Wednesday, 23 June 2010

Response to comment by "Anonymous" - 23 June 2010 00:01

Following the publication of my extensive article Being a British Serb - living in contrariety, regarding British Serbs like myself, I received a comment from an "anonymous" person, who expressed views regarding recent Balkan history still held by many Serbs today. Here is his comment in full:

Sounds like the Brit Serbs are too cowardly and/or lazy to defend their own people in a negative atmosphere. With "Serbs" like these, no wonder Serbia doesn't do well.
Furthermore I see you push a lot of the mainstream media false accusations and propaganda against Serbs - at least you seem to agree with it or believe it is true unquestioningly - when in fact and true analysis of the claims show they fall apart. The Balkan wars WERE set up and there was bias against Serbia and Serbs from the start. It was planned to break up Yugoslavia into little pure or ethnically divided statelets. Britain was one of the countries involved with this along with the U.S. and Germany, and still others went along. So many of the "witnesses" against the Serbs have proven themselves bald-faced liars at the Hague. Yet the Hague allows these perjurers to get their propaganda set as the official "truth". There were also staged-for-the-cameras incidents in Bosnia and even some UN personnel and international officials testifying for the prosecution (against Serbs) have admitted Muslims DID stage and provoke attacks and further were witnessed killing their own people (other Muslims) to have the Serbs blamed.

23 June 2010 00:01

Putting aside his view on British Serbs' "cowardly and/or lazy" nature and Serbia's progress in the world - and whether the two are linked - I wish to respond to the main substance of his comment, which unfortunately was not about British Serbs. And I will do so in point by point fashion, and I will refer to the anonymous person in the second person, thus creating a dialogue between myself and him/herself.

  1. "…I see you push a lot of the mainstream media false accusations and propaganda against Serbs - at least you seem to agree with it or believe it is true unquestioningly - when in fact and true analysis of the claims show they fall apart."

  2. Interesting assumption you make: you assume that I either agree with or believe "unquestioningly" something you consider to be "mainstream media false accusations and propaganda against Serbs".

    Actually, if you had read my articles Serbs, Media, Justice and Me! and Serbs, Media, Justice and Me! contd., you would've learnt that I used to think the same way as you do: I used to blame the West for the break up of Yugoslavia, and I used to think that all the war crimes accusations against Serbs were "lies", just like you do now.

    Surprised? But what could've changed in me? Well, Anon - if you don't mind me calling you that - I really did do a lot of genuine analysis of virtually all those claims. And what happened? I was deeply moved to discover how my former way of thinking could not stand the test; it could not refute a single aspect of the reality of all those war crimes! Can you believe that?

  3. "The Balkan wars WERE set up and there was bias against Serbia and Serbs from the start."

  4. Ah, but really Anon? 'Cause if that was the case, like a lot of Serbs still believe - and I used to believe, then how come the West only decided to intervene in Bosnia towards the end of the war? Have you ever asked yourself why they didn't bomb the Bosnian Serbs at the beginning of the war? You see, many believe if the West had done that, they would've prevented numerous deaths on all sides and brought the war to a speedier end. What do you think?

  5. "It was planned to break up Yugoslavia into little pure or ethnically divided statelets. Britain was one of the countries involved with this along with the U.S. and Germany, and still others went along."

  6. "[L]ittle pure or ethnically divided statelets", does that include the "Greater Serbia" project? Wasn't that supposed to be ethnically "pure", or do you deny that it happened? I used to be in denial about "Greater Serbia"; I used to think that that was a bare-faced, Western media "lie" used to smear us Serbs. Of course, the West didn't actively support "Greater Serbia", but neither were they resolutely opposed to that campaign earlier on in the conflicts in Croatia and Bosnia, as explained above.

    As for Germany, a lot of Serbs resented Germany's support for an independent Croatia, understandably for historical reasons, i.e. Germany's Nazi past and the fascist Croatian puppet state during World War Two. Some Western politicians were likewise critical of Germany for supporting Croatia's independence. That's all true. But didn't you know that Germany only recognised Croatia at the end of 1991 in December, which was months after the war had started?

  7. "So many of the "witnesses" against the Serbs have proven themselves bald-faced liars at the Hague. Yet the Hague allows these perjurers to get their propaganda set as the official "truth"."

  8. Ah, so you still think those witnesses were "bald-faced liars"? Oh dear, Anon! I was the same; I thought that way too. But the thing that you don't appreciate, which I used to refuse to accept as well, is how these are people who lost everything and are deeply traumatised by what they experienced during war. Because of this trauma, many are psychologically scarred and this affects their everyday life. So if they do contradict themselves, or otherwise come off irrational in your eyes, try to bear in mind that they are victims of war, and don't assume that they are "liars".

    Now, you will tell me, "But look at us Serbs, we are victims too!" And yes, Anon, we are victims as well; many of us have also lost everything that we had held dear, and as a result, there are many Serbs who are likewise deeply traumatised, and living daily with psychological scars. However, I take it that you only care about Serb victims, some Serb victims more than others I bet. I, on the other hand, sympathise with all victims of conflicts, especially with people from the Former Yugoslavia, because that's where I come from and because all of us former Yugoslavs, whether we identify as Serbs, Croats, Bosniaks or anything else, have family histories that are full of war stories from various periods of Balkan history - in fact, there are too many stories of war in our families!

    And finally…

  9. "There were also staged-for-the-cameras incidents in Bosnia and even some UN personnel and international officials testifying for the prosecution (against Serbs) have admitted Muslims DID stage and provoke attacks and further were witnessed killing their own people (other Muslims) to have the Serbs blamed."

  10. Oh yes, blame the victims, why don't you! But ask yourself this question: why would the Bosnian Muslims/Bosniaks of Sarajevo have staged a single shelling incident against their own people on any given day at that time, when they had been shelled constantly for over three years by the Bosnian Serbs? Have you not heard of the Siege of Sarajevo? If not, I can understand how; I heard that people in Serbia during that time had no idea that there was such a siege being laid against that once-Olympic city! And yet you blame the Western media for leading campaign of deception, and not Milošević's régime!

    And as far as I understand, the Bosnian Serbs were found responsible for both attacks on Markale market in Sarajevo, despite a concerted propaganda effort to lay the blame at the Bosnian Muslims. And not only that, Serb General Stanislav Galić was found guilty for the first attack in 1994, convicted of not just one, but five counts for crimes against humanity, including murder and other inhumane acts, and one count for violations of the laws or customs of war.

So Anonymous, you blame the West for breaking up Yugoslavia rather than Serbian nationalism, which caused so much ethnic tension before the wars, and then destroyed millions of lives during those wars? You either deny that our war-time leaders ever committed ethnic cleansing - i.e. expelling people from their homes - or you accept that they did all that, but it all was done for our "safety" to "protect" us from "Ustaše" and the like!

I was just like you - in fact, I used to dream how one day I would liberate my people from "lies"! Alas, that was not to be: those "lies" I detested turned out to be actually true, whereas those "truths" that you are convinced by turned out to be disgracefully false.

So I'm sorry Anon, sorry if I've disappointed you. Call me a "traitor" or whatever you like! Be rude at my parents' expense, why don't you! Think however you want to think, but know that you can never change the truth, especially that which has passed before us, however much you wish you could.


