Z magazine supports genocide

With all of the current horrors in the headlines, the world has paid little note to the tenth anniversary of the July 1995 massacre of 8,000 at the eastern Bosnian town of Srebrenica after it was overrun by besieging Serb rebel forces. The town's women, children and elderly were put on buses at gunpoint and expelled to Bosnian government-held territory. But the adult men were separated out and kept by the Serb forces for "interrogation." Their whereabouts became the subject of an international investigation which is now bearing grim fruit—thousands of corpses exhumed from mass graves, held in Bosnia's morgues, where international teams are conducting the lugubrious work of DNA identification, matching genetic material from the bones with samples provided by relatives of the missing. Some 2,000 of the dead have now been thusly identified, the International Commission on Missing Persons reports. The massacre is rightly called Europe's worst since World War II.

The leadership of the Bosnian Serb Republic (which now has de facto independence under a peace deal brokered by the US shortly after the massacre) has formally confessed to and apologized for the crime. (BBC, Nov. 10, 2004) A total of 19 people have been charged by the International Criminal Tribunal for Yugoslavia (ICTY) for the Srebrenica massacre, and 16 are currently being held at The Hague. Three Bosnian Serb soldiers have pleaded guilty to many of the charges against them. (Radio Netherlands, July 9, 2005)

But the supposedly "progressive" Z Magazine, and its online extension ZNet, mark the anniversary of Srebrenica by running a lengthy piece by Edward S. Herman (one of the American left's official darlings and a one-time Noam Chomsky co-author) arguing that the massacre never happened—or that it was exaggerated, or that the victims deserved it. Like most genocide-apologist propaganda, the piece never makes its arguments explicit: it just leaves the uninitiated reader with the vague but strong impression that anyone who believes that there was a massacre at Srebrenica is a dupe of imperialist propaganda.

The piece, entitled "The Politics of the Srebrenica Massacre," spends its first half arguing that the affair must be placed in the "context" of the "convenience" of the massacre to the Bosnian Muslims, who sought Western military intervention against the Serb forces. Herman notes a string of "convenient" atrocities attributed to the Serbs, such as the deadly rocket raids on Sarajevo's market, implicitly (not explicitly, which would require more courage) arguing that they were black propaganda jobs by the Bosnian Muslims or the Croats or the CIA or somebody. This line of reasoning (if we may so flatter it) assumes that the "convenience" of these atrocities to the Bosnian government means they were therefore carried out by the Bosnian government—a logical fallacy so blatant that it would appear absurd if it were argued openly rather than by allusion. It's like arguing that My Lai didn't happen because it was "convenient" to the NLF. More bizarrely, this pseudo-thinking fails to consider that in the post-Srebrenica peace deal brokered by the Clinton White House, the Bosnian government was forced to cede effective control of the majority of its national territory to the Serb and Croat rebel zones, which then gained a cover of legitimacy. A more accurate reading of the situation would suggest the atrocities were far more "convenient" to the Serbs, helping to force the Bosnian government to accept these harsh terms. Crime, it seems, does pay.

When Herman finally turns to the actual mechanics of the massacre, the results are even worse. Herman's principal argument seems to be that the supposedly UN-protected "safe areas" such as Srebrenica weren't disarmed, so (again, implicitly) the Serbs were justified in overrunning them and slaughtering 8,000 mostly civilian war captives. (He expresses no outrage that the Dutch UN peacekeepers offered no resistance as the Serbs overran the city.) He claims that Srebrenica was being used as a staging ground for raids on Serb villages in which up to a thousand civilians were killed in the three years prior to the massacre—an assertion footnoted to a report from Yugoslavia's UN ambassador, without the slightest suggestion that this might be a dubious touchstone for veracity. This is especially ironic given that all pronouncements from the Bosnian leadership are summarily dismissed as lies. Herman regales us with horror stories about atrocities committed by Nasir Oric, a Muslim commander at Srebrenica. These are footnoted to more credible sources, but Herman seems pretty oblivious to the overwhelmingly obvious "context" (to use his favorite word)—Serb rebel armies had overrun some 70% of Bosnia by that point, expelling the Muslim inhabitants, leaving Srebrenica and a few other towns besieged pockets. This doesn't let Oric off the hook, but it does point up Herman's hideous double standards.

Herman's secondary argument (more explicit if no more honest) is that the bodies said to be those of the Srebrenica victims have been unearthed from several mass graves around eastern Bosnia rather than a single giant mass grave at Srebrenica. A look at the ICMP website would tell Herman this was due to Serb commanders ordering bodies exhumed and reburied at scattered sites to hide evidence of the crime--a finding which even the Bosnian Serb Republic now acknowledges. Herman, who is more intransigent on the question than the Bosnian Serb leadership, dismisses the reburial findings as "singularly unconvincing."

Next Herman turns to the old gencoide-apologist trick of fudging the numbers. He guides the reader through arithmetic somersaults to "prove" that if 8,000 were executed Srebrenica's population would have had to have exceeded its actual 37,000. Yet ICMP has a database of 7,800 listed as missing from Srebrenica. Were these names simply invented? (Fans of such pseudo-demographic sophistry will have lots of fun at the Holocaust revisionist websites.)

Next he turns to another standard of the genocide-apologist set: arguing that the majority of the dead were not executed but killed in combat. This is contradicted by the testimony of the accused at the ICTY. Momir Nikolic, former chief of intelligence in the Bratunac Brigade, one of the Serb units at Srebrenica, has pleaded guilty to his role in the massacre, stating openly that "able-bodied Muslim men within the crowd of Muslim civilians would be separated...and killed shortly thereafter. I was told that it was my responsibility to help coordinate and organize this operation." ("Srebrenica: ten years on," OpenDemocracy, July 6)

That Herman is getting his information overwhelmingly (and his analysis exclusively) from the Serb extremists is evident from his terminology. He routinely uses the acronym BMA, for "Bosnian Muslim Army," to refer to the Bosnian goverment's military. The official name was the Army of the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina (ARBiH), and (in contrast to that of Bosnia's "Serb Republic") it was explicitly multi-ethnic, not "Muslim." BMA is a propaganda term, and capitalizing it as if it were a proper noun is extremely misleading.

Finally, Herman makes much of what he calls Bosnian President Alija "Izetbegovic's close alliance with Osama bin Laden," how the Bosnian government provided "Al Qaeda a foothold in the Balkans." Now isn't this funny. The same ZNet which asks us to believe (in a Jan. 13 piece by Robert Scheer) that "Al Qaeda [is] Just a Bush Boogeyman" prints shamelessly lurid propaganda about the Islamic menace in Bosnia. I guess al-Qaeda is just a "boogeyman" when it slams jets into New York skyscrapers or blows up trains in London and Madrid, but suddenly becomes real when it loans a few mujahedeen to protect the legitimate government of multi-ethnic Bosnia from a lawless fascist rebellion. Herman offers not a word about how Izetbegovic was driven to this alliance (if, in fact, it existed) by the West's betrayal of Bosnia's legal government into the hands of the Serb rebels who, with superior firepower thanks to their patrons in Belgrade, quickly subsumed the majority of Bosnia's territory. Herman dismisses this version of events as a mere "narrative"—a word which has been subject to such abuse at the hands of the "post-modernists" that it should now be purged from the English language. Herman, who is not bothered by the use of the Islamic terrorist image to justify this illegal usurpation of power, calls the "'Srebrenica massacre'" (in quotes of course) the "greatest triumph of propaganda" for the "colonial occupations in Bosnia and Kosovo" by NATO. One wonders if Herman is himself aware of the cognitive dissonance.

This is but the latest in a whole string of such articles Z has run by Herman and others in the decade since the climax of the Bosnian horror show, all minimizing Serb war crimes and essentially arguing (as Reagan said about the Guatemalan dictatorship) that the Serbs have been given a "bum rap." And Z still seems to think it has any moral ground to stand on to oppose US-backed genocide in Guatemala, Colombia and so on. It is both demoralizing and terrifying that this is the level to which the supposed "left" press has sunk in this dumbed-down age.

Herman informs us that his charming little article is mostly drawn from a forthcoming anthology to which he contributes, Srebrenica: The Politics of War Crimes. We can hardly wait.

See our last post on the still-simmering Balkan crisis.

"Its worse than this."

Roger Lippman of Balkan Witness sends the following commentary:

You write:

Herman's secondary argument (more explicit if no more honest) is that the bodies said to be those of the Srebrenica victims have been unearthed from several mass graves around eastern Bosnia rather than a single giant mass grave at Srebrenica. A look at the ICMP website would tell Herman this was due to Serb commanders ordering bodies exhumed and reburied at scattered sites to hide evidence of the crime. Maybe this hasn't been conclusively proven, but it shows Herman's bad faith that he doesn't even mention it.

It's worse than this. First, the massacre took place in a widely dispersed area. Victims have been found buried most of the way to Sarajevo as well as all over the Srebrenica area. And the reburial in secondary graves has been conclusively proven. As the RS [Serb Republic] Commission Report and the ICMP note, excavation and reburial led to what is known as commingling of remains; the bones are mixed up, and parts of the same body are often found in two or even three different grave sites. The fact that parts of individual bodies are sometimes found in multiple mass graves is, by itself, convincing evidence of reburial. The RS Srebrenica Commission Report of 2004 states that RS investigators visited 29 secondary and tertiary mass graves. (Preliminary report, p. 23) Furthermore, some of the perpetrators themselves have described moving the evidence to secondary graves. (See confession of Momir Nikolic, section 13.) Also see David Rohde on spy planes spotting heavy equipment in Sept, and graves dug up in 1996 - Endgame: The Betrayal and Fall of Srebrenica p 342-3.

Roger also directs us to the Deniers of Serbia's War Crimes page on his website which includes a shameful litany of other genocide-apologists on the supposed "left."

The gauntlet is down

At the urging of others, I have submitted an expanded version of this piece to Z Magazine. We will see if they have the courage or integrity to run it. They have refused to print my letters in the past protesting Herman's genocide apologetics, so I am frankly skeptical. But we shall see.

Bill Weinberg supports the onset of World War IV

Bill Weinberg's attack on my article "The Politics of the Srebrenica Massacre" (ZNet, July 7, 2005) is titled "Z magazine supports genocide." In that article I did contest the standard narrative about Srebrenica, but for Weinberg this is maddening and illegitimate, and anybody that does this can't be honest and must be an apologist. This is a standard rightwing smear tactic whereby somebody who, for example, criticizes the Bush attack on Iraq "supports Saddam Hussein" or who opposes the Patriot Act is a "supporter of terrorism." I can't just disagree on Srebrenica, I must be an apologist—and for genocide.

Of course, a stronger argument can be made that since the huge focus on the Srebrenica massacre serves, among other goals, to put the Clinton-Blair war against Serbia in a good light, Weinberg's swallowing this party-line position is apologetics for war, and a war that was part of World War 4, or a natural feed-in to Bush's wars. There was the same disregard for the UN Charter, war crimes galore in the bombing of Serbia (open attacks on civilian infrastructure, use of depleted uranium), the refusal to negotiate any kind of settlement (notably the 1992 Lisbon agreement, and Rambouillet), the insistence on war as the means of resolution, and the building of Camp Bondsteel, a gigantic permanent military base in Kosovo. Its connection with Serb villainy is a sick joke; the most thoroughly ethnically-cleansed areas in the former Yugoslavia are Croatia and NATO-occupied Kosovo. But the standard Srebrenica story tells us that this was all just because we were dealing with true evil, and on one side only. This is war-supportive crap that Weinberg buys and helps disseminate.

In proving me an apologist, one technique Weinberg uses is the false inference. For example, he says that my "first half" (a lie—less than a quarter) is spent arguing the political convenience of the massacre—analogous to "arguing that My Lai didn't happen because it was ‘convenient' to the NLF." But I say explicitly that "political interest hardly proves that the establishment narrative is wrong. It does, however, suggest the need for caution…" This kind of lying is important for Weinberg, because a main feature of his article is its complete lack of caution and his touching assumption that all those folks who have a political interest in the standard narrative are unbiased and simply truth-seekers. The Serbs lie and bury and rebury bodies, but the good guys give us the straight poop. Throughout, he talks about an "international investigation" studying this subject as if the parties doing that investigating have no political axe to grind.

I spend many pages showing how the Bosnian Muslim leadership did lie to try to induce NATO intervention, and I even quote Izetbegovic's death-bed admission of lying to Bernard Kouchner and Richard Holbrooke. Weinberg dodges these and focuses on my claim of self-inflicted casualties by the Bosnian Muslims. He says I "implicitly (not explicitly, which would require more courage) argue that these were black propaganda jobs." Weinberg lies once more: I say clearly that the conclusion that these were black propaganda jobs is "based on serious and substantial evidence," and I cite powerful sources for this conclusion: two articles by NYT reporter David Binder, the study by on-the-scene U.S. army officer John Sray, a major Senate Staff Report of 1997, and more. But Weinberg doesn't mention or discuss these—he knows that the establishment party line is true and it is easier to rely on misrepresentation and evasion .

In discussing "the actual mechanics of the massacre" Weinberg says my "principal argument" seems to be that since the "safe areas" weren't disarmed, "the Serbs were justified in overrunning them and slaughtering 8,000 mostly civilian war captives." This is only "implicit ." Actually, I was just explaining why the Serbs might have serious grievances and might attack, and might even take vengeance (they had lists of Srebrenica-based killers). Smear artist Weinberg does a little massaging here, covered by "implicit," and he asserts the 8,000 figure as a given truth (never in the course of his article honestly confronting my critique of this figure) and adds "civilian" war captives, a sure lie of a NATO-war propagandist.

Weinberg's reference to my citation for a claim of 1,000 Serb civilians killed by the Bosnian Muslims in the Serb vicinity is amusing—it is "footnoted to the report from Yugoslavia's UN ambassador without the slightest suggestion that this might be a dubious touchstone for veracity." Two points here: First, that report from way back in 1993 gives names and addresses and details on hundreds of Bosnian Serb victims, hard data that is not likely to have been manufactured. Second, Weinberg at no point ever hints at the possibility that the Bosnian Muslims, who have done most of the collection of bodies, or the Clinton administration, or anybody else who peddles the party line might in any way "be a dubious touchstone for veracity." This is patriotic and party line naiveté of the grossest sort, but partly explains Weinberg's anger and refusal to deal honestly with my long section on "The Serial Lying Before and After Srebrenica." It must also be a struggle for Weinberg to deal with the Bush administration's steady lying, which we must assume represents a sharp departure from the Clinton gang's honesty in the pursuit of evil.

Weinberg does allow an important instance in which Serbs do tell the truth, but this droll case is one where they actually do lie under pressure and threat. He says that the standard narrative was even confirmed by the Bosnian Serb leadership, which "has formally confessed to and apologized for the crime." In reality, the Bosnian Serbs put up a report on Srebrenica in 2002, but proconsul Paddy Ashdown didn't like the conclusions and fired a steady stream of Republika Srpska politicians and threatened them with other forms of retaliation until they produced a report with the proper conclusions. This coerced, Stalinist effort, Weinberg takes as authentic.

Weinberg refers to my "secondary argument" that the "bodies said to be those of Srebrenica victims have been unearthed from several mass graves around eastern Bosnia rather than a single mass grave at Srebrenica. A look at the ICMP website would tell Herman that this was due to Serb commanders ordering bodies exhumed and reburied…." I'm not sure what my "primary" argument is for Weinberg, but he has missed it (I urge readers to look at the original, cited earlier, unrecognizable from Weinberg's stupid misrepresentations and suppressions). On the alleged secondary argument, for Weinberg, if the ICMP (read Bosnian Muslim truth-tellers) say something it must be so, but in fact I had a complex argument on reburials that Weinberg evades or misses (see paragraphs 7-9 of Part 3 of my article). My reference to bodies from eastern Bosnia was only to show that the 7,500 at Tuzla were by no means all gathered from near Srebrenica, and the notion that they had all been there and were reburied is surely nonsense.

In proving that this genocide-apologist (me) wrongly uses an allegedly standard argument of saying that a majority of the dead were killed in combat, Weinberg cites the ICTY testimony of Momir Nikolic. Two points: First, Nikolic admitted to lying in order to support his plea-bargain, so a second case where Serbs may tell the truth for Weinberg is where a plea-agreement is reached between the ICTY and an indicted Serb in ICTY custody, and the Serb confirms the preferred narrative. (Nikolic's testimony provided a rare case where the NATO-war-supportive Institute for War and Peace Reports raised a question about the integrity of the ICTY's processes: Chris Stephens, "Key Srebrenica Witness Admits Lying: Momir Nikolic's fictional account of massacre raises questions about plea-bargain system," IWPR, TU 327, 29 September 2003.) Second, even if his testimony were true, which is very much in doubt, it might show substantial executions but would not in any way prove that a majority of grave bodies were not killed in combat, a point of logic that eludes Weinberg .

Nowhere in this sleazy diatribe does Weinberg discuss the meaning of genocide and how it applies to the Srebrenica case. A more honest and informed person, General Lewis Mackenzie, who was the first UN commander of peacekeeping forces in Srebrenica, wrote recently in his "The Real Story Behind Srebrenica" (Toronto Globe and Mail, July 14, 2005) that this was not the "black and white event in which the Serbs were solely to blame," and that "it has to be said that, if you're committing genocide, you don't let the women go since they are the key to perpetuating the very group you are trying to eliminate." This is too nuanced for party-liner Weinberg, and you can be sure that he is not going to discuss whether or not the huge ethnic cleansing and killing operation in Croatian Krajina that followed the Srebrenica massacre by less than a month was "genocide."

But if he doesn't isn't he an apologist for ethnic cleansing and genocide? Or consider this: on April 17th a memorial was held in the Bosnian town of Donja Gradina to remember the Jasenovac massacre of Serbs by Croatians during World War II. That was a real massacre, of an estimated 600,000 or more civilians (the 600,000 figure is given by the Simon Wiesenthal Center, which I mention to preclude any snide doubts by the scholarly Weinberg). This memorial, in contrast with that of Srebrenica, was ignored by the Western establishment, obviously for political reasons. But where was Bill Weinberg, so gung-ho for concern over ignoring celebrations of genocide? Answer: he was busy contributing to the propaganda campaign that justified the war on Serbia and either began or greased the skids for World War 4.

[Final Note: I did not do justice to Weinberg's distortions above, strictly because of time constraints. I want to say, however, that there isn't a single paragraph and very few sentences that are not vulnerable to disassembly for ignorance and misrepresentation, false "implications," and attack by snide put-downs.]

Bill Weinberg supports truth, thank you

Now isn't this interesting. Herman protests that just because he rejects that "standard narrative" on Srebrenica doesn't mean he supports genocide (denial is a form of support, as we all understand vis-a-vis Holocaust revisionism), yet he assumes that because I do accept the overwhelming evidence in support of the Srebrenica massacre, this means that I am engaging in "apologetics for war." It means nothing of the sort. I opposed US military intervention in the Balkans. But that opposition cannot be predicated on genocide denial or bogus moral equivalism or (worse) simply flipping reality on its head and portraying the Serbs as the victims and Bosnian Muslims as the aggressors.

I never claimed the Bosnian Muslim leadership were paragons of virtue who never told a lie. But I find it amusing that Herman is convinced by the names and addresses of Serb victims supplied by the Belgrade ambassador, but not those of the 7,800 men documented as missing from Srebrenica by the ICMP (which Herman sarcastically calls "Bosnian Muslim truth-tellers" despite the fact that they aren't Bosnian Muslims).

Herman "implies" the Sarajevo market bombings were black propaganda jobs by putting the allegation in the mouths of others rather than making the claim himself, and it is telling that these are overwhelmingly US government and military sources at a time when Washington was seeking an excuse not to intervene (as evidenced by the supposed necessity of the Bosnians to resort to such dirty tricks).

So now IWPR is "NATO-supported"? Those who wish to discredit the organization always refer me to their "Supporters" page, which does include a few unsavory donors, such as the State Department—but not NATO. Funny that Herman turns to "NATO-supported" IWPR to discredit Momir Nikolic's testimony. But IWPR seems to be the only outlet which (to their credit) reported on his perjury, which shows they have more integrity than those who cite them in this instance.

There are plenty of other examples we could turn to. Nikolic's co-defendant Dragan Obrenovic states that he received orders that the Srebrenica prisoners were to be shot, and describes the slaughter in intimate detail in his official confession. He notes at one point that a commander "was angry as the last group of prisoners were not taken to the dam to be executed, but were executed right there at the school and that his men (the 6th Battalion Rear Services) had to clean up the mess at the school, including the removal of the bodies to the dam." Bosnian Serb Army infantryman Drazen Erdemovic (who first volunteered his guilt to foreign journalists and pleaded for their help in fleeing Bosnia) tearfully told the court of his participation in the killing. "I had to do it. If I'd refused, I would have been killed together with the victims." There are no allegations of perjury in these cases.

These accounts are also backed up by forensic evidence: tribunal investigators exhumed hundreds of blindfolds and ligatures along with the bodies, and in many cases hands were still tied behind the back. Foresnic specialists also found evidence of reburial, such as parts of the same body in separate graves. If this is all fabricated, its a pretty vast conspiracy.

The post-Yugoslav wars have been full of ghastly atrocities. Srebrenica was one which clearly crossed the line to genocide. I have never heard leftists contest that the 1981 El Mozote massacre in El Salvador (1,000 dead, by high estimates) or even the 1997 Acteal massacre in Chiapas (45 dead) were acts of genocide. But 8,000 dead at Srebrenica is dismissed as imperialist propaganda. We excoriated the Reagan administration for denying the massacre at El Mozote, but now engage in precisely the same behavior vis-a-vis Srebrenica. So much for moral consistency.

Croatia's 1995 "cleansing" of 200,000 Serbs from the Krajina was a massive war crime, but was it genocide? Nobody ever claimed 8,000 were killed. If Herman thinks the "cleasning" of Krajina was genocide, I wonder if he will concede the same to the forcible expulsion of more than twice as many Muslims from Serb-controlled Bosnia between 1992 and 1995, or that of 800,000 Kosovar Albanians by Serbian forces in 1999? I have never denied the genocide of Serbs by the Croatian regime (not the Bosnian Muslims) in World War II, but it is rather beside the point here.

Many of the various points Herman accuses me of "dodging" are addressed in the longer version which I have submitted to Z Magazine. If they refuse to print it (which I thoroughly expect), it will appear on the front page of the next issue of WW4 REPORT. So readers who are taken in by Herman's malarky will get their chance either way to be disabused of their illusions.

IWPR censored its own story

IWPR fired Chris Stephen then rewrote his piece on Nikolic to make it more politically correct. Sobaka has the story.
http://www.diacritica.com/sobaka/2003/breakdown.html

...Which you apparently didn't read very carefully

It's true that the story about Nikolic's perjury does not appear on the IWPR website. But it has been picked up by others, such as the vile FreeRepublic. (I just love the common cause made over this issue by supposed "leftists" and the Islamophobe right). Nearly every reference to the perjury on the Internet seems to cite the IWPR account. So at least they covered it, unlike the rest of the world media. What are you complaining about?

And if you read carefully, it says that Stephen resigned—not that he was "fired."

Also, I find complaints about "advocacy journalism" in a screed as relentlessly opinionated as that one to be laughable. What, I suppose Sobaka and Z are "objective"?

Meanwhile, Andras Riedlmayer of the University of Buffalo provides an in-depth explanation of how the 8,000 figure is arrived at.

Perjury, Propaganda, and the Former Yugoslavia

Bill takes exception (Wed, 07/20/2005 - 17:03) to a post to an article at Soboka about the Institute for War and Peace Reporting’s failure to archive a copy of its very own Chris Stephen’s original September 29, 2003 report on the admission of perjury that same day of “star witness�? Momir Nikolic in the trial of two former members of the Army of the Republic of Serbia who had been indicted by the Tribunal in relation to the fall of Srebrenica and its aftermath.

But the important point Cali Ruchala made in “Institutional Breakdown�? (Sobaka, Dec. 6, 2003) did not turn on whether Stephen had resigned or been fired by the IWPR. Instead it turned on whether, in its reporting on the former Yugoslavia and the work of the Tribunal, the IWPR has served a propagandistic function aligned, ultimately, with the contemporary world’s centers of power—and one power center in particular. Ruchala argued that the re-working of Chris Stephen’s original September 29, 2003 report suggests that the IWPR does. Bill was silent on this point.

Readers of the World War IV Report need not rely upon Chris Stephen's re-worked "Key Srebrenica Witness Apologises for Lies" (IWPR, October 4, 2003) for what little they can learn about the Tribunal's reliance on plea-bargained perjurers in order to carry out its mission. Instead all of you can look directly at the transcript of the unraveling of "star witness" Nikolic during his cross-examination.

For this, see the transcript for the trial of “Blagojevic and Jokic (IT-02-60) ‘Srebenica’," September 29, 2003, beginning on page 2126, from line 17 on, where Nikolic states: “I said it. I didn’t tell the truth….�?

You STILL aren't reading very carefully

I never claimed IWPR was a paragon of objectivity. I just find it ironic that all the people who complain of its "propagandistic function" are quick to turn to IWPR's Chris Stephen, who was apparently the only journalist who covered Nikolic's perjury. (Yes, you can also go the actual court transcript.)

Now, Anonymous (was that you Borislav?) wrote "IWPR fired Chris Stephen," a simple, objective mis-statement of fact. I dare to correct it, and I am told this wasn't the "important point." Important enough for you to (inaccurately) invoke, but not important enough for me to correct. Very interesting.

A bit of clarification

I didn't think this worthy of mention as it's really irrelevant to Srebrenica, but as the ship seems to be running aground anyway...

To qualify your statement, Bill, you've jumped the gun a bit based on your earlier Google search. IWPR was the only English-language publication that covered it. Both Politika and Danas did as well.

Why didn't other English-language media cover it? Relatively speaking, this is a rather minor trial, and I would be willing to guess that Stephen was one of the only journalists for an English-speaking publication on the spot. The major media really only cover the Milosevic trial (and, possibly in the future, the Seselj trial) - and that mostly consists of an overview in the NYTimes every other month or so. The rest are wire reports when a verdict is announced. We can speculate on dark motives as to why, but in reality, these "little" trials aren't very sexy stories. IWPR is subsidized, so they don't have to worry about advertisers or subscribers in their coverage.

Politika was a ghastly rag under the Milosevic regime, but has been more or less centrist (in the Serbian context) since October 2000, when the Ribnikar family took it over again (though I believe it's changed hands a couple of times since then). Danas for its part has received money from many of the sources as IWPR. I mention this because Stephen's original article was printed there - this is mentioned in the follow-up article I did.

Chris Stephen can speak for himself (and very well, might I add), but I gathered that his basic interest in the Nikolic perjury was the effect it had on plea bargaining for things as serious as war crimes and crimes against humanity. Not that it called the whole Tribunal into question, or any of the other murky conspiracy theories people have attached to articles on this subject. Chris is a competant reporter and still follows the ICTY; in fact, based on his printed work, I'd say he's a supporter of it. So following the thread that this particular incident is going to cast light on anything but IWPR and their handling of this issue is a dead-end.

Already tried, already convicted

There seems to be a misconception here about certain comments running the “ship�? of the weblog “aground�?--the point being, along with the “ship�? comes a captain, and it is from the captain that everyone else’s orders follow.

Back to the perjurers and the propagandists. Within establishment English-language sources, in fact, no less important a source than the New York Times reported the unraveling of the ICTY’s star perjurer, Momir Nikolic (“Officers Say Bosnian Massacre Was Deliberate,�? October 12, 2003).

But the Times buried it in a very misleading fashion, conveying none of the scale of Nikolic’s collapse, and then only as an afterthought--i.e., 13 days after the event, in six very short paragraphs tacked onto the end of a 1,600-word report the bulk of which was devoted to how in his earlier testimony Nikolic had “described with cool precision the steps he took in coordinating the logistics, moving between army and police units, avoiding phones and radios, as preparations for the mass executions were under way.�?

In other words, tacked onto a report drafted to convey the overall credibility of the perjurer, and of the prosecutorial machinery that had marshaled this coached plea bargainer in the first place. (I'll paste a copy of the six paragraphs at the bottom.)

Can Bill show the rest of us an instance in which “people who complain of [the IWPR’s] ‘propagandistic function’�?---he’s referring to me, of course (Wed, 07/27/2005 - 10:29)---“are quick to turn to IWPR's Chris Stephen�? for anything other than samples of the IWPR’s and Chris Stephen’s labors on behalf of the Tribunal? As a favorable reviewer of Stephen’s book on the Milosevic trial once wrote about it (Janine di Giovanni, “In the belly of the Balkans,�? London Times, July 31, 2004):

"The problem arises when Stephen resorts to polemic. There is no disputing the wickedness of Milosevic, but his trial is not yet finished. The Serb leader's defence has been postponed repeatedly this summer, and some insiders believe he might walk free because of lack of evidence linking him to the charges. But if Judgement Day were read with no prior knowledge, it would be possible to believe that Milosevic had already been tried and convicted."

What the reviewer failed to add is that upwards of 100 percent of the establishment Western reporting on everything before us--the Srebrenica case especially--resorted to polemic from the very start and has never bothered itself with looking back. Criticism such as this extrapolates far, far beyond the work of Chris Stephen and the IWPR. Already tried, already convicted.

* From: Marlise Simons, "Officers Say Bosnian Massacre Was Deliberate," New York Times, October 12, 2003

During lengthy cross-examination a defense lawyer for Col. Vidoje Blagojevic challenged Mr. Nikolic's credibility, reminding him of a lie.

He said that earlier this year, when negotiating a plea agreement with prosecutors, Mr. Nikolic confessed to his role in Srebrenica but also claimed a role in another massacre at which he was not present. Before the agreement was completed, he retracted that statement.

Mr. Nikolic provided an answer, in a show of emotion that is rather exceptional at a tribunal where perpetrators' toughness and denial are far more common.

At the time, he said, he accepted more guilt, fearing that the plea agreement might fall through. During his confessions, he said, he had lived through "a terrible" period he did not want to remember, let alone talk about. "Everything that happened in and around Srebrenica was always present in my mind," he said. "I did not want to go through that process again and face a trial."

Michael Karnavas, the defense lawyer, also asked why he ignored the army's rule to grant protection to prisoners of war under the Geneva Conventions.

Mr. Nikolic responded sharply: "Do you really think that in an operation where 7,000 people were killed that somebody was adhering to the Geneva Conventions? First of all, they were captured, then killed and then buried, exhumed once again, and buried again. Nobody, Mr. Karnavas, adhered to Geneva Conventions."

Too funny

What do you mean "anything other than samples of the IWPR’s and Chris Stephen’s labors on behalf of the Tribunal?" It seems to me his work was only brought up on this page in an effort to discredit the Tribunal! Utterly disingenuous!

Ditto the NY Times story you quote from here. Terribly sorry your pal Nikolic was so persistent in insisting there was a massacre!

If Slobo walks (a grim possibility I do not dismiss), it'll be because of the efficacy of his defense that his excesses—like those of Bush and Sharon—were justifed to beat back Islamic terrorists (as we have pointed out). What I find hilarious is that supposed "leftists" who would love to see Bush and Sharon in the dock (as I would) are rooting for Slobo.

Nikolic

To get the record straight: My original story was rewritten by IWPR, after a letter complaining about the story was sent to IWPR by the Hague Tribunal chief prosecutor. I did not agree that the story should be re written. The letter did not dispute the facts but argued that I was wrong to call him a star witness and disagreed with the angle of the story. I was told to contact the prosecutor's office to apologise. I was then told that my contract would not be renewed, no reason given, and in December I finished working for IWPR. I stand by the story, the story is accurate, and I believe it is important for journalists to cover all aspects of the ICTY, including the plea bargain deals made by prosecutors. I note that this plea deal fell through with the judges later giving the defendant a hefty sentence.

Chris Stephen, author Judgement Day: The Trial of Slobodan Milosevic Atlantic Books, London(2004)

Reading Very Carefully

Nobody could read Bill’s “…Which you apparently didn’t read very carefully (Wed, 07/20/2005 - 17:03) as simply the correction of a simple, objective misstatement of fact.

For the record: I was not the person who posted the original link to the report in Soboka (Tue, 07/19/2005 - 23:18). So it would help for Bill to retract the charge that I was.

To repeat myself for the sake of emphasis: The important point of Cali Ruchala’s “Institutional Breakdown�? (Sobaka, Dec. 6, 2003) turned on whether, in its reporting on the former Yugoslavia and the work of the Tribunal, the IWPR has served a propagandistic function aligned, ultimately, with the contemporary centers of power—the one in Washington in particular. (Though it has many cells worldwide.)

What is more, I’ve looked over the material in the link that Bill provides to Andras Riedlmayer ("List of dead and missing from Srebrenica," July 19), and Riedlmayer does not provide an in-depth explanation of the actual sources for the estimated 8,000 Bosnian Muslim males alleged to have been executed following the evacuation of the Srebrenica “safe area�? in July, 1995.

In fact, the Riedlmayer provides nothing of the kind.

Selective reading comprehension

Borislav, you aren't even reading me very carefully! I didn't "charge" that you posted the link to Soboka, I asked if you had!

And it seems to me the information you are somehow overlooking in Andras Riedlmayer's post is right there in the first three paragraphs.

Bill's Uses Cuteness to Mask His Unreliability

In an earlier post addressed to me, Bill wrote (Wed, 07/27/2005 - 18:56): “Now, Anonymous (was that you Borislav?) wrote ‘IWPR fired Chris Stephen’, a simple, objective mis-statement of fact. I dare to correct it, and I am told this wasn't the ‘important point’. Important enough for you to (inaccurately) invoke, but not important enough for me to correct. Very interesting.�?

Now, in a later post addressed to me, Bill writes (Fri, 07/29/2005 - 00:09): “Borislav, you aren't even reading me very carefully! I didn't ‘charge’ that you posted the link to Soboka, I asked if you had!�?

Really? Then how should the visitors to the World War IV Report read Bill's assertion that it was I who “inaccurately" invoked the IWPR and Chris Stephen, namely, by anonymously posting the initial link to a Soboka article about the IWPR and Stephen (Tue, 07/19/2005 - 23:18), which claimed that IWPR "fired" Stephen?

More important, though, is the material to be found at Andras Riedlmayer’s “List of dead and missing from Srebrenica�? (July 19, 2005), about which Bill in an earlier post had written provides an “in-depth explanation of how the 8,000 figure is arrived at�? (Wed, 07/20/2005 - 17:03).

Now Bill claims that the important information can be found "right there in the first three paragraphs" of the Riedlmayer.

In the closing sentence of his second paragraph, Riedlmayer does write that, "until now only the Federal Commission for Missing Persons has publicized both its entire preliminary list and its methodology." But there follows only the most meager discussion of this methodology. And no solid reason for anyone to accept the sources of the 8,000 figure. Short of ex cathedra-type reasons, that is. And the leap of faith that agencies such as the Federal Commission for Missing Persons, the International Commission on Missing Persons, and the report issued in the name of the Republic of Serbia (June, 2004) after numerous interventions and compulsory revisions by the High-Representative for Bosnian and Herzegovina, are credible sources, rather than heavily politicized engineers with an official history to build.

I believe they are the latter.

I despise cuteness

This is a final warning. We have a no-censorship policy on this site, but that only applies to political content, not stupidity. It may not be clear to you that "(was that you Borislav?)" is a question, but it is presumably clear to the rest of the world. You can make excuses for genocide all you like, but any further disingenuous time-wasting distractions will be deleted. I have been more than tolerant of this crap.

No "solid reason". You mean, apart from 8,000 reported missing, with their next of kin waiting for DNA results to confirm identity of exhumed remains? Oh, a mere detail.

Bill Says He Despises Cuteness

For the record, here is exactly what Bill wrote in an earlier message directed to me ("You STILL aren't reading very carefully," Wed, 07/27/2005 - 18:56):

"Now, Anonymous (was that you Borislav?) wrote 'IWPR fired Chris Stephen', a simple, objective mis-statement of fact. I dare to correct it, and I am told this wasn't the 'important point'. Important enough for you to (inaccurately) invoke, but not important enough for me to correct. Very interesting."

Only the parenthetical comment was a question. (No. I was not the Anonymous poster.) But in the third sentence of Bill's paragraph, Bill clearly was assuming (wrongly) that Anonymous was me. Therefore, Bill's third sentence asserted: "Important enough for YOU [i.e., for ME, Borislav] to (inaccurately) invoke," also referring back to an earlier post of mine ("Perjury, Propaganda, and the Former Yugoslavia," Wed, 07/27/2005 - 10:29).

In this sentence, Bill clearly was asserting that it was I who had originally invoked the IWPR-Chris Stephen incident. And there are no two ways about it.

Now Bill follows up the entire chain with his "This is a final warning. We have a no-censorship policy on this site, but that only applies to political content, not stupidity."

It is good that the World War IV Report has a no-censorship policy. But then were does Bill’s FINAL WARNING come from? Moreover, my posts are STUPID, and STUPIDITY is to be barred from the World War IV Report's website? Since when? Were the World War IV Reporters to apply this principle universally at their website, I’d hate to see what might be left.

What is more, Bill had directed everyone's attention to post elsewhere by Andras Riedlmayer, and reported that the Riedlmayer "provides an in-depth explanation of how the 8,000 figure is arrived at"--the phrase "8,000 figure" referring to the number of Bosnian Muslims alleged to have been killed during after the evacuation of the Srebrenica 'safe area" ("...Which you apparently didn't read very carefully," Wed, 07/20/2005 - 17:03).

So I checked the Riedlmayer post and found that it sorely lacked an explanation for how the 8,000 figure was arrived at--short of Riedlmayer's simply taking as gospel truth other sources for the 8,000 figure, which are themselves open to honest questioning.

On the basis of checking the Riedlmayer, I wrote (a) that "Riedlmayer does not provide an in-depth explanation of the actual sources" ("Reading Very Carefully," Thu, 07/28/2005 - 14:15); and, later, (b) that in my opinion Riedlmayer provides "only the most meager discussion of this methodology. And no solid reason for anyone to accept the sources of the 8,000 figure. Short of ex cathedra-type reasons..." ("Bill's [sic] Uses Cuteness to Mask His Unreliability," Fri, 07/29/2005 - 10:44).

Now, you tell me. Are these really no more than "disingenuous time-wasting distractions," "stupidity," and "crap"?

Not in my opinion.

I should really delete that....

to abide by my own policy against time-wasting stupidity. But sometimes it is wiser to just give 'em enough rope...

Against Censorship

I would like to formally register my protest against Bill Weinberg’s threat to delete the post of another individual.

In “I despise cuteness�? (July 29) and “I should really delete that....�? (July 30), Bill Weinberg threatened to delete one or more posts by Borislav Herak, and then acted as if Herak’s posts only escaped Weinberg’s scalpel thanks to Weinberg’s greater wisdom.

I find Weinberg’s threat abhorrent. I believe that the rest of the moderators of the World War IV Report ought to denounce this kind of threat coming from a website they also share.

Protest formally acknowledged and registered...

...but let me be quick to point out that it appears Bill threatened to delete the post only as a way of highlighting the stupidity of wrestling over semantics given the greater issues involved. Obviously, Bill had no intention of suppressing the post or we would not be having this discussion. I don't think that the sparing of "Weinberg's scalpel" was as much a result of his "greater wisdom" as it was his sense of fairness.

And, in anticipation of your implicit concern, I'd venture to say that anyone who decides not to reply based on a fear of "Weinberg's scalpel" is seriously lacking in convictions to begin with.

Okay

Thanks for the clarification. But it's not something to joke around about in the manner that Bill did. In the context of Bill's previous "final warning" to the gentleman, visitors to this weblog had reason to be concerned.

Incidentally, in the series of exchanges that led to Bill's "final warning" (etc.), I thought the gentleman to whom Bill addressed his warning undressed Bill from head to toe.

As best I can tell by reading back over the exchanges, it was Bill who was in the wrong, even as he accused his interlocutor of being careless (etc.).

A fully-clothed response

You guys are just begging me to delete a post, aren't you? So then you can cry censorship, is that the game? Like the old Monty Python routine—"Help, help! I'm being repressed!"

This really is a final warning: the next post that isn't about Srebrenica or the politics of the Balkans will be deleted.

Yes, you do have reason to be concerned. Bogus games of "gotcha" with no political content will henceforth be considered spam.

Enough is enough.

The Politics of the Balkans

For years, a major part of what Bill (immediately above) calls the "politics of the Balkans" has included mudslinging of the kind in which Bill's posts, from Day One onward, have engaged.

For example: Both Edward S. Herman and Z Magazine are said to support "genocide." Now there was a nice just-the-facts-Ma'am and stay-on-topic use of the World War IV Report's webspace. From the very start, the topic has been mudslinging. Bill's.

Anyone who throughout this entire series of exchanges (one of the best on the 10th anniversary of the fall of Srebrenica that I've found) has taken significantly different positions from Bill's is "disingenuous," guilty of "abject revisionism," guilty of "sophistry," and so one. (When they aren't simply genocide deniers. And similarly abject deviations from serious fare.)

But I, too, would much rather get back to the dissolution of Yugoslavia. Okay then. In his Intelligence and the War in Bosnia 1992 - 1995, Ch. 2, sections 4-5, Cees Wiebes provides some invaluable analysis of the massive investment, even on the part of foreign intelligence services, in portraying the conflicts over Yugoslavia according to a specific good-vs.-evil storyline.

As Wiebes explains in the links that follow, "within the American [intelligence] services, such as the DIA and the CIA...intelligence started to serve as support to the policy of the Clinton administration, which was largely pro-Bosnian."

When reading Bill Weinberg's contributions to this website (especially his exchanges with Edward S. Herman), my distinct impression has been that Weinberg's learning derives from a similarly compromised source.

I hope the links work.

Cees Wiebes A
Cees Wiebes B
Cees Wiebes C
Cees Wiebes D

Re: IWPR censored its own story

Talk about a non-sequitor. That has... what was it, exactly, to do with Srebrenica? Nothing. The story is about IWPR and, more broadly, the role of governments in funding media (much less the media that trains other media). Don't cite me in this insane attempt to prove that Srebrenica never happened.

If you wanted a Sobaka story that was actually about Srebrenica, you could gone the direct route. To wit:
http://www.diacritica.com/sobaka/2002/srebrenica.html

Truth supporters with a closed mind--a reply to Weinberg’s rep

Bill Weinberg reacted furiously to my article “The Politics of the Srebrenica Massacre�? (ZNet, July 7) because he knows the truth beforehand and can’t abide any challenge; the possibility that he is wrong and was taken in is intolerable. The very notion of raising questions about it enrages him. This is why he grasps at any straw to prove his case, even using the non-sequitur that because several hundred bodies had hands bound or were blindfolded this “suggests�? that 8,000 were executed. This is why he maintains a completely uncritical stance on Tribunal-based evidence purchased with plea bargains, including evidence of self-confessed liars, while sneering at my citation of a 1993 Serb document with victim names, places and dates. He is still “amused�? that that “convinces me�?—of what I am not sure, but the implication is that that data is fraudulent, which Weinberg doesn’t say explicitly (and you can be sure he never looked at this extensive document). On the other hand, he is amused that I am unconvinced by a list of 7,800 Srebrenica names put up by the ICMP. He never mentions that in my paper I discuss problems with that list, which he has yet to address, and of course that list doesn’t differentiate between people executed and those that died in battle, of which there were several thousands. He says that he never claimed that the Bosnian Muslims were “paragons of virtue,�? but he never discusses my extensive section on their serial lying, and the only doubts he expressed about truthfulness were in regard to that 1993 Serb report. So people who say what he believes ex ante are truth tellers, even if not paragons of virtue, and others are liars and holocaust deniers.

Weinberg does mention my discussion of the Sarajevo market bombings, but I allegedly put my black propaganda claims “in the mouths of others�? rather than making them myself (not true, but irrelevant to the issues). This evidence is discounted (without discussion of its substance) on the ground that it is “overwhelmingly by US government and military sources�? at a time when the US government “was seeking an excuse for non-intervening.�? This is complete drivel. First, it is not true that the US government was trying to avoid intervention in that period; it was already aligned with the Bosnian Muslims and would hardly support anti-Muslim claims, and in fact Madeleine Albright denied any Bosnian Muslim involvement in those massacres and succeeded in getting the claims of “black propaganda�? buried at the UN. Second, it is interesting that Weinberg is suggesting that Lt. Colonel John Sray and others lied to implicate the Bosnian Muslims, so that once again truthfulness depends on whether Weinberg agrees with you or not. Third, French, Russian, British, Canadian and non-official U.S. observers offered the black propaganda view and gave evidence for it. I gave sources for these which Weinberg doesn’t acknowledge.

Weinberg repeats his statements about ligatures, which don’t prove mass executions, and claims about reburial, the latter with no serious evidence. He never addresses my query about the absence of satellite evidence for reburial after Albright’s warning “we will be watching,�? and in fact he dodges practically everything else I said on these subjects.

He says he never heard leftists contest that El Mozote was an act of genocide, but I never heard any claim it was an act of genocide, even if it was a case of mass killing. Was the Salvadoran army trying to exterminate all Salvadorans? Also, the numbers killed there were known by a real body count. Weinberg can’t get it through his head that his 8,000 is completely unproven and that that is what is in dispute. He says that the Krajina ethnic cleansing was different because “nobody ever claimed that 8,000 were killed.�? Again, he is uninformed. The Serbs initially claimed that 14,000 were missing and killed, but subsequently most of those missing were accounted for in refugee camps, so, in contrast with Srebrenica, the number killed fell from 14,000 to perhaps 2,500 . For Weinberg this is not genocide, although all leftists allegedly found the 1,000 killed at Mozote to be a case of genocide. This is bias and muddle that would be hard to surpass.

Weinberg says he can’t be an apologist for war, as I claim, because he opposed the wars in the Balkans. He misses the point: the Srebrenica massacre has been inflated and hugely politicized to put the US role and “humanitarian intervention�? in a good light, and it helped prepare the ground for the Bush wars. By blindly and uncritically following the war-makers in their treatment of Srebrenica, Weinberg has given them a nice lift.

Cast the beam from thine own eye, Herman

And around it goes. If any significant proportion of the 7,800 were killed in battle, why the reburials and systematic effort to hide the evidence? Why the blindfolds and ligatures? Claiming there is no evidence for this flies in the face of the facts—it is up to Herman to disprove what an international forensic effort has determined. If evidence has been manufactured or manipulated on this scale, it is unprecedented in all of history. Unless Herman believes the Holocaust was another such fictional invention. In fact, the US did claim satellite evidence of the massacre (CSM, Aug. 18, 1995), but I'm sure Herman will find some way to debunk it. Amnesty International is convinced, writing in an action alert on the anniversary (calling for pressure to bring Karadzic and Mladic to justice) that "at least 7,800 Bosnian Muslim men and boys were killed after the siege of Srebrenica." Go argue with Amnesty, willya Ed?

If the US was so eager to bomb the Serbs, funny that the Bosnian Muslims had to resort to such extreme subterfuges as bombing themselves. The argument is pathetically illogical. It is telling that the US finally did bomb a few fairly meaningless Serb targets only after the Serb armies had conquered 70% of Bosnia, Sarajevo had been under siege for more than three years and the fix was in for the Dayton Plan—in which the legitimate Muslim-led government of Bosnia ceded effective control of the majority of its own territory. The US was playing the Serbs against the Muslims while posing as the Muslims' defender for appearances' sake, and the "anti-imperialist" left fell for the charade.

Of course the left has repeatedly called US-backed bloodlettings in Latin America and elsewhere "genocide"—often with good reason. Freedom Socialist in its Oct.-Dec. 2002 issue refers (accurately) to "the genocide in El Mozote." In a Jan. 9, 1998 communique, Subcommander Marcos of the Zapatistas refers to the "genocide of Acteal." There's a pretty good case to be made here too, even though the victims and perpetrators were of the same ethnicity (Tzotzil Maya). In El Salvador, the military was attempting to destroy the peasant culture that animated the armed insurgency, and at some 20,000 dead (by the conservative estimates of the UN Truth Commission) it arguably falls within the range of genocide. The victims were overwhelmingly campesinos whose culture is deeply rooted in the indigenous past (in contrast to that of the much whiter elites), giving a certain ethnic dimension to the mass murder. In Chiapas, the army-backed paramilitaries similarly seek to destroy an insurgent peasant culture. Arguably, the fratricidal nature of the Chiapas violence, and its much more limited scale, preclude the "genocide" label, but it has certainly approached a genocidal threshold. And I'll note that even at Acteal, the perpetrators were evangelical converts while the victims were followers of "Liberation Theology" Catholicism, fitting the criteria for "intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such" under the international legal definition of genocide. (Emphasis added.) By Herman's hair-splitting and disingenuous criteria, there was no genocide in Cambodia either.

With an estimated 200,000 dead in the Bosnian war out of a total population of some 4 million (just about the same as El Salvador at the time of the war 20 years ago), there's a damn good case to be made there. The victims may not be so overwhelmingly on one side in Bosnia, but then the Muslims only constituted 45% of the population to begin with (whereas the campesinos were an overwhelming majority in El Salvador).

Just for the record, I didn't say that the "cleansing" of Krajina wasn't genocide. I asked if it was. I'm not the one who's interested in covering up war crimes. In a December 2000 statement, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), while not making any claims as to the number missing, calls for the Yugoslavia Tribunal "to investigate Operation Storm and prosecute those alleged to be responsible for violating international humanitarian law." I support this call without equivocation.

Finally, if I am "blindly and uncritically following the war-makers" on Srebrenica, so is Herman—just different war-makers. He adheres to the ultra-hardline position on Srebrenica which even the leadership of the Serb Republic has abandoned (albeit, as Herman will remind us, under international pressure). And my "war-makers" also happen to include Amnesty International.

Which brings us to (I hope) the final point. The "anti-imperialist" left has time and again discredited itself by merely flipping Washington's pronouncements on their head instead of actually looking at the facts and thinking them through, and consequently finds itself repeatedly loaning support for thugs. Our opposition to Washington's bellicosity can not be predicated on the notion that Karadzic, Milosevic, Saddam and their ilk are not monsters. By leading the left down this moral and intellectual dead-end, Herman has given the war-makers a nice lift.

Reply to older Herman on body counts in Kosova and Bosnia

I've been impressed with people like Bill Weinberg and Roger Lippman taking on Herman's disgraceful aplogetics for the Srebrenica genocide and generally believe that those of us on the left need a stronger voice so the "debate" doesn't get lost between alleged "leftists" like Herman, Parenti etc who have emerged for years now as apologists for Serbian fascism, and a "humanitarian interventionist" liberalism. Unfortunately many coming into left-wing politics may be initially impressed by the kind of rubbish churned out by herman and their ilk, due to their horror of US imperialism, and understandably so without further information.

Just to back up the arguments, here is a piece I wrote a couple of years ago in response to another despicable Herman piece in ZMag (the first couple of paragraphs and then the link):

Reply to Ed Herman on Body Counts in Kosova

Edward Herman (Z-Magazine, February 2002, "Body Counts in Imperial Service") sets out to reveal the ways in which mass killings are highlighted when such figures are in the service of western propaganda, but ignored when carried out by the same western leaders, or their clients such as Israel, Turkey and Indonesia. There is no question that such exposure is essential work for anti-imperialists to campaign against US and other western aggression as in the cases of the Gulf, Yugoslavia and Afghanistan.

Unfortunately, Herman seems completely unable to remain on that fine line between justifying imperialist propaganda and war – where Hitchens etc have fallen – and scabbing on the oppressed and terrorised in places where western propaganda does sometimes suddenly find a need to exploit their suffering. Above all, this means the Kosovars and Bosniaks, whose terrorisation at the hands of the massive Serbian-Yugoslav military machine is surely equivalent to the terrorisation of the Kurds, Palestinians, Timorese and Iraqis by the massive Turkish, Israeli, Indonesian and US military machines.

Full: http://mihalisk.blogspot.com/2004/12/reply-to-ed-herman-on-body-counts-in.html

Michael Karadjis

What is a "Kosovar" and what is a "Bosniak"?

I see that in Michael Karadjis’ remarks, he uses two very curious words: ‘Kosovars’ and ‘Bosniaks’.

Aside from the entire resident population of the province of Kosovo (located within Serbia and Montenegro), and the entire resident population of the country of Bosnia and Herzegovina (including the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina and the Republic of Serbia), I do not know whom these two terms can possibly refer to.

Is not a Kosovar a resident of the province of Kosovo? And a Bosniak a resident of Bosnia and Herzegovina?

Can you please clarify this matter for me?

Pretty obvious, no?

I'm perfectly happy to let Michael weigh in, but I strongly suspect Borislav is being disingenuous. Yes, a Kosovar is a resident of the province of Kosovo/a, the big majority of whom happen to be ethnic Albanians and were indeed terrorized by Serb paramilitaries and security forces when the province was last under Belgrade's control. Bosniak usually refers to those—mostly Muslim Slavs—who see their identity as primarily Bosnian. The majority of Serbs and Croats in Bosnia appear to identify more with Serbia and Croatia.

Kosovars and Bosniaks

Bill covered this question on the Kosovars in a way I agree with, but just a couple of points. Because the great majority of Kosovars are ethnic Albanians, it by no means should imply that Kosovar Serbs are not Kosovars. They are. The point being of course that nowhere in the world does a minority of 10% have the right to veto the right to self-determination of the 90%. Thus in practice saying the overwhelming majority of Kosovars want independence does not mean excluding Serb voices, just a simple mathematical fact that in practice the overwhelming majority of Kosovars = the overwhelming majority of Albanians.

On 'Bosniak', I'm not sure it is entirely the way Bill puts it - my understanding is that the term refers to the Bosnian Muslim element of Bosnia, needing to use a name that denotes their own specific group within Bosnia, without it being a religious name. Of course they see themsleves as 'Bosnian' also, in the wider sense. In the same way that Orthodox in Bosnia identify as 'Serbs' and Catholics identify as 'Croats', even if the majority of these Orthodox, Catholics and Muslims may be not very religious, or even atheists. I'm not sure that the 10% (at least) of Bosnians that are thoroughly mixed (and thus do not fit into any of the apartheid statelets that the EU/US/Serbia/Croatia schemes created) call themsleves 'Bosniaks' rather than simply 'Bosnians'. I also don't think that the substantial minorities among Bosnian Serbs and Bosnian Croats that identify equally, or even firstly, as Bosnians, see themsleves as 'Bosniaks', but as 'Bosnians'.

'Bosniaks' Pure and Simple

A number of posts to this section of the World War IV Report have contested the meaning of the term 'Bosniaks' in contemporary usage (e.g., Michael Karadjis, Bill Weinberg, and Borislav Herak).

According to the entry at Wikipedia (which everyone is free to challenge and reject outright, of course), the term 'Bosniaks' refers to a "Southeast European ethnic group, descended from Slavic converts to Islam during the Ottoman period (15th-19th century), living primarily in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Bosniaks are named after Bosnia, the largest and most significant historical region of modern Bosnia and Herzegovina. Religiously speaking, the majority of Bosniaks are Sunni Muslims."

Later on in this same entry, Wikipedia elborates (see "The struggle for recognition"):

"With a weakening of Serb dominance in Bosnian communist leadership, the door opened up for a new national identification. Finally in the 1961 Yugoslav census, the 'Muslims in the ethnic sense' option first appeared. By 1963 Muslims were listed in the Bosnian constitution alongside Serbs and Croats. Finally, in 1968, 'Muslims' with a capital M was adopted as the term for a member of a nation rather than 'muslims' as adherents to Islam. (This summons forth the old discussions about whether a Jew is a member of a tribe or of a religion; the dilemmas were parallel).

"The decision wasn't greeted without debate among communist leadership, but Bosniaks had made themselves clear. 'Practice has shown the harm of different forms of pressure', read a communique issued by the Bosnian Central Committee, 'from the earlier period when Muslims were designated as Serbs or Croats from the national viewpoint. It has been shown, and present socialist practice confirms, that the Muslims are a distinct nation'.

"From then until the Yugoslav wars, Bosniak national identity continued to develop with two different philosophies forming. These breakthroughs in the 60s were not carried out by religious Muslims (in fact, they were headed chiefly by secular Muslim communists) but in the following decades two separate schools of thought emerged. The first, was a secular 'Muslim Nationalism', and the second was a separate revival of Islamic religious belief (a reaction to communist sponsored secularism and advocated by people such as Alija Izetbegović). The effects of these two separate ideas on what exactly Bosnian Muslims are can be seen to this day.

In September 1993, the Congress of Bosnian Muslim Intellectuals adopted the term Bosniak instead of the previously used Muslim. Other nationalities objected to the name as a ploy to monopolize the history of Bosnia and make them seem to be foreign invaders... The term in itself means Bosnian and is an archaic term that was once used for all inhabitants of Bosnia regardless of faith. Bosniaks counter by pointing out that Bosniak has been a historical ethnic term for their nation since the 10th century, and that had they truly wanted to 'monopolize' Bosnian history it would have been far easier to adopt the name 'Bosnian' in itself instead of using the more archaic version.

"Since the 1990s, the name has been adopted outside of Bosnia itself, onto the Slavic Muslim population of other former Yugoslav republics such as Serbia and Macedonia. It allows a Bosniak/Bosnian distinction to match the Serb/Serbian and Croat/Croatian distinctions between ethnicity and residence."

Wikipedia's treatment of the term's genesis and usage is close to my own understanding of it. In all of the federal censuses taken in Yugoslavia in the three decades prior to the civil wars of the 1990s, Muslims comprised one of the six constituent nations and weighed-in as the third largest overall, the term 'Muslims' understood to refer not simply to an ethnic group but at the same time to a religious group as well.

I believe that what we have witnessed over the past 15 years or so--that is, since the onset of the constitutional crises that eventually destroyed the federal state, and what Robert Hayden calls the "partitioning" of the electorate in the republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina as early as 1990--is the supplanting of the term 'Muslims' by the term 'Bosniaks' to refer to an ethnically and religiously homogeneous population, to the exclusion of others.

Thus the use of the term betrays the unresolved nature of the conflicts that destroyed Yugoslavia in the first place.

It does none of us any good to pretend otherwise.

The Breakup of Bosnia and Herzegovina

Not sure whether Alex Giannakopoulos is raising any red flags about the exclusionary nature of what he calls the “genesis and usage�? of the term ‘Bosniaks’ by contemporary Bosnian Muslims and the members of their expatriate communities--for example, in places such as St. Louis, where I can attest firsthand to their numbers and activism--or simply recognizing the political logic behind the adoption of the term during the break-up of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia in the early 1990s. ("'Bosniaks' Pure and Simple," August 5.)

But, inspired by the superb post of the other day titled "From Borislav Herak" (August 3), I had mentioned my intent to post another passage from Robert M. Hayden’s Blueprints for a House Divided ("Sense and the ICTY," August 3), and Alex’s comments suggest that here would be the best place for the Hayden, rather than at the very end of the present chain of messages.

"In the free elections that marked the end of Communism, in November 1990," Hayden writes (pp. 91-92),

the Bosnian electorate partitioned itself into Muslims, Serbs, and Croats. A single Muslim party, the SDA (Stranka Demokratske Akcije, or Party of Democratic Action) took 86 of the 240 total seats (35.8 percent); a single Serb party, the SDS (Srpska Demokratska Stranka, Serbian Democratic Party) took 72 of the seats (30 percent); and a single Croat party, the HDZ (Hrvatska Demokratska Zajednica, or Croatian Democratic Union) took 44 of the seats (18.35 percent). The Muslim, Serb, and Croat percentages of the 1991 population were, respectively, 43.7, 31.3, and 17.5. Thus the “democratic�? election was essentially an ethnic census. Given the chance to vote as Bosnians, the population of Bosnia and Herzegovina chose instead to vote, overwhelmingly, as Muslims, Serbs, and Croats.

(For a moment, try comparing the eminently reasonable point that Hayden is registering about the bloody direction in which not only Yugoslavia, but also the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina, were headed some 15 years ago, to the kind of wild-eyed rhetoric about the genocidal Serbs and their fanatical supporters that a website such as Balkan Witness has peddled over the years. The fact that the very first comment posted to this weblog in response to Bill Weinberg’s initial "Z magazine supports genocide" (July 10) derived from a personal message that Balkan Witness' Roger Lippman had sent to Weinberg ("'It's worse than this'," July 17) has always struck me as too neat to be explained by a mere convergence of interests alone.)

But back to Hayden (pp. 97-98):

Applying the Badinter [commission’s] definition of a state, as “a community which consists of a territory and a population subject to an organized political authority,�? by late 1991, Bosnia and Herzegovina was empirically not a state, its population forming three “communities�? rather than one, its former “organized political authority�? having broken down, much of its population rejecting subjugation to a putative political authority that was operating in violation of the constitution. Recognition of Bosnia and Herzegovina is irrelevant to this conclusion, since, as the Bandinter commission has put the matter, “the existence or disappearance of the State [i.e., referring to the Socialist Federal Republic in its totality] is a question of fact�? and “the effects of recognition by other States are purely declaratory.�?

This dissolution of the state, however, was the manifestation of the dissolution of the political consensus that had made a single state of Bosnia’s peoples possible. This consensus was based on the root of that word: consent. Had the peoples of Bosnia and Herzegovina defined themselves as Bosnians during the elections of 1990, the republic could have existed as the state of the Bosnian people. However, instead, the population of Bosnia and Herzegovina overwhelmingly divided itself into three nations: Serbs, Croats, and Muslims. This partitioning of the Bosnian populations led to the breakdown of the constitutional system of Bosnia and Herzegovina, which required consent of these three constituent peoples for the state to function.

….

Perhaps…the dissolution of the political consensus that made Bosnia and Herzegovina possible and the subsequent dissolution of the state should be accepted for the unfortunate facts that they are. Failure to accept them in 1992 made civil war inevitable, either to impose a Bosnian state on the Serbs and Croats who rejected it (or, always more likely, to expel them), or by them to escape inclusion in the state that they rejected.

Throughout all of the foregoing, we need to be careful not to mistake Hayden’s use of the term ‘Bosnian’ (e.g., “Given the chance to vote as Bosnians…�?) with other writers' use of ‘Bosniak’—the former designating citizens of the republic or the independent state of Bosnia and Herzegovina, the latter designating Bosnian Muslims as an ethno-religious group separate and distinct from others.

In other words, Hayden’s account of the “logic�? of the break-up of Bosnia and Herzegovina recognizes that, when, in November 1990, the citizens of Bosnia and Herzegovina were given the chance to affirm their loyalties, they pursued exactly the same path as the majorities within the Republic of Slovenia and the Republic of Croatia pursued--overwhelmingly, they affirmed themselves to be Bosniaks (i.e., Bosnian Muslims), Serbs, and Croats, rather than citizens of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, or citizens of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

And yet, what does the monocausal explanation for the break-up of Yugoslavia contend? In the words of the Prosecution’s serial indictments of Slobodan Milosevic et al. for having lived and breathed during the years of Yugoslavia’s collapse, their “joint criminal enterprise was in existence by 1 August 1991 and continued until at least 31 December 1995.�?

Such is the “standard narrative,�? as Edward S. Herman puts it. Held in place by everything from institutional power to Great Power coercion to simple ignorance to the craven repetition of it.

Held in place by everything but the truth.

Who are "Kosovars" and who are "Bosniaks"?

Bill shouldn’t have impugned my motives.

Because in Michael Karadjis’ remarks (Mon, 07/25/2005 - 08:11), he wrote of the “Kosovars and Bosniaks, whose terrorisation at the hands of the massive Serbian-Yugoslav military machine is surely equivalent to the terrorisation of the Kurds, Palestinians, Timorese and Iraqis by the massive Turkish, Israeli, Indonesian and US military machines.

Shows what you know

"WASPs" are a very small minority of the population of New York City. They are probably also a minority in New York State.

Yes, "Kosovar" includes the Serb as well as Albanian residents of Kosovo/a, but these constitued only 10% of population. So Michael's reference to "Kosovars['] terrorisation at the hands of the massive Serbian-Yugoslav military machine" is a perfectly legitimate construction. (He didn't say all Kosovars.)

And don't impugn Michael with my definition of "Bosniak," which he explicitly took exception to. Michael wrote that Bosniak "refers to the Bosnian Muslim element of Bosnia, needing to use a name that denotes their own specific group within Bosnia, without it being a religious name," and draws a distiction between Bosniak and Bosnian, which does include Serbs and Croats as well as Muslims.

So I still think you are being disingenuous. Sorry.

Minority Rights, Majority Rights, and Which is Which?

Michael writes that “nowhere in the world does a minority of 10% have the right to veto the right to self-determination of the 90%�? (Tue, 07/26/2005 - 03:49).

Nice principle. And I’m sure he’d won’t mind my adding that it works the other way, too.

But in so far as the former Yugoslavia is concerned, to which period and, more important, to which territorial units do these demographics refer? Shortly before the Republic of Serbia’s 1989 constitution was adopted, did ethnic Albanians comprise roughly (a) 90% of the autonomous region of Kosovo, and (b) 90% of the Republic of Serbia, and (c) 90% of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia?

The answers are (a) yes, (b) no, and (c) no. So right off the bat we see exactly the kind of constitutional questions that the former Yugoslavs were facing. Contrary to what Michael asserts, there was no “simple mathematical fact�? to the effect that, “in practice,�? at any time, we could speak of what the “overwhelming majority�? of (a), (b), and (c) wanted. Unless one also was willing to adopt the rule that the rights of (a) or the rights of (b) or the rights of (c) trumped the rights of the others.

Michael also writes that the word ‘Bosniak’ “refers to the Bosnian Muslim element of Bosnia, needing to use a name that denotes their own specific group within Bosnia, without it being a religious name.�? Bill, too, quotes Michael, thus repeating this explanation.

But Michael clearly is contradicting himself: How could ‘Bosniak’ refer to the Bosnian Muslim element of Bosnia and Herzegovina, but not refer to the religious affiliation of the Bosnian Muslims?

But, just to be clear: My interest here is not in how Michael uses the word, but in how the establishment media and scholarship have been using it. Because they seem to use ‘Bosniak’ (spellings may vary) to refer to a “nation�? or “ethnic�? identity in much the same way they'd use 'Serb' or 'Croat' or 'Albanian' to refer to a "nation" or an "ethnic" identity. The difference being that so-called Bosniaks came into being via foreign military intervention, the 1995 Dayton documents, and the administrative occupation of Bosnia and Herzegovina by the Office of the High Representative. So I think the jury is out on exactly how the word 'Bosniak' is actually used in the literature.

Last, Bill persists with the charge that I am being “disingenuous�? (Wed, 07/27/2005 - 19:19). Responding would be pointless.

Of course you are being disingenuous

You apparently think it is fine for Bosnian Orthodox to call themselves "Serbs" and for Bosnian Catholics to call themselves "Croats," but not for Bosnian Muslims to call themselves "Bosniaks." Your double standard speaks for itself. (And just because the Dayton documents used the word "Bosniak" doesn't mean they were the source of its origin.)

And the Kosovar Alabanians never sought to "deny self-determination" to Serbia or Yugoslavia. It was Serbia and Yugoslavia that did precisely that to the Kosovar Albanians. These arguments are nothing short of Orwellian.

Bill Weinberg, the World War IV Report, and the Orwellian

Bill simply disregards my questions (Thu, 07/28/2005 - 12:34), and throws dirt instead.

This is his prerogative.

But, so that the rest of the visitors to the World War IV Report don't mistake the words that Bill would place in my mouth for anything that I myself have said, let me re-state a crucial point here.

Michael had written (Tue, 07/26/2005 - 03:49) that "nowhere in the world does a minority of 10% have the right to veto the right to self-determination of the 90%."

I agree. Along with the caveat that I believe the converse also is true: Nowhere in the world does a majority of 90% have the right to veto the right to self-determination of the other 10%.

But let's stick with Michael's original statement, and consider the case of Kosovo. The principle is: A minority of 10% does not have the right to veto the self-determination of the majority 90%.

What I inquired about was how, in the former Yugoslavia, the citizens of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia regarded themselves? Ethnic Albanians comprised some 90% of the province of Kosovo (i.e., the autonomous region of Kosovo under the 1974 Constitution). But ethnic Albanians did not comprise 90% of the Republic of Serbia, much less 90% of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia.

So, from the moment one begins talking about majorities and minorities, the constitutional questions are: Relative to whom? And: in which jurisdiction? Contrary to what Michael had suggested, there never was a “simple mathematical fact

Re minority and majority rights

Borislav asks: "Shortly before the Republic of Serbia’s 1989 constitution was adopted, did ethnic Albanians comprise roughly (a) 90% of the autonomous region of Kosovo, and (b) 90% of the Republic of Serbia, and (c) 90% of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia? The answers are (a) yes, (b) no, and (c) no. So right off the bat we see exactly the kind of constitutional questions that the former Yugoslavs were facing. Contrary to what Michael asserts, there was no “simple mathematical fact�? to the effect that, “in practice,�? at any time, we could speak about what the “overwhelming majority�? wanted. The overwhelming majority within which jurisdiction, pray tell?

We know that the political leadership of the former Yugoslavia (both at the federal and the republican levels) failed to resolve these issues peacefully. It would be worth trying to understand them in their richness and complexity, rather that reflexively, and in a manner that sows the standard dis-enlightenment: Side A repressed Side B.

Bill also writes that somebody somewhere "apparently think[s] it is fine for Bosnian Orthodox to call themselves 'Serbs' and for Bosnian Catholics to call themselves 'Croats', but not for Bosnian Muslims to call themselves 'Bosniaks'."

But doesn't anybody detect the utter lack of symmetry in Bill's comparison? Adopting Bill's terms, why would a Bosnian Muslim count as a Bosniak, but not a Bosnian Orthodox or a Bosnian Catholic?

Adopting Bill’s terms, why wouldn't a Bosnian Orthodox and a Bosnian Catholic count equally as Bosniaks, just as Bosnian Muslims do--unless the term 'Bosniak', in its current usage (as well as Bill's), is an ethnically and religiously pure designation, to be used to refer to one and only one ethnic-religious group?

But then if we are referring to one and only one ethnic-religious group, why not use the term 'Bosnian Muslim'? Why even bring the term 'Bosniak' into current usage? Why did Bosnian Muslims cease being Bosnian Muslims, and become Bosniaks?

Now Bill (Fri, 07/29/2005 - 00:16) once again throws around the charge that I am being "disingenuous."

But how many times can the moderator of a website engage in tactics such as this, before the visitors to the website recognize just how truly disingenuous its moderator is?

Is Kosovo an island?

A friend just turned me on to the discussion that was initiated with the posting of "Z Magazine supports genocide" to the World War IV Report's weblog (July 10).

I will leave the sheer madness betrayed by this choice of titles ("supports genocide"!) for a later date. Besides, I see that it was already dealt with by Edward Herman on his own ("Bill Weinberg supports the onset of World War IV," July 18).

Instead, I'd like to draw everyone's attention to some factual and interpretative errors that were committed in a subsequent post, Michael Karadjis' "Minority and majority rights" (July 29).

Replying to some constitutional questions raised by a previous contributor, Karadjis explains that he is "not really that interested" in constitutional questions. Then, Karadjis states that, within the Serbian province of Kosovo, Kosovar Albanians "'mathematically' constitute[d] the overwhelming majority of Kosovar people."

(Just to be clear, I'm sticking to the situation as it existed during the 1980s and the 1990s. This is because the 1999 NATO war over Kosovo and the ongoing occupation has so greatly distorted the historical forces at work in the region that it has brought a wholly new set of fundamentals into play.)

But while what Karadjis states was true of the approximate percentage of Albanian people living within Kosovo at the time, we must not forget that Kosovo also happened to be a province within the Republic of Serbia, which also happened to be a constituent Republic within the former Yugoslavia.

Unless Kosovo existed somehow outside Serbia and outside the former Yugoslavia, who in their right mind would contend that the constitutional questions raised by the previous writer are not only not interesting, but not fundamental to the nature of the conflicts that ensued?

As a matter of fact, this kind of constitutional question is absolutely essential to understanding the fate of the former Yugoslavia. But we are not talking about some "alleged imaginary constitutional law," as Karadjis attempts to dismiss it. Instead, we are talking about what by the early 1990s had become the fundamental contest. Should I be compelled to live within your state? Or should you be compelled to live within mine? Who decides, ultimately? And what if you or I disagree?

The only way that Kosovar Albanians could be regarded as a majority population anywhere was if the province of Kosovo was regarded as an island, cut off from everyone and everything else. Can anyone show me when this was the case, prior to NATO's 1999 military intervention and the occupation that has followed? Exactly the same constitutional dilemmas repeated themselves in republic after republic.

I do, however, find quite interesting another question that Karadjis raises. "Do you honestly want to tell me," Karadjis writes, addressing the previous writer, "that this is not a worse outcome than violating some alleged imaginary constitutional law that says a minority must forever be ruled by another people, by a state they don't consider their own, just because some accident in history landed them inside that state, unless the majority in the larger state also agree to let them go?"

By "this is not a worse outcome," Karadjis means the permanent state of violent repression of a minority people seeking their independence. To paraphrase, Karadjis therefore is stating that it is his belief that a minority should not be ruled forever by another people, by a state they don't consider their own, just because some accident of history landed them inside that state.

Fine by me. But doesn’t this then mean that, on Karadjisian principles, the ethnic Serb population of the former Republic of Croatia, and the ethnic Serb population of the former Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina, were justified in rejecting rule by the powers that came into being with the newly independent states of Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina, ca, 1991-1992, even though accidents of history had placed them within these states (i.e., within these former republics)?

I would tend to agree, whether on Karadjisian principles or not.—The question was, How?

And isn't this exactly the kind of constitutional dilemma that manifest itself within the former Yugoslavia, both in the relations between the Federal and the Republican organs, and in the relations between the "nations" and the "nationalities" as they were spread across both the Federal and the Republican territories?

(By the way, for a very cogent analysis of these dilemmas, I urge the readers of this website to see Robert M. Hayden's Blueprints for a House Divided: The Constitutional Logic of the Yugoslav Conflicts (University of Michigan Press, 1999).)

Abject revisionism

Milosevic struck the first blow (or "distortion") against the Tito-era federal Yugoslav system by revoking Kosovo/a's autonomy in 1989. This got the ball rolling towards the whole bloody, endlessly depressing game of ethnic separatism. By your logic, the US has no responsibility to live up to its treaty obligations to the Native American nations, we can cede no merit to the claims of the Native Hawaiians and Puerto Ricans that they were illegally annexed, the people of East Timor and Aceh have no right to independence from Indonesia, and the Kurds no right to independence from Turkey, despite the denial of their basic language and cultural rights. Tudjman's behavior in 1992 certianly gave Krajina Serbs reason to fear the worst, but even if that gave them the "right" to secede it certainly didn't give them the right to forcibly expel their Croat neighbors. And nothing gave the Bosnian Serbs the "right" to conquer 70% of Bosnia's territory, expel hundreds of thousands of Muslims and Croats, engage in mass rape and slaughter 8,000 at Srebrenica. Yes, the Kosovar Albanians are also guilty of reprisals against Serbs since 1999, but nothing approaching this scale. The analogy is transparently dishonest.

The logic of the Yugoslav wars

Bill ascribes a certain “logic�? to me (“Abject revisionism,�? July 30). But this “logic�? is utterly unrecognizable—especially where, in his hands, it leads him to attribute who know what kind of crazy positions to me. Bill also attributes a certain “analogy�? to my comments. But the only “analogy�? was the one Bill himself invents out of nowhere, and then claims to be “transparently dishonest.�? In thus ascribing this “logic�? (etc.) to me, Bill has one purpose only: To enable Bill to score cheap points. Worse yet, though, in charging “revisionism,�? Bill suggests that certain historical truths are not just settled, but settled inviolably—namely, Bill’s. Personally, I had hoped for something more from the moderators of this website.

As for some real logic, as in the “constitutional logic of the Yugoslav conflicts�? to which I alluded earlier (“Is Kosovo an island?�? July 30), Robert M. Hayden explains:

The basic problem is that with the success of the ideology of the ethnic state, many identifiable populations have refused to be contained within existing borders. Where populations not overly intermingled, partition could be accomplished relatively cleanly, as with the separation of the Czech lands from Slovakia, or Slovenia from Croatia. Where populations were intermingled, however, rejection of the state by a large portion of its putative population could only mean disaster. Their secession would lead to the expulsion of the new minority, but preserving borders on the grounds as well as on paper would require either the subjugation of rejectionist groups or THEIR expulsion.

Bosnia's agony was determined by the success of the Slovenian and Croatian rejection of the common state. While it is perhaps possible that Yugoslavia could have been preserved by the effective use of military force to prevent Slovenia’s secession, once Yugoslavia collapsed, the majority of Bosnian Serbs and Herzegovinian Croats rejected inclusion in a Bosnian state, just as the Slovenes and the Croats in Croatia had rejected Yugoslavia. Far from being illogical or irrational, their rejection of Bosnia represented a very rational recognition of the logic that had won in what had been until then their joint state. Who would wish to be a member of a minority in someone else’s state, when instead they could accede to the state of their own ethnic group?

Such accession, however, would require borders to be changed, even in cases in which the population of the seceding territory was already homogenous, composed primarily of members of the majority in the state of accession. In Bosnia, many territories bordering Serbia and Croatia were inhabited by Muslims, and the “enforced population transfers�? envisioned (and dreaded) by Vance and Owen would be required for the Serbs and Croats to achieve their goal. Thus principled opposition to Serb and Croat self-determination was more than understandable. Tragically, it was never likely to succeed, because it amounted to opposing political REALITY—the rejection of the state by a large proportion of its putative population—with a political principle: that borders could not be changed.

At this point, however, political principles themselves become confused. Despite all of the rhetoric about democracy, Bosnia was not recognized because its people showed a desire to have an independent state, but rather precisely because so many of them refused to be included in such a state. In fact, by April 1992, neither a Bosnian state nor a single Bosnian nation existed--but it was just for this reason that the independence of the country was recognized, to try to compel the creation of both. Reference to “democracy�? here could only be cynical, ignorance, or naive, because the parties that rejected the Bosnian state had actually been elected more or less freely and more or less fairly. Creation of a Bosnian state could only be accomplished by ignoring the need for the consent of a very large part of those supposedly governed, creating MINORITIES out of people who had until then been SOVEREIGN, in a setting in which minorities are not part of the sovereign body.

At the level of principle, the external perspective of international relations triumphed: Bosnia was recognized and installed in the United Nations even as it was dismembered on the ground, and thus Bosnia became a subject of international law even as it was, on most of its supposed territory, a legal fiction. But this external perspective did not govern the internal relations of the peoples of Bosnia, partitioned as they were into Muslims, Serbs, Croats, and others, with the elected Muslim, Serb, and Croat parties pursuing mutually antagonistic goals. Thus Bosnia became a manifestation of negative sovereignty…, a quasi state recognized not, as Badinter's supposed criteria would have had it, because it united a population with an organized political authority, but rather to deny large parts of that population the right to reject that authority.

(Robert M. Hayden, Blueprints for a House Divided: The Constitutional Logic of the Yugoslav Conflicts (University of Michigan Press, 1999, pp. 151-152).)

Mere sophistry

What on earth was Robert arguing with his gratuitous and self-evident assertion that Kosovo was "not an island," if not that it had no right to independence? What was the point of calling the 1999 NATO intervention a "distortion" but not the 1989 revocation of Kosovo's autonomy, if not to exculpate Milosevic? He is raising arguments (implicitly, at least) and then taking no responsibility for them.

Hayden correctly identifies the contradictions of "the ideology of the ethnic state," but his portrayal of Bosnia's independence as an artificial creation of outside forces is nonsense. The referendum for independence was in February 1992; US recognition came in April, and UN recognition in May. A Bosnian state did indeed exist by then, and quite arguably a Bosnian nation as well. It would have been nice if Bosnia could have been a model for a non-ethnic state, predicated on pluralist values, as many hoped. But it was precisely because this Bosnia represented a survival of the old Yugoslav idea of a multi-national state that the Serb and Croat extremists had to destroy it. As long as a multi-national Bosnia survived, there was always the possibility Yugoslavia could be rebuilt. Karadzic, Boban and their ilk saw to it that wouldn't happen. And the "common state" of Yugoslavia, as crafted by Tito to balance the constituent nationalities, was first "rejected" (need I remind you?) by Slobodan Milosevic in 1989.

See Brief History of Bosnia-Herzegovina, Andras Riedlmayer

A simple answer to Bill’s

A simple answer to Bill’s opening question, “What on earth was Robert arguing with his gratuitous and self-evident assertion that Kosovo was ‘not an island’…??�? (Although the second-half of it, “if not that [Kosovo] had no right to independence,�? is strictly Bill):

Michael Karadjis stated as a matter of principle that a “minority of 10%�? should not have the “right to veto the right to self-determination of the [majority] 90%�? (“Kosovars and Bosniaks,�? July 26).

It seems to me that so far on this weblog there has been general agreement with this principle. I know that I agree with it. Even with stronger forms of it. At least in the abstract.

But there are complicating factors, and the principle has to grind its way through them.

When we apply this principle to Kosovo’s historical situation, ca. 1980s and into the 1990s--but especially prior to the 1999 NATO war and subsequent occupation, which has produced a dramatically different situation than existed before it--what do we find? Do we find that the 90% ethnic Albanian population of Kosovo existed somehow outside the Republic of Serbia, and that Serbia somehow existed independently of the other five republics of the former Yugoslavia? Of course we don’t. The ethnic Albanian population may have comprised 90% of Kosovo. But it did not comprise 90% of everything.

Therefore we cannot speak simply of the “minority of 10%�? and the “[majority] 90%�? unless we fully take into account all issues pertaining to the minority of what and the majority of what. Unless, that is, we pretend that Kosovo was not a province within the Republic of Serbia and that Serbia was not a republic within Yugoslavia, the 90% figure for the ethnic Albanian population of Kosovo is grossly misleading: 90% of what entity? The whole premise of Karadjis’ abstract principle is that none of these factors is relevant. The premise is that the world ought to have regarded Kosovo as an island—to the exclusion of the larger political entities within which it existed and the other peoples involved. Much the same point holds true for the rest of the constitutional conflicts that tore apart Yugoslavia in the early 1990s.--When all of the states are up for grabs, why should you be compelled to live as a minority within my state?

Aside from two dates relevant to affairs within Bosnia and Herzegovina in 1992, Bill’s second paragraph bears virtually no relation to the real world. And his closing sentence—“[T]he ‘common state’ of Yugoslavia, as crafted by Tito to balance the constituent nationalities, was first ‘rejected’ (need I remind you?) by Slobodan Milosevic in 1989�?—is one for the ages.

