Sunday, December 24, 2006


My latest copy of "Fools' Crusade" is due back to the lending library in two days, and my holiday is actually only about to begin--I have family arriving tomorrow, staying until the 2nd. So I'll be taking about a week or so off from the review. I'll order myself a new copy at the end of this week, and when it arrives I'll pick up where I left off.

Happy Holidays, and Happy New Year!

Saturday, December 23, 2006

"Fools' Crusade" Chapter Three [16]



The fourth paragraph ostensibly describes the process by which Slovenia established and strengthened ties to Austria and Italy in the late years of the Yugoslav period; it actually serves to insinuate that the Slovenes were conniving capitalists and snobbish elitists who sought to break up Yugoslavia in order to distance themselves from the non-Catholic riff-raff to their south.

The facts are not spectacular or amazing; one is almost tempted to conclude "Nothing to see here," except for Johnstone's trademark sinister tone. Having established that the decline of Federal power, combined with communist Yugoslavia's relatively open borders and openness to trade with the West, she describes Slovenian participation in this process thusly:

"In 1978, neutral Austria sponsored the foundation of an association called Alpen-Adria to foster such exchanges between provinces within Italy, Yugoslavia, and Austria, which had all formerly belonged to the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Cross-border regional groupings were promoted as a way of overcoming outdated nationalisms and ideological differences in the interests of the environment, trade, and cultural exchange. In theory, they were apolitical; in reality, with the benevolent encouragement of Otto von Hapsburg, heir to the throne of the defunct empire, and the blessings of the Catholic Church, Alpen-Adria promoted a strong sense of the superiority of "civilized" Mitteleuropa over the "backward, barbarous" Balkans."

[As always, underlined words and phrases in quoted passages were italicized in the original.]

What's interesting about this passage is how little of interest there really is, despite Johnstone's obvious attempts to imply underhanded and elitist motivations to the Slovenes. Their leadership took advantage of open borders to develop ties with regional economies? These ties had a strong religious, cultural, and historical basis? This organization was patronized by an heir of the former nobility? And there was a chauvinist slant to this organization? Oh, the horror...

I'm sure there were some insufferably elitist and smug Slovenes looking down at their poorer, less-educated countrymen down south. I'm not defending elitism; I am saying that such an attitude is a pretty lame scapegoat for a war that would tear a country apart and leave tens of thousands dead. The Slovenes were snobs who preferred the company of Catholic, formally Hapsburg peoples. That seems to be Johnstone's case against them.

One last point of interest, in the final sentence--yet another example of her use of quotes when she is neither quoting anyone OR using words or phrases in an unconventional manner. Why is 'civilized' in quotes? Who, exactly, described the Balkans as "backward, barbarous"? She doesn't say.

She goes on to describe a Western left that had lost interest in working-class interests to "issue-oriented" advocacy; that is, for what it's worth, a fair assessment. She claims that this signaled a broader rejection of support for socialism in any form, in exchange for the idealization of "civil society."

So we learn that:

"In the late 1980s, attractive young Slovenian intellectuals toured Western European capitals to alert human rights activists and anti-militarist journalists to the dangers of Yugoslav militarism. These youthful Slovenes spoke in terms of the values shared notably by German Greens, such as pacifism and human rights."

Sounds great, doesn't it? Not if you're Diana Johnstone. Tune in next time...

Friday, December 22, 2006

"Fools' Crusade" Chapter Three [15]



The third paragraph kicks off with this odd claim:

"The 1974 Constitution had increased the independent decision-making powers of all the republics except Serbia."

Johnstone does not explain what she means by this. It may be that she is correct; she provides no examples or explanations of how Serbia's ability to function as a republic was hampered by the establishment of the two autonomous regions within Serbia. This is not to ignore the fact that the granting of autonomy to Kosovo and Vojvodina did diminish the area that the republic government in Belgrade controlled. Cutting Serbia down to size was certainly one of the primary motivations for the creation of the autonomous areas, but it wasn't just Serbia that went from having one out of six seats at the table to one out of eight, after all.

The paragraph continues:

"Because of the veto powers of its two autonomous regions, Serbia was almost as hamstrung as the Federal government, also located in the Serbian capital, Belgrade. The Serbs sought a constitutional revision that would reverse the trend and enable Belgrade to carry out policy in an effective way."

This 'veto power' remains unexplained. Veto power over what, exactly? Over the internal affairs of Serbia proper? Not at all--the provisional government in Pristina had absolutely no authority outside of Kosovo. Over Serbia's voice in the Federal government? No--the other five republics faced the same reduction of the relative strength of their votes as well, as noted above.

The only veto power I can imagine she means would be over Serbia's control over those regions. This is not an unreasonable point--since Kosovo and Vojvodina were still autonomous regions within Serbia, certain issues internal to those two areas were certainly relevant to Serbia's larger interests. Infrastructure issues and other concerns would have been harder to coordinate once the autonomous areas were established, no doubt.

However, I doubt that this is what she means. She has not once mentioned the fact that Serbia was, by far, the most populous republic in Yugoslavia. And the fact that the Federal Government was located in Belgrade was an advantage to Serbia, even if Johnstone chooses not to acknowledge this.

I could get bogged down in trying to figure out what Johnstone is driving at here. Instead, I'll move on--but first, note that in the final sentence of the above quoted passage, it is somewhat unclear whether she meant for "Belgrade to carry out policy in an effective way" at the Federal, or Republic, level. The ambiguity might be unintentional, but I hardly think it's meaningless.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

"Fools' Crusade" Chapter Three [14]



This section starts off reasonably enough; the first paragraph plausibly states that Serbia and Slovenia were the two republics most inclined to push for reforms after Tito's death. It is true that there was strong criticism of the mismanagement of the economy coming from both Slovenia and Serbia; her claim that these two republics also were ahead of the others in their criticism of the "political restraints" under the old system is, on some level, true, but would need some serious qualification if the author were at all interested in an honest analysis. I'm not necessarily pointing fingers at Serbia's leadership--Tito's death preceded Milosevic's rise by a few years, for example.

