Yugoslavia's significance for the West

by A. Ross Johnson

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Interest in Yugoslavia, especially in the United States, has derived in part from ethnic ties. Yugoslavia's system of "self-management" has aroused a certain interest. But fundamentally the Western interest in Yugoslavia is derived from geopolitics--from the fact that Yugoslavia has been a heretical Communist state. If Stalin had succeeded in crushing Tito in 1948, Western interest in Yugoslavia would today probably be comparable to Western interest in Bulgaria. The security interests of the Western countries in Yugoslavia have been formulated in numerous diplomatic documents as support for the "independence, territorial integrity, and prosperity" of Yugoslavia. If the diplomatic language is decoded, that means support for Yugoslavia's independence from the USSR. Economic performance, the future of "self-management," and the treatment of political opposition in Yugoslavia are all important factors, but all these factors should be considered in light of Western security interests in the continuation of a Yugoslavia outside the Soviet orbit.

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