Saturday, 7 April 2012

Falklands War Documents - U.S. Embassy Buenos Aires, Secret Cable

U.S. Ambassador in Buenos Aires Harry Shlaudeman writes that Argentine Deputy Foreign Minister Enrique Ros "emphasized that the Foreign Ministry wants and has always wanted a negotiated solution.

"The problem is that Ros and [Argentine Foreign Minister] Costa Mendez do not speak for the Navy. We are getting ultra-tough sounds out of that quarter, including statements that the Secretary should not come here … One bitter complaint for the marine branch of that service is that the commandos failed to have complete surprise and thus took casualties in their Malvinas landing because we had given the British advance intelligence obtained by 'satellite.'"

Falklands War Documents - US Department of State, Secret Cable

The Secretary of State informs the U.S. Embassy in Buenos Aires that:

"[Argentine Foreign Minister] Costa Mendez phoned the Secretary [Haig] last night April 6 to say Argentina accepted U.S. offer of assistance… and that he would be welcome to come to Buenos Aires." [….]

"Let us know (report to London) if you pick up signals different than those Costa Mendez is giving off – that is that a form of word can be found on sovereignty, but that retention of an Argentine administrative presence on the islands is important…"

The West and the break-up of Yugoslavia: a groundbreaking new study

The break-up of Yugoslavia has generated an enormous literature – much of it poor, some of it acceptable and some of it excellent. There are several decent introductory accounts of the break-up that competently summarise familiar information. There are some very good studies of Slobodan Milosevic and his regime that do justice to the break-up as well. There are some excellent studies of sub-topics or related topics. But there have been few truly groundbreaking studies of the process as a whole. Too many of the older generation of pre-1991 Yugoslav experts had too many of their assumptions shattered by the break-up; too many journalists and casual scholars flooded the market in the 1990s with too many under-researched, third-rate works; too many younger scholars were handicapped by political prejudices that prevented them from addressing the truth squarely. Furthermore, the body of relevant primary sources has been vast and growing exponentially while the body of good supporting secondary literature has only slowly grown to a respectable size . In these circumstances, to write a groundbreaking general study of the break-up of Yugoslavia has been a difficult task that has required both a lot of talent and a lot of patient hard work.

Josip Glaurdic’s The Hour of Europe: Western Powers and the Breakup of Yugoslavia is such a study. As far as general accounts of the break-up go, there are only two or three that rival this work; none that is better. A great strength of this work lies in Glaurdic’s careful balance between the domestic and international dimensions of Yugoslavia’s break-up; he gives equal space to each and shows carefully the interaction between them. As far as the domestic dimension is concerned, he has skilfully summarised and distilled the existing knowledge about the subject as well as anybody before him. But where this book is truly original and groundbreaking is in its analysis of the international dimension. For this is the best serious, comprehensive, scholarly analysis of the role of the West – specifically, of the US, European Community and UN – in the break-up of Yugoslavia.

The mainstream literature has tended to present the West’s involvement in the break-up in terms of a reaction after the fact: Yugoslavia collapsed and war broke out due to internal causes, and the West responded with a weak, ineffective and primarily diplomatic intervention. Some excellent studies of the responses of individual Western countries have appeared, most notably by Michael Libal for Germany, Brendan Simms for Britain and Takis Michas for Greece. Apologists for the former regime of Slobodan Milosevic or for the Great Serb nationalist cause have, for their part, churned out innumerable versions of the conspiracy theory whereby the break-up of Yugoslavia was actually caused or even engineered by the West; more precisely by Germany, the Vatican and/or the IMF. But up till now, nobody has attempted to do what Glaurdic has done, let alone done it well.

Glaurdic’s innovation is to begin his study of the West’s involvement not in 1991, when full-scale war broke out in the former Yugoslavia, but in 1987, when Milosevic was assuming absolute power in Serbia. This enables him to interpret the West’s reaction to the eventual outbreak of war, not as a reflex to a sudden crisis, but as the result of a long-term policy. He places this long-term policy in the broader context of the evolution of the West’s global considerations in the late 1980s and early 1990s. The most important of these considerations concerned a state incomparably more important than Yugoslavia: the Soviet Union.

