Yossef Bodansky: Some Call It Peace
Perhaps the most significant strategic aspect of the current round of conflict in the former Yugoslavia has been the combined numbness, confusion and mis-direction which has pervaded worldwide public and political attitudes -- and therefore the associated national decisionmaking in all countries -- as a result of the most successful series of psychological warfare undertakings since World War II. In many ways, the psychological strategies and operations have been the most sophisticated ever, and truly reflect an age dominated by information technologies.
It is clear that since the collapse of the former Yugoslavia, the conflict has been marked by two significant factors:
- The winners have fought the war as a psycho-political conflict, with all conventional armed warfare and other incidents undertaken and controlled by them as part of a broader grand strategy. To them, conventional warfare, including the defense of territory and citizens, has been subordinated to the greater, outward-looking political objectives of certain power groups.
- The losers have been those who have conducted conflict from a "classical" standpoint: utilizing a mobilized society to defend and consolidate their territorial homelands and cultures by turning inward for strength and mutual protection.
Some of the participants -- those associated at this time with the "winners" -- have operated on the premise that victory will derive from how the international community perceives the "truth" and "justice" of the situation, and that they will therefore determine just what "truths" and "justice" will be portrayed. To this end, their efforts have been focused on controlling the high ground of the conflict: perception, and the tools which build that perception.
And still other participants -- those who have been vilified and who have lost the most land and have suffered the most dead and displaced, with the certain prospect of more to come -- have operated on the premise that they would defend their lands, culture, religion and history with their lives, seemingly preferring to do so alone and isolated. Their view that "the truth will ultimately emerge" and that, eventually, "justice will prevail", has been based on a failure to understand what their opponents instinctively knew: History, truth and justice is written and defined by the victors. History has forgotten the civilizations which did not triumph.
Yossef Bodansky, who wrote Offensive in the Balkans: The Potential for a Wider War as a Result of Foreign Intervention in Bosnia-Herzegovina, published by the International Strategic Studies Association (ISSA), in November 1995, has continued his painstaking research on the Balkans conflict as part of ISSA's overall study program. This book. Some Call It Peace: Waiting for War in the Balkans, is an even more detailed study of how the situation in the former Yugoslavia still awaits resolution.
Mr. Bodansky, a thorough and serious researcher with a solid grasp of history, shows in this study how short-term political objectives in the US Administration have dovetailed so closely with the longer-term political objectives of the Iranian Government, and others, to allow a climate to be created which will lead to a further and more tragic war in the former Yugoslavia. Certainly he demonstrates clearly the real structural failings behind what appears to be a fairly cynical attempt to "force" an ultimately unworkable peace in Bosnia-Herzegovina merely to satisfy the political agenda of a US Administration searching for "victories" abroad to reflect onto an electorate at home.
The massive and non-partisan research and analysis undertaken by Mr. Bodansky make this book essential reading for senior government officials the world over, because the Balkan crisis -- quite apart from its costs to United Nations members in financial terms -- has already had a profound effect on the shaping of a post-Cold War world. Still more significant ramifications will follow down the years.
The critical acclaim and worldwide political impact of Offensive in the Balkans encouraged ISSA to continue to study of the conflict. Some Call It Peace is a book which does not require that the reader should have first read Offensive in the Balkans, but the two books complement each other well. And in this latest work, Mr. Bodansky amply demonstrates that what is happening in the Balkans today is integral to the major global strategic trends which will affect tomorrow's balances.
The conflict in the former Yugoslavia has already seriously affected US-European relations, including US relations with Russia and other former Soviet states. It has seriously impacted the "special relationship" between the United Kingdom and the US. As well, perhaps more profoundly, the conflict may well be seen by history as the watershed which provided the political schism which prevented a workable political union of European states. The war which has symbolically focused to a large degree around Sarajevo in the 1990s is a volcanic rumbling compared with the lightning impact of the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand in Sarajevo in 1914. But both events have conspired to ensure that peace remains elusive for much of the world into the future.
This time, however, the Balkan conflict has within its core an element which ties it to the strategic ambitions and realities of states further to the East: Iran, and Iran's strategic partners, such as China. And to other Islamic countries. The Balkan conflict will also have a profound effect on whether Iran is able to sustain its strategic offensive not only into Europe, but also throughout the Arabian Peninsula, North Africa, sub-Saharan Africa and other areas.
If "no man is an island" then it is even more true that no conflict continues for long without having an effect well outside its immediate sphere. And history shows that the effects of conflict scar human progress in ways unforeseen for centuries and even millennia to come.
There will be no containment of the Balkan conflict until the factors discussed here by Mr. Bodansky are taken into account. And there is -- because of the success of the psycho-political campaigns still underway -- little opportunity to get this essential, balancing information from other sources. To this end, Yossef Bodansky's work is vitally important to us all.
-- Gregory R. Copley, President,
The International Strategic Studies Association,
Alexandria, Virginia: August 1996,
Author's introduction >>