Wednesday, May 02, 2007

"Fools' Crusade" Chapter Five [19]

CHAPTER FIVE: THE NEW IMPERIAL MODEL


4. DEMOCRACY IN THE NEW WORLD ORDER

I don't like sanctimony in any form, so I will concede Johnstone's right to make the following comparison:

"Just as the medieval Crusades were proclaimed from churches, the 1999 crusade against the Serbs was proclaimed from the holiest of contemporary sites, the Holocaust Museum in Washington, by James Hooper, executive director of the Balkan Action Council."

I will only ask the reader to ponder that sentence for a moment. Reflect on the true nature of the Crusades. Consider the motivations behind them. Call to mind the disastrous and violent consequences on not only Muslims, but also Eastern Christians and Jews. And then read that sentence again. Ask yourself what sort of person would engage in such grotesque hyperbole.

If you, the reader, honor my above requests, you will have given this metaphor much more serious thought and honest reflection than Johnstone obviously did--she moves right along as if this incredulous, shameless parallel needs no qualification or substantiation. My previous post made note of how unremittingly hateful and vile the tone of Chapter Five had become. The bile seems to permeated all her faculties--here, near the end of her book, any pretense to balance and fair-minded concern for the welfare and safety of all Balkan peoples has been abandoned. This book, championed by Edward Herman as the work of a preeminent left-liberal commentator on the Balkans, finishes as a race-obsessed, conspiracy-minded screed against just about anybody and everybody non-Serb.

But anyway--the ostensible point of this section is the allegedly bogus nature of the democracy being supported in the former Yugoslavia by the West. She quotes the above-mentioned James Hooper in order to show that the West was really out to replace Milosevic by extreme measures, as a way to discredit his regime and, you might be sure, the socialist system.

That this was all a plot and not an even semi-sincere effort to rid Serbs of a noxious dictator is clear to Johnstone, as she points out in this quote:

"Had Milosevic been a genuine dictator, he would simply have arrested dissidents and stayed in office."

Is it any surprise that Johnstone dropped hints in the previous chapter that she considered the "takeover" of East Germany by West Germany to have been unfair and unjust?

It is not enough to glibly claim that Milosevic was a democrat; she needs to smear the actual democratic opposition in Serbia, as well. Once again, Johnstone the pro-Serbian Nationalist is a piss-poor friend to actual Serbs. She derides Zoran Djindjic as "notoriously opportunistic and unpopular" and portrays the idealistic Serbian youth movement Otpor as simplistic tools of of the West. That Otpor could have been both a simplistic movement accepting aid from the West and a legitimate voice of Serbian youth is, apparently, not a possibility.

So when Milosevic tried to hold on to power after his electoral failure versus Kostunica, this was all just cynical Western ploys to stage an unnecessary overthrow in order to justify the subsequent handover of Milosevic to the Hague by the Kostunica government. The same free and fair election which Milosevic did so well in was, apparantly, open to manipulation by the West.

The situation was more complicated than I am allowing here, no doubt. I have no doubt that there is a kernel of truth to many of the allegations she makes; armed gangs bused in to storm the parliament building, etc. But it hardly matters--she has no use for nuance and balance, so why bother trying to engage her warped and biased views in honest debate? There was much violence and uncertainty during the overthrow of Milosevic, and many of the actors on both sides were undoubtedly unscrupulous. One can acknowledge such details by way of adding the complexity, or selectively marshal them as a way to discredit the truth altogether. Guess which approach she takes?

So the moral of this final section is this--Milosevic was a democrat who was betrayed by a weary populace no longer willing or able to stand up to Western imperialists, stripped of power by a Western-backed opponent who controlled the streets with a pseudo-movement of callow youths fed on superficial Western iconography and monetary support, and finally turned over to international justice as a scapegoat so that his nation might appear sufficiently contrite. The idea that the man who controlled Serbia's formidable police and security apparatus was a helpless victim of spray paint-wielding youths would be laughable if Johnstone didn't seem so dourly earnest about it. She truly believes the man was a martyr.

And so Chapter Five--and this book, except for the 10-page postscript--end with this nauseating bit of drama:

"It was not enough to bomb Serbia and detach part of its territory. The Serbian people must be made to believe--or to pretend to believe--that they deserved it. The crime must be made to fit the punishment in the New World Order."

Johnstone's contempt for ordinary people and for the messy ambiguities of real life are mind-numbing. I did not quote the comparison between the fate of Milosevic and Romanian dictator Nicolae Ceaucescu, another socialist who was betrayed by a bogus mob. It's no use trying to guess at her motivations for sympathizing with such monsters. If you have been following my review of this book even superficially, you will be all to aware of what dark and nihilistic views are inevitable when one follows such twisted logic.

9 comments:

Daniel said...

"I will only ask the reader to ponder that sentence for a moment. Reflect on the true nature of the Crusades. Consider the motivations behind them. Call to mind the disastrous and violent consequences on not only Muslims, but also Eastern Christians and Jews. And then read that sentence again. Ask yourself what sort of person would engage in such grotesque hyperbole."

She is comparing barbarian standards of "Crusaders" (when Jerusalem was captured in 1099) with the standards of modern UN-led society in 1999. I mean, how can anyone with a right mind aply unrelated standards of 1099 to the standards of modern time (1999)? Her statement is so unreasonable; no wonder she is a silly lonely old grandma.

"Had Milosevic been a genuine dictator, he would simply have arrested dissidents and stayed in office."

