TFF PressInfo # 288 – Where it all went wrong and lessons were never learnt

November 4, 2014

Where it all went wrong and lessons were never learnt

October 31st, 2014 |By Jan Oberg |Transnational Foundation for Peace and Future Research (TFF)


On November 9, it is 25 years the Berlin Wall came down. Seventeen months later, Yugoslavia’s dissolution began and various concepts and policies were introduced that fundamentally changed international politics ever since – more so than the fall of the Wall.

These features can be seen in the conflict (mis)management in later conflicts.

By now we should have accumulated enough evidence of how effective the various ”teatments” of the ”patient” called Yugoslavia were. To put it crudely: A unique country was destroyed – yes from the inside too, but that doesn’t reduce the responsibility of the West/NATO in its role as ”peacemaker”.

Today, Croatia is ethnically much more clean; Kosovo remains a failed state; the constituencies of the Dayton Accords for Bosnia (1995) still won’t live together as one state, as elections have just shown us. Macedonia’s problems have only deepened. The split between Serbia and Montenegro was enigmatic. Today’s Slovenia is the only unit that can be said to be in a better situation now than when part of Yugoslavia.

It is high time we get a critical discussion going of what the international so-called community chose to actually do – no matter the stated intentions – to help bring about peace in former Yugoslavia.

All of it must be re-assessed and lessons must be learned for governments to introduce a little modesty and recognise that they are not born peacemakers but rather war makers. And we need such a debate to go down another road than the one we took since 1999.

TFF maintains that the crisis in and around Yugoslavia is much more significant for international affairs than hitherto assumed because e.g.:

• The international so-called community’s attempt at being self-appointed conflict analysers and peacemakers with no prior education or training right after being Cold War warriors led to miserable results on the ground.

• Closely related: the amateurish idea that conflicts could be understood and treated as two parties, one good and one bad. The bad guys were the Serbs, of course, and Slobodan Milosevic became the new ”Hitler of Europe” after the West had used him as an ally.

• During this crisis Russia was sidetracked and humiliated. But in the Soviet Union era no one would have dared touch the Yugoslav space. Now the West could do what it wanted and Russia could do nothing to oppose it.

• Violent humanitarian intervention was introduced and persuaded many, like Vaclav Havel, peace and green movements as well as human rights advocates, that military intervention was OK if only the stated intentions sounded good. We know now it isn’t.

• The UN’s Agenda for Peace’s concept of peace enforcement lead to the absurdity of bombing in Bosnia where UN peacekeepers were on the ground.

• International law was ignored or twisted to fit purposes such as recognising Slovenia and Croatia and to bomb to create a new independent Kosovo/a without any UN mandate.

• Bombing to create a new state for Western strategic purposes and to get new bases (Bondsteel) in Kosovo was an innovation. That’s the main reason the West lacks every credibility when it teaches Russia or anybody else what international law is. The annexation of Crimea was at least not done by violence but by a helter-skelter referendum.

• More generally – creating new states out of existing ones has not been possible without bloodshed, with a few exceptions such Norway from Sweden 1905, Singapore from Malaysia in 1965 (after only 2 years) and the splitting up of Czechoslovakia. Anyhow it was done in Yugoslavia with highly predictable bloody results. No government listened to expert warnings.

• The undermining of the UN and all it stands for by NATO countries in particular started in Yugoslavia: unclear mandates, huge mandates with no proportional resources, abrogation of missions when they were about to succeed (such as UNTAES in Eastern Slavonia and UNPREDEP in Macedonia) and asking the UN to protect six safe zones in Bosnia (one being Srebrenica) and giving it 1200 instead of the required 33.000 peacekeepers. In addition, at the time of that massacre, the UN was fundamentally broke.

• Unequal attention to human rights. The human and minority rights of Serbs – who were minorities in most other republics-becoming-new-states and in total made up 42% of the population – were never respected on par with those of others.

• Sanctions – the ”soft” instrument that’s been used with so counterproductive effects in many other places – made most people dependent on a mafia-smuggling economy and destroyed Macedonia’s economy. Why? Because Macedonia was supposed to not trade with Serbia, its largest market, without receiving compensation from those who installed sanctions.

• The parties’ massive, systematic use of propaganda through marketing corporations, paid lies, planted stories – with media generally unaware of this manipulation and not developing a filter against it. Admittedly, Yugoslavia was an extremely difficult conflict; however it is difficult to understand that media understood less and less of it over time.