The paragraph concludes with the following quote:

"The political polarization between Serbs and Slovenes which dominated Yugoslav politics throughout the 1980s may be considered the most lethal blow dealt to Yugoslav unity from within."

So much for the promise of the first few paragraphs. Johnstone is attempting to turn a genuine contributing factor--the increasingly independence- and separatist-minded actions of the Slovene leadership--into the key factor in the breakup of Yugoslavia. I'm not suggesting that this was not a contributing factor; but compared to the rise of Milosevic, and the rise of Serbian nationalism, the restlessness of the Slovenes can hardly be considered decisive. One must be willing to overlook the revocation of autonomy for Kosovo and Vojvodina, for example, to consider the Serb-Slovene rift the "most lethal blow dealt to Yugoslav unity from within."

And note the "from within" qualifier; suggesting that external factors might have been even more decisive. The 'suggestion' will become stronger later in this chapter, and is explicit in Chapter Four.

The second paragraph concerns the frequency with which the Yugoslav constitution was revised during the forty-five years of communist rule. Johnstone makes the argument that the defining trend of this ongoing "permanent revolution" was to weaken the federal state while strengthening the republics. Not a baseless claim, although Johnstone as usual ignores concrete reality in favor of the purely (heavily biased) abstract--the reality was that, whatever the various constitutions said, Tito held the reins at all times. The problem with the communist system in Yugoslavia is that it completely relied on Tito, who simply could not give up absolute power, even in death. The absurdly cumbersome rotating presidency almost seems to have been his attempt to prevent anyone from replacing him in status and power even after he died.

Despite my above-mentioned reservations, Johnstone has at least brushed against some valid concerns so far. In paragraph three, as we shall see, she begins to, predictably enough, go off course.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

"Fools' Crusade" Chapter Three [13]


One quick note from the previous section on Serbian nationalism before moving on. I had touched on this point in passing, but it was only when rereading the section in question that this quote struck me:

"To prevent any return to Serbian predominance, the country was divided administratively along geographic lines into republics that enlarged the "home republics" of the non-Serb nationalities while reducing the Republic of Serbia, notably by creating the Republic of Macedonia in what had been southern Serbia and recognizing a new "nationality," the Macedonians, whose Slavic language resembles both Bulgarian and Serbian."

So much to ponder there. For one thing, Johnstone conveniently ignores the fact that Macedonia was "part of Serbia" by virtue of having been conquered by force.

Also, her dismissal of the Macedonians status as a nation isn't surprising in and of itself--we already know that Bosnian Muslims (and, she once insinuated, Montenegrins) are "really" Serbs--except her admission that the Macedonian language is closely related to both Serbian and Bulgarian. So if "Macedonian" isn't a legitimate nationality by her standards, that begs the question--are they "really" Serbs, or are they "really" Bulgarians?

I don't think you'll be surprised in the slightest to learn that she ducks the question entirely.

Monday, December 18, 2006

"Fools' Crusade" Chapter Three [12]



Johnstone's scorn for nearly all the non-Serb peoples of the former Yugoslavia takes many forms and adopts a wide variety of tactics. She sets up her assault on Slovenia and Slovenes at the end of the section on Serb nationalism. Having claimed that the vagaries of the 1974 constitution empowered increasingly nationalist elites in each of the republics at the expense of the Federal government (an argument that is not without merit), she turns her attention to the elites in each republic--rather selectively.

Having argued that secession was nothing more than a continuation of the breakdown of the Federal center after Tito's death (not a word about the rise of belligerent Serbian nationalism, or of Slobodan Milosevic at all in this chapter), she makes the further claim that the republics weren't fleeing from oppression or inequity but towards Western European markets and capital. The leadership of the individual republics scrambled to be first in line to suck up to the European Community (this was before the switch to the EU). This, essentially, is the core of the Michael Parenti the-West-destroyed-Yugoslavia-because-it-was-socialist delusion.

Since all the nations of the former Eastern Bloc were also jockeying for a piece of the pie, the republics of Yugoslavia had to find their own trump cards in order to play on western capitalist sympathies. Their answer, Parenti and Johnstone want you to believe, was to cynically claim they were fleeing Communist oppression from Belgrade.

It's an interesting theory, hampered somewhat by its complete disengagement from reality, but we'll let that pass. Our concern here is the uses to which Johnstone puts this interpretation:

"Throughout East-Central Europe, the light at the end of the tunnel of the Soviet Bloc was the prospect of membership of [sic] the European Union. Far from contributing to a sense of solidarity in the region, this shared ambition often took the form of a race between leaders of East-Central European countries to win the favor of the Brussels institutions by demonstrating that they were more "Western" and "European" than the others."

I always thought that the criteria the EU was looking for involved things like free markets, judicial transparency, human rights records, functioning infrastructure, and so on--maybe Johnstone knows something that the rest of us, including diplomats, economists, and government officials are somehow unaware of.

At any rate, she's established her sordid picture of desperate post-Communist nations scurrying to prove their "Europeaness" to the powers that be in the West (jettisoning a unity that she wants the reader to believe would have otherwise existed between these varied states with often contentious histories) not only to paint a scornful general picture of the immediate post-Cold War aftermath. This is, as I said, a very deliberate segue to the section on Slovenia. The above-quoted paragraph--the end of section 1--concludes thusly:

:As the richest, most northern and most western of the federated republics, ambitious Slovenians (with encouragement from Austria in particular) saw their republic as most eligible to jump the Yugoslav ship and get aboard "Europe." This prospect was by far the most powerful incentive to Slovenia's political class to secede. Slovenia's declaration of independence in June 1991 was the immediate trigger for the disintegration of Yugoslavia."

