What follows is a speech given by Tony Benn MP at a “Committee for Peace in the Balkans” rally on 18 September 1995. For our reply to Benn, "The main enemy is Serb imperialism", see here.
Whatever the deficiencies of the former Yugoslavia, it was held together without bloodshed.
Then Yugoslavia tried to reform its economy. The IMF came in and demanded cuts. They squeezed the economy.
The federal government pushed the responsibility for making the cuts down onto the republics. They decided that it would be best not to be part of the Belgrade set-up.
The Germans came in and recognised Croatia. That is how it seems to have begun. A new, strong, unified Germany wants to assert its role inside Europe.
Then, of course, the war began. The policy was to establish a dominant Croatia.
The ultimate carve up of Bosnia between Croatia and Serbia is probably what stands behind the American peace plan.
President Clinton wanted to show how strong he was. But— after Vietnam— he did not want to commit any American ground troops. So he brought in the ultimate US weapon, the air strike.
The British government has given endless assurances that they had no intention of becoming participants in the war. Now we see not just an air strike but a war against the Bosnian Serbs, launched by the most powerful military machine in the world, NATO.
I must confess to you that I am not even sure about the “Sarajevo massacre” .
There is a simple rule in politics - you ask who benefits from what happens. And those that benefited from the Sarajevo massacre were the Bosnian government, who got NATO help for their war against the Serbs.
It appears that the NATO airstrikes destroyed a hospital. But they said that this was not deliberate, it was an “accident of war”!
What about the Sarajevo market massacre? Perhaps that was also an “accident of war”.
Now America has taken the side of NATO and the Germans have gone along with it. The Germans can not participate very easily because people remember that they were there before. But the Germans are supporting the Americans, and they are a part of it too.
Now the UN is an agent of war. It has handed over power to NATO. NATO has replaced the UN and is used to enforce Western interests on any country that is intransigent.
The propaganda in the media is unprecedented. The BBC has been a disgrace. The silence of political leaders of all parties has been a disgrace. The impression is that everyone in Britain supported the Cruise missile attacks.
The UN should withdraw the authority it has given NATO. The arms embargo should be strictly enforced: the Americans have been arming the Croats to act as their agents against the Serbs.
Negotiations should continue without military threats.
It is a civil war — it is not as if Bosnia had existed for years and then was attacked by Serbia. It is a civil war. And in a civil war you can only provide a table.