Issue No. 167. - March 27, 2000.
1. Russia: PUTIN'S VIRTUAL DOCTRINE
By Valeri Kalabugin
2. FRY/Montenegro: SEPARATION IS INEVITABLE, BUT AT WHAT COST?
By Slobodan Rackovic
3. Bosnia nad Hercegovina : EMPIRE BUILDING
By Radenko Udovicic
Russia: PUTIN'S VIRTUAL DOCTRINE
By Valeri Kalabugin
With the Moscow's war against Chechen rebels nearing its end and the
election of Putin as the new president becoming a fact, it is reasonable
to consider new trends in Moscow's policy. Among these trends, there is
a thing that may be called the 'Putin's virtual doctrine'.
It is virtual, for it has not yet been postulated; actually it isn't Putin's doctrine, since the idea started emerging among some circles in Moscow in the Gorbachev's era and sharply matured under Yeltsin; it first appeared as practice; still, it may be called a doctrine because it is a distinct political line now carried out, and it is Putin who will most likely have to finally formulate it. In fact, he is already implementing it.
What might be called the new doctrine is consistent scorched-earth policy in large territories, serving as the Russia's line of defence against disintegration. This new policy is now being polished in Chechenia (I would prefer this name to the distorted Russian 'Chechnya'). This policy is used already on a medium, not a small, scale. Scorched-earth policy in itself is no news; the less so for Russia, a dying empire with barbarous tradition. To destroy societies? Sure Russia did this, and repeatedly, but hitherto it did not totally destroy territories. Let alone 'its own' territories.
In Chechenia, one can see Russia experimenting with the use of large-scale scorched-earth strategy against its colonies' aspiration to independence. In the past, Russia could not use this strategy on a really large scale because of technical weakness. Later, for some period, democratic tendency prevented this. Today, it has become possible as the two main prerequisites are at hand:
(a) technical means, (b) unlimited power of FSB -- not a political force but just an uncontrolled machine built and trained to destroy. One may call the FSB a semi-military junta that has no responsibility and gives account to no one.
To make it a state poicy to completely destroy large areas by modern technical means would be a news. Something akin was once said - but not done - by an U.S. official who promised 'to bomb the Vietnamese into the ground'. Perhaps Julius Caesar, too, said or thought something like that but he did not have the technical means. Most of the Russian politicians perceive the loss of their giant empire as a very unwanted outcome. The Russians have never experienced other ways of statehood; it would be hard for them to imagine being robbed of the 'Great Russia' and start living in a small 'Mother Russia'. They would prefer to avoid this at any cost. To cope with a new reality is always a tough task, so all empires have always went the easier way, just razing a rebellious village or a city to the ground. In the case of Chenenia, Moscow has demonstrated its technical ability to do this with a whole country that threatens to secede.
Today, Moscow's generals are training the world to get accustomed to a total war and total destruction in one's own territory with, reportedly, vacuum bombs and gas. However, one might now ponder on a scenario when, facing a threat of disintegration and struggling with 'inner enemy', Russia would use its nuclear weaponry. For example, using small nuclear missiles
and bombs to annihilate another Grozny.
The use of nuclear weapons in one's own land? This will be a news, too. International law has no tools to prevent this for the sheer reason that no one could ever anticipate this. After all, Russian generals may argue, it would be no crime at all: charges would be small, of local range only, and it will be only population of a small town or a part of a town that will die -- so why not use them? But why should they use small range nuclear weapons against their 'own' people?
Why not. These 'own' citizens are not fully 'own'. They are different. Nuclear bombs or missiles would be used not in the inner lands, i.e. in the historical center of Russia, but in the larger empire, against other nationalities. Moreover, there is a near precedent: to attain his goals, Lenin had destroyed society and economy everywhere in his country including the 'heartland' and then summed up victoriously: 'We've conquered Russia!" Notably, the main instrument of his conquest was the notorious Tsheka-NKVD-KGB-FSB, the organization now in power.
An uneasy fact about Putin is that he owes his rise to that new line.
