From Regional Role to Global Undertakings: Yugoslavia in the Early Cold War
In 1945, Yugoslavia constituted itself as a socialist state. Its legitimacy derived from the most successful anti-Nazi resistance movement, under its charismatic leader, Josip Broz Tito, and the autochthonous social revolution carried out during the war of liberation. In the new reality of the world following a second global conflict, with the emerging ideological confrontation between two social systems, socialist and liberal capitalist, Yugoslavia firmly allied itself with its ideological paragon, Stalin’s Soviet Union. Within three years, however, Tito and the Yugoslav leadership had rebelled against Moscow’s tutelage, setting the stage for the first paradigm shift of the Cold War. The 1948 Soviet–Yugoslav break-up blurred, and eventually challenged, the fault lines of the Cold War. This chapter provides insight into how the policies of Yugoslavia and its leader, Tito, during the nascent Cold War contributed to paradigm shifts affecting the dynamics and structure of the Cold War system. It will focus on geostrategic implications, namely the 1948 Yugoslav–Soviet break-up, the Yugoslav military realignment that followed the split and the creation of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM), which aspired to challenge the Cold War bipolarity. In exercising disproportionate activism in the international system, Yugoslavia was the only country of the region that harboured the ambition to play a global role. Its leadership saw it as the means to safeguard the country’s independence and security.