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The Left and the Balkan Wars
From the ISN.
There was a flurry of excitement some time ago about a controversial interview with Noam Chomsky in the Guardian. Chomsky himself strongly contested the account of his views given by the article, and in due course the paper repudiated it. Reading over the text, there’s little doubt that the journalist (Emma Brockes) was trying too hard to cause a stir – with the goal of scalping a well-known figure firmly on her mind, she lost the run of herself and delivered a sloppy, inaccurate and misleading piece. What many people lost sight of during the controversy, though, was the light it shone on a troubling problem: the persistence of left-wing stupidity concerning the Balkan wars of the 1990s.
If you want to trace the roots of this sinister idiocy, you might as well start with a bizarre political sect that began life as the Revolutionary Communist Party and published the journal Living Marxism. Many radical-left groups are described as “cults”, and often it’s far too harsh a label. But the RCP/LM crowd were and are as pure a case of cultism as you’ll ever find. In recent times, they’ve been courting notoriety by helping to produce fraudulent documentaries purporting to refute the global warming “hoax”.
Their first serious venture into the business of defending the indefensible came in the 1990s, when they accused Ed Vulliamy and ITN of fabricating evidence about death camps in Bosnia (Vulliamy, incidentally, cut his political teeth with the Anti-Nazi League at the time of the Lewisham demo in the 1970s). Their exposés of the abominable camps at Omarska and Trnopolje helped bring the world’s attention to the terrible crimes being committed against Bosnian Muslims by the “soldiers” of Radovan Karadzic and Radko Mladic.
ITN responded by suing, and won its case. There are legitimate points to be made about the use of the libel courts to settle matters of historical truth, but it’s impossible to sympathise with the Living Marxism crowd. They have since moved onto fresh, financially rewarding pastures, making the journey from far left to far right without the least appearance of shame, and can still be found cheer-leading for their deceased hero Slobodan Milosevic in a broad cross-section of the British media. To paraphrase their one-time hero Trotsky, LM’s acolytes deserve only to be crowned with infamy, if not with a bullet: these self-important, reactionary vermin are mortal enemies of anything and everything the democratic Left stands for.
That should have been the end of it. But people with far more distinguished records have taken up the very same line, extending and amplifying it. Ed Herman is a well-known figure on the US Left: co-author of several books with Noam Chomsky (including their classic work Manufacturing Consent) and a star contributor to Z Magazine. He used that platform to mark the 10th anniversary of the Srebrenica massacre by publishing one of the most disgusting articles penned by a self-proclaimed leftist in living memory.
“The Politics of the Srebrenica Massacre” regurgitates all the most poisonous lies of pro-Milosevic propaganda. Herman claims that the Bosnian government killed its own people in Sarajevo so that it could blame the Serbs. He describes the same government as an ally of Osama Bin Laden: the sort of pathetic slander Herman would surely dismiss if uttered by the Russian government about Chechen separatists, or by the Israeli government against the PLO.
Most revoltingly, he devotes thousands of words to the task of diminishing the war crime committed by Bosnian Serb forces at Srebrenica. He plays games with bogus statistics in the hope of discrediting the well-established figure of Muslim men slaughtered by General Mladic’s forces. Herman has the nerve to argue that the massacre was an act of retaliation for attacks on Serb civilians by Bosnian government forces, and claims that the men who were killed were mostly soldiers, not civilians.
He ignores or dismisses all the carefully-compiled evidence (excavations of mass graves, testimony of Bosnian Serb participants), while citing officials of the Milosevic government as if they were trustworthy sources. Tellingly, Herman quotes gruesome first-hand accounts of atrocities against Serb civilians committed by Croatian forces in the Krajina, but resists the temptation to include any similar eye-witness reports from Srebrenica (of which there are many).
The fact that Herman published his dreadful article at all says something: it would be hard to imagine him offering a similar whitewash of a massacre by pro-Indonesian death squads in East Timor or right-wing paramilitaries in Colombia and expecting his radical comrades to greet it with anything but horror and contempt. There’s a sordid strain of revisionism concerning the Balkan wars that has infected parts of the Left, albeit to varying degrees.
Noam Chomsky, for example, is no apologist for Milosevic, and acknowledges the reality of Chetnik war crimes in Bosnia and Kosova. But he has made a number of foolish, ill-informed comments about the subject: giving credence, for example, to the claim that the butchery at Srebrenica was in some way a response to Muslim atrocities. If Chomsky really knew what he was talking about, he would understand that Serb forces began killing Muslims in eastern Bosnia long before there was any “provocation”. He has also appeared to endorse some of the claims made by Living Marxism – although in a frustratingly ambiguous manner.
Perhaps most damagingly, the celebrated academic signed his name to a letter in support of another apologist for Serb nationalist crimes, Diana Johnstone – along with John Pilger, Tariq Ali and others. The letter described her book Fool’s Crusade as an “outstanding work, dissenting from the mainstream view but doing so by an appeal to fact and reason, in a great tradition.” If it was simply a question of defending Johnstone’s right to express her views, there would have been no need for such a hymn of praise.
Almost certainly, Chomsky would defend the right of a vulgar apologist for Israeli crimes against Palestinian and Lebanese civilians to express himself or herself: his record as a defender of free speech is consistent enough to show that. But it’s hard to imagine that he would do so by praising the “outstanding work” of anyone who sought to whitewash the record of Zionist atrocities. Such indiscretions (to put it charitably) left him exposed to the hostile Guardian interview.
What lies behind this widespread blindness? For anyone familiar with even the bare out-lines of the conflict, it’s hard to explain. No matter what way you look at it, no matter what criticisms you make of the other players (and there are plenty to be made, of course), there’s no avoiding the conclusion that Slobodan Milosevic and his allies were the main culprits in the wars of the 1990s. Milosevic ensured the break-up of Yugoslavia by taking over the Serbian Communist Party and adopting extreme Serb nationalism.
The other republics of the Yugoslav federation then had a simple choice: to accept Serbian dominance or to declare independence. To be sure, the Croatian government of Franjo Tudjman was an unpleasant, right-wing nationalist regime, which committed its own war crimes. But Milosevic came to power and tried to impose Serbian hegemony well before Tudjman took the reins in Zagreb.
In the case of Bosnia, there is no room for doubt: the local allies of Milosevic broke away from the Sarajevo government with his aid and encouragement, then set about consolidating their mini-state with a campaign of mass murder. Tens of thousands of Muslim civilians were killed, horrendous death and torture camps were established, women were raped, mosques and libraries were destroyed. It was nothing less than an attempt to wipe out the presence of the Bosnian Muslims in their own country.
How anyone can look at these well-documented facts and conclude that Milosevic and co. were the victims of the story is almost beyond comprehension. The revisionist school of thought seems to reason backwards from the NATO bombing campaign of 1999. Because the imperialist powers of the West eventually went to war against Milosevic, it stands to reason that they must have had it in for him from the start. From this dubious claim, it’s a short jump to outlandish stories about a western capitalist plan to break up the Yugoslav state, against which Milosevic took a brave stand.
The flaws in the logic are not hard to discern. The US and its allies fell out with Saddam Hussein after his invasion of Kuwait in 1990, fought a war with him the following year, then isolated his regime for the next decade before finally overthrowing him in 2003. Does this mean that the relationship between imperialism and the Ba’athist dictatorship was always hostile? Of course not, as the lengthy story of collaboration between western governments and the Butcher of Baghdad will show.
Equally, there is no evidence to back up the claim that the major western powers were determined to get Milosevic from the very start. In fact, the record shows that they pandered to his regime for years. The most important western intervention in the Bosnian war was a huge boost to the Bosnian Serb forces: by imposing an arms blockade, the West merely punished the Bosnian government, denying it the opportunity to buy the weapons it needed to defend its people against Serb aggression.
The killing machine organised by General Mladic had no such problems, with a generous supply of tanks, artillery and APCs from Belgrade. When the practical results of the arms embargo were pointed out to the British Foreign Secretary Douglas Hurd, he derided the idea that it would be right to establish a “level killing field” - not even troubling to hide the implication that he preferred an unbalanced killing field, with the Muslims of Bosnia abandoned to racist butchery. The fact that NATO governments belatedly decided that Milosevic was too much of a threat to Balkan stability and went to war with him over Kosova does not erase the record of appeasement throughout the Bosnian conflict.
BLAMING THE VICTIMS
Nor can the character of the Bosnian government explain the reluctance to identify Serbian culpability. As we have noted already, the Tudjman regime in Croatia was hardly likely to endear itself to any socialist: Tudjman was a mirror image of Milosevic, guilty of his own atrocities. In fact, the two leaders quietly agreed to carve up Bosnia between them. But the government in Sarajevo was democratic and multi-ethnic – it was flawed of course, but it was the only force in the conflict taking a stand against racism and ethnic cleansing, and it deserved support.
How many times have we heard people saying, regarding Palestine or Lebanon or Iraq, that we can’t expect a perfect resistance movement, with the best possible left-wing programme, to take shape before we offer solidarity to people struggling against oppression? The argument is solid (as long as it’s not taken as an excuse to abandon critical thought). And it applied with particular force in the case of Bosnia. When people were being killed in the most horrific way because their ancestors found the ideas of Mohammed more congenial than the teachings of the Orthodox Church, a government that included Muslims, Serbs and Croats at all levels was something worth defending.
The anti-imperialist Left has become very sensitive to the question of Islamophobia in the last few years. With that awareness, they should have no trouble understanding that Bosnia in the 1990s represented the cutting-edge of Islamaphobia in modern European history. The Chetnik forces put the racist fantasies of Jean-Marie Le Pen or the British National Party into practice, dynamiting mosques and driving out Muslims with murder and rape as their chief weapons.
It should really have occurred to people who have spent years condemning Israeli abuses that there was something very familiar about the pro-Serbian arguments. Because the Serbs were the victims of terrible oppression during the Second World War, they could do no wrong, and their opponents were latter-day Nazis. The Muslims of Bosnia were all primitive fanatics (just take Ed Herman’s vile article, replace “Serb” with “Jewish”, “Bosnian” with “Lebanese” and “Srebrenica” with “Sabra and Chatila” – you’ve got a bog-standard apologia from the Zionist ultra-right). Anyone who condemned the actions of Milosevic or the Bosnian Serb republic was guilty of “demonising the Serb people”.
The latter claim is one of the most pernicious arguments to have been used by so-called leftists. People who think about the world in terms of class, who recognise that state power is usually exercised in the interest of powerful elites not the general population, ought to recognise easily that you can hold a state responsible for terrible acts without necessarily blaming its people.
The primary responsibility for the crimes committed by Serbian forces in Bosnia and Kosova lies with the political leaders who organised the atrocities, and the soldiers and paramilitary thugs who carried them out. The Serbian people as a whole can be accused of failing to do enough (or anything at all) to oppose the murder campaign being carried out in their name - that’s a matter for their own conscience, there can be no question of punishing people who weren’t directly involved in war crimes. But this is not “demonisation”, by any stretch of the imagination.
When NATO finally went to war with Milosevic over Kosova, anyone familiar with the record of US-led military interventions was bound to be deeply sceptical about their humanitarian rhetoric. There was and is a strong case to be made against that war. But it could only be made by those who condemned the system of apartheid imposed on the province by Milosevic and the vicious terror campaign launched in response to armed resistance by the KLA.
Just as it was correct for socialists to uphold the right of the Lebanese people to defend themselves against Israeli oppression, without signing up to the political programme of Hezbullah or condoning its attacks on civilian targets, it was necessary to defend the right of the Kosovar Albanians to resist Serbian oppression. This did not mean becoming cheer-leaders for the KLA or ignoring atrocities committed by its units.
Above all, the right of Kosova to self-determination should have been made into a foundation-stone for any left-wing view of the situation. The failure of many anti-war leftists to do so made it easier for NATO to win support. Socialists with a principled position in support of democratic rights for the Kosovars would have found it much easier to challenge the hypocrisies and deceptions of Clinton, Blair et al. The criminal attacks on Serb civilians in Kosova that have taken place since the war ended should of course be condemned – but not as a tactic to minimise the earlier suffering of the Albanian population.
The job of rooting out this distorted view of the Balkan wars has been made a little harder by the political trajectory of many of the left-wingers who took up the Bosnian cause in the 1990s: quite a few of them (Christopher Hitchens, Nick Cohen, Marko Attila Hoare for example) have ended up in the imperialist camp, supporting the invasion of Iraq and directing anathemas against the anti-war Left. It’s easy to imagine Ed Herman or Alexander Cockburn (another Milosevic cheer-leader) reading articles on Iraq by Hitchens or Cohen and patting themselves on the back, drawing a parallel between their “demonisation” of the Serbian regime a decade ago and their support for the neo-conservative agenda today.
But having taking up a pro-Serbian position is no guarantee of anti-imperialist conviction: if it was, we should have expected to find Ariel Sharon on the side of the Palestinians. As Robert Fisk has noted, Sharon used his position as Israeli foreign minister to condemn NATO’s war against Serbia, referring to “Islamic terror” in Kosova and warning “the moment that Israel expresses support … it’s likely to be the next victim. Imagine that one day Arabs in Galilee demand that the region in which they live be recognised as an autonomous area, connected to the Palestinian Authority.” The old war criminal clearly understood what was at stake better than many socialists: for him, it was perfectly logical to support Milosevic, and his own repression of the Palestinians was consistent with that support.
