Pierre-Marie Gallois on the Origins of and Responsibility for the Yugoslav Wars (1990-99)

Pierre-Marie Gallois (1911-2010) was one of the key figures in France’s decision to develop a nuclear arsenal. He was a veteran pilot of WWII, based in the UK, who reluctantly bombed his own country during the German occupation. Having known the horrors of that war, he became enthusiastic about the potential of nuclear arsenals to become peacemakers—guarantors of sovereignty and deterrence. Because of what I have written before about the savage injustices and environmental crimes that were perpetrated during nuclear testing, one might think I should put Mr. Gallois in my column of bad guys and never lend any support to any views he held. This personalization of policy debates, and of discussion of history and international relations is especially pronounced at this time when Donald Trump is president. People seem to be utterly incapable of evaluating policies on their individual merits and not on who supports them. Trump’s economic, social and environmental policies are 99% contradictory and disastrous, yet this doesn’t mean that he cannot occasionally be right about something, or that he cannot occasionally prevent some horrible situation from getting worse. Considering the massive damage done to US-Russia relations by previous American presidents and government institutions, I give reluctant praise to Trump for having a face-to-face dialog with the only other head of state who has command of 7,000 nuclear warheads. It would be nice if someone else were president doing a better job on this and other issues, but he is the only US president at this time. There is no one else. The arsenals of the US and Russia pose a unique threat to the planet which overrides other concerns about espionage (which both sides conduct on each other), oil and gas sales, and spheres of influence in bordering nations.

In a similar way, I look at Mr. Gallois’ views on their individual merits, and I have some understanding of what motivated him to have so much faith in nuclear deterrence. I have no problem supporting the views expressed by Mr. Gallois in the transcript that follows. I think the French nucléocrats like him made a grave error in placing so much faith in nuclear deterrence, with complete neglect of how they were damaging French soldiers at the test sites, and the land and people of French Polynesia and Algeria. 

On the other hand, in this transcript Mr. Gallois expresses a sincere commitment to peace and the principles enshrined in the UN Charter and the Helsinki accords. He decries the violation of these principles in the efforts of Germany, the United States, France and the UK to redraw the borders of Europe in the 1990s. The purported reason for the breakup--that Yugoslavia was too big and too multi-ethnic to be viable--made no sense. The resulting smaller states would be just as multi-ethnic and possibly more non-viable. Mr. Gallois concluded, “Westerners performed absolutely unethically, with a duplicity that shocked me, as it came from the purported creators of human rights—France, the UK, and to some extent Germany. Nevertheless, old demons, particularly German ones, re-emerged and created the existing chaos in these lands, whether it is Bosnia, Republika Srpska or Kosovo.”

Old warriors like Mr. Gallois were cast as fringe nationalist extremists as neoliberal interventionism rose to supremacy. The word “nationalism” has been successfully demonized now as only a refuge for those with fascist tendencies. Apparently, the concept of nation has no positive value anymore as an entity that gives people a defined group within which they have agency, rights and obligations. Mr. Gallois was just an old fool, apparently, for clinging to his concept of national sovereignty and fixed borders. His sort of nationalism was branded as fascistic at the very moment Germany was reviving its WWII Nazi ally, Croatia, with the disastrous consequences he describes below.[1] Simultaneously, the Western Allies of WWII were demonizing Serbs, their former allies who had sacrificed so much toward the Nazi defeat. One could almost say that the last chapter of WII wasn’t written in 1945 but later in 1999 when Germany got the last word, so to speak.       

Pierre-Marie Gallois’ Remarks at the 10th anniversary of the NATO attack on Serbia
Paris, February 2009
Translation of the speech found at these links (in French only):

Notes on the translation: This is a revised version of an English translation that can be found on other Youtube channels. That translation contains some errors and awkward wordings. Readers can judge for themselves whether this version is more comprehensible. Notes were added by the translator to lend support to the views expressed by Mr. Gallois.
Today we meet over a very unfortunate anniversary, to “celebrate” (a badly chosen word) a very sad anniversary. It has been ten years since 1999 when Western democracies led by Germany, the United Kingdom, the United States and France bombed what remained of Yugoslavia, with complete disdain for international law and the Helsinki Accords.[2] They broke UN rules on intervention across borders without UN Security Council agreement, and went to war without consulting their own parliaments. In short, this was a series of violations of international law, and it is a black mark on the morality of these Western countries which behaved like autocracies, and even surpassed what autocracies have done.
It should be noted that the dismemberment of Yugoslavia was an operation planned by Germany far in advance. This was not merely about anticipating President Tito’s departure in 1980; it was also necessary to prepare for the period afterwards by dislocating the territories that Germany did not want to see as composed of various ethnicities and religions, which they were in fact. Of course, Germany was very eager to get support for their plan to provoke territorial secession.

