addition here", claims Mitrovic.
Aleksa Djilas, a moderate political analyst from Belgrade, considers a historical aspect of the denazification of Serbs to be "crazy", because "Serbia is not a Nazi country". "Denazification is advocated by people like Srdja Popovic (lawyer), who has been living in New York for years, or Sonja Biserko (president of Serbian Helsinki committee), who ran away from Belgrade as soon as the bombing started. That means that people who are not in Serbia during the bombing suggest solutions concerning Serbia", says Djilas.
Zarko Puhovski, a sociologist from Zagreb, explains for Reporter that there is no historical parallel between the present Serbia and Germany fifty years ago, because "Yugoslav politics, from 1990 until a couple of months ago, was conducted not according to the model of Nazism, but of classical colonial powers". He reminded us that crimes were made outside Serbia while there were "very few crimes committed on ethnic basis within Serbia until the end of the last year".
The creator of the idea about the denazification of Serbs, American historian Daniel Goldhagen, the author of the book Hitler's Willing Executioners, defends his comparison between Germany and Serbia by the thesis about the existence of the so-called cultural models, a group of myths and stereotypes which mold a nation's understanding. Goldhagen believes that, as certain distorted cultural models, which had been present in German society for years, were crowned by the Holocaust, so did the distorted cultural models like Kosovo myth and the cult of ancestors among Serbs in the same way lead to the conflicts in the Balkans in the last decade of this century. However, it remains to be explained how come the same national cultural model placed the Serbs on the side of the Allies in two world wars, only to lead them to Nazism half a century later. If the existence of a "cultural model" in the Serbian society, which makes this people responsible for the conflict, could be discussed at all, than it is an anti-democratic matrix inherited from communism, which functioned in more or less the same fashion with Franjo Tudjman when he spoke about Croatia as a European bulwark against Islam and Byzantium, with Alija Izetbegovic who claimed that Bosnian future depended solely on the future of the Bosniak people, or with numerous Serbian post-communist patriots who believed that their national mission is to prevent the expansion of Islam to the West, a Catholic expansion to the East, stop Germans on their push to warm seas, while NATO should be pulled up by the roots. Of course, that myth in three national variants is less a product of national "cultural models" and much more a product of a communist Messianism in which "the world will have the color of our eyes", as the poet wrote. That, however, does not mean that the guilt for this conflict should be equally divided, but that the idea about "cultural models" simply does not make sense.
Law: Goldhagen's theory, then, cannot be applied to Serbs, and moreover, it is a weak intellectual construction, which believes, regardless of whether Serbs or Germans are concerned, that the best defense against racism is racism itself. As numerous similar theories, it does not have a great scientific importance, but we are not talking about science in this case. Because, there are many people who do not doubt that it should be applied, including Tony Blair, the leftist politician who, in the case of Serbia has been trying to revive the colonial "cultural model" in the British public, and Serbian neighbors, who feel close to Goldhagen because of their desire to take revenge on the Serbs, which is proportional to the similarity of their cultural model to the Serbian one.
From the legal point of view, the most questionable point in the denazification of Serbs is the implication of their collective guilt. Very few among the the even most extremist advocates of that idea are prepared to publicly affirm the idea of collective guilt, implied by the Goldhagen's thesis. "As collective responsibility does not exist, neither does collective crime. Even in a common act, there is always an individual who did something, and on the level of commanding responsibility there is an individual who gives commands, makes a plan, a strategy for committing crimes", claims for Reporter Natasa Kandic, president of Belgrade Fund for Humanitarian Law, which is active in Serbia in spite of war conditions. Academician Nikola Milosevic reminds us that the whole modern democratic political philosophy and legislative practice of modern countries are based on a hypothesis that there is no collective responsibility. "That is a principle according to which tribal communities and totalitarian countries function. Hitler's Germany is a shining example. To considering the whole Serbian nation to be responsible for anything, would mean to betray basic principles of the political philosophy of liberalism and to return to the level of tribal communities and Nazi theories and practice", he claims.
Morality: So, legally Denazification can not be justified. But, the NATO aggression on Serbia and ethnic cleansing in Kosovo also can not be justified, and they happened nevertheless. On the other hand, media in Sarajevo and Zagreb are trying to present the story about collective responsibility as a kind of belated punishment for the Serbs. At the same time, humanists claim that there are no genocidal nations. Nevertheless, genocides do happen. Perhaps, instead of pathetic humanists, who have, in the name of humane ideas, dug more graves in the past century than the whole world had dug before, we should listen to nihilists who would say the opposite thing: "All nations are genocidal". Or: "It takes only a small change of conditions," as Ceslav Milos asserts in his "Enslaved Mind".
