In the early 1990s, I ran an agricultural machinery business. We were manufacturing vegetable harvesters and selling modern equipment to food cooperatives in post-Soviet states.
I happened to fly to Belgrade, Yugoslavia on business in late January 1991. During my visit, there were no visible signs of the brutal civil war that would erupt just a few months later.
It Took Everyone by Surprise
Yugoslavia appeared to be a generally peaceful and friendly nation. Not one person I met appeared anxious or concerned.
There were signs of unrest in some areas of the country, but they seemed to be isolated incidents. Tensions between Serbs and Croats had already erupted in Croatia, yet people wrote them off as trivial riots in established democracies.
Some of the businesses I visited were in close proximity to the site of the Borovo Selo Battle (May 1991) and the siege of Vukovar (August–November 1991), where soon over 1,100 people would die and 500 would disappear.
Destroyed home in Vukovar, Yugoslavia, where a three-month-long siege occurred in 1991 during the crisis.
But neither my hosts nor I had any idea of what was about to unfold.
It took only a single trigger for the tensions to break out into the most violent European conflict since WWII. In May 1991, Croatian authorities held a referendum on independence, which passed with 94% pro-secession votes. The Yugoslav government responded by declaring the secession to be illegal and unconstitutional. They then supported the Serb-controlled Yugoslav People’s Army (JNA) in taking action to secure the country’s unity.
The rest is history.
Could the Same Happen in the US?
The Balkans have a long history of ethnic and political divisions. Decades of economic mismanagement and politics imposed by communists resulted in severe economic crises, high inflation, and crippling unemployment.
Eventually, people stood up and demanded change. That gave rise to extreme political factions revolving around regional ethnic diversity. No surprise that political leadership used it as an excuse for their own mishandling of the country.
The tensions then suddenly broke out into civil war.
Today, the US is no different. This election has polarized the nation to an extent not seen for decades. Dividing the country seems to have become a pursuit of political leaders on both sides of the aisle.
Police fire pepper spray at protestors during a demonstration in Washington DC after the inauguration of President Donald Trump.
Some may see this as regular political discourse. But there is a lot of evidence that the nation is more divided today than it has been for decades.
Despite the (sluggish) economic recovery, a large portion of the country has been neglected for years. Those people can barely make ends meet and are pushing for change. It’s only a matter of time before the US will plunge into another recession.
What then? Will this be the trigger that could cause all hell to break loose in the US?
The Revolution Won’t Manifest Itself Until It’s Too Late
The current political divide between nationalists and globalists, progressives and “Trump supporters,” has been deepening for over a year now, and the tough stance of both sides will likely lead to more extremism. Politicians and the mainstream media will encourage discord—or even violence—for their personal gain.
Whether you are a fan of Trump or not (I am not), it is worrisome to see liberal leaders pushing their base to fight the result of a democratic election.
The biggest revolutions come by surprise. They sneak up on nations when all seems “fine.” Peace and democracy are privileges of the West—including the US—that we can’t take for granted.
Especially when things go sour in the coming recession.