It so happened that I was indirectly involved in these talks in 1976-77 because I was attending meetings held by Franz Josef Strauss, who was German Minister of Defense and later Minister of Finance. These meetings took place over two or three days on a farm close to Munich. About a dozen people attended and they were held to have general discussions about world affairs. Brian Crozier from the UK was there. There was a former minister from Spain, Sanchez Bella, a representative from the Vatican, Paul Violet, who was a lawyer, and I was the French representative. We spoke about everything and nothing for two days, and I still remember well the discussion we had in which my German friends regarded the state of Yugoslavia as extinguished. They thought that a re-organization of the territory should be prepared after Tito’s death.
In my opinion, the reasons the Germans—who are otherwise very good at geopolitics—thought this way, and were very concerned about this mater, were as follows:
First was a desire to avenge themselves against Serbians, who had fought on the side of the Allies in WWI and WWII. In1941, Serbs, initially led by Mihailovic and then Tito, managed to hold off numerous German divisions, which would have been used for the Moscow front and then later in Stalingrad. So, Berlin (at the time it was Bonn), thought that the Serbian resistance had contributed to their defeat in the world wars. These people were to be punished.
Second, the other German idea was to reward the Croats and Bosnian Muslims who had joined Germany and occupied certain parts of France during the war. They wanted to thank them because they had chosen the German side. Thus they wanted to favor the Croats and Bosnian Muslims.

Third, Germany wanted Slovenia and Croatia to enter the economic sphere of the EU, which, at the time, was presided over by Germany. In this way, it would be possible for Germany to further its interests and gain access to the Dalmatian coast and the Mediterranean.
In addition to these reasons, there was a German conviction that the United States would join in an intervention because of the importance of the region to NATO. In military terms, it was a well-planned campaign.
In my opinion, these were the motives which caused Germany to play this role.
It was also necessary to bring the United States and France on board. At that time, Mr. Kohl had a certain influence over Mitterrand who was in poor health and preoccupied with other problems. In February 1994, along with his Foreign Minister Juppe, he joined the German military coalition on behalf of the Croat-Muslim federation. The purpose of this federation was to expel Serbs from the territory they had inhabited for centuries, and to reduce their territory in Bosnia from 64% to less than 40%. I’ll comment on the accompanying powerful propaganda campaign a bit later.
It was this famous French démarche which followed the German one. The US intervention followed. The US initially hesitated, suspicious of what the future landscape would be. There were doubts because of what had happened between 1939 and 1945—specifically the resistance of Serbian people under German occupation. They hesitated to join this very delicate and difficult adventure. Above all, they relied on Saudi and Iraqi oil, but the Germans and French had more reason to worry about oil transit routes through Belgrade and the Danube, and through what is called Corridor 8 from the Caspian Sea to Albania. These concerns were remote to the Americans and they were not interested. But finally, under German pressure, they recognized that there was a common interest.
This was, first of all, to prove to Europeans that they are not capable of acting on their own. If the US kept out of it, there would be chaos, disorder, and war, then they would have to get involved. Such display of force would demonstrate to the world the necessity of NATO, and it would do a little more to humiliate Russia, which at the time was being led by Yeltsin and the free-market wizards from Harvard who were trying to implant market economies in countries where people were accustomed to planned economies. Another factor was that it was a way of testing Slavic solidarity.
They also had the idea of occupying the territory, thus the US base Camp Bondsteel was established in Kosovo. This was at the junction of Corridor 8 which would someday be transporting oil from the Caspian Sea to the Adriatic.
For these diverse reasons, the Americans got interested and they completely took charge of operations over other troops—German, British, Italian, and French. They were all placed under the command of the American Mediterranean Fleet. This whole operation was of huge significance to them because it essentially set the precedent for future operations in Iraq.
Balkan operations were conducted in the following manner:
First was the intensity of the disinformation campaign, which told utter lies in a way that established certain people as victims in the public mind. This created public consent for future aggression. To get this, it was necessary to invent all sorts of lies. This is why it was necessary to fabricate Serbian crimes. The most well-known was the alleged rape of 40,000 women. American experts on the Balkans later changed this figure to 4,000 women, and later it turned into 40, and these 40 probably turned into 4 after the investigation was underway. The fabrications were so numerous—the bomb explosions on Vasa Miskin St., the Markale Market massacre which was blamed on Serbs, even though Muslims were targeting their own in order to cast blame on Serbs.

