by Rick Rozoff
March 25, 2010
In 1991 the North Atlantic Treaty Organization was a nominally defensive
military bloc with sixteen members that, as the cliché ran, had never fired
In 1991 the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia was the only
simultaneously multiethnic and multiconfessional nation (entirely) in
Europe, consisting of six federated republics with diverse constituencies.
By 2009 NATO had grown to 28 full members and at least that many military
partners throughout Europe and in Africa, the Caucasus, the Middle East,
Asia and the South Pacific. Next month NATO is to hold a summit in Estonia
to be attended by the foreign ministers of 56 nations. Last month a meeting
of NATO's Military Committee in Brussels included the armed forces chiefs of
63 nations, almost a third of the world's 192 countries.
By 2008 the former Yugoslavia has been fragmented into six recognized
nations (the former federal republics of Bosnia, Croatia, Macedonia,
Montenegro, Serbia and Slovenia) and a semi-recognized province of Serbia,
Until the end of the Cold War and the dissolution of the Warsaw Pact and the
Union of Soviet Socialist Republics in 1991, NATO had never staged
operations outside the territory of its member states.
In 2004 it ran eight operations in four continents, including a training
mission in Iraq and combat deployments in Afghanistan. The first former
Yugoslav republic, Slovenia, was inducted into NATO in that year along with
six other Eastern European nations in the bloc's largest-ever expansion.
The Alliance's first three military operations, however, all occurred in the
In 1995 NATO launched
Operation Deliberate Force against
the Republika Srpska with 400 aircraft and over 3,500 sorties and stationed
troops in Bosnia afterward.
In 1999 it unleashed the relentless 78-day
Operation Allied Force air war
against Yugoslavia and in June of that year deployed 50,000 troops to
Two years later it sent troops to and initiated the first of several
operations in Macedonia following an armed conflict in that country.
The three interventions preceded
September 11, 2001.
After NATO invoked its Article 5 collective military assistance clause
following the latter date, NATO Partnership for Peace affiliates as well as
full member states started to deploy troops to Afghanistan.
After the U.S. and British invasion of Iraq two years following that,
...were deployed to the
war zone in that nation to prove their loyalty as NATO candidate countries.
Montenegro did not gain its Western-backed independence until 2006, but has
already been levied for troops for the Afghan war. Croatia was rewarded with
full membership in 2009 and Macedonia would have accompanied it into the
ranks of the world's only military axis except for the lingering name
dispute with Greece.
In December of 2008 the complete transfer of contributing states' troops
from Iraq to Afghanistan began and there are now military personnel from
five of the six former Yugoslav republics - Bosnia, Croatia, Macedonia,
Montenegro and Slovenia - committed to NATO in the world's longest active
and deadliest war theater.
In the post-Cold War epoch the former Yugoslavia has been the laboratory for
global NATO, its testing ground and battleground, the prototype for the
disintegration of nations and for their transformation into economically
nonviable monoethnic statelets and Western military colonies.
The NATO military command in charge of the Balkans, Allied Joint Force
Command Naples formed in 2004, oversees the eleven-year NATO military
operation in Kosovo, Kosovo Force (KFOR), and has a headquarters in Bosnia
and in Macedonia and a new military liaison office in Serbia. (Croatia and
Slovenia are now full members.)
In addition to the Adriatic Charter initiative launched by the United States
in 2003, which successfully prepared Albania and Croatia for NATO membership
and is currently doing the same for Macedonia, Bosnia and Montenegro with
Serbia and Kosovo to follow, the Allied Joint Force Command Naples is the
major mechanism for recruiting troops from former Yugoslav republics for
wars abroad. Particularly for that in Afghanistan, but the Naples command
also operates the NATO Training Mission - Iraq in Baghdad.
Considered by many observers as a major architect of the breakup of
Yugoslavia, Richard Holbrooke, now U.S. Special Representative for
Afghanistan and Pakistan, delivered an address in the Persian Gulf state of
Qatar last month in which he,
"drew parallels between the Bosnian war and
the onslaught against the Taliban in Afghanistan," and said,
"the U.S. has led and won similar wars in Kosovo and Bosnia with the support
of the international community. And we are very optimistic about Afghanistan
In the same month the parliament of the Republika Srpska passed a law
allowing for a referendum on its current status within Bosnia - two years
after the U.S. and almost all its NATO allies supported and recognized the
secession of Kosovo from Serbia - and U.S. Secretary of State Hillary
Clinton reacted by stating that the Barack Obama administration does,
want to see any moves to break up Bosnia," and to insure the integrity of
Bosnia (and breakaway Kosovo also) she "reiterated Washington's support for EU and NATO integration of Western Balkans countries, Serbia included."