There was nothing inevitable about the path trodden by Hitchens and others like him. The fact that many people who explained and defended the case of the Bosnians were to be found in opposition to Bush and Blair shows this. Nor are the pro-Milosevic leftists entitled to be smug when they see their former antagonists on the side of the Empire. It’s likely that their own refusal to offer solidarity to the victims of Serbian nationalism played its part in the alienation of so-called “Cruise missile leftists”.
Of course, there are many issues in global politics today that demand the attention of the Left. The urgent need to challenge imperialist policies in the Middle East or Latin America might lead some people to believe that the Balkan wars are at best a secondary issue. But there are two compelling reasons for giving this matter due attention and taking on the disinformation campaign.
Firstly, it reminds us of the terrible mistakes that can result when left-wingers fall into the habit of simply putting a plus wherever imperialism puts a minus. Our anti-imperialist politics should be based on a firm commitment to democracy and human rights, otherwise they may become an alibi for new forms of injustice. If you want a current example, look no further than the confrontation between Iran and the US – anyone who denies the repressive nature of the Tehran regime in the name of anti-imperialism is just playing into the hands of the neo-conservatives, and betraying the true allies of the Left inside Iran.
Secondly, and most importantly, whenever left-wingers deny or diminish the crimes of the Milosevic regime, they encourage the most retrograde tendencies in Serbia and Bosnia, and cause even more pain for their victims. As the journalist Nerma Jelacic argues: “They should accept that their words lend credibility to radical nationalists who remain active in Republika Srpska and who are still calling for ethnic and territorial division in Bosnia and Herzegovina. They should understand how their continuing revisionism over the past still, today, clouds the future … of all Bosnia’s children.”
The goal of a democratic socialist federation of the Balkans seems almost hopelessly utopian at the present time. But it remains the best solution to the problems of the region. If it is ever going to happen, every dream of racist domination will have to be confronted and defeated by the peoples of the Balkans. With that in mind, socialists might well consider that the front-line of the class struggle in the former Yugoslav republics lies not in the factories or the mines, but in the neighbourhoods of Srebrenica, where survivors of the massacre have begun moving back.
They’ve endured hostility and threats because they don’t want to let the fascist thugs who killed their relatives win. Their courage in facing the dangers of the present and the ghosts of the past deserves our admiration. And the least we can do in support is to oppose every attempt to erase the memory of what was done to them by the Chetnik forces.
The following articles provide useful information about the Balkan wars, often from a left-wing perspective:
Eddy Jokovich - Bosnia-Herzegovina 'peace' accord a fraud
Michael Karadjis - Srebrenica atrocities: evidence of US complicity
Michael Karadjis - Kosova genocide: made in USA
Michael Karadjis - Is Serbia socialist?
Michael Karadjis - What is the KLA?
Michael Karadjis - Kosova: what remains after 'victory'?
Michael Karadjis - Kosova revisionists let NATO off the hook
Michael Karadjis - Reluctant Reply to John Pilger on Kosova
Michael Karadjis - Srebrenica still waiting for justice
Michael Karadjis - UN plan reinforces colonial rule in Kosova
Ed Herman - The Politics of the Srebrenica Massacre
Roger Lippman - Srebrenica (reply to Herman)
Bill Weinberg - Why does Z Magazine support genocide? (reply to Herman)
Michael Farquhar - Srebrenica: anatomy of a massacre
Ed Vulliamy - Srebrenica: ten years on
Nerma Jelacic - Revisionism will cripple Bosnia's future
Ed Vulliamy - Poison in the well of history (commentary on the Living Marxism trial)
Nerma Jelacic - Revisionism will cripple Bosnia's future
Ed Vulliamy - Poison in the well of history (commentary on the Living Marxism trial)
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By "Cheaper than the spectator", I meant absolutely free. Books Upstairs carry it, so too Conolly Books. The above article isn't on our site, but it has recently been updated with articles on:
The Wicklow Bookbinders
The Left & Sectarianism
Great to see a bit of level-headed in-depth analysis that doesn't shy away from the difficult questions.
So purist leftism cannot appeal to the path of the lessor transgression. Are we to allow what you deem as unbridled principle overlook a real world reflection of what such a position would equate to in terms its eventual outcome?
You have discredited Chomsky in a totalitarian manner. You have derided those on the left who agreed with him as participants in concurrent opportunism.
You may be correct in hindsight. You may indeed have a case to propel Chomsky and co. into the realm of naive ideologists, but I would imagine that it is the case with a lot of principled individuals who stuck their necks out in the face of overwhelming 'perceived propaganda' that they did so in good faith.
The problem with principle is that it invariably becomes congruent to the facts as they reveal themselves. This in itself gives those who would have an agenda to discredit you an opportunity to propel those same principles into the realm of conjecture.
This is a very simplistic and revisionist view of the conflict and totally ignores the roles of western intelligence agencies and in particular German, American and British in formenting the conflict for their own ideological reasons.
While the Iron Curtain existed Yugslavia was regarded as the most liberal regime in the East and was courted by the West. After the fall it had to be eliminated as the last bullwark of enlightened Communism. Divide and conquer tactics similar to that being used in Iraq and being attempted in Iran were used and racial and national hatreds stored, Dont blame it all on Milosevich. NATO's hand are all over the balkan conflict and are still interfering.
The ISN are still being suckered in.
There are many on the left who condemn Milosevic while at the same time believing that the Bosnian Muslims and Kosovo Albanians were guilty at times of atrocities that played a role in worsening the situation of the civilians they claimed to represent. The piece completely ignores the attempts by Albanians to cleanse Kosovo of Serbs, Roma and all other minorities, dating back to before Milosevic's rule. It also ignores the actions committed by the KLA (an organisation funded through drug dealing and human trafficking) with the deliberate intent to draw a military reprisal from Milosevic. That this reprisal was horrendously disproportionate does not absolve the KLA of responsibility for its own violent and criminal actions.
The suggestion in this piece of some sort of principled opposition to ethnic cleansing among the Bosnian Muslim army would come as a surprise to the prisoners in Muslim-run concentration camps such as Tarcin and Celebici.
It is interesting too that there is absolutely no mention made of how NATO deliberately drew Milosevic into war in 1999 by inserting a requirement in the Rambouillet proposal that its troops be allowed free reign all over Yugoslavia, an outrageous demand that went far beyond anything either reasonable in the circumstances or that any sovereign nation would accept - and which several US and UK sources acknowledge was designed to scupper the whole deal.
The question of a right to Kosovo Albanian self-determination is more complicated than the author would have us believe. Does any group of people have a right to claim secession for the piece of territory they live in, regardless of that territory's history within its country, regardless of when and how the group took over that territory? Regardless of the treatment that that group has meted out to non-group members within that territory? Would this same principle not, therefore, demand that self-determination be granted to the Serbs in Bosnia?
The piece sets up a simplistic good vs evil scenario, with Serbs in the latter category and everyone else in the former, and points an accusatory finger at anyone who sees a more nuanced view of the wars. This is a parallel to the neocons' "You're either with us or with the terrorists" approach, and is unworthy of the left.
I can't say I'm too surprised at this predictable anti-Milosevic bile as so-called socialists align themselves with the Bush's, Clintons, Blairs, Solanas, Aherns and Albrights of this world once again.
Anyone who does a bit of research on this and is prepared to look at the facts would see that there was a carefully organised plan hatched after the collapse of the Soviet Bloc to dismantle and destroy the only socialist country remaining in Europe, which could not be allowed to survive at any cost in lives, money or destruction.
A nasty civil war was engineered to stoke the fires of hatred and put people's who had been living side by side in peace for decades and set them at one another in a murderous war which would result in the destruction of Yugoslavia and the ruination of Serbia. The Germans had a big role in this and well remembered that the Serbs gave Hitlers fascists a bloody nose in WW2. Not content with dismantling Yugoslavia they decided to dismantle Serbia too, beginning with its historic province of Kosovo-Metohija. Nowhere on any map, produced by the United Nations or for that matter by Britain or the US will you find a nation called Kosovo or Kosova. It is part of Serbia and that has been recognised internationally by treaty and fact for hundreds of years.
To cover their tracks the US and their capitalist allies had to create a demonic figure and also demonised the Serbian people. Creating false and outrageous charges wasn't enough, they had to stage a coup d'etat to overthrow President Milosevic and when Yugoslav law intervened to say he could not be extradited they threw it away and the usurpers handed him over to the false tribunal at the Hague where he was murdered.
People are beginning to see through it though, it's only happening slowly but it is happening and the truth will out eventually. An inconvenient truth if ever there was one.
Paulo: "The Germans had a big role in this and well remembered that the Serbs gave Hitlers fascists a bloody nose in WW2."
Huh? Are you seriously suggesting that the Germans got involved in order to seek revenge for the Serb resistance to the Nazis 60 years ago? Germans = Nazis?
How old are you?
PS Very good article.
I'm 37 and yes, I am suggesting exactly that although this was the lesser of their motivations, the more important one being the imperative of global capitalism of which both Helmut Kohl and his successors Schroeder and Merkel are keen supporters.
Of course the reasons for the war deserve analysis. That does not mean that leftists can overlook the war crimes of serbian nationalism. Ethnic cleansing, mass murder and rape are crimes that no socialist can justify in ANY circumstances. The article is a critique of left wing people who have decided to overlooked these crimes or worse still denied or justified them. NATO attacked the Serbs so the Serbs are automatically anti imperialists. The Serbs decided to revert to national chauvinism to stop the break up of Yugoslavia but also to protect their aboslute power and control.
At various times Paul Johnson,Conor Cruise O'Brien, Ian Paisley, Pat Buchanan, Brendan Clifford, Alan Clarke and hysterical Eurosceptic
Rodney Atkinson expressed support for Milosevic and/or Karadzic. I doubt they did it because the gruesome twosome
were supporting left-wing policies.
Those hyper-links didn't come out in Indymedia format dagnabbit (could any of the editors explain how it works?). Anyway, here's the web addresses for the articles by Michael Karadjis named at the end of the article. Karadjis is an Australian socialist and the Balkans correspondent for Green Left Weekly; he's an expert on this stuff and deals very well with all the pro-Milosevic propaganda to be found in posts above. Very hard to read his articles and continue taking this fairy tale about socialist Serbia being attacked by western imperialism seriously. He also deals with the claims about the KLA repeated above:
Thanks for the excellent article ISN. Not surprised to see the comments from the sorry sycophants. They are pretty second rate as fiction writers. If you want to write fiction, you should try someplace else. All the stories about Germany, the US etc having a "plan" to "break up " what they amazingly state to be "socialist" post-Yugoslavia (one of them even called the right-wing extremist regime of Milsoevic "the last socialist country in Europe" or some such concoction) are entirely based on nothing.
Aside from the links to my articles, I also have put many longer articles up on a blog at http://mihalisk.blogspot.com/
On that site you'll find much of the left revisionist crap methodically taken to pieces. Just one long piece which takes apart much of this is a long reply to a BS "media quiz" that was penned by some bloke called Collon, one of the revisionist set, where his "quiz" and his "answers" are among te standard piecs of nonsense we regularly hear. That's at
My "reluctant reply to John Pilger" you lsted above is there at
A very ureluctant reply to Herman's straight-out idiocy regarding his Irving-style "body-count" revisionism on Kosova is at http://mihalisk.blogspot.com/2005/08/reply-to-ed-herman....html
That was writen before his awful stuff on Srebrenica that Lipmann and Weinberg answered so well, as in the articles you referred to (which can be found on ZNet). Nevertheless, in my long piece above on Collon's "media quiz", a large section deals with Srebenica and Herman's crap, which Collon regurgitates.
Once again, thanks for the excellent work.
I agree with most of the original poster. Indeed it's true Slobodan undermined the Bosnian provincial Government
then tried to get the new Serb Bosnian statelet to become a part of a Greater Serbia.
In fact the Bosnians above anyone else had wanted to maintain the old Yougoslavia even up to and during the Slovene
crisis.It is true Slobodans unerlings carried out war crimes and seemed to be much more of a militarist nationalist
than any kind of marxist.
It is also the case that as an opportunist of huge degree Slobodan sought to jump on greviences as a way to hang on to
his quickly diminishing integrity during the ninties in the complex and tinder box situation in the Balkans.
However it is reasonalby possible to argue that the situation in Bosnia was in many ways quite different to the Kosovo conflict.
Unitl recent decades Kosovo had always been a magority Serb homeland. If there was another identity community in the minority which
later became a magority it was an Albanian identity not a Kosovan identity. For some time before and during the Yougoslav decent into
chaos there was a legitimate concern among peopele in parts of Kosovo and Macedonia of Greater Albanian momentum.
Remember there are still disputes (cold ones) in the Balkans ie (i) Greece v Macedonia (ii) Ethnic Hungarians in Serbia. Cutting terrotories into ever small patchwork does not necessarly lead to more stability. The creation of Montenegro as a modern state is in some ways as problematic as the division in the 1940's of GDR Germany and Federal Germany.
One has to remember that the state of Albania in the late 1990's was on the brink of civil war. Pyramid scheme collapse was leading the country to great distress. During this time all sorts of criminal gangs and quasi political jingoists were opperating and bringing weapons accross borders.