Yugoslavia’s principal significance for the Western alliance during the Cold War was as a buffer state vis-a-vis the Soviet Union and as a model of an independent, non-Soviet Communist state. These factors became less important in the second half of the 1980s, when Mikhail Gorbachev ruled the Soviet Union and the Cold War was winding down. Milosevic was initially identified by some influential Western observers as a possible ‘Balkan Gorbachev’; a Communist reformer who might bring positive change to Yugoslavia. The most important such observer was the veteran US policymaker Lawrence Eagleburger, who became deputy Secretary of State in January 1989. In his confirmation hearings in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on 15-16 March 1989, Eagleburger stated that ‘there is no question in my mind that Milosevic is in terms of economics a Western market-oriented fellow… [who] is playing on and using Serbian nationalism, which has been contained for so many years, in part I think as an effort to force the central government to come to grips with some very tough economic problems.
This initial US appreciation for Milosevic dovetailed with a more important consideration: the fear that a collapse of Yugoslavia would create a precedent for the Soviet Union, weakening the position of Gorbachev himself. Of decisive importance was not merely that Western and in particular US leaders viewed Gorbachev as a valued friend, but the extreme conservatism of their ideology as regards foreign policy. Simply put, the US administration of George H.W. Bush valued stability above all else, including democratic reform, and actually preferred Communist strongmen, not only in the USSR but also in Poland, Hungary and Czechoslovakia, to the democratic opposition to them. Bush and his team feared the collapse of the Soviet Union and the destabilisation that this threatened – given, among other things, the latter’s nuclear arsenal. This led them to acquiesce readily in Soviet repression in Lithuania, Latvia, Azerbaijan and Georgia. Their acquiescence in Milosevic’s repressive policies was a natural corollary.

As Glaurdic shows, this conservative-realist worldview led the Bush Administration, right up till the end of 1991, to champion Yugoslavia’s unity rather than its democratic reform. Though the US gradually lost faith in Milosevic, its animosity in this period was above all directed at the ‘separatist’ regimes in Croatia and Slovenia. The irony was not only that Croatian and Slovenian separatism was a direct response to the aggressive policies of the Milosevic regime, but also that the latter was promoting the break-up of Yugoslavia as a deliberate policy. Through its unwillingness to oppose Milosevic and its hostility to the Croats and Slovenes, Washington in practice encouraged the force that was promoting the very break-up of Yugoslavia that it wished to avoid.

The problem was not that the Bush Administration lacked accurate intelligence as to what Milosevic’s regime was doing, but that it chose to disregard this intelligence, instead clinging blindly to its shibboleth of Yugoslav unity, indeed of Yugoslav centralisation. Thus, as Glaurdic shows, a ‘conservative realist’ ideology resulted in a highly unrealistic, dogmatic policy. In October 1990, the CIA warned the US leadership that, while the latter could do little to preserve Yugoslav unity, its statements would be interpreted and exploited by the different sides in the conflict: statements in support of Yugoslav unity would encourage Serbia while those in support of human rights and self-determination would encourage the Slovenes, Croats and Kosovars The Bush Administration nevertheless continued to stress its support for Yugoslav unity.

This meant not only that the West failed to respond to Milosevic’s repressive and aggressive policy, but that Milosevic and his circle actually drew encouragement from the signals they received from the West. Milosevic scarcely kept his policy a secret; at a meeting with Western ambassadors in Belgrade on 16 January 1991, he informed them that he intended to allow Slovenia to secede, and to form instead an enlarged Serbian stage on the ruins of the old Yugoslavia, that would include Serb-inhabited areas of Croatia and Bosnia and that would be established through the use of force if necessary. This brazen announcement provoked US and British complaints, but no change in policy