I don't think I need to point out to an even moderately informed reader that she's got the cart so far ahead of the horse it almost would be better to look for a new horse entirely. What is most aggravating about the above statement is that it is almost true. But not quite. Milosevic had already concluded that Yugoslavia could get by without Slovenia--there were no Serbs there.

But Johnstone wants us to believe that tiny Slovenia and it's lightly-armed troops, on their own, were sufficient to instigate the process by which Yugoslavia feel apart. We will examine her case for this rather startling claim in the next few posts.

Friday, December 15, 2006

"Fools' Crusade" Chapter Three [11]



This post is going to be somewhat anti-climatic, I'm afraid. There really isn't much to say, despite the cliffhanger ending of my last post. I'll keep it short.

Essentially, Johnstone diagnoses the threat that the unwieldy federal/republic system presented to central control and order; she fails miserably when she goes on to claim that the primary culprit in the dismemberment of Yugoslavia was selfish behavior induced by this system.

It is true that national, democratic elections at the Federal level were needed; however, none were provided by the existing constitution. Even here, one might be inclined to concede Johnstone's point--she seems to be describing a tragic process by which the republics were set off against each other by a fundamentally flawed system. However, this comment betrays an important blind spot in her analysis:

"Under these circumstances, secession of the various republics did not signify a democratic revolt against a dictatorial centralized regime, so much as the acceleration of a process well underway in the final years of Tito's system."

This dismissal of a "centralized regime" flies in the face of what we know about the dying years of the Yugoslav system; the actions of the Federal government in Belgrade and of the JNA were far from peripheral to events in the late 1980s and early 1990s.


Not much of a 'payoff' I realize; my analysis of this section isn't my best moment on this project so far, I fear. The final two paragraph of this section set up part two of Chapter Three. I will tackle them in my next post.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

"Fools' Crusade" Chapter Three [10]



The first two pages of this section present us with the first cohesive and sustained piece of reasonable, fact-based analysis in the entire book. For those of you keeping score at home, I'm talking about pages 129-130. Better late than never.

The subject of these two pages--the "bureaucratic decentralism" of the subtitle--is a brief synopsis of the development of Yugoslavia's unique brand of decentralized state socialism under Tito. I actually think she mostly gets it right here; with two qualifications.

First, she harps on the 'artificial' nature of Macedonian nationalism. Considering that she believes nationality to be immutable and absolute, this is not surprising.

Secondly, she repeats the easily refutable fiction that the republic borders were entirely modern, administrative boundaries.

These two factors--the belief that nationality is somehow intrinsic and organic, something that can be passed unwittingly and which can even override a people's own professed identity; and the illegitimacy of the republics as constituent geopolitical entities--are crucial beliefs underlying Johnstone's thesis in this book. For all hectoring about naive and/or ignorant Westerners, it is clear from this otherwise-not-insane section that Johnstone may very well have acquired her distorted view of Yugoslav history from a misreading of the Tito years. She is correct to note the shortcomings of the ideology of decentralism when the country was divided into increasingly autonomous republics, each with it's own self-contained hierarchy of economic and political power. And she is correct to note that Tito defused desires for greater freedom and democratization by further empowering the republics.

However, we should not give her too much credit. Her understanding of nationalism--this cannot be said too often--is simply ridiculous. For an academic such as herself to embrace such a pre-modernist conception of group identity, where national identity is practically encoded in DNA, immune to changing circumstances even in the culture of the group itself is simply absurd. And even a cursory study of Balkan history would reveal that the borders of Bosnia, for example, have substantial historic basis.

Yet, even so, Johnstone does not go completely off-course just yet. She is correct to note that Tito's system, for all it's clumsy attempts at checks and balances as well as at decentralism, was fatally flawed simply because Tito always kept the reins of power firmly in hand, and failed miserably to establish an effective governmental structure to replace him. On this, Johnstone and I agree--the multi-member rotating presidency he created to replace him was clumsy and doomed to failure.

In the next post, we will examine where she gets it wrong.

Monday, December 11, 2006

"Fools' Crusade" Chapter Three [9]



The rest of this section marks the point at which Johnstone's discussion of Serbian nationalism veers from being biased and myth-obsessed towards pure weirdness. After a brief, one-paragraph discussion of the assassination that triggered World War I, she marks her sudden turn from shameless proselytizing to bloodless abstraction with this remarkable piece of unexamined generalizing:

"In the early years of the twentieth century, the Serbs were admired in the West for their patriotism, stoic courage, love of poetry, and laconic sense of humor. A century later, the West despised what it once admired. In the 1990s, the dominant Western power was more favorably inclined toward state demolition than state-building."

Where did that come from? Where does she get this stuff? I've read Johnstone and Michael Parenti, both of whom believe that the West--and the USA in particular--plotted long and hard to dismember Yugoslavia, and I've yet to see any convincing evidence. I guess one must take it on faith.

As for the West's about-face in their attitudes towards Serbs, there are two things to note. For one thing, perhaps the West was wrong to make sweeping generalizations about a national group; the Serbs were not, to put it mildly, the only non-Western ethnic group that Westerners ascribed particular national characteristics (some more complimentary than others) in the late 19th and early 20th Centuries.

Also, it must be noted that Johnstone has pushed supposed Western attitudes towards the Serbs to center stage; it is no longer enough for the Serbian state and ethnic Serbs to be caught on the wrong side of a sweeping post-Cold War neo-liberal realignment of political and economic power. No, now 'the Serbs' are center-stage in this little drama.