Anonymous said...

Actually I found the opposite as you and that the media's hype fell apart. For instance the claim of 250,000 Bosnian Muslim civilians killed was PROVEN to be false by a long, long shot.

Researchers found that the Bosnian Muslims had listed the same people several times and had counted military deaths as civilians. The TOTAL count for ALL three sides and including military (most of the deaths were military, NOT civilians) has been found to be around 92,000 - and even that is including the "missing". "Missing" which are sometimes found by accident as there is no real search for them and many people don't come forward.

There was even a case where the Bosnian Muslims convicted Serbs for killing two brothers who were discovered alive and well and living in Sarajevo (and had both served in the army during the entire war) by one of the convicted's uncle. One of the brothers came to buy up all the livestock of the Serbs (as the area was being given over to the Federation due to the Dayton accords) and the uncle though he saw a ghost. Anyhow the lies that the Bosnian Muslims convicted the Serb on were finally exposed.

And the west WAS involved in Bosnia even before the beginning of the war. The UN got their on February 1992, and the west WAS helping smuggle arms and explosives from the start.

Plus Britain sold Slovenia millions of military communication equipment just BEFORE the war started in 1991.

The U.S./west was diplomatically supporting separatists while pretending (at the start) that it wanted to keep Yugoslavia together. This helped them maneuver Serbs - rather than being seen as a direct enemy.

The UN also did do battles against the Serbs and they spent time spying for NATO bombing sites. NATO did some bombing in early 1994.

The UN was accomplice or turned a blind eye to weapons smuggling for the Muslims.

And many UN DID witness Muslims staging attacks.

Anonymous said...

Here's some general insight into what Germany and the U.S. were up to:

from the book
The CIAs Greatest Hits
by Mark Zepezauer

The bloodshed and chaos that have engulfed Yugoslavia since its breakup have been portrayed as the inevitable result of bottled-up ethnic tensions. But there's considerable evidence that both the breakup and the warfare were encouraged by Western intelligence services-including Germany's BND, the successor to the Gehlen Org.
Germany's interests in the region date to World War II, when the Bosnians and Croats allied with the Nazis against the Serbs, who the Nazis regarded as untermenschen (subhumans). After Germany reunified in 1989, it began to take a more expansionist attitude toward Eastern Europe, and Yugoslavia in particular. In 1990, it urged the Bush administration to help it dismantle Yugoslavia.
Bush was happy to comply, since the US had longstanding plans to overthrow Yugoslavia's government. Yugoslavia had recently renounced the market-oriented "shock treatment" prescribed for it, which had been causing social unrest, so it was a prime candidate for further destabilization.
The Germans encouraged Croatia to secede from Yugoslavia, and Bosnia soon followed. Germany immediately recognized the new nations, forcing the hand of the European Community, which had wanted to take a more cautious approach. The new Croatian state adopted the flag and anthem of its WWII Nazi puppet regime-and, in some cases, the same personnel.
Virulently fascist Croats had long been active in the World Anti-Communist League and other exile groups nurtured by the CIA. Many Eastern European Nazis had gone on to work with the CIA, either in the US or in covert operations abroad. With the collapse of Communism in Eastern Europe, many of these aging chickens came home to roost. Neofascist movements are active in Lithuania, Hungary and Romania, as well as in much of Western Europe (notably Italy).
Despite an official arms embargo against Croatia and Bosnia, Western powers immediately began covertly arming them, which would have been impossible without the knowledge and acquiescence of the CIA and the BND. Mercenaries from Britain, Germany and the US are said to be serving alongside the Croat militias-a sure sign of an ongoing covert operation. In fact, in 1994, the CIA opened a new base in Albania to monitor troop movements and "potential targets."

Owen said...

Alan, I can't read your comment at the moment. It's the anniversary of the Bikavac house fire on Sunday, and I've just been posting on some information about the bus that will be going from Sarajevo. It's the first commemoration since Milan Lukic was convicted last July.

I was just reading the testimony Zehra Turjacanin gave that helped convict Milan Lukic. Don't read it ahead of planning to do anything light-hearted.

That's why you don't have any reason to defend yourself against these Anonymouses, because you've never tried to pretend that what happened was anything other than it was.

As I've said before, that's why when you speak out about what happened to innocent Serbs too, I can listen to you with trust. I know that despite what these Anonymouses encourage us to believe, not all Serbs are smeared with the vileness of the system that used Milan Lukic to do its dirty work.

Courage, and keep speaking out, honour to you!

Owen said...

It seems to me, Alan, that you are genuine Yugoslav, in s generous, genuine sense, not the narrow sense of the promoters of Serb hegemony who never see Yugoslavia in terms of anything other than their own right to dominance (and exemption from suspect motives).

It puzzles me that for people like Anonymous Britain is always seen as Serbia's enemy. The Major government, including Douglas Hurd, Pauline Nevelle-Jones, Malcolm Rifkind, Douglas Hogg, was Serbia's great ally, doing its best to tilt the balance away from anything other than temporising humanitarian support for Bosnia and championed Serbia's strategic interest. Not for disinterested reasons of course, but for a mix of motives prominent among which was the (self-deluding) belief that a powerful Serbia was the guarantor of regional stability.

We handicapped the Bosnians' efforts to defend themselves, whenever possible we tried to support a carve-up of a sovereign UN member-state and then in the crowning shame we (NatWest) sent Hurd and Neville-Jones to Belgrade to get paid to advise Milosevic on how to asset-strip Serbian Telecoms.

Anonymous fails to point out that the figure of 92,000 is the figure for direct deaths that Tokaca has established. Something like the same number are thought to have died from a variety of causes including disease and malnutrition attributable to the deprivation suffered by civilian populations under siege or as displaced persons and refugees.

But there's reason why these arguments will continue to be put, as long as there are war criminals who haven't been brought to trial, small fish as well as big fish. It's the Serbs these people exploit in order to provide pseudo-cover for themselves who are victims of these criminals often as much as the other ex-Yugoslavs they targeted in their schemes and enterprises.

Alan Jakšić said...

As ever, Owen, thank you for your continued support!

I'm of the opinion that Yugoslavia could've and would've stayed together, had it not been for Sloba & co. We had a relatively decent society, though any problems that did exist could've been resolved peacefully. The Kosovo issue could've been resolved through inter-ethnic dialogue to help Serbs and Albanians sort out their disagreements in order to improve their relations. Unfortunately, that was not in Sloba's interest. If it was, we wouldn't be having this conversation.

A lot of British Serbs are still rather angry at Tony Blair over Kosovo rather than John Major! But as far as I can remember (NB: I was a child back then), Major's government was inclined towards dialogue with Milošević's régime and his Bosnian Serb colleagues. That means Major and his colleagues could not have been serious - let alone outspoken - opponants to Sloba & co, who would've done anything to stop the "Greater Serbia" project in its track. Am I right?

But Owen, you say that "The Major government … championed Serbia's strategic interest". Do you really believe that Britain supported Milošević and his policies? 'Cause compared to what a lot of Serbs think, you're suggesting the complete opposite! I can accept that the West was not "resolutely opposed to that campaign (i.e. "Greater Serbia") earlier on in the conflicts in Croatia and Bosnia", just to quote myself! But to suggest that the West instead backed Sloba sounds a bit far-fetched for someone like me, who's had enough of one conspiracy theory!

