The value of this superbly documented book lies in its clarification of how and when the greatest holocaust since the Nazis began. As to who destroyed Yugoslavia, the author places the blame clearly on Slobodan Milosevic and the Serbs who began a war of territorial conquest, the first in Europe since 1945.
World War II cost the country 10 percent of its people, yet by the end of it Yugoslavia again emerged truly united. Tito, one of the longest rulers in modem times, died in 1980. Soon after his death, Milosevic became undisputed leader of Serbia.
Only a year after Tito's death, Milosevic and the Serbs unleashed a blitzkrieg. They began in Kosovo-in 1981-this being the first armed aggression against a Yugoslav people branded "enemy" because they were not eligible (not being Serb) for the now-under construction Greater Serbia.
Branka Magas, a Croat journalist who has painstakingly documented the events of 1980 to 1992, reminds us that Yugoslavia had been a nation of six republics and two provinces within Serbia, one of the provinces being Kosovo. Yugoslavia's constitution specified that it was a federation of equal nations, but it was Milosevic's plan to change the country's internal balance of power in favor of Serbia.
Kosovo occupied some 4 percent of Yugoslav territory and had 8 percent of the population, some 2 million people. While some Serbs live in Kosovo, the overwhelming majority are indigenous Albanians. Kosovo, in fact, has almost as many Albanians as does the nation of Albania itself. Most Albanians are Muslim.
Due to their population and cohesiveness, Kosovo's leaders sought by public demon strations to voice a desire to have their status changed from province to republic. Rather than grant more autonomy, the Serbs denied the Kosovo Albanians any autonomy. They suspended all government bodies and dissolved the Kosovo parliament-this in defiance of the Federal Constitution of 1974. They sacked Albanians from all positions of responsibility, replacing them with Serbs. They closed down Albanian-language radio and television, and, without legal means to govern Kosovo, they began a rule of oppression and terror-in Serbian "occupied territory."
By playing the Kosovo card, writes Magas, "Milosevic was able to place himself at the head of the emergent nationalist-conservative coalition, crush the liberal opposition and-by forging "unity" within the party-satisfy also the morbid fear of the central apparatus that the party was losing control over political life in the republic. From now on, all criticism of the party leadership was presented as an attack on Serb national interests." The arms embargo has meant intervention in favor of Serbian aggression. It "gave Belgrade's forces an advantage in Croatia," and had "an even more catastrophic effect in Bosnia." The Serbs, she writes, waged war against Bosnian civilians with one aim: "the complete destruction" of the Bosnian people and their culture. Meanwhile, the West duly denounced the Serbian policy of "ethnic cleansing"-a term blatantly defined and criminally carried out by Serb leader Karadzic-the shelling of cities, the creation of concentration camps, and the rape by Serbs of Bosnian Muslim women and even infants. Western leaders recognized and defined these events, they knew it was a genocide, a holocaust of Muslims, and they could tolerate this. Some acknowledged that Serb leaders should be-later on-tried for war crimes. All the while, however, Western leaders regularly met the perpetrators of the holocaust, treating them "as legitimate participants in the 'peace process"'
Like the Nazis, Milosevic will not be easily appeased. As Magas makes clear: "Milosevic's regime can survive only by creating new sources of war and conflict." Just as Kosovo, beginning as early as 1981, became a dress rehearsal for the rape of Bosnia, a ravished Bosnia is most likely to become a dress rehearsal for a bloodier "ethnic cleansing" of Kosovo.
Magas's book, a collection of articles published over a 10-year period, reminds us repeatedly that not only a journalist such as herself, but world leaders including those in England, France, Germany and the United States were well aware of a holocaust in Europe. A "never again" holocaust has happened again. It was-and is-occurring before our eyes. Was "never again" meant only for Jews-or Christians? Meanwhile, world leaders continue to flash only green lights to Milsovic and the Serbs as they press forward to a "final solution."