The Authoritarian Militarization Of The Ethnic Croats: An Alternative View Of The Destruction Of Yugoslavia

The internal and much more external destruction of the former Yugoslavia in the 1990s is celebrating in 2015 its 20th years of anniversary. However, this historical and much more geopolitical event still needs a satisfactory research approach in regard to the true geopolitical reasons and political-military course of the destruction of this South Slavic and Balkan state. During the last quarter of century, the (western) global mainstream media unanimously accused Serbia and the Serbs for the national chauvinism as the main cause of the bloody wars on the territory of ex-Yugoslavia in the 1990s. However, the role and direct impact of the other Yugoslav republics and nations in the process of killing the common state was not taken (purposely) into the consideration; especially of the Croats and Croatia as the biggest nation and republic after the Serbs and Serbia. This article is an attempt to contribute to the full-scale of understanding of the process of destruction of the former Yugoslavia taking into account the role of Croats and Croatia.

The Croat ultranationalists (i.e., the followers of the Ustashi movement) called in the 1990s for the full scale of Croatia’s militarization in order to achieve their chauvinistic and racist political goals of the Croat-based ethnically pure independent (a Greater) Croatia. In their opinion, a full or complete political independence of the ethnically pure Croatia within the borders of the Socialist Republic of (a Greater) Croatia could be reached only by the open war against Croatia’s Serbs and the Yugoslav authorities, but not negotiating with them. In this respect, a leader of the most ultranationalist political party in Croatia – the HSP (the Croat Party of Rights), Ante Đapić, was clear in his statements to abandon the political activity if a single part of the territory of Croatia is going to be lost by the negotiations with the Serbs.[1] The WWII Ustashi (Nazi) movement followers openly advocated in the 1990s a full scale of the war against “the Serb aggressors” for the sake to gain Croatia’s independence. That was done at least for two crucial reasons:

  1. They believe that a struggling for the Croat nation’s ethnopolitical goals was a legitimate framework of both a beating the Serb nationalism and fulfilling the Croat historical task of creation of the Greater Roman Catholic Croatia without the Orthodox infidels.
  2. They sponsored the attitude that the Serbs cannot be trusted as a nation to negotiate with them about the peaceful agreement on the disputed issues with the Croatia’s Government and therefore the war was the only way to pacify the Serbs from Croatia according to the pattern of the pacification (i.e., the ethnic cleansing) of the Palestinians in Israel.[2]

Henceforth, the “Israelization” of a Greater Croatia became the ultimate goal of the Croat ultranationalists in their policy to Croatia’s Serbs. In order to achieve their “Israelization” political goals, the Ustashi followers in the HDZ’s (the Croat Democratic Union) governed Croatia followed exactly the militarization pattern of the ethnic Croat society in the WWII Independent State of Croatia. Therefore, the most ultranationalist Ustashi political party in the 1990s Croatia – the HSP, established its own ruthless paramilitary party’s militia in 1991 under the name of the Croat Defense Forces (the HOS) with using all kinds of the WWII Ustashi regime insignia followed by several similar militia detachments by other Croat ultranationalist organizations. The Croatian state army (the HV) was, nevertheless, during the 1990s under direct influence and control by the most extremist wing of the ruling HDZ that successfully cooperated with the HOS and the other Croat paramilitaries in the West Herzegovina and the North and Central Bosnia in the military actions of ethnic cleansing of the Orthodox Serbs and the Muslim Bosniaks.[3]

The eminent militarization of the ethnic Croat society in the 1990s was in direct coordination with the fundamental task of all Croatia’s Croat ultranationalists that all other rights and duties of the society have to be put in the service of the state interests. As all ultranationalist segments of the ethnic Croat society in Croatia fought for the independent pure ethnic Croat Croatia, the ultimate ethnopolitical goal of them was to mobilize all ethnic Croats for the execution of the “Final Solution” in regard to the “Serb Question” in a Greater Tito-Tuđman’s Croatia. Therefore, the authoritarian political system and government based on the absolute HDZ’s majority in the Parliament were necessary in order to achieve this goal. As an example, the experience of the Latin American dictatorships in the 1970s and the 1980s of a centralized political system, strong military-police forces, oppressed freedom of the mass-media, and above all a silent opposition were activated. A parliamentary multi-party democracy became just a façade of a classical Latin American dictatorship[4] as a western parliamentary democracy[5] was understood as a harmful experiment for the realization of the Croat ethnopolitical goals primarily against the Serbs.

