In recent times, for every newest event, we get the same excuse: "This could not be foreseen!" We could say that this has become the stereotype reply of our European governments.
In practice we already encountered this during the recent reunification of Germany. If we remember the advice Chancellor Kohl received from Margaret Thatcher, Francois Mitterand, Felipe Gonzales or Giulio Andreotti, we will realise that the Berlin Wall would exist to this day, and Germany would still be divided by barbed wire, if the Chancellor had listened to western European advice.
It is probable that only a few people remember that even in German interior politics there were many statements from that time which were unbelievably absurd. Rarely before had any event such as the implosion of the Soviet Union caught people so unawares.
It is quite correct to say that the essence of politics is above all to foresee events.
Benes as a political trickster
In our time, however, there are very few people with such clear vision. If we take for instance the peace agreements written at the end of the First and Second World Wars, we will see monstrous, even inhuman mistakes. Let us look for instance at the maps drawn in Versailles, Saint Germain and Trianon, not to mention the agreements of Neuilly and Sevres. Artificial countries were established, creating at the same time more minorities than existed previously, although it was claimed that the agreements were in the interests of national groups.
Characteristic of the illustration of this procedure are the borders imposed on Hungary, which created today's still unsolved problems. This is all the more absurd when we see that the majority of the Hungarian minorities live on the border with their mother country. If only there had been a little more common sense and if only - for reasons of geographic ignorance - they had not been deceived by forged maps provided by such political tricksters as Eduard Benes, events would have evolved differently. However, something similar has happened in our time as well, when German borders were determined. If people only knew how they were really being governed they would be very surprised.
It is necessary to point out, however, that there have always been those who at critical times have been able to foresee future events but their advise was rarely listened to. Most suffered the fate of prophets and were then forgotten.
Today's conflict in the former Yugoslavia shows how damaging it was that the right to self-determination was not carried out consistently for all peoples.
In this way, for instance, immediately after the First World War in 1921, the great French journalist Jacques Bainville published a book entitled "Les consequences politiques de la paix" ("Political Consequences of Peace").
If we look at this work today, we will determine that the great thinker foresaw all later events up to the break out of the Second World War.
If Bainville, therefore, was able to foresee what was coming, it was, surely, the duty of responsible politicians to perceive the consequences of their actions.
The War Returns
In regards, particularly, to the situation in the former Yugoslavia, it is significant that a French diplomat, who worked subsequently as a journalist, clearly perceived the unhappy path of mankind in that part of the world. This was Henri Pozzi, born 1879 in Begerac, died 1946.
Pozzi received the task of preparing the peace agreement in Trianon. As a young man he was an enthusiastic supporter of the Serbs and did everything in his power to satisfy the wishes of Belgrade. He subsequently travelled to this area and because of the political respect he had, he was able to discern what he had done was wrong.
For this reason, during the thirties he published a book "La Guerre revient" (published in English under the title "Black Hand over Europe"), in which he, on the basis of his knowledge of the situation in the territories of Macedonia, Croatia, Serbia and Bosnia, foresaw what would happen.
The book remained practically unnoticed, and today it can hardly be obtained anywhere.
If we read the book, in particular the descriptions of his experiences as a journalist from Ljubljana to Skopje, we will literally have the impression that we are reading a report in which events occurring today in Bosnia and Croatia are being described.
This Frenchman tried to warn his people of the accumulation of injustices in these regions, as well as of the serious consequences.
No one listened to him, and even today no one wishes to accept the lessons of the past.
Above all, no one wanted to understand that it was a real crime to force a highly civilized Croatian nation to submit to a nation which still had a lot to learn. Many parts of the book are read as if they were written today: the description of the attitude of the Serbs in Croatia and Macedonia or the interview which Pozzi held with Ante Trumbic in Zagreb.
It would be good if some of our leading politicians were prepared to read Pozzi's book. It is doubtful however, if they have the time or the inclination. In this way, error after error is accumulated, instead of carrying out a policy which would, at the very least, curb evil.