The problem was not merely ideological rigidity and mistaken analysis on the part of Western and particular US leaders, but also sheer lack of interest. Glaurdic describes the paradoxical Western policy toward the Yugoslav Federal Prime Minister, Ante Markovic, who – unlike Milosevic – really did want to preserve Yugoslavia, and whose programme of economic reform, in principle, offered a way to achieve this. In comparison with the generous financial assistance extended to Poland in 1989-1990, no remotely similar support was offered to Markovic’s government, because in US ambassador Warren Zimmermann’s words, ‘Yugoslavia looked like a loser’.
The US’s dogmatic support for Yugoslav unity was shared by the West European powers. Glaurdic demolishes the myth – already exploded by authors like Libal and Richard Caplan – that Germany supported or encouraged Croatia’s and Slovenia’s secession from Yugoslavia. When the president of the Yugoslav presidency, Janez Drnovsek, visited Bonn on 5 December 1989, German chancellor Helmut Kohl expressed to him his ‘appreciation for Yugoslavia’s irreplaceable role in the stability of the region and the whole of Europe’. On the same occasion, German president Richard von Weizsaecker informed the Yugoslav delegation that he supported a ‘centralised’ Yugoslavia (Glaurdic, p. 59). A year later, on 6 December 1990, German foreign minister Hans-Dietrich Genscher told his Yugoslav counterpart, Budimir Loncar, that Germany ‘has a fundamental interest in the integrity of Yugoslavia’, and consequently would make ‘the Yugoslav republics realise that separatist tendencies are damaging to the whole and very
This German opposition to Croatian and Slovenian independence continued right up till the latter was actually declared in June 1991, and beyond. According to Gerhard Almer, a German diplomat and Yugoslav specialist at the time, ‘Everything that was happening in Yugoslavia was viewed through Soviet glasses. [Genscher's] idea was, “Well, Yugoslavia disintegrating is a bad example for Soviet disintegration, and this was bad for us since we needed a Soviet Union capable of action because we needed to get a deal with them on our unity”. This was widely accepted in the ministry.’  Contrary to the myth of anti-Yugoslav imperialistic tendencies on the part of Helmut Kohl’s Christian Democratic government, the latter’s support for the Yugoslav status quo in the face of Belgrade’s abuses was so rigid that it provoked strong resistance from the Social Democratic opposition.

Genscher, subsequently demonised as a supposed architect of Yugoslavia’s break-up, actually resisted this pressure from the Bundestag for a shift in German policy away from unbending support for Yugoslav unity and toward greater emphasis on human rights and self-determination. The turning point for him, as Glaurdic shows, came with his visit to Belgrade on 1 July 1991, after the war in Slovenia had broken out. The combination of the overconfident Milosevic’s aggressive stance in his talk with Genscher, and the Yugoslav government’s inability to halt the Yugoslav People’s Army [JNA] operations against Slovenia, destroyed the German foreign minister’s faith in the Belgrade authorities, leading to his gradual shift in favour of Croatia and Slovenia. Eventually, after a lot more Serbian intransigence and military aggression, Germany would reverse its traditional policy by 180 degrees, and come out in favour of the recognition of Slovenia’s and Croatia’s independence, while the EC would split into pro- and anti-recognition currents of opinion.

Nevertheless, as Glaurdic shows, Germany’s change of heart was a double-edged sword, since it aroused the anti-German suspicions and rivalries of other EC states, particularly France and Britain, which consequently hardened their own stances against recognition. On 6 November 1991, while the JNA’s military assaults on the Croatian cities of Vukovar and Dubrovnik were at their peak, Douglas Hogg, the UK’s Minister of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, explained to the Foreign Affairs Committee of the House of Commons that his government was opposed to the recognition of Croatia since it would create an ‘obstacle’ to territorial adjustments in Serbia’s favour and at Croatia’s expense. Several days later, the French president, Francois Mitterand, made a similar public statement, indicating that he saw Croatia’s existing borders as a ‘problem’ that prevented its recognition.
The Bush Administration, meanwhile, acted as a brake on the EC’s shift against Belgrade and in favour of recognition, teaming up with the British and French to counter Germany’s change of policy. US Secretary of State James Baker and his deputy Lawrence Eagleburger, as well as the UN special envoy Cyrus Vance (himself a former US Secretary of State) waged a diplomatic battle in this period against any shift away from the West’s non-recognition policy, and against any singling out of Serbia for blame for the war – even as the JNA was massively escalating its assault on Vukovar in preparation for the town’s final conquest. Eagleburger had signalled to the Yugoslav ambassador in October that, although the US was aware that Milosevic was attempting to establish a Greater Serbia, it would do nothing to stop him except economic sanctions, and even these only after Greater Serbia had been actually established . As late as December 1991, Vance continued to oppose recognition and to support the idea of a federal Yugoslavia, and continued moreover to put his trust in Milosevic, the JNA and Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic, while viewing the Croatians dismissively as ‘these Croatian insurgents’ .

Glaurdic has marshalled an enormous wealth of documentary evidence to show that the British, French and Americans, far from reacting in a weak and decisive manner to a sudden outbreak of war, actually pursued a remarkably steady and consistent policy from before the war began, right up until the eve of full-scale war in Bosnia-Hercegovina: of vocally supporting Yugoslav unity and opposing Croatian and Slovenian secession; of resisting any singling out of Serbia for blame or punishment; of opposing recognition of Slovenia and Croatia; of seeking to appease Milosevic and the JNA by extracting concessions from Croatia as the weaker side; and finally of appeasing the Serb nationalists’ desire to carve up Bosnia. EC sanctions imposed in November 1991 applied to all parts of the former Yugoslavia equally, while there was no freezing of the international assets or financial transactions through which the JNA funded its war. The UN arms embargo, whose imposition had actually been requested by the Yugoslav government itself, favoured the heavily-armed Serbian side and hurt the poorly armed Croatians. Although, largely on account of Germany’s change of heart, the EC at the start of December 1991 belatedly limited its economic sanctions to Serbia and Montenegro alone, the US immediately responded by imposing economic sanctions on the whole of Yugoslavia.

