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Milojevic, Louie

Was Tito a Tito?  The Dilemma of 'National Communism' for an Anti-Communist Foreign Policy in the Soviet-Yugoslav Split, 1948-1958

Of the many problems and predicaments U.S. policymakers faced and found themselves in during the early Cold War, few were more complex or more difficult to manage than the public rupture between the Soviet Union and Yugoslavia in June 1948. Yugoslavia's expulsion from the Eastern-bloc, or the Tito-Stalin split as it came to be known, astonished Western observers; this was the first time that Soviet communist domination had been openly defied by what many thought was the most loyal communist satellite.  America's response to this unprecedented development is in some respects a familiar story with Tito receiving staggering amounts of unconditional assistance for over a decade.

Yugoslavia has long been considered a critical front in America’s early containment strategy, yet scholars have seldom addressed the complexities and controversies involved in shaping and sustaining U.S. support for Tito’s communist regime. Leading Cold War historians such as John Gaddis, Melvyn Leffler, and Walter LaFeber, begin and end their respective takes on Yugoslavia with the Tito-Stalin split, highlighting the magnitude of the event, the astonishment with which it was received in the West, and the optimism it generated among U.S. policymakers eager to sabotage the cohesion of the Eastern bloc.  However, an in-depth analysis that extends beyond the immediate reaction to Tito’s expulsion from the Cominform and into the development of U.S.-Yugoslav Cold War relations has yet to draw any significant scholarly attention. 

Focusing on what John Fousek describes as America’s public sphere – print media, airwaves, and meeting halls – the arena where political conflict is played out, and in which language sets the terms readily available to ordinary citizens for thinking about public issues, this study attempts to understand how support for Tito’s Yugoslavia was politically fashioned, contested, and ultimately sustained in the anti-Communist era. “Was Tito a Tito?” contends that U.S. policymakers, political pundits, and citizens never came to terms with the paradox of supporting a Communist state in the service of an anti-Communist foreign policy, a paradox that undermined many articles of faith in the Cold War.

Saturday 31 Oct, 9.30-11.30 SESSION 7
Panel: The Enemy of My Enemy: The Search for Independent Socialism