The alternative to the parliamentary democracy was only a one-party’s dictatorship that could save Croat national interests from the destructive nature of the parliamentarian democracy. Subsequently, in the 1990s it was established in Croatia a HDZ’s one-party political system with strong cult of leadership of the President Dr. Franjo Tudjman, who was seen in the eyes of the right-wing political structures as a political reincarnation of the WWII NDH’s (the Independent State of Croatia) führer, Ante Pavelić. Tudjman, as an inviolable dictator of Croatia, was even proclaimed by some of the HDZ’s members and other right-wing followers as a “Father of the Homeland” like by Hrvoje Šošić who was a leader of the Croat Party (the HS) and a MP.[6] In essence, the Croat extremists only gave a declarative support to the liberal democratic institutions while in the practice rejected them as the political framework within which the national goals are going to be reached. However, a formal support for the liberal democracy and its political institutions were of the very practical nature to present a newly independent Croatia as a western-type democratic political system in contrast to Milošević’s Serbia as an expression of the Balkan/Oriental autocracy. Hence, the HDZ’s Croatia pretended to present herself as a last bulwark of the European civilization and values in the South-East Europe. Nevertheless, in the practice, the HDZ functioned in all ways that undermined a real democracy even to a greater extent than Milošević’s regime in Serbia at the same time. The extremist wing within the HDZ, including and Tudjman himself, openly used all kind of mechanisms of political oppression against the opposition that was proclaimed as the enemy of the Croat nation and Croatia and collaborators with the Serbo-Chetnik aggressors. As in many cases of personal dictatorship, Tudjman as well saw himself as a personification of the state and state institutions. In the other words, he attempted to equating his own personality with the survival of Croatia. As the opposition leaders and party’s members have been constantly under the physical intimidation as the „betrayers“ of Croatia it was created very inhospitable political atmosphere for any sincere democratic talks and exchange of the views. Surely, Tudjman’s regime in Croatia was much more effective in silencing its own opposition than Milošević’s regime in Serbia. It is visible at least from the fact that in Tudjman’s Croatia there was no single mass-meeting of the opposition against the regime differently to Serbia under Milošević’s strong hands. The latter finally and lost power exactly after the mass-protests in Belgrade on October 5th, 2000 (the first „Colored Revolution“ in Europe).

Tudjman’s authoritarian dictatorship was especially hostile towards the opposition press that was considered as a fifth column in Croatia. The opposition journalists were accused for irresponsible (miss)usage of their freedom of expression. As a matter of fighting against the opposition press, it was introduced a special (illegal) taxation of independent weeklies but primarily of the most anti-regime’s newspaper – the Feral Tribune from Split. During the election campaigns, the opposition parties were denied equal and full access to the state-controlled press and TV, likewise in Serbia, and therefore violating one of the fundamental elements and conditions of the parliamentary democracy. Hence, the electoral results theoretically were not fair what does not mean that a majority of the ethnic Croats from Croatia would not vote for the HDZ in the case of fair electoral campaign. Similarly to all totalitarian regimes, the HDZ’s controlled Parliament passed a special law (in the spring 1996) for „defamation“ against the state officials. However, such or similar law did not exist in Milošević’s Serbia. Tudjman’s personal efforts to make stronger his own political (authoritarian) position in Croatia at any cost of liberal democratic institutions are obvious and very similar to his counterpart in Serbia in the 1990s with one difference: Tudjman was more successful in destroying liberal democracy in Croatia in comparison to Milošević’s efforts to do the same in Serbia.

For the HDZ’s political leadership, „without Franjo Tudjman there would be no HDZ and without the HDZ there would be no Croatia“.[7] It is clear that Tudjman’s party attempted to equating itself with the creation and survival of the post-Yugoslav Croatia while Tudjman himself attempted to personalize the institution of the presidency. Any opposition to himself or his political party were seen as the opposition to Croatia as the stare and the Croats as the nation that is probably mostly visible from the fact that Tudjman as a President of Croatia refused to ratify electoral results for the Zagreb municipality’s mayor in 1995 as the opposition leader won under the excuse that Croatia’s capital cannot be in the hands of the enemies of Croatia.

