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          • Year: 2004
          • Reform of the Army and Ideology

          • 27. march 2004. - Ljubodrag Stojadinović Ljubodrag Stojadinović, journalist of "Politika" daily

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          There were several attempts to redefine "ideological segment" in the Army of Yugoslavia in the 90’s, which mainly failed. Strong inertia of the party state secured its "long-lasting effect", regardless of the real or appearing changes. Dissolution of the SFRY marked the end of the Yugoslav People’s Army (JNA). During the dissolution, Army ceased to be "the guard of the brotherly community" and became the generator of the civil war. It provided the staff and arms for devastating conflicts within the creation of ethnic states in the Balkans. Instead of the one-party state’s ideology, the parts of the dissolved army secured their own moral stimulation through the affirmation of the specific chauvinistic ideology. The old axiological system was destroyed: mainly due to its virtual nature but also because of the violence caused by the "factors of JNA survival". In this change of values, those who coped the best were the people who accepted none of the values. Only the orientation marks and the cults were changed, but the principles remained the same.

          The elite of the JNA, which also determined the end of the Army, carried out their ideological utopia consistently and up to the nonsense. At first, it was persuading "the forces" and the society that - if nobody else does it - the Army would preserve socialism and the state. Such an illusion was not stopped at the first level of absurdness but was continued by establishing ultimately meaningless hypotheses. Hence, it is possible that the state is dissolved but the Army will survive regardless of this circumstance. The position of the military top would be beyond any doubts, even if the Army were dissolved - within the Union of Communist-Movement for Yugoslavia. This was the way the comedy could be performed to the end, regardless of the reality so it logically transformed into the cruel devastation of the state.

          Creation of the Army of Yugoslavia did not bring the necessary ideological catharsis or the necessary professional distance from the ruling political elites. Military top, used to obtain cults and honour suspicious leaders, denied quickly the communist dogma but accepted immediately the national myth as a replacement. This was an unproductive change but only a superficial one. Basically, such an army was based on two illusions: the first one, that it will serve as a support of the national state and the second one, that such a circumstance may bring the disconnection with the ideology in general.

          The relations towards a new plastic cult (Slobodan Milošević) brought about the devastating process within the Army of Yugoslavia. The military elites tried hard, sacrificing everything else, to be appreciated by Milošević because everything depended on him. Their national awakening was just a curtain, which was quickly painted by the old ideology in even worse package. The attitude demonstrated by the top generals toward the new leader was pathetically servile. The new, hedonistic-careerism oriented value system was formed but only at the top. The generals on the highest positions tried hard to be "the favourites" but they could never know for how long they will "survive". The model of personnel decisions based on discretion was a huge mystery for them since the policy of promotion and getting higher positions was carried out by a small oligarchic circle.

           

          Huge privileges given to the military elite made a poor compensation for the depressive position of " the force". Instead of investing in the army, its standard and better technological status, the military-political top rather counted on the relatively primitive security-political segment. The reality should have been fixed, if not in reality, then within ideological beliefs. Therefore, this was the great come back of agitprop, in which sectors for moral and security played (and still play) the key role.

          The attempt to "re-direct" the Sector for Moral into the inevitable informative, therefore a professional activity, according to the world trend in 1994, failed even in the phase of explaining this to the military top. The leading generals did not give up the model of behaviour they had learnt in the past. They believed the moral of an individual and moral power of the units were the job of a sector. Therefore, there should be an institution for the constant "distribution" of this quality from the top to a troop. It could also be held responsible if moral "failed".

          This is how the Moral Department survived and all those who tried to show its basic nature - were accused for "abolishing moral in the Army". Just before the NATO intervention, the Moral Department became - besides the special kinds of jobs carried out by the Security Department, the centre of the "patriot" agitprop. The persuasion and beliefs about non-existing things again became the replacement for reality. Such a system started using sanctions against all those who doubted efficiency of such an obscure model. Just before the very NATO attacks, during the attacks and after the Kumanovo Agreement had been signed, there was nobody who tried to make a pure military propaganda at least look logic. Everything became a pure lie, which was discovered because alternative information existed, but it was additionally stressed nevertheless.

          This phenomenon is best reflected in the immediate command relations between Milošević and General Pavković. This was almost ideal combination of the model of national myth, cult of personality and empty ideological retrospection. Milošević needed Pavković as an army leader for collision with the whole world. Pavković needed Milošević not only as "the command model" but also as a support in making extraordinary, explosive career.

