Diana Johnstone: Fools’ Crusade

Yugoslavia, NATO, and Western Delusions

Monthly Review Books, 2003

JohnstoneMilitary interventions on supposedly humanitarian grounds have become an established feature of the post-Cold War global order. Since September 11, this form of militarism has taken on new and unpredictable proportions. Diana Johnstone’s well-documented study demonstrates that a crucial moment in establishing in the public mind – and above all, within the political context of liberalism and the left – the legitimacy of such interventions was the “humanitarian” bombing of the former Yugoslavia in 1999.

In the course of the civil wars that led to the break-up of Yugoslavia, a complex history came to be presented as a morality play in which the parts were scripted to meet the moral needs of the capitalist West. The identification of Muslims as defenseless victims and Serbs as genocidal monsters inflamed fears and hatreds within Yugoslavia, and prepared the way for power to be shifted from the people of the region to such international agencies as NATO.

Fools’ Crusade tests the popular myths against the reality of Yugoslav history. Johnstone identifies the common geopolitical interests running through such military interventions, and argues persuasively that they create problems rather than solving them. She shows that the “Kosovo war” was in reality the model for future destruction of countries seen as potential threats to the hegemony of an “international community” currently being redefined to exclude or marginalize all but those who conform to the interests of the United States.

A concluding chapter shows how the script prepared for Yugoslavia is being re-enacted in Afghanistan. Whether Milosevic’s trial before the International Court at the Hague or the capture of bin Laden will provide an adequate conclusion to this ideological play-making, remains an open question.


“[Diana] Johnstone presents a picture strikingly different from the one known to the public…The book serves as a useful correction to one-sided mainstream reporting about Yugoslavia’s breakup.”  Choice

“[Diana Johnstone] is the outstanding Left analyst of the Balkans.”  Edward Herman

About the Author:

Diana Johnstone is a distinguished researcher and commentator on contemporary global politics. She is the author of The Politics of Euromissiles: Europe’s Role in America’s World (Verso, 1985). Her writings have been published in New Left Review, Counterpunch, and Covert Action Quarterly.

3 Responses to “Diana Johnstone: Fools’ Crusade”

  1. 1 John Anngeister February 3, 2015 at 11:51 pm

    I agree with this analysis of the Kosovo charade, and the author’s view is supported by NATO destabilizations in Libya and Syria (in progress) which came after publication.

    The Neocon warcrafters have co-opted millions of careless liberals with this ‘humanitarian’ intervention scheme. Every government that refuses to be a western puppet is a target.

    • 2 Jan Olof Bengtsson February 4, 2015 at 7:20 am

      Thanks for this comment John – glad to see you’re still following my blog! Are you planning to update CounterNarratives any time soon? It would be a pleasure to add it to my Links page.

      • 3 John Anngeister February 5, 2015 at 4:29 am

        My anti-Realpolitik blog is quite cold and might seem antiquated to your readers.

        My current interest has been the great exiled Russian religious philosophers – especially S. I. Frank (1877-1950).

        In the political arena I am lately studying more closely the evidence brought to light by the family of Dr. MLKjr in their 1999 civil trial which exonerated James Earl Ray of guilt. I missed the trial’s significance for over a decade because the establishment media did not feature it as more than an occasion of ‘reconciliation’ between Ray and the Kings.

        In fact the trial (which Ray had spent his life in prison asking for) brought evidence to light which finally convinced a jury of what Ray kept insisting – that he was a patsy who had been set up, then frightened into a coerced guilty plea, and then stonewalled.

        I was also put in deep despair when I heard the account of the Estonian ambassador that doctors were saying the sniper in Kiev last year was targeting both sides of the square. The intention at that crucial moment appears to have been destabilization as well. And another success.

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