YUGOSLAVIA is unique in being the only member of that increasing group of neutral countries which is avowedly Communist, successful at it, and proud of her success. But although her votes in the United Nations nearly always coincide with those of the Eastern bloc, Yugoslavia cannot get along with Russia, China, or her satellite neighbors, particularly Albania. They regard her as a Communist heretic.
Yugoslavia accepts assistance from the West, particularly the United States, and makes no apologies for doing so. As long as both sides understand that neither is going to convert the other — or even try — it is a cards-above-the-table game. Yugoslavian neutrality is not being compromised.
Would Yugoslavia choose her lonely course if she and the Eastern bloc found that they could live together? Some observers in Belgrade think that, even today, Yugoslavia never makes a move without first thinking, “What will Moscow say?” And President Tito’s speeches show quite clearly that, as vehement as he is in hitting back at Khrushchev or Mao, he always does so in the form of a counterattack after he and Yugoslavia have been publicly humiliated by them. He does not hit first.
Tito’s wavering neutrality
Josip Broz Tito learned his Marxist catechism on home ground, Russia. During World War II, his Communist partisans not only had to fight off the Germans and Italians on their own soil; they also had to discourage the West from favoring an unwanted King Peter with his government in exile in London and his General Mihajlovié in the field. Once the war was over, Yugoslavia gained independence, and Marshal Tito was able to enjoy three years of harmony with his fellow Comrade Josef Stalin.
In 1948, Stalin excommunicated both Tito and Yugoslavia for inventing a national Communism which placed Yugoslavia’s goals ahead of Soviet Russia’s. The United States soon dispatched arms to give Yugoslavia the wherewithal to defy Russia and grains to feed her people after she had suffered some disastrous crop failures. The platonic relations with the West have continued ever since.
The disaffection with the East lasted until 1955. Then Bulganin and Khrushchev came humbly to Yugoslavia seeking better relations with Tito. A closer agreement did result, with mutual pledges of good will and economic largesse from the Soviet Union.
Altogether, the improvement of relations lasted almost three years, until the fortieth anniversary celebration of the Bolshevik Revolution in Moscow in November, 1957. Marshal Tito apparently already knew the parting had come, because he stayed home and dispatched two vice presidents in his stead. And when Yugoslavs were asked to contribute to the anniversary spirit by signing a twelve-nation Communist pledge reaffirming the pre-eminence of the Soviet Union, they packed up for home. Russia’s economic exchange pact with Yugoslavia withered into an exchange of recriminations. The $250 million in credits, the aluminum and hydroelectric plants that Russia was going to build were nipped at the planning stage. Russia said it “didn’t have the money.”
Since then, Yugoslavia and Tito have been reminding themselves all over again that they are Communists. They hold themselves apart from East-West military and political entanglements. They are against war. And, while they are just as intent as Russia and China in seeing a socialist world, they do not think revolution is the way to do it. They think force only hardens the conservative opposition and scares people away from socialism.
Yugoslavia’s uncommitted friends
The Soviet Union has accused Tito and Yugoslavia of organizing a “neutralist bloc” against the East. This is most emphatically denied by the Yugoslavs, who say they like neither the term “bloc,” because it implies a military power which they do not have, nor “neutral,” because it implies a passivity which they do not claim. In selfappraisal, they prefer a Yugoslav word which means “out of bloc.”
But bloc or not, Tito does like to put down his ideas in letters and send them off to Nehru, Sukarno, Nasser, and sometimes even to such other nonaligned spokesmen as Haile Selassie and Swedish Foreign Minister Östen Undén. His three-month cruise to South Asia in the winter of 1958-1959 is now regarded as an attempt not only to get the support of the nonaligned, but also to satisfy Tito’s desire to tell hostile China and Russia, “See, I have friends—six million of them!”
In recent years, Tito has been remarkably successful in maintaining a zigzag course under the banner of nonalignment. Although he very definitely aligned Yugoslavia with Turkey and Greece in a Balkan Pact for mutual defense in 1954, this somehow did not make him unneutral, even with Turkey’s and Greece’s membership in NATO.
Actually, the pact was still in the paper stage when Turkey and Greece had their falling out over Cyprus. Now Yugoslavia looks upon her Turko-Greek ties as primarily cultural and economic, but does not want formally to abrogate the military pact, because that might be misinterpreted.
Yugoslavia is being particularly careful not to offend Greece at the present time. With such openly hostile border mates as Albania, Hungary, Rumania, and Bulgaria, she is anxious to keep friendly at least with her southernmost neighbor. Next to Greece, India gets most-favorednation treatment, because of India’s leadership in the nonaligned world.
Yugoslavia, with her long and painful siege during World War II, is understandably for peace. But her foreign affairs editors will tell you, “We do not go along with the Arabs’ positive neutralism, because that would require us to play on the antagonisms of one bloc against the other.” Yet, unlike a neutral fundamentalist such as Switzerland, Yugoslavia is constantly feeling impelled to express her opinion. She has done this even in such tricky areas as Nasser’s difficulties with Khrushchev over Iraq. She agrees that Russia is interfering in Iraq, just as Nasser charges. And she considers that the best road to peace in the Middle East is not through such Communist infiltrations but through unity of the Arab world.