Then the weirdness starts; it is, frankly, a little difficult to even review this section. And it's weary, dull work to type it all out. Essentially, she claims that Serbs were "state-builders"--who worked towards creating a 'territoy-oriented' nation-state--while all other Yugoslav peoples were "state-breakers" (she names the Croats as an example) who:

"...stressed "identity" and differences, tending toward exclusion of those not like themselves."

Of course, when you conveniently consider Slavic Muslims, for example, to be "really" Serbs, it helps, no? It is clear from this section--from this entire chapter, for that matter--that Johnstone has no understanding of the fractured and ambiguous development of national identity in the western Balkans. Anybody who has read a little about the region is aware that national identities were often fluid and remained unfixed and ill-defined well into the modern period. Research has revealed that the people we now think of as "Serbs" or as "Croats" often did not identify themselves as such.

Such a nuanced understanding of the issue wouldn't be hard to acquire, were one the slightest bit inclined to do so. Is is surprising that Johnstone based her brief Serbian history on a book written in the mid-19th Century? It was not for lack of more modern, reliable, research-based sources, I am quite sure.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

"Fool's Crusade" Chapter Three [8]



This section of part 1 ("From State-Building to State-Breaking") reveals just how deeply Johnstone has drank at the well of Serbian nationalism. She has embraced the biased and mythic version of the formative years of the Serbian state whole-heartedly. I mentioned a few posts ago when I began my review of this chapter that while she compares her versions of Serb, Croat, and Slovenian nationalism in this chapter, she does not have a section on Bosnian nationalism because she does not believer there is such a thing. There are no "Bosnians" in her telling.

In the first sentence, Johnstone unwittingly exposes the flaw in her own thesis:

"At the 1878 Congress of Berlin, the Great Powers astounded the Serbs by assigning Bosnia-Herzegovina not to the Serb rebels who had fought to liberate it from the Turks, but to Austria-Hungary as a "protectorate." "

How does one "liberate" a country by annexing it? Note that the Bosnian population at the time was largely split between Catholics and Muslims--the Orthodox population of Bosnia (note that I refer to Orthodox Slavs rather than Serbs) was a much smaller percentage of the population at the time. So Bosnia and Hercegovina was "liberated" by outsiders from a neighboring country who had ever intention of incorporating its territory into their own nation-state.

The answer to this conundrum is simple:

"The Hapsburg Empire's foremost authority on Serbia and Bosnia was a Hungarian aristocrat, Benjamin von Kallay, who had written an authoritative history of the Serbs in which he stressed that: "Bosnia is a Serbian land, the people in it are of Serbian nationality, and even the Muslims themselves are Serbs." Without outside interference, the merger of Bosnia and Serbia would have been only a matter of time."

So a Hungarian writing about Serbs gets the definitive word on Bosnian nationalism? Really? Although von Kallay was, as she notes, assigned to govern Bosnia by the Hapsburg regime--and so, therefore, one could reasonably argue that his views on the matter are quite relevant to the matter--Johnstone leaves it at that. There are no other views presented on the matter; as far as she is concerned, it's settled--Bosnian Muslims are "really" Serbs; no matter what they think. These are the same "aristrocratic Muslims" (her phrase--you could read this entire book up to this point and fail to learn that there were many Muslim peasants, not to mention a sizable Christian upper class, in Ottoman Bosnia) that the "Serb peasants" were liberating the Balkan Christians from.

The implications that the Muslims of Bosnia were "really" Serbs contains some sinister implications. The final sentence is both chilling--there is nothing in her analysis that suggests there is anything wrong with the annexation of Bosnia by Serbia even today--and ironic: Bosnia had never been considered part of Serbia, not in medieval times or afterwards, so the idea that the "merger of Bosnia and Serbia" is anything but the product of "outside interference" from a Bosnian perspective is absurd. Just because Johnstone does not use the words "conquest" and "annexation" does not alter the reality of what we are discussing.

The subject of developing a national identity is complex, and worthy of consideration in the Balkans, where nationalism came late, religious identities often co-existed with ethnic identities, and the formation of the nation-state was delayed by the existence of multi-ethnic empires.

Too bad Johnstone has absolutely no interest in the nuances of this issue. After two chapters of a maddening, amoral neutrality that views atrocities through gray-tinted glasses, she has abruptly discovered a world of stark contrasts and black-and-white distinctions. In this brief history of Serb nationalism lie the seeds of genocide. Johnstone has already argued--with no proof, of course--that Bosnia, as a historically valid geo-political entity, does not exist. Now, she is arguing that Bosnians themselves do not exist.

You cannot commit genocide against a non-people. The most extreme claims of Serb nationalists--that Bosnian Muslims are merely "rebellious Serbs" who have renounced their heritage--now have a Western champion.

Her conception of national identity is simplistic and ill-informed. If that were all it was, I would not be so concerned with it, and I would not have devoted 8 posts so far to the first four pages of this chapter. However, I cannot overstate how disturbing the implications of this section are. Her logic is only valid if one accepts a version of Balkan history where ethnicity is fixed and rigidly defined, and where group identity can somehow carry through DNA even when a cultural, social, or--in this case--religious group have come to conceptualize an alternate identity.

I need to close this for now; I hope to return to this subject refreshed and more persuasive and articulate. But for now, let it be said: Diana Johnstone is implicitly accepting the logic of fascism.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

"Fools' Crusade" Chapter Three [7]



Johnstone breezes through the the 19th Century of Serbian history in a paragraph or two, dwelling on a couple of choice details (the precise number of village leaders decapitated in 1804 during the brutal suppression of the initial Serb uprising, for example). This attention to detail is striking, considering that in the previous paragraph she breezed through four centuries of Ottoman rule in a few short sentences. Her version of Serbian history is lifted straight from the crudely nationalistic--and implicitly Islamophobic--version that portrays the period of Ottoman rule as a centuries-long period of unceasing and unrelenting oppression and humiliation.