As a part of anti-liberal policy, the liberal-democratic notion of the citizenship was crucially challenged by the HDZ’s ruling authority as the voting rights for the state and the other public officials became based on the ethnic (Croat) background rather than on the residence criteria. Therefore, it was practically reserved twelve seats in Croatia’s Parliament for the ethic Croat diaspora for the very reason that the HDZ was and is traditionally supported by the Croat diaspora especially from Bosnia-Herzegovina. The citizenship law was also changed in the favor of the ethnic Croat diaspora as Croatia was proclaimed as the motherland of all ethnic Croats.[8] However, a similar ethnocitizenship/voting law in Milošević’s Serbia was never introduced at least for the very political reason that the Serb diaspora in the West opposed his policy as anti-Serbian. In the other words, Milošević’s Serbia was seen, by the Constitution, as a homeland of all her inhabitants, rather than only of all ethic Serbs wherever they live.

Probably, the HDZ’s deny of any kind of the regional autonomy in Croatia was the expression of the policy of anti-liberal democracy concept of minority rights. Therefore, the regional parties of Istria, the Serbian Krayina and Dalmatia suffered mostly from such policy of a brutal centralization of Croatia. However, in Milošević’s Serbia, two regions of Vojvodina and Kosovo-Metochia enjoyed at least ethnocultural regional autonomy if not political one as it was fixed in the time of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia according to the 1974 Constitution (up to 1989).

Prof. Dr. Vladislav B. Sotirovic

www.global-politics.eu/sotirovic

globalpol@global-politics.eu

© Vladislav B. Sotirovic 2015

_________________________________________

Notes:

[1] Interview with Ante Đapić (July 13th, 1994), J. A. Irvine, “Ultranationalist Ideology and State-Building in Croatia, 1990−1996”, Problems of Post-Communism, July/August 1997, pp. 36, 42; Glas Slavonije, Osijek, August 18th, 1995.

[2] Interview with Ante Đapić (July 13th, 1994), J. A. Irvine, “Ultranationalist Ideology and State-Building in Croatia, 1990−1996”, Problems of Post-Communism, July/August 1997, pp. 36, 42. On the ethnic cleansing of Palestine by the Israeli Jewish authorities, see: I. Pappe, The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine, Oxford: Oneworld, 2011.

[3] For instance, in the case of the village of Ahmići in the Lašva Valley (the Vitez municipality) on April 16th, 1993 when around 120 Bosniaks were massacred by the forces of the Croat Defense Council (Ch. R. Shrader, The Muslim-Croat Civil War in Central Bosnia: A Military History, 1992−1994, College Station, Tex., 2003, 92−95).

[4] On the Latin American dictatorships, see: S. Mainwaring, A. Pérez-Liñán, Democracies and Dictatorships in Latin America: Emergence, Survival, and Fall, New York: Cambridge University Press, 2013; J. Dávila, Dictatorship in South America, Chichester: Wiley−Blackwell, 2013; J. A. Galván, Latin American Dictators of the 20th century: The Lives and Regimes of 15 Rulers, Jefferson, NC−London: McFarland & Company, Inc., Publishers, 2013.

[5] On democracy, see: B. Crick, Democracy: A Very Short Introduction, Oxford−New York: Oxford University Press, 2002; Ch. Tilly, Democracy, Cambridge−New York: Cambridge University Press, 2007; J. B. Pilet, W. P. Cross (eds.), The Selection of Political Party Leaders in Contemporary Parliamentary Democracies: A Comparative Study, New York: Routledge, 2014.

[6] According to Tanjug, May 21, 1995.

[7] Novi list, October 15th, 1995.

[8] On the concept of citizenship, see: W. Kymlicka, Multicultural Citizenship: A Liberal Theory of Minority Rights, Oxford−New York: Oxford University Press, 1995; R. Bellamy, Citizenship: A Very Short Introduction, Oxford−New York: Oxford University Press, 2008; É. Balibar, Citizenship, Cambridge, UK−Malden, USA: Polity Press, 2015. The same citizenship concept, for example, is accepted by all three Baltic states after the collapse of the Soviet Union: Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania.

