Tuesday, June 26, 2007

"To Kill A Nation" by Michael Parenti [9]



For the record, the closing paragraph of my previous post was not strictly accurate--Parenti does acknowledge the distinction between ethnic nationalism and, if not exactly civic nationalism, at least the notion of sovereignty as being predicated on geopolitical entities:

"The separatist movements in Slovenia, Croatia, and Bosnia revived Serbian nationalists' dream of a nation-state, as promoted by those who believed that self-determination belongs to ethnic nationalities not to republics or federations."

That sentence, for all its faults, at least gives the illusion that Parenti is not taking sides or serving as a mouthpiece for the aims of hardline Serb nationalists. Such flawed but at least ostensibly even-handed objectivity proves to be an illusion, however.

Slovene independence, we are told, was the wedge that broke up the rest of Yugoslavia. Parenti is all-too casual with the facts here:

"Secession for Croatia proved more difficult. Fighting between Croats and the large Serbian population that had lived in Croatia for centuries reached intensive levels and lasted several years."

First, there is no mention of war crimes committed by the Knin regime. Second, Parenti, like Johnstone and other revisionists, loves to point to German and American recognition for Slovenia, Croatia, and Bosnia, but neglect to mention that the United Nations itself also recognized all of the newly independent republics of Yugoslavia.

More importantly, note how the language of collectivism creeps into the text--the fighting is not between the armed forces of the breakaway Krajina republic and the Croatian army, but between "Croats" and the "Serbian population." The masses act as a single unit, indistinguishable from the actions of their leadership.

In the same paragraph (this chapter is the shortest history of the Yugoslav wars you will ever read), Parenti goes on to decry the actions of Operation Storm. I will not defend the atrocities carried out against the Krajina Serbs in 1995; since Parenti, like Johnstone, has not another word to say about their fate after their flight, and since he exaggerates the death tolls by implication (his book is remarkably bereft of hard data and footnotes compared to "Fools' Crusade"), it is safe to assume that his concern has little to do with outrage and simple compassion; this is simply a propaganda weapon to use against the US.

He gives Macedonia all of two sentences, yet still manages to misrepresent reality.

"Spurred by US support, its independence may be something less than complete, given the US troop occupation that Macedonia has had to accept."

What is significant about this statement is not the fact that the presence of 300 US peacekeepers along the Macedonian-Serbian border is characterized as an "occupation." Such dishonesty and hyperbole is to be expected from a book like this. Rather, we see that Parenti's tendency to see the people of the Balkans and their political leadership as being helpless pawns in the hands of the West, no matter what. The fact that Macedonian president Gligorov was actually a pretty astute leader who played a weak hand as well as he could, and managed to take his ethnically divided, landlocked republic (surrounded by unfriendly, or at least unsupportive, states) out of Yugoslavia without descending into war and chaos should evoke at least a small degree of separation. But Parenti cannot conceive that the people of Yugoslavia were in any way responsible for, or capable of, controlling their own destiny.

His "history" of Bosnia's war is equally brief and selective with the facts. Bosnian revisionists often twist the chronology of events in order to uncover post de facto "proof."

"It is a matter of public record that the CIA fueled the Bosnian conflict. Consider these headlines: the Manchester Guardian, November 17 1994: "CIA Agents Training Bosnian Army", the London Observer, November 20 1994: "America's Secret Bosnian Agenda", the European, November 25 1994: "How The CIA Helps Bosnia Fight Back."

[As always, underline text in quoted sections was italicized in the orginal.]

Thus, events from 1994 and 1995 somehow "prove" the true instigator of a war that was already several years along.

Parenti then quotes Charles Boyd--approvingly and in agreement--who makes a statement as shocking in its dishonesty as it is callous and indifferent to the reality he is covering up:

"Charles Boyd, former deputy commander of the US European command, commented: "The popular image of this war [in Croatia] is one of unrelenting Serb expansion. Much of what the Croatians call 'the occupied territories' is land that has been held by Serbs for more than three centuries. The same is true of most Serb land in Bosnia--what the Western media frequently refer to as the 70 per cent of Bosnia seized by rebel Serbs. In short the Serbs were not trying to conquer new territory, but merely to hold onto what was already theirs." As a result of the war, Serbian land holdings in Bosnia were reduced from 65 to 43 per cent."

Where does one begin? Boyd seems to be living in the Dark Ages, where land is "held" by tribal groups as a collective. This idea that land was being "held" in a modern nation-state by homogeneous social collective united by blood and religion is almost as troubling as his complete disregard for fundamental facts--how does he square his assertion that 'the Serbs' "held" 70 percent of Bosnia prior to the war? How does one define "held." It is true that the Muslims were more urbanized and therefore were the predominant group in a proportionately smaller part of Bosnia, but 70% is simply an outrageous figure even if Jones is only arguing for a simple majority in a municipality. These are basic, easily verifiable demographic facts that Jones and Parenti simply ignore. The crudeness of the lie is stunning.

Even darker is this--once you have asserted that an ethnic group in a modern nation-state "held" 70% of the land, the next question is how did they "hold" it? What demographic realities verified that a given geopolitical subunit of Bosnia was "held" by the Serbs?

Important questions--which Parenti ignores completely.

We will conclude this chapter in the next post.

1 comment:

acadia said...

Parenti's claim: "The separatist movements in Slovenia, Croatia, and Bosnia revived Serbian nationalists' dream of a nation-state, as promoted by those who believed that self-determination belongs to ethnic nationalities not to republics or federations."

- Absolutely wrong. Long before Bosniak and Croat separatist parties came to power, Serbs had already had a plan in place for creation of Greater Serbia. This plan has been summarized in Načertanije (in 1844) by Ilija Garašanin. As you know, up until the middle of the 19th century, all people of Bosnia considered themselves to be Bosniaks. So we had Muslim Bosniaks, Catholic Bosniaks, Eastern Orthodox Bosniaks. In this document, Ilija Garasanin talks about the need to convert Orthodox Bosniaks to Serbs so he could achieve his goal easier. His appetite for melting Bosnia into Serbia is evident in his need of joining Bosnia to Serbia so all Serbs would live in one state. The problem of Muslims could be easily solved by converting them to Christianity etc.

So Parentis claims are nothing but "blowing the air."