Therefore the welfare of people in Kosovo was not likely to be solved by percipitating cessetion in a premature way in what already was
a national basket case in the greater region. The fact that in a ruthless and dishonest way that Slobodan manipulated the situation to use the excuse western interference to exact a terrible retribution in Kosovo does not take away from the fact that the civilised west did not think out all the consequences of legislating all over the region from above. The west missed its chance to remove the obstacles to the Bosnian Muslim government to arm itself for defense when there was a good opportunity. Two wrongs don't make a right.
the author of this article makes the racist claim that all serbs are guilty of war crimes carried out by serb forces because it was done in their name . Therefore by this logic all croats are guilty of the biggest act of ethnic cleansing which occured in the balkan conflict , that of the krajina region in which hundreds of thousands of serbs were put to the road from their burning homes .
And by that twisted logic too so are all bosnian muslims guilty of the horrific crimes and massacres carried out by Bosnian muslim forces against serb civilians . The accounts of what happened in their jails are horrific in the extreme . One of their military leaders posed with severed civilian heads and boasted of personally decapitating more . By this logic all Bosnian muslims are guilty of the horrific war crimes of the Bosnian muslim SS division which attempted to remove serbs from Bosnia in the 40s .
Nonsense ,hysteria , not logic .
Therefore this article is propaganda , not based upon fact , but anti serb hysteria , in effect a hate piece directed against all serbs . From the authors standpoint any leftist who questions the role played by the west in the balkan conflict is an apologist for serb war crimes . It is an attempt at hysterical moral righteousness aimed at limiting any rational debate of the wests role in the balkans tragedy .
There are without doubt major questions to be asked about what exactly happened in and around srebrinica . Without doubt horrible war crimes and massacres occured . But as yet we have not been told how many of those killed died fighting or after theyd surrendered . If soldiers are massacred in a military rout that is a tragedy , but not necessarily a war crime . Without doubt the Bosnian muslim forces in srebrinica , themselves guilty of horrendous war crimes against both serb and muslim civilians , and led by a notorious gangster and war criminal , were routed and massacred . But we are being demanded to believe that all died after theyd surrendered to serb forces and that mass graves are evidence of this . Every corpse in a war grave a captured soldier . We are demanded to believe that every time a scrap of cloth is recovered from a war grave of muslim troops its a blindfold as opposed to a bandage or arm band .
And the myth that the Bosnian muslim governemnt was some model of multi ethnic tolerance is patently ridiculous . It was led by a notorious religious bigot and extremist whose vision was a serb free Bosnia , just as his nazi forefathers envisaged when they volunteered en masse for the Kandzar division of the SS during the 40s . Are we to demonise all Bosnian Muslims for their crimes simply because Himmler enthusiastically praised the qualities of Bosnian muslims ? Of course not . We as progressive leftisits must approach and debate the subject rationally and logically , which the writer of this article hysterically denounces any progressive , such as Chomsky and others , for even attempting to do . Anyone employing the tactic of hysteria into a debate must immediately be viewed with extreme caution by progressives , because its evident the person simply doesnt want a rational and logical examination of what actually happened .
The wests role in the entire Balkan tragedy must be logically and rationally examined . The role of the imperialist NATO , the role of the International Monetary Fund , the role of the United States and its covert links to Islamic extremism , the role of Britian and the SAS training the KLA , the role of Turkey , a NATO member and former imperial power in the region , and particularly the role of the German state , the former imperial and fascist power in the region which was up to its neck in this conflict . Yugoslavian partisans , mostly serb , were the only irregular force to defeat and completely humble the German war machine . Anyone who doubts the fascist nature of modern German powerbrokers obviously missed the vindictive horrors of its Stammheim prison and the role which Nazis like Hans Martin Schleyer have played in that states internal affairs since the end of WW2 .
The diplomatic manouevrings of the imperialist powers in this conflict must be rigorously examined . As has been pointed out the Wests demand that its troops have unfetterd access and control of all the former Yugoslavia was completely unacceptable . So why they included this demand while supposedly seeking conflict resolution must be examined . Lets examine that , its repercussions , and try and determine what really occured in the Balkans and why .
Hysteria should not be part of that debate and nor should it be used to limit that debate .
"the author of this article makes the racist claim that all serbs are guilty of war crimes carried out by serb forces because it was done in their name"
"People who think about the world in terms of class, who recognise that state power is usually exercised in the interest of powerful elites not the general population, ought to recognise easily that you can hold a state responsible for terrible acts without necessarily blaming its people."
Once I saw that I didn't think it worth reading Barry's comment any further, since he obviously never read the article.
Taking an anti-war stand on Iran is not the same as taking a pro-war stand on Kosovo. Are we dealing with moralities? Are we really dealing with good and bad? Anyone who thinks we are should go back to reading Ann and Barry because thats how small their brains are, and they have no business in any such war debate.
I am anti-war with Iran because it is a war that cannot be won! And what would be the objective of war with Iran exactly?
Oh please, lets not get into a fight about 'who they support', we are not at a football game, nor in a pub. America wants a war because it suits their aims. Any other logic is flawed because the US will do what suits the US, same goes for any other truely sovreign nation.
A war with Iran does not make sense for any EU nation because the EU has no strategic aims in the region, since that area is already a US playground, the EU could only get involved if it wanted to remove US power and impose its own. Britain is a US lapdog because? Well, you just take a look at the UK's economy, how much of its industry is in weapons? Thats your answer.
A war with Iran is a waste of time, because in order to remove the political structure one has to destroy a whole religion. In Shia islam the concept of removing the religious from the state just would not work. Also Iran is a unified nation, unlike splintered Iraq, Iran would only splinter at its edges, its core is Persian, and they would resist with as much ferocity as the Viets did.
Its a Quixotic idea to think that Islam will be pacified by force.
"Once I saw that I didn't think it worth reading Barry's comment any further, since he obviously never read the article."
If youd read the article youd see that the author made the accusation against every last serb
"The Serbian people as a whole can be accused of failing to do enough (or anything at all) to oppose the murder campaign being carried out in their name -"
accused of being complicit in war crimes , as according to this article the failure of the serbs to accept whatever status the croat and muslim factions along with NATO dictated to them was a war crime in itself , little more than a murder campaign . Its obvious people are expected simply to accept this one dimensional demonisation of an entire ethnic group while exculpating all others, including the west , of responsibility for the balkan wars without questioning their roles at all . Its propaganda .
to discussions of the chomsky smear and the srebrenica question:
Cockburn: Storm Over Brockes' Fakery
Johnstone: Srebrenica Revisited
Barry has performed a useful service of some kind by listing off most of the standard lines used by pro-Milosevic apologists who position themselves on the left. Let’s just go through them one by one –
“The author of this article makes the racist claim that all Serbs are guilty of war crimes carried out by Serb forces because it was done in their name.”
This is a lie, and a particularly stupid lie, since anyone can read the article above for themselves. I wrote the following:
“People who think about the world in terms of class, who recognise that state power is usually exercised in the interest of powerful elites not the general population, ought to recognise easily that you can hold a state responsible for terrible acts without necessarily blaming its people.
The primary responsibility for the crimes committed by Serbian forces in Bosnia and Kosova lies with the political leaders who organised the atrocities, and the soldiers and paramilitary thugs who carried them out. The Serbian people as a whole can be accused of failing to do enough (or anything at all) to oppose the murder campaign being carried out in their name - that’s a matter for their own conscience, there can be no question of punishing people who weren’t directly involved in war crimes. But this is not “demonisation”, by any stretch of the imagination."
Very simple and straightforward for anyone who’s not blinded by prejudice. The Serbian leadership of the time in Belgrade, Knin and Pale is primarily responsible for the war crimes, as are the thugs who carried out those atrocities. The Serbian people can be accused of not doing enough to challenge those crimes while they were happening, just as the Israeli people today can be accused of not doing enough to oppose the oppression of the Palestinians, or the US people can be accused of not doing enough to oppose the occupation of Iraq. I explicitly reject the idea of collective guilt or collective punishment – “there can be no question of punishing people who weren’t directly involved in war crimes.”
Of course, this is enough to enrage Barry, because he is determined to pretend that there were no war crimes committed by Serbian nationalists:
“According to this article the failure of the Serbs to accept whatever status the Croat and Muslim factions along with NATO dictated to them was a war crime in itself, little more than a murder campaign.”
Such utterly dishonest rubbish it’s difficult to believe that anyone could write it and expect it to be taken seriously. The mass murder of tens of thousands of civilians in Croatia, Bosnia and Kosova between 1991 and 1999 was a war crime, or rather a series of war crimes. This had nothing do with resisting the dictates of Croats or Muslims or NATO - it was an attempt to create a Greater Serbia by robbing other people's land and driving them out with force or imposing a system of apartheid on them.
“The biggest act of ethnic cleansing which occured in the Balkan conflict , that of the Krajina region in which hundreds of thousands of Serbs were put to the road from their burning homes”
The expulsion of Serbs from the Krajina by Croat government forces in 1995 saw 150,000 people leave their homes while several hundred of those remaining were killed. This was a war crime, which should certainly be remembered and condemned, but it was definitely not the worst atrocity committed during the Balkan wars.
Within a few months of the outbreak of war in Bosnia in 1992, over a million Bosnian Muslims had been driven out of their homes and tens of thousands had been killed. In 1999, when Milosevic responded to the NATO bombing campaign by dramatically escalating the violence in Kosova, 10,000 people were killed within two months and 800,000 were forced out of the province into Albania and Macedonia.
In fact, the atrocities committed by Chetnik forces against Croats in eastern Slavonia and the Krajina when they originally seized those territories were even worse than what happened to Serbs in the same regions in 1995. More people were killed in the assault on the multi-ethnic Croatian town of Vukovar in 1991. It’s a dead give-away that the people like Barry who talk about the violent expulsion of Serbs from the Krajina never mention those atrocities – their intention is not to make sure that every crime committed during the Balkan wars is remembered (a perfectly honourable goal), their intention is to protect the guilty parties in Serbia from scrutiny.
As we can see clearly from what Barry has to say about the Srebrenica massacre:
“But as yet we have not been told how many of those killed died fighting or after they’d surrendered. If soldiers are massacred in a military rout that is a tragedy , but not necessarily a war crime.”
There is very little room for debate about this. The massacre has been studied as carefully as any war crime in modern history. 8,000 defenceless, unarmed Bosnian Muslims were slaughtered in cold blood by General Mladic’s forces. Some of them handed themselves in when the town fell; they were carefully separated from the women of Srebrenica and methodically killed over the next few days. A thousand men were lined up in a ware-house and massacred with machine guns and hand grenades. Mladic’s “soldiers” went around asking if anyone was alive, then finishing them off with pistols at close range.
Others fled through the woods in the hope of reaching government-held territory: they were hunted down like animals. After burying them all in mass graves, the Serb forces then dug up the graves and took the corpses to different locations in the hope of disguising the evidence of what they had done. Teams of researchers have been tracing down these graves for the last decade, using every scientific tool they have available to identify the bodies.
Ed Vulliamy describes all of this in chilling detail in a lengthy article composed on the tenth anniversary of the massacre, which can be found here:
I suggest anyone unfamiliar with the facts read it and see why Barry’s attempt to minimise the biggest war crime in Europe since WW2 is so shameful. Maybe, after reading the account of one of the few survivors, who had to trudge through a field of bloody corpses to escape, Barry might feel a little shame himself.
“Without doubt the Bosnian Muslim forces in Srebrenica , themselves guilty of horrendous war crimes against both Serb and Muslim civilians, and led by a notorious gangster and war criminal, were routed and massacred. But we are being demanded to believe that all died after they’d surrendered to Serb forces and that mass graves are evidence of this.”
The claim that the massacre at Srebrenica was a response to atrocities by Bosniak forces based in the town is a familiar one, but it can’t stand up to any scrutiny. It’s true that the soldiers commanded by Naser Oric did carry out attacks on Serb civilians in the region between the time the “safe haven” was set up and its destruction in 1995 – Oric has been charged with responsibility for those crimes at the Hague tribunal.
But the mass killing of Muslims in eastern Bosnia began as soon as war broke out in 1992, it wasn’t a response to anything the Muslims had done except live there. Srebrenica was just the climax of three years of atrocities in the region, tens of thousands of Muslims had already been killed by the time the town fell. Telling that Barry is willing to accept the most exaggerated, implausible claims about Muslim atrocities, but denies well-established facts about Serb crimes even though the evidence is overwhelming.
More articles on Srebrenica here:
And then we have the following claims about the Bosnian government:
“The myth that the Bosnian Muslim government was some model of multi ethnic tolerance is patently ridiculous. It was led by a notorious religious bigot and extremist whose vision was a Serb-free Bosnia, just as his Nazi forefathers envisaged when they volunteered en masse for the Kandzar division of the SS during the 40s .”
Again, the facts are very clear. The government of Alija Izetbegovic had no project to establish a “Serb-free” Bosnia – this is just a pathetic lie. There is absolutely no evidence of any organised persecution of Serbs or Croats by the Sarajevo government. There were Serbs and Croats in their cabinet, and at all levels of the state. There were Serbs and Croats serving in the Bosnian army – the officer commanding the defence of Sarajevo was a Serb. Tens of thousands of Serbs remained in Sarajevo throughout the siege. Hundreds of thousands fled the racist “Serb republic” of Karadzic and Mladic and came to government-held territory.
Nor is there any evidence that the same government tried to impose any kind of Islamist system. Women were not forced to wear veils, alcohol was not banned, etc – in fact, the handful of jihadists from the Middle East who came to fight in Bosnia were horrified by the secularism of the local Muslims. Barry’s claim that Izetbegovic was a “notorious religious bigot” (telling that he doesn’t use such language to describe Karadzic or Milosevic) is the sort of lazy Islamophobic tripe we usually hear from the Kevin Myers end of the political spectrum – every Muslim must be a bigot, by definition, they’re all irrational fanatics aren’t they?