It's too bad that this crude, over-simplified version of Serbian history has become so prevalent, because the actual story is quite stirring and heroic. Whatever flaws and darker motivations later co-opted Serbian nationalism, there is no denying the truly heroic nature of their war of independence, or their genuine success in the cause of self-determination. A more nuanced, fact-based approach might do much to allow ethnic Serbs today to embrace their history while rejecting the twin strains of belligerence and self-pity--and the attendant fear of outsiders in general and Muslims in particular--which have poisoned their otherwise admirable national history and, yes, character.

If you know anything about Serbian history at all--particularly the jingoistic, quasi-mythic version peddled by Serbian nationalists since the founding of independent Serbia--you know the gist of the next page and a half. The tone is set in this sentence:

"Forced to defend themselves, the Serbian peasants took up arms in what was eventually to become the liberation struggle of all the Christian peoples of the Balkans."

In that sentence--shot through with uncritical subjectivity in contrast to the clinical coldness with which Johnstone views the victims of Serbian nationalism in her own lifetime--one can see both the genuinely heroic nature of the original Serbian struggle for independence and the jingoistic, patronizing, and ultimately militaristic and expansionist nature of the Serbian state to follow. The seeds of the Bosnian war were planted nearly two centuries earlier. Serbs came to see themselves not merely as their own saviors but as the liberators of all of the Balkans. The problem with this altruistic--and messianic--belief is that Serb nationalists would come to believe that their status as liberators entitled them to dictate and control the terms of south Slavic self-determination.

Johnstone is not unaware of this history. She chooses to preempt any such criticism by claiming that the "Greater Serbia" project--which dates, as she admits, from the 19th Century--was actually a more modest and reasonable agenda than the pan-Slavic ideal which peoples from the Hapsburg Empire wished to enlist Serbia in. In a way, she is correct. What she ignores is the implications of fighting for an enlarged Serbian state rather than a unified Slavic entity.

We enter the tangled issue of national identity among the Slavic peoples of the western Balkans at this point. Johnstone has deftly avoided this subject--in fact, I doubt she even acknowledges that there is an issue. In order to defend the "Greater Serbia" project, one must first claim that there were "Serbs" in the modern, national sense. This required, and encouraged, the transformation of the Orthodox Slavs of Bosnia into "Serbs." It would, ultimately, require even more than that.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

"Fools' Crusade" Chapter Three [6]



(It's been a busy week. I haven't been able to attend to the review as I would have liked. Hopefully I'm back on track now.)

Johnstone's history of Serbian nationalism is suspiciously devoid of the clinical, bloodless tone that marked her earlier forays into such topics as ethnic cleansing and mass rape. Suddenly, it is just fine to throw around unqualified, subjective adjectives.

"The Serbian national movement emerged in the early years of the nineteenth century as the liberation struggle of an oppressed people. In the Ottoman Empire, political and economic privileges were reserved for Muslims. While the mosques called the Islamic faithful to prayer several times a day, the Sultan's law banned Orthodox Christan Serbs from marking their celebrations by ringing church bells."

This is not history as written by an unbiased, contemporary academic using original sources. This borders on propaganda, and there is a faint whiff of Islamophobia as well. The entire era of Ottoman rule is telescoped into a single, temporal moment of sinister Islamic persecution. There is no mention, for example, that the system by which Christian boys were taken away to be raised as janissaries had already become defunct by the early 19th Century. The church bells prohibition is presented as if it were uniformly enforced everywhere, at all times.

This is not to say that life for non-Muslims under Ottoman rule was just or fair; it was not. But in this section, Johnstone indulges in the paranoid hyperbole of Serbian nationalism rather than giving anything resembling a reasoned, informed description of life under Ottoman rule. Which, in itself, is perhaps not such a sin--although it is clear that she wants to justify the paranoia and defensive violence of modern-day Serbian nationalism by evoking the ghosts of the sinister Turkish overlords. More disturbing is her implicit condemnation of upper-class Muslims in the area (she has previously damned Izetbegovic for being descended from one of the ruling families of the Ottoman period; her advocacy for collective guilt necessitates that she accept and promote the concept of generational guilt as well).

Her lack of perspective, and her unquestioning acceptance of a biased, and emotional, version of this history is clear in this passage:

""Retrospective condemnation of Western Europe's own record of religious intolerance and persecution has shed a misleading if flattering light on the supposed "religious tolerance" of Ottoman rule. Ottoman "tolerance" of Christian peasants in the Balkans was a matter of economic self-interest. Laborious inferiors were a necessary source of income. The Rayah system, like black slavery and medieval serfdom, was ultimately intolerable. The Serbs were the first in the Balkans to rise up and defeat this unjust system.

I don't think Dobrica Cosic would object to the wording or the sentiments. There are some who might quibble with her comparison between the status of Christian peasants in early 18th Century Ottoman territory to plantation slaves in the American South, but such a lack of perspective and balance on her part should surprise no one.

Note that Johnstone is dismissive of Ottoman "religious tolerance" (again with the quotes--she is quoting nobody; nor is she using the phrase in an unconventional manner) not because it didn't exist, but because it was allegedly solely for exploitive reasons. One wants to point out that religious tolerance is still religious tolerance even if the motives are less than perfectly altruistic. Jews fled the Christian West for the Ottoman East, not the other way around. And while Christians were second-class citizens in late 15th Century Ottoman territory, Muslims who found themselves on reconquered land in Spain at the same time fared much worse.

To point out such inconsistencies is not to defend or exaggerate the virtues of the Ottoman period. But to magnify the real injustices of the period into a grotesque parody of real history is to commit a crime greater than simply oversimplifying or excusing past injustices. Johnstone is regurgitating the hyperbolic, xenophobic, and crudely mythic past in order to justify the present. The ethnic cleansing project was built on a foundation of bad history and masochistic bathos.


