CHAPTER SEVEN: REPUBLIKA SRPSKA: DEMOCRACY, NATO STYLE
This is the somewhat infamous chapter in which Parenti argues that the Republika Srpska was the unwitting victim of a Western capitalist plot to destroy a legitimate, democratic and socialist state. By this point in the book, it is clear that Parenti is either a pathological liar or, more probably, a classic case of the "true believer" who filters all received information through a dogmatically ideological preconception.
It is instructive to read this book in tandem with Samantha Powers' A PROBLEM FROM HELL--Powers' impassioned but also well-researched book exposes the myopic and cramped vision that Balkan revisionists present. The information needed to expose the lies of Parenti, Johnstone, and company is voluminous and readily available. Her chapter on Bosnia relies on plentiful information, data, and testimonial which collectively make a mockery of Parenti's paranoid and simplistic fairy-tale about a sinister and well-executed Western plot to destroy Yugoslavia. The true story, course, is that the US government, under two Presidents--one from each party--was desperate to stay out of Bosnia and mostly managed to do so for several years. The facts, and vast bulk of documentation available to any person even mildly curious about the war, are clear. In order to avoid the obvious conclusion, one must refuse to see what is clearly there.
Therefore, there is little point in wasting time refuting the minutiae in Parenti's screed. I will briefly summarize the contents of this truly insane chapter with only a couple of comments.
The reader cannot claim, at the outset of this chapter, that he or she was not warned--Parenti writes that:
"Gregory Elich provides an excellent and well-documented account of the Western colonialist rule imposed on Republika Srpska. What follows is drawn almost entirely from his writing."
As always, the Balkan revisionists are a self-contained, self-referential closed loop. Don't worry, it isn't all Elich in this chapter--our good friend Diana Johnstone gets quoted more than once, as well.
In Parenti's world, Radovan Karadzic is a misunderstood and tragic figure; a well-meaning champion of minority rights and a victim of a smear campaign by Western capitalists. His crime, as it turns out, was that:
"...although Karadzic was not a Communist, he appointed many Communist and leftist officers because they were his most capable military men, and they shared his anti-separatist goal."
Well, that's one way to put it, I suppose. In Parenti's telling Karadzic was brushed aside by NATO in favor of Biljana Plavsic, whom he dismisses as "a right-wing monarchist", who would prove more compliant with the demands of the free-marketers. Karadzic was "now branded as a war criminal" (as if he weren't already). Parenti is not content to merely whitewash Karadzic's actual war crimes out of existence, he goes one further and writes:
"Although sent down the Orwellian memory hole, Karadzic was still at large and being hunted by Western intelligence agents as of 2000."
Now that we've all shed a tear for Radovan Karadzic (mysteriously, Parenti has a not a word in defense of that good leftist anti-separatist military officer Ratko Mladic), we move on to more ranting about Plavsic's purge of 'leftists' from the Western colony of RS and the maneuvering to place OSCE approved politicians in positions of power, all in the name of dismantling the worker's paradise of Republika Srpska. Parenti and Elich's complaints about the unconstitutional nature of such moves appears to be genuine--they seem to regard the RS as a legitimate state conceived under normal circumstances, it's internal affairs no concern to the international community.
The entire chapter essentially makes the same 'point' over and over again--the moves to hold war criminals accountable for their actions and to oust nationalists from positions of power and influence were all just a front, a Trojan Horse allowing capitalists to destroy an free, democratic, and socialist economy with impunity.
The NATO moves to shut down the RS police stations is regarded with all the horror and outrage you would expect--Parenti uses a quote from UN police spokesperson Liam McDowell--"We basically let them know what is expected of a normal police force; not a socialist police force..."--to alert the reader that free-market capitalism at the point of a gun, not war crimes, was the real motivator at work. But even if one acknowledges that the quote is not only genuine but really does convey the thrust of the move to take over the police stations, rather than being a throwaway line--so what? Does Parenti believe that a police force should be "socialist"? How would a police unit fight crime in a "socialist" manner? Are police in the USA generally "capitalist"?
The takeover of TV stations is cast in the same light--Parenti dismisses Western portrayals of the stations as being run by hardliners as complete piffle. At this point, Parenti and Elich have things so completely backwards one could write a chapter-length essay refuting the assumptions underlying almost any paragraph chosen at random. Comments such as:
"Under the guise of "democratic reform," foreign powers were dictating what the media could or could not say in their own nation."
both misrepresent the mandate of the forces attempting to create space for a secular, tolerant civil society to flourish away from the withering blizzard of nationalist bombast; and are completely disingenuous as far as accurately conveying the motives and actions of the supposed victims of these Western diktats.
There is more, but I assume the reader has had more than enough by this point. However, it is worth noting that Parenti makes dark and sinister claims about NATO which I suspect Johnstone, for one, would hesitate to state so baldly. Namely:
"Under the guise of hunting down war criminals, NATO continued to commit war crimes of its own, including kidnapping and assassination."
Yes, he really says "kidnapping" and "assassination." He recounts the arrests of several different war crimes suspects (these are the "kidnappings"), as well as a couple of attempted arrests which ended in gunfire, with the suspects dead "the "assassinations"). One telling detail--in his account of the arrest of Djordje Djukic and Aleksa Ksrmanovic (arrests which were certainly ambushes, a tactic which is not an uncommon law enforcement technique no matter how much outrage Parenti brings to the story), Parenti mentions that they were taken by "Bosnian Muslim soldiers" rather than Bosnian government soldiers, or even soldiers from the Muslim-Croat Federation. His choice to identify them by ethnicity rather than by their official provenance is telling.
And thus Parenti's story of the tragic debasement of RS ends--with its people reduced to colonial status, at the complete mercy of the Western imperialists, who had even cut the country in half by turning control of the Brcko corridor over to joint control. The irony of his outrage on this particular point would be laughable if it weren't so stupidly offensive on more levels than I have patience to articulate.
There is a boxed aside in this chapter, as well, entitled "Imperial Double Standards," and the reader can most likely guess the thrust of the piece with a reasonable degree of accuracy. Parenti complains that the US government is guilty of
"...characterizing Serb media as propaganda and tools of war (as if the US media weren't)..."
The rest of this short piece is equally sophomoric and crude. Parenti is preaching to very devoted and uncritical choir.