• Keeping a conflict violent for much longer than it otherwise would by pumping in weapons to all sides (in spite of a weapons embargo). The West presented itself as a peacemaker, arranged negotiations, humanitarian aid etc with one hand and prolonged the war through arms deliveries and training programs with the other.

• It was in Yugoslavia that the EU’s largest foreign policy blunder took place: The unified Germany’s first big step was to get the EU on board splitting up Yugoslavia and recognise Slovenia and Croatia – the latter’s Pavelic regime a World War II Nazi ally – as independent states and thereby making the war in Bosnia unavoidable.

• The introduction of a special politicised courts for special wars: Rwanda and Yugoslavia, the latter in the Hague Tribunal.

• Destruction of diversity. The destruction of a unique country and the beginning of the destruction of the position of neutrality and non-alignment (Sweden, Austria and Finland) that reduced diversity in the world and opened the way for NATO expansion right up to Russia’s borders later.

• Yugoslavia should also be remembered for one good thing: that nonviolence is always stronger in the long run. It was not the diplomatic isolation, not the 10 years of sanctions, not marginalization and not 78 days of merciless bombings that brought the fall of Slobodan Milosevic. It was the nonviolent mass protests of the October 5, 2000.

In short – Western hubris combined with ignorant, non-professional conflict-management – or perhaps deliberate and cynical destruction – of one of the world’s most interesting and diverse societies. True, the various groups in former Yugoslavia started it all themselves but the helpers who came in stage gave little help and made everythig worse than a divorce needed to have been.

Two of the main reasons the West is declining relative to the rest of the world is its inability to recognise its mistakes and crimes and to learn from them. If you are number one in a system you usually teach others lessons, you don’t learn. If you are number 2 or 25, there is always somebody higher up to learn from.
Unless we learn from Yugoslavia, we’ll see more Western decline.
The arguments above are embedded in the TFF blog on Yugoslavia – What Should Have Been Done. It is unique for its conflict analysis against the main stream at the time, for its generally quite precise predictions (can be tested today) and its alternative peace proposals – and for being based on over 70 missions, 3000+ interviews on all sides and all levels and containing the equivalent of 2000+ A4 pages – written by three leading peace and conflict researchers who have not changed a word in the original manuscripts.

Why It Happened In Yugoslavia?

December 31, 2012


As year 2012 ends the conflicts after the violent dissolution wars of Yugoslavia still are frozen ones it might be right time to summarize why all this happened. An excellent means for this is a Canadian documentary film ”The Weight of Chains”. As opposed to general picture in western main stream media the film takes a critical look at the role that the US, NATO and the EU played in the tragic breakup of a once peaceful and prosperous European state – Yugoslavia. It will present strong arguments which uncover the true reasons behind Western intervention in the Balkans and why .

“The Weight Of Chains” deals with tough issues concerning the breakup of region and the consequences of a decade of instability and war. The film will present a Canadian perspective on Western involvement in the division of the ethnic groups within Yugoslavia and show that the war was forced from outside — regular people wanted peace. Another similar approach from West was a Norwegian documentary film “Srebrenica: A Town Betrayed” which had its focus mostly in Bosnia. That documentary I covered in my earlier article and reactions after that in article Media War of Yugoslav Secession continues.

The film began with production in late 2009 in Canada, continued in early 2010 in the United States and was finalized in the Summer of 2010 in Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia-Herzegovina and Serbia (and its province Kosovo). The director of this film, ;Boris Malagurski, has made several films to date, the last one being “Kosovo | Can You Imagine?”, a controversial documentary exposing how remaining Serbs in Kosovo have little or no basic human rights, which won several awards on film festivals around the world and was broadcasted as well.

What really happened and why? Watch here in five parts:

Jasenovac – Holocaust promoted by Vatican

January 26, 2010

The UN General Assembly chose January 27 as the official day for the commemoration, as it was on this day in 1945 that Soviet troops liberated the Auschwitz extermination camp, the last such camp still functioning. Throughout Europe, tributes will be paid to the 53 million people who died during World War II, of whom 31 million were civilians. Commemoration has linked usually also to International Holocaust Remembrance Day.