RELATED POSTS
Washington Leads The World To War
What must the world think watching the US presidential campaign? Over time US political campaigns have become more unreal and less related to voters’ concerns, but the current one is so unreal as to be absurd. The offshoring of American jobs by global corporations and the deregulation of the US financial system have resulted in American economic failure. One might think that this would be an issue in a presidential campaign. The neoconservative ideology of US world hegemony is driving the US and its vassals into conflict with Russia and China. The risks of nuclear war are higher than at any previous ...
READ MORE
Croatian Leader Lauds Ustasha Nazis As The «Fourth Reich Lite» Rears Its Ugly Head In Europe
Croatia’s president, the former deputy NATO secretary general for public diplomacy Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic, decided to pay homage to Nazis of the Ustasha Nazi puppet regime of Croatia shot by Yugoslav partisans at the end of World War II. Grabar-Kitarovic’s tone deafness in choosing Victory in Europe week to honor dead Nazis shocked the Balkans and the rest of Europe. The Ustasha, along with their Slovenian and Serb loyalists to the Nazi puppet regime, were killed by the partisans under the command of anti-fascist guerrilla leader Josip Broz Tito. Most of the Ustasha were killed in the Austrian town of Bleiburg, as ...
READ MORE
Documentary film “Stolen Kosovo” (The Czech Republic)
The truth about Kosovo and Metochia. This documentary film was made by the Czech Republic TV and banned in all mainstream globalist media in western countries. It will reveal to you the horrifying story of Kosovo that nobody ever wanted to tell you and debunking all hoaxes, lies and propaganda NATO used for trigger events... In 1999 NATO bombed Serbia for 78 days and destroyed everything on its way bridges,hospitals,schools, telecommunicat­ion buildings, military bases...killing more than 2.500 and wound more than 5.000 civilians. One of the reasons why NATO bombed Serbia is to build the biggest military base in Albania, so they can move ...
READ MORE
Is Barack Obama Actually Trying To Start World War III?
Why has Barack Obama airdropped 50 tons of ammunition into areas that “moderate rebels” in Syria supposedly control? This is essentially the equivalent of poking the Russians directly in the eyes. Much of this ammunition will end up in the hands of those that the Russians are attempting to bomb into oblivion, and so to Russia it appears that we are attempting to make their job much harder. And of course the truth is that there aren’t really any “moderate rebels” in Syria at all. Nearly all of the groups that are fighting are made up primarily of radical jihadists ...
READ MORE
Ukraine: Zbig’s Grand Chessboard – How the West Was Checkmated
A quick review of Ukraine,  Zbig’s Grand Chessboard – How the West Was Checkmated is simple – this amazing work should be in everyone’s reading library.  Anyone who cares to understand the situation of what has happened, and is happening in Ukraine needs to read this book.  It covers the history of the dissolution of the USSR, the resulting creation of Ukraine, and the history of the U.S.’ attempts through various government and non-government organizations (e.g. Soros) towards the first failed colour revolution (Orange, 2004), then on towards the second attempt resulting in the successful installation of the noenazi puppet ...
READ MORE
Hypocrisy
Paris vs. Donbass
READ MORE
Declassified Documents Reveal Pentagon’s 1950s Planned Nuclear Holocaust
GR Editor’s Note Publicly available military documents confirm that pre-emptive nuclear war is still on the drawing board  of the Pentagon. Compared to the 1950s, the nuclear weapons are more advanced. The delivery system is more precise. In addition to China and Russia, Iran, Syria and North Korea are targets for pre-emptive nuclear war.   Let us be under no illusions, the Pentagon’s plan to blow up the planet using advanced nuclear weapons is still on the books.  Should we be concerned?  Blowing up the planet through the use of nuclear weapons is fully endorsed by presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, who believes that nuclear weapons ...
READ MORE
George Szamuely, “Bombs For Peace: NATO’s Humanitarian War On Yugoslavia”, 2013
