Part Nineteen Excerpts from ANTO KNEZEVIC'S AN ANALYSIS OF SERBIAN PROPAGANDA THE PURPOSE OF TUDJMAN'S BOOK The fundamental question which Tudjman examines in his book is the question of evil. As a concrete manifestation of evil he investigates wars and violence in human history from the Biblical Cain to the war in Afghanistan. Tudjman as a historian analyzes not only historical facts, but also philosophical and theoretical interpretations of war, from Plato to Barbara Tuchman. His goal is to reach an understanding of the insanity of violence, war and crime with the help of the historical investigation and reason. Of course, Tudjman stresses, to understand does not mean to justify: Without examination of the causality and interdependence of all historical phenomena there can be no talk of their amelioration, not to mention their elimination. To be sure, the demand for understanding of historical events in no case means a tendency to justify any sort of historical crimes. (Wilderness, p. 295) Evil has been a constant companion of humanity throughout all of history, and so human history can also be analyzed as the history of wars and violence. Peace is an interlude that would arise as the result of a war in which one side was defeated. The real world is always the result of the concrete relationship of conflicting sides. In the real world pacifist teachings are not only mere illusion, but also internally contradictory. Even Christ's heralding of peace on earth is contradictory, for Christ also says: "Suppose ye that I am come to give peace on earth? I tell you, Nay; but rather division" (Luke 12,51; quoted in Wilderness, p. 244). Even Immanuel Kant in his teaching about "eternal peace" says that "a peaceful state between people.... is not a natural state, moreover, that is precisely a state of war.... A state of peace, therefore, must be created." (Wilderness, p. 245) It is a paradox that peace is most stable when it is ensured by powerful weapons. At times the most efficacious means of combatting violence is precisely other violence. Gandhi's movement could succeed against the British, but it would have had no effect against Hitler, who sent those who disobeyed to the gas chambers. It was Russian tanks, American warplanes and British warships that were successful against Hitler. But, just as it is clear that the Allies opposed Hitler's war of conquest with violence, it is also clear that the Allied application of violence was necessary and justified. Tudjman writes: The human mind has never flagged in the noble effort to master the destructive powers in man and in historical occurrences. The tragedy and grandeur of these attempts is in the contradiction of being itself: the elimination of all kinds of violence cannot be achieved without the use of some kind of violence. (Wilderness, p. 167) Tudjman examines the relations of Serbs and Croats within European and world history. The conflict between Serbs and Croats appears on several levels: as a conflict of (Byzantine) Orthodoxy and (Latin) Catholicism; Cyrillic and the Latin alphabet; the Serbian and Croatian languages (which for political reasons had to be melted into one binominal language, "Serbo-Croatian", in Yugoslavia); the conflict of different habits, ways of life and two national consciousnesses. However, the fundamental conflict takes place between two political ideas: Serbian (unitaristic) expansionism and Croatian (confederative) republicanism. The conflict between these two peoples deepened after 1918, when Croatia and Serbia for the first time in history entered a common state. The Croats supported a (con)federal structure, but the Serbs imposed their own centralized government with the argument of force. Therefore the Croatian parliament never recognized the political act of unification of Croatia and Serbia. The Serbian state-forming idea denies the identity of the Croatian people, and in that the integrality of Croatian territory, the existence of the Croatian language, etc. The "father of the Serbian language," Vuk Karadzic, as early as 1836 outlines the hypothesis that there are "Serbs all and everywhere" from "Trieste to the Bojana river," i.e., from the north of Italy to Albania. Karadzic admits sincerely that Croats, Slavic Muslims and others do not feel themselves to be Serbs and do not wish to be called Serbs. This does not discourage Karadzic, however. Thus in the nineteenth century the Croats were offered a choice: either agree that they were Serbs, or be destroyed. Karadzic's ideas were accepted and further elaborated by: - the statesman Ilija Garasanin in the Serbian expansionistic program "Nacertanije" ([Outline], 1844); - the Serbian politician Nikola Stojanovic in his article "Do istrage nase ili vase" ([To the extermination of either ours {Serbian} or yours {Croatian}], 1902) - the Chetnik Stevan Moljevic in his project for Greater Serbia, "Homogena Srbija" ([A Homogeneous Serbia], 1941); - the "Memorandum" of the Serbian Academy of Sciences and Arts (1986). The Serbian aggression against Croatia (1991-1992) is an attempt to realize these plans of a Greater Serbia. The idea of Greater Serbia exists not only in political blueprints, but they have also become an integral part of Serbian national consciousness in everyday life. This is clear in the popular songs based on the melodies and structure of Serbian folk music. Let us cite only three such songs: 1) Igrale se delije nasred zemlje Srbije, Sitno kolo do kola vilo se do Stambola. [Hop, hop, kick, kick, skip, skip, in the spin Sturdy guys danced in the ring, From Serbia to Istanbul together clinged "Friendly" to conquer it in full swing.] (translated by Rina Obad-Slezic) 2) Tamo daleko, daleko kraj mora, Tamo je selo moje, tamo je Srbija. [Far away, far away by the sea, There is my village, there "is my Serbia".] (translated by Rina Obad-Slezic) 3) Donecemo mi slobodu svima, Od Soluna pa do Segedina. ["Freedom" we shall bring to all, From Thessalonica to Szeged with shouts of "joy".] (translated by Rina Obad-Slezic) Thus, these popular songs sing about the sea, which Serbia does not have; about Istanbul, which is in Turkey; about Thessalonica, which is in Greece; about Szeged, which is in Hungary. If these songs sing this way about cities which are defended by the Turkish, Greek and Hungarian armies, how will they sing about the Croatian cities which were not defended by a Croatian army? It is clear, for example, that in Serbian songs the Croatian speaking Catholic Dubrovnik will become Serbian speaking Orthodox Dubrovnik: Na