Saturday, July 07, 2007

"To Kill A Nation" by Michael Parenti [14]



After three pages of "context," Parenti is finally ready to discuss contemporary events. Sort of.

"Between 1991 and 1995, the army of the newly proclaimed Croatian republic conducted its own ethnic cleansing operation, replete with rapes, summary executions, and indiscriminate shelling, driving over half a million Serbs from their ancestral homes in Croatia, including an estimated 225,000 Serbs from Krajina in August 1995 during what was called "Operation Storm." The resistance of the Krajina Serbs was broken with assistance from NATO war planes and missiles. "We have resolved the Serbian question," crowed Tudjman in a speech to his generals."

This paragraph is all the space that Parenti devotes, out of nine pages, to the four years of actual military conflict on Croatian soil during those four years. That's it. No mention of Vukovar, Dubrovnik, or of the actions and policies of the breakaway Knin regime. This paragraph is all we get.

He devotes roughly the same amount of space to the revival of the kuna as the unit of currency (after claiming that the new government was "set up with the help of NATO's guns") and the checkerboard emblem, which he falsely describes as a Ustashe symbol, even though he then acknowledges that the design was a traditional Croat design. The Ustashe, it should be noted, added a large "U" to that design. He is correct that the revival of such symbols, combined with the sinister and vulgar rhetoric coming out of Zagreb, was certain to send ominous signals to non-Croats (primarily Serbs) in Croatia; were his account not so one-sided and myopic he might have created the opportunity for substantive debate rather than hysterical incitement.

And so it goes; a dreary accounting of some of the gruesome and despicable acts of Tudjman's regime and it's heinous appeals to implicitly or even explicitly fascist sentiment. All of which deserve serious attention, but in a measured, balanced fashion. Parenti mixes various ugly details without discrimination or context. He makes claims such as "Serb-hating was abundantly evident during Tudjman's reign," a typical example of Parenti's tendency to wallow in rhetorically heated phraseology.

In the end, Parenti implies that Tudjman was a tool of Western financial powers, who gutted his own economy and poisoned his society with resurgent fascism, leaving his nation an economic and social wreck with nothing to show but the blood on its hands. People who have visited the Croatia of today might have a very hard time recognizing the country they see with the grotesque nation of Parenti's imagination. And concerned observers who would like to focus more attention on the sins of the HDZ during the war most likely will wish Parenti had turned down the intensity of his outrage a few notches, so that the rest of us can hear ourselves think.

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