Auschwitz-Birkenau was the largest extermination center created by the Nazis. It has become the symbol of the Holocaust and of wilful radical evil in our time. Few people know that 3rd biggest extermination center was Jasenovac. Two reasons maybe explain this: 1st it is located in Croatia and 2nd the main part of victims were Serbs. The death tolls in extermination centres vary but rough estimations are following (source Wikipedia):

  • Auschwitz II 1,400,000

  • Belzeg 600,000
  • Chelmno 320,000
  • Jasenovac 600,000
  • Majdanek 360,000
  • Maly Trostinets 65,000
  • Sobibor 250,000
  • Treblinka 870,000


Upon the occupation of Yugoslavia, the German Nazis and the Italian Fascists formed an “independent” state in Croatia, which was basically a Nazi puppet state. Immediately upon the establishment of its puppet government, the Ustashe set up militias and gangs that slaughtered Serbs, Jews, Romas and their political foes. Catholic priests, some of them Franciscans, also participated in the acts of slaughter. The cruelty of the Ustashe was so great that even the commander of the German army in Yugoslavia complained. The partisans, led by the Croat Communist Josip Broz Tito, and the Chetniks – Nationalist Serb royalists – fought the Ustashe.

Under the leadership of the Ustasha leader Ante Pavelic’s right-hand man Andrija Artukovic, who earned the nickname “the Himmler of the Balkans,” the Ustashe set up concentration camps, most notably at Jasenovac. According to various estimates, about 100,000 people were murdered at the camp, among them tens of thousands of Jews (it is interesting to note that some of the heads of the Ustashe were married to Jewish women). Throughout Croatia about 700,000 people were murdered.


Located in Croatia 62 miles south of Zagreb, Jasenovac was Croatia’s largest concentration and extermination camp. Jasenovac, was a network of several sub-camps, established in August 1941 and dissolved in April 1945. Jasenovac was not the only place where Serbia’s neighbour Croatia ran several concentration camps where Jews, Serbs and Roma have been murdered. Bosnian Muslims and Kosovo Albanians were allies of Hitler as well. (More about Jasenevac in my document library under headline Croatia )

In April 1945 the partisan army approached the camp. In an attempt to erase traces of the atrocities, the Ustaša blew up all the installations, killed most of the internees and tried to hide all evidence about brutalities in Jasenovac, all material evidence disappeared as if there had not been any camp in that place. Later – during Tito’s time – the state and the authorities tried to implement “Brotherhood and Unity” motto, with the aim of creating tolerance between the nations and the crime had to be forgotten as soon as possible.

Encyclopedia of the Holocaust, edited by Yisrael Gutman, vol. 1, 1995, pp. 739-740 gives following description about problems to find exact numbers:

It is difficult to establish the number of victims killed in the Jasenovac concentration camp, since many documents were destroyed. The prisoners’ files were destroyed twice (at the beginning of 1943 and in April, 1945) and even if they had been preserved, they would have been of little help discerning the truth, because the Ustasha often killed the newly arrived prisoners immediately, without putting their names into the files. This is particularly true of those who arrived from Slavonia, Srem and Kozara, because it was only noted down that 9,830, or 155 wagons had arrived. For instance, a very small number of Gypsies was filed, only a few hundred, while it is known that all 25,000-35,000 of them from the NDH were killed in Jasenovac. The Jewish community in Yugoslavia has established the number of 20,000 Jews that were killed in Jasenovac. The numbers of killed Serbs are truly varied. The sources from abroad mention numbers from 300,000 to 700,000. Be that as it may, most of the people killed in Jasenovac were Serbs. Exact number being still unknown, but it surely amounts to several hundreds of thousands. The National Committee of Croatia for the investigation of the crimes of the occupation forces and their collaborators stated in its report of November 15, 1945 that 500,000-600,000 people were killed at Jasenovac. ”

The Yad Vashem center claims that over 500,000 Serbs were killed in the NDH (now Croatia), including those who were killed at Jasenovac, where approximately 600,000 victims of all ethnicities were killed.

A documentary film “Jasenovac – the cruellest death camp of all times” can be found from here!

Religious aspect

While for Nazi-Germany Jasenovac was more a tool for ethnic cleansing for Ustashe religious aspect played crucial role. The aim and its implementation efficiency is described differently by people who actually were in Balkans during that period. Ustashe leaders declared they would slaughter a third of the Serb population in Croatia, deport a third and convert the remaining third from Orthodoxy to Roman Catholicism. Anyone who refused to convert was murdered.

One may claim that the religious motivation and the brutality of butchers were leading principles in Jasenovac. The fact that 743 Roman Catholic priests were members of the Ustashi and personally murdered Serbs, Jews and Gypsies. Jasenovac was for a time, run by Fr. Filipovic-Majstorovic, a Catholic priest who admitted to killing “40,000 Serbs with his own hands.” So at one point, a Franciscan monk was camp commandant of what the second largest concentration camp of the war.