"But the NATO piece of it, I'm watching very closely because...we want
Bosnia-Herzegovina to feel like they're welcome." 
Also in February, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for European and
Eurasian Affairs Philip Gordon sounded the same theme while speaking at the
Harvard Kennedy School.
In a presentation called The Obama
Administration's Vision for Southeastern Europe, Gordon said,
achieve European and therefore American security, we believe that peace and
stability should not only extend across northern and central Europe, but
also southeastern Europe," with special emphasis on "Serbia, Bosnia and
Herzegovina, and Turkey." 
In completing the incorporation of all of Southeastern Europe into the
U.S.-dominated military bloc, the current American administration would put
the capstone on,
"the historic project of trying to bring democracy to the
whole of Europe."
"the Obama administration will seek to
position Bosnia for future membership in the European Union and NATO,"
and in reference to Serbia, "The door to NATO membership is open".
According to Harvard's daily student newspaper, Gordon noted in his speech
"yesterday marked the second anniversary of Kosovo's independence: a
sign that progress has been made." 
Earlier this month former NATO secretary general
George Robertson joined the
chorus pushing the Alliance's absorption of the Balkans:
"Serbia can offer a
lot... I believe it wants to become a part of [the] European mainstream
rather than to stay on the margins. All the neighbors of Serbia will be
members of the EU and NATO. I am convinced that all the Western Balkan
countries will be part of the Alliance in ten years." 
Serbia, by far the most populous of all former Yugoslav states with more
than 7 million citizens, is receiving the most attention from NATO at the
Mary Warlick, newly appointed U.S. ambassador to the nation, recently,
"announced that the door of NATO membership is open to Serbia" and said "the
United States fully supports the European and Euro-Atlantic aspirations of
Serbia and is doing all it can to facilitate Belgrade's efforts in this
Her comments were reiterated by NATO's Supreme Allied Commander Europe, the
U.S.'s Admiral James Stavridis, who in early February visited Serbia's
capital, "to establish personal relationships and strengthen cooperation and
partnership" and meet with the nation's president, defense minister and
chief of staff of the armed forces.
(NATO opened a military liaison office
in Belgrade in December of 2006 when Serbia joined the bloc's Partnership
for Peace program.)
Stavridis' NATO delegation was briefed,
"on the progress and continued
efforts to professionalize the Serb military" and "participated in the
annual National and Armed Forces Day reception." 
Last year the pro-Western government of President
Boris Tadic signed an
Individual Partnership Program with NATO.
Recently the public affairs chief of the Serbian Ministry of Defense
announced that a,
"Serbian mission [to] NATO will be officially opened by the
beginning of June, which is in accordance with participation in the program
Partnership for Peace," and will be staffed by six officers. 
On the same day, and to provide a blunt indication of what further NATO
integration means, a Serbian news source disclosed that troops from the
nation are being readied for peacekeeping deployments in Uganda, Lebanon and
a third nation as yet unidentified.
"the participation of the Serbian Army in international peace
operations has until now been limited to sending observers and medical
experts," the country's armed forces have "organized courses [for] which
Serbian experts will be enabled to participate in infantry units and mine
Moreover, military analyst Aleksandar Radic said,
"NATO and the EU follow the
participation of countries in peacekeeping missions very closely. The
countries in our region have understood that and started participating in
these missions in order to gain a reference for joining international
Serbian soldiers are inching ever closer to the Afghan war theater.
But not with the support of their countrymen.
Last month the results of a TNS Medium Gallup poll in Serbia showed that,
"only 20 percent of Serbian citizens would support NATO accession, which is
four percent less than last year." 
In tandem with moves to drag Serbia deeper into the NATO nexus despite
widespread popular opposition, Brussels and Washington are consolidating
their hold on the other three former Yugoslav republics not yet full NATO
members: Bosnia, Macedonia and Montenegro.
NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen and a delegation of the
permanent representatives of all 28 member states arrived in Bosnia on March
23 to consult with leaders of the nation on a Membership Action Plan,
essential stepping stone on the road toward alliance membership."
A senior official in Bosnia's Foreign Ministry announced that "We expect
that Bosnia will be invited to join [the] MAP in Tallinn,"  a reference
to the NATO foreign ministers meeting in Estonia on April 10.
Earlier this month the chairman of the Council of Ministers of Bosnia and
Herzegovina, Nikola Spiric, visited NATO headquarters in Brussels to meet
with Rasmussen and to address the North Atlantic Council.