According to myth, the Western powers applied the principle of national self-determination in a manner that penalised the Serb nation and privileged the non-Serbs. As Glaurdic shows, the reverse was actually the case. In October 1991, Milosevic rejected the peace plan put forward by the EC’s Lord Carrington, which would have preserved Yugoslavia as a union of sovereign republics with autonomy for national minorities, in part because he feared it implied autonomy for the Albanians of Kosovo and the Muslims in Serbia’s Sanjak region. Carrington consequently modified his plan: Croatia would be denied any military presence whatsoever in the disputed ‘Krajina’ region, despite it being an integral part of Croatia inhabited by many Croats, while Serbia would be given a completely free hand to suppress the Kosovo Albanians and Sanjak Muslims. Carrington’s offer came just after leaders of the latter had organised referendums for increased autonomy, and after the Milosevic regime had responded with concerted police repression.

Milosevic nevertheless continued to reject the Carrington Plan in the understandable belief that the West would eventually offer him a better deal. He consequently asked Carrington to request from the EC’s Arbitration Commission, headed by Robert Badinter, an answer to the questions of whether the Serbs in Croatia and Bosnia possessed the right to self-determination, and of whether Serbia’s borders with Croatia and Bosnia should be considered borders under international law. Carrington submitted these to the Commission, along with a third question, of whether the situation in Yugoslavia was a case of secession by Slovenia and Croatia or a case of dissolution of the common state. That the Arbitration Commission ruled against Serbia on all three counts was, in Glaurdic’s words, a ‘terrible surprise for Milosevic and for many in the international community’, given that Badinter was a close associate of President Mitterand, whose sympathies were with Serbia’s case. The Badinter Commission’s ruling dismayed both Carrington and French foreign minister Roland Dumas, and paved the way to international recognition of Croatia and Slovenia. But it did not fundamentally change the West’s policy.

Glaurdic’s account ends with the outbreak of the war in Bosnia, which as he argues, should be seen as the logical culmination of this policy. The failure of the EC foreign ministers to recognise Bosnia’s independence in January 1992 along with Croatia’s and Slovenia’s was, in Glaurdic’s words, ‘the decision with the most detrimental long-term consequences, all of which were clearly foreseeable… The EC had missed a great chance to preempt a war that would soon make the war in Croatia pale in comparison. Of all the mistakes the European Community had made regarding the recognition of the Yugoslav republics, this one was probably the most tragic.’ Recognition of Bosnia at this time would have upset Milosevic’s and Karadzic’s plans for destroying that republic; instead, they were given every indication that the West would acquiesce in them.

Thus, on 21-22 February 1992, Bosnia’s politicians were presented with the first draft of the plan of the EC’s Jose Cutileiro for the three-way partition of Bosnia-Hercegovina into loosely linked Serb, Croat and Muslim entities. Since the plan, based on the ethnic majorities in Bosnian municipalities, offered the Bosnian Serb nationalists ‘only’ 43.8% of Bosnian territory instead of the 66% they sought, the latter’s assembly unanimously rejected it on 11 March. Once again, the EC abandoned universal standards in order to accommodate Serb intransigence, and Cutileiro modified his plan so that the three constituent Bosnian entities ‘would be based on national principles and would be taking into account economic, geographic and other criteria’, thereby opening the way for a Serb entity with a larger share of Bosnian territory than was justified on demographic grounds.

Ultimately, Bosnian president Alija Izetbegovic rejected the plan. But as Glaurdic writes,

‘The damage that the Cutileiro plan did to Bosnia cannot be overstated. By accepting the ethnic principle for the reorganisation of the republic, Cutileiro in essence recognised the platforms of the SDS [Serb Democratic Party led by Karadzic] and the Boban wing of the HDZ [Croat Democratic Union] and opened a Pandora’s box of ethnic division that still mars Bosnia to this very day. Cutileiro’s intent was obviously to appease the Bosnian Serbs and their Belgrade sponsor into not implementing their massive war machinery. However, instead of lowering tensions and giving the three parties an impetus to keep negotiating, the plan actually gave them a “charter for ethnic cleansing”.’