Sam said...

Alane ti si ljudina o Cojka!!!...

And for Anonymous,you are telling a story that's been said for the last 15 years. I heard em all and I am positive Alan has well.My family were victims of the Bosnian war so don't tell me it was staged or "SET UP". there are tapes of RS soldiers going and ready to Cleans villages and cities on the Drina river. they are tapes of Arkan in Vukovara going around town and saying "pazi kad cisti te da ne ubi te brata srbina."....and the priest from Zvornik blessing serb soldiers. WAS THAT ALL STAGED!!.

And the are plenty of Serbs proud of the fact of what they did in Bosnia and Croatia. and other Serbs praise them and treat them as heroes.Because they see at as revenge for what Ottomans and Ustase did.

What you are doing is what Milosevic had done. Blame OTHERS!!!.and use propaganda to scare Serbs to turn on their neighbors and friends .

Sam said...

Ohhh yeah lol..I forgot to mention

The flag and Coat of Arms and National Anthem of Croatia has been the flag and anthem of Croatia before www2 before ww1 before the word WAR came into the picture.

If the flag and anthem is what bothers the Serbs. then why is the Republic of Serbia having Cetnik colors?..the Cetniks from ww2 used the same symbols as the new Serbian Republic.

Ironically Serbs and Croats are using ww2 colors and Anthems.And thats okay no problem.but why is it that in Bosnia the flag and Anthem was refused and "UNCONSTITUTIONAL".A Flag that was not seen since the 1300s that was part of the Bosnian Kingdom.and a National Anthem that was written by Dino Merlin lol.that had no mentions of any Ethnic group. STILL IT WAS WRONG!!.

Bosnian Serbs refused to be under that flag and sing that national Anthem saying its "MUSLIM" LMAO..Even tho the Lillies have no connection to ISLAM

And Bosnian Croats say It also Muslim EVEN THO its CATHOLIC go figure. and many Croatian Scholars would say the Bosnian Kingdom was ruled by Croats.


Alan Jakšić said...

Evala ti Same na ljepoj rječi!

That's the problem with nationalists from any side, too much ignorance and/or disregard. They have their own view of history and reality that is both self-serving and self-gratifying!

I don't know how long that problem will last, but let's keep hoping that future generations will be more enlightened. However, in order for that to be the case, we should do our own bit to enlighten our children about the past, both good and bad bits, so they can make better-informed decisions in the future!

Owen said...

Alan, I just had a long rant about Major and Hurd and Neville-Jones, I must have crossed Blogger's word-rationing limit and I've lost the lot when I tried to send - I hate Blogger! I'll have another go when I recover.

Owen said...

Hello Alan, trying again. I'll break halfway to try to avoid losing it again.

I started by referring to Carole Hodge's "Britain and the Balkans", which is a book that really has the authentic feel of how things were. It brought together a number of things I knew but had never joined up in my mind. She argues that in the world after the fall of the Berlin Wall Britain was anxious to hang on to its disproportionate international influence - the policy shorthanded as "punching above our weight", playing an influential role in institutions like the Security Council and NATO. At the same time Major had to play a careful game to avoid being marginalised in the EU, where he was having trouble because of the enormous capacity for trouble the Eurosceptics had at that time.

In my amateur way I saw British policy as being more influenced by what I thought was the big issue for NATO - stability in south-eastern Europe so that Turkey and Greece, who in those days were much more obviously anatagonistic towards one another, in spite of both being NATO members, wouldn't start fighting. Anyhow Britain identified Serbia as key to stability in FRY, basically because SM was tough and determined, but also to some extent because of the hangovers from World War II alliance, pushed by Serbian expatriates and some right wing Tories.

Anyhow the net effect of all these considerations was that we got ourselves involved in an influential role in "peace-keeping" and did our best to sabotage anyone else's attempts at peace-making - ie we tried to muck up US attempts to respond to public pressure over there. The first half of Brendan Simms's book Unfinest Hour reads like a poison pen letter settling Washington scores against the British. He remains critical but more balancedly so in the second half. But like Hodge he tells the story of how Britain did its best to get Bosnia to accept ethnic partition and a territorial carve-up that Milosevic and Karadzic the rewards for aggression they wanted.

cont. ... / ...

Owen said...

... / ...

One of the reasons I feel quite passionate about truth and justice in Bosnia is that I think our government deceived us into betraying people who paid with their lives for our political selfishness and incompetence. Major and Hurd prepared the way for Srebrenica. The Dutch actually handed people over, but we did what we could to make that possible.

On top of that betrayal came the snout-to-trough dash. In declining days of Tory sleaze, almost as soon as he'd left office, Douglas Hurd zoomed off to Belgrade as deputy director of NatWest Markets to advise Milosevic on privatising Serbian Telecom. The idea was to put money in Milosevic's depleted economic war chest while helping Hurd top up his Parliamentary pension fund (sorry, is that perhaps too cynical?) - it didn't matter what happened to the Serbians themselves who were a bit fed up with Milosevic's political and economic chicanery. Hurd never seemed to think the public deserved an explanation for the questionable ethics of him plunging quite so disreputably into exploiting his Foreign Office contact book.

Along with him dashed Neville-Jones. She'd been a civil servant and Major's TV mouthpiece on Bosnia. She's very bright, I thought a lot brighter than Hurd with his world-weary self-satisfaction, but she too didn't think it worth bothering to dig out a good excuse for jumping on the Belgrade asset-strip gravy-train.

That's enough of the rant - you can tell by now I don't like them, can't you! Blood and money. I have very few kind words for Margaret Thatcher but she didn't hold back from letting them know how gutlessly contemptible she thought they were. But that's why it makes me laugh rather wryly when I hear about British bias against Serbia. (I slightly exaggerate, as usual, but only slightly, I think). We were into the business of creating ethnically pure little statelets, but all for Serbia's benefit.

Owen said...

Alan, just to be clear, most of the time Britain wasn't backing Serbia in the West's interest, except in so far as NATO stability was preserved, Britain was backing Serbia in Britain's interest. That's why once the Americans got involved they so hated us, as drips from the pages of Simms's book.

Anonymous said...


I appreciate your blog and I know that it cannot be easy to write. I do think you are a bit off the mark, however. It is true that the Serbian community abroad tended to respond to the war by saying something like "they're doing it too" or "it's propaganda and lies" or "what about WWII?" and none of these responses are quite correct, and yet each of them has a grain of truth. It seems you held to this angle quite strongly and then were confronted with harrowing evidence of atrocities perpetrated by Serbs and have swung the complete other way.

