the legal battle:


The Defendants' List of Documents:

[the next step - 10 July 1992]


The legal documents so far:

The original letter from ITN's solicitors

Statement of Claim from ITN

The Defence

Two-Ten Statement in Open Court

The Reply

>The Defendants' List of Documents

Western intervention in Yugoslavia has nothing to do with Serbia and all to do with the great power rivalries.

Western intervention in the Balkans has never been a consequence of any direct interest in the region on the part of the imperialist powers. That is as true today as it was in the past. A piece of the Balkans is probably the last thing that any Western power would covet.

Historically the Balkanisation process - the disintegration of the Balkans as a result of imperialist intervention - has been the product of great power rivalries. The same process is at work today in the Balkans, as the region becomes the focus for the acting out of rivalries among the great powers. The only difference is the form taken by those rivalries.

Today, the issue at stake is which imperialist institution is going to call the shots in Yugoslavia. Who will wield the most authority and who will be the decisive influence on the situation? Will it be the US-dominated United Nations or the German-dominated European Community?

The absence of a coherent Western policy in Yugoslavia is symptomatic of the absence of an ordered balance of power in the world. The imperialist hierarchy in the 'new world order' created by the end of the Cold War has not yet been settled. There is no single power which has the undisputed authority to dictate what happens in Sarajevo or anywhere else for that matter.

The struggle for dominance explains the constant jockeying for position among the imperialist powers, with each Western leader trying to get one over on his rivals. French president Francois Mitterand's high-profile dash for Sarajevo has been the most dramatic move so far in the great power poker game. Every major power is bluffing about military intervention, not necessarily because they have any intention of doing anything, but because they want to assert their authority at the expense of their rivals.

The shift in America's position is the most graphic example of how Western interference in Yugoslavia is being driven by rivalries in the imperialist camp rather than by the internal dynamics of the conflict. A year ago, when Germany was leading the Western intervention in Yugoslavia, and demanding that Europe recognise Slovenia and Croatia, America refused to join in the campaign against Serbia. Today, however, Washington is leading the moves to isolate Belgrade. It was America which pushed the UN into imposing sanctions and threatening military action against Serbia in order to reassert its authority at the expense of Germany.

Where does all this leave the Serbs? America's about turn shows that Western policy in Yugoslavia has nothing to do with Serbia and everything to do with the international balance of power. There is no conspiracy on the part of the West to demonise Serbia. The Serbs just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. They were a convenient bogey against whom the various Western powers could assert their authority.

For the moment the Serbs are public enemy number one. They have been elevated into the biggest threat to civilisation since Saddam Hussein because it suits the purposes of rival Western powers. But in six months time somebody else could easily have become the next victim of rivalries between the great powers.

After the Serbs, it could just as easily be the Muslims. In fact it is not beyond the bounds of possibility that the West could come to an accommodation with both Serbia and Croatia at the expense of the Muslims in Bosnia Herzegovina. Indeed, there has already been a de facto partition of Bosnia between Zagreb and Belgrade. And if the focus of conflict moves elsewhere in Yugoslavia, to embroil the Muslims in Serbia, Montenegro, Macedonia and Kosovo, it may suit the purposes of the West to turn the flak on a new enemy.

The Western powers care nothing about what happens to the people of Sarajevo or to the people of Yugoslavia as a whole. Their only concern is about how they can exploit the situation to their own advantage. In the cause of bolstering their own positions in the imperialist hierarchy they have turned the Balkans into a powder-keg.

'Hands off the Balkans' is our response to the growing demands for Western intervention in Sarajevo. Twelve months of Western intervention is responsible for creating this mess, and further Western interference can only make things worse. At every stage of the war in Yugoslavia, Western intervention has served to polarise the conflict and exacerbate ethnic divisions. The EC's plan to cantonise Bosnia - divide the republic into ever smaller ethnic units - expresses the logic of the disintegrative process which started with Western support for the secession of Croatia and Slovenia.

The liberal and radical intelligentsia in the West is also implicated in the Balkanisation process. It is ironic that all those British liberals who supported the secession of Croatia and Slovenia are now up in arms about the prospect of cantonisation in Bosnia Herzegovina. They want to have their cake and eat it.

By signing up to support Croatia and Slovenia, Western liberals supported the disintegration of Yugoslavia. They were happy to see Yugoslavia go down the tube if it meant that Croatia and Slovenia could go it alone. But now that disintegration has reached the grotesque proportions of cantonisation in Bosnia, they hold up their hands and say it's all got to stop. Some nerve.

back to The Defendants' List of Documents