Wednesday, September 06, 2006

"Fools' Crusade" Chapter One [14]

Having blamed the victim in the previous paragraph, Johnstone then glibly deals with the infamous--and still shadowy--meeting between Milosevic and Tudjman at Karadjordjevo, where the partition of Bosnia was most likely discussed. Her focus here isn't on the substance of the talks, or even the implications of the leaders of the two neighboring republics discussing Bosnia's fate in secret, but rather in defending the honor of Slobodan Milosevic by pointing out that it was Tudjman, not the Serbian leader, who claimed to have brought up the matter of partitioning Bosnia between Croatian and Serbia. (Not for the first time, Johnstone ignores Milosevic's penchant for engaging in deceit and playing his cards extremely close to his chest while keeping the dirty work at a distance; as always, she takes this sociopath at his word).

Having damned Tudjman for having proposed the partition of Bosnia, Johnstone promptly opines, in the very next paragraph, that doing so was a great idea:

"But if Yugoslavia was indeed "in a state of disintegration," what would have been so terrible about a negotiated territorial division between Croatia and Serbia to spare the people of Bosnia-Herzegovina the horrors of civil war? There had never in history been an independent Muslim Bosnia-Herzegovina."

You can get whiplash trying to follow Johnstone's train of thought sometimes, but let us try and keep up here. One wants to ask: How, exactly, was this territorial division of Bosnia to be achieved without some kind of civil war? Given the mixed demographics of the country, it would have been hard to draw a boundry acceptable to both Croat and Serb nationalists. And wasn't a division of Bosnia between Serbs and others the underlying theme of the bloody war that did occur in Bosnia?

While pondering the staggering number of problems such a proposal would entail, one runs the risk of skimming over that second sentence--but that would be a mistake, because it attempts to gloss over the ugly reality of this division she is advocating--there was no place for the Muslims of Bosnia.

I don't think Johnstone is ignorant of this point--she has pointed out before, and does so again in this very paragraph, that 'Muslim' was a recent national designation; she also repeats the lie that Bosnian Muslims are really just lapsed Serbs and/or Croats.

To be fair, she does go on to address the fate of Bosnia's Muslims if such a division were enacted, but her solution is a little strange:

"It would have required guaranteeing that the full religious freedom already enjoyed by Bosnian Muslims would be safeguarded--by no means a difficult matter."

Not a difficult matter, but certainly an almost irrelevant one--the Kosovar Albanians weren't being persecuted because they were predominantly Muslim, but because they were Albanian. The shift from ethnicity to religion is most likely no accident--Johnstone will use Islam as a stick with which to beat Bosnia's Muslim leadership.

I'll wrap up this post by discussing the sentence which follows the above quote:

"Serbs and Croats had no objection to living with Muslims as neighbors; their objections were to living as potentially second-class citizens of a Muslim state--another matter altogether."

{underlined text in the above quote italicized in original text}

The second half of this sentence somehow tries to spin the straw of bigoted invictive into the gold of respectable opinion; the specter of a fundamentalist theocracy being imposed by a nearly defenseless, deeply secularized population comprising less than half of the population somehow is transformed from hysterical hate-mongering to sensible public opinion. The insertion of the qualifying "potentially" is the closest shave with reality this clause contains.

The first half of this sentence? I mentioned that Karadzic has not made an appearance yet, and Plavsic never will; you could not discuss either one of them and still bring yourself to write such a whopper.

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