However, the mature response is to, in a balanced way, investigate all the facts as dispassionately as possible and then draw conclusions. I have spent years of my life (part-time) studying the wars of Yugoslav disintegration and have come to the following conclusion:

1.) The internal conditions driving the breakup of Yugoslavia were primarily Croatian and Albanian nationalism. These nationalisms drove the disintegration of the state. Serbian nationalism, if anything, tended to be centralizing, attempting to integrate Vojvodina and Kosovo back into Serbia proper, to draw Montenegro tighter into Serbia's orbit, and to keep Yugoslavia together. Now, if that is "greater Serbia" then so be it, but my interpretation is that in 1990/1991/1992 90%+ of Serbs in Yugoslavia wanted to remain in Yugoslavia. If and only if that was impossible (i.e. it had to break up), they wanted to live in a common state with the rest of the Serb community in the region. I do not see that such pro-Yugoslav sentiments existed amongst Croats or Albanians, and if they did, certainly to a much lesser degree in these groups and Slovenes and Bosnian Muslims than in Serbs. The wars of the 1990s showed, afterall, that Yugoslavia was a Serb-engineered concept.

2.) My personal experiences with Kosovo Albanians do not indicate that they ever liked Yugoslavia or wanted it to exist, nor did they ever feel contented to live as an autonomy in Serbia. If you read the history from the 1960s until Milosevic's rise, Kosovo was wracked by anti-Serb and anti-Montenegrin violence, before there was any "Serb nationalism." I'm very much afraid that their nationalism is not a response to Serb nationalism but a thing of its own. You can see that they play the same game in Macedonia, which never did anything bad to them.

3.) Regarding external factors, the West's involvement cannot be minimized or denied. Their behavior was disgusting. They had a duty to defend Yugoslavia's borders, as it was a UN charter state, and all they did was send diplomats who gave private encouragement to the secessionists, as did Warren Zimmerman to Alija Izetbegovic in 1992.

Anonymous said...

4.) WWII history is relevant. It is easy to say "it doesn't matter, it's ancient history" but then why is the Holocaust not ancient history? Israel is founded on the Holocaust legacy, to say that WWII of the 1940s is irrelevant to Jewry of the 2010s is ridiculous and misinformed. Likewise, WWII remains a heavy load in the mind of the Serbs and I would dare say that Jasenovac and all that went with it is probably the most formative trope in Serbian history after the Kosovo battle/Ottoman occupation. The lack of punishment of the perpetrators of the genocide all the way down to the local level (yes, every Croat and Muslims Ustasa who took up a gun, bayonet, dagger, hammer, or torch and used it to commit genocide over the Serbs) ensured that Serb anger and sense of ill-treatment and injustice seethed for 50 years, so when violence broke out in 1991 there was this wellspring of hatred and vengefulness that exhibited itself in the form of numerous atrocities during war. Indeed, a fear of a repeat of 1941 was a major factor that fueled the Serb side in Croatia and Bosnia.

5.) They did it to us too. That is a relevant argument. It does not justify atrocities against the other side, but it does invalidate the ICTY and the Western media and governments who point the accusatory finger. The fact is that the only atrocities against Serbs that have been prosecuted and semi-decently punished are the Krajina ethnic cleansing and the Celebici detention camp. That's just a drop in the bucket both in terms of the total ICTY indictments (which overwhelmingly focus on Muslim victims, in disproportion to their actual victimhood) and in terms of the total atrocities against the Serbs. There were so many detention camps for Serbs, where they were tortured, murdered, or raped. There were so many villages burnt. So many massacres. So many expulsions of tens of thousands. Where are all the Croat, Muslim, and Albanian convicted war criminals for such massive atrocity? No where to be found. That is a serious problem because it makes it harder for the Serbian community to recognize misdeeds perpetrated by ethnic Serbs and also makes it impossible for them to trust the ICTY/Western story of events, and rightly so. I am not saying that Serbs did not perpetrate more atrocities than Muslims or Croats in Bosnia. For all I know, they may also have the lion's share in Croatia. But I do know that it's not a 95% proportion and that's what the ICTY is trying to present it as being and that is what they are "judicially" writing into the history books. Thus, as far as I am concerned, they are a false court and one not worth paying attention to, and the same applies to the mass media. I would much rather have an impartial fact-finding commission which tabulates the data and presents it online than these indictments against "individuals" which are being abused to indict collective nations.

Anonymous said...

6.) Propaganda/lies/exaggeration. This is a hard one. How to know the truth without forensics? I have had an encounter with an Albanian family and a Bosnian Muslim woman who blatantly lied about alleged atrocities they suffered at the hands of Serbs. I can go into that further if it interests you. Every such lie makes it harder to believe the truth. We've seen such "micro lies" and then the Great Lies of the media which claimed that 250,000 mostly civilian Muslims were killed in Bosnia. That was a notorious lie. We know now that the victim count is at ~100,000 in Bosnia, that Serbs were 1/4 - 1/3 of the victims, and that civilians were ~1/2 of the total victims. We were told that 60,000 Muslim women were "systematically raped" without a shred of evidence of such a number or of mass rape of more than *hundreds* (particularly in the Foca area). Numbers matter. 35,000 killed Muslim civilians (by Serbs, Croats, and by the rival Muslim factions of Abdic and Izetbegovic) is a terrible civil war, whereas 250,000 Muslim civilians is a genocide. Hundreds of raped women is awful but something to be expected in war, but tens of thousands is horrific. To bandy about numbers in such a cavalier way and to abuse them to continually throw mud against an entire nation 20 years later (even today we still hear garbage about "mass rape of 60,000 Muslim women").

My suggestion to you is to look at these things in a more nuanced way, as I have come to do. Such reflexive moves of denying all guilt (I don't mean you personally, of course), to taking false imputed guilt upon yourself needlessly, is not helpful at all. Nobody comes out looking good from the Yugoslav wars, nobody has clean hands, nobody is free of victims, nobody was pushing for peace as hard as they could.

Alan Jakšić said...

Hello Anonymous from 8 July. Thank you for your comments, and do feel free to comment again! Just so you know, I deleted your first comment as it was a duplicate of your second comment, and because I see you wish to remain anonymous. And I also deleted you third comment as you repeated your first point but left the other two out. I've left these three comments of yours, which detail your points of view. I hope you don't mind!

You noticed that I used to "[hold] to this angle quite strongly" (i.e. blaming the West but exonerating Milošević, and questioning or denying war crimes), but then "swung the complete other way" when confronted with "harrowing evidence" (i.e. masses of evidence Sloba & Co.'s atrocities). You recommend that, compared to my 180 degree turn, the "mature" response is to, "in a balanced way, investigate all the facts as dispassionately as possible and then draw conclusions". I agree with you that that is the most rational way of understanding aspects of life and making decisions in life. And if you can believe me, I do try to do things that way as much as I can!

However Anon, I hope you can appreciate that when you are emotionally invested in something, when you feel that something is the real deal, only to find that there is little to no substance to it, then it can be quite dispiriting for some, but devastating for others. I would put myself somewhere in between.

Anonymous, I'm pleased that you don't attribute to me the tendency to "[deny] all guilt", but I can assure you that I don't assign any guilt to myself. War criminals have names and surnames, and they should be punished accordingly. But ordinary people have a responsibility not to let these things happen again. There are two ways of avoiding conflict in the future: one, don't elect the same type of people, who brought about war in the first place, back into power; and two, teach your children about the past, both the good bits and the bad bits, so they can make better informed decisions in the future.