It is possible, in that context, to talk about a kind of moral responsibility, which demands self-examination of every individual within South-Slavic national communities. The final desirable outcome of that job could be a collective self-examination and therapy, but who needs it nowadays, when Serbs, Croats, Moslems and Albanians come out of the nineties with more myths than they had when they entered them.
The Western authorities should also think about the moral aspect, not only because of their involvement in the Balkan conflicts. Those who nowadays claim from Washington that Serbs are not able to face the last decade of their history, should not forget that the democratic movement in Serbia in the end of 1996 and beginning of 1997, failed exactly because Slobodan Milosevic, as a crucial guarantor for the Dayton Peace Agreement in Bosnia-Hercegovina, which was as the time hailed as the greatest triumph of the western powers since WWII, suited the West better. So, the denazification of Serbs in not a moral question either, it is simply a mere political calculation.
Politics: The NATO aggression against Serbia has faced "a crisis of motives". "Humanitarian catastrophe", the justification used in the beginning, has become worn-out, even in the Western public itself. Finally, the whole business ended up as a war against Slobodan Milosevic, as a Balkans Noriega. The problem is that the person named Slobodan Milosevic was not in the train hit in the Grdelica Gorge, does not live close to the market in Nis, there is no person with a name like that in the Refinery in Novi Sad, and he is not on the list of Albanian refugees near Djakovica. The whole story about the slaughter of civilians gets a completely different slant if all of them are radical Milosevic's followers who should be denazified and returned to the Western civilization. Those who survive, of course.
The other problem is that the West, although unwillingly, and through the Russian go-between, must negotiate with the very same Milosevic with whom it will also have to sign a peace agreement, if one can be reached at all. Many people in the West, however, believe that it would be Milosevic's last official signature. Because, more than 50 thousand foreign soldiers would be present in Kosovo, which is so small that they would be all able to hold hands or, if they have no such inclinations, cross over to Serbia a little. At the same time, the pillaged and destroyed Serbia would benefit from the Marshal Plan to the degree it fulfills benefactors' conditions. Those who believe that credits and donations would be given to JUL [United Yugoslav Left, a quasi-Communist political party in Serbia led by Slobodan Milosevic's wife, Dr. Mira Markovic] and that the Central Committee building would be on the list of reconstruction priorities, did not learn a thing from the Bosnian case. For example, that Radovan Karadzic was not overthrown by British spies, American threats and Milosevic's order. The former Republic of Srpska President was destroyed on the day when one of his closest collaborators, all of whom had more extremist attitudes, asked himslef: "Is it worth staying with empty pockets forever just to save this man?"
That is why the Western policy, even whether their would agree with Milosevic's compromise offers, will depend on whether they believe that Yugoslav President would be more easily removed from the air, by land intervention, or by post-war blackmails. This will determine whether denazification will be called just that, or it will be pacification, economic reconstruction or democratization. The Western supremacy over Serbia will then be complete; Balkan countries will have become stubborn, non-profitable protectorates; tutors from Bosnia will find a new job, and denazification, or whatever it will be called, will only be a matter of the Western society's "cultural model".
Reporter: What is correct in the thesis about denazification, and what has been abused?
Janjic: It is true that there is a high level of ethnic and nationalist homogenization among the Serbian people. But, they do not want to see that that nationalism is related to other nationalisms, that Croatian, Moslem, Albanian and Serbian nationalism are related. The demand for the denazification of Serbs is pointless, if the questions of Greater Albania, Croatia and Serbia are open. Had force been used in the implementation of a clear political idea, we would not discuss denazification now. It is partly true, that citizens do not want to see that the Albanians are suffering.
Why just partly?
They are not able to see that the Albanians are suffering, because they also suffer from the bombing. That is a closed circle, and it can only lead to a new war, which would last for years, and in which millions would be killed, if the thesis about denazification was accepted.
If denazification was accepted, how would it be realized?
That can follow occupation, and those who talk about denazification and the Marshal Plan must be aware what they are talking about. That means an occupation, a division of the country in occupation zones, and the application of a model of an accelerated westernization or modernization. That is not possible. That, in fact, implies that Milosevic and the regime will be absolved of their responsibility and the people will be blamed instead. That also implies an absolution for Hill, Holebrook and those who implemented a failed policy.
