Tuesday, March 22, 2011

"Bosnia and Beyond" by Jeanne Haskin [1]

I realize that this blog has been semi-dormant for the past several weeks; I will make an effort to get things moving again. Beginning with a review of Bosnia and Beyond: The "Quiet" Revolution that Wouldn't Go Quietly by Jeanne M. Haskin, a book which seems to straddle between different competing Western narratives about the Bosnian war. After paging through it, I've decided simply to read it a chapter at a time and report what I find as I go. I am doing this after sitting on a copy for a couple of weeks, unable to decide whether or not the book warranted a full review. Ultimately, I decided that it's been so long since I've blogged at all, I needed to just jump head first into the book and hope the review ends up being worth the trouble, regardless of whether or not the book is worth the trouble of reviewing. So I'm blogging without a net, so to speak.

I checked it out without knowing anything about it; I do not promise anything other than a straightforward accounting of the text as I go through it on a chapter-by-chapter basis.


This book consists of many short chapters divided into very short sections. It seems that many of the section titles are quite self-explanatory, which makes it pretty easy for the curious reader to quicly ascertain where the author is coming from. Although the confusion doesn't quite end there, as we shall see.

The breakup of the country is placed at the feet of the West, who had imposed draconian financial restructuring terms on the country at the end of the Cold War; this argument is a familiar refrain of left-wing revisionists; Haskin even goes as far as to say that the rise of nationalist political factions (and the dearth of moderate non-nationalist political) leadership was a direct result of the "economic and political climate that the West had contrived to achieve"; a claim which goes even further than such revisionists as Diana Johnstone, who at least acknowledges the indigenous origins of the post-Tito political culture.

Yet at the same time, Haskin bluntly states that there was a genocide against the Muslims of Bosnia, carried out by the Serb leadership, and that the international community essentially tolerated it because with the exception of the United States, they either supported the incorporation of Bosnia into a Serb-dominated rump Yugoslavia, they simply preferred the Serb leadership, or they were anti-Muslim. You would never hear any of this from Diana Johnstone or any of her fellow revisionists, to put it mildly.

The book is in two parts--Part One argues that the international community established the terms by which the country was pulled apart, and then managed the destruction of the country in such a way that the Muslims of Bosnia were used as sacrificial lambs in order to create a postwar order in accordance with the new international consensus. Part Two focuses on what might have been done to prevent or stop the genocide in Bosnia, and what lessons we can learn to stop future genocide.

This could be interesting.


kellie said...

Something from earlier this month, BBC Radio 4's series The Reunion on UNHCR Bosnia:

The guests are Tony Land, Chief of Operations for the UN refugee agency for much of the war; Larry Hollingworth, a logistics officer with UNHCR; Amira Sadicovic, worked as UNHCR's external relations officer; Kris Janowski, field-worker, Paddy Ashdown, and Misha Glenny.

Daniel said...

The biggest problem is Jasenovac. Serbian Orthodox Church and ultranationalist educational system in Republika Srpska and Serbia indocrimate young Serbs to believe in myth of 700,000 Serb victims of Jasenovac. They also present Croatia as a nazi nation, even though Anti-fascist leader Tito himself was a Croat. They teach Aerbs to hate their neighbors because of the Jasenovac myth. The US Holocaust Museum puts the figure of Serbs killed in Jasenovac camps at 45,000-52,000 based on Dr Milan Bulajic's lies (he was also Srebrenica genocide denier); on the other hans, however, Yugoslav/Serbian office of statistic has compiled a final list of 28,000 Serbs who died there.

Daniel said...

Jean Haskin's allegation that only 2.5 percent of Bosniaks served in Yugoslav Partisans - a claim she attributed to Tito - is false. Tito never said anything like that. I challenge herbto provide direct quote. No newspaper archive ever mentioned that Tito said anything along those lines. Also remember that at that time, Yugoslav authorities - Srrbs and Croats-- considered all Muslims to be Serbo-Croats and Muslims/Bosniaks had no other option but to declare themselves as Serbs/Croats on birth certificates, census papers, etc.

Daniel said...

Question for you:

The latest research on the number of killed in the Bosnian war -- conducted by Obermayer et al.-- puts the figure to 160,000 dead.

But the activist demogaspher Ewa Tabeau disagrees. Tabeau, who is widely considered 'expert' on all issues relating to demographic statistics, has been a major player in Bosnia's numbers game. She successfully demolished a "myth" that 200,000 people were either dead or missing in Bosnia, number which accurately portrayed situation during the war (many people were simply missing during the war, so Bosnia's Prime Minister used the figure of 200,000 to refer to killed AND missing.)

What is your opinion on Tabeau? Her research is not UN's research, but merely prosecutor's tool to aid Hague's OTP. Do you find Obermayers extensively documented data reliable or do you believe that Tabeau's numbers are unquestionable in terms of reliability?

Kirk Johnson said...

Kellie--a belated thank-you for that link.

Daniel--I admit that I went into this review without doing any reading about Haskin or where she is coming from. You clearly know more of the context this book was written in than I do; I trust your judgement and have no opinions on the matter; not yet, anyway.