You say "[n]obody comes out looking good from the Yugoslav wars", but we all know that we Serbs came out looking the worst! That's why a lot of Serbs in the Diaspora, like myself, have carefully avoided boasting about being Serbs over the last fifteen to twenty years. You also say "nobody has clean hands", but surely you agree that some people's hands are much cleaner than others? And you say "nobody was pushing for peace as hard as they could", but it's thanks to certain politicians who wanted war to happen. They created a climate of fear convincing ordinary people that war was inevitable, while marginalising moderate Serbs and Croats prior to the war in Croatia, for instance.

But I do agree with you when you say "nobody is free of victims". Of course, the Yugoslav wars destroyed so much and took away even more. That's why even the survivors are victims themselves.

Anonymous said...


Again, we agree on most things, but I am little convinced that Milosevic was the "mover and shaker" you seem to think he was. Having *extensively* watched the Milosevic trial, the evidence was just not there. You could make a very strong case for awful incompetence in the face of widespread criminality of his underlings, but I just don't see the mini-Hitler we were told he was.

As for looking bad or good, the situation is such that Muslims and Albanians have been assigned the "victim" role and while the former concoct fanciful neo-histories of the region (the lily coat of arms as their emblem and the recent name "Bosniak" being examples), the latter are busily engaged in some of the most blatant jingoistic nationalism without a hint of shame. We see the same Kosovo process unfolding in Macedonia, and ultimately in Greece and Kosovo. It has nothing to do with Milosevic, I am afraid to say. Additionally, we have a stridently proud Croatian population that bizarrely considers itself a "victim", despite launching one of the single biggest campaigns of expulsion of an ethnic minority in recent European history.

But, as you say, it's the Serbs who have to live with shame. Why, may I ask? Is it because of the truth, or because of the way the BBC/Guardian/various TV shows present us? I live in the US, born and grew up here, and am (3/4) of Serbian extraction, and all my life I've been hearing how "we" are degenerates, thugs, fascists, rapists, cleansers, genocidaires, etc. I've even heard average American schoolkids (with no Balkan connection whatsoever) saying that Serbs ought to be killed. The professional hate campaign launched by the media was something that was unseen for any other ethnic group in the world, except perhaps for the Hutu of Rwanda.

And, I ask myself, how is it possible that a Google search of Srebrenica (where it is said that 8000 people were "genocided") yields 8x as many results as Jasenovac (where hundreds of thousands died)! The US Holocaust Memorial Museum is holding a Srebrenica "genocide" commemoration, and yet did they even once hold a "genocide over the Serbs, 1941-1945" commemoration? What are we talking about here? Is this about truth or is it about securing political aims? Sometimes I wonder if this whole media war has been waged by the Vatican in a bid to completely cover up what they were doing in that region in WWII; if so, it has been brilliantly successful in doing so.

Incidentally, my father's best friend was a Montenegrin in Sarajevo who was kidnapped by Muslims and never again seen. His wife and son fled to Serbia. Will the ICTY ever launch an indictment against his killers or those who killed thousands of Serbs in Sarajevo? No, because they are the "wrong" ethnicity. Of course, with the media refusing to report on such things, with the ICTY refusing to indict, how can the Serbs have their day in court? How can the imbalance be redressed so the true nature of the war comes through?

Anonymous said...

As an example to make my point, Alan:

Why should such an article get away with a blatant, defamatory, falsehood?

This is what we are talking about here, and I for one will stand up for the truth, complex as it may be, difficult as it may be, rather than take either extreme position, and certainly not the disgustingly false and malicious one of the Western media and NGOs on these issues.

PS: apologies for the double postings.

Owen said...

Anonymous, when you finished feeling sorry for yourself and exhausted your reserves of self-righteousness, just get in touch with someone like Bakira Hasecic or one of the other brave people involved with rape victims' organisations.

I'm terribly sorry for your sake that the ICTY has been so misguided as to waste its resources persecuting such unrepresentative creatures as Milan Lukic and Ljubisa Beara when there were so many other equivalent criminals from other communities they could have been concentrating on if they hadn't been so determined to be unfair.

Perhaps you might come up with a list of the non-Serbs who managed to notch up quite the scalp tally of their Serb colleagues in the Bosnian war and convince us that they should be up there along with the poster boy names of 1992-1995?

And the as you wax righteous about the unprosecuted perhaps you might remind us at the same time about where all those little fish from all the the local Crisis Staff Committees have disappeared to within the noble institutions of Republika Srpska or sitting cosily across the Serbian border. Does your indignation extend to the failure to prosecute Branimir Savovic, for example? Or to chase after Momir Savic?

Do you actually know the meaning of the words "disgusting and false"? If some Serbs have to live with shame, to quite some extent it's because the rest of us have endured more than enough of the ripe self-justfying nonsense you inflict on Alan, who has more tolerance and patience than I'd believe possible in this sort of weather.

Get real.

Anonymous said...

Who is Bakira Hasecic to me? See, again, you fail. Your party alleged that 60,000 Muslim women were "systematically raped" and I would like to see the evidence of such a number. I'd like to see the evidence of even 5,000, i.e. anonymized testimonies. I have seen evidence of a scale of *hundreds* of Muslim women being raped in a variety of locations in Bosnia. While horrific for the victims, that's a far cry from the numbers your party has historically been bandying about, and is perfectly consistent with the nature of war, and of civil war, itself. So I suggest they (and you) retract your false claims with respect to numbers.

To discuss the systematic attempt to ignore Serb rape victims of Muslim and Croat forces is beneath me at this point. You of course are aware that such things happened and the only cases that have been brought before the ICTY were the rapes of Milojka Antic and Grozdana Cecez by Delalic. It warms my heart to know that only 2 Serb women were raped in the Bosnian war.

Moving on, I can never get over the fact that you seem to think discussing Muslim or Croat atrocities against Serbs (or Muslim atrocities against Croats, for that matter), is tantamount to denying atrocities against Muslims. How does that logically follow? I never said that prosecuting Milan Lukic was a waste of time. Lukic stands out as one of the absolute criminals of the entire war and deserves life imprisonment if not the death penalty. But again, how does the ICTY prosecuting him bring justice to Serb victims of Muslim and Croat atrocities?