In fact, Izetbegovic’s brand of political Islam was a lot more restrained than anything Hamas or Hezbullah would come out with – Barry has regularly defended those organisations on Indymedia, but I guess they had the fortune to be fighting against the right enemy. There was no claim in the article that the Sarajevo government was perfect, or that there was nothing in its conduct that socialists should not criticise - but it was the only force worth supporting in the conflict, it was head and shoulders above the regimes of Milosevic and Tudjman and their allies in Bosnia.
The allusion to Muslim collaborators in WW2 is also revealingly selective – there was a puppet government in Serbia headed by Milan Nedic, Belgrade was the first city in Europe to be declared “Jew-free”, and the Serb nationalist Chetniks massacred Jews, Muslims and Croats while collaborating with the Nazis in their war against the Partisans. Radovan Karadzic openly stated his admiration for the Chetniks, and the militias of Seselj and Arkan were their direct descendants – but Barry chooses not to mention that, even though it would be far more relevant. Every nationality collaborated during the war, and every nationality contributed its fair share to the partisan struggle.
It’s true that there were atrocities committed by Bosniak forces during the war, but there was no systematic policy of slaughter and ethnic cleansing of the sort put into practice by Karadzic and Mladic with the full backing of Milosevic. The statistics demonstrate this very clearly. A research institute in Sarajevo has been counting the deaths in the conflict for the last few years. They’ve been very cautious and methodical about confirming deaths – so far they’ve counted almost 100,000, and expect the final figure to be somewhere around 150,000.
Out of the deaths they’ve confirmed so far, almost 70% were Muslims – although they made up barely 40% of the population. When it comes to counting civilian deaths, the contrast is even more glaring – fifteen times as many Muslims as Serbs were killed. And the figure for Serb civilian deaths includes residents of Sarajevo killed when Mladic’s forces shelled the town. The explanation for the disparity is very simple – there was no organised, systematic campaign of murder directed against Serbs, with the backing of a state behind it. There was a campaign of that sort directed against Muslims.
“The role of Britain and the SAS training the KLA”
All kinds of far-fetched claims have been made about the KLA – that they were funded by drug dealing and human trafficking, that they were armed by the CIA, that they were trained by the SAS. In fact, the KLA was founded by a core of activists who came out of Marxist-Leninist groups set up in Kosova in the 1980s with Albanian government support (right until the eve of the NATO bombing in 1999, the KLA paper published in Germany sung the praises of Enver Hoxha). They were able to get enough guns to launch a guerrilla struggle inside Kosova because the Albanian government collapsed in 1997, putting a lot of cheap weaponry on the market – the KLA got most of its funding from Albanians working in western Europe.
At the beginning of 1998, the KLA had a few hundred troops, within a year and half, it had over 20,000, so naturally it was a loose coalition of forces, many branches of Rugova’s LDK party came over, and a lot of people joined purely because they wanted to defend their villages against Serbian attack. After the war was over, the KLA disbanded, they were disarmed by NATO, and the veterans went off in different directions – some formed mainstream Albanian nationalist parties, others set up smaller left-wing groups. No doubt some people who fought with the KLA in 1998/9 have subsequently got involved in organised crime, and others have taken part in attacks on Serb civilians – but the KLA as an organisation has not, it doesn’t exist anymore. Many former KLA leaders like Adem Demaqi have been very out-spoken in calling for peaceful relations between Serbs and Albanians in Kosova.
The idea that the KLA was armed by the CIA or trained by the SAS is particularly far-fetched – when the group first emerged at the beginning of 1998, the Clinton administration gave Milosevic the green light to crush them, one of its officials went to Belgrade and denounced the KLA as “terrorists”. It was only when the response of the Serb government proved to be utterly counter-productive, driving Kosovar Albanians into the arms of the KLA and threatening to de-stabilise the whole region via Macedonia with its large Albanian minority, that Washington stepped in and demanded that Milosevic hand over control of security in the province to them, and bombed him when he wouldn’t comply. During the bombing campaign, the US government made no attempt to help the KLA, it didn’t supply them with weapons, it didn’t target Serb forces in Kosova (just thirteen tanks were destroyed by NATO if I remember rightly, and that was towards the end of the war – NATO was too busy destroying civilian infrastructure in Serbia).
Since the war ended, Washington has given the Kostunica government in Belgrade and the Macedonian authorities the go-ahead to launch brutal crack-downs against armed Albanian groups in parts of their country that were inspired by the KLA. Even now, nearly a decade after the 1999 war, the US is still only willing to support “supervised independence” for Kosova . They clearly want to keep a leash on Albanian nationalism in the Balkans, they don’t want any kind of “greater Albania” project to gather momentum because it could destabilise the Balkans and draw in important allies of theirs like Greece and Turkey.
Looking at the record of US policy, it’s just absurd to claim that they would have nurtured the growth of an insurrectionary Albanian guerrilla force – the KLA imposed itself as a force to be reckoned with, and it was only then that Washington decided to co-opt them for its purposes (the most politically savvy Kosovar leaders like Adem Demaqi warned the KLA leadership that they were being taken for a ride by the Yanks and urged them not to sign up to the Rambouillet agreement – sadly, the majority of KLA leaders were too naïve to follow their advice).
Finally, regarding Chomsky – there’s nothing the least bit “hysterical” about the criticism of his position, it’s balanced and reasonable, and more restrained than it might be. I reject the more extreme claims made about Chomsky’s take on the Balkans (such as can be read in this article by Marko Attila Hoare, where he tries very hard to make the charge of “massacre denial” stick but can’t quite pull it off –
http://zope06.v.servelocity.net/hjs/sections/greater_eu...87965 ). The controversy about Chomsky and the Balkans has been distorted by the intervention of people like Hoare and Oliver Kamm who have an agenda of their own. They badly want to take Chomsky’s scalp because he’s an icon of the anti-war Left and getting people to see him as an apologist for fascism and genocide would be a big victory for their increasingly ragged and discredited neo-conservative camp.
It’s particularly unfortunate that people like that have thrown their oar into the debate, because Chomsky does deserve to be criticised for what he’s said about the Balkan wars, just as long as he’s criticised for what he’s actually said, not things that people wish he had said. His comments in this interview with a Serbian TV station last year are especially disappointing and irresponsible: with much of the Serbian population still in complete denial about the crimes of the 1990s ( see http://www.b92.net/eng/insight/opinions.php?nav_id=43127), he said very little to challenge those prejudices: http://www.chomsky.info/interviews/20060425.htm
Ziauddin Sardar and the late Susan Sontag both favoured intervention in the Bosnia war and opposed
it in the Second Gulf War, so the argument that Milosevic's left-wing opponents are
Hitchens-like sell-outs doesn't hold water.
I remember somebody comparing Diana Johnstone's "Fools Crusade" nonsense to Joan Peters'
infamous "From Time Immemorial", which claimed the Palestinans didn't exist. I thought it was an
apt comparsion, especially given Sharon's support for Milosevic.
Well done on the original piece by ISN, they are correct to point out, what to me was the most misguided campaign of the left in Ireland, that being to view Milosevic as anything but a right wing opportunist on a power trip.
I supported then and still now the US intervention in Bosnia and welcome the fact that they are still international peacekeepers in place. Bosnia is a far from being the liberal pluralistic democracy that its people wants and there is serious naive interference in domestic politics from OHR but its getting there.
Kosov@ is a somewhat more complicated and I have an uncomfortable feeling that the NATO attack was driven as much by personal mission of vengence by Clinton and Albright than anything else.
Some of the guff written in the comments in the thread above are appalling. Milosevic was the ultimate in cowardly leaders, in that he never faced down the mobs and the ultra-nationalist in his own country and peoples.
This piece by the Slovenian writer Slavoj Zizek is a nice take on the war between NATO and Milosevic:
"What if one should reject this double blackmail (if you are against NATO strikes, you are for Milosevic's proto-Fascist regime of ethnic cleansing, and if you are against Milosevic, you support the global capitalist New World Order)? What if this very opposition between enlightened international intervention against ethnic fundamentalists, and the heroic last pockets of resistance against the New World Order, is a false one? What if phenomena like the Milosevic regime are not the opposite to the New World Order, but rather its symptom, the place at which the hidden truth of the New World Order emerges? ... when the West fights Milosevic, it is NOT fighting its enemy, one of the last points of resistance against the liberal-democratic New World Order; it is rather fighting its own creature, a monster that grew as the result of the compromises and inconsistencies of the Western politics itself."
I really welcome this article, which, as other contributors have said, is for the most part written to a high standard, mostly well researched, and so on. I am especially admiring of anyone who takes on the left's (or anyone else's) received truths, which, tragically, are so often unquestioningly regurgitated and zealously defended. This article has sparked quite a high standard of much needed debate and examination. This is all good. I hope that this post will be taken in that spirit.
First, I have to declare an interest here, I have a friend and colleague who used to be one of the RCP/LM lot. However, even before I met him, I enjoyed that lot's nit-picky argumentativeness as I found it challenging and stimulating, even if I often didn't agree with them. I also admired the RCP for having (I am not sure at what point in the early 1990s) examined themselves critically and taken the decision to fold as a Leninist political party. I took that as a sign of maturity and as an implicit rejection of their "democratic centralist" (ie Leninist) political structure, and the related requirement to tow the party line - that idiotic robotic insistence inside left groups on ideological unity- the real source of cultism, I would argue. I also respected the fact that, as individuals, they had not thrown out the critical baby with the ideological bathwater, choosing instead to remain politically and critically active in different projects.
Now, some of the positions taken by some of the post LM/RCP crowd are, I agree, quite whacky. However, this does not make them all right-wingers as the author claims, rather I would put it down to a sometimes annoying tactical decision to play devil's advocate and challenge the left's and anyone else's received truths, something the author himself is rightly engaging in here. It is also misleading to use some of the positions held by some of the post LM lot's as "evidence" of all of their "swing to the far right". To do so would be akin to using the birch of Senator Eoghan Harris' ideological somersaults to beat his former Sticky colleagues in the ISN with. That, we can all agree, would be just plain nonsense.
My main criticism of the article is not tits criticism of the Left's position on the Serbian government (I have to confess to not having enough information to be able to take position here with any confidence - there is just so much misinformation about, suffice to say I was always uncomfortable with the left's and Irish Republicanism's apparently automatic identification with Serbian nationalism), but the article's claim that the LM article about the Bosnian Serb camp at Trnopolje accused Ed Vulliamy and the ITN crew of fabricating evidence about the camp.
It did no such thing. It merely repeated time and again the assertion that the footage broadcast by ITN and the stills taken from it had been used in a misleading way by the western media and that Vulliamy and his colleagues, while they never made the "concentration camp" claims themselves, did nothing to put the record straight. The article makes a compelling case about media and state distortion of the truth in times of war and points out some of the possible outworkings of that distortion.
A cynic would accuse the author of unquestioningly regurgitating the British state's line on the controversy. However, as the author of the above article appears to concede, losing the libel case did not mean that the offending LM article was either wrong or that the camp at Trnopolje was found to have been a Nazi-style concentration camp, whatever about the British gutter presses conclusions. LM was shut down because of losing this libel action. Freedom of the press suffered a serious blow because of this, whatever your views about the position taken by the article.
I have posted a link to an online version of the article, translated from a German language original published in "Novo" Magazine and authored by Thomas Deichmann, which my colleague gave me a hard copy of just the other day. Technically he and I are now guilty of the same charge as LM. Read it yourself and make up your own mind.
"The Picture That Fooled The World"
"The article that fooled the left”
Shane O’Curry asks us to make up our own minds about the Deuchmann’s article ‘The picture that fooled the world’, though he apparently distances himself from the more despicable way in which Deutchmann’s LM cult used this article as part of their crusade to defend the far-right chauvinist regimes of Milosevic/Seselj and Karadzic.
He claims that all the article did was claim that the ITN footage had been used in a misleading way by the western media, and that Vulliamy and his colleagues did not correct that.
In reality, the article is a pack of lies, based on the “evidence” of some bloke who first went there in 1997, that is, two years after the end of the war, and five years after the events in question, by which time all the remnants of the death camps were gone. He picked up his views by talking to a couple of local Serbs, and from footage shot at the same time by a local TV news crew, that is, the footage shot by the Serbian terror state media, allegedly “at the time,” which however Deutchman did not see until 5 years later. I suppose, that is, after plenty of time to doctor it, or even invent it.
A great deal has been made about whether the fence was around the prisoners or an enclosure around the journalists, that the prisoners were looking into, based on which side of the fence the barbed wire was on and other such trivia. Did the journalists make that bit up? I don’t know, but it is irrelevant. More relevant is the assertion deriving from this: that the prisoners were “treated well” according to one prisoner, that the prisoners were “free because they were refugees in this camp to escape the war and the militias who would force them to fight,” and that it was only one “gravely ill” prisoner who was very thin, who they zeroed in on, while his mates were “in good shape.”