Johnstone has--briefly, and with little substance (the footnote at the end of this last paragraph quotes a history of Serbia written in the 1850's; I doubt there's been a non-Serbian history of the period since then sufficiently mawkish and Wagnerian for her purposes)--described the supposed plight of Balkan Christians under what some Bulgarian historians still refer to as "the Turkish yoke." How did they get out of it? We will look at her sycophantic telling in the next post.

Monday, December 04, 2006

"Fools' Crusade" Chapter Three [5]



I could continue to elaborate on what I think is wrong with Johnstone's conception of "national consciousness," or I could just let her demonstrate.

"The current caricature of archaic Serbs obsessed with the 1389 Battle of Kosovo has served to obscure the importance of a less distant past. Two historical factors had a major impact on Serb national consciousness. The first was the long struggle to liberate their people from centuries of subjugation and build a viable state. The second was the brutal destruction of the Yugoslav state by the Nazi invasion of 1941 and the massacres that followed."

It is quite remarkable how Johnstone breezily dismisses the entire Serb nationalist fixation with Kosovo as a figment of Western imagination in one brief sentence. This is chutzpah of the highest degree.

Other than that, she is now beginning her story of how the Serbs' historical consciousness was forged. While I alluded to the complex and nuanced ways by which a national consciousness is formed and--more importantly--maintained and communicated across space and especially time, rather than continuing to belabor this point I am simply going to examine her understanding of what she considers the Serbian national consciousness. I am confident that the shortcomings and oversimplifications of her approach will become apparent.

Starting tomorrow, I will begin to review the two pages of section one which follows the above-quoted passage. Hopefully, the serious shortcomings in Johnstone's analysis will become evident.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

"Fools' Crusade" Chapter Three [4]



I've already devoted two posts to the first three sentences of this section. Time to get moving.

The first paragraph, after the three sentences parsed in the previous two posts--concludes thusly:

"However, by portraying Serb attachment to Yugoslavia as an aggressive nationalist plot to create "Greater Serbia", the secessionists transformed this obstacle into an asset. Serbs' desire to stay in Yugoslavia was transformed into the main argument for destroying it."

I assume most readers of this blog already know enough of the chronology of events leading up to the violent dismemberment of Yugoslavia to detect the dishonesty in that statement. While her cavalier dismissal of recent history isn't really worth dwelling on, it is, again, instructive to note how complete and absolute her collectivist mentality is; she has all but anthropomorphized the Serb people as a single unit, with a single identity, capable of experiencing history and aspiring for the future with a unified, singular consciousness.

The first sentence of the second paragraph serves as something of a slightly belated thesis statement for this entire chapter:

"Different historical experiences have indeed created differences in national consciousnesses between Yugoslavia's peoples."

Johnstone never defines what she means by a "national consciousness." I am not arguing that there is no such thing; however, an intellectually honest and genuinely inquisitive writer would want to clarify her terms. Most likely, she would need to examine the complex phenomena by which an ethnic, cultural, or religious group interpret and remember shared experiences. She would need to consider how members of a national group identify with each other and with their shared myths; in other words, how individuals come to identify with a shared experience even when the living members of that group haven't experienced those events themselves.

Again, none of this is to suggest that there is no such thing as a "historical consciousness." But it is to say that one must be clear on what one is talking about. Johnstone is, as we shall see, extremely sloppy, vague, and imprecise. The "historical consciousness" that "the Serbs" of her imagination supposedly interpret contemporary events through is much less solid and well-defined than she seems to realize. Johnstone's mistake--a deliberate error, I believe--is to simply ignore the reality that a "historical consciousness" must be, to some degree, self-consciously created and maintained. My comment that she anthropomorphizes the Serbs relates to this point. She talks a great deal about the different national groups and their various national consciousnesses, but she says nothing about how these ideas and concepts are articulated, interpreted, or passed on through time.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

"Fools' Crusade" Chapter Three [3]



I left off in the last post with the following quote:

"Serb opposition to dismantling Yugoslavia was inevitable considering the Serbs' population distribution and political history."

On the face of it, it might seem that this is not an unreasonable statement. Yugoslavia had existed as a country for a little over seven decades; the vast majority of its citizens knew nothing else. And if ethnic Serbs felt a sense of unity and belonging, a breakup of Yugoslavia along the borders of the republics would certainly divide ethnic Serbs in Bosnia and Croatia from Serbs in Serbia, proper. So, the Serbs would be split between three different countries, rather than united in one.

Despite the eminently reasonable tone of this section, there are some unexamined assumptions underlying it which Johnstone and other defenders of the Greater Serbia project (which, her somewhat clever "Smaller Yugoslavia" theory aside, is what we're talking about) accept without question.

One assumption is obvious--is this necessarily a bad thing? Is there something intrinsically bad about an ethnic group being divided between different countries?

Remember that, in the Balkans, demographic fluidity has been the norm; people have always moved around a lot. Ethnic Serbs were widely dispersed throughout the Western Balkans. It is worth noting the the Krajina Serbs were settled outside of Serbia by the Hapsburgs. And putting aside the issue of how Orthodox Bosnians 'became' Serb, it is no secret that other moved into Bosnia from Serbia.

Knowing these facts--and they are well-known--it is troubling that Johnstone and her allies are so willing to adopt the "All Serbs in One State" mantra when they damn well know that Bosnian and Croatian Serbs knowingly left Serbia. You simply cannot have it both ways.

The ancestors of the Croatian and Bosnian Serbs most certainly did not consider these questions when they relocated from where they had come from. People moved within the Ottoman Empire and between the frontier regions between the Austro-Hungarian and Ottoman Empires for a variety of reasons, but consciously defining the borders of some future nation-state was not one of them.

