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A Military Tactic or Collateral Damage?
Abdulkarim Ekzayez and Ammar Sabouni

Nine years of continuous conflict in Syria have borne witness to various atrocities against civilians, some of which amount to war crimes. Most of the involved parties have committed such atrocities, but the Government of Syria (GoS) and its allies remain at the top of the list of perpetrators. Out of a population of 21 million in 2010, more than half a million Syrians were killed as of January 2019 with more than 13 million displaced either inside the country, in neighbouring countries or elsewhere. Moreover, civilian infrastructures, including but not limited to health, have been severely affected, resulting in interrupted services and suffering. Looking at patterns of these atrocities, timing of occurrence, and consequences, could allow us to draw conclusions about motivations. While the GoS maintains these attacks were against combating civilians, we argue that civilians and civilian infrastructure were military and strategic targets, rather than collateral damage to the attacks committed by the GoS and its allies. The motives behind attacking civilians may be related to military gains in imposing submission and surrender; whereas others may be linked to long-term goals such as forced displacement and demographic engineering. This paper argues, supported by several examples throughout the course of the Syrian conflict, that GoS has used a five-point military tactic with targeting healthcare being at the heart of it. This military tactic has been extremely effective in regaining most opposition strongholds at the expense of civilian suffering and health catastrophe.

Journal of Humanitarian Affairs
Timothy Longman

In 1999, Human Rights Watch (HRW) and the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) published an extensive account of genocide in Rwanda, Leave None to Tell the Story. Based on interviews and archival work conducted by a team of researchers and written primarily by Alison Des Forges, Leave None to Tell was quickly recognised as the definitive account of the 1994 genocide. In the ensuing two decades, however, much additional research has added to our understanding of the 1994 violence. In this paper, I assess Leave None to Tell the Story in light of the research conducted since its publication, focusing in particular on three major challenges to the analysis. First, research into the organisation of the genocide disputes the degree to which it was planned in advance. Second, micro-level research into the motivations of those who participated disputes the influence of ideology on the genocide. Third, research has provided increasing evidence and details of violence perpetrated by the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF). I contend that despite these correctives, much of the analysis continues to hold up, such as the role of national figures in promoting genocide at the local level, the impact of the dynamics of local power struggles on the violence, and the patterns of violence, including the effort after the initial massacres to implicate a wide portion of the population. Finally, as a member of the team that researched and helped write Leave None to Tell, I reflect on the value of this rare sort of research project that engages human rights organisations in an academic research project.

Journal of Humanitarian Affairs
The Politics of ‘Proximity’ and Performing Humanitarianism in Eastern DRC
Myfanwy James

This article explores the everyday practice of security management and negotiations for access conducted by Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) in North Kivu, in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). Based on ethnographic fieldwork, interviews and archival exploration, it examines the experience of MSF Congolese employees, who navigate a complex politics of humanitarian fixing and brokerage. Their role in MSF is simultaneously defined and circumscribed by their political and social situation. MSF’s security management relies on local staff’s interpersonal networks and on their ability to interpret and translate. However, local staff find themselves at risk, or perceived as a ‘risk’: exposed to external pressures and acts of violence, while possibilities for promotion are limited precisely because of their embeddedness. They face a tension between being politically and socially embedded and needing to perform MSF’s principles in practice. As such, they embody the contradictions of MSF’s approach in North Kivu: a simultaneous need for operational ‘proximity’, as well as performative distance from everyday conflict processes.

Journal of Humanitarian Affairs
Carla Konta

This chapter builds on the expanding literature on the role of Cold War exhibitions in winning the ‘hearts and minds’ of the public worldwide. US participation in Yugoslav trade fairs was a matter of prestige for the organizers, a chance to improve economic relations and gain technological know-how. This chapter explores the role of exhibitions as public, cultural, and technopolitical diplomacy tools that functioned as ambassadors of the American dream, acts of bilateral political balancing, and platforms for prolific commercial trade. By analysing the most influential US exhibitions in Yugoslavia, from Atoms for Peace in 1955, to Industrial Design in 1970, the chapter argues that these left a compelling mark in the Yugoslav socioeconomic sphere, both for the establishment of Yugoslav grocery stores chains, as well as affirmation of Western-style consumerism. The chapter builds on Yugoslav periodical and newspaper records to examine Yugoslav reactions to the exhibitions. In the flow of previous scholarly studies, it examines the political values of images, commodities, and know-how that were used as Cold War cultural weapons by both American and Yugoslav leaders, Tito included.

in US public diplomacy in socialist Yugoslavia, 1950–70
Carla Konta

Scholars working on public or cultural diplomacy more broadly usually focused on specific musicians, music genres, or forms of art. Although based on previous studies, this chapter aims to look at music and art diplomacy from the angle of channels – usually festivals – personalities, and cultural diplomacy content. Grounded on archival records, newspapers, and interviews, the chapter shows that, in Yugoslavia, American jazz was a cultural Cold War weapon, possessing connotations of improvisation and freedom. It argues, contrary to what Vučetić asserted, that those jazz performers arrived in Yugoslavia mostly through private, financially favourable, arrangements. On the other hand, the State Department prioritized classical arrangements, from symphony orchestras to ballet. Unlike other USIS programs, the US Cultural Presentation Program was considered politically neutral. Nevertheless, together with Voice of America, it contributed to popularizing American jazz. On the other hand, it is Voice of America that was perceived as highly problematic, dangerous propaganda by Yugoslav Party commissions. Followed by 46 to 70 per cent of all radio listeners, VOA successfully exploited its public diplomacy function by enticing behaviour that was breaking implicit rules of the Titoist regime and, therefore, perceived as encouraging freedom.

