Yugoslavia After Nonalignment


WHICH WAY TOTURN Yugoslavia After Nonalignment n^? JOSIP BROZ TITO London Yugoslavia's moribund policy of nonalignment may soon follow its architect, Josip Broz Tito, to the grave This portends...

...JOSIP BROZ TITO London Yugoslavia's moribund policy of nonalignment may soon follow its architect, Josip Broz Tito, to the grave This portends significant changes domestically no less than in loieign affairs, tor a close connection has always existed between the internal workings of Yugoslav Communism and attempts to achieve independence from the superpowers After his break with Stalin in 1948, a number of Western politicians hailed Tito as a "national Communist," praising what they took to be his distance from Moscow They judged the Yugoslav leader a moderate who merely wanted to develop a political system appropriate to local conditions, and a larger foreign policy that would have as its sole objective serving the country's interests Some in the West even saw his new stance as too rational and liberal to be described as ideological at all The reading was naive Although one would be wrongtoequate Yugoslav Communism with Stalinism, lthasnev-ertheless been an ideology with global intentions, considering itself a sacred truth and its opponents traitors and criminals Tito himself stubbornly rejected the "national Communist" label, on a number of occasions he denounced it as a slanderous invention of imperialists His political instinct in doing so was quite accurate He clearly recognized the danger in localizing > u-goslav Communism's claims to validity For any ideology that limits its ambitions to a single country must decay and accepting the notion of national Communism would have doomed the Yugoslav regime Nonalignment was Tito's chosen method for spreading his revolution and gospel while at the same time remaining separate from the Soviet Union He promoted it with a passion bordering on megalomania Through the nonaligned movement Tito hoped that he and his country would become leaders of the majority of mankind" and the "consciousness of the modern world " This pretentiousness had its effect on Yugoslavia's foreign affairs bureaucracy An enormous, poorly qualified diplomatic apparatus was estabbshed, adding to the burdens of an already overstrained budget Tito's love of ceremony, travel and collecting decorations amused mam people, but the serious fact is that the nonaligned movement helped foster an atmosphere conduciv e to So\ let expansionism The USSR's adventures in \sia and Africa, tor example, have consistently met with milder, more indirect critAleksa Djilas, son ol \tilo\iin Dji-las is nirrenlh dom% sradtiule uorA hi the London School ol Eionotnus icism than the U S encountered in the case of its involvement in Vietnam The movement did vote in the UN against the Soviet occupation of Afghamstan, yet that did not represent a real challenge to Soviet imperialism The nonal-lgned view was that East-West polan- ?zation was the major cause of Russia's Central Asian foray The Soviet invasion was therefore to a large extent the fault of the West, which has its own military bloc and its own selfish interests Somehow, all the evils of this world are always traceable to Western neocolonialism During the last few years, moreover, the movement's once impressive semblance of umty has broken down Member countries have taken to waging brutal wars against each other, the harshest blows to the nonahgned economies have been inflicted by Arab countries in the group exhibiting their greater loyalty to opec, two prominent founding states, Egypt and India, have sided with opposite blocs, and roughly one-third of the other members have moved firmly into the Soviet orbit Indeed, the nonahgned nations are seen as fertile territory for developing a latter-day "popular front " Just as Stalin assembled sympathizers and fellow-travelers to paralyze anti-Soviet forces, the Kremlin has been adroitly manipulating the movement to broaden its influence in the Third World The 1979 nonahgned conference in Havana finally saw the formal legalization of the Soviet faction, against Yugoslavia's wishes It must be pointed out, though, that Belgrade's policies contributed substantially to the emergence of this faction—either through direct economic and military "gifts" to various pro-Soviet "liberation" movements, or through innumerable anti-Amencan declarations and political campaigns In addition, Tito himself had insisted from its inception that nonahgnment, far from being passive neutrality, meant active involvement on the side of "progressive" forces in the world—and he left no doubt about how this would translate in practice In an April 1975 conversation with representatives of the Czech Army he stated that the goals of Yugoslavia and the USSR were essentially identical, that in the event of a world war they would fight on the same side despite Yugoslavia's not belonging to the Warsaw Pact According to some speculation, no fewer than three Yugoslav ministers of foreign affairs lost their jobs for not being sufficiently energetic proponents of the "class struggle" abroad Even m Havana, shortly before his death, Tito reiterated that it would be a profound mistake not to understand the difference between East and West Both have similar "bad" traits, he maintained, but it was still obvious which one was on the side of progress And the non-aligned nations, in their opposition to imperialism, must beapart of the struggle for worldwide Socialism The "sudden" direct involvement of the Soviet Union in the movement apparently provoked aggrieved surprise from the Yugoslav rulers because they knew nothing of Moscow's intentions Yet this merely underlined the naivete of Belgrade's nonahgnment notions Surely the Soviet Union, as the initiator and major purveyor of so-called revolutionary socialism, had a "natural right" to get involved Not only has nonahgnment inflicted serious damage on Yugoslavia's global position The obviously reluctant abandonment of the principle of proletarian internationalism has compromised the country's independence as well by encouraging a domestic "fifth column " This does not consist of the 1948 pro-Soviet sympathizers, the "Cominform-ists," who now are a small group of powerless elderly people Nor is there a younger generation of Cominformists The regime claimed otherwise in the 1970s, but that was simply a