Considering the determination of imperial-minded circles and even common
'heartland' population to save the Rusian Federation at any price from
an inglorious end as that of the USSR, Putin may well have nothing left
to do but to follow that line until it exhausts itself. In other words,
until something stops him -- or stops that line. Which is not the same.
For instance, nothing can stop the 'order' from which he originated, the
KGB-FSB. An organization of fanatics, with an appreciable experience of
mass murder, it has nothing that might stop it from any actions.
If Putin 'prematurely' leaves the scene, others will have to reckon with this new anti-terrorist or anti-whoever-that-may-be way of waging internal war. Notwithstanding to what an extent this strategy either remains a potential solution or becomes a reality, and immaterial of the scale on which it will have been practiced, from now on this trend has become a possible option. And if it is possible for Russians, why not also for Milosevic or any other junta that may emerge on the globe? For the Chechen people, anyhow, it is already a reality.
The nerve game between Belgrade and Podgorica, that has been going on
for two years, is nearing its final stage. Whether its epilogue will be
peaceful or not - lies to be seen during next days and weeks. However,
all estimates say that the final outcome between Montenegro and Serbia,
two republics which on 27th April 1992 founded the so-called Federal Republic
Yugoslavia (FRY) on the ruins of the old one - will happen before this
summer. Herr Albert Roan, general secretary of the Austrian ministry of
foreign affairs, has just visited Montenegro. After his visit, he stated
that there will be a conflict in Montenegro in July this year, when local
elections in Podgorica and Herceg-Novi are scheduled to be held. "Montenegro
is a classic case of conflict prevention. That is why I appeal to the EU
to give financial aid to this republic, thus preventing its economic and
social destabilisation, caused by Belgrade. That would be much cheaper
than escalating conflict". According to Roan, EU didn't invest in Montenegro
because of security problems. Since Montenegrin deficit is approximately
150 million euros, he thinks that Montenegrin budget for 2000 needs 1,5
billions Austrian shillings. He also reminded that that EU and USA promised
more than a third of that amount. "War expenses would be thrice as big"
- said Albert Roan for Vienna daily newspapers "Die Presse" and "Standard",
adding that Montenegro should be offered "complete military guarantees"
due to more and more realistic danger from Belgrade. And that danger is
more and more closer and visible even to the ordinary Montenegrin citizens.
Political and economic pressures from Belgrade are more and more unbearable,
and divisions within the society, incited from the FRY capital, ever deeper.
Montenegrin police, now with outstanding 20,000 officers (Montenegro has
only 700,000 citizens) and Second army group of Yugoslav army, which is
stationed in the republic, have been behaving like cat and dog for months
now (during NATO air strikes last year there were even minor armed incidents).
It is only a matter of days when the arms will speak in its frightening
language. In this tense situation, only Belgrade can choose when and how
to provoke war. Montenegro looks like a sacrificial lamb with its
head already set on a block. Situation is even more dramatic than in the
eve of aggression on Slovenia, Croatia and Bosnia, since here are two completely
uneven opponents. Courageous chief of Montenegrin state, the oldest among
Southern Slavs, Milo Djukanovic, is of a different opinion and is certain
that he, helped by strong police forces, will be able toresist aggression
from Belgrade. He made a following statement to Austrian newspapers "Standard"
and "Salzburger Nachrichten", as well as from the German "Spiegel":
"What has been happening during last weeks must be viewed as a seasonal stepping up of the conflict caused by Slobodan Milosevic. We directly informed Montenegrin and international public about it and are now making preparations of our state institutions and people to defend freedom, peace, democracy and statehood of Montenegro! We have learnt how to live with a crisis at hand. The one in the ex-Yugoslavia area has been lasting for ten years now, and the one between Serbia and Montenegro for two years. The crisis actually began when we in Montenegro decided for democracy, economic reforms and integration into Europe. Slobodan Milosevic is now trying to punish us for it.".
