America’s “Junkyard Dogs”: Operation Storm, 20 Years On

A great explanation from an excellent analyst of what happened in Serbia 20 years ago, and why the Ukraine feels like Deja Vu

‘Operation Storm’ in August 1995, when Croatia overran the Serb-inhabited territory of Krajina, was the biggest single instance of ethnic cleansing in the Yugoslav Wars, Because the attack was backed by the US, however, it was never treated as a crime.

Between August 4 and August 7, up to 2,000 people were killed and over 220,000 driven from their homes by the Croatian army. No “invaders,” these Serbs had lived in the Krajina – their word for borderlands – for centuries. The 1995 onslaught was not just a final phase of the war that began in 1991, but a continuation of the 1940s Nazi atrocities, and a long, sordid history of oppression and betrayal going back to the 1800s.

In the late 1600s, the Hapsburg Empire (later Austria-Hungary) established a buffer zone along the border with the Ottoman Turks. in exchange for military service, the Orthodox Serb frontiersmen were granted religious liberties by the Catholic Hapsburgs. By the 1800s, the Ottomans were in retreat and Austria became obsessed with subjugating the Serbs and trying to subsume them into the Catholic Croat population.

When Austria-Hungary disintegrated in 1918, the Croats chose to join the Serbs in a new South Slav kingdom – Yugoslavia – rather than be partitioned between Hungary, Austria and Italy. In April 1941, as Yugoslavia was invaded by the Axis powers, Croatian Nazis known as “Ustasha” declared an independent state with the backing of Hitler and Mussolini.

This Ustasha Croatia conducted a campaign of mass murder, expulsion and forced conversion of Serbs to Catholicism, which outright disgusted the Italians and made even some Germans recoil in horror. A Croatian legion was sent to the Eastern Front, where it perished under Stalingrad. When the Communist regime of Marshal Tito took over Yugoslavia in 1945, however, Croatian atrocities were hushed up for the sake of “brotherhood and unity.”

The end of Communism in 1990 saw a revival of Nazi symbols and vocabulary in Croatia. President Franjo Tudjman denied Ustasha atrocities and expressed joy his wife was “neither Serb nor Jewish.” Serbs were stripped of equal citizenship and declared a minority. When Tudjman declared independence in June 1991, the Serbs saw 1941 all over again. They took up arms and declared the Krajina Republic – not denying the Croats their right to independence, but disputing Zagreb’s claim to lands Croatia acquired under the same Yugoslavia it now sought to leave.

When the disintegrating Yugoslav Army backed the Krajina Serbs, Zagreb cried “Serbian aggression.” International pressure and UN sanctions sought to cut off Belgrade’s support for the rebels. When Tudjman failed to crush the Serb resistance, an armistice was arranged in January 1992. Krajina was placed under the protection of UN peacekeepers, dubbed UNPROFOR.

Meanwhile, the Clinton administration began backing Croatia and the Bosnian Muslims in their war against the local Serbs. In 1994, MPRI – a private company staffed with retired US military officers – was paid to train and equip the Croatian military. Officially, of course, they were teaching them democracy and human rights.

In May 1995, Croatia launched a strike on the Serb enclave of Western Slavonia. The UN did nothing, while the Western media was firmly focused on Bosnia. Everything was ready for the main event, dubbed “Operation Storm.” It began on August 4, with a predawn artillery barrage and the assault by 200,000 Croatian troops, trained by MPRI and armed with surplus Warsaw Pact weapons procured from eager Eastern European aspirants to NATO membership.

Three days later, most of Krajina’s Serbs had been expelled from their homes, while around 2,000 were dead. Churches, cemeteries and entire villages were razed to the ground, while refugee columns were strafed by fighter jets. Serbia did not react at all, prompting speculation to this day that Slobodan Milosevic was somehow “in on it” with Zagreb and Washington. A simpler explanation may lie in the fact that his Army Chief of Staff and spymaster were both working for the CIA at the time, as General Momcilo Perisic and Jovica Stanisic admitted years later.