You asked for names, I will give just 5 of them, it's on you to look them up:

Zulfikar Alispago
Musan Topalovic
Ismet Bajramovic
Ramiz Delalic
Jusuf Prazina

While you're at it, do look up the Kazani pits on Mt. Trebevic into which Sarajevo Serbs were brutally murdered and thrown, and they were just a tiny fraction of the total murdered by Muslims in Sarajevo:

1. Vucurevic Zoran
2. Draskovic Mileva - she was slaughtered by Saferovic Samir and Osmanovic Suad and her body thrown in the abyss Kazani.
3. Jovanovic Dusko - he was mutilated with knives by the members of the 10th Mountain Brigade and thrown in the abyss Kazani.
4. Komljenac Marina, from Sarajevo, residing at Dragice Pravice Street No. 7/2 - she was slaughtered by Colak Refik and her body was also thrown in the abyss Kazani as well as her husband.
5. Komljevac Radoslav from Sarajevo, residing at Dragice Pravice street No. 7/2 - he was slaughtered by Selak Mevludin.
6. Lavljiv Vasilije - slaughtered by Kubat Zijo, who severed his head from the body and threw the body in the abyss Kazani, and his wife.
7. Lavljiv Ana - Osmanovic Suad ordered her to lie down and spread her legs and then pushed a branch into her sexual organ. Tucakovic Esad with a lighter burnt her pubic hair and finally Tucakovic Esad slaughtered her, severed her head from her body and threw the body in the abyss.
8. Nikolic Ervin called "Eno" - his neck was pierced by a sword in a blow inflicted by Bejtic Samir, while the others were hitting his body with knives until he was completely mutilated. Then Bejtic Samir severed his head from the body and threw the body in the abyss Kazani.
9. Radosavljevic Branislav - his head was cut off by Topalovic Musan and his body thrown in the abyss Kazani.
10. Salipur Predrag from Sarajevo, Borisa Kidrica Street No. 3 - he was slaughtered by Hodzic Nihad, and Hodzic Husein severed his head from his body by a knife and then threw the body in the abyss Kazani, as well as his wife.
11. Sapilur Katarina, from Sarajevo, Borisa Kidrica No. 3 - her body was thrown in the abyss Kazani, and
12. Sljivic Bozidar

Anonymous said...

Oh, and Owen, I've seen your posts on other fora before, notably the Visegrad blog and the Srebrenica Genocide Blog run by the professional hysteric, Serb-hater, and Jasenovac-denier Daniel Baseball-bat, who *publicly denounces consensual sexual relations and marriages between Serbs and Muslims*. As they say, buzzards of a feather...

I know you're a know-it-all hack who unfortunately knows enough to sound smart but not enough to actually be smart. Know that I have researched both sides of the issue and that your intentional and insistent ignorance of the other side of the story (as to the particulars, for example your attempt to have me to provide you with basic education on Muslim war criminals, as if they don't exist or didn't perpetrate horrific atrocities), will be met here solely with derision. I am not your tutor nor is it my job to defend the pro-truth position from your lies, or those of Daniel Baseball-bat or that pretend historian son of the Ustasica Branka Maga[rica].

Posting some emotionally manipulative horror story as a means of subverting argument and reason will get you nowhere with me. I am interested in debating with Alan Jaksic and other reasonable people here, and not with the likes of you.


Owen said...

"See, again, you fail"? What sort of a comment is that?

I made no claim concerning numbers, I'm not competent to. Amnesty International's 2009 report refers to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe estimate that 20,000 women were subjected to rape and other forms of sexual violence, while it notes that the real number of those who were raped during the 1992-1995 armed conflict will probably never be established. Even in peacetime rape is one of the most underreported crimes.

Amnesty states that it has has not made its own estimate of the number of women and men raped during the war and is unable to verify any of the estimates produced by others.
However, it considers that the evidence collected to date by the ICTY and domestic courts
and information reported by national and international NGOs constitute strong evidence that
the incidence of rape during the armed conflict was widespread and the number of those raped amounted to at least several thousand.

That suggests rather more than the figure of "hundreds" you seek to limit the number of victims to.

It seems likely that hundreds of women may have been raped at Vilina Vlas alone. Quite apart from Milan Lukic, there are numerous other alleged perpetratrors from the Visegrad area who continue to enjoy impunity. You acknowledge Milan Lukic was an absolute criminal. But you don't comment about those who gave the free rein to carry out his crimes, members of the Visegrad Crisis Staff Committee. Lukic wasn't operating in an open city.

Owen said...

Lukic was operating in Visegrad, a town where one of the alleged rapists at Vilina Vlas, Risto Perisic, was appointed the town's police commander in 1996.

Amnesty noted that during the war few women were able to report the crimes committed against them, even if they wanted to, since public institutions, such as police and judiciary, had collapsed and in
addition in many cases, members of the local police forces themselves were involved in rape. After the war, many survivors did not report the crime, because the police forces in communities where they lived were composed of persons who had been involved in war crimes.

So because the few women who survived Vilina Vlas did not report their experience to Risto Perisic, Vilina Vlas was not a rape camp? What happened to all those women who disappeared in Vilina Vlas? Vilina Vlas was a command headquarters for the Uzice Corps. After Lukic set up post there who was in nominal command? Who had responsibility for Lukic's activities at Vilina Vlas? Why was Perisic involved? What was the role of the manager of Vilina Vlas, the alleged rapist Dusko Andric? Have the Republika Srpska authorities ever carried out an adequate investigation of his activities at Vilina Vlas?

Wasn't it the fact that Vilina Vlas was part of the infrastructure of ethnic cleansing like various other rape camps whose existence you deny?

Of course you don't like to hear the name of Bakira Hasecic mentioned, because not only does she have the courage to support the surviving victims in the climate of threats and impunity for the perpetrators that prevails in Republika Srpska, she pursues justice for them and most notably shamed the Office of the Prosecutor at the ICTY into attempting - unsuccessfully because too late - to prosecute the crimes of rape systematically perpetrated by Lukic and his gang members as they went about the dirty work of the Visegrad Crisis Staff and the people in positions of authority above them. (Those people knew what was going on and I'm sure you know they knew).

I'm certainly not saying that Serb and Croat women weren't raped, it would be shameful of me to. But there seems to be no evidence of the same large scale use of rape as a weapon of war by any of the other combattants in the way that it was used to conduct the Serb ethnic cleansing of the Drina Valley and elsewhere.

Who was in charge at Trnopolje and Omarska, for example?

Thank you for providing the names of Muslim war criminals. I certainly don't question the seriousness of the charges against them and the apparent likelihood of their guilt. However you don't provide much in the way of evidence to suggest that their individual or overall significance is comparable to the many major figures who have been brought to justice by the ICTY.

.../... [cont.]

Owen said...

Zulfikar Alispago, Musan Topalovic,
Ismet Bajramovic, Ramiz Delalic and
Jusuf Prazina were all criminals who I accept were criminally responsible for numerous Serb deaths. But I don't see evidence from you that their crimes were perpetrated on a comparable scale to those of the rather more numerous major Serb war criminals.

As Topalovic and Prazina both died in 1993 it seems a bit unfair to accuse the ICTY of choosing not to prosecute them. The Bosnian government seems to have made attempts to bring the others to justice, the only survivor Ispahic is currently in prison on charges relating to murders of Croat civilians.

The others are dead. There is no excuse for the failure not to act against their crimes, but at the same time it has to be said that the compromises of a government under siege by a disproportionately well- armed enemy force that had no scruples about the indiscrimate slaughter of the capital's habitants are perhaps slightly more explicable than those of the regime responsible for the perpetrators of ethnic cleansing and the genocide of thousands.

Alan Jakšić said...

Anonymous, I'm sorry to hear that you had to put up with a lot of abuse from your fellow Americans. I still find it hurtful to hear bad words said against my people too. However, a lot of hatred towards Serbs comes from people who truly were victims of "Greater Serbian" politics, which destroyed so many lives, including Serb lives.

As for Croats, many of them were likewise victims of that same nationalism. However, I have to say that the self-righteousness conveyed by Croat nationalists really does take the piss! It's such an ignorant and arrogant type of self-righteousness. However, I sincerely hope we will hear less and less of that in the future.