The Jasenovac system of Croatian camps also included a camp for children run by Catholic nuns who used toxic soda to save bullets.

Roman Catholic priests who participated in the killing of tens of thousands of Serbs, Jews and Gypsies and the running of Jasenovac escaped Europe through the “Vatican Ratline” run by Fr. Draganovich, a Croatian Catholic priest who helped morons like Clause Barbe escape from Europe. Those Catholic priests escaped to Argentina where they also escaped justice.

Vatican connection

In 1999 a class action law suit was filed at a court in San Franciso against the Vatican Bank (Institute for Religious Works) and against the Franciscan order, the Croatian Liberation Movement (the Ustashe), the National Bank of Switzerland and others to recover $100 million in damages for the Vatican’s participation in these war crimes and money laundering the proceeds from their Serb, Jewish and Roma victims. The suit was filed by Jewish, Ukrainian, Serb and Roma survivors, as well as relatives of victims and various organizations that together represent 300,000 World War II victims. The plaintiffs demanded accounting and restitution.

Franciscans in Rome helped smuggle the Ustasha Tresury and assisted Ustasha war criminals in escaping justice. The Vatican Bank is alleged to have laundered a portion of the Ustasha Treasury. The Vatican not only hoarded the gold the Croats looted, it also helped them escape – with a nod and wink from the OSS and MI6. In 1986 for example, the US government released documents that revealed the Vatican had organised the Ustasha leader Ante Pavelic’s safe-flight from Europe to Argentina, along with 200 senior officials of his regime. Pavelic was given refuge by the Vatican, fascist Spain, and Peronist Argentine. The Ustasha Minister of the Interior, Artukovic, lived openly in California from 1949-1986 when he was finally deported to Yugoslavia and convicted of murder. Thousands of Ustasha escaped justice for their crimes due to their wealth and influence and the backing of the Roman Catholic Church and who along with certain rogue elements in the US and UK governments portrayed these war criminals as anticommunist freedom fighters.

As the war ended, it is now known that the Vatican Bank and other world banks helped to launder and transfer funds out of the Reich, and helped many war criminals to escape justice in what is now nicknamed the “Vatican Ratline”

The Vatican Bank has claimed ignorance of any participation in Ustasha crimes or the disappearance of the Croatian Treasury. The Vatican has refused to open its wartime records despite requests from the US government, Jewish and Roma organizations. My main source about Vatican connection has been “Vatican Bank Claims

A class action law suit against the Vatican Bank to recover $100 million in damages for the Vatican’s participation in these war crimes and money laundering the proceeds from their Serb, Jewish and Roma victims is still ongoing. Vatican lawyers have three times tried to get this case thrown out of court. The Supreme court has rejected their claims.

In US District Court the case against the Vatican Bank (but not the Franciscan Order) was dismissed on grounds the Vatican Bank is an organ of a sovereign entity, the Vatican, which is immune from lawsuits. The just filed appeal however argues that the Vatican Bank is not sovereign and engages in commercial activity in the United States and therefore should be held accountable in a United States Federal Court.

Memory today

On Summer 2008 Israels ambassador to Croatia, Shmuel Meirom, harshly criticized the funeral given to a head of a WWII Jasenovac concentration camp in Zagreb, saying also that it insulted the memory of those killed in the camp run by Croatia’s Nazi-allied Ustasha regime.“I’m convinced that the majority of the Croatian people are shocked by the way the funeral of the Jasenovac commander and murderer, dressed in an Ustasha uniform, was conducted,” ambassador Meirom said in a written statement. “At the same time, I strongly condemn the inappropriate words of the priest who served at the funeral and said that Sakic was a model for all Croats” Meirom said. (More about this in my article “Nazi’s funeral shadows Croatias past” )

Yearly commemoration is important remainder for fair picture of history. At least one day per year is good to think what ultra nationalism can be at its worst level, what kind of interests, power game, attitudes and hidden motivations are creating possibilities for murdering civil populations or ethnic groups.

Nazi’s Funeral shadows Croatia’s past

August 1, 2008

Israel’s ambassador to Croatia,  Shmuel Meirom,  harshly criticized on Thursday 31 July 2008 the funeral given to a head of a World War Two concentration camp in Zagreb, saying also that it insulted the memory of those killed in the camp run by Croatia’s Nazi-allied Ustasha regime. Sakic died aged 87 on July 20 while serving 20 years in prison for war crimes he committed as head of the notorious Jasenovac camp, the worst of about 40 camps run by the then Nazi puppet regime of Croatia. According to Croatia’s Vecernji List daily, Sakic was buried in the Ustasha uniform and described by the priest at the funeral as “a person Croats must be proud of”‘.

