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November 15, 1993
. Vreme News Digest Agency No 112
Point of View: the President's Foreign Policy Doctrine

Great, But Can He Deliver?

by Dusan Reljic

Compared to America and Russia, which are searching tortuously for a foreign policy in the postCold War fog, Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic told his countrymen that he was thinking about matters and that there was hope. While there are bitter divisions in Washington and Moscow over new national foreign policy and defence doctrines, in Belgrade, the Serbian head of state and ruling party needed only a few minutes to explain the essence of his strategy. The authorities do not foresee that the matter will come up for debate, since, as Serbian Prime Minister Nikola Sainovic said in the Assembly, Slobodan is in charge of foreign policy.

In an interview given to Belgrade's most influential editors on November 4, Milosevic said that ``the forces which were responsible for the breaking up of Yugoslavia'' had not desisted in their intentions to this very day. He said that the ``aim was to create a large number of small states in the Balkans with puppet governments chosen by foreign factors. This would allow these powers free access to the Balkans and its enormous potential, considering its great importance for the development of Europe's economy...'' Without identifying these forces of evil, Milosevic unmasked their final goal``they don't want one independent country here.'' He went on to say proudly: ``We are the strongest militarypolitical factor in the Balkans,'' thus underestimating North Atlantic Treaty Alliance (NATO) members Greece and Turkey. The statement however, served to bolster him and his supporters. Milosevic cautioned that ``those who wished to break up Yugoslavia,'' ``... were mistaken in their estimates, thinking that because of the pressures and economic difficulties we were in, we would sell off our state and national interests.''

The simplicity of the President's geostrategic analysis brought to mind scenes from patriotic schoolbooks for the very young. The President ended his lesson in History and Social Science by opting once more for deeply rooted collective images: ``This nation has never fought wars of aggression. It has always fought wars of defence... and came out of them as the winner.'' In order that the people might digest the lesson, the President's brief and simple thesis was repeated on state television a week later, thus underscoring its ideological importance.

Freedom and slavery, conquest and defence, the people and the state19th century concepts of blood and territory are what make up the vocabulary of Milosevic's foreign policy doctrine. Looking back into the past in order to explain his views of the modern world, is the method used by Milosevic's main partner in war games, his ally in Bosnia and opponent in Croatia Croatian President Franjo Tudjman. The Croatian daily ``Slobodna Dalmacija'' wrote in late October that Tudjman, inspired by ideals from the past, said that ``Croatia would have the support of the Western world in liberating the occupied parts of Croatia, because Croatia's borders were the borders of Western Europe.''

The sword and fire have served Milosevic and Tudjman as the main means of proving the truth of their doctrines. The 19th century's obsession with territory and the people's blood ties is characteristic of agrarian societies prior to industrialization and the founding of national states, and does not mix well with the supranational links which mark the end of this century.

Futurologist Alvin Toffler, author of sociological prophecies, speaks in his book ``War and AntiWar: Survival at the Dawn of the 21st Century,'' of a trisected world consisting of agrarian countries, industrial countries and communities of the ``third wave.'' The latter are based on access to information, communications and technology; they are interconnected and interdependent. Compared to agrarian states, ``third wave'' communities do not have a great need for new territories. Compared to industrial states they have little need of their natural resources, as proved by Japan and Singapore, writes Toffler.

From their middle position on Toffler's threepart scale, Serbia and Croatia, locked in the embrace of war, have embarked full speed backwards in History. In the Socialist Yugoslavia they had moved from agrarian states to industrial ones, and in some instances to postindustrial ones. ``Agriculture must be Serbia's economic priority,'' said Milosevic during his interview with the main editors. At the same time in Koprivica, Tudjman told the farmers: ``You have a fertile district, make it even more so.''

According to Toffler's scheme of things, the independent states of Serbia and Croatia depend on the ownership of arable land, energy and water, with a minimum of literacy. Their industrial production demands great investments in sources of energy, an underestimated work force and the unscrupulous exploitation of national resources. Linking up with the world is viewed as detrimental because it disrupts the harmony of a closed national economy which does not even satisfy the needs of a rational war economy. Interaction with foreign elements can only serve to disturb a social entropy suitable for the survival of current political set ups and their leaders.

By opting for the forceful closing up into national states, the members of the former Yugoslav federation have finally cut themselves off from the possibility of linking up with Europe both economically and politically.

The supranational coalescing of states requires the forgoing of a great deal of national sovereignty, including interacting influences with regard to the choice of political authority. The ability to function within the same system implies common civilizing values, above all the abandoning of extortion and violence, especially by the different political elite.

That is why when Milosevic repeats that ``this nation wants to choose its own authority, and not have it chosen from abroad,'' or when Tudjman listens to oaths saying ``everything for the homeland, but the homeland must never fall to others,'' this no longer has anything to do with patriotism, but is autistic narcissism. Only those who wish to live apart from the world would ever think of proclaiming the national issue the highest of principles.

Yugoslavia's retardation is far gone. Hopes of change from abroad and at home have been written off, even the hope of civilizing the regimes in Belgrade and Zagreb. Tyrants such as the current Presidents of Serbia and Croatia are considered preferable to a weak democratic government. There are no surprises with them. They will do only what they are forced to.

This approach explains the West's offer to President Milosevic that sanctions against Serbia could be eased if he were to order Bosnian Serbs to give a bit more territory to their Moslem compatriots. The idea is to find a solution for the troubles in South Eastern Europe and then forget this part of the world. Milosevic's ``important traffic routes'' or Tudjman's ``borders with the West'' do not cut much ice here. The Balkans, including NATO member Greece, are regarded by the most developed countries as wastelands of which they know little and don't wish to learn much more.

Promises that ``neither the Germans, Americans or the English will ever choose our authority'' leave the outside world cold. They don't care if Slobodan Milosevic is President of Serbia. What matters is that he does not rock the boat. As far as Milosevic is concerned, it matters greatly to him if he will remain in power or not. This is confirmed by some of his former collocutors: they say that the President had always asked about guarantees for his family and himself whenever it was proposed that he withdraw voluntarily, for the good of the country.

As soon as Milosevic delivers what is expected of him, and that is some form of peace in Bosnia and Croatia, the most developed countries will leave him and his country to face backwardness and isolation.

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