And Anonymous, let me tell you that regarding Srebrenica, over 6000 of those missing have been identified by DNA, of which more than 3000 have already been buried. And today, over 700 more victims, including an ethnic Croat, will be buried. So far, 80 mass graves relating to Srebrenica have been discovered.

These are sad facts, Anonymous, and there are many more sad facts from Srebrenica and from all over the war-torn regions of the former Yugoslavia. I think instead of denying them, we should accept that they happened, condemn the crimes and the perpetrators of those crimes, if we truly want there to be reconciliation between Serbs, Croats, Bosniaks and Albanians, and no more wars in the future. It's only by accepting the truth that things can get better for all of us.

Anonymous said...

Owen: I do not debate with people who engage in atrocity minimization and atrocity fabrication. As I said before, the onus is on you to educate yourself, not on me to do the job for you. Given your inane comments and their lack of logic ("there was no time to indict Muslim war criminals") I'm done with you.

Alan: I think you do have a lot of things upside down. Serb victims of the atrocities of others are the victims of *their* politics, not "greater Serbian" politics. One could just as easily say that they were victims of greater Croatian politics, of greater Bosnian Muslim politics, of greater Albanian politics. As you well know, the historical foundation for at least two of those has strong roots in the puppet states of the NDH and greater Albania set up by Italy and Germany in WWII. And what about the Muslims in Bosnia? How does their attempt to force 33% Serbs and the land they live on out of Yugoslavia not imply greater Bosnia politics? Who gave the 44% Muslim *minority* (not even over 50%) the right to organize and determine the future of Bosnia alone?

As for Srebrenica, I do not doubt that the remains exist, but I do have great doubt as to the manner of their deaths. It is quite clear that many hundreds were arrested or captured, bound and executed (I think ~450 were found with ligatures and blindfolds), and that's clearly a massive war crime. How many of the other thousands were killed in executions and how many were killed as they fled through the woods to Tuzla, whether by artillery, mines, or sniping, is what is unclear to me. The latter is certainly also tragic but arguably not the same as the former. I will not go into the fact that a good number of those men were combatants with the blood of Serbs on their hands from Oric's massacres of 1992-1995, because that would be playing the game of tit-for-tat.

Anonymous said...

As to the legal and media angle on Srebrenica, my observations are as follows:

1.) The genocide story is a sacred myth. They are trying to place this (alleged) massacre of several thousand largely military-age men, very many of them members of the Muslim army until 1995, into the same category as the Holocaust. That cannot be, because any real genocide requires top-down organization, enormous numbers of victims (100,000s to 1,000,000s), universality (i.e. it occurs all over the territory held by those committing the genocide), and it happens to all sectors of the targeted group: women, children, men. I think the characterization of Srebrenica as genocide goes well beyond what Lemkin had in mind when genocide was introduced into the legal discourse, as he was talking about the fate of the Armenians of WWI and Jews of WWII.

2.) The genocide story has two further aims. One is to destabilize Republika Srpska and to generate a future pretext for war or to establish a "legal" means of abolishing Dayton and "re-integrating" Republika Srpska. That will naturally lead to a repeat of the Krajina 1995 events. The other is to cover up WWII, in which a *real* genocide was perpetrated by Croat and Muslim Ustase over Serbs of Bosnia and Croatia. That genocide affected all Serbs, from the people thrown into the "jame" of Jadovno and Herzegovina, to those slaughtered in Jasenovac with mallets and knives, or the children stolen from their parents and given to Catholic families. That is the real, the only, genocide on the territory of ex-Yugoslavia, and Srebrenica constitutes a serious attempt to cover it up. Just google Srebrenica and then google Jasenovac, and you will see what I mean. Which has greater prominence?

3.) The Bosnian Muslims do put on a media show when it comes to Srebrenica. I understand the grieving families, but in practically all other cases of atrocity in ex-Yugoslavia, families bury their victims upon identification, often in a locality close to their home where they can visit their grave. Serbs, Croats, Albanians, and most Muslims in Bosnia (outside Srebrenica) have done that. It is only in Srebrenica that the dead are buried in one location in annual cycles on every July 11th. That way they can put up a whole media show, invite various international and Bosnian luminaries, and bury hundreds of bodies every year on the same day with lots of cameras around. I'm not saying this is necessarily bad, only that it constitutes a dramatization of individual suffering. They certainly seem to have a few more years to continue with this spectacle with the bodies they already have. I wonder what they will do when they exhaust their supply of bodies. Will they bring in more from other locations in Bosnia and bury them in Potocari?

Owen said...

Anonymous, if I said "there was no time to indict Muslim war criminals", I might be guilty of inane comments and lack of logic, but I've looked hard and I'm afraid I can't find myself saying that.

And I don't think I trying to minimise atrocities on either side, but I am certanly not going to minimise the vileness of the rape camps, the people who operated them, the people who allowed them to be operated and the people who deny the experience of those women.

Owen said...

Anonymous, Lemkin understood that genocide was a process, not a fait accompli. That's why the wording of the Convention is framed in the way it was. The trial and Appeal Chambers' deliberations in the Krstic case explain the reasons for finding that the Genocide Convention was applicable. The ICJ confirmed that the ICTY's reasoning was correct.

No sacred myth, a fact established by the highest fora of international law.

Anonymous said...

The notion that Muslim war criminals could not be brought to justice because of unfortunate circumstances is insupportable. I am paraphrasing now, but Carla del Ponte made some sort of expression at the deaths of Izetbegovic and Tudjman that they would have been brought to justice if there had been time, and that their deaths prevented them from being indicted. Well, I'm sorry, but they had years and years to do so. The fact that the ICTY did not do so despite numerous records pointing to their criminality, is yet further proof that the ICTY is not a real court, it's alleged soundness notwithstanding. Tudjman is on record saying to his underlings that they aimed with Operation Storm to deal a blow to the Serbs of Croatia that they could never recover from. Izetbegovic personally toured the Tarcin silos camp in the environs of Sarajevo (Hadzici), in which hundreds of ethnic Serbs were tortured, abused, and some murdered.

Since you don't know about the Tarcin camp, here's a clip in English:

Here's one in Serbian:

Another camp in Sarajevo in which Serb civilians were held, tortured, and murdered, the Viktor Bubanj camp (it's all in Serbian):

Anonymous said...

I've never heard of a credible attempt of attempted genocide. Genocide is the sort of crime that is so massive, so distributed, that it must occur in large part for it to be identified as such and its identification requires synthesis of a wide collection of material, from documents and recordings, to forensic evidence, in order to infer the intent and demonstrate an extent that would "rise up" to genocide. That simply doesn't exist in this case. Srebrenica is taken to be genocide because "the Muslims of Srebrenica" are the protected group, but never in the last 100 years has the male population of a town been taken to be the "protected group" of genocide. It has always been the entire population within the power of the state allegedly perpetrating genocide.

That is why listing the 8000 dead of Srebrenica (and not even going into how these people were all killed, i.e. how many were killed during flight vs. how many were executed after capture) as a genocide alongside the Holocaust (6 million), Armenian genocide (1.5 million), Serbian genocide (750,000), Porajmos (500,000), or Rwanda (800,000) sounds so stupid. Because it is stupid. No, actually, it's propaganda.