George Szamuely.  Bombs for Peace: NATO’s Humanitarian War on Yugoslavia.  Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press, 2013 (Distributed in the U.S. and Canada by the University of Chicago Press).  Paper.  Pp. 611. In Bombs for Peace, George Szamuely, a senior research fellow at the Global Policy Institute at London Metropolitan University, has produced a revealing and sharply argued analysis of Western intervention in the Balkan wars of the 1990s.  The primary focus of the book is on Western diplomatic and military interventions, which played a crucial role in the breakup of Yugoslavia and the plunge into conflict.  Continued intervention fueled deeper conflict, as ...
READ MORE
Why can Hillary Clinton not be US president?
Like in Israel, US ruling elites plan for the future strategies and choose presidents to suit the needs. After using a Black President Obama to attack North Africans and Arab nations for their energy resources in order to ensure energy security of the superpower, now the US leaders seem to think of using a female President in the name of Hillary to advance US interests globally. Former US state secretary Hillary Clinton and associates are being pampered by those who are scared of any possible change in US foreign policy towards a possible thaw and neutrality in world affairs, notwithstanding what ...
READ MORE
Anti-Serbian Collaboration Between Tito’s Partisans And Pavelić’s Ustashi In World War II
Partisans and Ustashi together in Bosnia, 1942 Article by Vladislav B. Sotirovic: “Anti-Serbian Collaboration Between Tito’s Partisans and Pavelić’s Ustashi in World War II”, Balkan Studies, Vol. 49, 2014 (2015), ISSN (print) 0005-4313, ISSN (online) 2241-1674, Thessaloniki, Greece, pp. 113−156   Authentic photo of Tito's Partisans with Pavelic's Ustashi in Bosnia, 1942
READ MORE
The Syrian Crisis Is Part Of A War Waged On Russia By The West
It seems clear now that the West wants to defeat Russia in Syria at all costs. This latest protracted confrontation in the Middle East can be understood as a proxy war of the US and NATO against Putin’s resurgent Russia. But Syria is just one zone of engagement in a much wider war against Russia that has been taking place since Putin started to stand up to the West. The same confrontation also occurs in Ukraine and formerly in Georgia, where Russia successfully halted, albeit temporarily, the Western advance. This amounts to a new Cold War or an undeclared war ...
READ MORE
Provoking Moscow: NATO Needs Enemies to Justify Its Existence
NATO was always more about offense than defense, about America controlling the policies of Alliance members, increasing their numbers, pressuring them to stress militarism more than they’d chose otherwise – and selling them lots of US weapons. When founded in April 1949, Soviet Russia was a North Atlantic Alliance enemy in name only, ravaged by WW II – needing years after Stalin’s April 1953 death to regain pre-war normality, peace essential to restore it. Washington controls NATO, covering 75% of its budget, calling the shots, installing subservient Alliance officials to serve its agenda. At a time when no US enemies exist, they’re invented ...
READ MORE
Hillary’s Agenda Here And Abroad Intertwined: “Full Spectrum Dominance” Around The Globe, A Swelling Precariat At Home
Harry Truman surprised Americans with his call for European-style government guaranteed health care for all, Johnson with the extent of the Great Society reforms, and even Nixon with the avalanche of regulatory legislation and social spending he approved, outperforming Johnson on a number of “Keynesian” fronts. Hillary Clinton will offer no such surprises. Her consistent record in the context of the Party’s rightward gallop allows us to infer with iron confidence what we can expect from the Monstress on both the foreign and domestic fronts. Her coming onslaught against the working population combines neoliberal austerity with some of the dominant strategies ...
READ MORE
04 May 1999, PRISTINA, Yugoslavia --- THE SITUATION IN PRISTINA --- Image by © CORBIS SYGMA
November 1991 is a month and year that will forever live in infamy when it comes to one of the most grievous crimes committed under the rubric of Western foreign policy, as it was on this month in this year that the break-up and destruction of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (SFRY) was set in train. The Arbitration Commission of the Peace Conference on Yugoslavia was a body set up in 1991 by the Council of Ministers of the European Economic Community (EEC) in response to the conflict that had broken out between separatists in Slovenia and Croatia and the ...
READ MORE
Obama And The Bombing Of Hiroshima
