Could the violent break up of Yugoslavia have been avoided?
What role did Western intervention play in the tragedy that consumed the multi-ethnic country?
Yugoslavia - The Avoidable War | Rat Koji Se Mogao Izbjeći - [2h45m]
George Bogdanich's documentary addresses these questions in a well-documented, powerful indictment of misguided intervention in the region. The film, which took four years to produce and was updated following Nato's intervention in Kosovo, investigates how serious errors and misjudgments made by Western powers -- particularly Germany and the United States -- helped spark the violent break up of the former Yugoslavia in 1991 and continue to destabilize the region.
'The Avoidable War' documents the role of Western intelligence agencies in providing aid to armed separatists and reveals how Western governments supported different sides in an ethnic conflict while portraying themselves as peacemakers. Most compelling are the candid statements of the decision-makers themselves, including former EC mediator Lord Peter Carrington, former US Secretaries of State James Baker and Lawrence Eagleburger, as well as Germany's former foreign minister, Hans-Dietrich Genscher.
'What the international community -- the Europeans, the Americans, the UN -- did, made sure that there was going to be a conflict', states Lord Carrington, who along with UN envoy Cyrus Vance warned against diplomatic recognition of separatists states such as Croatia and Bosnia, before a political settlement could be achieved. 'US intel agencies were unanimous in saying that if we recognize Bosnia it will blow up', says former State Department official George Kenney. Yet, according to former acting US secretary of State Lawrence Eagleburger, domestic political considerations -- the 1992 election campaign between Clinton and Bush -- led to the tragic decision to recognize Bosnia without a political settlement between Bosniaks, Serbs and Croats.
The film makes a powerful argument that the US drew the wrong lesson from the Bosnian conflict to justify intervention in the civil war that simmered in Kosovo. The manipulation of news coverage by the warring sides is explored in compelling footage and in interviews with veteran journalists such as David Binder of the NYT and John MacArthur, columnist and publisher of Harper's Magazine, as well as authors Susan Woodward and Ted Galen Carpenter. The documentary offers powerful evidence of US involvement in Operation 'Storm' (Oluja) the Croatian army's violent expulsion of the ethnic Serb minority in 1995, an action which offered an eerie parallel with the expulsion of Albanian refugees in Kosovo by Serbian forces following Nato intervention on the side of the Kosovo Liberation Army (UCK). Compelling, candid interviews from military officers including UN commanders Sir Michael Rose, Lewis MacKenzie and former Pentagon chief of staff General Colin Powell elucidate how Western policymakers blundered by taking sides and by relying on military means to settle political problems.
Co-producers of 'The Avoidable War' are George Bogdanich, New York based documentary film maker, and Martin Lettmayer, a German television producer based in Munich. An earlier version of the film, completed prior to the conclusion of Nato's intervention was named the 'Best social documentary' by the New York Int'l Independent Film and Video Festival in September of 1999. LA Weekly called the film 'truly accomplished', adding: 'The numerous strategic missteps by the West and the endless political double-speak are carefully detailed. The tragedy of the situation seems to multiply before your eyes as the film clearly proves that so much of the bloodshed could have easily been prevented'.