This primitive Goebbelesque stuff is an eyesore coming from anywhere on the left, and as Goebbelesque as any of the exaggerated use of the ITN material by tabloids. Anyone who wants to know about the kinds of hideous tortures and daily horrific murders that went on in these death camps only has to look at the very extensive documentation at the Hague, or Red Cross, or Amnesty, or the UN, based on the testimony of thousands of witnesses. And what this testimony shows is that places such as Omarska, Keraterm, Trnopolje, Sanski Most, Brcko, Foca etc represented some of the ugliest events of modern history. “Free” indeed. Whether they were surrounded by barbed wire or not was thus irrelevant, as I said; even if they weren’t, if they had tried to escape, they would have been target practice for the sadistic guards. As for the photos, if you look at enough of them you will see loads of people as skinny as Alic; the suggestion that other prisoners were “in good shape” is abominable. Perhaps just looking at the three photos on this page http://srebrenica-genocide.blogspot.com/2006/07/moral-equivalism-is-flawed.html might already show up the lie of the single allegedly “gravely ill” man.
Anyone who wants to read about these monstrous crimes, these concentration camps, can try these pages from the report of the UN Commission of Experts:
http://www.ess.uwe.ac.uk/comexpert/ANX/VIII-05.htm#Debut includes Omarska
http://www.ess.uwe.ac.uk/comexpert/ANX/VIII-06.htm#Debut includes Keraterm and Trnopolje
http://www.ess.uwe.ac.uk/comexpert/ANX/VIII-07.htm#III.A.67 includes Sanski Most
http://www.ess.uwe.ac.uk/comexpert/ANX/VIII-03.htm#III.A.25 includes Foca (also a rape camp)
http://www.ess.uwe.ac.uk/comexpert/ANX/VIII-02.htm#III.A.13 includes Brcko
Anyone reading these reports will soon become aware of the level of complete moral corruption of the pro-genocide wing of the left represented by LM and people like Michael Parenti, Diana Johnstone and Ed Herman.
I think Ed Vulliamy himself puts it most eloquently himself when describing the irrelevance of LM’s obsession with the wire being on which side of the fence, when compared to the stark reality of these death camps. Referring to the trial at which Deutchman’s group, the bizarre left-right, “red”-brown cult “Living Marxism” (LM), lost the case against ITN, he says (http://www.guardian.co.uk/itn/article/0,2763,184815,00.html):
“Of course Living Marxism was unable to offer a single witness who had been at Trnopolje, the camp they claimed to be a fake, on that putrid afternoon of August 5, 1992. Indeed, they were unable to produce any witnesses at all. Unlike any member of Living Marxism or their sympathisers, I was there with ITN's cameras that day. We went to two camps: Omarska and Trnopolje.
“Living Marxism does not like to mention Omarska: there, we saw little, but enough: skeletal men drilled across a yard and devouring watery stew like famished dogs before being bundled out. One man said: "I do not want to tell any lies, but I cannot tell the truth."
“The truth emerged with time. Omarska turned out to be the kind of place where one prisoner was forced to bite the testicles off another, who had a live pigeon stuffed into his mouth to stifle the screams as he died in agony. The yard at Omarska was a killing field, prisoners obliged to load the mutilated corpses of their friends on to trucks by bulldozer.
“Trnopolje was a marginally less satanic place, some of whose prisoners were transferred from other hideous camps to await forced deportation. Others were rounded up and herded there like cattle, or had even fled there to avoid the systematic shelling and burning of their homes. Unknown to us when we pulled up on the road, in disbelief at the sight before us, it was the former group that was held captive behind the now celebrated barbed wire fence.
“At the time I paid little attention to what would become Living Marxism's myopic obsessions: such as which side of which pole the old barbed wire or fresh barbed wire was fixed. There were more important matters, such as the emaciated Fikret Alic's (accurate and vindicated) recollections of the night he had been assigned to load the bodies of 250 men killed in one night at yet another camp.
“If it is still of any remote interest, I will say this: I now know the compound in which these terrified men were held captive to have been surrounded on one side by recently reinforced barbed wire, on two sides by a chain-link fence patrolled by menacing armed thugs and on a fourth side by a wall. But so what? This was a camp - I would say a concentration camp - and they were its inmates.
“What does it take to convince people? The war ground on, the British foreign office and Living Marxism in perfect synergy over their appeasement of the Serbs while other, worse camps were revealed. The bench in The Hague issued its judgment on Trnopolje in 1997: a verdict that described the camp as infinitely worse than anything we reported - an infernal place of rape, murder and torture. Witness after witness confirmed this. The Financial Times enthusiastically re-iterated Living Marxism's claims of a fabrication, but published a hasty and grovelling retraction when it looked at LM's non-evidence.”
Deutchman’s British cult, the so-called ‘Living Marxism’, was a bizarre outfit, of which, at a certain point in the late 1990s the entire leadership turned completely counterrevolutionary overnight. Since this is impossible, the only explanation is that they already were, and their bizarre tactics, of turning themselves into spokespeople for Serbian ethnic cleansing, were designed to make the left look ridiculous. George Monbiot does an excellent job on this group of right-wing extremists:
The Invasion of the Entryists
Bear in mind that it was the fake propaganda of this cult that was behind much of the “information” that is now used by many of the pro-genocide wing of the “left” and right, who continually retail the same points and continually reference each other, with silly stories often going back to LM.
For the most complete description of the entire issue of the camps and the ITN story and the LM idiocy about it, people must read:
‘Atrocity, memory, photography: imaging the concentration camps of Bosnia - the case of ITN versus Living Marxism’
Anyone who hasn’t read that has simply done no justice to the story. It is superbly well-documented and argued stuff: nothing like Deuchmann’s chaff.
Now, that sections of the media may have engaged in ‘demonisation’ in the way they presented news is not in dispute: this commonly occurs. However, reporting on actual death camps is not ‘demonisation’; it is the perpetrators ‘demonising’ themselves. This goes for any conflict. The one thing that can be criticized is some of the sensationalist British media, which blew up the stories of the ITN journalists with screaming headlines about “the new Holocaust” featuring in particular the emaciated figures. The journalists themselves criticized this usage of their material. For example, Vulliamy states:
“Let no one for one minute compare Omarska to Auschwitz-Birkenau. Such a course is useless and dangerous. No one was more angry than I at headlines such as “Belsen 1992”. They merely played into the hands of those seeking to downplay and even deny what had happened in the Serbian camps.” Including, that is, the LM idiots.
But what was LM really concerned about? Was it that the exaggerated way the tabloids used it was cover for some imperialist plot to intervene in the war and launch a war against Serbia?
Some leftists mistakenly took this tabloid sensationalism for the policy of the UK ruling class, and Shane O’Curry implies this when he suggests “A cynic would accuse the author of unquestioningly regurgitating the British state's line on the controversy.” In reality, it had nothing to do with UK Tory government policy, which was cravenly pro-Serb throughout the Bosnia war, just as much as its cheerleaders in LM, indeed the Tories and LM had the same policy; rather it was just that wing of the media which specialize in this kind of hyper sensationalist “journalism” as a rule.
Was the US preparing a war against Serbia, or even to intervene in Bosnia? Since we are talking about 1992, and US intervention in Bosnia did not occur until 1995 (and that essentially to save Milosevic’s arse), why would they be making propaganda back in 1992? The answer: they weren’t. And moreover: if the US had wanted to bomb in 1992, using the concentration camp images, it could have easily, with significant support, without even having to resort to much propaganda beyond the reality.
So what was actually happening at the time regarding the US and these death camps? In fact, the US government actively tried to deny their existence until the last moment, until the journalist Roy Gutman thrust them into the international media and into their faces in August 1992. They were clearly aware of these camps: a May 29 report by the International Society for Human Rights had already listed many with graphic details (International Society for Human Rights, British section, Human Rights and Serbia, 1992) and in July the Bosnian government issued a list of 105 such camps and of 9300 deaths in them (Bosnian Government Information Office, ‘List of Concentration Camps and Prisons on the Territory of the Republic of BH,’ July 28, 1992). The US government was clearly aware of this (United States, House of Representatives, Committee on Foreign Affairs, Developments in Yugoslavia and Europe - August 1992, 102nd Congress, Second Session, Washington, GPO, August 4, 1992, p6). US intelligence had also been aware of these camps before this, and the US embassy in Belgrade had sent regular wires to the State Department based on Red Cross and other information (Vulliamy, E, “Bosnia: The Crime of Appeasement,” International Affairs, Vol. 74, No. 1, 1998, p79). The Red Cross had already visited 4000 people in 10 death camps from July 9 and had reported it all to the UN (Developments in Yugoslavia and Europe - August 1992, op cit, p50-51). Even after Gutman’s revelations, the first reaction of US leaders was to deny their existence. Only once they became undeniable did western leaders demand Red Cross examination of these camps; even then they did not demand their closure.
In the US Congress on August 4, efforts by opposition members to bring up the evidence that had been amassed about the camps for months were met with the continual response by government spokesman Thomas Niles, Assistant Secretary of State for European and Canadian Affairs, that the US government “cannot confirm” such reports as “we do not have thus far substantiated information.” When asked “Do you have confirmation that some killing and some torture has taken place?” he replied “No, I cannot confirm that.” “You cannot even confirm a single case?” “I cannot” (ibid, p7, and then continually throughout the report. The questioner was Lee Hamilton, chair of the subcommittee on Europe and the Middle East). Amazing – Niles sounds just like Parenti, Ramsey Clarke etc.
Every question throughout the session about what the US would do to ensure delivery of humanitarian relief was met with legalistic arguments about needing to get a consensus through the UN Security Council, even though the Security Council had already passed resolutions authorising the use of force, and the US has never worried about legalisms. As one congressman pointed out, “The President wasn’t worried about legalisms when it came to Saddam Hussein. President Reagan wasn’t worried about legalisms when it came to a number of countries, including Grenada. So don’t put up the shield of legalisms,” (p52). Asked about the continuing arms embargo against Bosnia, Niles replied that the delivery of food aid to Sarajevo was “the best guarantee that the Serbs will not succeed in conquering the city” (p34).
Finally, the revisionist set often claims that “all sides” had camps in which they committed atrocities. For example, Michael Collon, a member of this club, claims “There certainly were camps in Bosnia. Not for extermination, but rather for the preparation of prisoner exchanges. Violations of Human Rights were committed here. But why were the UN reports on this subject hidden from us? They accounted for six Croat camps, two Serb camps and one Muslim camp.”
It is difficult to know whether Collon is lying or just stupid. Only two Serb-run camps in Bosnia were there?
According to the Final Report of the United Nations Commission of Experts
established pursuant to security council resolution 780 (1992), “The reports reviewed alleged a total of 677 camps within BiH. Among those camps, 333 (49.2 per cent) were alleged to have been controlled by Bosnian Serbs; 83 (12.2 per cent) by Bosnian Muslims; 51 (7.5 per cent), by Croats; 31 (4.6 per cent) by both Croats and Muslims; 5 (.7 per cent), by private parties; and 174 (25.7 per cent) by unidentified forces (http://www.ess.uwe.ac.uk/comexpert/ANX/VIII-01.htm#III). Thus if we leave out the “unidentified,” then Serb forces ran two thirds of all the camps.
Of course, not all these were necessarily death camps. Some may have even been the kind of holding camps that Collon describes. Referring to the 960 camps in all of former Yugoslavia (in which the breakdown of ‘ownership’ is basically similar to that of Bosnia), the report states regarding the numbers held and the severity of the crimes recorded:
“As the above statistics and following discussion indicate, the number of camps and reported violations in camps controlled by the Government of BiH and its army are the fewest among the warring factions, irrespective of the ethnic or religious background of the detainees held. The number of reported violations by the Croatian Government, the Croatian Army, and the Croatian Defence Council is larger, particularly against Serbs in Krajina and in eastern and western Slavonia and against Muslims from BiH in Herzegovina. The period of time during which those camps were operated in each of these contexts is relatively limited. The two warring factions identified above are, however, reported to have committed far fewer numbers of violations than those committed by the Serb forces and those working on their behalf, whether in Croatia or BiH. Camps operated by Serbs in BiH are by far where the largest numbers of detainees have been held and where the harshest and largest number of violations occurred.”
No-one has ever denied that Croats and Muslims also had camps, and that massive human rights violations also occurred there. The most important issue, apart from the huge difference in extent of these camps and the abuses, is that the Bosnian government immediately sent Muslim officers to the Hague when they were first accused of running a terrible camp outside Sarajevo where many Serbs and Croats were killed. In fact, for all the alleged “anti-Serb bias” of the Hague, these Muslims were the very first from former Yugoslavia to be convicted by the Hague, while Serb and Croat butchers of a dramatically higher level were – and are - still running around.
Finally, just a comment on where O'Curry says he "was always uncomfortable with the left's and Irish Republicanism's apparently automatic identification with Serbian nationalism", bear in mnd that there were significant sectins of the eft right round the world that did not fall into this mindlessness. In fact I think clownish groups like LM and Workers World mostly led the way. They got more support for their views after 1999 due to the NATO aggression, when many leftists ationalised backwards from this. But I am somewhat surpirsed by the claim that there was any identification of Irish nationalism (ie a nationalism of the oppressed) with Serbian nationalism (that of the local oppressor). That certainly wasn't the view of the IRSP, for example. However, there was a very definitive identification between reactionary Irish Unionism and Serbian nationalism - the unionists beleived that just as the Protstant irish should not have to live in a Cathilic majority Ireland, prefering partition, so likewise the good Bosnian Serb Christians should not have to live in a Muslim and 'Papist' majority Bosnia. Here's some reactionary identification from Paisley's site:
And plenty more where that came from.
It really is sad to see such a complex issue reduced in this way. And I don't mean that the article's not well written it just seems to avoid contrary evidence or misconstrue it. Challenge positions sure but do so honestly....
I think the Guardian writer Neil Clark will provides balance here(1), based upon actual facts on the ground.