The US-backed war crimes tribunal for Yugoslavia made a show of demanding the arrest and extradition of several Croatian generals involved in “Storm.” In April 2011, the tribunal convicted Ante Gotovina and Mladen Markac, while acquitting Ivan Cermak. However, the basis for their convictions was an arbitrary standard for artillery strikes never previously used – indeed, one that would have acquitted all the Serb officers charged with shelling civilians. The purpose of this became apparent when the tribunal cited this arbitrary standard as grounds for reversing Gotovina and Markac’s convictions on appeal, in November 2012.

By that time, Croatia had already been admitted to NATO (2009), and cleared for membership in the European Union, which it joined in 2013.

Washington claims to be engaged in Croatia to foster “a democratic, secure, and market-oriented society that will be a strong partner in Euro-Atlantic institutions.” Yet in his 1998 memoir ‘To End A War,’ US diplomat Richard Holbrooke paints a different picture, quoting a note from his colleague Robert Frasure written during a meeting with Croatian officials on August 17, 1995:

“Dick: We ‘hired’ these guys to be our junkyard dogs because we were desperate. We need to try to ‘control’ them. But this is no time to get squeamish about things.”

This was just ten days after the mass expulsion and murder of Serbs, as US diplomats directed the Croatian troops’ incursion into Bosnia. Meanwhile, Tudjman’s government gloated over achieving what their Nazi predecessors only dreamed of, thanks to its choice of sponsors. A 2001 census showed 380,000 fewer Serbs in Croatia than a decade prior, a change from citizens with equal rights to a statistical error. The US government was most certainly not “squeamish” – not then, and not now.

If all of this bears an uncanny resemblance to the crisis in Ukraine, that’s because it does. The US is using the same arsenal of accusations employed against Serbia in the 1990s to blame Russia for “aggression” in Ukraine. Those Ukrainians who refused to live under a pro-US coup regime in Kiev are demonized as “terrorists.” Meanwhile, the pro-Nazi elements in Ukraine are being given the same whitewash into “democratic reformers” as their colleagues in Croatia. They even have US troops training and equipping them, quite openly.

Last September, after Kiev’s forces suffered a crushing defeat in attempting to subdue the rebels, one Ukrainian lawmaker suggested following Croatia’s example. While tolerating the existence of Krajina for three years, wrote Yuriy Lutsenko, the Croats strengthened their military and the economy. “And then in a couple hours, a tank attack wiped the separatists off the face of the earth,” he said.

Lest there be any confusion, Lutsenko was the head of the majority Poroshenko Bloc in Ukraine’s parliament. Washington routinely describes the regime of President Petro Poroshenko as democratic reformers bent on bringing Western values to Ukraine – at gunpoint, apparently.

Croatia marked the 20th anniversary of its victorious crime with a military parade and a statue of President Tudjman in the formerly Serb city of Knin. The lands “liberated” in 1995 remain “scattered ghost villages strewn with shell-scarred houses overgrown with ivy and tall grass,” to quote a Reuters description from 2005.

Washington was not content with crushing Krajina. In 1999, NATO attacked what was left of Yugoslavia and occupied Kosovo, a southern province of Serbia, declaring it an independent state in 2008. In October 2000, the US organized a“color revolution” in Belgrade, the first of its kind, bringing into power a puppet government. Serbia has been ruled by client regimes ever since.

By rewarding Tudjman’s atrocities, the West has effectively endorsed the Croatian Nazi atrocities from the 1940s, of which the 1990s policy was a continuation. Two decades after “Operation Storm,” Krajina stands as a symbol of the conviction that the US and its “junkyard dogs” – whether in Zagreb, Kiev, or elsewhere – can act with absolute impunity. Likewise, the fate of Krajina and the Serbs in general is meant to be a message to the world that resistance to US goals is futile.

But the East remembers.


2015-08-05

By Nebojsa Malic

This article originally appeared at Russia Today

Join the debate on our Twitter Timeline!

