Mapping the Yugoslav conflicts

By Johan Galtung

Written around 1992, edited in 2006

This blog favors the conflict/peace more than the threat/security perspective.  And standard conflict analysis demands a comprehensive listing of the key actors, of their goals, and of the clashes among those goals.  A point of departure is a list of standard fault-lines often separating individuals and groups, assuming that the conflict is not only among states and republics because only they have arms.

Conflict analysis – it was a bit more complex than assumed by most

And that is a first and major point to be made: the conflict in and over Yugoslavia went far beyond nations only.  Here are ten conflicts, all within Yugoslavia, certainly not only one:

I.    Nature: military destruction vs the eco-balance of nature, particularly through the use of depleted uranium
II.   Gender: macho attitude-behavior, including large scale rape, probably also as a backlash against socialist gender parity
III.  Generation: passing hatred, revanchism through generations, from the past via the present way into the future, at the national, local and family levels, not processed through reconciliation
IV.   Race: by and large irrelevant, except for some UN troops
V.    Class: we have to distinguish between four kinds:

– political: a revolt against Beograd as the Titoist center of decision-making, also among Serbs as a perpetuation of the Tito-Mihajlovich, partizan-chetnik conflict from the Second world war;
– military: a revolt against the Titoist near monopoly on military violence through the largely Serbian controlled JNA, the Yugoslav National Army;
– economic: the under-class revolt against the technocrats; and the revolt of the less well-to-do against the more well-to-do;
– cultural: a revolt against any perceived cultural dominance, linguistically, religiously, ideologically – within and without.

VI:   Nation: shallow in terms of religion; deeper for language, and in terms of sacred times (dates) and sacred spaces (sites) for the nations.  Also “Yugoslavs” vs. “constituent nations”.

VII:  Country: only Slovenija was uni-national, the other republics were all multi-national with problematic borders

VIII: State/Capital: the socialism/capitalism controversy

IX:   Capital/Civil Society: inter-nation exploitation issues

X:    State/Civil Society: human rights infractions, killed and wounded, peace movements inside/outside Yugoslavia; NGOs.

Almost everyone of these is important.  But “nation” has to be spelt out. [Read more…]

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Security and Identity in former Yugoslavia

By Håkan Wiberg
Presumably written 1995 or 96

Introduction

The concatenation of conflicts in former Yugoslavia are of a complexity that makes them difficult to fathom for the great majority of external observers, in particular mass media and politicians. This complexity derives from the high number of actors in various phases, as well as from the varying characters of actors and from the fact that different dimensions of security have played – and continue to play salient roles.

When external actors have tried to relate to this set of conflict, the heritage of the Cold War has apparently played a great role. Its essence is not to be found in the specific propaganda themes in 1991, rather in a general pattern of perception. It can be summarized in three main axioms:

1. There can be no more than two actors in a conflict.
2. These actors are states.
3. Among these, one is good and one is bad.

In virtually every situation, however, the actors have never been less than three, and even then only after great simplification. Peoples have been just as much actors as states, and – with few exceptions – the actions of these actors are a matter of bad and worse, rather than good and bad, at least if judged by generalizable morality rather than political expediency.

In addition, it must not be forgotten that the former Yugoslavia had an appallingly bad prognosis in its last period of existence by a wide range of indicators. [Read more…]

Den lange historie og den dystre prognose for Jugoslavien

Af Håkan Wiberg

Trykt som kapitel 1 i Erik A. Andersen og Håkan Wiberg (red.), Storm Over Balkan, C.A. Reitzels forlag, København 1994.

De fleste skillelinier i Europa igennem historien har gennemskåret det fhv. Jugoslavien: det gjaldt grænsen for den græske kultursfære og senere skellet mellem det Østromerske og det Vestromerske Rige, grænsen for de slaviske stammers fremtrængen i sydlig retning og også grænsen for Karl den Stores imperium. Grænsen mellem de katolske og ortodokse kirker har gået her, siden de definitivt blev skilt fra hinanden i 1054. Grænsen mellem de tyrkiske og habsburgske imperier blev i århundreder flyttet frem og tilbage her, indtil Serbien genopstod. Også grænsen imellem den rige og den fattige del af Europa har gået her i tusind år. De fleste af disse grænser har sat sig dybe og tragiske spor, der udgør en vigtig baggrund for forståelsen af dagens grusomme situation. [Read more…]

Letter to my daughter about Yugoslavia

By Johan Galtung

23 February 1994

To: Irene

From: Papi

Re: Yugoslavia

[1]  The Serbs want safety for all Serbs.  They have Serbia, but very many Serbs live outside, in Croatia and in Bosnia-Hercegovina.  They have created autonomous republics for the latter two, the Serbian Republic of Krajina in Croatia, and the Serbian Republic of Bosnia. It is not clear whether they have as a goal that these two should become parts of Serbia, or independent countries, or be together with Serbia in a federation.  I think they want the federation.

The Croats want expansion of Croatia into Bosnia-H as a part of Croatia, [Read more…]