(not that I agree with all of Clark's politics but in terms of what happened and continues to happen in the former Yugoslavia he hits the nail on the head more often than not)
Oh and the reason Yugoslavia was targeted (and Serbia within) in such a one-sided manner is because, historically, it showed how a successful (albeit market) socialist, self-managed economy could work with stunning success for decades. The growth statistics since the 50s were just phenomenal.
The possibility of such a 'bad' example occurring again would be unconscionable not to mind the fact that region needed to be forcibly opened for western capital through neoliberal intervention. A less clear-cut precursor of strategies to come with the shock therapy visited upon Iraq's economy.
And I don't think it's surprising that Herman and Chomsky would be interested in the one-sided way the media portrayed the situation given their previous work on Manufacturing Consent. How the author above misconstrues this I really don't know...
Again a link to an article, this time from Medialens might help makes things clearer with respect to Chomsky's views.
Smearing Chomsky - The Guardian in the Gutter
We have received no reply from Brockes.
It took just minutes searching the internet for us to find numerous quotes that flatly contradict Brockes’s claims. For example, in his January/February 2005 article, ‘Imperial Presidency,’ Chomsky described the November 2004 US assault on Falluja as involving “war crimes for which the political leadership could be sentenced to death under US law”. He added:
“One might mention at least some of the recent counterparts that immediately come to mind, like the Russian destruction of Grozny 10 years ago, a city of about the same size. Or Srebrenica, almost universally described as ‘genocide’ in the West. In that case, as we know in detail from the Dutch government report and other sources, the Muslim enclave in Serb territory, inadequately protected, was used as a base for attacks against Serb villages, and when the anticipated reaction took place, it was horrendous. The Serbs drove out all but military age men, and then moved in to kill them.” (Chomsky, ‘Imperial Presidency,’ Canadian Dimension, January/February 2005)
Clearly, then, Chomsky considers Srebrenica nothing less than a counterpart to crimes “for which the political leadership could be sentenced to death under US law”.
Similarly, on p.208 of his book Hegemony or Survival (Hamish Hamilton, 2003), Chomsky also refers to the Srebrenica massacre - no quotation marks were used either there or in the index.
With this and the frankly purblind nonsense from posters from the ISN (or posting as such?) with respect to Iran on other threads....what's happened ISN?
(1) Check out the three articles and extracts from same below and the appending list of articles.
Milosevic: true or false?
Test how much you know about the recently deceased former president of Yugoslavia.
How much do you know about Slobodan Milosevic, the recently deceased former president of Yugoslavia?
Here's 10 statements that we've all heard many times in the western media these last seven days. But which of them are true and which are false?
1 Milosevic was a dictator.
2 He was a Serb nationalist.
3 He was responsible for the break-up of Yugoslavia.
4 His 1989 speech at Kosovo Polje was a nationalist rant that inflamed ancient ethnic hatreds.
5 He started four wars.
6 He was responsible for the massacre at Srebrenica
7 He ordered a systematic programme of ethnic cleansing in Kosovo.
8 He was toppled by a "democratic revolution" in 2000.
9 The trial at The Hague had produced evidence of his guilt.
10 He will be mourned by "only a few".
How many do you think are true? Seven, eight- all of them?
The answer is zero. Every single statement is untrue.
..Milosevic the dictator? He won three democratic elections in a country where 21 political parties freely operated...
..Milosevic, the man responsible for the break-up of Yugoslavia? This too is false; he was the most pro-Yugoslav of all the leaders of the republics and was not even leader of Yugoslavia when Slovenia and Croatia became the first republics to break away...
...Milosevic, the inciter of ancient ethnic hatred at Kosovo Polje? All you have to do is to read the English translation of the speech. "More and more successfully citizens of different nationalities, different faiths and races are living together. Socialism, in particular, being a progressive and just democratic society, should not allow people to be divided by national or religious identity" - if that's a Serb nationalist rant then my name is Jose Mourinho.
Milosevic the warmonger? He wasn't even in charge of Yugoslavia when Slovenia and Croatia broke away, and the conflict in Bosnia was caused by the US ambassador Warren Zimmerman's last-minute intervention to persuade the Bosnian Muslim leader Alija Izetbegovic to renege from the 1992 Lisbon agreement, which provided for the peaceful division of the republic. As for the Kosovo conflict, we already have British defence minister Lord Gilbert's admission that at the Rambouillet peace conference the west deliberately produced a document whose terms were so onerous that they knew the Yugoslav delegation would not be able to sign it.
Milosevic and Srebrencia? An official and exhaustive Dutch government report found no evidence of political or military liaison with Belgrade concerning the killings.
Milosevic and ethnic cleansing in Kosovo? General Geza Farkas, the ethnic Hungarian former head of security in the Yugoslav army, testified at The Hague that, far from ordering ethnic cleansing, Milosevic issued all Yugoslav army commanders in Kosovo with a document explaining international humanitarian law and ordered them to disobey any orders which contradicted it in their military conflict with the western-backed terror group the Kosovan Liberation Army.
Milosevic, the leader who was toppled by a "democratic revolution" in 2000? Again, a fiction. Milosevic lost power in a coup d'état, orchestrated and funded by the US, who bankrolled the anti-socialist opposition to the tune of $70m. The western-backed candidate, Kostunica, scored 48.96% in the first round of voting, but, rather than wait for the second round, his supporters, with the west's backing, decided to take the law into their own hands and storm parliament.
The Milosevic trial is a travesty
....When it came to the indictments involving the wars in Bosnia and Croatia, the prosecution fared little better. In the case of the worst massacre with which Milosevic has been accused of complicity - of between 2,000 and 4,000 men and boys in Srebrenica in 1995 - Del Ponte's team have produced nothing to challenge the verdict of the five-year inquiry commissioned by the Dutch government - that there was "no proof that orders for the slaughter came from Serb political leaders in Belgrade".
T o bolster the prosecution's flagging case, a succession of high-profile political witnesses has been wheeled into court. The most recent, the US presidential hopeful and former Nato commander Wesley Clark, was allowed, in violation of the principle of an open trial, to give testimony in private, with Washington able to apply for removal of any parts of his evidence from the public record they deemed to be against US interests.
For any impartial observer, it is difficult to escape the conclusion that Del Ponte has been working backwards - making charges and then trying to find evidence. Remarkably, in the light of such breaches of due process, only one western human rights organisation, the British Helsinki Group, has voiced concerns. Richard Dicker, the trial's observer for Human Rights Watch, announced himself "impressed" by the prosecution's case. Cynics might say that as George Soros, Human Rights Watch's benefactor, finances the tribunal, Dicker might not be expected to say anything else. ....
Terrible crimes were committed in the Balkans during the 90s and it is right that those responsible are held accountable in a court of law. But the Hague tribunal, a blatantly political body set up and funded by the very Nato powers that waged an illegal war against Milosevic's Yugoslavia four years ago - and that has refused to consider the prima facie evidence that western leaders were guilty of war crimes in that conflict - is clearly not the vehicle to do so.
Blair's other illegal war
Before the invasion of Iraq the PM also played a key role in an act of international aggression against Yugoslavia - and a dangerous precedent was set...
...Why was it all done? The rump Yugoslavia was targeted not for "humanitarian" reasons - as many on the liberal-left still mistakenly believe - but simply because it stood in the way. You don't have to take my word for it - here's George Kenney of the US state department. "In post-cold war Europe no place remained for a large, independent-minded socialist state that resisted globalisation."
The illegal war against Yugoslavia may not have led to as much bloodshed and carnage as the Iraq conflict, but its importance should not be underestimated. For the first time since Warsaw Pact tanks rolled into Czechoslovakia in 1968, a European state, which threatened no other, had been attacked.
A dangerous precedent - that of riding roughshod over international law - had been set.
Just how dangerous, we would all see four years later.
"Trek1.0" just repeats most of the standard myths of pro-Milosevic propaganda. I think between the original article, the subsequent posts by myself and Michael Karadjis, and the links that have been put up to more detailed articles available on the web, there's more than enough there to show anyone what an odious apologist Neil Clark is and how noxious his arguments are. He asks us to judge Milosevic, not by his actions in Croatia, Bosnia or Kosova, but purely on the strength of some hypocritical rhetoric about multi-ethnic harmony. Would Clark judge Tony Blair's role in Iraq purely on the strength of equally worthy and equally two-faced speeches about bringing freedom to the Iraqi people?
I just want to deal with one more claim from Trek's post - namely, that western imperialism had it in for Milosevic because his government was some kind of bulwark against capitalist restoration in Eastern Europe. First of all, I don't consider the old Titoist system in Yugoslavia as "socialist" - it may have been superior to most of its communist neighbours, but it was still a one-party state where "self-management" was frustrated by the power of the communist bureaucracy.
But regardless, Milosevic was not in any way a defender of that system. When he deposed Ivan Stambolic and took over the Serbian Communist apparatus in 1987, he helped broker a deal with the IMF that promised the dismantling of the planned economy, the privatisation of state-owned enterprises, and a strict austerity programme so Yugoslavia could pay off its massive foreign debt. Milosevic urged the people of Yugoslavia to get over their "primitive fear of being exploited by foreign capital".
It's ironic that so many people buy the line that the West encouraged the break-up of Yugoslavia because it would make it easier to restore capitalism. In fact, the opposite was true - the western bankers and diplomats actually supported Milosevic's power to re-centralise the Yugoslav state under Serb dominance and claw back the autonomy granted by the 1974 constitution. They welcomed this plan because it would make it easier for them to recover the Yugoslav debt if they didn't have to deal with the republican governments and could just go straight to Belgrade.
Of course, the re-centralising moves by Milosevic just encouraged separatist tendencies in the other republics, so you could say in a round-about, inadvertent way, the West actually did "encourage the break-up of Yugoslavia" - but only against the intention of their actual policy.
I'm just baffled by the comments about the damage this article might do to the ISN's reputation, along with some posts by ISN members on threads related to Iran. I'm not sure what the Iran comments being referred to are - most Iran threads now seem to degenerate into some fairly nasty, dishonest mud-slinging at Pat C from a host of anonymous critics and it's a bit tedious to follow them all. But I think I can remember a post from Fintan Lane remarking that it should be perfectly simple to condemn US threats against Iran and oppose any attack on the country, without ignoring the repressive nature of the Iranian regime. This would be very much in line with the view of the ISN as a whole - we decided to support the HOPOI campaign at one of our national meetings.
If that's enough to damage our reputation in some people's eyes, and the same people are put out by well-founded, factually-based criticism of the Milosevic regime - well, we can probably do without their admiration let's say...
"Trek1.0" just repeats most of the standard myths of pro-Milosevic propaganda"
Yes, lets just call them myths. Is the Dutch government report a myth? Because somehow the original author missed that one in his/her scatter-gunned misrepresentation of Chomksy, those who agree with his position and those on the left who might have the temerity to highlight western involvement and/or the very complex nature of the conflict. A quick search would've remedied that situation.
so what about the 2005 research from the ICTY?
War-related Deaths in the 1992–1995 Armed Conflicts in Bosnia and Herzegovina: A Critique of Previous Estimates and Recent Results
In this article, we provide a critique of previous estimates of war-related deaths from Bosnia and Herzegovina and propose an analytical framework and a new estimate of such deaths.
Our assessment is concentrated on civilian victims, whose death (or disappearance) can in a straightforward manner be linked with war operation. The estimate is based on carefully selected sources analysed jointly at the level of individual records, allowing for identity verification of victims, elimination of duplicates within the sources and exclusion of records overlapping between the sources. Although we can argue that our estimate is much better founded than any other estimate ever obtained, it is still incomplete and should be seen as work in progress.
About 102,622 civilians and soldiers were killed. 55,261 civilians (of which 38,000 were Muslims and Croats, and 16,700 Serbs) and 47,360 soldiers (of which 28,000 were Muslims, 14,000 Serbs and some 6,000 Croats).
The figures and the ethnic breakdown, ratio of civilians and soldiers killed would be the expected death rates in a civil war, reflecting the balance of power on each side. Why? Because it was a civil war.
Even the ICTY reluctantly acknowledges this*,
* Kosovo assault 'was not genocide'
A United Nations court has ruled that Serbian troops did not carry out genocide against ethnic Albanians during Slobodan Milosevic's campaign of aggression in Kosovo from 1998 to 1999.
The decision was based on the 1948 Geneva convention which defines genocide as the intent "to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnic, racial or religious group as such".
....and remember, the ICTY are not known for hostility to Western propaganda. (cover the children’s ears it’s Herman with his facts and verifiable sources..)
The Political Economy of Sham Justice: Carla Del Ponte Addresses Goldman Sachs on Justice and Profits by Edward S. Herman
....On the other hand, insofar as the ICTY contributed to the real ends sought by Bill Clinton, Tony Blair, and other leaders of major NATO powers -- helping NATO celebrate its 50th anniversary in 1999 and showing that NATO still had a role to play as a U.S.-dominated organization; destroying an independent and socialist-inclined Yugoslavia and bringing its constituent parts into the NATO orbit of influence; and preparing the ground for further "humanitarian interventions"3 -- the ICTY could be said to have done a good job for the dominant Western powers and therefore neoliberalism broadly viewed....
"He asks us to judge Milosevic, not by his actions in Croatia, Bosnia or Kosovo, but purely on the strength of some hypocritical rhetoric about multi-ethnic harmony."
