Thursday, September 07, 2006

"Fools' Crusade" Chapter One [17]

IDEALS VERSUS FACTS

The idealization of Bosnia that bothers Johnstone so much was primarily guilty, in her mind, of creating a false Bosnia, a mulitcultural Eden (she actually uses that exact phrase somewhere in the book) led by the saintly Izetbegovic (ditto THAT phrase) and his immaculately secular SDA, residing in the tolerant paradise of Sarajevo.

Did I mention Johnstone likes to joust with strawmen?

Having already denied that Sarajevo had been under seige during the war (in that case, I should have simply rented a car at the time, and driven in to see the place for myself!), she also makes the rather remarkable claim that the Serb neighborhoods in the hills (which had, by and large, 'become' Serb after the outbreak of the war) suffered the same deprivations as the Muslim neighborhoods in the central part of the city (the old Turkish sector had been mainly Muslim, but other than that the central part had been just as mixed as the suburbs prior to hostilities).

She also claims that the fact that the three nationalist parties (SDA, SDS, and HDZ) received 90% of the vote in 1990 somehow indicates that Sarajevo was actually a very divided city. That those election results were a reflection of the unstable and fearful political situation in 1990, and not a reflection of, say, complext historical and social factors, seems to be beyond her capacity to understand.

She even insinuates that Bosnian soldiers deliberately made it unsafe for journalists to stay in the Serb-controlled suburb of Ilidza and then forced them to stay, for the rest of the war, in the Holiday Inn in the government-controlled part of town. Bosnian soldiers didn't even control access to the airport, yet they were somehow able to control Western access to the Serb side of the front lines. It only sounds ridiculous if you believe that Sarajevo was, as every available fact demonstrates, under seige and surrounded by Bosnian Serb forces. The Johnstone who writes this:

"The "Sarajevo" on the world's television screens was the Muslim center of the city. The Serbian suburbs, whose inhabitants were undergoing the same fears and deprivations, became invisible."

clearly is not burdened by such knowledge.

She goes on to point at the Croat extremist breakaway republic of Herceg-Bosna, the regrettable existance of which somehow is supposed to undercut the legitimacy of Western criticism of Republika Srpska and its campaign of ethnic cleansing in northern and eastern Bosnia. Like any good conspiracy theorist, Johnstone ignores the forest in order to look at the weeds.

And then she returns to Rieff, who she fancies has been made a fairly ridiculous figure by now. All the better--if you have discredited the messenger, the message becomes easier to denounce. And the message to be denounced is this: that there was genocide occuring in Bosnia in the 1990s. Johnstone will deny that genocide occured in two ways; she will lie about the body count, and she will attempt to change the very definition of the term.

4 comments:

Anonymous said...
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Kirk Johnson said...

OK, maybe my "open door" policy on comments needs to be revisited. I hate to censor, but if I continue getting spam like this--and that's what it most assuredly is, please don't waste your time clicking on that link--I might have to.

Which is a shame, since I wanted my blog to be a place where people felt free to let it all hang out. We'll see.

Srebrenica Massacre said...

Censorship sucks, but it has to be done sometimes, such as the case of spam. There is a solution to this problem, just configure that all comments be pre-moderated. THis way you can accept or reject them,, and you don't have to waste time chasing spammers on each and every article that you post. So, pre-moderate comments, get rid of spam easy.

Kirk Johnson said...

I might try that. I don't want to scare away 'anonymous' posters who might think I won't post their comments anyway. But I hate spam, and I don't want it.