When asked are there any signs that Belgrade prepares "something" against Montenegro, Djukanovic said: "Watching Milosevic's behaviour during decisive situations, we can be certain that he prepares something. Special role in his plans will be played by Socialist people's party of Montenegro headed by Momir Bulatovic and the Yugoslav army. Milosevic is specifically concerned with misusing army for his inefficient politics. However, we think that he will not attack Montenegro openly, but will provoke internal clashes, according to already well-known scenarios from Slovenia, Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina. He wants to provoke civil war here, so that he can be able to distance himself from it later", stressed Djukanovic. He thinks that inciting armed conflicts in this part of south-eastern Europe would mean a real threat to international community. That is why he is certain that struggle for stability of Montenegro will not be fought by Montenegrin alone, which is also implied by pen call Montenegrin president sent to NATO to give military protection to this republic. Djukanovic especially stressed the fact that Montenegro doesn't want to do anything which might provoke an armed response from Belgrade, which was also requested by international community, but will not stray from its road to independence. "We have written in our constitution that citizens of Montenegro can decide the status of their state on their own" - said Djukanovic, announcing referendum on independence to be held this year. That the independence of Montenegro is inevitable, only Podgorica wants it to pass as painlessly as possible, can also be deduced from statements made by vice-president of the republic's government dr. Dragisa Burzan (a socialdemocrat) to Slobodna Dalmacija, Croatian daily newspapers. "Independence of Montenegro is an inevitable option, but realisation of that goal requires much patience and skill. Strategically speaking, things are going in that direction, and on that road we must be wary of quick moves and remain rational, in order to evade the situation in which Milosevic could get away with an excuse to attack Montenegro.
However, I would be no believer in project of independent Montenegro
if I didn't think it to be best solution not only for our republic but
also for this region in general", stressed Dragisa Burzan, who thinks that
Milosevic will most likely use strategy of "crawling military attack",
with separation of the northern part of the republic. However, Burzan also
thinks that Milosevic has far less supporters in the northern part of the
republic, traditionally oriented to Serbia, than he expects. Even the president
of executive committee of the dominant Democratic socialist's party Miodrag
Vukovic repeated in his interview in Novi list that FR Yugoslavia is practically
non-existent, since not one of its institutions is functioning (not even
army, regarded in Montenegro as an intruder). At the same time, Montenegrin
government took over all important tasks from the federal state -
foreign politics, trade, customs, security system, fiscal system and its
own money. It is interesting that even the National party, the program
of which was based exclusively on maintaining unity between Montenegro
and Serbia, is now less and less certain about future existence of FRY.
Therefore, there is almost absolute inter-party consensus about this important
issue, with the exception of Socialist people's party and two or three
tiny parties with Serbian national prefix. New president of People's party
and Montenegrin minister of justice Dragan Soc (successor of already legendary
professor Novak Kilibarda, founder of the party) said in "Piljevaljske
novine" newspapers that "dictatorship regime of a man from Belgrade who
doesn't respect not one institution is humiliating both Serbia and Montenegro
and in such situation we cannot talk about FR Yugoslavia as a perspective
union of two states". To this mosaic the only missing piece is the attitude
of opposition Liberal alliance of Montenegro, but it is already too well-known
that this party has been energetically in favour of independent Montenegro
since it was founded. The only problem is that the leadership of the party,
headed with charismatic Slavko Perovic, sees independent Montenegro only
as a state headed by liberals themselves, so they sometimes made some moves
which were objectively damaging the whole project. In their obvious struggle
for power, liberals voted against Law on Montenegrin citizenship, which
failed (liberals have only 5 MPs in a parliament of 75), but has caused
much political damage to the party. However there is no doubt that supporters
of this party will opt for project of independent and internationally acknowledged
Montenegro at referendum. At this moment, approximately 60 per cent
of the population would vote in favour of independence.
However, the problem is that while waiting for the most opportune political moment to hold a referendum the standard of living in Montenegro is seriously declining. That is a problem to current, pro-Montenegrin and pro-reform government so the fear of social unrest is not completely far. Tight economic boycott imposed by Serbia has caused prices to skyrocket, and the alternative markets, especially of food, in Croatia, Slovenia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Hungary and Italy are too expensive for Montenegrin merchants. As Albert Roan said, that is why it is absolutely necessary for the EU and USA to give aid, and prove that they are supporting Montenegro in acts, not only speech, which can save this tiny state from social rebellion. Only in such way could Montenegro seeks the real concept for its future in relative peace and quiet.