Later this month, Barack Obama will become the first sitting US president to visit the city of Hiroshima, Japan. The dropping of an atomic bomb on Hiroshima by the American military on August 6, 1945, and the destruction three days later of the Japanese city of Nagasaki, rank among the greatest war crimes of the 20th century. One would think that after 71 years, the United States would finally be prepared to acknowledge that the incineration of two defenseless Japanese cities, causing some 200,000 deaths, was a militarily unnecessary act. Nothing of the sort will happen. Obama “will not revisit the decision ...
READ MORE
The US Military Bases Abroad are Disrupting the World Order
In years before 2014, the Afghan think tanks would opine that the US may wind down the Afghanistan’s conflict through the end of this year, inferring that the goal of founding the nine large military bases across the country is almost accomplished. Many would delightfully say that Afghanistan is phasing into a new chapter with the flames of war quelled as the US government insisted on troop withdrawal. Entrenching military headquarters in strangers’ territories has no excuse or legal ground under any circumstances. The Afghan nation would cast aside objection to this permanent military foothold thanks in most part to the ...
READ MORE
Memorial Day Ignores Millions of US Imperial Victims
The day commemorates lost lives of US servicemen and women sent to war for the wrong reasons – from the 18th century to today, notably America’s so-called War of Independence, its Civil War, WW I and II and all subsequent wars of choice. America’s only enemies in the past 70 years and throughout at least most of its history were and remain ones it invents. It could have been a model peaceful nation had it chosen a different path. Instead, its history reflects unbridled militarism, endless wars of choice, related violence and chaos, contempt for rule of law principles, along with unparalleled ...
READ MORE
Victims Of The (Western) Christian Faith
Listed are only events that solely occurred on command or participation of church authorities or were committed in the name of Christianity. (List incomplete) Ancient Pagans As soon as Christianity became legal in the Roman Empire by imperial edict (315), more and more pagan temples were destroyed by Christian mob. Pagan priests were killed. Between 315 and 6th century thousands of pagan believers were slain. Examples of destroyed Temples: the Sanctuary of Aesculap in Aegaea, the Temple of Aphrodite in Golgatha, Aphaka in Lebanon, the Heliopolis. Christian priests such as Mark of Arethusa or Cyrill of Heliopolis were famous as "temple ...
READ MORE
Kosovo and Columbine: Are We a Nation of Gun Nuts or are We Just Nuts?
In Bowling for Columbine (2002), Michael Moore analyzed the culture of violence in the US and examined its relationship to the illegal US and NATO bombing of Yugoslavia in 1999. Following the bombing, US and NATO forces occupied Kosovo-Metohija militarily. The US and its allies acted unilaterally in bombing and occupying Yugoslav territory. There was no UN approval for this criminal aggression by the US and its allies. The illegal bombing did not represent “the international community”, but was the illegal action of the US government. The US goal was not to prevent “genocide” or human rights violations but to ...
READ MORE
Washington Leads The World To War
Croatian Leader Lauds Ustasha Nazis As The «Fourth Reich Lite» Rears Its Ugly Head In Europe
Documentary film “Stolen Kosovo” (The Czech Republic)
Is Barack Obama Actually Trying To Start World War III?
Ukraine: Zbig’s Grand Chessboard – How the West Was Checkmated
Hypocrisy
Declassified Documents Reveal Pentagon’s 1950s Planned Nuclear Holocaust
George Szamuely, “Bombs For Peace: NATO’s Humanitarian War On Yugoslavia”, 2013
Why can Hillary Clinton not be US president?
Anti-Serbian Collaboration Between Tito’s Partisans And Pavelić’s Ustashi In World War II
The Syrian Crisis Is Part Of A War Waged On Russia By The West
Provoking Moscow: NATO Needs Enemies to Justify Its Existence
Hillary’s Agenda Here And Abroad Intertwined: “Full Spectrum Dominance” Around The Globe, A Swelling Precariat At Home
Breaking Yugoslavia: How The US Used NATO As Its Battering Ram
Obama And The Bombing Of Hiroshima
The US Military Bases Abroad are Disrupting the World Order
Memorial Day Ignores Millions of US Imperial Victims
Victims Of The (Western) Christian Faith
Kosovo and Columbine: Are We a Nation of Gun Nuts or are We Just Nuts?
CIA Discovered Who Helped Hitler To Win Elections In Germany And To Become A Chancellor In 1933 – A Document of Evidence