Psychological Operations and Information Warfare Against Croatia and Croats – PART I

 

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Guest Post
By Ante Horvat

While much has been written about the various phases and techniques about the endless information war being waged against Croatia and Croats – the most seminal works being from Admiral Davor Domazet Loso, Dr. Miroslav Tudjman, and the late and extremely great Dr. Jerry Blaskovich and Michael McAdams, with Dr. Philip J. Cohen receiving a highly honorable mention – there are many aspects of this topic that still need more intensive examination, most importantly, the post-war to ongoing operations against Croatia and Croats.

Propaganda – the backbone of psychological operations and information warfare – itself has several definitions, the most applicable to Croatia’s case is information, ideas, or rumors deliberately spread widely to help or harm a person, group, movement institution, nation, etc.

While examples of negative anti-Croat propaganda date back even to the Thirty Years War, the first (and still ongoing) anti-Croat propaganda campaign originates from the racist and imperialist Nacertanije (Outline) by Ilija Garasanin, Serbia’s then Interior Minister, which made the creation of Greater Serbia state policy.

This policy was supported by the continuation of propaganda against Croatia and Croats for the following century and a half in official, civic, academic, media and diaspora publications, statements, and media in Serbia and amongst Serb communities outside of it, as well as by sympathetic governments, academic, politicians, political movements and media professionals in Europe and across the globe – to and include in and from Croatia. The role of foreign actors in this psychological war and information war is entrenched in geopolitical interests of outside actors in shaping coverage inside and outside of Croatia and the wider region, and the world regarding information on Croatia.

The revelations regarding the Serbian Academy of Arts and Science’s (SANU) Memorandum II, in addition to Serbia’s obscene, revisionist counter-suit at the International Court of Justice is a clinical case study example of ongoing anti-Croat propaganda – and a compilation of the state-academia-media-Church-judiciary inculcation of Serbian neurotic and psychotic syndromes as a peacetime (and wartime) long-term strategy.

In addition to grasping Croatia’s long history, the key to understanding – and debunking – anti-Croat propaganda is the understanding techniques of its utilization in print, radio, TV, film and online texts.

To do so, one must familiarize themselves with logical fallacies, as they are the foundation of and method for propaganda dissemination; the reason is that every government since 2000 in Croatia has shown themselves to be unwilling to challenge the psychological and information warfare campaign against Croatia and Croats.

The Five Phases of Information Warfare Against Croatia and Croats

There were five major phases of the information war against Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina (B&H) Croats: from Nacertanije to the so-called Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes (or “Yugoslav” kingdom), the SCS / “Yugoslav” kingdom phase, WWII, Communist Yugoslavia phase, the Homeland War phase, and post-Homeland War phase, which is ongoing.

The first phase focused on mobilizing all pillars of Serbia’s statehood and the general Serbian population to support such an endeavor, while mobilizing international support at the diplomatic and political playing fields, to do so. Croats were, according to the greater Serbian narrative, not a state-building people if they could even be considered Croats and not “Catholic Serbs.” The fact that Croats fought for the Austro-Hungarians in WWI meant that they needed to be punished (that Serbs West of the Drina also fought for Austria Hungary as they were mobilized along with their Croat and other non-Serb neighbors, was ignored). The creation of the first “Yugoslavia” was the fruit of their endeavor.

To ensure Serbian supremacy and to see through the military and cultural imperialism (subsidized by land, bank, business and factory seizures in Croatia, as well as the economically devastating farcial Crown to Dinar exchange rate, all enforced through Serbian state-sponsored terrorism), the Karadjordjevic regime saw to it to sack journalists and editors who would not tout the Yugoslav (code for Serbian) line – culminating with the banning of what little was left of any free press with the declaration of the ‘royal’ dictatorship in 1929. With no free media inside of Yugoslavia, that meant that there was no, or very little, critical coverage of greater Serbian imperialism outside of Yugoslavia that could lead to any change in state or international policies towards it.

Croats should have been, according to the Belgrade narrative, happy that they were with fellow Southern Slavs and never forget their siding with the “Huns.” Those who weren’t happy were separatists and terrorists.

Following the German invasion (and the Army of Yugoslavia, Serbian Gendarme and Chetnik massacres that preceded, coincided with, and followed the German invasion, which lasted until the end of WWII) Croatia found itself on the side of the Axis, as no Western democratic power offered Croats any independence outside of a “Yugoslav” framework.

