Monday, October 23, 2006

"Fools' Crusade" Chapter Two [26]

Johnstone's Srebrenica revisionism is based on "a number of factors [which] should be taken into account."


This claim is not new, nor is it original to Johnstone. Still, it is instructive to note how clumsily she wields her selective information.

"Common sense would suggest that a "safe area" in wartime must be demilitarized. In reality, these were all Muslim-held towns and the Muslims refused to demilitarize them."

Common sense might also suggest that a "safe area" ought to be somewhat "safe." As for her call for demilitarization, this is not the first time in the book that Johnstone has harped on this point, but she has yet to explain why the burden of demilitarizing should be on one side only; the reason these towns were "Muslim-held" was because, in most cases, they were where all the Muslims had been driven to.

"All were used by Muslim forces as safe bases, from which to attack the Serbs. The UN protection force (UNPROFOR) ensured safe transit to the "safe areas" of food shipments and other provisions from international charitable organizations. The Serbs suspected--correctly--that these shipments were also used to smuggle weapons. From the Serb viewpoint, the "safe areas" were a fraud, a disguised form of aid to the Muslim side."

By this point in the book, I am so used to her anthropamorphizing the collective entity of "the Serbs" and other ethnic groups that I no longer take note of it that much. In this passage, however, we see this tendency operating at an extreme degree; Muslim forces weren't using "safe bases" to attack Serbian military positions or Serbian villages--they were attacking "the Serbs."

Also worth attention--Johnstone dryly noting that UNPROFOR "ensured safte transit" for food and other supplies. I'm pretty sure that you could create a word processing template for UNPROFOR soildiers who want to write memoirs of their time in Bosnia; a helpful feature would be to include a hotkey for the phrase "Bosnian Serb forces refused to let us through the checkpoint again today." It would save a lot of repetitive typing.

The second and final paragraph briefly mentions the April 1993 situation in Srebrenica, when Serb forces halted their offensive under international pressure. It is common knowledge--despite the ominous tones of conspiracy afoot that she typically employs yet again--that the "demilitarization" of Srebrenica was never fulfilled; the Bosnian Army continued to operate there, and not all the civilians in the enclave disarmed, either. We are so far from reality that pointing out--again--the essentially defensive position the Bosnian forces were in is really pointless.

Once again, on those sporadic occassions when Johnstone happens to have at least some of the facts on her side--yes, the Muslims in Bosnia tried to drag UNPROFOR forces into a showdown with Serb forces; yes, the Bosnian Army carried out forays into Serb-controlled areas around Srebrenica--her glee is almost palpable.

One last point--in the frist paragraph, Johnstone gives the population numbers for each of the safe areas:

"Six so-called "safe areas" were set up by the United Nations in April and May 1993: Bihac (200,00 inhabitants), Goradze (60,000 inhabitants), Sarajevo (380,000 inhabitants), Tuzla (130,000 inhabitants, swollen by refugees), Zepa (12,000 inhabitants), and Srebrenica (an enclave with 44,000 Muslims, the Serb inhabitants having fled in 1992)."

Even while giving something as basic as popultation figures, she finds a way to distort and mislead. Tuzla was "swollen by refugees," but there isn't a hint that the population of Srebrenica was several times it prewar total. All we know is that Serb inhabitants had fled; that they were fleeing from a huge influx of terrorized refugees must have slipped her mind.

No comments: