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May 4, 1992
. Vreme News Digest Agency No 32

JNA: A Closed Circle

by Milos Vasic

It lasted exactly 50 years. The army that used to be Yugoslav and which believed it was the people's, was created in 1941 as a guerrilla formation, emerging out of World War II as the winner. The Communist bliss lasted for 45 years. Since all things come to an end, JNA (The Yugoslav People's Army), on its 50th anniversary, found itself where it has never been before: it had to make a political choice. Left without its Commander-in-Chief for over a decade, witnessing the decay of Communism and watching the First Socialist State change at the terror of genuine Communists (and genuine Serbs), JNA accepted the first Leader available: he was young, full of energy and looked like a real Communist - "a man with special qualities". The new Leader started driving away from Yugoslavia all of those who didn't vote for the Communists, forcing the generals to make their choice: either to save Yugoslavia or the Communist regime. The stale ideology of Communist militarism, privileges and inertia, won: attracted by a cunningly presented analogy with World War II, susceptible to propaganda, attracted by Krajina-Montagnard mentality, the generals charged forward. The Leader waged a war following his own but not military logic; his objective was not feasible by the military means the JNA could offer. That is how it came to pass that "Serbia is not at war", that the Dubrovnik operation had to be laid at JNA's door like a bastard, that JNA found itself in B&H on the wrong side of the border. Tomorrow, the Army will be held accountable for war crimes, since "the volunteers are under Military command" (Bozovic, Seselj).

At this moment, the JNA in B&H is retreating to the territories which are held by Serbs who are, by the way, expelling the Moslems and Croats. The circle is closed: JNA is going back to Rudo (the legendary village in the Bosnian mountains where the First regular JNA unit was formed in 1941) and to Mt. Romania -where it came from fifty years ago, hastily turning coat, trying to assume the guise of the Territorial Defense, that is, WW II partisans once again. What remains in the new, "Easter Yugoslavia"? An army with a traumatic experience of defeat. The state has been reduced to less than one third of its former territory, its population has been reduced by 60%, economic support has been reduced due to a devastated economy, and political support is questionable. The younger and better educated officers are grumbling ever more loudly; General Adzic is saying one thing, General Obradovic (Morale Department), another. In the future army there will be no room - and no money - for all of them. The Serbian autonomous regions will not be able to support what is left of the Army in B&H since they themselves need someone to sustain them. In the long run, it is a lost asset, as are the military plants in B&H after the disruption of the technological system. The "Easter Yugoslavia" does not hold a chance in competing on the world armaments' market for a long time, and "fraternal help" from the East or the West will not come. On the geo-strategic scale, the new state has nothing to offer to anyone but an intimidating political attitude: "Make us happy, or there will be war".

JNA has stopped being Yugoslav a year ago, it ceased being the "People's" after it started destroying towns and unsellectively shelling its own civilian population from Vukovar to Mostar out of sheer spite. History has witnessed a reversal. What remains to be seen is which generals' junta is going to replace the present one, and what will be their ambition. The army of the new Yugoslav state is much stronger than is advisable for a stable state.

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