In Dayton, Ohio each year there is a celebration commemorating  the signing of the Dayton Peace Accords which ended the war in Bosnia, one of 6 republics of Yugoslavia. That  U.S.- brokered agreement has been praised because it stopped the killing in Bosnia. While that is true, less well known but vastly more important, is the fact that the U.S. was mainly responsible for starting that war. This connection is somewhat analogous to destroying Iraq and then seeking praise for plans to rebuild it.  The word “Dayton” is now ensconced in the annals of U.S. imperialism.

Outside military intervention in Bosnia started in 1992 when NATO, controlled by the U.S., sent a group of about 100 personnel to Bosnia to establish a military headquarters. A NATO diplomat at that time let the cat out of the bag about the real reason for that action when he said that this operation was “a very cautious first step and we are definitely not making much noise about it.  But it could be the start of something bigger…you could argue that NATO now has a foot in the door.”  

An even blunter statement was made by Ret. U.S. Army Gen. Williams E. Odom, the head of the U.S. government’s largest spy agency – the National Security Agency - who said that the occupation of Bosnia was part of a plan for military and political domination of Europe and the former Soviet Union through NATO. He said nothing about a humanitarian war to stop a conflict between ethnic and religious groups. 

General John Shalikashvili, chair of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, met with Bosnian military leaders and the Pentagon sent Special Forces to train the Bosnian military. Also, the U.S. actively participated in the war during 1992-95 as the guiding component of NATO, increasingly using air power against Bosnian and Croatian Serbs as well as against anti-Izetbegovic Muslim forces.       

The media in Britain, France, Germany and Italy reported U.S. involvement in Bosnia including that of the CIA. Units of both the Croatian and Bosnian armies were reportedly trained in the U.S. and within that region. U.S. forces based in Bosnia provided assistance in building airstrips and organizing large weapons shipments through Croatia to the Bosnian forces.        

U.S. General Charles Boyd said that our government was insuring a regular flow of arms to the Bosnian Army.  This included U.S. military uniforms  provided by American military contractors.  There was also a UN blockade and by 1996 74,000 ships had been halted by the U.S. Sixth Fleet.

The U.S. showed that it wanted the war to continue by refusing to accept two peace plans which were reportedly similar to the one later adopted at Dayton. Many lives might have been saved if one of them had been adopted. 

For many years the various groups in Yugoslavia had lived in harmony, despite their differences. So why did Yugoslavia fall apart, and in particular, what caused the war in Bosnia?   U.S. intervention was part of the answer and the recent history of Yugoslavia provides the rest of the solution to this enigma.

For two decades prior to 1980 Yugoslavia was prospering with an annual GDP growth rate averaging 6.1 percent. Medical care was free, the literacy rate was about 91 percent and life expectancy was 72 years. 

In 1980 Yugoslavia began to get into debt to international creditors and to repay these obligations it agreed periodically to debt restructuring agreements with the International Monetary Fund (IMF), which increased its debt even more. 

In 1989 Yugoslavia, in order to pay off these loans, launched a program of privatizing or shutting down state industries, cutting back on social programs and subsidies and freezing wages.  In 1990 Congress cut off all aid, credits and loans from the U.S. to Yugoslavia. Shortly thereafter the CIA predicted that Yugoslavia would disintegrate into civil war, possibly within the next year. Unemployment at this point was over a million and inflation was 200 percent.

Industrial production declined to a negative 10 percent growth rate by 1990. The standard of living declined 18.1 percent between January and October 1990.  This downturn raised unemployment to 20 percent and thus increased tensions between and within the republics.                     

By October 1993 medical care had deteriorated and the effects were devastating.  90 percent of the country’s domestic drug production stopped.  The average daily intake of calories had fallen by 28 percent compared to 1990 and 1.5 million people were undernourished.

The death rate in the capital, Belgrade, increased from 79 to 977 per 100,000 in the same period.  Two months later over 60 percent of the country’s work force was unemployed and the average monthly income had dropped from $500 to $15.   

These pressures by the U.S. were the primary factors leading to the civil wars in Yugoslavia and in Bosnia. For more details consult: