Monday, April 04, 2011

"Bosnia and Beyond" by Jeanne Haskin [3]

Chapter 4

This is a perfunctory synopsis of the War in Croatia.

Chatper 5

This is a perfunctory account of the outbreak of war in Bosnia; there is nothing surprising or new for any reader with even a cursory knowledge of events; except for the author's unsubstantiated claim that "the West had given up on the idea of retaining Milosevic as their man due to his refusal to enact further [economic] reform." There are no notes, citations, or evidence presented; she merely states that this is "[m]y own analysis" and leaves it at that. Her only "evidence" is that the West supported independence for Bosnia without being willing to take further measures to allow the country to defend itself. Of such reverse-reasoning are conspiracy theories made.

One other odd choice in this chapter--the author quotes Danielle Sremac, points out that her arguments amount to little more than a defense of the actions of the Bosnian Serb leadership--and then states that "Sremac's defense of the Bosnian Serbs is something to which I will give voice throughout the account of the war"! Why she feels the need to balance her account with a contrary and dubious interpretation is not explained.

Chapter 6

An account of the early phase of the war; the seige of Sarajevo and how it served to distract international attention from the massive campaign of genocide throughout the country; the public relations/propogranda campaign by the Bosnian Serb leadership and their allies/enablers (Sremac and Lewis MacKenzie here) to cloud the issue of guilt and responsibility by claiming that the Bosnian government was responsible for attacking its own people; concentration camps throughout the country; etc.

Haskin continues to quote Sremac; mostly she rebuts Sremac's assertions but sometimes concedes a point. For example, she notes that there were Croat- and Muslim-operated concentration camps, and that the Bosnian government forces sometimes committed atrocities; yet she does so in context of accepting that Sremac's "report" that the numbers of non-Serbs held was wildly inflated and the numbers of Serbs held highly underreported. Either those accounts were accurate (as accurate as they could be during wartime), or they were not; instead, Haskin gives Sremac's contrary account plenty of room (she quotes Sremac at length), and then without considering the specifics of her claims, goes on to state that there were reports of atrocities committed by Croat and Muslim forces, so therefore "this does not mean that Sremac's report is invalid." That's quite a leap, and completely ignores the context in which Sremac's "report" was given. Haskin, in short, completely avoids making critical judgements about the relative reliability and honesty of conflicting sources; a serious flaw in a book which relies on secondary sources.

Oddly, despite her decision to include the revisionist accounts by Sremac and to give space to Lewis MacKenzie's statements (even though she acknowledges that he was later a secretly paid spokesman for the Serb nationalist cause), she does not bring up the Living Marxism smear against Ed Vulliamy's reporting on the concentration camps. Given her odd editorial choice to give Sremac equal time, this came as something of a relief.

1 comment:

Owen said...

Do I detect the sound of turkey feathers?