          Possible findings on political, economic, military, technological and informative inferiority in comparison with the Alliance - all were denied by ideology. It was the replacement for everything that did not exist during the preparations for war. There is no doubt that Pavković, as a soldier of mediocre capacities still knew what was going on at the beginning of this dangerous adventure. But, the agitprop aggression, whose first protagonist he was, possessed even himself. Even to the range of blindness. Out of this relation, the absurd and certainly fatal  "Victory School" was created. The victory was declared under the circumstances of the worst defeat in the latest Serbian national history. Such a relation toward the reality is possible only during the renaissance of the obstinate ideological, oligarchic state.

          Here is only one part of the explanation General Pavković gave for the proposal that Milošević should be proclaimed a hero after the defeat in 1999: "The statesman wisdom and efficiency of the supreme commander, as well as the personal courage of the President Slobodan Milošević, under the circumstances which seemed to leave no way out, contributed to the homogenisation of all the resistance forces against the aggressor and to the finding of optimal solutions in their use, which places him among such statesmen and army leaders who are hard to be found in the recent world history!"

          These sentences were not intended for Stalin or Tito, but Pavković devoted them to Milošević. They are the indicator of the huge value forgery. The defeat, seen by everybody else, was not to be admitted. The incompetence, stubbornness and stupidity were to be denied persistently and those attributes should have been found to describe Milošević as above the common people and among the geniuses.

          Naturally, nobody believed this was true. Probably even Pavković did not believe it himself and certainly the members of the army could not believe. This was the violent ideology, with absurdness stressed by the interference of the security service.

          When the victory was elaborated and became historically unconvincing and worthless, Milošević should have been kept in power at any expense. The whole ideological-security sector got involved in the elections 2000, promoting inconsiderately Milošević as the only candidate, without whom everything that exists will certainly breakdown.

          This pressure was not effective in the units of the Army of Yugoslavia and Milošević was defeated anyway. Many things changed but not the sector from which "the opinion is being created" by ideological violence. All reform activities, which basically were only far away hypothetic projection, did not touch the Moral Department or the Security Service. Both services could exist only within the frame of the restauration ideas.

          Nobody mentions this idea in public but nobody denies it either. The story about the reforms is reduced to conceptual and technological aspects and to continental integrations but it does not include the change within the mentality of the huge and inert military organism. Ideological-security complex still has the clear characteristics of the original Stalinism. Undoubtedly, there is the whole list of the characteristics of the system, which are the basis for this claim, but two of them seem to be dominant. Those are, first of all, ideological and intelligence paranoia and xenophobia.

          "Conspiracy theory" is in the basis of the first characteristic, based on the idea of globally endangered Serbian nation. This is not possible, of course, without "internal forces", which is the enemy easiest to be reached but the most difficult to be discovered. The security service has based its whole activity on the investigation of "internal enemies", becoming the cancerous tissue of the system as the time went by.

          The Security Service persistently developed the fear of foreign people. In such a relation, the inferiority complex before the foreign citizens was cherished, since those foreigners, dealing with intelligence, were allegedly always capable of squeezing out information from "our man" if he is not cautious enough. It is interesting that this problem has not been solved even during the preparation phase for entering Partnership for Peace. Simply, ideological-intelligence barrier is stronger that the state imperatives.

          Military conservatism and conformity help keeping the conditions stay the same. It is more comfortable when nothing is changed although the preserved state will lead to the dissolution. The attempt of creating the National Security Strategy failed exactly due to the reasons listed here. It will be extraordinary difficult to reform the ideological sector and to do that in the way that liberate the army from ideology. The society did not have enough courage to start the redefinition of one of its parts, which will accept even to disappear rather than to be changed.

          At the army level there are no ideas about the necessary changes, which would be good enough. On the contrary, the belief that the army cannot and should not change so quickly in its centre of thought and awareness of the external dangers, keeps the whole system in the state of hibernation. It keeps the system closed for any intervention and it feels interventions as unnecessary penetration to the sphere, which has not been the society’s concern for a long time. This could mean the ideological-security segment cannot be reformed or changed according to so far cosmetic attempts. This is a huge job for a qualified team, which would first define the relation between what exists at the moment and what is wanted. The job, which is not so simple but is not beyond one’s reach. First of all, basic reform illusions should be dispelled.

        • Tags: reform, military, military reform, ideology, Yugoslavia, SFRY, jna, conflict, Balkan
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