But, although angered by Communist tactics in the Middle East, Yugoslavia gives the Kremlin the benefit of the doubt in Hungary and Tibet. Prior to the Hungarian revolt of 1956, Tito reportedly urged Khrushchev to liberalize the personnel in the satellite regimes, particularly in Hungary. Then, when the Hungarians themselves made their discontent known, Yugoslavia was delighted. But as the revolt became more determined, Yugoslavia foresaw that Hungary was headed for the overthrow of socialism itself. Tito at ibis point did an about-face and deplored the inadequacy of a regime which made Russian intervention necessary.
In Tibet, Yugoslavia’s response was similar. She did not dispute Peking’s right to intervene but regretted that things were going so badly in China’s Tibet that Peking found it necessary to intervene.
The extent of American aid
None of this concern for the wellbeing of the socialist world seems to have interfered with Yugoslavia’s acceptance of aid from the West. In the past nine years, the United States, which provides about 95 per cent of the total aid, has allocated some $890 million to Yugoslavia. More than one quarter of this, $256.3 million, was allotted for military aid between fiscal 1952 and 1957. Almost one half‚ $416.7 million, has been in the form of aid under Public Law 480, through which surplus U.S. crops are sold to Yugoslavia and a large amount of the local currency used in their purchase is left in the country to be devoted to other types of aid.
U.S. funds have been used to build the new Zagreb-Ljubljana highway—a stellar attraction in a country where most of the roads have been boulder-strewn wagon tracks — a new bridge across the Danube, and die elegant beglassed and befountained Hotel Metropol. England dispatched 3 million pounds in assistance to Yugoslavia in 1958. Russia, since the last falling out, has sent nothing.
Yugoslavia curtailed her military aid program with the West at the beginning of 1958, just after she had refused to sign the Communist pledge of allegiance in Moscow. Perhaps this curtailment was intended to keep things balanced. Perhaps the cut was made because Yugoslavia found herself able to produce most of the conventional arms she needs and unable to get the missiles for tomorrow’s war.
Some now say that the Yugoslav army has evolved a new strategy anyway. Since Yugoslavia’s main cities enjoy little geographical protection, the best tactic for defense may be to abandon them in case of attack and depend upon protracted guerrilla warfare from the hills, which was so successful during World War II. At any rate, nobody in Yugoslavia seems to regret having accepted Western arms, even if it was never necessary to use them.
One of President Tito’s top aides declared, “We found ourselves in a very real danger of military pressures from the outside. We had to realize the fact that, in spite of our attitude, events had taken a course in which it was possible that we might become the subject of outright military attack which we could not prevent. So, not as a result of conviction, we did make arrangements for such an eventuality. We made it plain to the U.S. last year that we are very glad for that aid, but that it does not appear to be necessary now. A certain amount of military preparation has been achieved. The immense danger has been changed.”
Progress at home
Domestically, Tito’s Yugoslavia seems to be progressing at a very good rate. Yugoslavia is still a dictatorship, and President Tito is the dictator, with only the Communist Party legally permitted. Since the newspapers are all government-controlled‚ there is no problem about confusing the populace with conflicting opinions. But, even so, it is not unusual now to see people loafing in the sun at many Dalmatian Coast resorts or enjoying a drink at a Belgrade sidewalk café with no guilt and no fear of being reported. Leisure has become respectable because, economically, Yugoslavia is now far more self-assured.
Industrial activity is increasing. Roads are being built. Belgrade, a village on the Danube a generation ago, is now a capital city of modern concrete edifices, some built in very respectable contemporary design. And Yugoslavia is about to curtail her surplus-crop aid from the United States. As one Yugoslav economic expert put it, “We now are a foodexporting country. This year, we shall export sugar. Last year we imported sugar, corn, and wheat. What we need, and what we should ask for in the future, is commercial credits.”
After Tito, what?
As in the case of other one-man governments, there is great speculation in Yugoslavia as to “After Tito, what?” The President is now approaching sixty-eight, and even though he looks and acts very healthy, he is, after all, mortal. There is no doubt that Tito alone is responsible for subordinating the bitter hatred between Serb and Croat and joining the six republics and two autonomous areas into one unified nation. If for no other reason, every Yugoslav is grateful to Tito for putting an end to this previously insoluble fratricide.
Tito’s successor, whoever he may be, will at least not have to face the problem of ethnological disunity. But he may have to decide what to do about Communist Yugoslavia’s relations with the Communist bloc. Undeniably, Tito’s personal apostasy has done more damage to the Soviet control of its satellites than all the energetic sallies from the West. When Yugoslavia’s strong man goes, Russia will undoubtedly take an interest in who comes next. And a successor may not have the muscle of Marshal Tito.