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Godišnjak Fakulteta bezbednosti
2019, iss. 1, pp. 35-50
article language: Serbian
document type: unclassified
published on: 01/04/2020
doi: 10.18485/fb_godisnjak.2019.2
Creative Commons License 4.0
The banality of power and the ideology of universalism: Reasons for, effects of and lessons drawn from NATO assault on Serbia in 1999
University of Belgrade, Faculty of Security Studies


Conflicts and Crises, Cooperation and Development in Serbia and in the Region during 19th and 20th century (MESTD - 47030)


NATO's political and - above all - military participation in secession-motivated conflicts in former Yugoslavia (1990-1995), will be remembered as a clear example of demonstration of power, intentions and (in)capability of the Victor in a decades-long global "cold war" between the "freedom-loving" West and "totalitarian East". Regardless of the expectations of liberal theoreticians and the majority of public opinion, it was soon revealed that the victory was no "triumph of freedom" and even less "the end of history". On the contrary, as historically typical, it was only an unstable resultant of relations between major actors in the modern global theater, who strive to legitimize their need for domination with varying success and vocabulary. Hence the lessons to be learned from the final act of destruction of Yugoslavia (several months of NATO bombing of Serbia in 1999) have the expected tone of banality: absolute might strives for absolute power (which remains unattainable in principle); "the mighty oppress" is true always and in any place (but with a time limit); and, finally, what everyone knows but does not (or is unable or refuses) to say aloud: the only true alternative to military threat and/or aggression of a single political actor is an equally valid (military) threat/aggression by another one. We are tempted to conclude that, despite the ideological ardor of NGO activists, the political correctness of theoreticians and the rhetorical figures of speech of politicians, the "banalities" remain valid as the only certainties, i.e., regularities in the unpredictable currents of relations between states.



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