RELATED POSTS
Hitler Was Financed by the Federal Reserve and the Bank of England
The recent resolution of the parliamentary Assembly of the OSCE fully equalizes the role of the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany at the outbreak of the Second World War, except that it had the purely pragmatic purpose of extorting money from Russia on the contents of some of the bankrupt economies, intended to demonize Russia as the successor state to the USSR, and to prepare the legal ground for the deprivation of her right to speak out against revision of results of war. But if we approach the problem of responsibility for the war, then you first need to answer the ...
READ MORE
The European Union, Moral Hypocrisy, and Stroking Tension in the Balkans
Over the past several years, analysts and commentators have noticed a rising tide of domestic support for the Croatian homegrown Nazi movement of the Second World War, the Ustashe, which actively exterminated Serbs, Jews, and Roma in the territory it controlled from 1941-45. Far from condemning this alarming development, the Croatian government, the European Union, and non-state actors within it have tacitly and actively supported the rising tide of sympathy towards the Ustashe. This disconnect between the ostensible “European values” of human rights and tolerance that the European Union claims to represent, and its tacit support of trends towards extremist politics ...
READ MORE
Dusseldorf Axe Attacker: “Fatmir H,” Muslim Albanian from Kosovo
If a German had showed up in London in 1944 and opened fire, would police have ruled out any connection to Nazism? Fatmir H comes from a hotbed of jihad activity. The Islamic State and al-Qaeda have issued repeated calls for Muslims in West to murder civilians. We have seen the perpetrators of numerous jihad terror attacks declared mentally ill, often absurdly. In light of all that, the possibility that this was a jihad terror attack cannot be ruled out. “‘He jumped out of the train and started to strike at people with an AXE’: Horror in Dusseldorf as Kosovan attacker ...
READ MORE
The NATO campaign against freedom of expression
This is a long story which extends over fifteen years. NATO first attempted to silence those citizens who were trying to discover the truth about the attacks of 11 September 2001. Then it turned on those who contested the oficial version of the «Arab Springs» and the war against Syria. One thing leading to another, it then attacked those who denounced the coup d’état in Ukraine. Now NATO is behind the accusations by a pseudo-NGO that the people who campaigned for Donald Trump are Russian agents. The attacks of 11 September 2001 were followed by a permanent state of emergency and ...
READ MORE
The US-NATO plan for Macedonia: Keep Serbia down and Russia out
The role of the United States in the breakup of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia is often overlooked by people who are critical of Washington’s intervention in the internal affairs of independent, sovereign countries. For it was in the former Yugoslavia that the precedent was set for future American intervention in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and Syria. Croatia, Bosnia, and Kosovo provided the launch pad for the West’s concept of humanitarian intervention, which, in reality, is a pretext for safeguarding and enhancing US global hegemony. However, intervention by Washington in the Balkans in the 1990s served a more immediate objective for the ...
READ MORE
Bush Family Links To Nazi Germany: “A Famous American Family” Made Its Fortune From The Nazis
“A  famous American family” made its fortune from the Nazis, according to John Loftus’ documented historical analysis.     The Bush family links to Nazi Germany’s war economy were first brought to light at the Nuremberg trials in the testimony of Nazi Germany’s steel magnate Fritz Thyssen. Thyssen was a partner of George W. Bush’s grandfather Prescott Bush:  From 1945 until 1949 in Nuremberg, one of the lengthiest and, it now appears, most futile interrogations of a Nazi war crimes suspect began in the American Zone of Occupied Germany. Multibillionaire steel magnate Fritz Thyssen-the man whose steel combine was the cold heart of the Nazi war machine-talked and ...
READ MORE
Imperialism And The Politics Of Torture: Towards A Global Secret Police Force
The US Senate Report documenting CIA torture of alleged terrorist suspects raises a number of fundamental questions about the nature and operations of the State, the relationship and the responsibility of the Executive Branch and Congress to the vast secret police networks which span the globe – including the United States. CIA: The Politics of a Global Secret Police Force The Senate Report’s revelations of CIA torture of suspects following the 9/11 bombing is only the tip of the iceberg. The Report omits the history and wider scope of violent activity in which the CIA has been and continues to be involved. ...