A myth was also concocted about the Serbian army invading Sarajevo, getting ready for its imminent destruction. So it was said that it was absolutely necessary to prevent Sarajevo from being occupied and demolished by Serbs. All this was a lie, and I was personally one of the witnesses. I went there. I was received by the mayor of the Serbian part of the city and I joined him for lunch. The city was split in two, a Serbian zone and a Bosnian Muslim zone. There was no siege, no encirclement of the city. That was a pure lie which people have believed ever since it was created.
Then there was Racak, claiming that Serbs committed a massacre. Again, it was not true, but it served marvelously as a pretext for launching the bombing campaign against this country and its civilian population. NATO used depleted uranium without taking into account the fatal consequences.[3] These people were sacrificed, martyred.
This entire scheme was conducted in stages. First of all, there was extreme abuse of the nation accused of crimes. Second, destruction of economic resources in order to break the spirit of resistance, which eventually was achieved. Third, bomb the economically important infrastructure so that the country would have a hard time reconstituting itself later on. Fourth, conduct a full-scale occupation as laid out in the Rambouillet Accord, and, once there, profit from the misery the people were plunged into. The occupation would finish by leaving in place politicians aligned with the aggressor’s cause. These four stages were conducted in this order, industriously, and intelligently, and the same plan was carried out in Iraq.
It is fair to say that the Balkans were an American strategic lesson for Iraq. As we all know, Iraq was bombed as well. As we all know, it involved torture, excesses, prisons and maltreatment—everything that was learned from what could be called the Balkan experiment.[4]
This was all done for the benefit of Western powers, which in both cases behaved autocratically. They decided to save one by oppressing the other.
These were operations that deeply shocked me because it was based on creating a public mentality that could absorb all this disinformation. It was very disturbing because it paved the way for future abuses of any kind.
So today we reflect upon a tragic decade when Europeans demonstrated their willingness to kill each other, partly incited by this broad initiative by Germany, which had only recently been unified in 1990 and 1991, after the collapse of the Soviet Union. This country found no other options but to commence this famous war.
In any case, in 1999, following the Dayton Accord, and after Mr. Milosevic refused the Appendix B, which called for NATO occupation—an occupation for an undetermined period, during which Serbia would have to hand over to the occupier all its facilities—airports, roads, railways, everything, free of charge. This was refused, and this Rambouillet charade ended up in bombardment.
It was an unfortunate epoch, an unfortunate period. Today we reflect upon it with great sorrow because the Western world demonstrated its capability for utter perversion in order to go along with a German obsession to overcome the humiliations of the Treaties of Versailles and Trianon. This required the breakup of Yugoslavia and then Czechoslovakia, which is exactly what happened, in order for Germany to erase from the map the territorial and political organization created by the Allied victory. They did it in such a way that nothing remains of it.
And France certainly joined in this, allowing Mr. Kohl to say that the Dayton Accord and everything that ensued was a great victory for Germany. Mr. Mitterand should have added, if he had understood the significance, that this was thus a great defeat for France. It was a defeat for Yugoslavia. The grave mistake of the dismemberment of Yugoslavia—a country born from its many military victories, massacred victims and sacrifices—was achieved with lies and operations that should have never, by any means, taken place.
In this case, Westerners performed absolutely unethically, with a duplicity that shocked me, as it came from the purported creators of human rights—France, the UK, and to some extent Germany. Nevertheless, old demons, particularly German ones, re-emerged and created the existing chaos in these lands, whether it is Bosnia, Republika Srpska or Kosovo. In Kosovo, of course, the very heart of Serbia, in a very short time Muslims destroyed dozens and dozens of religious art masterpieces of Serbian people, which basically amounts to an attack on Serbian people. In the same way, French people would feel attacked by the destruction of the castles in the Loire Valley.
Thus it is a very sad period that we are living through. I’m not sure how we’re going to pull through it morally. In any case, we have proven our deceitfulness, to our great dishonor. 
About Pierre-Marie Gallois: Obituary in The Telegraph, October 4, 2010

Other supporting sources for the views expressed by Pierre-Marie Gallois:

1. Sean Gervasi, “Why Is NATO In Yugoslavia?Global Research, January 1996, published at the link indicated in September 2001.
2. See also video from 1993: Interview with Sean Gervasi on the topic of Germany’s plans for Yugoslavia, Conversations with Harold Hudson Channer, (Public Access Television, New York City) March 11, 1993.