Does that mean that the Western aims could be realized in a different way?
NATO must have more realistic goals. It is obvious that it cannot enter Kosovo and all of Yugoslavia at once. It must gradually postpone its aim of military presence and the direct inclusion of Serbia, and transfer its tactics to the fields of economy, the reconstruction of the infrastructure and rational use of political and propaganda pressure. The current NATO propaganda is no better than the one conducted by JUL. The retionale for the existance of extremists like Vojislav Seselj, Slobodan Milosevic and JUL becomes diminished as the situation in Kosovo is normalized and the Albanian extremist organizations are reined in.
Do you believe that land intervention could happen in Yugoslavia, and that it could be occupied by NATO?
No idea should be excluded, but NATO would really go too far by that. European diplomatic and political circles do not agree about that, so that it is not possible to organize the land intervention now.
Are there people in Serbia, besides MIlosevic, with whom NATO could negotiate?
NATO does not negotiate directly with Milosevic, but through Chernomyrdin. They also know that there is no other politician with whom an effective agreement could be made.
If direct negotiations with Milosevic began, would it make his present position even stronger?
It is very difficult to say. The result would depend on what would be agreed on in the negotiations.
The first question is the question of deNATOfication, and I do not think that anything could happen before the cessation of the attacks on Yugoslavia. Only then would it be possible to discuss the serious guilt of Yugoslavia, i.e. Serbia, for the crimes in Croatia, Bosnia-Hercegovina and Kosovo. When the bombing stops, a lot of changes should be made in the political life of Serbia, but I think that only the citizens of Serbia can do it.
Does that mean that the idea of denazification could not be implemented in Serbia?
I do not think it is possible due to formal reasons, because Milosevic is the President, and his leadership has democratic legitimacy. That does not mean that Milosevic is a democratic politician. Secondly, Serbia "exported" war but a year ago there was no war within the country, because it was proved that Serb nationalists can be identified in their attitude toward Albanians, first of all, and not so much toward other nations (as, for example, one can identify Croatian nationalists through their attitude toward Serbs), and that is why I think that that parallel is a wrong one. Thirdly, I do not see how it is possible to compare the conflict in Kosovo and very serious violations of the conduct of war law, which undoubtedly happen there, with the Holocaust or the crimes organized by Hitler.
Does that mean that there are no reasons for the occupation of Serbia?
There are very serious reasons for the occupation of the part of Serbia called Kosovo. The only way to prevent the things which happen there is to let somebody from the outside come and stop the crimes that are being committed against people of all nationalities who live there.
Would the occupation of Serbia bring both Croatia and BiH closer to a kind of protectorate, and take away from them, especially from Bosnia even the little independence they have now?
The attitude I have been repeating for the last ten years is this: there were only two possibilities in Bosnia after the war. It could have either fallen apart or become an international protectorate. Human rights represent a higher value than national sovereignty, and that is why I thought it was right to intervene when Dubrovnik and Sarajevo were attacked, when things were happening in Kosovo, and when Serbs, from the so called Krajina were chased away from their homes. In all those cases people from abroad should intervene and help the weaker side. But the bombing of the tobacco factory in Vranje looks to me like an attempt to terrorize the whole nation.
Did denazification already begin in Bosnia three years ago?
We cannot talk about sincere intentions of politicians who are active in the Yugoslav conflict at the moment. I wish I could tell good guys from the bad ones, I wish I could invest my energy to one side, without reservations. As we all know, all the accused of war crimes from all three sides in Bosnia are war heroes for their respective nations. In such an atmosphere, denazification is a necessary process.
The process of denzification in Serbia would have to be preceded by the ground troops intervention, occupation and new casualties?
Denazification could not take place without the occupation and a war defeat. Then we have to face a much more difficult moral problem, and that is: Slobodan Milosevic, as a paradigma of the regime, as an even improperly mentioned target of the whole NATO campaign represents the least problem in that context. Because, look it from whichever angle you want, Milosevic is a legally elected president. The real problem is who makes decisions about the change of the regime in a country. Milosevic is probably the last person I would support, but that does not make me feel better about making order in a country without a firm legal basis. The removal of a malign product of that system is not possible without the ground troops intervention and total occupation of Yugoslavia. And I do not even want to think about that.