Slobodan Milosevic “rejected�? the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia in 1989? Really.

Once again, I strongly urge readers to consult Robert M. Hayden’s Blueprints for a House Divided: The Constitutional Logic of the Yugoslav Conflicts (University of Michigan Press, 1999).

More sophistry

The notion that the 90% ethnic Albanian figure applied to any entity other than Kosova emerges solely from Mr. Bonner, and is an absurd distraction. He still fails to explain why the dynamics and ethics at work in Kosova were different from those in East Timor, Aceh, Western Sahara, Northern Ireland or Puerto Rico, where the left nearly universally supports independence movements. (I am not claiming that Bonner is of the left, but Herman purports to be—and it is instructive that this issue has provided a point of intersection for "leftists" and reactionary Serb nationalists, monarchists, neo-fascists, etc.) If the entire population of Indonesia had been considered as having a legitimate voice on East Timor's fate, this would be immediately recognized as absurd. We can also speak of Palestine—although Israel has not formally annexed the Occupied Territories, the same basic dynamics and ethics are at work. The only reason large sectors of the left have thrown principle to the wind in the case of Kosova is because US imperialism (for its own cynical and hypocritical purposes) posed as the defender of the independence movement—although, if you notice, Kosova is still not independent. Fortunately, there are some lonely voices on the left which reject such absurd double standards, such as the Marxist-Humanists, and the Irish socialist historian Roger Collins.

Yes, Milosevic rejected the "common state" of Yugoslavia, as crafted by Tito to balance the constituent nationalities—really. Kosova was an autonomous region within Serbia under the Yugoslav constitution since 1946. Kosova was granted greater local powers under the 1971 constitutional reform, and, finally, in the reform of 1974 (Tito's last before his death in 1980) it was made equal with Yugoslavia's six constituent republics in nearly all respects—a continuous devolution of greater powers to Kosova throughout Tito's rule, in response to the demands of the Kosovar people, as expressed in strikes, demonstrations, etc. (See GlobalSecurity page on "Tito's Yugoslavia.") This was reversed in one fell swoop by the Milosevic reform of 1989. This was the first blow against the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia as designed by Tito, and it led to the disastrous unravelling of the system. Tudjman merely emulated this example, applying Milosevic's treatment of the Albanians to his own treatment of the Krajina Serbs. The rest, alas, is history.

Bonner has made abundantly clear that he would like us to read Hayden's book. As long as we're on the subject, be sure to turn to Noel Malcolm's Kosovo: A Short History (Harper 1999) for a little corrective perspective.

Correction on Palestine

Israel has in fact formally annexed part of the Occupied Territories, E. Jerusalem.

Ninety Percent of What?

Correction: The notion that the 90% ethnic Albanian figure applied to any entity other than Kosovo emerges from historical reality.

Sticking to the years prior to the 1999 U.S. and NATO war against Yugoslavia, and to the period during which the fate of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia was still contested (it was the purpose of the Dayton Agreement to announce formally that the contest had ended), was Kosovo a sovereign and independent state, such that we could speak of its majority and minority population, independently of all other peoples and states? Or was Kosovo a province within the Republic of Serbia, the Republic of Serbia having been one of six republics within the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia?

That is to say, the moment people talk about majority and minority populations of any territory, the question that has to be asked is: Where? Exactly which territory?

Bill's second sentence, "He still fails to explain why...," then bringing up "East Timor, Aceh, Western Sahara, Northern Ireland or Puerto Rico," is the tactic of a dissembler--absurd distractions and disingenuous at the same time. (There is no perfect symmetry among the cases. Making one-for-one comparisons absurd.)

In 1989, was Kosovo a foreign-occupied territory? Was the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia the military occupier of Kosovo?

How about in 2005? Today, is Kosovo a foreign-occupied territory? Is Bosnia and Herzegovina? Or for that matter Serbia and Montenegro?

Robert Bonner says he ‘tend

Robert Bonner says he ‘tends to agree’ with my view that a minority should not be ruled forever by another people, by a state they don't consider their own, just because some accident of history landed them inside that state, which I made in reference to Kosova, and by extension, Bangladesh, Eritrea, Puerto Rico, East Timor and a number of other examples were cited. He then states:

“But doesn’t this then mean that, on Karadjisian principles, the ethnic Serb population of the former Republic of Croatia, and the ethnic Serb population of the former Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina, were justified in rejecting rule by the powers that came into being with the newly independent states of Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina, ca, 1991-1992, even though accidents of history had placed them within these states.�?

Bonner claims my view is “abstract�? and doesn’t take into account complex realities. In fact, I have plenty of time for complex realities, but in the final analysis I believe what I said was correct in relation to the very concrete realities of Kosova. The problem is that it is precisely this ‘comeback’ position of Robert’s, very common to supporters of Serb nationalism, that has no relation to the “concrete�? and is a case of taking an “abstraction�? to an illogical extreme until it turns into its opposite.

It is concrete with regards to Kosova because there was a long established unit with clear borders, which had been all but a republic under Titoism, which had had direct federal representation like a republic, with its own central bank and its own territorial defence forces like a republic. Given its overwhelming domination by one ethnicity, which had never given any voluntary consent to inclusion in either Yugoslavia, and given the violation of the Yugoslav constitution by Milosevic and the resulting brutal oppression of the Albanians, the independence of Kosova becomes the only possible solution.

Naturally that is not the end of the story. As we are leftists, we also advocate the fullest rights for minority populations, and on this score Kosova has a long way to go, but so do a large number of other independent countries in the world.

But above all, what I am advocating is a republic of Kosova of the people of Kosova, ie, of the Albanian majority but also of the Serb and other minorities. For example, Serbs are entitled to 20 seats in the 120-seat Kosova parliament, and get 10 seats alotted even if they boycott the vote.

I am in favour of a multi-ethnic Kosova. I am not in favour of a racist “Albanian Republic of Kosova�?, in which being ethnically Albanian gives one special rights that non-Albanians don’t have. There is already an Albania. There is no need for another Albanian nation state, or another Serb nation state. These states were established historically. The point about Kosova is that it is an overwhelminlgly Albanian province trapped by historical accident inside Serbia and now wants a way out. If you took my “abstract�? principle to the extreme, Kosova should be able to unite with Albania via popular referendum. And again, if the only way to prevent it is violent repression and war, then it is not worth preventing it. But I can still have an opinion that, given the historical realities and the fact of a significant Serb population, I don’t support this solution and instead advocate a multi-ethnic Kosova.

What does any of this have to do with “the Serbs�? in Croatia and Bosnia? Kosova is the name of a distinct region which happens to have a 90 percent Albanian majority. I don’t think borders are sacred, but the only place where there is a clear Serb majority near the Serbian border is in the far north, north of Mitrovica. If the Serb majority here insisted on joining Serbia, I see no way of forcing them not to. Still, it would be a bad idea from the point of view of the other Serbs in Kosova, who a are more scattered and hence would feel more vulnerable with the loss of a major bloc of Serbs.

However, unlike the Kosova region/province/historical entity, what you call “the Serbs�? in Croatia and Bosnia (and “the Croats�? in Bosnia) is not the name of a distinct region with a majority of a certain ethnic group. Rather it is the name of a certain ethnic group who do not live mostly in one area in either republic, let alone live exclusively in areas where there are clear majorities. The difference is thus extremely obvious, yet despite this fact, Serb nationalists and their supporters continually use this old public school debating trick: if “the Albanians�? (by which they mean the province of Kosova) can have independence, then why doesn’t the same principle apply to “the Serbs�? in Croatia and Bosnia (and “the Croats�? in Bosnia)?

Robert Bonner at least seems more level-headed about this than many Serb nationalist supporters (and I’m not assuming he is one even if he uses their arguments). So much so that, ironically enough, he answers his own question in his next post, quoting Hayden:

“Where populations not overly intermingled, partition could be accomplished relatively cleanly, as with the separation of the Czech lands from Slovakia, or Slovenia from Croatia.�? (OR LET’S ADD KOSOVA FROM SERBIA – MK) “Where populations were intermingled, however, rejection of the state by a large portion of its putative population could only mean disaster … (further down) In Bosnia, many territories bordering Serbia and Croatia were inhabited by Muslims, and the “enforced population transfers�? envisioned (and dreaded) by Vance and Owen would be required for the Serbs and Croats to achieve their goal. Thus principled opposition to Serb and Croat self-determination was more than understandable.�?

Precisely, though I don’t agree with Hayden’s view that it was “self-determination�? By Bosnian Serbs and Croats that their “leaders�? sought, or that “self-determination�? was being denied to them by the multi-ethnic Bosnian government which included their very leaders, but Hayden is spot on that the enormous intermingling of populations in Bosnia (and to an extent Croatia), including all along most of the regions bordering the two aggressor states which sought to impose “self-determination�? on whoever lived in whichever parts of Bosnia they aimed to annex, would require massive ethnic cleansing (“population transfer�?), in many cases, perhaps even the majority of cases, not only of substantial minorities of non-Serbs or non-Croats but in fact of absolute majorities of Muslims or other non-Serbs/non-Croats from the desired regions. How could this possibly have any relation to Kosova?

In other words, what was carved out by overwhelming brute force by the fourth largest military machine in Europe and became known as ‘Republika Serpska Krajina’ in Croatia, ‘Republika Srpska’ and “Herzeg-Bosna’ in Bosnia had nothing to do with already existing specific regions or entities or even with areas with specific ethnic majorities – on the contrary, the whole point in ethnic cleansing was to establish such regions which did not exist. This is not the establishment of “self-determination�? by Serbs and Croats but the denial of self-determination to the brutalised and evicted Muslims, or other Serbs and Croats.

The aim of this ethnic cleansing of minorities, pluralities, relative majorities and even absolute majorities of the “wrong people�? by the Serbian army (often still called the ‘Yugoslav’ Army) and the Chetnik paramilitaries in Croatia and Bosnia and Croatian army and paramilitaries in Bosnia was explicitly to establish “ethnic�? states, with the titles “Serb�? and Croat�? in their names, and where people of the wrong ethnicity who were not expelled or killed did not have the same rights as the Master Race. Just as I do not support the establishment of an “Albanian republic of Kosova�?, even though Albanians are already the overwhelming majority before any post-conflict ethnic cleansing of Serbs took place, I certainly do not support, much less in fact, the establishment via overwhelming military advantage of a “Serb Republic�? of Bosnia or of Croatia or a “Croat Republic�? of Bosnia in regions ripped out of other states where the plurality or majority of the population was no Serbs or Croats and were simply expelled.

Am I exaggerating? You mention Krajina. If you mean the specific area in the far southwest of Croatia, the furthest point in Croatia from the Serbian border, then yes, Serbs were a majority there, of 70%, so they “only�? had to expel 70,000 Croats there to establish a “Serb republic�?. But the Serb-Croat war did not revolve around any attempt by Tudjman to retake ‘Krajina’ from the massively armed Chetnik forces with his then tiny and ill-equipped remnants of the disarmed Territorial defence Forces. On the contrary, during this war, ‘Krajina’ expanded into absolute Croat-majority areas of Krajina. Moreover, most of the war was not in Krajina at all, but in Eastern Slavonia, including the 3 month siege and destruction of Croat-majority Vukovar. Yet in Eastern Slavonia, Serbs were only 14 percent of the population, and even after Croat reconquests of some areas late in 1991, the area kept by the “Serb republic�? had only 34% Serbs. When the war ended, the area under the control of the ‘Serb republic’ was an area that pre-war was populated about 50 percent each by Serbs and Croats, meaning some 250,000 Croats had been driven out of the region. Still the region contained less than half the Croatian Serbs, many of who lived in cities like Zagreb and condemned the war for Greater Serbia.

Tudjman’s ethnic cleansing of some 170,000 Serbs from Krajina and Western Slavonia in 1995 is obviously also an abominable act that no-one from my area of politics defends, but it is interesting that this original massive ethnic cleansing of Croats is so very rarely referred to, since Croats are just so unfashionable.

Nevertheless, while I’m very strong on what I have said above, given the racist nature of the Tudjman regime, like that of Milosevic, the Croatia events are not my main bugbear. Tudjman certainly did play a major, if secondary, role, in this war that nearly destroyed his country, and when he did get arms his forces were as pitiless in revenge as those of Milosevic and the Chetniks had been in aggression.

My ‘bugbear’ is much more regarding Bosnia. The comparison of “self-determination�? of some imaginary country or region in Bosnia called “the Serbs�? with self-determination for Kosova is intellectually dishonest to the point of being repugnant, given the genocidal actions of the fourth largest killing machine in Europe in both Bosnia and Kosova on behalf, allegedly, of “the Serbs.�?
But let’s just be factual and “objective�? about it and pretend the JNA was not there, since that is what Serb nationalists and their foreign backers think is “objective.�? Let’s start with where “the Serbs�? lived. Most, like Croats, Muslims and mixed Bosnians, lived pretty much cheek and jowl with everyone else.

Ok, so where did they live as clear, absolute majorities in anything remotely like the Albanian majority in Kosova? In Eastern Herzegovina (on the Montenegro border) and in the sparsely populated ‘Krajina’ provinces on the Dinaric range bordering the Serb-dominated Krajina region in Croatia. And Croats were a very absolute majority in Western Herzegovina.

So if there were to be border changes, West Herzogovina could have joined Croatia, East Herzegovina could have joined Serbia-Montenegro (which was still pretending to be “Yugoslavia�?), and a few Dinaric provinces like Glamoc and Grahova could have joined the ‘Krajina Republic’ in Croatia which had already expelled its one third Croat population. Together the two sparsely populated, rugged, mountainous ‘Krajina’s’ could have formed some state I suppose, but in the part of Croatia and Bosnia furthest of all from the Serbian border. And with such pointless changes, though changes I would not be opposed to on principle, the overwhelming majority of Serbs and Croats would remain in Bosnia, but would now be smaller sections of the population compared to the allegedly dreaded Muslims.

Of the other regions conquered and ethnically cleansed for ‘Republika Srpska’, almost the whole borderland of Serbia, ie East Bosnia, was either overwhelmingly Muslim in population, or in some parts about a 50/50 split; the northern ‘corridor’ of Brcko and Posavina was overwhelmingly Muslims and Croat; and the northwest Banja Luka was Serb majority but only by a touch – Banja Luka itself, for example, had a Serb majority of … 54 percent, and apart from the massive numbers of Muslims and Croats they had to expel to make this tenuously ‘Serb’ region a region with absolute serb majority, they also moved into Muslim majority regions in the west bordering Bihac and expelled the populations.

Now, did anyone ever hear of the Bosnian army trying to attack East Herzogovina, or Bosnian Krajina, or for that matter even Banja Luka, in 1992, in order to subjugate these regions, which had already declared their separation from Bosnia in 1991, and bring them under Bosnian government (or “Muslim�? as the racists would have it) control? No, the war was precisely about the invasion, subjugation and massive ethnic cleansing of East Bosnia, the northern corridor, outwards from Banja Luka, and massive ethnic cleansing from Banja Luka, plus non-stop sieges of the towns and cities of central Bosnia which all had Muslim majorities and were largely multi-ethnic. If the war was about “self-determination�? for the strange area called “the Serbs�?, then apart from all the above being unlikely to occur, it would also be a little difficult to explain the 3.5 year siege of Sarajevo, wouldn’t it?

I also don not accept the idea that Serbs and Croats could not have sovereignty in multi-ethnic Bosnia, that sovereignty only occurs when you set up an ethnically clean state and expel all undesirables. This is Hayden’s strange assertion that Robert quotes apparently in agreement with:

“Reference to “democracy�? here could only be cynical, ignorance, or naive, because the parties that rejected the Bosnian state had actually been elected more or less freely and more or less fairly. Creation of a Bosnian state could only be accomplished by ignoring the need for the consent of a very large part of those supposedly governed, creating MINORITIES out of people who had until then been SOVEREIGN, in a setting in which minorities are not part of the sovereign body.�?

This is complete nonsense from start to finish. Firstly, when the Serb and Croat nationalist parties, which “rejected the Bosnian state�? in 1992, were originally elected in 1990, they were not elected on the basis of opposition to the Bosnian state, let alone on a program of trying to violently destroy it and exterminate their Muslim neighbours. There was no “democratic�? consent for this program at all. In addition, apart from the Serb, Croat and Muslim parties, some 28 percent of people in 1990 voted for secular parties like the Social Democrats. No doubt this included large numbers of Serbs and Croats.