READ MORE
Donald Trump On Kosovo In 1999
When I saw the media in Serbia reporting about Donald Trump’s alleged condemnation of the 1999 NATO attack on then-Yugoslavia, also known as the Kosovo War, I shrugged it off as disinformation. Most of them, I’m sad to say, are almost entirely dedicated to gaslighting the general populace, and as likely to spread confusion and cognitive dissonance as actual news. It turns out that Donald Trump did talk to Larry King about Kosovo – but everyone is leaving out that this took place in October 1999. That is sort of important, though: by that point, the Serbian province had been “liberated” ...
READ MORE
(Quasi)Academic Foundations of a Racist Greater Albania
Kosovo Albanian jihadists in Syria, 2016 The topic to be addressed in this text is the basic misconception on the question of the Balkan Albanian ethnogenesis and national identity that was framed by extremely geo-politically coloured the German-based “Illyrian” theory of the Albanian ethnic and cultural origin. This (quasi)theory, unfortunately, has very deep and negative regional political-security consequences during the last century. The implementation of the “Illyrian” (quasi)theory of the Albanian ethnogenesis was accepted firstly by the Rilindja, (the renaissance) – the Albanian nationalistic and chauvinistic political movement in 1878–1913 for the sake to create the ethnically pure Greater Albania as a ...
READ MORE
Impending Threat To Canadian Democracy: Harper Government’s “Anti-Terrorism Act” Isn’t About Terrorism, It’s A Torture Act
The Harper government’s Bill C-51, or Anti-Terrorism Act, has been in the public domain for over a month. Long enough for us to know that it subverts basic principles of constitutional law, assaults rights of free speech and free assembly, and is viciously anti-democratic. An unprecedented torrent of criticism has been directed against this bill as the government rushes it through Parliament. This has included stern or at least sceptical editorials in all the major newspapers; an open letter, signed by four former Prime Ministers and five former Supreme Court judges, denouncing the bill for exposing Canadians to major violations of ...
READ MORE
Déjà Vu in the Balkans
An eerily familiar sense of regional unease has crept over all the former republics of Yugoslavia. Slovenian Prime Minister Miro Cerar echoed the Balkan zeitgeist when he warned at a press conference this week that: “If the migrant crisis is not adequately controlled as agreed at the summit in Brussels there is a possibility of conflict situations between the states of the Western Balkans. It is possible that a small conflict would initiate a wider reaction because of the very difficult recent history (of the region), which is why it is very important that we solve this crisis together as no country can solve this problem by itself.” It seems like everybody knows that ...
READ MORE
Book By Vladislav B. Sotirovic: “Global Research. Selected articles” (Second Edition), Vilnius, 2016
Book by Vladislav B. Sotirovic: Global Research. Selected articles (second edition), Vilnius: UAB “Mylida”, 2016 ISBN 978-609-408-840-7, UDK 911.3:32 So-121 The book reviews by: Dr. João Carlos Graça, Lisbon School of Economics & Management, Lisbon University, Lisbon, Portugal Prof. Dr. Krisztina Arató, Vice-director of the Institute of Political Sciences at the Faculty of Law and Political Sciences, Eötvös Lorand University, Budapest, Hungary Dr. Christian Rossi, Department of Social Sciences and Institutions, Cagliari University, Cagliari, Sardinia, Italy Join the debate on our Twitter Timeline!
READ MORE
Dysfunction in the Balkans: Can the post-Yugoslav settlement survive?
The political settlement in the former Yugoslavia is unraveling. In Bosnia, the weakest state in the region, both Serbs and Croats are mounting a concerted challenge to the Dayton peace accords, the delicate set of compromises that hold the country together. In Macedonia, political figures from the large Albanian minority are calling for the federalization of the state along ethnic lines. In Kosovo, the Serb minority is insisting on the creation of a network of self-governing enclaves with effective independence from the central government. In Serbia’s Presevo Valley, Albanians are agitating for greater autonomy. In Montenegro, Albanians have demanded a ...
READ MORE
Bellamy Salute in the U.S.
The Bellamy salute is the salute described by Francis Bellamy, Christian socialist minister and author, to accompany the American Pledge of Allegiance, which he had authored. During the period when it was used with the Pledge of Allegiance, it was sometimes known as the "flag salute". Later, during the 1920s and 1930s, Italian fascists and Nazis adopted a salute which had a similar form, and which was derived from the so-called Roman salute. This resulted in controversy over the use of the Bellamy salute in the United States. It was officially replaced by the hand-over-heart salute when Congress amended the ...