In these circumstances, the West’s belated recognition of Bosnia’s independence in April 1992 was naturally not taken seriously by the Serb leaders; Milosevic rather wittily compared it to the Roman emperor Caligula declaring his horse to be a senator.

My principal regret is that Glaurdic did not fully apply the logic of his iconoclastic analysis to his consideration of the Croatian dimension of the Yugoslav tragedy. He carefully and correctly highlights the retrograde nationalist ideology of Croatian president Franjo Tudjman, including his equivocal statements about the Nazi-puppet Croatian regime of World War II and his promotion of the partition of Bosnia-Hercegovina. Yet he does not properly stress the extent to which Tudjman’s repeated retreats in the face of Serbian aggression merely encouraged the latter, just as did the similar retreats of the Western leaders. Thus, Tudjman capitulated to the JNA’s bullying in January 1991 and agreed to demobilise Croatia’s reservists and arrest Croatian officials involved in arms procurement, including the Croatian defence minister Martin Spegelj himself. Glaurdic argues that this ‘defused the [JNA] generals’ plan for a takeover’ and brought Yugoslavia ‘back from the brink’ (p. 134), but it would be more accurate to say that such Croatian appeasement merely encouraged further Serbian assaults, and that the killing in Croatia began only weeks later.

Glaurdic has carefully described the Milosevic regime’s secessionism vis-a-vis the Yugoslav federation, but one significant detail omitted from his book is the promulgation on 28 September 1990 of Serbia’s new constitution, which stated that ‘The Republic of Serbia determines and guarantees: 1 the sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of the Republic of Serbia and its international position and relations with other states and international organisations;…’. In other words, Serbia declared itself a sovereign and independent state before either Croatia or Bosnia did. This is relevant when evaluating not only the Milosevic regime’s hypocrisy regarding ‘separatism’, but the extent of the West’s policy failure. Milosevic posed as Yugoslavia’s defender while he deliberately destroyed it. Western leaders were hoodwinked: they sought both to uphold Yugoslavia’s unity and to appease Milosevic’s Serbia. As Glaurdic has brilliantly demonstrated, their dogged pursuit of the second of these policies ensured the failure of the first.

War Crimes - Criminals die too, don’t they? - Announcing the death of General Blagoje Adzic

Acid comment on the death of the JNA chief of general staff responsible for the destruction of Vukovar, never indicted for war crimes by the Hague Tribunal.

A bit of good news for the Serbian war-crimes tribunal: Blagoje Adžic died on 1 March. The news was reported among the death notices by Politika, after which it was picked up by the rest of the Belgrade press. The Serbian war-crimes tribunal’s chief prosecutor, Vladimir Vukcevic, and his spokesman, Bruno Vekaric, will therefore not need even to pretend to be conducting an investigation into the destroyer of Vukovar, nor will they have to listen to the uncomfortable reminders of journalists that this retired and decorated lieutenant-general should be put behind bars. But then again, it never occurred to them to begin with, to chase through Cvecara the late Blagoje Adžic, chief of the JNA general staff at the time of its attack on Vukovar, for this would have run against the instruction of Serbian president Boris Tadic that the universal Serb innocence should be covered up. And, as we know so well, the president has rewards to dispense.

Nor will the prosecution have to defend its habitual slipperiness and hypocrisy, for it never considered delivering Adžic, sought by Osijek county court since 1991 on a charge of having committed genocide and war crimes against civilians and prisoners of war during the JNA attack on Croatia, to the neighbouring state. They disregarded this arrest warrant even as they professed their commitment to judicial cooperation, amid the furore directed against the Croatian law declaring the illiterate imbecilities of JNA prosecutors null and void.

The Hague fared no better at the hands of the Ustanicka fraternity, which remained most uninterested in the part of the charge laid by the tribunal against Hadžic, Martic, Simatovic and Stanišic, concerning the nature of their joint criminal enterprise ‘the aim of which was a forced and permanent removal of most non-Serbs, especially Croats, Bosnian Muslims and Bosnian Croats, from large parts of Croatia and Bosnia-Herzegovina (B-H)’.

