Background on Yugoslavia

The Sound-Byte

The history of Yugoslavia is rife with ethnic warfare, dating back to the time of the Roman Empire. We had a much better chance of achieving a clean victory in Viet Nam than we have in achieving a permanent peace in the region of Eastern Europe sometimes called Yugoslavia.

The Details

Many Americans, myself included, have not had time to come up to speed on the history of the ethnic strife in Yugoslavia that President Clinton has rashly inserted the United States into. Listed below are a few books on my reading list.
The Other Europe: Eastern Europe to 1945

Nationalism and Nationalities in the New Europe

Bosnia and Hercegovina: A Tradition Betrayed

Bosnia: A Short History

The History of Eastern Europe for Beginners

The Serbs, History, Myth and the Destruction of Yugoslavia

Many folks see ominous parallels between the misbegotten war in Viet Nam and the current escalating war in the Balkans. Remember that the United States got into the Viet Nam war under the auspices of SEATO (South East Asia Treaty Organization), the analogue of NATO, and before long the United States was left holding the bag alone. Like Viet Nam, the current war in Yugoslavia is a politician's war -- President Clinton and his non-military advisers are micro-managing the war campaign just as President Johnson did. Like Viet Nam, the United States has not clearly defined victory nor an exit strategy. Like Viet Nam, politicians are stretching to define a United States interest which justifies sending our young men and women into battle in Yugoslavia. The only real difference that I can see is that in Viet Nam we took the side of freedom and democracy in a civil war against Communism, but the North and South Vietnamese didn't really hate each other. On the other hand, in Yugoslavia, BOTH sides in the conflict are Communist, and the ethnic hatred runs centuries deep. The power of the Soviet Union and Marshal Tito couldn't stop it, only suppress it a while. What makes us think we can do any better? Are we incapable of learning from history? Consider the following books:

Dereliction of Duty: Lyndon Johnson, Robert McNamara, the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the Lies That Led to Vietnam

The Pentagon Papers, Abridged Edition

Before President Clinton began the hot war in Yugoslavia, details of the Report of the Cox Congressional Committee were leaking out. Other sources as well were indicating serious compromise of United States Security by the Communist Chinese acquisition of United States nuclear warhead technology and missile delivery technology. Regardless of whether you believe that President Clinton aided the Chinese, or whether you believe that the war in Yugoslavia is motivated by a "wag-the-dog" attempt to distract American public opinion from the Chinese threat, the bottom line is that these serious threats to our security are no longer in the news. The United States should think carefully before we expend more of our defensive capability in Yugoslavia, while confronted with a growing Communist Chinese threat to all of southeast Asia and even the American mainland. Consider the following book:

The Year of the Rat: How Bill Clinton Compromised U.S. Security for Chinese Cash

While President Clinton is waging war in the Balkans, an area of historic and ethnic interest to the Russian people, many Americans have discounted the power and will of Russia to do anything about it. While it is true that the Russian conventional forces are largely disbanded for want of financial support, the Russian-controlled nuclear weapons are still functional, and are even being upgraded. One high-ranking Soviet defector warns the United States that Russia is preparing to launch a first-strike nuclear war with the United States. At the very least, the current democratic government of Russia is threatened from within by a resurgence in Communism as a reaction to the continued failure of the Russian government's economic policies to achieve a reasonable standard of living. More ominously, the current United States war in Yugoslavia without the support and advice of the Russian people is a destabilizing factor pushing Russia away from peaceful coexistence with the United States. The United States should think carefully before we expend more of our defensive capability in Yugoslavia and at the same time antagonize the Russian people. Consider the following book:

Through the Eyes of the Enemy: Russia's Highest Ranking Military Defector Reveals why Russia Is More Dangerous than Ever

Copyright © 1999 Daniel Weyrich.

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Last updated: May 11, 2000; Version: 1.2