No that's incorrect. And I feel any fair appraisal of those articles would show you to be incorrect in that cocksure judgment. Go back and read the articles again and you will see that it is not just rhetoric that backs up the case. And as far as I can see, no-one on the, what I would call "despairing-at-the-original-article's-simplicity-side" here is an apologist for Slobbo. What you and Karadjis actually lack is any reasoned debate outside hysterical denounciation of any attempt at introducing complexity. It's liking rebutting against strawman position after position. here's an example by karadjis
"Anyone reading these reports will soon become aware of the level of complete moral corruption of the pro-genocide wing of the left represented by LM and people like Michael Parenti, Diana Johnstone and Ed Herman."
The pro-genocide wing of the left! In the process you invariably end up veering dangerously close to the mainstream redux view as espoused in the Guardian debacle with Chomsky which I linked to above. And certainly the tone of the original article was not helpful in this regard.
Go any further and you enter happy bomber-left country.
But then again perhaps it’s personally gratifying to pretend to be some modern day uber-contrarian ‘Orwell’, fighting against ethereal internal enemies. The Bones of the Saint indeed.
And I also don't believe the Tito state was the ideal socialist state (I never said as much) but it was certainly closer than elsewhere and did involve self management and vitally to the point I was making -- had the prospect of institutions surviving into the present. So there's no argument in this area. As indeed there isn't on whether Milosevic would've brought that back, I know full well he wouldn't.
But I doubt he would've introduced, (or have been allowed to) a full blown shock therapy or iMF orchestrated programme. And it certainly wasn't the case, as many on the bomber-'left's lazily espouse, a 'fascist regime' (Hitchens et al) and which the orignal author Apparat reverts to at the end of his/her piece. Milosevic-era Yugoslavia was brutal and corrupt but to go by some a country with an elected government, legal opposition parties, independent trade unions, and opposition demonstrations could be characterised as fascist.
And yet there you had the Croatian government which apologists for the break up of Yugoslavia under Western guidance were only falling over themselves to excuse and applaud even during/after Krajina. Now I wouldn't call Croatia fascist either but certainly closer than what Serbia was, remember Tudman brought back Ustasa badges, he honoured the past fascist regime and then you had the ethnic cleansing of 200,000 Serbs. And yet....nothing.
The main point here is that it was the Yugoslavian peoples' right to choose their own path. Excluding the complexity of western involvement is not to defend the actions of the Serbian grouping within the break-up and civil war in the former-Yugoslavia, it is to point out how the situation was made much worse, in fact how it was created. And how we shouldn't become 'useful idiots' to an agenda that causes division leading to exploitative, neoliberal, interventions at opposite and revanchist to local development and progress.
If it's not the faux fascism smeared on the chosen villain and victim-to-be in Serbia then four years later it's the all new ‘Islamic fascism’. Time to learn from past mistakes.
Yeah, let's call them myths, because that's what they are. As I said in the earlier post, between what I've written on this thread, what Michael Karadjis has written, and the links the two of us have provided, there's more than enough information to answer the obnoxious lies of Neil Clark in the articles you linked to. If you want to put your trust in Clark and Ed Herman, that's your business. Their arguments have already been dealt with several times over on this thread. I've already spent a fair bit of time on this myself, first writing the original article, then writing a point-by-point rebuttal of one post attacking its contents. At this stage, I'd simply urge anyone following the thread to read back over what myself and Karadjis have written, follow up the links, then come back and ask themselves if there's anything that hasn't already been answered.
After 1945 Tito and Churchill became greater buddies and the subversion of socialism and the discrimination against the commnon workers-partisan alliance began in ernest. The truth is the British and U.S. Imperialists and the Tito revisionists are the root of big power chauvinist destruction of the socialized society during the 90's in Yugoslavia and the goal remains the same throughout the western world headed by U.S. Imperialism---anti-communism with direct and indirect subversion of society and theft of the the resources to the agenda of the big polluting monopolies. Nato was and remains the smoking gun that destroys genuine freedom and progressive national interests in the region and throughout the middle east and beyond. Shannon as airlift super one is example of the American Empires domination of small independent countries.
Been away from this discussion for a while and see much has been written by Trek that deserves a response, though I agree with Ed that anyone actually bothering to open the various links he and I have sent would see that 95% of what he writes has already been answered in advance and debunked. Nevertheless, one very important area is the number of dead in the Bosnia war, because thus issue is crucial. Trek writes:
“War-related Deaths in the 1992–1995 Armed Conflicts in Bosnia and Herzegovina: A Critique of Previous Estimates and Recent Results
"In this article, we provide a critique of previous estimates of war-related deaths from Bosnia and Herzegovina and propose an analytical framework and a new estimate of such deaths.
Our assessment is concentrated on civilian victims, whose death (or disappearance) can in a straightforward manner be linked with war operation. The estimate is based on carefully selected sources analysed jointly at the level of individual records, allowing for identity verification of victims, elimination of duplicates within the sources and exclusion of records overlapping between the sources. Although we can argue that our estimate is much better founded than any other estimate ever obtained, it is still incomplete and should be seen as work in progress.”
Yes, it should be seen as “incomplete” to put it mildly, as we will see below. This abstract is what you get when you open the above link. To read the rest of it, you need to pay $42. In any case, Trek has helpfully added some information allegedly in the report, he writes (this is not in the abstract):
“About 102,622 civilians and soldiers were killed. 55,261 civilians (of which 38,000 were Muslims and Croats, and 16,700 Serbs) and 47,360 soldiers (of which 28,000 were Muslims, 14,000 Serbs and some 6,000 Croats).”
Since few of us will want to come up with the $42, we’ll take his word that is what is in the “incomplete work in progress.” Trek then summarises from this:
”The figures and the ethnic breakdown, ratio of civilians and soldiers killed would be the expected death rates in a civil war, reflecting the balance of power on each side. Why? Because it was a civil war.”
Fortunately we have a much better, more complete (though still incomplete) very thorough research into this question where everything is available on line without paying a cent. I’ll go by the freebie myself, especially since the research of the Research and Documentation Centre has been painstakingly put together by a Bosnian team involving Serbs, Croats and Muslims along with international experts, headed by Mirsad Tokaca.
Here is the site with all the free information: http://www.idc.org.ba/aboutus.html
Every death has been rigorously cross-checked to rule out double reporting (possible in the chaos of war and displacement), and only those deaths that can be absolutely verified are included. This thus excludes many incomplete cases, and those who died as a result of war-related causes, ie, years of having no electricity or being starved in besieged cities, lack of medicines, cold etc, but not directly through military killing. It also excludes “persons who died at an earlier age than would normally be expected during peacetime, due to war conditions.”
As of December 2006, they had a definite count of 97,207 deaths. The project is continuing and will continue to be extended as long as significant numbers continue to be added.
As such, with over 100,000 deaths, the RDC overall figures agree with those quoted about from the other, expensive, research. But only on that.
Many of the pro-Chetnik wing of the “left” will grab this and say, see, “only” 100,000 killed, not 200,000 as widely quoted. Let’s leave aside the fact that the RDC sees these figures as an “absolute minimum,” and let’s forget all those died from the war but not direct military killing (which I imagine many of these “leftists” would want included if it was a cause they supported). Let’s leave aside why 100,000 killed in 3.5 years becomes not very much of a big deal by their logic, but 5000 Palestinians killed between 2000 and 2006 is genocide and holocaust etc. Just to clarify: I have no problem referring to Palestine as genocide, though, like with Bosnia, this description goes beyond the mere question of numbers dead, as we will see below re Bosnia. Let’s leave aside the question of how such craven hypocrites then sleep at night etc. Let’s just deal with the 100,000 killed.
If you want to take that part of the package (ie, the “low” overall numbers), then you have to take the rest of package, which does not bear out your craven “civil war” fantasy at all. When judging these figures below, bear in mind that Bosniaks (Muslims) constituted 43% of Bosnia’s population, Serbs 30% and Croats 18%.
The 97,000 plus deaths to date comprise over 64,000 Bosniaks (65.8%), nearly 25,000 Serbs (25.6%) and 7700 Croats (8%), along with “others.” It is very obvious from this that Muslims (43% of the Bosnian population) are way over represented in the dead and the other two groups are underrepresented. But especially in terms of who was really killing whom, this is even clearer when civilian and military deaths are compared: The 33,000 Bosniak civilians killed constitute 83% of civilian deaths, the 4000 Serbs some 10% and the 2000 Croats 5.4%. Thus there were nearly 8.5 times the number of Bosniak civilians killed compared to Serb civilians. Put another way, over 50% of all Bosniak victims were civilians, compared to only 16% of Serb victims and 26% of Croat victims.
And even this is not the end of the story, because large numbers of Bosnians were officially listed by their families as being in the army as it was the only way to get a government subsidy. According to the RDC the civilian numbers are probably overall underreported compared to the military numbers:
“During our BBD project and other studies related to the registration of victims of war
it came to our attention that some victims reported as soldiers according to official
military lists, would be as well claimed civilians in civilian sources, and vice-versa. In
particular, some military records could have been created by authorities in response to
applications from the relatives of the deceased for the post-mortal benefits after the
deceased. Secondly, some families might have found it honourable to bury their
deceased among the defenders in military cemeteries or to publish their names on
defenders’ lists, even if the actual circumstances of death were not necessarily directly
related to combat. These practices likely lead to over-reporting of soldiers and underreporting of civilians in the sources. In consequence of these and other similar practices, civilians are in our opinion underrepresented in “Status in War”.”
Though Bosniak civilian deaths already vastly outnumber Serb/Croat deaths, it still appears likely that it is Bosniaks relatively underreported due to this problem, probably at the same overall ratio. In particular, even many of the 8000 plus Muslim men and boys slaughtered in captivity over a few days in Srebrenica in 1995 – ie the case unambiguously agreed to be “genocide” by the World Court – are here classified as “soldiers”. Tokaca explains that they in fact were not soldiers, but:
“This is a problem for the state to solve. For many families, the fact that one of its members was filed as a soldier in the Army of Bosnia-Herzegovina was a matter of sheer survival. When these people were confronted with the choice between existence and a lie regarding the status of the victim, they opted for the lie. The only ones who could count on some kind of state support were members of the armed forces, or rather their families. The authorities themselves, however, have failed to confront the problem of civilian casualties. Throughout the past sixty years, in this country you could claim the status of a soldier on the basis of just two people’s testimony. I chose not to become involved with this problem.”
While it s unclear how many of these 8000 are here wrongly classified, Tokaca implies it is a significant number. Thus even just adding half this group to the Bosnian Muslim civilians their numbers jump to 9 times the number of Serb civilians killed. However you look at it, the reason the Bosnian Serb Army could overrun Srebrenica and slaughter 8000 captives was because the captives had no arms to defend themselves, not the usual definition of a “soldier”. Put another way, a surrendered soldier without a weapon would be listed as a 'soldiers' on the RDC list; though they were non-combatants when killed. Quite unlike Mladic’s forces that did the killing.
As the RDC explains:
“It is important to emphasize that “Status in War” does not provide correct insights in relation to victims of combat versus non-combat situations. Neither does it inform about legitimate victims of violations of the International Humanitarian Law or the Law of War. “Status in War” is a simple measure of whether or not a person was a member of a military/police formation at the time of death.”
But it does not stop there. There is no reason to assume that all Serb and Croat civilian casualties were killed by Bosnian government forces or Muslim militia. Certainly some were, no-one has ever denied that violations were also carried out by the defenders, in the same way as other oppressed and terrorized groups, such as Palestinians, Tamils, Kurds etc often resort to attacks on civilians on the other side, or even their own civilians, such as the Iraqi resistance. One is justifying any of these cases, but the issue is what the overall nature of the conflict is, and the overall picture is clear from all above.
But we need to remember also that tens of thousands of Serbs and Croats remained alongside their Muslim and mixed Bosnian friends and relatives in cities such as Sarajevo and Tuzla throughout the war, which were besieged the entire time by the Chetniks from the hills above. The daily artillery barrages into the cities from Serb chauvinists did not spare Serb civilians living there. There is thus little doubt that a significant proportion of the Serb and Croat civilian deaths were actually at the hands of the Bosnian Serb Army. For example, one fifth of all Croat civilian deaths occurred in Sarajevo (440 of over 2000), and some 1000 Serb civilians died in that city, one quarter of all Serb civilian deaths. Given the civilian casualty numbers in Sarajevo (4000 Muslims, 1000 Serbs and 440 Croats) and the original proportions of the three groups in the Sarajevo population (Muslims 50%, Serbs 28%, Croats 7%), it seems highly likely that the great bulk of these Serb and Croat civilian deaths were due to killing by the Bosnian Serb Army.
Other facts are worth noting. While Serb and Croat military deaths are higher than civilian deaths by a long margin during every month of the 3.5 year war, among Bosniaks, while this pattern also holds for the middle of the war – 1993-94 – Bosnian civilian deaths outnumber military deaths in both crucial years, 1992 (the initial genocide) and 1995 (the year of the Srebrenica genocide). In particular, Bosniak civilian deaths in the first four months of the war – April to August – are massive by comparison with most other figures of any side, except for the (again) Bosniak figures for July 1995.
Significantly, looking at Serb civilian death figures over the 43 months, the only real ‘spike’ is in September 1995 – ie right at the end of the war – when the Croatian army, having driven the Serbian occupation army (and the Serb civilian population) out of its Krajina region in August, then crossed the border into Bosnia and drove back the BSA from some heavily Serb-populated regions adjoining Croatia. This is certainly not to justify the actions of the Tudjman regime and the Croatian chauvinists, who were a carbon copy of their Serbian cousins, and in any case were allied with them against Bosnia throughout most of the war. However, the fact that 400 of the 4000 Serb civilian victims were killed right at the end of the war (600 in September and October) tells us much more about ‘what goes round comes round’ than about the causes and nature of the overall conflict.
