Thursday, March 01, 2007

"Fools' Crusade" Chapter Four [10]

CHAPTER FOUR: THE MAKING OF EMPIRES


THE PIED PIPERS OF FRANKFURT

Here's how this section begins:

"To pursue a Balkan policy so similar to that of the Third Reich, Germany had to convince itself and others that it was doing quite the contrary."

Even though the last section made the comparisons between Germany in the 1990s and the Third Reich explicit, I am still stunned that this is the benchmark she is setting. This is beyond hyperbole and even gross exaggeration; this is delusional.

And yet, she doesn't stop--she portrays the rise of the Green party as a smokescreen to hide Germany's Prussian militaristic heart from "the Russians and other victims of Nazi aggression" so that they would agree to German reunificiation. This obsession with past wrongs--and the assumption that later generations assume the guilt for the sins of their ancestors--explains a lot about her worldview.

She follows with a brief synopsis of the career of Green leader Joschka Fischer, who came to the party from a rather more revolutionary and militant far-left background. And was willing to make the sort of compromises necessary in order to hold high office. There might very well be something sinister in his rise to power, but her relentless focus on Fischer (who we've met before in the book) is absurd.

Then comes this quote:

"In 1994, the conflict in Bosnia took a new turn. Secretly armed by Islamic countries and supported diplomatically by the United States, the Bosnian Muslims were on the offensive in Bosnia itself, although the media studiously ignored Muslim attacks or military advances."

I remember CNN showing live footage of Bosnian Army movements during the failed offensive aimed at breaking out of Sarajevo. I don't know which media studiously ignored Bosnian Army activities during any part of the war, but it wasn't the Western broadcast media Johnstone loves to rail against.

Her gross exaggeration of the extent of Bosnian successes in 1994 is matched by the disproportionate emphasis she gives to the foreign mujahideen and their contributions to Bosnian military successes. I don't mean to discount their activities, neither their genuine military successes or the brutality of their means. I'm in record in this blog as disapproving of both the actions of the Islamist volunteers and the lax oversight the SDA-led government exercised over them. But the implication that they were somehow crucial to a mostly mythical change in military fortune is all out of scale to their true impact on events. They were a serious moral flaw in the Bosnian Government's cause. Johnstone studiously ignores the plank in her own eye while returning again and again to this splinter.

She goes on to imply that the siege of Sarajevo was not a siege at all (she is less explicit on this point than Michael Parenti), but rather a cynical facade maintained by the government in order to solicit Western sympathy. She then states that in 1994 "the Bosnian Serbs were on the defensive and more disposed than the Muslims to make peace," at which point we can safely assume that the reality train has left the station and left our dear Ms. Johnstone behind. There are grains of small truths and stray facts scattered throughout this giant edifice of distortion and deliberately myopic misrepresentations of ephemeral moments as fundamental shifts, but not nearly enough to justify such a wrong-headed interpretation of events.

One either gets it or one doesn't. For all her obsessive attention to detail when it suits her motives, Johnstone tends to lob statements like that without citation or elaboration. Her ideal reader won't know any better, or won't want to. The rest of us can only stare in disbelief.

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I've been out of town for a few days. This is the final section of Part One, but rather than rush through the rest I'll return to it tomorrow. I want to get this review back on track and finish Chapter Four in the next few days.

2 comments:

Owen said...

Has there been a peep out of her since the ICJ verdict?

Kirk Johnson said...

I'm looking. No luck so far. Of course, she has apparently managed to avoid learning that there have been Croats and Bosniaks tried and convicted at the Hague as well, so her silence should not be surprising.