READ MORE
NATO’s illegal war against Serbia
Facts And Truth @ YouTube: “Remember why NATO spent 78-days bombing Yugoslavia in the spring of 1999? There was the ethnic cleansing. The atrocities. The refugees chased out of Kosovo by the Serb army. The mass graves. The heaps of bodies tossed into vats of sulphuric acid at the Trepca mines. NATO spokesman Jamie Shea said there were 100,000 Kosovo Albanian Muslims unaccounted for. Problem is, none of it happened.”   Forensic report throws doubt on US/NATO claims of Racak “massacre” By Richard Tyler wsws.org, 12 February 2001 A forthcoming article by three Finnish pathologists throws further doubts upon official descriptions of a “massacre” in ...
READ MORE
“Operation Unthinkable” (1945) And US-NATO’s Threats To Wage War On Russia
Five days before the celebration of the 71th anniversary of Nazi Germany’s capitulation to the Soviet and allied troops in the WWII, the new NATO Supreme Commander in Europe Curtis Scaparrotti announced that he came to beat the drums of war again. Ignoring the historic facts and legitimate Russian interests in its around, in his first speech after assuming office he condemned alleged “Russian aggressive behavior that challenges international norms” and called the bloc members to “fight tonight if deterrence fails.” This commonplace declaration fairly correlates with the military and media strategy the Western ruling class adopted decades ago. Even putting aside the ...
READ MORE
International Injustice: The Conviction Of Radovan Karadzic
Last Thursday, news reports were largely devoted to the March 22 Brussels terror bombings and the US primary campaigns. And so little attention was paid to the verdict of the International Criminal Tribunal for (former) Yugoslavia (ICTY) finding Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic guilty of every crime it could come up with, including “genocide”.  It was a “ho-hum” bit of news.  Karadzic had already been convicted by the media of every possible crime, and nobody ever imagined that he would be declared innocent by the single-issue court set up in The Hague essentially to judge the Serb side in the ...
READ MORE
NATO’s “Drang Nach Suden”
During the final years of the Cold War, the Soviet Union and the US reached a verbal agreement whereby Moscow would allow for the reunification of Germany in exchange for the US agreeing to never expand NATO further East. As history attests, the US shamelessly reneged on its guarantee the moment the Soviet Union collapsed and was powerless to effectively stop it, swallowing up almost the entirety of Eastern Europe (save for Belarus, Moldova, and Ukraine) and all the Baltic States by 2004. What’s less studied by observers is NATO’s “Drang Nach Suden” (Drive to the South), which represents one ...
READ MORE
New Strategic Calculus For The Balkans
The Balkans have returned to the forefront of European geopolitics as a result of the New Cold War, with the US and Russia facing off in a proxy war over the planned Balkan Stream pipeline through the region. The geopolitical circumstances have evolved since the 1990s, when all of the former Yugoslavia was lumped together as the Western Balkans. In order to accommodate for the changing strategic reality in the region, it’s necessary to carve the Central Balkans out of the idea of the former, and the new division of the Balkans into Western, Central, and Eastern regions simplifies the ...
READ MORE
Hitler Was Financed by the Federal Reserve and the Bank of England
The European Union, Moral Hypocrisy, and Stroking Tension in the Balkans
Dusseldorf Axe Attacker: “Fatmir H,” Muslim Albanian from Kosovo
The NATO campaign against freedom of expression
The US-NATO plan for Macedonia: Keep Serbia down and Russia out
Bush Family Links To Nazi Germany: “A Famous American Family” Made Its Fortune From The Nazis
Imperialism And The Politics Of Torture: Towards A Global Secret Police Force
Donald Trump On Kosovo In 1999
(Quasi)Academic Foundations of a Racist Greater Albania
Impending Threat To Canadian Democracy: Harper Government’s “Anti-Terrorism Act” Isn’t About Terrorism, It’s A Torture Act
Déjà Vu in the Balkans
Book By Vladislav B. Sotirovic: “Global Research. Selected articles” (Second Edition), Vilnius, 2016
Dysfunction in the Balkans: Can the post-Yugoslav settlement survive?
Bellamy Salute in the U.S.
NATO’s illegal war against Serbia
“Operation Unthinkable” (1945) And US-NATO’s Threats To Wage War On Russia
International Injustice: The Conviction Of Radovan Karadzic
NATO’s “Drang Nach Suden”
New Strategic Calculus For The Balkans
Genocide Against The Civilian Population Of The Republic Of Srpska Krajina In August 1995 (2006)