Excerpt from the article “Why Is NATO In Yugoslavia?:

Two Western powers, the United States and Germany, deliberately contrived to destabilize and then dismantle the country. The process was in full swing in the 1980s and accelerated as the present decade [1990s] began. These powers carefully planned, prepared and assisted the secessions which broke Yugoslavia apart. And they did almost everything in their power to expand and prolong the civil wars which began in Croatia and then continued in Bosnia-Herzegovina. They were involved behind the scenes at every stage of the crisis. Foreign intervention was designed to create precisely the conflicts which the Western powers decried. For they also conveniently served as an excuse for overt intervention once civil wars were under way. Such ideas are, of course, anathema in Western countries. That is only because the public in the West has been systematically misinformed by war propaganda. It accepted almost from the beginning the version of events promulgated by governments and disseminated through the mass media. It is nonetheless true that Germany and the US were the principal agents in dismantling Yugoslavia and sowing chaos there.

This is an ugly fact in the new age of realpolitik and geo-political struggles which has succeeded the Cold War order. Intelligence sources have begun recently to allude to this reality in a surprisingly open manner. In the summer of 1995, for instance, Intelligence Digest, a respected newsletter published in Great Britain, reported that:

The original US-German design for the former Yugoslavia [included] an independent Muslim-Croat dominated Bosnia-Herzegovina in alliance with an independent Croatia and alongside a greatly weakened Serbia.*

Every senior official in most Western governments knows this description to be absolutely accurate. And this means, of course, that the standard descriptions of “Serbian aggression” as the root cause of the problem, the descriptions of Croatia as a “new democracy”, etc. are not just untrue but actually designed to deceive.

* “Changing Nature of NATO,” Intelligence Digest, October 16, 1992.

Noam Chomsky interviewed by Danilo Mandic, RTS (Radio Televizija Srbije) Online, April 25, 2006
(36-minute video, transcript here)


Actually, we have for the first time a very authoritative comment… from the highest level of the Clinton administration… This is from Strobe Talbott who was in charge of the Pentagon/State Department intelligence Joint Committee on the diplomacy during the whole affair including the bombing... He just wrote the forward to a book [Collision Course: NATO, Russia and Kosovo, published in 2005] by his Director of Communications, John Norris, and in the forward he says if you really want to understand what the thinking was of the top of Clinton administration this is the book you should read… what he says is that the real purpose of the war had nothing to do with concern for Kosovar Albanians. It was because Serbia was not carrying out the required social and economic reforms, meaning it was the last corner of Europe which had not subordinated itself to the US-run neoliberal programs, so therefore it had to be eliminated. That’s from the highest level. Again, we could have guessed it, but I’ve never seen it said before.

5. German-Foreign-Policy.com, July 11, 2018


Croatian nationalism achieved a breakthrough in the early 1990s, when the Croatian nationalists—again with decisive German support—were able to secede from the Yugoslav Federation. Franjo Tudjman was the politician at the helm of the new nation, who, in 1989, had euphemized the Jasenovac death camp as an “assembly and labor camp.” In Jasenovac Serbs, Jews and Romani had been murdered. At the same time Tudjman extolled the Ustaša state as having been “the expression’ of the Croatian people’s aspiration for self-determination and sovereignty.” In Croatia’s secessionist war—which Germany supported politically, practically and militarily—the nationalist, ultra-rightwing positions prevailed on a broad front. “Front-line soldiers and combat volunteers” greeted each other with the Ustaša salute ‘Za dom Spremni” and sang Ustaša songs, wrote the journalist Gregor Mayer. The Catholic church—very influential in Croatia—also glorified the Ustaša. Under Tudjman’s leadership, “streets and squares were renamed at a frenetic pace,” often named after Ustaša personalities, such as “Nazi ideologue, Mile Budak.” “Ustaša functionaries seeped back from exile into the state apparatus and the educational system.” Mayer considers that Tudjman has rendered “a historical and social conception ‘palatable’,” wherein “radical right-wingers and neo-Nazis can still be referred to.” [See the whole article at the link above for the sources of these quotes].


[1] Michael Freund, “Croatia’s Neo-Fascist Revival,” Jerusalem Post, May 24, 2018.

[2] See Britannica.com: “The agreement [of August 1975] recognized the inviolability of the post-World War II frontiers in Europe and pledged the 35 signatory nations to respect human rights and fundamental freedoms and to cooperate in economic, scientific, humanitarian, and other areas. The Helsinki Accords are nonbinding and do not have treaty status.”

[3] Gorazd Velkovski, “Lawsuit against NATO for dropping 15T of Depleted Uranium on Serbia,” Mina Report, June 14, 2017.

[4] Ian Bancroft, “Serbia's anniversary is a timely reminder,” The Guardian, March 24, 2009. This editorial expresses the same point and many others expressed by Mr. Gallois.

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