Next it is strange for Hayden to talk about “creation of a Bosnian state�? in 1992 when in fact it had been formed in 1943-45. It already existed as a state in which Serbs, Croats and Muslims were equally SOVEREIGN. When it became independent as an inevitable result of the destruction of Yugoslavia by Milosevic, it remained unchanged as a state in which the Serbs, Croats and Muslims were equally SOVEREIGN. This sovereignty was expressed in the institutions of the state, the multi-ethnic parliament, the multi-ethnic presidency, the multi-ethnic officer corps of the army and even the continued composition of the army to an extent, in the multi-ethnic trade union movement etc. What kind of “lack of sovereignty�? is it where the Serb Democratic Party is an equal part of the government, but the next day it withdraws from that government and begins trying to destroy that state which it had been part of? (and then, Serbs from two secular parties that had had huge votes in 1990 joined the government to take the place of the SDS)

The fact that the general who led the defence of multi-ethnic Sarajevo for 3.5 years against the Chetniks was an ethnic Serb, who was second in command of the overall Bosnian armed forces, seems beyond the imagination of those on the left who can only imagine apartheid as a progressive solution to difficult problems.

And what all this means is that it was not the rights of self-determination of Bosnian Serbs and Croats that was ever under threat – it was the right of self-determination (not to mention existence) of the Muslim, mixed and other non-master-race majorities, pluralities, or very large minorities in the regions of Bosnia conquered by heavily armed fascists. Excuse me, didn’t the Muslims in East Bosnia and the Croats in Posavina have the right to self-determination? Especially since this discussion began around the issue of Muslim majority Srebrenica (part of Muslim majority east Bosnia). Didn’t the Muslim, mixed, atheist and non-fascist Serbs and Croats who lived together in Sarajevo and Tuzla have the right to self-determination rather than be forced to live in some apartheid state? Isn’t this also an expression of sovereignty?

Bosnia is not the only case in the world where sovereignty would be better expressed as equal parts of a multi-ethnic state than via ethnic cleansing and creation of fascistic or apartheid-type states. The only solution to the Cyprus problem for example (I am Greek Cypriot background) is via the creation of a multi-ethnic Cyprus where Greeks and Turks are equally sovereign. The only reason an ethnic exclusivist “Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus�? exists via the ethnic cleansing of the Greek majority of the region it occupies is due to the presence of the massive armed forces of Turkey, in much the same way as the “Serbian Republic of Bosnia�? only exists due to the massive armed forces of Serbia. But the events that led to this were also related to the interference of the Greek junta with its drive to incorporate Cyprus as part of Greece (‘Enosis’) rather than as a multi-ethnic state.

One of the more positive examples is the accord that ended the recent Macedonian civil war, which has given the Albanians a clearer stake in the state, while also assuring Macedonians that their own fragile existence as a state is not threatened. The fact that neither of the two peoples had any massive outside backing is perhaps what forced them to look reality in the face and realise living together without ethnic cleansing is the bets solution to all concerned.

Hence that is my answer if you say, “well, the facts you are giving may be correct, but irrelevant if they are not accepted by the newly created minority�?, such as the Serbs and Croats in Bosnia, or as Hayden put it, “Tragically, it was never likely to succeed, because it amounted to opposing political REALITY—the rejection of the state by a large proportion of its putative population.�? The fact is, the minorities were never asked. War was imposed due to the overwhelming armed forces of Greater Serbia (and my example of Cyprus is similar), and that’s why we cannot leave this out of the picture.

Moreover, Hayden stands reality on its head when he claims that “Bosnia was not recognized because its people showed a desire to have an independent state, but rather precisely because so many of them refused to be included in such a state. In fact, by April 1992, neither a Bosnian state nor a single Bosnian nation existed--but it was just for this reason that the independence of the country was recognized, to try to compel the creation of both.�?

On the contrary, even before Bosnian independence was recognised, and even before any ethnic cleansing on the ground, the European Union drew up the infamous Carrington-Cultheiro plan for the ethnic partition of Bosnia into three constituent territorial units, in best apartheid style, you guessed it, one for “Serbs�?, one for “Croats�? and one for “Muslims�? (they didn’t consider a fourth one for normal people). This could only be achieved by massive ethnic cleansing. The EU was basically saying yes to the Milosevic-Tudjman and Karadzic-Boban plans which had already been drawn up. This has serious implications since people are talking about the “minorities�? in Bosnia allegedly rejecting the state that their elected parties were part of – basically the “international community�? was delegitimising from before the start the very concept of a multi-ethnic, democratic Bosnian state, putting to the Serbs and Croats the dilemma that recognition involved them taking part in some apartheid project, rather than continuing to live in peace with and marrying their neighbours and voting for mutli-ethnic governments as they had done for half a century. If ethnic partition and support for some fascistoid parties was going to be the only game in town recognised by the EU, then for many it became a matter of being forced to choose from the point of view of their future security, rather than any pre-existing “rejection�? of a multi-ethnic state in which, as opposed to the Albanians in Kosova, they (Serbs and Croats in Bosnia) *had never known any oppression and were clearly not threatened with it*.

Finally, there is Hayden’s claim that “Bosnia's agony was determined by the success of the Slovenian and Croatian rejection of the common state�? and Robert’s strange incredulity at Bill’s highly correct statement that “[T]he ‘common state’ of Yugoslavia, as crafted by Tito to balance the constituent nationalities, was first ‘rejected’ (need I remind you?) by Slobodan Milosevic in 1989.�? Robert asks “Slobodan Milosevic “rejected�? the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia in 1989? Really.�?

All I can say is what planet have you been on Robert? The answer is of course yes. The Milosevic “revolution�? destroyed multi-ethnic Yugoslavia, first with the ethnic-based mobilisations with reactionary slogans not seen for half a century which overthrew the governments of Vojvodina and Montenegro, and above all the destruction of Kosovar autonomy, the destruction of the Yugoslav constitution, the imposition of apartheid on Kosova, massacre of striking miners, the racist sacking of the entire Kosovar Albanian workforce in the state companies, the Serbian constitution of 1990 which declared the right of Serbia tom intervene in other republics to “protect�? Serbs, the setting up of an ethnic exclusivist republic inside Croatia using the Yugoslav armed forces – come off it. The Slovenian and Croatian referendums were a belated result of all this.
Far too long I know.
Michael Karadjis
»

War and Logic

I do not regard Michael Karadjis’ “Robert Bonner says he…�? as “far too long�? (Mon, 08/01/2005 - 13:01), and therefore Karadjis needn’t apologize for the length of his post. At least not where I’m concerned.

Let me zero-in on one aspect of what has gone before, raised by Robert Bonner under the phrase the “logic of the Yugoslav wars,�? and deriving from the work of Robert Hayden (Sat, 07/30/2005 - 23:21).

In the 1996-1997 trial of Dusko Tadic (IT-94-1) for his actions at some of the notorious camps in the Prijedor region of northern Bosnia and Herzegovina (Keraterm, Omarska, and Trnopolje), the very first trial ever conducted by the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, in fact, Hayden provided testimony for two days in September 1996 as a witness for the defense.

It is important to understand what it meant for Hayden to have been a defense witness. The initial stage of the Tadic trial was to establish the nature and origins of the conflicts that led, ultimately, to the series of wars that destroyed the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. In other words, what were the wars all about? What was being contested? Not just who did what to whom. But why.

On the one hand, the Office of the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia immediately set out to advance a theory of the wars very much like what Edward S. Herman calls the “standard narrative�? (although Herman’s focus is on Srebrenica)—visitors to this weblog need go no further than the contributions of Bill Weinberg, Roger Lippman, and Michael Karadjis to see instances of the "standard narrative," which also happen to be indistinguishable from the Prosecution’s explanation of the conflicts.

To quote Karadjis (Mon, 08/01/2005 - 13:01), this is the narrative in which

"The Milosevic 'revolution' destroyed multi-ethnic Yugoslavia, first with the ethnic-based mobilisations with reactionary slogans not seen for half a century which overthrew the governments of Vojvodina and Montenegro, and above all the destruction of Kosovar autonomy, the destruction of the Yugoslav constitution, the imposition of apartheid on Kosova, massacre of striking miners, the racist sacking of the entire Kosovar Albanian workforce in the state companies, the Serbian constitution of 1990 which declared the right of Serbia to intervene in other republics to 'protect' Serbs, the setting up of an ethnic exclusivist republic inside Croatia using the Yugoslav armed forces – come off it. The Slovenian and Croatian referendums were a belated result of all this."

The Prosecution had called the British historian James Gow to help it advance this explanation: Evil Serbs who want to live in their own ethnically pure Greater Serbia spoiling the multiethnic paradise and resorting to genocidal wars of aggression to achieve their ends. (Pure Weinberg. Pure Lippman. Pure Karadjis. Pure Office of the Prosecutor.)

As the New York Times was to report the Prosecution’s case at the start of the Tadic trial (Marlise Simons, “War Crimes Trial Seeks to Define the Balkan Conflict,�? May 12, 1996):

Since the trial opened,…the prosecution has insistently spoken of the enormous scale of the violence in the former Yugoslavia. It portrayed it as a result of a plan conceived in Belgrade that used the Yugoslav Army initially against Serbia's neighbors and subsequently to support local Serbian militias.

Court officials give several reasons for the prosecution's strategy. First, they say, the prosecutors are determined to show that what happened in Yugoslavia was not a local civil war, but an international conflict, with one state attacking others. This definition will be essential for the tribunal to try Mr. Tadic and other defendants on charges of "grave breaches" of the laws of war. If the conflict is defined as purely internal, a number of charges against Mr. Tadic and others will have to be dropped.

Similarly, the prosecution must demonstrate that the brutalities of "ethnic cleansing" committed against Muslims were part of a broad, state-organized policy. The existence of an official policy or system is needed in order to try Mr. Tadic and other defendants here for crimes against humanity.

For much of this week, therefore, Grant Niemann, an Australian and one of three senior prosecutors, presented a history lesson, for which he called on James Gow, a specialist in military history in the Balkans from the University of London.

As Mr. Gow outlined the start of the Yugoslav conflict, he used charts and video footage that appeared on computer monitors sunk into the table in front of each participant.

One segment, which Mr. Gow told the court was a key to the thinking of Serbia's President, Slobodan Milosevic, was recorded as the breakup of Yugoslavia loomed. It showed Mr. Milosevic proposing to rewrite the constitution and to include the right to secede "not just for republics but also for ethnic groups." Both the Croatian war of 1991 and the Bosnian war that began in April 1992 have centered on the Serbian minorities in Croatia and Bosnia that wanted to preserve ties to Belgrade.

Another video segment showed a Serbian nationalist leader accusing President Milosevic of arming and supporting Serbian paramilitary groups that fought in Croatia and Bosnia. In a third, a former Serbian paramilitary leader said his troops fought in Bosnia and Croatia with support from Belgrade. In the same section, taken from a BBC series, Mr. Milosevic dismissed this statement as ridiculous. He has consistently denied responsibility for any war crimes.

"This series of extracts, I think, shows how the paramilitary groups were operating and cooperating with official bodies of Serbia," Mr. Gow told the court.

For all of its loose-endedness, here, again, we find the “standard�?—i.e., the Prosecution’s—narrative in all its splendor. The conflicts that destroyed the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia are to be understood as the “result of a plan conceived in Belgrade." "[W]hat happened in Yugoslavia was not a local civil war, but an international conflict, with one state attacking others.�? The “brutalities of ‘ethnic cleansing’ committed against Muslims were part of a broad, state-organized policy�? (i.e., were the very cause of the conflicts, rather than the outcome of a progressively deteriorating state of vicious civil wars). And so on. But above all, this standard narrative is to be imposed upon the historical record, via institutional arrangements such as the Tribunal provides.

Like I said above, the Tadic Defense called Robert Hayden to provide an alternative explanation of the nature and origins of the wars. But Hayden did not provide testimony on Tadic’s behalf. Hayden provided testimony on behalf of an history of the conflicts that simply doesn’t jibe with the standard history as presented by the Office of the Prosecutor, the Executive Branch of the American Government, the pages of the New York Times--and, last but not least, the World War IV Report.

From my own independent readings, I believe that Robert Hayden’s work on the former Yugoslavia is as level-headed as they come. So was his attempt to bring some clarity to the work of the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia.

Unfortunately, the Tribunal has a much different agenda. But for anybody interested in exploring Hayden's September, 1996 testimony, including his efforts to contend with a prosecution whose interests lay not in truth and justice, but in convictions and the establishment of a highly specific version of history, see pages 5,590 through 5,792:

Robert Hayden, September 10, 1996
Robert Hayden, September 11, 1996

As Hayden puts it at page 5764 of his testimony: “[C]ivil war was inevitable either to impose the state on those who reject it, or…to avoid being incorporated into the state that they rejected�? (lines 3-6).

One would be hard pressed to explain with greater clarity the logic of the conflicts that destroyed the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia.

The limits of "logic"

I don't think anyone would deny that that one sentence out of at least 5,764 pages of testimony is a serviceable summary of the "logic" of the post-Yugoslav wars. But alone it says nothing about Milosevic's degree of culpability, whether the Kosovar Alabanians were denied self-determination, whether there was genocide at Srebrenica, or anything else we are arguing.

God, how I hate that word "narrative." That is the new magic word by which documented history is reduced to mere subjective interpretation. Its use here is particularly ironic: this new meaning originates with the post-modernists, who claim that there is no objective truth, only culturally-determined "memes." But the word is being used here to discredit what Herman and his ilk manifestly view as versions of reality that conflict with their own official Truth with a capital T.

The idea being portrayed as a "pure" cystalization of my "narrative" ("Evil Serbs who want to live in their own ethnically pure Greater Serbia spoiling the multiethnic paradise and resorting to genocidal wars of aggression to achieve their ends") is, in fact, the crudest caricature of my arguments imaginable.

Facts, "Narratives" and "Evil"

Yes, a great pity all these “narratives�? have entered the English language. This particular part of the thread began when I offered some general principles about the right of the Kosovars to an independent state based on clear, overwhelming desire for one, due to years of oppression, and the self-evident lack of any other way out except permanent repression. Borislav thought that was too “abstract�?. So I wrote a hell of a long post (which I’m glad he does not think is too long) to explain what I understand this to mean in very concrete terms in Kosova, but also in Croatia and mainly in Bosnia.

In response to my attempt to make it concrete rather than abstract, we get a whole lot of totally abstract talk about there being a different “narrative.�?

Now I don’t expect anyone necessarily to respond blow by blow to my understanding of the facts, of what actually happened. One or two aspects would have done, to try to prove the facts were wrong, that the actual concrete circumstances I claim were different to what I say. In other words, the point is not that I am necessarily 100% correct, but rather that if I am not I expect someone to show me in which way I’m not. This is called “trying to establish a factual history.�?

However, when you are only trying to establish “narratives�?, rather than factual history, there is no need to show in what way someone else’s facts are incorrect, because “narratives�? don’t have to have any relation to facts; they are purely abstract formulas, and as such, they have their own “reality�?, whatever the reality back in the real world might be.

Thus for Herman, for example, it is not particularly important to disprove the widely proven fact that a massacre of some 8000 people occurred in Srebrenica in July 1995, and that those killed were captives, rather than soldiers killed in battle – he makes an attempt at this, but such a hopeless attempt, and one so full of factual holes, that it does not seem to be his main game. His main game is that there can be other “narratives�?, based on things such as the alleged “convenience for Bosnian Muslims to have thousands of their compatriots murdered, especially when you combine that with other well-known “narratives�? such as the tendency of Muslims to kill themselves, and so what if this is a right-wing “narrative�?, it has its own “reality�? anyway, right?

So, since Hayden has established a number of completely abstract ideas, such as that “[C]ivil war was inevitable either to impose the state on those who reject it, or…to avoid being incorporated into the state that they rejected�?, and since this totally abstract principle can be interpreted any way we like depending on our particular “narrative�? view of the world, then there is no need to discuss any of the very concrete points I made in my long post.

Let’s see. “[C]ivil war was inevitable either to impose the state on those who reject it, or…to avoid being incorporated into the state that they rejected.�? Thus sounds like a largely correct description of the basis for the conflict in Kosova (obviously I am not referring here to the NATO war, which I was strongly opposed to).

Now let’s try with Bosnia: “[C]ivil war was inevitable either to impose the state on those who reject it, or…to avoid being incorporated into the state that they rejected.�? It appears to be taken for granted by the other “narrative�? that this means the “Muslim�? government of Bosnia made ‘civil war�? to try to forcibly “impose�? itself on the Serb and Croat minorities, who in turn made “civil war�? to avoid being incorporated into this “Muslim state�? which they rejected.

And because this is all a “narrative�?, which therefore has its own internal reality, in ultra-idealist “logic,�? there is no need to check whether this interpretation of Hayden’s abstract schema actually fits the facts.

It seems to me that the lengthy piece I wrote, if not refuted, actively disproves this particular interpretation.

There was no “Muslim government�? but a multi-ethnic government, consisting of Serbs, Croats, Muslims and mixed Bosnians. But it could not have been a multi-ethnic government – no need to show I’m wrong – because this does not fit the “narrative.�?

Some Serbs and Croats rejected this state and some did not – some actively took part in it, for example, in the defence of Sarajevo as I pointed out. But these widely attested facts are irrelevant, because they do not fit the “narrative�? (“First there was the idea�?)

Civil war did not begin by the “Muslim government�? sending in its almost non-existent armed forces to “impose its state�? on the vast Serbian autonomy already established, with the aid of the Yugoslav army, in Serb majority regions such as East Herzegovina or Bosnian Krajina, or even in areas such as Banja Luka where Serbs were only 54% of the pop’n, but had also already taken control of before the war began. But it doesn’t matter that the “Muslim government�? neither did this nor had any ability to do this, and there is no need to try to prove me wrong, or show when the Bosnian government did try to “impose�? itself on these regions, because it must be true anyway because that is the “narrative.�?

Even if some proportion of the Serbs outside of regions of clear Serb majority “rejected�? the state, given the reality of their complete admixture with the other ethnic groups in Bosnia, there is no way they could have been physically separated into another state, without physically wiping out or expelling everyone else. And the only way that could happen was via the intervention of a massive armed force, namely the “Yugoslav�? army and its gigantic military arsenal, which of course calls into question the “civil war�? concept. But we must not deal with facts such as the presence of the 4th largest military machine in Europe, nor do we have to try to disprove this contention, nor try to show that the “Muslims�? (ie, the Bosnian govt) had just as many arms, or anything else, because purely perfectly balanced “civil war�? is part of the “narrative�?, which has its own reality.

As I asked in my last post, didn’t, for example, the Muslims of East Bosnia, the Croats of Posavina, and the ethnically mixed and multi-ethnic populations, including non-fascist Serbs and Croats, in cities like Sarajevo and Tuzla, have the right to self-determination? Doesn’t the fact that the Muslim majority in east Bosnia and the Muslim-Croat majority in the ‘corridor’ and Posavina region were ethically cleansed to create ‘Republika Srpska’ suggest that it was actually these people – the Muslims, this section of the Croats, the mixed populations – that were fighting because they “rejected�? the state that Republika Srpska was trying to “impose�? on them? And doesn’t the fact that the mixed populations of the central cities also fought the Chetnik sieges for 3.5 years mean that they were fighting to “reject�? the state that Republika Srpska was trying to “impose�? on them? The answers, of course, are ‘yes’. However, it cannot be so. The “narrative�? is not intended to mean this, this version that only exists in material reality; the “narrative�? was only invented to explain the alleged rejection by Serbs (ie, by “the Serbs�?, a term used to mean “all the Serbs�? rather than just one segment of them) of the “new�? state (ie, the same old multi-ethnic one), because how else explain the war? You cannot explain it by reference to overwhelming military superiority of the JNA, which then passed its arsenal onto the BSA when it “withdrew�?, because that spoils the “narrative�? about civil war.

Borislav writes:
“The Prosecution had called the British historian James Gow to help it advance this explanation: Evil Serbs who want to live in their own ethnically pure Greater Serbia spoiling the multiethnic paradise and resorting to genocidal wars of aggression to achieve their ends. (Pure Weinberg. Pure Lippman. Pure Karadjis).�?

Leaving aside Borislav’s own addition of the word “paradise�? to “multi-ethnic,�? we have here merely further evasion. This is actually beyond caricature, as Bill puts it, because part of it is explicitly the opposite of what I argue. Of course there is no doubt that the Milosevic and Karadzic regimes and the Chetnik movement did aim to create a Greater Serbia, there is no special evil conspiracy theory here, they were neither the first chauvinist regime in history nor the last to have such aims. Facts are facts: they had that plan and tried to carry it out.

However, the addition of “evil Serbs�? is something I don’t take very lightly, especially since up to now we have been having a reasonably civil discussion, a pleasant surprise around this issue, and one reason I have been bothered. Let’s use Borislav’s debating tactics in other examples:

If I say I am against the ethnic cleansing of the Palestinian people, I support the right of return, I am opposed to the occupation of West Bank and Gaza , the racist laws, the violent repression, collective punishment etc, someone else could come along and say, “oh, but there is another narrative, and you are simply creating a narrative about evil Jews who want to create a greater Israel and resort to ethnic cleansing etc.�? Evil Jews? Doesn’t sound very good, does it, and not only because of the existence of Illan Pappe and so many other brave Jews and Israelis who stand up to Sharon’s fascistic policies.

So likewise, where does this nonsense of “evil Serbs�? come from. Since I spoke about the Serbs in the Bosnian government, in the Bosnian presidency, in multi-ethnic pro-Bosnian parties such as the Social democrats, in the multi-ethnic trade unions, in the Bosnian army, in the officer corps of the Bosnian army, in the defence of Sarajevo, and we could add the hundreds of thousands of Serbs who demonstrated against war in Belgrade in April-May 1992 with slogans identifying with “Sarajevo�?, the hundreds of thousands who deserted or refused to be enlisted in the Serbian army at the time etc etc. These people are Serbs just as much as a massively armed fascist movement were. I specifically use the term Chetnik not as a term of abuse, but exactly the contrary, as a term to specify which group of Serbs politically I am opposed to, in the same way that, if the Ku Klux Klan attacked and killed some African Americans back in the US, I would say ‘the KKK’ or the ‘racist scum’, rather than saying “the Americans�? did it.

In the past at least, there was class and political analysis on the left. We oppose the Chetniks in the same way as we oppose their French allies, Le Pen’s National Front. It is politics. We politically support French people and Serbian people opposed to these reactionary movements. However, with post-modernism, not only do we have “narratives�?, but we also have a return to this classless, apolitical “essentialism�? – “Serbs�? think this, as some undifferentiated mass, “Croats�? think this, “Muslims�? think this etc – funny how similar this nonsense is to precisely the racist anti-Serb logic you pretend to oppose. Don’t worry – I am very confident about which Serbs are my allies, and Serbian Women in Black are right up there.

Michael Karadjis

Civility, Incivility, and the World War IV Report

Is baiting a common tactic on the World War IV Report’s website? Or is the technique of baiting limited to just Michael Karadjis and Bill Weinberg?

Take Michael Karadjis’ “Facts, ‘Narratives’ and ‘Evil’‘Evil’�? (Aug. 3).

Karadjis writes that “up to now we have been having a reasonably civil discussion,�? but that one contributor, Borislav, has violated its civility.

Karadjis then cites the following passage from Borislav, as evidence of Borislav’s alleged lack of civility:

“The Prosecution had called the British historian James Gow to help it advance this explanation: Evil Serbs who want to live in their own ethnically pure Greater Serbia spoiling the multiethnic paradise and resorting to genocidal wars of aggression to achieve their ends. (Pure Weinberg. Pure Lippman. Pure Karadjis).�?

What is uncivil about this? Is it any worse than, roughly the same as, or better than labeling someone a "denier" and a "supporter" of genocide?

Don't start

I wouldn't call it incivil, I would just call it disingenuous. But we are not going to turn this into a tiresome discussion about the discussion. The only rule here is: either address the arguments or don't post.

Re civility

A very brief clarification: I regard Borislav's contribution overall to be extremely civil, and I specifically noted I was pleased with the civil level of this discussion. Whether it is 'uncivil' or 'disingenuous' or not, I do get annoyed when people say it is "pure Karadjis" to speak of "evil Serbs". I had made my views perfectly clear on this question previously. Please stick to what I have argued, that's all. For the record, when in former Yugoslavia it was overwhelmingly Serbs I got to know.

From Borislav Herak

Michael Karadjis writes: "This particular part of the thread began when I offered some general principles about the right of the Kosovars to an independent state based on clear, overwhelming desire for one, due to years of oppression, and the self-evident lack of any other way out except permanent repression" (Wed, 08/03/2005 - 06:56).

Although it is unclear to me where "this particular part of thread" really did begin (personally, I'd take it all the way back to the egregious misrepresentations that originated with Bill Weinberg's "Z magazine supports genocide," Sun, 07/10/2005 - 13:18), perhaps it wouldn't be unfair to say that this particular thread began with Michael Karadjis' "Reply to older Herman on body counts in Kosova and Bosnia" (Mon, 07/25/2005 - 08:11), and his follow up "Kosovars and Bosniaks" (Tue, 07/26/2005 - 03:49).

In point of fact, it was in the latter that Karadjis asserted that "Because the great majority of Kosovars are ethnic Albanians, it by no means should imply that Kosovar Serbs are not Kosovars. They are. The point being of course that nowhere in the world does a minority of 10% have the right to veto the right to self-determination of the 90%" (Tue, 07/26/2005 - 03:49).

As far as I'm aware, nobody has disagreed with this basic principle, which can be expressed in various ways without losing its validity. Thus:

* A minority of 10% does not have the right to subjugate a majority of 90%.
* A majority of 90% does not have the right to subjugate a minority of 10%.

Instead, what I (and others, apparently) have asked is: Within the context of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (i.e., we need to stick with the SFR and the period of its dissolution, because as the years passed, outside forces completely distorted its history), the minorities and majorities were minorities and majorities of what? Of Kosovo all by itself? Or the Republic of Serbia all by itself? Or of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia all by itself?

These were the actual concrete circumstances facing the people of the former Yugoslavia. Not "complete abstract ideas," as Karadjis suggests. (Or "ultra-idealist 'logic'," as he elsewhere calls it.) In the real world, Kosovo was not an island (to use Robert Bonner‚s expression (Sat, 07/30/2005 - 14:25). Instead Kosovo was a province (or autonomous region) within the Republic of Serbia, within the SFR. We simply cannot talk about Kosovo's "majority" and "minority" populations, without recognizing that these populations also lived within larger constitutional structures.

Karadjis takes issue with the line I've quoted from Robert Hayden's September 11, 1996 testimony in the trial of Dusko Tadic (IT-94-1):

[C]ivil war was inevitable either to impose the state on those who reject it, or∑to avoid being incorporated into the state that they rejected‰ (p. 5,764, lines 3-6).

In the year 1989, what was the "state" in question? There was one. It was known as the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia.

Then over the course of the years 1990-1992, what happened? No less than three of the sitting governments of the Republics of the SFR (Slovenia and Croatia, followed by Bosnia and Herzegovina) rejected the SFR and declared their independence from it, in the process assuming the prerogatives of sovereignty and statehood--but against the expressed wishes of other people and state organs, including the SFR and the JNA. (In so far as we can speak of remnants of the "SFR" and the "JNA" as this stage, due to the dramatic changes then taking place.)

Within Bosnia and Herzegovina alone, the majority of the Serb and Croat population rejected inclusion within a single, newly independent state of Bosnia and Herzegovina, just as within the now-dissolving SFR, the republican organs of Slovenia, Croatia, and Bosnia and Herzegovina rejected remaining within the SFR. As Robert Hayden explained the "logic" involved (in the passage quoted by Robert Bonner (Sat, 07/30/2005 - 23:21)):

"Bosnia's agony was determined by the success of the Slovenian and Croatian rejection of the common state. While it is perhaps possible that Yugoslavia could have been preserved by the effective use of military force to prevent Slovenia‚s secession, once Yugoslavia collapsed, the majority of Bosnian Serbs and Herzegovinian Croats rejected inclusion in a Bosnian state, just as the Slovenes and the Croats in Croatia had rejected Yugoslavia. Far from being illogical or irrational, their rejection of Bosnia represented a very rational recognition of the logic that had won in what had been until then their joint state. Who would wish to be a member of a minority in someone else‚s state, when instead they could accede to the state of their own ethnic group?" (emphasis added)

Sense and the ICTY

Astute use of the excerpt from Robert M. Hayden’s Blueprints for a House Divided (“From Borislav Herak," August 3). As time permits, I'll try to post more.

In the meantime, compare the sense that Hayden makes when it comes to the various layers of constitutional crises that, taken together, comprised the "logic" of the break-up of Yugoslavia, to the sheer madness of these same crises according to the way the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia narrates them in the weightier of its indictments.

To take the most recent of the ICTY's indictments of Slobodan Milosevic in relation to Bosnia and Herzegovina (Case No. IT-02-54-T, November 22, 2002):

5. Slobodan MILOSEVIC is individually criminally responsible for the crimes referred to in Articles 2, 3, 4 and 5 of the Statute of the Tribunal as described in this indictment, which he planned, instigated, ordered, committed, or in whose planning, preparation, or execution he otherwise aided and abetted. By using the word "committed" in this indictment, the Prosecutor does not intend to suggest that the accused physically committed any of the crimes charged personally. "Committed" in this indictment refers to participation in a joint criminal enterprise as a co-perpetrator.

6. Slobodan MILOSEVIC participated in the joint criminal enterprise as set out below. The purpose of this joint criminal enterprise was the forcible and permanent removal of the majority of non-Serbs, principally Bosnian Muslims and Bosnian Croats, from large areas of the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina (hereinafter referred to as "Bosnia and Herzegovina"), through the commission of crimes which are in violation of Articles 2, 3, 4 and 5 of the Statute of the Tribunal.

7. The joint criminal enterprise was in existence by 1 August 1991 and continued until at least 31 December 1995. The individuals participating in this joint criminal enterprise included Slobodan MILOSEVIC, Radovan KARADZIC, Momcilo KRAJISNIK, Biljana PLAVSIC, General Ratko MLADIC, Borisav JOVIC, Branko KOSTIC, Veljko KADIJEVIC, Blagoje ADZIC, Milan MARTIC, Jovica STANISIC, Franko SIMATOVIC, also known as "Frenki," Radovan STOJICIC, also known as "Badza," Vojislav SESELJ, Zeljko RAZNATOVIC, also known as "Arkan," and other known and unknown participants.

Now I don't know how many of the visitors to the World War IV Report have ever before had the chance to read material such as that laid down by the ICTY's indictments of figures such as Milosevic. But notice how different is the ICTY's point of view from that which Hayden tries to convey. The ICTY wants us to believe that people swept up on the tsunamis of war as the former members of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia were instead had planned the break-up of Yugoslavia from the very start--the "joint criminal enterprise was in existence by 1 August 1991," as the indictment puts it, repeating the formula that it uses over and over again where the Serb's political leadership is concerned.

What garbage.

In fact: Contested History

Yes. Unquestionably. Borislav Herak is right. As Robert Hayden once put it (as quoted in "War and Logic," Aug. 2):

“[C]ivil war was inevitable either to impose the state on those who reject it, or…to avoid being incorporated into the state that they rejected.

Calling all Balkan enthusiasts

http://ww3report.com/donations.html

It's our pledge month. Please consider helping keep WW4 Report going so we can continue to provide you with a place to have such lively debates.

We are offering free to anyone who sends ten dollars or more a copy of War at the Crossroads: An Historical Guide Through the Balkan Labyrinth by Bill Weinberg and Dorie Wilsnack. Printed in pamphlet form with maps and drawings by the great Belgrade political cartoonist Miro Stefanovic, this primer covers the history of the once-and-future Yugoslavia from before the Roman Empire to the Kosovo crisis and NATO intervention of 1999—all in concise, easy-to-read form. This was a limited-run edition, and a sure-shot for collector's itemhood. Don't miss this great opportunity!

Srebrenica and the Politics of War Crimes

The Wikipedia entry for "Srebrenica Massacre" currently provides an external link to the following very important series of documents and analyses, produced by the research group with which Edward S. Herman's "The Politics of the Srebrenica Massacre" is associated:

Srebrenica and the Politics of War Crimes, July, 2005

I hope everybody takes the trouble to consult this critically important webtext .

There is no telling how long the link to it will survive on the Wikipedia website. They have always shown a very strong bias in favor of the "standard" (or U.S.- and NATO-supportive) narrative.

Regarding: SARAJEVO MARKALE M

Regarding: SARAJEVO MARKALE MARKETPLACE BOMBINIG

ICTY judges, who examined new evidence about the marketplace bombing, concluded that the mortar shell that caused the explosion was fired by the Bosnian Serbs. Bosnian Serb General Stanislav Galic was given 20-year sentence in part for 1994 Sarajevo Markalle massacre, read more here: http://srebrenica-genocide.blogspot.com/2005/12/icty-serbs-responsible-for-1994.html

IT'S A FACT: 8,106 PEOPLE KILLED IN SREBRENICA GENOCIDE

STOP SREBRENICA GENOCIDE DENIAL! STOP PLAYING WITH NUMBERS!

IT'S A FACT: 8,106 KILLED IN SREBRENICA GENOCIDE

Edward Herman on The Lists of Mi