‘Many individuals took part in this joint criminal enterprise. Each individual participant contributed actively or by default to the realisation of this enterprise. Among the individuals who took part in this joint criminal enterprise and in so doing contributed significantly to the realisation of its aim, were the accused Jovica Stanišic and Franko Simatovic, Slobodan Miloševic, Veljko Kadijevic, Blagoje Adžic, Ratko Mladic, Radmilo Bogdanovic, Radovan Stojcic called Badža, Mihalj Kertes, Milan Martic, Radovan Karadžic, Biljana Plavšic, Željko Ražnatovic called Arkan, Vojislav Šešelj, as well as other members of the JNA, subsequently the Army of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, the VRS and the Army of the Serb Krajina, the Serb Territorial Defence in Croatia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Serbia and Montenegro, the local police forces and the Serbian ministry of the interior, including Serbian state security and Martic’s police, as well as members of paramilitary units from Serbia, Montenegro and the units of the Bosnian Serbs.’

Of those who remained free, Veljko Kadijevic lived in the prosecutors’ neighbourhood, but they let him wander off. Still hanging around are the unforgettable Serbian police chief, Radmilo Bogdanovic, the director of Miloševic’s customs and war profiteer Mihalj Kertes, and Života Panic, Adžic’s successor as chief of staff. There is no answer to the question why in Serbia, which has legally inherited the JNA crimes, including Adžic’s conquest of a thoroughly destroyed city, it appears unthinkable that its war-crimes tribunal should investigate state officials properly accused of taking part in war crimes.   It seems that the laws of biology are working on behalf of Vukcevic and other prosecutors, and of their superiors at Andricev Venac.

Let us return to the unforgettable Adžic. The rare written sources speak of his specifically Soviet (Adžic was schooled in Russia) attitude to the multiparty system and civilian control of the army. The former spokesman for the JNA, Ljubodrag Stojadinovic, vividly portrays the mood among the general staff in the spring of 1992, and Adžic’s rhetorical flights:

‘The general began his story very convincingly. He said that the enemy was active. And added that he never slept. And that he was to be found everywhere around us, even among us, that it was difficult to detect him but that we would nevertheless succeed in this too. And when we found him out, he said, he would be finished. He then violently attacked the multiparty system. He said we should never accept it, because it sought to destroy us, especially now that we were in the gravest of situations.   This is why we should not play around, experimenting with an uncontrolled application of democratic political experiments that are practically inapplicable here. A large number of parties would only harm us. Which is why he passed on the order of the federal secretary of defence [Veljko Kadijevic]: “We will support a multiparty system, but only within the framework of the League of Communists of Yugoslavia (SKJ).   The SKJ must remain in the JNA for at least another fifteen years.”’ 

The chief of staff ‘s individual military logic came to the fore also in his merciless destruction of the city of Vukovar, while Serbian propaganda spread lies about massacres of the Serb population there and of Ustasha necklaces made with babies’ fingers, and bombarded the brains of potential volunteers with reports on ‘predominantly Serb dead’ found in the courtyard of the Vukovar hospital - as reported for TV Belgrade by Nino Brajovic, who is now director of the Serbian Journalists’ Association.

“Not only do idle officers among us write anonymous letters”, he yelled, “they also don’t sign them!” The general sitting next to Adžic started to fidget in deep embarrassment: “Comrade general”, he whispered, “a letter is anonymous precisely because it is not signed”’

“I don’t need to be tutored! Don’t get wise with me!”, the chief of staff became furious. “I’m not a fool. Of course I know that an unsigned letter is anonymous. But I have issued an order that all letters be signed, including the anonymous ones. For, you tell me, how will we know who is writing all those stupidities, if such letters are not signed?”’

According to a story that sounds quite realistic, at meetings of the SFRJ presidency and the federal ministry of defence directors Adžic assailed the president of the Yugoslav presidency, Stipe Mesic, in a racy southern manner (he saw service in Macedonia) , threatening: ‘I’ll kill him, **** his mother!”

General Adžic, the man who, following higher orders and even more his own personal convictions, has marked our lives by turning Serbia into a country existing between two military call-ups, and its state into a barbarous aggressor, has died unpunished. We are not told whether he was buried with the highest state and military honours. It would be rather strange if he was not, for his views continue to inspire the Serbian state and military leaderships, especially when it comes to our neighbours.

History of the Russian Submarine Service - Part Two

Those Attacking from under the Dark Deep

At the outbreak of the World War I, the Baltic Fleet underwater forces consisted of submarines brigade 98 ships) and underwater training vessels unit (3 ships) mainly equipped with outdated and obsolete submarines.