By ending up in the Axis camp, Croatia found itself in a information vacuum – one controlled by the exiled Serbian regime through its network of diplomats and agents in the West, in particular the UK and US, engaged in a frenzied (many times, beyond science fiction) propaganda campaign against Croatia and Croats (until war’s end). This was coupled with the role of some within the international left, including the massive web of Soviet agents and or sympathizers, particularly in the West in academia and media, who continued the negative framing of anything and everything Croatian as being for a free Croatia meant that one was against any Yugoslavia, in particular, Tito’s Communist Yugoslavia.

WWII’s end did not change the situation. Anything and everything Croat was equated with the Ustasha regime and its crimes (both real, exaggerated and entirely imagined) inside and outside of Tito’s Yugoslavia, which the post-WWII international order was pleased with – especially after the Tito-Stalin rift and the creation of the Non-Aligned Movement. Bleiburg massacre was repressed, and the repressions of the Communists were covered as if a necessary matter-of-fact issue necessitated by security. Yugoslavia was multiethnic and the Communism there was allegedly “softer” than in the USSR and Eastern Bloc, so it wasn’t all that bad and should have been left to go on according to the media and diplomatic master narrative of Western democracies.

The simple truth is that Croatia was not viewed as anything important enough to defend, even rhetorically, by the West during the Cold War due to geopolitical realities. Croats were yet again conspiratorial separatists if not genocidal Ustasha maniacs hell bent on exterminating all Serbs if they raised their voice – and not what they really were: people who wanted a free, democratic nation as promised by Wilson’s Fourteen Points, simply opposed to a criminal one-party Communist dictatorship that systematically repressed and robbed them in a dystopian police state. This of course, was not only the narrative reserved for Croats within Tito’s fantasy state, but also for those living and residing in the West.

 

Next Post: Psychological Operations and Information Warfare Against Croatia and Croats – PART II

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About the author: Ante Horvat was born in the USA in 1970’s. He has recently moved to live permanently in Croatia and although spending most of his life in the USA he had made several temporary residence visits to Croatia during that time. His education and professional development in history and international relations also spans across the two continents. He is an active observer of and participant in the development of democracy in Croatia since the early 1990’s and its correlation with the developed Western democracies.

Comments

  1. Michael Silovic says:

    Ina thanks for sharing the article. It is with joy that I read such truths finally and it helps to lift a heavy heart in all of those who suffered for generations because of the falsehoods presented.This is an excellent read and Part 2 I hope not only touches on Serb propaganda but the propaganda that all countries perpetrated against Croatia not only back then but in recent history.Many countries pretend to be freinds now with Croatia but not long ago they would have been happy to see us all eliminated…. ~Za Dom Spremni~

    • Slowly but surely, Michael, truth must come out. Let’s hope that any pretense of friendships will cease to be a pretense and true friendships can solidify despite the past.

  2. Propaganda, the evil that closes minds. And, unfortunately you spoke the sad bottom line, if it isn’t important enough to defend for political, economical, and geographical advantage then nothing gets done. What about human beings? Your pieces are so thoughtful and well written.

    • Very important issues thwart progress in healing, The Persecution of Mildred Dunlap, and defending one self can sap one of energy – this is true for a nation as much as it’s true for an individual. Seeing the facets of anti-propaganda is so important particularly for a relatively young democracy trying to find its rightful place among nations of the progressive world such as Croatia is. Thank you for your feedback. Knowledge empowers us all and builds courage to be better.

  3. Excellent article…looking forward to the rest of the article. Serbia is not in denial. It has consciously chosen a path to Greater Serbia based on the end justify the means under any circumstance. Croatian politicians need to wake up and realize the real threat of Serbia – overt and covert. Here’s a link to an excellent article about the Genocide trial and how stupid our politicians have been in pursuing ‘reconciliation’ with Serbia. It is not Croatia that needs to seek reconciliation, but Serbia. It’s like a rape a victim begging for reconciliation from the rapist…is this not perverse or immoral? So too Croatian politics has been perverse and immoral against its people in seeking reconciliation from Serbia. Here’s the link:

    http://www.dnevno.hr/vijesti/hrvatska/119013-srpska-samarcina-josipovicu-nema-pomirenja.html

    • Yes it would seem, Sunman, that any good will towards reconciliation from Croatia has been abused by Serbia in the past decade or so. Undoubtedly the reason behind it is Serbia’s difficulty in accepting its guilt and looking at what it presented at the ICJ hearing on genocide, regretfully, things do not look any better – and it does seem Serbia will never look into the mirror to see itself.