in US public diplomacy in socialist Yugoslavia, 1950–70
Abstract only
Carla Konta

This chapter examines how Yugoslav reform policies, from the mid-1960s on, stemmed from Yugoslav leaders favouring decentralization and more economic freedom, as well as dissidents’ movements that brought critics of Yugoslav socialism into the Party and influenced public opinion. The chapter shows how the anti-LCY (League of Communists of Yugoslavia) movements were never openly supported by the US government, nor calling for the US and Western liberal democracies to be their inspiration; but they were asking for more pluralism in the Yugoslav political and cultural arena. This convinced US policymakers and field officers to consider these requests to be inspired by US public diplomatic policies, striving to influence the regime from outside to entice change from within. The chapter addresses the US connections of many Yugoslav dissidents, such as Croatian Savka Dabčević-Kučar, Praxis philosophers, and Mihajlo Mihajlov, but also the Serbian Liberals. The chapter acknowledges how the renewed Tito–Nixon partnership, due to the threat of the Brezhnev Doctrine, shifted Yugoslav concern about American influence and incentivized excellent economic and cultural cooperation in the 1970s.

in US public diplomacy in socialist Yugoslavia, 1950–70
Abstract only
Carla Konta

This chapter synthesizes how US public diplomacy used soft skills in soft-power endeavours, and how the USIS mission flourished with reduced Yugoslav resistance to US influence, but only after accepting the American partnership that helped to stifle Soviet interference in the post-1948 assessment. The chapter analyses USIS interest in creating long-term networks, rather than undermining the Yugoslav dictatorship. Transnational connections with fellows and critical thinkers in the United States became crucial to Yugoslav dissident movements, as well as for the leadership involved in the Foreign Leader Program and other US exchange programs. The chapter also explains how Yugoslav experimentation with liberalization ended up being an oxymoron, and how US cultural penetration contributed to shaping that experiment. The chapter argues that mutual (dis)trust between the two partners over the decades resulted from their belonging to ideologically opposed factions; ultimately, this was overcome by pragmatism, realpolitik, and, to some extent, shared appreciation. The imposed, often arbitrary, limits to the American cultural agenda display both the Yugoslav regime’s invisible boundaries of coercion, and American keenness to overcome them.

in US public diplomacy in socialist Yugoslavia, 1950–70
Abstract only
Carla Konta

The chapter starts by exploring the complex US–Yugoslav ties in the post-1948 era: Eisenhower’s plan of ‘keeping Tito afloat,’ American support of Yugoslav independence from the Soviets, and the hardly justifiable partnership (from an ideological point of view) with the United States. It examines how Yugoslavia’s turn to neutrality helped restore US-Yugoslav relations to a point of appeasement that would become crucial for US cultural affirmation in post-war Yugoslavia. In such a context, public diplomacy turns into a weapon of soft power aimed at ‘converting’ Yugoslav leaders to the West and enforcing cooperation with the United States. While resulting in asymmetrical reciprocity favouring the United States, US public diplomacy never stopped being a simplified transmission–reception process, but rather represented a complex account of negotiations in the political, cultural, and social arena.

in US public diplomacy in socialist Yugoslavia, 1950–70
Carla Konta

The chapter analyses the general trends of US public diplomacy in Yugoslavia in the 1950s and 1960s, shaped by Yugoslav foreign relations and international positioning towards the United States and the Soviet Union, and its internal Party–State interactions. It starts by looking at divergences between Washington-conceived policies and the Yugoslav ‘field,’ and feedback from the first inspection programs. It examines how public diplomacy programs evolved from Eisenhower’s bolder strategy to JFK’s flexible response. The chapter accentuates parallel processes and consequential decision-making: Yugoslav patterns of resistance to American propaganda and official permissiveness; the spillover of world events in USIS–Yugoslav relations; late-1950s negative reaction towards USIS and the 1960 Press Law; the USIA/USIS response of a harder leader’s line and advancement of the program in that direction; changing Yugoslav public opinion; political/cultural rapprochement with the West in the 1960s; and Yugoslav hesitation between openness and control in the issue of foreign public diplomacy. USIS regarded its work as successful, both because of its popularity among audiences, and because of liberal cultural trends that, following the 1953 and 1963 Constitutions, left them more liberty in working with Yugoslav cultural leaders.

in US public diplomacy in socialist Yugoslavia, 1950–70
Soft culture, cold partners
Author: Carla Konta

The book represents the first comprehensive account of the public and cultural diplomacy campaigns carried out by the United States in Yugoslavia during the height of the Cold War. Based on extensive multinational archival research, as well as private papers and personal interviews, this book charts the reasoning behind the US campaign and the impact it had on specific Yugoslav communities and individuals. American soft power, as a form of cultural power, deliberately sought to ‘open up’ a relatively closed society through the provision and diffusion of liberal traditions, ideas, and ideals. Tito and his Party allowed USIA and State Department cultural programs to enter Yugoslavia, liberated from Soviet control, to open cultural centres and pavilions at its main fairs, to broadcast Voice of America, and have American artists tour the country. Exchanges of intellectual and political personnel helped foster the US–Yugoslav relationship, but posed severe ideological challenges for both countries. By providing new insights into porous borders between freedom and coercion in Tito’s regime, the book shows how public diplomacy acted as an external input for Yugoslav liberalization and dissident movements. Meant for students, scholars, and general readers interested in the cultural Cold War, international relations, and diplomacy, this book fills a gap in the literature by looking at the political role of culture in US–Yugoslav bilateral relations, analysing the fluid links between information and propaganda, and the unintended effects propaganda can produce beyond the control of producers and receivers.