In 1915-1916, the Baltic Fleet received 7 submarines of Bars type (the Bars/Ounce, the Vepr/Wild Boar, the Volk/Wolf, the Lvitsa/ Lioness, the Panther, the Rys’/Lynx and the Tiger) and 5 submarines of AG type (AG-11, AG-12, AG-14, AG-15, AG-16) bought in America and assembled in Russia. Apart from them, allied England sent to the Baltic Sea ten (two of them were destroyed during the voyage) submarines of “E” and “S” types (E-1, E-8, E-9, E-18, E-19, S-26, S-27, S-32) together with a mother ship the Amsterdam.

Soon, the brigade was re-organized in a submarine division. By the beginning of 1917, it included 7 flotillas with 4-5 ships in each, not to mention English submarines. The first three flotillas were completely equipped with “Bars”-type submarines, while the fourth one – with “AG”-type submarines. Total strength of this division was 40 submarines and a mother ship Tosna.

Thus, submarines as one of the Navy arms demonstrated their might during the WWI. By its end, the Russian underwater forces had more or less established structure as well as operational strategy and tactics.

With the purpose of the German and Turkish ships and transports destruction, Russian submarines actively used torpedo weapons and seldom artillery. Mainly they applied single-torpedo aimed fire method. The first submarine that successfully applied torpedo salvo method was the Gepard (“Cheetah”). 10 August, 1915, off the western coast of Ezel Island, she attacked the German cruiser Lubeck which was escorted by five destroyers and succeeded in destroying her with one of the five torpedoes fired at intervals of several seconds. The Gepard’s crew submerged 20 meters deep after the attack heard a loud explosion.

30 April, 1915, another submarine the Dragon (captain-lieutenant N. Iliinskiy) spotted a German cruiser escorted by several destroyers. The submarine was detected by the enemy and underwent heavy bombardment after which she was chased by the enemy guard-ships. Despite all these, the Dragon’s captain managed to skillfully dodge the fire and set course for approaching and attacking the main target. Having taken up the most advantageous firing position, the captain fired a torpedo and submerged 20 meters deep. The crew of the Dragon clearly heard an explosion. Some time later, on surfacing the periscope depth, Iliinskiy spotted another cruiser, attacked her and forced her to hastily leave the district.

The Russian submariners’ actions made the enemy introduce a convoy system which usually consisted of 12-14 transports; auxiliary vessels, torpedo-boats and armed trawlers were used as guard-ships. Although anti-submarine protection was all-round, our submarine captains, even under such difficult conditions, achieved impressive results. For example, 17 May, 1916, submarine the Wolf (captain-senior lieutenant I. Messer) while operating near the Norchepinsk Bay, sank three German transports of 8 800 tons total tonnage.

During 1915 campaign alone, courageous Russian submariners conducted 78 operational cruises, destroyed 2 enemy cruisers and 16 transports, while the tonnage of the warships and transports, sank by them over two war years, totaled 105 000 tons.

Assessing the Russian submarines operational activity during the World War I, one should bear in mind that the underwater fleet, back in those days, was taking its first steps, but those first steps were already decisive and very promising.

After the Arctic cruise termination, there remained only 12 submarines of “Bars” type, including the famous Panther, in the Baltic Sea Fleet.

On 31 august, 1919, this submarine under the command of A.N. Bakhtin put out to sea in order to conduct operations against the interventionist ships. On reaching the berthing site of the English ships near the Seskar Island from the sunny side, Bakhtin approached the enemy destroyer Vittoria and, firing a double-torpedo salvo, sank her. Having submerged, the captain broke off from the English chase, thus having spent more than 24 hours under water. During this period, the Panther had sailed 75 miles and set up a record for all submarines of that time.

The Panther, commissioned in 1916, can be considered a ship-long-liver. After the 1st of December 1922, she was renamed in the Commissar. Until 1936, she was registered in the Baltic Sea Fleet, and later she was re-qualified into a training vessel. In 1942, she was re-organized into a charging station. In 1955, the Panther was written off from the Navy stock as an obsolete ship.

The formation of the Soviet underwater fleet, as I have already mentioned, began from the construction of the first six submarines of “Decabrist” type which were included in the 1st naval shipbuilding programme of 1926/27-1931/32. The Decabrist was designed in the naval design bureau headed then by a talented constructor B.M. Malinin, a student of prominent naval engineers K.P. Boklevskiy and I.G. Bubnov. Many other outstanding scientists and shipbuilders like A.N. Krylov, P.E. Papkovich and Y.A. Shimansky participated in the process of her construction.