  4. an interesting look at how propaganda is mobilized from the ground up

    • AS everything humans come up with it’s built up from the ground, just as plants rise up from the roots, psychologistmimi – as you well know from your profession. The most important thing is to have a clear mind and see those roots in order to deal with the issues and help the future along.

  5. Barton Range says:

    During the 1960s and 1970s, according to the classic and most respected book entitled, ‘Trial by Slander’ (Les Shaw, 1973) Croats in Australia had a “public image worse than halitosis”. Propaganda techniques used against Croats far exceeded name-calling used against any other ‘stateless’ group in the world. Name-calling, lying, association with disapproved ideas, use of generalities, quotations out of context, selective omission, stereotyping and simplification, stalling and repetition techniques, together with negative graphic images have nurtured an anti-Croatian atmosphere in the West.

    • The tools may have changed by “serial numbers” sine those days, Barton Range, but the propaganda is as anti as ever. Ways of beating it at least to a tolerable level if not fully, emerge … we thank the modern era of the internet and especially the Social media for that has no “master” when done properly, lawfully, truthfully…

  6. Wilkinson says:

    Official propaganda campaigns were certainly ‘deliberate and systematic’ and thank you for sharing this very important focus on that anti-Croat propaganda. The desired intent of all this has been and it undoubtedly is international acceptance or at least perception that Serbs were and are victims and thus everything they did, including genocide, may be seen as legitimate. The latest example of such intents by Serbia is clearly visible in the genocide case at ICJ currently afoot!

    • Deliberate and systematic are the operative words, Wilkinson – the intent also stays constant but the fightback changes, only resolve is needed. And yes, the current ICJ case and Serbia’s stance is humanly pathetic, evil in nature

  7. Miso Sorbel says:

    Sadly, the Croatian political leadership will not delve into these matters with any seriousness probably because they still haven’t grieved away the communist Yugoslavia. If they only spent a couple of months, exposed themselves to what the Croat diaspora have been exposed with in countries they lived in, in languages other than Croatian they spoke … they would know how very important for the health of the Croatian nation it is to wash away with the truth the filth that has been piled up against Croatia and Croats.

    • I agree with you, Miso Sorbel. I also believe that the leaders there will never do that: go and see, because many of their political mates of the past and present participated in the propaganda.

  8. Reblogged this on idealisticrebel and commented:
    Opening up the mind and seeing truth.

  9. Hi, I see the classic “divide and conquer” happening again. It’s one way of controlling the masses for a larger agenda. What we see is puppets for a higher order. I mean, there was in my time although there must be a lot more in all of history…Ireland, South America, Africa, India/Pakistan, Yugoslavia, 911, Middle East et al..the list goes on and on. To me it’s futile to look at the politicians as they are merely puppets. To me, it’s never about anything but money, power and control. There are no morals or ethics. War is the most profitable, next to oil and drugs. The Elite number in the thousands only and to my mind of thinking will be revealed, but at a cost. http://amaezed.wordpress.com/the-jesuits/

    • True, Amaezed – pity it sweeps so many victims along its path and while it all may never stop for power is addictive, so too the victims share a greater power at the end of the long road: justice, or as you put it “revelation”. Cheers!

  10. You must know that I am a huge fan of your work, I enjoy every post, I do not always have time to comment but know that I am a big fan. Ann

  11. These ongoing political issues in Croatia are often difficult for me to grasp. There are so many elements concerned. Your posts help to clarify the situation but I still feel rather confused when I read some of your posts simply because there are lots of players. However, I found this post much more accessible because propaganda is universal and destructive and most importantly, I think, so sad that a few people in power can direct a mass of people towards hatred.

    • Yes Carol I can imagine and thank you for your visits. I try and pick an issue that affects many people and people in other countries could relate to. I think that many issues that go on in Croatia as a country transitioning from communism is particularly important

  12. I have nominated you for the Wonderful Team Readership Award- http://fozzyfitness.wordpress.com/2014/04/03/wonderful-team-member-readership-award/
    You don’t have to accept this award just pass and know that the nomination was a mark of respect for your support and friendship

  13. I read the series backwards.. I truly did however enjoy reading these articles and even more I enjoy your love and passion for the truth and making such a positive presence felt in such a negative situation. You are quite amazing and thank you for being you! I am quite humbled and honored to know and have such a beautiful friend! :) With love and admiration thank you, Joe

  14. The truth will set you free !

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