“I’m convinced that the majority of the Croatian people are shocked by the way the funeral of the Jasenovac commander and murderer, dressed in an Ustasha uniform, was conducted,” ambassador Meirom said in a written statement to the state news agency Hina. “At the same time, I strongly condemn the inappropriate words of the priest who served at the funeral and said that Sakic was a model for all Croats”Meirom said.

Dinko Sakic’s funeral was an “outrageous display of unrepentant racism, anti-Semitism and xenophobia,” the Simon Wiesenthal Center’s Israeli branch director, Efraim Zuroff, said in a letter on July 30 addressed to President Stipe Mesic. Sakic fled Croatia when the pro-Nazi state was crushed in 1945. He was extradited from Argentina in 1998 to face trial in Croatia, where he was convicted and sentenced to 20 years in prison.


The Ustasha’s Independent State of Croatia (abbreviated as NDH) was proclaimed on April 10, 1941; territories besides those which were traditionally settled by the Croats were grafted into this state, including all of Bosnia- Herzegovina and parts of Serbia. There were more than two million Serbs living in the newly created puppet state, who made up one third of the entire population of the NDH. There were also significant numbers of Jews, Romanies and members of other national groups. As soon as the NDH was proclaimed, the leader of this Italo-German fabrication, the head of the Ustasha named Ante Pavelić, began to carry out the Ustasha’s program of the creation of a “purely Croatian area for living” and a “pure Croat nation”.

A very small number of Gypsies was filed, only a few hundred, while it is known that all 25,000-35,000 of them from the NDH were killed in Jasenovac. The Jewish community in Yugoslavia has established the number of 20,000 Jews that were killed in Jasenovac. The numbers of killed Serbs are truly varied. The sources from abroad mention numbers from 300,000 to 700,000. Anyway most of the people killed in Jasenovac were Serbs.

Ante Pavelic

Ante Pavelic was the original Butcher of the Balkans. He was the leader of the Nazi puppet government of the “Independent State of Croatia” who died peacefully in Madrid in 1959. The mass murderer  survived the Second World War and never faced a war crimes tribunal unlike Slobodan Milosevic whose alleged crimes pale in comparison. Instead Pavelic was offered sanctuary by the Vatican and became a security advisor to Juan and Eva Person before retiring to fascist Spain.
Recent history
Tudjman, the late blood stained ruler of Croatia, was a proponent of returning Pavelic to Croatia and indeed Pavelic would be pleased to find many new public monuments to his loyal Ustashe springing up like toadstools after a spring rain in democratic Croatia.
At the end of September 1991 (beggining of civil wars in Tito’s Yugoslavia, ed. n.), the Croatian Army entered the Jasenovac memorial park by force. According to the Hague Convention on the protection of historical and cultural monuments, the Croatian Army severely broke the agreement by entering the protected area. Although the international public informed about desecration of the memorial park. there was not much of a response. The Serbian forces liberated Jasenovac Memorial Park on October 8, 1991. During the withdrawal the Croatian Army placed explosives (and) blew up the bridge on the Sava River which connected the two parts of the Memorial Park; they also blew up the graves, destroyed the Museum artifacts and stole the Museum equipment. Due to the courage and enthusiasm of individuals who worked at the Memorial Park, some historical materials and objects were saved.
As sources of this article I ave used following links/portals:
  • (Alperin v. Vatican Bank was originally filed in Federal Court in San Francisco in November 1999. The plaintiffs are concentration camp survivors of Serb, Jewish, and Ukrainian background and their relatives as well as organizations representing over 300,000 Holocaust victims and their heirs.The plaintiffs seek an accounting and restitution of the Ustasha Treasury that according to the US State Department was illicitly transferred to the Vatican, the Franciscan Order and other banks after the end of the war)
  • (The Jasenovac Research Institute is a non-profit human rights organization and research institute committed to establishing the truth about the Holocaust in Yugoslavia and dedicated to the search for justice for its victims. The JRI promotes research and activities designed to enlighten the world to the crimes of genocide committed at Jasenovac and wartime Yugoslavia against Serbs, Jews and Romas and provides assistance to all groups and individuals who likewise seek justice for these victims.)
  • (Jasenovac Committee of the Holy Assembly of Bishops of the Serbian Orthodox Church)

Bookmark this on Delicious

%d bloggers like this: