The Foreign Service Journal, November 2019

36 NOVEMBER 2019 | THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL 1989: SEEN FROM FOCUS ON THE FALL OF THE BERLIN WALL During a 27-year career with the State Department, retired FSO Louis D. Sell served for many years in the former Soviet Union, Russia and Yugoslavia. From 1995 to 1996, he served as political adviser to the first High Representative for Bosnian Peace Implementation. In 2000 he served as Kosovo director of the International Crisis Group. As executive director of the American University in Kosovo Foundation from 2003 to 2008, he helped found the American University in Kosovo. He is the author of From Washington to Moscow: U.S.-Soviet Relations and the Collapse of the USSR (Duke University Press, 2016) and Slobodan Milosevic and the Destruction of Yugoslavia (Duke University Press, 2002). Mr. Sell is now an adjunct professor at the University of Maine at Farmington and lives on a farm in Whitefield, Maine. Though the Berlin Wall’s collapse left hardly a ripple on the surface of Yugoslavia’s day-to-day turmoil, it decisively affected the underlying course of events in the country. BY LOU I S D. SE L L L ike the rest of the world, Yugoslavia watched the events of 1989 in neighbor- ing Eastern Europe with fascination and astonishment. But by the time the Berlin Wall fell in November, Yugoslavia’s squab- bling republics had traveled so far along the path toward dissolution that it left hardly a surface ripple on the spiraling downward course of domestic events that were to culminate 18 months later in bloody conflict. In review- ing personal meeting notes for this article frommy 1987-1991 stint as political counselor in Belgrade, I found hardly any refer- ence to the fall of the Wall. Yet symbolizing as it did the rupture of the external Soviet empire and the collapse of communism as a ruling ideology, the crumbling of the Wall could not help but have a momentous impact on the underlying course of events in the country. By 1989 Josip Broz Tito had been dead for nine years, and the inde- pendent and relatively liberal version of communism he created in Yugoslavia was entering terminal decline. But while all across