convenient pretext for persecuting dissidents Evidently, attributing pro-Soviet sympathies to political opponents easily deceives the Western press and enables the Yugoslav rulers to disguise their ruthless methods as part of the noble struggle to preserve national sovereignty No, the genuine fifth column that looks toward the Soviet Union today is to be found, ironically, in the government itself In a crisis the Soviets can rely on the allegiance of parts of the ruling Communist bureaucracy, plus groups in the military and the police For in the conduct of internal affairs, as in the policy of nonalignment, there are compelling ideological similarities between these Yugoslav elements and the Kremlin Should the occasion arise, they would not be reluctant to invite the Red Army in to rescue them from their own people Meanwhile, nonalignment has prevented the strengthening of Yugoslavia's relationship with the Western democracies, the only forces capable of helping it retain its independence Those countries have made possible its avoidance of utter Soviet domination But militarily weak and politically disunited Western Europe has not considered Yugoslavia vital strategic part of theCon-tinent In spite of all the stones about the importance of the Balkans and the dangers of Soviet bases on the Mediterranean, Yugoslavia is on the periphery of the "real" Europe Since it is a Communist dictatorship, the majority of Europeans do not think of it as "one of us " Western governments have tolerated the "progressive" character of Yugoslav foreign policy, feeling satisfied that it is not in the Warsaw Pact They have even believed it wise to compliment Tito and extend generous credit to him Nonetheless, Yugoslavia's anti-Western foreign policy has alienated Western public opinion Small wonder, then, that during the 1976 Presidential campaign, Jimmy Carter explicitly said he would not engage military forces in de-tense ol Yugoslavia In the post-Tito era, there is still uncertainty about the extent of Western help that would be lot thcoming in the event ot a real crisis with the USSR Ot course, economic, political and cultural coopci ation with Western Em -opc, instead ol the nonaligned coun-liics, would haveproloundlvstiength-ened Yugoslavia This would not have automatically pi (.eluded civicism ot the West Sweden, to Lite one case, has often severely censured the U S and Western Europe for Third World policies, yet it remains an integral part of the Western world, and the Soviets would find it much more difficult politically to invade Sweden than Yugoslavia Although political sentiments play an important role in international crises, Belgrade has done everything it could to lose the sympathies of Europeans and Americans Ties to the European Left, whether Socialist or Communist, are weak too Yugoslavia has supported the Euro-communists' insistence on national sovereignty as opposed to Moscow's hegemony, but rejects the rest of their ideas In other words, it is willing to go only half way, approving autonomy for "small Socialist states" in relation to bigger ones, not for individuals in relation to their governments Tito's dictum stands The stronger force in domestic matters should determine the political norm Characteristically, the much publicized Eurocommumst declarations of faith concerning intellectual freedom, multiparty systems and an independent judiciary are never given much play in the Yugoslav media One may doubt the sincerity of the Eurocommumsts' liberalism, but not Belgrade's fear of its influence The breakdown of Yugoslavia's nonalignment policy has called into question the ideology at its heart, and in t he process has exposed the need for reforms The truth is that nonalignment has always been in direct conflict with the country's national interest Now, though, the most apathetic ordinary citizen sees the profound absurdity of a foreign policy that benefits only the greatest enemy of Yugoslav independence—theSoviet Union And this awareness must cast doubt on theregimethat has so arrogantly supported the sell-deleating policy over the years The monolithic nature ol \ ugoslav Communism mandates the interdependence ol domestic and loreign policies To be sure, domestic mat lei s are the axis ol toieign polic\, bui one should not underestimate the latiei spowei loalfect internal affairs It is not merely a derivative superstructure Because he understood this, Tito shunned close cooperation with Western powers Yugoslavia has boldly demanded and received enormous loans from the West, yet it has been extremely reluctant to cooperate with Western firms and create joint enterprises, preferring to export its labor force to Western Europe to be exploited by capitalists Tito was worried about the democratic reforms that more intimate relations would have produced The domestic intrusion of a free, profit-oriented economy threatened far-reaching social consequences that would seriously undermine the Communist monopoly on power The death of Tito and the Sovieti-zation of the nonaligned movement have denied Yugoslav rulers a platform on which to play world politics The regime has received a lesson in political modesty, moderation and realism A significant number of leading Communists seem to have had the courage to learn from this lesson One sign of their new sobriety is the introduction of a more humble protocol The splendor and luxury of the Tito era, it is tacitlv admitted, are inappropriate to a small, isolated country that is struggling with difficult economic and ethnic problems If nonalignment remains the major foreign policy commitment, it is no longer a source of self-congratulation and chiliastic hope One has the impression that many Yugoslav leaders would prefer to leave the movement and hav e their citizens forget that the whole thing ever existed With the decline and fall of nonalignment almost complete, \ ugoslav la has twooptions Thecountrv cantrv lokmt relations with the West and open the way to democratic reforms, or it can tighten internal security and take a radical turn to the East Those who tavor liberalization are encouraged now, because the pulling apari ol nonahgn-niciu has loicccl Jugoslavia—albeit against its will—to return to itsell, us own problems and its own interests This can onlv lu\c positive consequences tor the lutuie ol the countiv...

Vol. 64 • April 1981 • No. 7

Developed by
Kanda Sofware
  Kanda Software, Inc.