"NATO Allies thanked Mr. Spiric for the invitation extended to the North
Atlantic Council to visit Bosnia and Herzegovina later this month and looked
forward to the next meeting of NATO Foreign Ministers in April, when the
Membership Action Plan for the country will be discussed." 
A week earlier a high-level NATO delegation headed by Admiral Mark
Fitzgerald, commander of Allied Joint Force Command Naples, arrived in the
Macedonian capital of Skopje to meet with Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski,
Defense Minister Zoran Konjanovski and chief of the Army General Staff
Miroslav Stojanovski and discuss the Army of the Republic of Macedonia's,
"contribution to the ISAF mission in Afghanistan, the achievements of the
Republic of Macedonia in the implementation of reforms and the participation
in the command structure of the Alliance as well as ARM's progress in the
application of the NATO operation skills concept."
The delegation also inspected a military base in Krivolak where Fitzgerald
and his colleagues were,
"introduced to the new training capacities and the
project of its development into a regional center." 
On February 22nd Boro Vucinic, Montenegro's defense minister, visited NATO
headquarters and met with Deputy Secretary General Claudio Bisogniero.
"reaffirmed NATO's willingness to continue providing relevant
assistance and expertise to Montenegrin authorities" and "expressed
satisfaction with Montenegro's decision to become a contributor to the ISAF
mission in Afghanistan." 
In mid-March Admiral Fitzgerald was in Montenegro and at a press conference
expressed his satisfaction at his host nation's movement toward the North
Atlantic bloc, stating,
"he had witnessed a significant improvement in the
past two years," and said "Montenegro had demonstrated it was a 'responsible
and reliable partner' in the membership process."
Speaker of the Parliament of Montenegro Ranko Krivokapic said that NATO
membership was a,
"national priority" and that for the Alliance "it is also
strategically important to have this part of the Adriatic coast integrated
into the NATO structure." 
On March 22 NATO's KFOR launched five days of exercises throughout Kosovo in
conjunction with the European Union's
EULEX (European Union Rule of Law
Mission in Kosovo) and the separatist Kosovo Police Service (KPS).
The drills are headed by NATO commander Markus Bentler.
In an allusion to Kosovo's ethnic Serb minority that KFOR, EULEX and the KPS
are training to subjugate in common, a KFOR statement on the exercises said:
"KFOR will handle its force in Kosovo very flexibly and determinedly. The
aim of these operations is to strengthen the capacities of KFOR, EULEX and
the Kosovo police so that they could respond to any scenario that brings
security into question." 
The putative president of the Republic of Kosovo,
Fatmir Sejdiu, recently
returned from NATO headquarters and a meeting of the bloc's North Atlantic
Council - usually reserved for the ambassadors of full member states - where
he had updated those envoys on the,
"general evolution in Kosovo, Kosovo’s
objective [of making] further progress and, especially, its ambition to
become a member of NATO."
Sedjiu had also,
"thanked the North Atlantic Council ambassadors for all the
support that NATO has [provided] and is providing to Kosovo and has
expressed the commitment of our institutions to an active partnership and
close cooperation with NATO."
At a press conference in Pristina after his return, he spoke of his offer to
make members of the Kosovo Security Force, a NATO-trained national army in
embryo, available for "NATO peacekeeping operations." 
In 1991 the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, and from the following
year onward the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, presented an obstacle to
NATO's drive to the east - the former Soviet Union and Asia - and to the
south - the Middle East and Africa.
In the story of Aesop's a bundle of sticks tied together could not be broken
but, once separated, each could be easily snapped in two.
In completing the fragmentation of Yugoslavia NATO removed a crucial
impediment to its expansion into a global military force.
In its place it
has acquired seven new members and candidates and as many potential sites
for training camps, air and naval bases, and transit points for moving
troops and weapons to new war zones on three continents and in the Middle
1) Tanjug News Agency, February 17, 2010
2) Tanjug News Agency, February 26, 2010
3) Harvard Crimson, February 16, 2010
5) Tanjug News Agency, March 11, 2010
6) Radio Serbia, February 5, 2010
7) NATO Public Affairs, February 16, 2010
8) Radio Serbia, March 22, 2010
9) Blic, March 22, 2010
10) Tanjug News Agency, February 11, 2010
11) BalkanInsight, March 23, 2010
12) North Atlantic Treaty Organization, March 3, 2010
13) Makfax, March 16, 2010
14) North Atlantic Treaty Organization, February 22, 2010
15) Xinhua News Agency, March 18, 2010
16) Tanjug News Agency, March 22, 2010
17) President of the Republic of Kosovo, March 22, 2010