Johnstone's historically unfounded assertion that the republic borders of Tito-era Yugoslavia were meaningless administrative boundaries is not only inaccurate, it also fails to address the question of how to draw borders that are, in her opinion, legitimate. This begs the question--where should the borders be, and on what criteria should they be based? Contemporary demographic realities? History? For the Serbs, the answer appears to be: Both, or either, depending on which answer claims more land. Johnstone simultaneously claims that the Serbs of Bosnia have the right to remain in the same state as the Serbs of Serbia because they are Serbs, while maintaining that Kosovo, despite the demographic realities, must remain a part of Serbia because of the Serbs' historical ties to it.

Which leads me to the other underlying assumption--that the concerns of the Serbs were paramount. The Serbs were, as noted, widely dispersed throughout the Western Balkans, including many areas which have never been considered part of Serbia proper. In order for them to remain in the same state, non-Serbs in any area where a sizable number of Serbs live must either be included in that state, or they must leave their homes. And this, in spite of the well-documented historical fact that many Serbs live outside of Serbia, and had done so for centuries before the founding of Yugoslavia.

At the risk of sounding glib, I'll close this post with the observation that Johnstone seems to believe that the Serbs (her construct of a single, homogeneous ethnic group with a singular national consciousness, that is) can, and should, have their cake and eat it too. That, after the conquest and demise of the medieval Serbian state, individuals would move around the Western Balkans for centuries and then, at the close of the Twentieth Century, declare that their right to live as a unified people trumped all other demographic realities and historical and cultural claims.

And Johnstone sees nothing wrong, inconsistent, or dangerous about this.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

"Fools' Crusade" Chapter Three [2]



Because Johnstone can't wait to get to the good stuff, she starts off her survey of "nationalisms" with an unsurprisingly laudatory history of Serbia and the concept of Serbian nationalism. She sets the tone in the very first sentence:

"The principal difference between the Serbs and the others was their attitude toward the preservation or destruction of Yugoslavia."

Given the 123 pages of implied tribalism and ethnic nationalism preceding this quote, this casual use of the terminology "the Serbs" versus "the others" crosses the line into self-parody. Her slavish defense of Serbian ultra-nationalism and its actors has simply short-circuited any capacity for critical thinking. It's worth nothing before I go any further, that she is, in a way, being more honest than she realizes--this truly is a history of Serbian nationalism, not of actual Serbs. She is only interested in 'Serbs' as members of a tribe defined by late 18th/early 19th Century nationalism and by the Serbian state. The actual, complicated story of the Serbian people, their roots, the history of their interrelation with other Balkan peoples, simply doesn't interest her. I don't think Johnstone really cares about the actual Serbian people; I just think she finds their recent history a convenient stick with which to beat the Western governments she hates so much. That the most extreme manifestations of Serbian nationalism are so accommodating to her post-Stalinist collectivist mentality makes the marriage all the more perfect.

Her selective history of the breakup of Yugoslavia continues in the next sentence:

"The leaders of each of the other nationalist movements needed to break up Yugoslavia in order to create an independent state apparatus of their own."

The amount of well-document information about Yugoslavia in the late 1980s and early 1990s one would need to ignore in order to be able to write that sentence is staggering. This entire book is loaded with footnotes; clearly Johnstone means to impress with her extensive scholarship. Yet what is most impressive here is the deft job of dodging the vast body of evidence and scholarship done by others on the subject. Willful ignorance of this caliber needs to be recognized.

Johnstone returns to the "Smaller Yugoslavia versus Greater Serbia" theme from earlier in the book:

"Serb opposition to dismantling Yugoslavia was inevitable considering the Serbs' population distribution and political history."

We will examine the implications of this statement, and continue with the analysis of the book, tomorrow.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

"Fools' Crusade" Chapter Three [1]


Diana Johnstone sets her sights on Balkan history in this chapter. She intends to set the record straight about nationalism in the former Yugoslavia. The title of this chapter, "Comparative Nationalisms" really says it all. Apparantly, Ms. Johnstone isn't quite finished lecturing us ignorant Westerners.

This should be fun.


This chapter, like the others, is broken into sections. As before, she sets it up with a brief, introductory paragraph. And, as usual, she gets it wrong from the get-go.

"Throughout the 1990s, "nationalism" was widely denounced, with the Yugoslav disaster given as the prime illustration of where it could lead. However, the condemnation of Serbian nationalism as the arch villain supposedly opposing "multiculturalism" led to tacit endorsement of the sparatist nationalisms that were tearing apart the multinational state of Yugoslavia. Anti-nationalism in theory became pro-nationalism in practice."

Johnstone must get lonely a lot; how else do we explain her fond attachment to that great strawman, the Clueless Western Idealist. Did you know that all those people speaking out against alleged genocide in Bosnia were really just misguided advocates for "multiculturalism"? (Must remember the quotes--regular readers of this ongoing review will recall how putting words in quotes when nobody is being quoted and/or the word is being used in its proper context is a bizarre Johnstone specialty).

Other than that, we are in familiar territory here; the Serbs only wanted to keep Yugoslavia together, it was the other national groups who wanted to tear it apart, etc. Remember, throughout this chapter, that Johnstone is operating under the twin assumptions that:

1) the national identities of different Yugoslav groups were fixed, collective in nature, and grounded in distant history; and

2) the borders of the republics--especially Bosnia--were merely administrative borders dating from communist rule. The historical basis for Bosnia's modern borders don't exist in her world; then again, she doesn't acknowledge the historical basis for the Bosnian state, period.

We will touch on these points repeatedly. These two premises underly much of the analysis which follows.