Unlike pre-revolution “Bars”-type submarines, submarines of “Decabrist” type which came to take their place were double-hull just like all the next types of Soviet submarines. Their tactical-technical characteristics were the same as those of foreign analogues. With the displacement of 941/1288 tons, their major dimensions were 76,6 õ 6,4 õ 3,81 m. Diesel-electrical power installation of 2200/1050 horsepower. allowed them to develop a speed of 14/9 knots while their endurance was 3440/135 miles. Submarines of this type were armed with eight 533-mm torpedo-tubes (six were placed in the bow and two in the stern), one 100-mm and one 45-mm guns. Her complement numbered 53 seamen. Subs of “Decabrist” type were commissioned in 1930-1931. In 1933, Soviet shipbuilding industry supplied the fleet with underwater vessels of series II (type L/Leninist”). Apart from powerful torpedo armament, they were equipped with special tubes for laying obstacle mines, thus becoming the first Soviet underwater mine-layers. Their tactical-technical characteristics were similar to those of Decabrist-type submarines with the exception of endurance surfaced (7-11 000 miles). In 1933, the fleets started being equipped with submarines of “Sch” type (“Schuka”/”Pike”), and by 1941 their number increased up to 84 units. The “Schukas” were built and commissioned in series: 1933 – series III (4 units); 1933-1934 – series V (12 units); 1934-1935 – V-bis – 1st series (14 units); 1935-1936 – V-bis-2nd series (13 units); 1936-1939 – series X (32 units) and 1941 – X-bis series (9 units). Their project was worked out by a design bureau headed by B.M. Malinin. Their performance characteristics were gradually changed from series to series in the direction of diesel engines capacity increase, endurance decrease and submerged speed increase. Their armament (four torpedo-tubes forward and two torpedo-tubes aft, two 45-mm guns) remained unchanged. The last series of “Sch”-type submarines was of 584/700 tons displacement; their major dimensions were 58,8 õ 6,4 õ 4,0 m; power installation capacity was 1600/800 h.p.; speed reached 14/8 knots and endurance of 4500/100 miles.

The most popular and widely-spread submarines in the Navy were those of “M” type –“Malyutka” series VI and VI-bis – which were built under the direct leadership of constructors A.N. Asafiev and P.I. Serdyuk.. Their construction started in 1934. In 1940, they were replaced by subs of “M” type (“Malaya” series XII and XV). The last subs of series XV were put into operation in 1944. In comparison with “malyutkas”, their displacement increased twice and reached 283/350 tons which helped to install four torpedo-tubes instead of two as it used to be on the submarines of the first series. Their power installation capacity was 920/960 h.p. while their speed was increased by 15.5./9 knots with endurance of 3000/85 miles.

UN blames Assad, Assad blames opposition for violence ahead of ceasefire

Thousands of people have taken into the streets of Damascus in a massive pro-government rally. Syrian President Assad, meanwhile, has sent a message to the UN blaming the opposition for the recent spate of violence ahead of the ceasefire deadline.

­In the message to the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and the president of the Security Council, Assad said that "terrorist acts" have increased in the past few days.

"The terrorist acts committed by the armed terrorist groups in Syria have increased during the last few days, particularly after reaching an understanding on Kofi Annan's plan," said the letter.

These armed groups, Assad wrote, have been  funded and armed by countries such as Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar and now they are interested only in violence, despite the April 10 ceasefire deadline.

Damascus is concerned that there is no indication from the opposition as to whether or not they are fully committed to the peace plan developed by UN-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan and and was agreed by Assad.

Meanwhile, thousands of Syrians have taken to the streets of Damascus on Saturday to commemorate the 65th anniversary of the creation of President Bashar al-Assad's ruling Baath party.

Supporters gathered in the central Sabaa Bahrat Square, waving the red, black and green national flag and portraits of Assad as patriotic music blared from loudspeakers, AFP reports.

People, all against international interference in Syria, are showing support for the reform program Assad promised to implement.

The rally comes as UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon accused Syrian authorities of not doing enough to show their commitment to Annan’s plan to stop the conflict. But Assad has denied these accusations, saying that for days now he has been withdrawing his tanks and troops from populated areas, just as the six-point peace plan requires.

At the same time there is a UN team in Damascus preparing the groundwork for next week’s ceasefire deadline. If the April 10 timeframe earlier adopted by the Syrian government is met, then all opposition fighters should stop their operations within 48 hours of the deadline – by 6 am local time on April 12.