vrh Srdja vila klice: Zdravo srpski Dubrovnice! "Hurrah, beloved Dubrovnik of Serbia! A fairy cheers you, from the hill of Srdj that besieges you. (translated by Rina Obad-Slezic) It does not matter that reality does not match the epic songs or the myth. Reality can be changed in many ways: with tanks, cannon, bombers, warships, rockets and so on, as far as Rijeka, Karlovac, Osijek and the Presidential Palace in Zagreb. But we must not forget when reality starts to change: at the moment when real people begin to believe in the myths or the popular songs. When they start to feel that someone else's territory belongs to them. In Wilderness, Tudjman gives a special analysis of the historical relations of the Croats and Serbs in the 19th and 20th centuries. Paraphrasing "Katz's law," according to which people and peoples act rationally only when they have exhausted all other possibilities, Tudjman asks the legitimate (in 1988) question: have all the irrationalities been exhausted in Serbian-Croatian relations? "Judging by historical reality, the answer would have to be affirmative," says Tudjman (p. 463), but he cautiously adds that this answer is ambiguous. He points to the Jasenovac myth of the unpardonable collective guilt of the Croatian people because of the crimes of the Ustashe against the Serbs in the Second World War as the ultimate irrationality in Serbian-Croatian relations. The myth had four goals: 1) To concentrate all Ustashe crimes in one place. 2) To increase the number of Serbian victims as necessary. 3) To exclude any possibility of the formation of an independent Croatian state by the premise of the genocidal nature of the Croats. 4) To cover up the Chetnik genocidal crimes against the Croats. Tudjman does not deny the crimes of the Ustashe: Regardless of the mythic manifold increase of the victims of Jasenovac (it does not matter by how many tenfold) - the crime took place. Horrible and enormous. Both in its dimensions and in the way it was carried out. It also had genocidal characteristics. (Wilderness, p. 465). Tudjman, however, cannot agree with the Serbian mythmakers on the following points: a) The number of Serbian victims cannot be inflated. b) The number of Croatian victims cannot be reduced or ignored. c) the Chetnik crimes against the Croats, the Slavic Muslims the Jews, and others cannot be ignored or underestimated. d) the Ustashe or Chetnik crimes cannot be ascribed to the entire Croatian or Serbian people. Besides this, writes Tudjman, "Pavelic's and Mihailovic's attempts at a radical solution of the Serbian or the Croatian question proved to be unachievable and equally detrimental to both peoples." (Wilderness, p. 472) Croatian-Serbian relations are loaded with numerous political and cultural controversies. But still, Tudjman does see a path out of the wilderness: The fundamental preconditions for a way out of the historical wilderness of Serbian-Croatian relations - the antagonisms and misunderstanding, for which all the horrors of the actual reality or [the Second World] War are not sufficient, so that they elevate them to the monstrosity of a Jasenovac or a Bleiburg myth, and to theories of genocide - are very simple: a) To think through the causality of all historical occurrences with extremely sober rationality. b) To accept the national identity of the Croatian and the Serbian national beings, such as they have been formed over the course of historical development with all their ingredients and determining factors. c) To recognize that each of them [the two nationalities] has the right to self-determination and to their own statehood, i.e. to inviolable sovereignty in deciding about their own fate, in other words about their lives and their business, and d) To resolve mutually disputable questions by negotiation for the sake of harmonious coexistence in a community of peoples with equal rights in both Yugoslavia and Europe (Wilderness, pp. 477, 478). Historical events from 1990 to 1992 have demonstrated once again the triumph of irrationality (war and violence), but also the realization of the strategic goal of Croatian policy which was chosen by the citizens of Croatia in a referendum: the independence of the Republic of Croatia. Tudjman's contribution to this is unquestionable, and this is recognized by his most reasoned Croatian critics. Zivko Kustic, the Adam Michnik of Croatian journalism, writes that it is precisely "the international policy of Tudjman and his government" that forced the Western countries including the Vatican, to become engaged for Croatian freedom and independence. (Z. Kustic, "Sto su Hrvatskoj mitra i orao?," Globus, January 24, 1992, p. 17.) Both Tudjman's book and the war in Croatia show that the political independence of a people must often be paid for with what is most precious: human lives. The cost of Croatian independence is very high: thousands dead, hundreds of thousands displaced, enormous material destruction. These losses were the result of a military imbalance of power which was highly unfavorable to Croatia, as well as of European misunderstanding of the fundamental historical complications in Serbian-Croatian relations. British scholar James Pettifer writes about this: One of the underlying reasons why the initial northern European attempts to mediate in the Yugoslav crisis were so inept was that so many of the EC politicians and officials involved were insensitive to the cultural identities of the participants, to the point of crass ignorance in some instances. Nineteenth-century British colonial officers with a classical education would have made more sense of things than some or the lawyers from Brussels, prisoners of a culture that is superficially sophisticated and cosmopolitan but in practice technocratic and conformist. [...] If anything good can come out of the debacle in Yugoslavia, perhaps a clearer understanding of the need to preserve and respect cultural diversity and new small nations will hopefully be part of it. (J. Pettifer in the review of Minorities and Autonomy in Western Europe (London: Minority Rights Group Publication, 1991), published in The World Today [London], January 1992.) Tudjman's Wilderness offers a historical explanation of the causes of the latest war in Croatia. Therefore Wilderness may be read not only as a historical introduction but also as a scholarly epilogue to the Croatian war for independence. And more than that: the book offers a key to understanding the most important political moves of the first democratically elected president of Croatia.