Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Srebrenica Memorial Quilt Visits US, Puts a Human Face on the Massacre

BOSFAM director Beba Hadzic brought the Srebrenica Memorial Quilt to the United States for a multi-city tour to reconnect with the Bosnian diaspora here.

Please see this story from AdvocacyNet for a detailed synopsis, as well as several links for further reading and donations.

Monday, March 09, 2009

Bosnian Women's Day--March 10, 2009

Courtesy of Advocacy Net, a story about a Capitol Hill ceremony for Bosnian Women's Day, featuring Beba Hadzic of BOSFAM.

I most likely will not be able to attend, but I encourage anyone in the DC area who is able to, to visit the webpage and RSVP Elmina Kulasic. If I am able to adjust my schedule, I will be there myself.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

"Americans For Bosnia" Turns Three Years Old Today

I'm not averse to patting myself on the back, now am I?

In some ways, it's hard to believe that I started this blog three years ago; I really had no idea what I was going to do with it or what point of view or agenda I would promote, other than a vague desire to be involved somehow with Bosnia and its cause. Over the first few months, I found that reviewing books from the vantage point of an informed, interested, but non-specialized general reader seems to be my forte in this regard. I may not be the guy who can best interpret the constitutional ramifications of Dodik's latest statements, but I do know how to approach the lies and deceptions of a Diana Johnstone from a casually-informed, non-academic standing.

I will continue to make that the main focus of this blog since there are many other people out there who have more expertise in the region, more personal/professional involvement, and there are others who do a much more thorough and timely job of following and commenting on news from the region. I will also continue to pass along any information I find timely or relevant, and any information, statements, or links which other people or organizations bring to my attention. And I will most certainly continue to use whatever little visibility I have to promote the work of other bloggers and writers who are fighting the good fight in or on behalf of southeast Europe.

It's been a pleasure to get to know the work of other concerned world citizens, and it's been an honor to get to know some of you through your work and by email. It has been heartening to know that I was not alone when I first reached out to fellow Western liberals and leftists, hoping to find that others shared my belief that something important and even fundamental to our way of life in the secular, democratic West was at stake in Bosnia. It has been humbling to see how passionate, involved, and informed so many of you are. Thank you to each and every person who has ever read this blog with appreciation or interest, commented on it, engaged me in conversation and debate, or simply taken the time to consider one of my posts.

Sudan leader faces Darfur war-crimes charges

Story here.

I will keep an eye on this story; hopefully this is the beginning of the long-overdue end to the nightmare in Darfur.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

"The Destruction of Yugoslavia" by Branka Magas--Part Five

Part Five: War (June-December 1991)


The nine articles collected in this final selection are impassioned pleas to a Europe that hadn't been paying attention and was callously drawing lazy conclusions about "ethnic wars," "ancient hatreds", and so on. Much of the material here is recycled, as Magas was trying desperately to reach anyone who would listen, and tell them what she had seen and learned in just over a decade of reporting and study. Reading this section now is painful, because as bad as things were at the end of 1991, the reader knows they were going to get worse, just as she predicts in one article after another. She knew that the war would spread to Bosnia, and she knew that the Greater Serb project was untenable.

Another tragedy in the making is that, in 1991, not only was it not too late for the international community to recognize the reality of the situation; there was still time to intervene in a way which might have aided the forces of democratization which were opposed to the Milosevic regime. The sad fact is that lazy, cynical generalizations about "ethnic hatreds" not only justified Western inaction, they demonized the very Serb citizens who were, by and large, either being dragged into a war they didn't want or at the very least blinded by nationalist propaganda and fear-mongering. At that point, it was not too late to reach out to ordinary Serbs, before years of war and isolation and finally the horrible prospect of facing the reality of what had been done in their name became too much to bear.

While the burden of suffering and the burden of guilt were distributed anything but equally throughout the former Yugoslavia, the tragedy of the death of Federal Yugoslavia was shared by all. The articles in this book are a valuable source of first-hand reporting on that agonizing, and thoroughly unnecessary, death. I highly recommend it.

US Concerned, Situation in Bosnia “Not Good”

A brief story from Balkan Insight on the treacherous situation in Bosnia. At least one can say the US is still involved in the country and the Obama Administration is paying some attention.

Monday, March 02, 2009

"The Destruction of Yugoslavia" by Branka Magas--Part Four

Part Four: Systemic Collapse (1990-91)


The nine articles collected in this section detail the final collapse of socialist, Federal Yugoslavia. The demise of the League of Communists created a power vacuum at the federal center. Milosevic ruthlessly capitalized on the opportunity to assert his power as the leader of a Serb republic where the political center was moving to the Right and extreme nationalism was being openly promoted by the ruling "Socialist" party--the same "Socialist" party which was pushing for greater privatization of the economy.

Magas does a marvelous job of conveying a sense of how unsettled and anxious the country was by this point. The specter of the Army forming a new political party while nobody quite knew who the commander of the nations' military was exactly, for example, serves as a powerful reminder that Yugoslavia was vulnerable because nobody was at the helm. And make no mistake about it--this was the work of Slobodan Milosevic.

This entire section should be required reading for Michael Parenti and others who claim Yugoslavia was destroyed from without by Western intersts, or Diana Johnstone and all those who claim that it was the Milosevic regime which sincerely tried to keep Yugoslavia together. Their disingenuous, convoluted arguments differ in some respects (although intellectual coherence is hardly a strength of Bosnian Revisionism), but they like all baseless conspiracy theories they rely on a carefully studied, deliberate ignorance of context and foundational knowledge.

The revisionists serve two purposes: they provide rhetorical cover for certain reactionary and far-Right factions to assert their agenda under various, more palatable pretexts; they prop up this fiction by appealing to the other end of the ideological spectrum, pitching their poison both to the receptive ears and willing minds of the authoritarian (often Stalinist) Left, and among well-meaning but ill-educated leftists, progressives, liberals, and internationalist-leaning moderates and conservatives.

Johnstone's pretenses regarding the Constitutional and legal issues regarding the breakup of Yugoslavia and the role the Milosevic regime played in it would not bear the scrutiny of any individual familiar with this material. Magas does what Johnstone and other advocates of Greater Serb centralism only claim to do--take the constitution and the governing institutions of socialist Yugoslavia seriously.