United States complicity in Croatian war crimes

Video footage about “Operation Storm”, broadcast by Belgrade TV station B92 in August 2006, of Bosnian troops killing a Serb civilian, and of Croatian troops harassing a convoy of Serb refugees.

By Paul Mitchell:

Croatian conviction casts light on US responsibility for war crimes

22 April 2011

Last week, the International Criminal Tribunal for Yugoslavia in the Hague found two Croatian military leaders, General Ante Gotovina and Assistant Interior Minister Mladen Markac, guilty of war crimes and sentenced them to 24 years and 18 years imprisonment, respectively. A third defendant, Ivan Cermak, was acquitted.

Gotovina and Marcak were accused of taking part in a “joint criminal enterprise”, the purpose of which was “the permanent removal” of the Serb population of the Krajina region of Croatia during the August 1995 Operation Storm military offensive, which broke a United Nations-monitored cease-fire.

Their crimes, involving “deportation and forcible transfer, plunder of public and private property, wanton destruction, murder, inhumane acts and cruel treatment”, led to the deaths of up to 2,200 people, half of them civilians, and the creation of 200,000 Serb refugees.

Tens of thousands have demonstrated in the Croatian capital Zagreb since Gotovina was convicted with banners proclaiming him a hero for his role in the “Homeland War”, which erupted soon after Croatia declared independence from Yugoslavia in June 1991. German imperialism, anxious to flex its political muscles after reunification, had promoted Croat secession and rushed to extend recognition. While both the US and the other Western European powers initially opposed recognition, they ultimately accepted Germany’s position.

Warnings that civil war would result were dismissed. Within months Serbs, who dominated the west of Croatia, declared an independent Serb Republic of Krajina (RSK), splitting the country in two. Operation Storm was designed to bring the region back under Croat control.

The conviction of Gotovina and Markac casts further light on the role of the US government in Operation Storm and its responsibility for what has been described as the biggest act of ethnic cleansing during the Balkan Wars.

During the trial, it became apparent that US officials were in constant contact with the Croatian government, encouraging the military offensive at a time when a UN cease-fire was in operation. They knew that war crimes were likely to be committed. The Clinton administration also approved the training of Croat forces, and provided intelligence and air support. No US official or politician has been placed on trial or is likely to be.

Peter Galbraith, a former senior adviser to the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee and US ambassador to Croatia from 1993 until 1998, was called at the trial as an “expert witness”. …

Galbraith told the court that Croatian President Franjo Tudjman was obsessed with creating an ethnically homogeneous “Greater Croatia”. He believed the Serbs in the Krajina were too numerous and constituted a strategic threat to Croatia. Any who left (or were driven out) should not be allowed to return.

Tudjman had become the US’s closest ally in the Balkans. Galbraith said, “In the first two and a half years, I met with him very frequently; I would say several times a week, on some occasions several times a day.”

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5 thoughts on “United States complicity in Croatian war crimes

  1. Pope Benedict XVI praises Croat cardinal as ‘defender of Jews’

    by: AFP Updated: 05/Jun/2011 22:17

    ZAGREB (AFP)—Pope Benedict XVI honoured Sunday Croatia’s late controversial World War II Cardinal Alojzije Stepinac as a “defender of Jews, the Orthodox and of all the persecuted.”

    Stepinac, who headed Croatia’s Catholic Church during World War II, is accused by critics of not standing against the persecution of Serbs and Jews by the pro-Nazi Ustasha regime.

    He was later jailed by the post-war communist Yugoslav authorities for collaboration with the Ustasha, which he denied.

    The pope praised Stepinac during a visit to his tomb in the Zagreb cathedral.

    In “a time of Nazi and Fascist dictatorship”, Stepinac became “a defender of the Jews, the Orthodox and of all the persecuted, and then, in the age of communism, an advocate for his own faithful, especially for the many persecuted and murdered priests,” the pope said.

    “His martyrdom signals the culmination of the violence perpetrated against the Church during the terrible period of communist persecution,” he said.

    “This unity explains what is humanly inexplicable: that such a hardened regime could not make the Church bow down.”

    The communist authorities sentenced Stepinac to 16 years in jail in 1946.

    He spent five years in prison and was then under house arrest. He died in 1960 at the age of 61.

    His trial was for long a sticking point between the Catholic Church and the Yugoslav communist regime.

    He has been beatified but has not been fully declared a saint.

    In overwhelmingly Catholic Croatia, Stepinac is seen as a national hero and martyr for his attachment to an independent Croatia and unwavering faith in the face of communist persecution.

    Earlier on Sunday Holocaust survivors voiced regret over pope’s stop at Stepinac’s tomb.

    The American Gathering of Holocaust Survivors and their Descendants labelled the cardinal in a statement as an “avid supporter of the Ustasha.”

    “Holocaust survivors join all victims of the Nazi-aligned Ustasha regime in wartime Croatia in expressing disappointment that Pope Benedict would honour Cardinal Stepinac,”it said in a statement.

    “Stepinac was an avid supporter of the Ustasha whose cruelties were so extreme that they even shocked some of their Nazi masters,” it said.
    However, the Holocaust survivors estimated that though the pope was “right in condemning the evil Ustasha regime; he was wrong in paying homage to one of its foremost advocates.”


  2. Authorities arrest anti-fascist fighter

    CROATIA: An 89-year-old former anti-fascist partisan was arrested today on suspicion of having killed soldiers and collaborators of the country’s nazi-puppet Ustasha regime during 1945 and 1946.

    Josip Boljkovac fought for Josip Broz-Tito’s resistance during World War II.

    After the breakup of Yugoslavia in the ’90s he served as Croatia’s first Interior Minister for the conservative HDZ party, but the party has recently stepped up persecution of former “communists and partisans” in a bid to win far-right votes.



  3. Pingback: NATO pressure frees Croatian war criminals | Dear Kitty. Some blog

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