What dissidents? During the war, Serbia spoke with "one voice" - both Milosevic and his opposition supported the war in Bosnia. As a result, Serbia got isolated. People got tired of politics that already achieved its objectives (e.g. completion of ethnic cleansing and creation of Republika Srpska) so youth demonstrated in front of the Milosevic' office and finally handed him over to the ICTY.

Kirk Johnson said...

I disagree that there were no dissidents, although there is no doubt that at least some of the opposition to Milosevic was driven by the fact that he had lost wars, not that he had started them.

One book I'm curious to read is "With their Backs to the World," a study of modern Serbian society. I'd like to think there are some moderate Serbs out there willing to read my blog and respond, but I realize this is an unfortunately polarizing issue and that may be too much to hope for.

Daniel said...

"I disagree that there were no dissidents, although there is no doubt that at least some of the opposition to Milosevic was driven by the fact that he had lost wars, not that he had started them."

Well - I am sure there were some dissidents, but there was not a "huge" number of dissidents, you know what I mean bro? Consider the big number of anti-war "dissidents" in the US demonstrating against the war in Iraq, etc. There was no movement on a such a big scale in Serbia during the war(s).


"One book I'm curious to read is "With their Backs to the World," a study of modern Serbian society. I'd like to think there are some moderate Serbs out there willing to read my blog and respond, but I realize this is an unfortunately polarizing issue and that may be too much to hope for."

Listen, I met one Serb 2 weeks ago. He is from Herzegovina. We became very good friends. It is trully sad what happened in the Balkans, as we all seem to look the same and share similar culture. In some ways we are "same people" coming from different ethnic backgrounds. But nationalists have been destroying the beauty of multi-cultural society for decades already.

He seems to be more Bosnian than me. Hey, the guy even listens to Bosnian country music, *lol*. Anyways, the point is - I wish everyone all the best.

Yakima_Gulag said...

"I don't like sanctimony in any form, so I will concede Johnstone's right to make the following comparison:

"Just as the medieval Crusades were proclaimed from churches, the 1999 crusade against the Serbs was proclaimed from the holiest of contemporary sites, the Holocaust Museum in Washington, by James Hooper, executive director of the Balkan Action Council."

I will only ask the reader to ponder that sentence for a moment. Reflect on the true nature of the Crusades. Consider the motivations behind them. Call to mind the disastrous and violent consequences on not only Muslims, but also Eastern Christians and Jews. And then read that sentence again. Ask yourself what sort of person would engage in such grotesque hyperbole."

Sorry I'm with Daniel on this one..
At the time the Serbs were committing genocide, a call for armed action against them at the Holocaust Museum was in my opinion NOT sanctimonious at all, but totally appropriate.

I DO however agree that the Crusades should not have been dragged into the comparisons at any point.

I also want to get out my scythe or my Kalashnikov every time someone starts in about the so called 'New World Order'. It's become the right wing Anarchist catch-phrase of all time.

@Daniel, about your Hercegovinian Serb friend, I think most Bosnians are pretty distinctly Bosnian, whether they are Bosnian Muslim, Bosnian Serbs, or Bosnian Croats, linguistically and culturally the Bosnian Croats and Bosnian Serbs are closer culturally to Bosnia than to either Serbia or Croatia.
As for liking Bosnian 'country music' Well I like it too, pass the rakija! :)

Kirk Johnson said...

Yakima,

I didn't express myself very well on that point, so I understand the confusion.

I didn't mean that the comments from the Holocaust Memorial were santimonious, or that there was anything wrong about making those comments on behalf of the Holocaust Memorial--anything but, as a matter of fact. What better legacy for that institution than to educate and oppose all genocide at all places and times? I absolutely agree with you.

My poorly-phrased point was on that I think it would have been sanctimonious of ME to dismiss Johnstone's criticisms out of hand merely because she had invoked the Holocaust (yet again--notice how often she does this even though she criticizes Bosnian supporters for allegedly doing the same thing!).

Sorry for the confusion.

Yakima_Gulag said...

@Kirk, thanks for the clarification, you've undertaken a huge work to wade through that damned book and I appreciate that too!

I have been at pains locally to inform people of GOOD books to read about the Bosnian war, since in my small circle of local friends I'm the only one who knows much of anything about the war, or about ideological manipulation on the subject.

Shaina said...

lI am very glad that the Holocaust Museum took the moral intiative to speak out against the genocide in Bosnia. The Holocaust museum has been instrumental in speaking out against the genocide in Darfur; and it is obviously very appropriate for the Museum dedicated to the memory and historical facts of Holocaust; continue to try to make "never again" more of a reality.

Shaina said...

I'm always weary of Nazi analogies; comparing X dictator to Hiter; or X group to the Nazis.
First of all the analogies are often sloppily used; and abused without any real substance behind it.
Secondly, it seems to give the impression that only "Nazisesque" crimes are worthy of our intervention or even concern. That if some dictator isn't attempting for world domination, and the complete extermination of every man, woman, child than the atrocities that are happening are not worthy of our concern.

Shaina said...

"I have been at pains locally to inform people of GOOD books to read about the Bosnian war, since in my small circle of local friends I'm the only one who knows much of anything about the war, or about ideological manipulation on the subject."

Yakima; do you have any specific titles (written in English preferably) in mind? I've probably read most of the books out there; but in case there is a good book that I've neglected to read; I would like to read it.