Owen said...

Anonymous, I know about Tarcin, I don't deny atrocities perpetrated against Serbs and I see no distinction between civilian victims. But the time that anyone spends in discussing particular aspects of a very broad picture like the Bosnian war is inevitably a matter of rationing. There's the question of proportion - the relative scale of the crimes. There's the issue of significance - the implications of the intent behind the crimes. And then there's the matter of circumstance - how much one gets sucked into arguments that start from a denial of the basic reality.

Serbia and the Bosnian Serb Presidency set out to establish an ethnically homogeneous domain in the strategically crucial frontier area of the Drina Valley. That was achieved by the ethnic cleansing of the Drina Valley in 1992 and the subsequent elimination of the remaining Bosniak enclaves.

When the men and older boys were eliminated - and the intention was to eliminate them, why else murder all your prisoners and then conceal their graves? - the basis for the continued existence of the Bosniak population of the Drina Valley was destroyed. The forcible transfer of the women and children did not open up any meaningful prospect of that situation ever being reversed.

Who is to know whether the elimination of the population would have been taken to its completion if the international community's capacity for inaction hadn't been carefully calculated.

The actions of Serbia and the Bosnian Serb Presidency were taken under the ideological cloak of defending the interests of the Serb people. As a result it is only too easy to end up abbreviating reference to the perpetrators as "the Serbs" without clearly specifying a reference to prime movers and the mass of their supporters and fellow-travellers.

Falling into that error is made too likely when, the majority of the time, engaging with Serbs like yourself on the subject results in denial of responsibility and efforts to shift responsibility to someone else.

Lemkin, who coined the word genocide, understood that it was too late when you punished a completed genocide. That was the reason for including the partial destruction of the group in the definition of the crime.

The Krstic Trial and Appeal decisions examined the legal basis for the finding very carefully. The ICJ then re-examined the ICTY findings and confirmed them. That's a very high hill of legal argument to climb if you want to refute the finding of genocide, and the place you have to start is with refuting the evidence and then the legal argument.

If all you do is revive arguments that have been considered and rejected, all you are doing is pursuing an extrajudicial line of defence, encouraging the perpetrators' ideological sympathisers to consider themselves ill-served by the rule of law and prejudicially treated.

You're talking about the findings of the highest fora of international law. It's your opinion that these courts indulge themselves in stupidity and propaganda. That's your opinion, only you know where it comes from.

Anonymous said...

Again, we see minimization and denial. I think the Tarcin camp and the Viktor Bubanj camp were crucial during the war. The fact that camps in Sarajevo, camps that Alija Izetbegovic and other top Muslim politicians visited, were not the subject of ICTY indictments and trials, is proof (to me) that there was an attempt here to cover up Izetbegovic's and the Bosnian Muslim leadership's criminality. How else to explain this? In what sense were the Muslim detention camps nicer localities than the Serb detention camps? And who is to infer intent and a priori justify or condemn the accused prior to filing the indictment, so that the Muslims conveniently evade any sort of responsibility for their atrocities?

It is nonsense to say that there was a genocide in Podrinje hatched up by Serbia and the Bosnian Serbs. Any reasonable person would laugh at that. If that were the case, Serbia would first take care to commit genocide over the Muslims of Sandzak, because this region was indeed restive, bordered on eastern Bosnia, and was the home of many of the ideological proponents of the Muslims in Bosnia, including Ejup Ganic and Sefer Halilovic and even of some of the thug war criminals like Zulfikar Alispago and Ramiz Delalic. No such operation in Serbia ever happened. There was no genocide of Muslims in Serbia, there wasn't even an expulsion of Muslims out of Serbia.

As for genocide by the Bosnian Serbs in Podrinje, that is equally ridiculous. If genocide was the intent, it would have started with wholesale massacres of everyone they could get their hands on in 1992 onwards. While there were indeed massacres throughout Bosnia (not just Podrinje and not just by the Serb side), we see no evidence of an attempt by any party to exterminate the other. You cannot imply from the events of Srebrenica 1995 that this reflects in any way on the earlier events or contemporaneous events elsewhere. Indeed, if that were so, one would expect wholesale massacres in Zepa as well, and that absolutely did not occur. The elimination, as you put it, could not be taken to completion, because it wasn't even initiated. Partial eliminations cannot be distinguished from atrocities without genocidal intent. Nobody in their right mind would argue that the My Lai massacre by US soldiers in Vietnam constituted a genocide, quite simply because there was no intent by the state to eliminate Vietnamese people as such and the scope and extent of the atrocity was rather limited.

Anonymous said...

Now, it is clear to me that you have basically memorized and are currently parroting ICTY judgments back at me, and if I was interested in *their* interpretation, I would have read their judgments. As it is, they are a political organ, a wing of NATO, and I find their work to be of limited value. There is some value, as an organization that specializes in publicizing atrocities by Serbs against others, but in terms of effecting justice for all or reconciliation, it has fallen flat on its face. In its zeal to condemn the political leadership of the Bosnian Serbs (and I do leave Biljana Plavsic out of it, because she was indeed nutty and worthy of all condemnation) and of Serbia itself, they have concocted a specious construction: the joint criminal enterprise. In the place of documents and witnesses testifying to top-down orders, the ICTY has seen fit to adjudicate high level politicians on the basis of their being tangentially affiliated (same side in the war) with low level individuals who perpetrated the atrocities. That sort of reasoning would lead to George Bush and indeed Barrack Obama having to sit in The Hague for atrocities by US occupation forces against Iraqis. Indeed, it would also send Tony Blair and Gordon Brown to the docket as well. While I think the latter are accountable for initiating and perpetuating aggression against Iraq, I do not think any of them ordered the commission of atrocities such as those at Abu Ghraib and Mahmudiya.

I do not believe in a "judicial" approach to the events of the former Yugoslavia. Therefore I take the ICTY's views on genocide as pretty much worthless. I look on genocide as a historical phenomenon, and it can be characterized as such by careful analysis of the history, without any intervention by a so-called court to give it the title of genocide. The Holocaust would have been genocide regardless of Nuremberg's findings on it. I know what genocide is from prior cases: pre-WWI: Herero of Namibia; WWI: Armenians, Assyrians of the Ottoman Empire; WWII: Jews and Roma of most of Europe and Serbs of Croatia and Bosnia; post-WWII: Tutsi of Rwanda and arguably Hutu of Burundi), so I have no need for ICTY assistance in discerning whether or not there was a genocide in Srebrenica. By comparing it to other phenomena I do know were genocide, I can immediately discern that Srebrenica 1995 was not genocide and that it doesn't even come close. It fails to match up with the other cases in very many ways, from the much lower number of victims (on the order of 3-4 orders of magnitude less), to the clear restriction to the male population (largely but not exclusively those of fighting age), to the prior context of Srebrenica before 1995 (Naser Oric and all those atrocities you never talk about), to the paucity of documentation attesting to intent, to the confinement of the events to one and only one particular town.

Alan Jakšić said...

Commentators, I'm closing this thread to further comments. Apologies if you wanted to express additional opinions! Feel free to comment elsewhere on my blog. Regards!