The number of female civilians killed is also an indication, given they are less likely to be confused with soldiers. Of the 9300 female civilians killed, 7000 were Muslims (75%), 1500 Serbs (16%) and 730 were Croats (7%). Likewise, 3000 Muslim children were killed, compared to 218 Serbs and 172 Croats, thus Muslim children were killed at a rate of 15 to 1 compared to both other groups. This is even starker when the relative numbers of “soldiers” are taken into account among older children (15-18 years of age). Only 11% of Muslim child fatalities were officially soldiers, compared to 27% among Serbs and 30% among Croats.
Another major point refuting the simpleton “three sides civil war” where “all committed crimes” thesis is the fact that the extermination of Bosnian Muslims went hand in hand with cultural genocide, via the wholesale destruction of Muslim religious and cultural buildings, historic libraries and museums. According to noted authority on Islamic Studies, Michael Sells, the Chetnik forces destroyed the National Library of Bosnia-Herzegovina, with over “a million books, more than a hundred thousand manuscripts and rare books, and centuries of historical records” going up in flames. At the oriental Institute in Sarajevo, more than five thousand Islamic and Jewish manuscripts, from many parts of the Middle East, went up in flames. Much of the National Museum was destroyed (Michael Sells, The Bridge Betrayed, University of California Press, Berkeley and Los Angeles, 1996, pp1-3). Along with the wholesale destruction of mosques, this aimed at the complete eradication of Bosnian Muslim culture, ie cultural genocide. The RDC also gathered data about the devastation of cultural heritage and sacral complexes. According to their research, “917 sacral complexes belonging to the Islamic Community were totally destroyed, while 731 were lightly or heavily damaged,” that is, a total of 1648 Muslim mosques or other structures, attacked by (mostly) Serb but also Croat chauvinists (many were hundreds of years old, and many were turned into parking lots), compared to “311 structures of Catholic (ie Croat) Community were destroyed or damaged, as well as 34 belonging to the Orthodox (ie Serb) Community and 7 to Jewish Community” (http://www.idc.org.ba/aboutus.htm). Can there still be any doubt: the number of Muslim holy places destroyed or damaged was over 5 times that of Croat holy places and *50 times* that of Serb holy places.
The “all three sides are guilty” school ought to meditate on the fact that a stroll down the main road in Sarajevo or Tuzla, before, during or after the war, would be enough to bring you to quite intact Orthodox and Catholic Churches with crowds of Serb and Croat worshippers entering and leaving. In fact it is no exaggeration to say that no Serbian Orthodox or Croatian Catholic Churches were destroyed in government controlled areas, though the main Serbian Orthodox Church in Sarajevo was damaged by shelling from the Chetnik besiegers. “Civil war” my foot.
The RDC also notes that “850 villages were totally destroyed; 214 attacks against hospitals and other health facilities were registered as well as 132 attacks against other cultural and educational facilities (libraries, schools, universities)” (http://www.idc.org.ba/aboutus.htm). It does not specify the majority ethnic group in these villages or where these other buildings were located, but is there any reason to believe that the demography of destroyed villages would be any different to that of destroyed holy houses? Absolutely not, meaning the number of “totally destroyed” Bosnian Muslim villages was some double that of Palestinian villages in 1948.
The fact that the demography of these destroyed villages would be similar to those of destroyed holy places, and destroyed people, should not come as a surprise to anyone who actually knows anything about the Bosnian war and its geography and demography, despite the totally dishonest obfuscation by the embittered revisionists.
After all, while Sarajevo, Tuzla, Zenica, Srebrenica, Zepa, Gorazde, Bihac and countless other Bosnian towns and cities full of civilians were encircled, besieged, cut off from the world, starved and bombed on a daily basis for 3.5 years by heavily armed Serb nationalists, could our pro-Chetnik friends tell us exactly which Serbian towns were besieged and bombed by Bosnian Muslim forces? None, of course. Let’s look at this question more deeply.
Serbs made up 30% of Bosnia, Croats 18%, Muslims 43% and mixed Bosnians around 10%. Within the first few months of the Bosnian war, the Serbian nationalist forces had taken control of 70% of Bosnia and ethnically cleansed a million non-Serbs who just happened to live there. They kept control of this amount of territory for 3.5 years until Bosnian government forces pushed them back to about 50% in late 1995. The US intervened at that point that the Bosnian forces were for the first time on the offensive, making sure the government forces were not able to take back any more ethnically cleansed land, as the golden 50/50 figure for the partition of Bosnia was the US and Milosevic figure.
In 1993, the Bosnian Croat nationalists, who were allied to the Bosnian Serb nationalists, also conquered about 15-20% of Bosnia, thus together the two allied chauvinist armies had 85-90% of Bosnia, while the government forces – representing the Muslim duality of the population, the mixed Bosnians who obviously couldn’t fit in either of the racist states, and large numbers of Serbs and Croats who preferred to keep living next to their Muslim neighbours and relatives rather than shift to some racist hell – only had control of some 10-15% of the country. At the end of 1993, after circumventing the imperialist arms embargo enough to acquire small numbers of Iranian arms, the Bosnian government smashed the Croat chauvinists, but they still held onto Western Herzegovina which had a solid Croat majority, maybe about 10% of the country. Thus even after this, the government forces still had no more than 20% of the country.
How is this possible? Don’t these figures in themselves tell us something about who had absolute power and who at bottom was the oppressor and aggressor? How can this situation make sense if one really thinks it was a fairly even sided “civil war” and if one wants to believe that civilian casualties were fairly evenly spread, and that “the figures and the ethnic breakdown, ratio of civilians and soldiers killed would be the expected death rates in a civil war, reflecting the balance of power on each side” as ‘Trek’ claims? High time to toss revisionist rubbish where it belongs.
The final point is this: if it was just “three sides” fighting each other, then it’s strange this wasn’t also occurring in Serbia itself, with its Muslim, Croat, Hungarian and Albanian minorities; the fact that it was only Bosnia and Croatia being destroyed and ripped above by massively superior Serbian regime firepower gives the neat, simple answer to this “mystery”: the wars in Bosnia and Croatia were not “civil wars”.
How did it all this happen? Because the Bosnian Serb Army had overwhelming military superiority. For example, in late 1994, they had 330 tanks, 800 artillery pieces, 400 armoured personnel carriers and 37 military aircraft, while the Army of Bosnia-Herzegovina (ie government forces) had 40 tanks, “a few” artillery pieces, 30 armoured personnel carriers and no aircraft. The Bosnian Croat forces had 75 tanks, 200 artillery pieces, no APCs or aircraft. Given that through most of the war the Serb and Croat nationalists were either officially or unofficially allied, this represents enormous superiority over the government forces. Even when they were not officially allied, the Croat nationalists never carried out any joint fighting with the Bosnian government forces against the Serb nationalists except at the very beginning and very end of the war. Thus at best it was the overwhelmingly superior Serb nationalist forces versus the extremely ill-equipped government forces. Even if a pro-Serb propagandist were to dishonestly put together the Croat and government forces, they were still way, way overwhelmed by the Serb nationalists.
How did the Bosnian Serb Army “just happen” to have such absolute superiority, since it was “just a civil war between 3 ethnic groups”? Answer: because it wasn’t “just a civil war between 3 ethnic groups”. When there was one Yugoslavia, there was one army, a military machine the 4th biggest in Europe with masses of advanced weaponry. This belonged to all Yugoslavs, but when it broke up it came under the control of Serbia, as Serbs had absolutely dominated the officer caste. All non-Serb officers quit when the federal army began to be unconstitutionally used as an arm of Greater Serb war aims.
Still, how did the massive resources of the federal army, based in Serbia itself, get to the Bosnian Serb Army, which was in Bosnia?
Firstly, because it had unconstitutionally began arming the Chetnik military groups in both Croatia and Bosnia from late 1990, in order to prepare their secession from those republics.
Secondly, because at the end of the Federal government/ Serbian attack on Croatia (July-December 1991), former US Secretary of State Cyrus Vance had negotiated an end to that war that allowed the Yugoslav federal army (now entirely Serbian) to take all its advanced weaponry that it had been using in Croatia to destroy that country back into “Yugoslavia”. However, at that time, Bosnia was still in “Yugoslavia”. If you look at the geography, you will see they took their weaponry into Bosnia, not Serbia, and there delivered it to the Bosnian Serb Chetnik forces, who, even months before they launched their own war, had cut out four zones inside Bosnia and taken them under their exclusive control. There can be no doubt that Vance and the US government did this in order to deliver Bosnia to Milosevic.
Thirdly, even after UN recognition of Bosnia in April 1992 and the outbreak of war there, for the first 2 months of the war it was not even theoretically a “civil war” – the Yugoslav army attacked most of the regions throughout Bosnia with its massive firepower, “softening” the areas up for the Bosnian Serb Chetniks to move in for the kill. Actually, not even they were only Bosnian Serbs – fascist militias included those of arch racist Vojislav Seselj of the Serbian Radical Party of * Serbia *, coalition partner with Milosevic’s party in government, and of Serbian mafia leader ‘Arkan’. And it was in those decisive first few months of the war that the “Bosnian Serbs” conquered the bulk of their territory.
Fourthly, even when the ‘Yugoslav’ army was officially withdrawn by Milosevic, a couple of months into the war, it left its massive weapons supplies it had brought from Croatia with the Bosnian Serb Army. In any case, there was no way of ever checking that the ‘Yugoslav’ army had all left; some suggest around 20% of them remained, and various fascist militias from Serbia definitely remained. In any case, the ‘Yugoslav’ government and army back in Serbia paid the salaries of the Bosnian Serb officers, such as Mladic, throughout the war, and continued to supply them with arms, spare parts and oil. Imagine what kind of “having nothing to do with what the Bosnian Serbs do” this is. We generally hold the US and other western governments responsible when they are arming some brutal tyrant suppressing his people. Now imagine a situation where in addition, the US was directly paying the salaries of the officers of, say, Suharto’s Indonesia, throughout the genocide there. From all these leftists, we would never hear the end of it, and quite rightly. Yet in exactly the same case – where Serbia was paying the salaries of the officers of the BSA – they all throw their hands up and look all innocent and ask what could the Serbian government of the good white European Christian man Milosevic possibly have to do with the actions of “the Bosnian Serbs” in a “civil war” in “another country”??!! The hypocrisy certainly is rank.
Thus this was no more a “civil” war between “Serbs” and “Muslims” where “both sides are equally guilty” than the war between the enormous, massively armed Indonesian army and the East Timorese resistance fighters was a “civil war” between “Indonesians” and “Timorese” where “both sides are equally guilty”, or the ongoing Zionist dispossession, occupation and massacre of the palestinian people is a "civil war" where "both are bad" etc.
Briefly on to Kosova, the revisionist set like to claim that "only" 2000 died based on some warped "body count" method made famous by Irving. Yet they are wrong even on this. They selectively quote Del Ponte talking about over 2000 bodies being dug out of some 200 mass graves in the first summer of digging, but they "forget" that following the next summer of digging she reported 4000 bodies, but these were only those bodies in a select 529 "mass graves", no claim was made that this was every dead body in Kosova. There was no law that said that every Albanian killed had to be placed in one of these 529 select "mass graves". What about all the individual graves, indeed, all the individuals killed not in a grave until their relatives could return and bur them? How many were they? Yet even with actual bodies and graves, our apologists here quoting "2000" also forget the 846 Albanian bodies found in mass graves in Serbia itself and gradually returned to Kosova, and we don't know how many more there might be since the Serb government halted the search years ago. Just with that we have nearly 5000 bodies, plus 3/4 of the 2500 missing, so around 7000 killed, leaving aside those not in these specific graves.
The respected British medical journal the 'Lancet' did the only thorough survey I know of, which showed that 12,000 Albanians (specifically the Albanian toll) had been killed and 4000 missing. If say about 2000 of the missing were later returned from Serbia as prisoners or turned up late, that leaves about 14,000 deaths, of which 12,000 occurred after the NATO bombing began. This is obviously yet another good reason to oppose NATO's aggression, which obviously brought on a far more vicious attack against the Albanians than Slobo had been politically capable of before, but that us no excuse for those who actually carried it out - 12,000 killed in 11 weeks is pretty impressive. The Lancet is hardly a sucker for US imperialism - their highly respected study on Iraq showed that by 1996, there had been 665,000 "excess" Iraqi deaths since the US invasion.
Leftists widely quote the latter study; wouldn’t it be a nice day if for once the hypocrisy could be dropped, or become a little less rank, and quote the former study as well.
Yeah, let's call them myths, because that's what they are. As I said in the earlier post, between what I've written on this thread, what Michael Karadjis has written, and the links the two of us have provided, there's more than enough information to answer the obnoxious lies of Neil Clark in the articles you linked to. If you want to put your trust in Clark and Ed Herman, that's your business. Their arguments have already been dealt with several times over on this thread. I've already spent a fair bit of time on this myself, first writing the original article, then writing a point-by-point rebuttal of one post attacking its contents. At this stage, I'd simply urge anyone following the thread to read back over what myself and Karadjis have written, follow up the links, then come back and ask themselves if there's anything that hasn't already been answered.