I will begin section 1, "From State-Building to State-Breaking"--her survey of Serb nationalism--tomorrow.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

"Fools' Crusade" Housekeeping, and some final thoughts on Chapter Two

I had not meant to let two weeks pass without posting. I wish I could report that I have thoroughly edited and corrected my posts so far; that, however, is not the case. I have only begun proofreading the Word document versions of my "Fools' Crusade" extended review/critique/expose, let alone transferring those corrections to the posted, online versions. I don't know when I'll finish the job. I've been busy with other things. I finally started writing a novel the week before last.

However, I'll continue plugging away at the rewrite process. In the meantime, I have saved all my posts so far into three Word documents (one for the introduction, one apiece for Chapters one and two) which I'd be happy to email to anyone who wants them now. You'll have to accept them warts and all, however. I can't promise I'll be done cleaning them up before, say, Christmas, although I'll try.


I have ordered a new copy of "Fools' Crusade" through interlibrary loan, and I expect it to arrive sometime in the next week. I will begin working on Chapter Three as soon as I have it. Originally I had hoped to finish this project by the end of January; unless I pick up the pace considerably, I don't see that happening. The extra time I spent on Chapter Two and my two-week hiatus have put me behind schedule. Not a major problem, except that there are some other books and articles I'd like to write about. I'm itching to deal with the issues in "Bosnia After Dayton" by Sumantra Bose, for example. And with Kosovo back in the news, the status of Republika Srpska is certain to become an urgent matter.

That said, I vow to be as thorough in the remaining three chapters as I was for the first two and introduction. I have somewhere between 90-100 pages of text saved in Word from the blog so far, and considering how sloppy the prose sometimes is--not to mention my atrocious spelling, a shortcoming I've long since resigned myself to (I can't explain it, it's just a fact--I'm a terrible speller)--the work of reshaping my long, meandering response to this horrid book into something more concise and focused seems daunting enough, and I'm only halfway done with the 'rough draft.' But, after all, a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step...I've no idea how many steps I've taken to this point.


As for final thoughts on Chapter Two...where to begin? Johnstone's petty and disproportionate focus on decontextualized legalisms is so obtuse and removed from any flesh-and-blood connection to the specifics of reality, it became difficult at times to even find a place to tether my counter-arguments. I constantly felt that for every point she offered, I was obliged to re-visit old ground yet again, and to reiterate what should have been an accepted body of fact and evidence. Her assumptions existed on a foundation so dubious that to take her arguments at face value is almost to concede defeat; her task was seemingly not to win her point to drag the discussion back to a level where simple facts and fundamental common sense were themselves in question.

We'll see how Chapter Three goes. Check back here in a few days.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

"Fools' Crusade" Chapter Two [36]


Johnstone criticizes the idea of an international criminal court on the grounds that "no court can function without a police force." She essentially asks: Who will police the police? In our society, democratic accountability and civilian oversight are supposed to do the job, but Johnstone considers the Western democracies to be imperialist bullies and their publics to be naive dupes; no hope there.

Since she pre-emptively concludes that no effective checks could be placed on any international enforcement agency, such as NATO, she arrives at this conclusion:

"And here we approach a conundrum, which it is dangerous to evade: how can the law judging war crimes ever be other than the law of the victor?"

Not an unfair question, but given the current geopolitical situation this is, as I've pointed out earlier, setting the bar far too high. A new global order must start somewhere; someone must pick up the mantle in lieu of an effective world government. While she argues that any attempt to set up the ICC essentially condones the belief that "might makes right," she ignores the unfortunate reality that might is sometimes necessary.

She goes on a little longer, and while I have conceded that she has the germ of a good point here, her approach is clumsy and sometimes lets her anti-Western bias show through; as when she says that "Many in the West consider the Soviet Union under Stalin guilty of appalling crimes..." Yes, well. "Many" do.

Which leads up to this crude bit of false equivalence:

"Absolute unchallenged power creates absolute impunity, and the current imbalance of power in favor of the United States is not a favorable environment for the establishment of a balanced system of international justice. In a more balanced world, an international criminal court could be the appropriate jurisdiction for clearly international crimes, such as, for example, the alleged involvement of Osama bin Laden in the World Trade Center suicide bombings. Assuming it was planned abroad, that was indeed an international crime. So was the U.S. sabotage of Sandinista Nicaragua, the U.S. invasion of Granada, the clandestine U.S. encouragement of drugs for arms deals in various parts of the world, and so on."

You can feel Johnstone straining to make this simplistic and reductionist parallel seem fresh and insightful; the "alleged involvement" of bin Laden in the World Trade attacks merely one mark in the assets column, versus multiple debits like Granada, Iran-Contra, and so forth. It's a tired line of reasoning; that it is premised on a cultivated lack of proportionality and perspective is ironic since she is bringing it into a discussion about "a balanced system of international justice."

"Thus it is significant that up to now the call for ad hoc "international criminal tribunals", and even the arguments in favor of an international criminal court, have focused primarily on the prospect of punishing famous perpetrators of essentially internal crimes (General Pinochet, Pol Pot), described as "crimes against humanity".

So, you have the invasion of Granada versus four years under the Khmer Rouge. And the primary distinction to be drawn is...jurisdictional. By Johnstones's own logic, worked out throughout Chapter Two and examined in previous posts, no international body would have the capacity to understand, the clarity to judge, or the authority to intervene. The sovereignty of the state trumps the rights of citizens.

"This focus of "evil dictators" conveys the message that they can be stopped, judged, and punished by the benevolent outside intervention of the "International Community". It enforces the dualistic view of an essentially good Western imperial condominium obliged to punish "bad" men who trouble the moral order."

I wonder how carefully some of the Serbian nationalists who've welcome Johnstone (Borojevic, for one) have read this book. Pol Pot? Pinochet? Sure, she has a lot of good stuff to say about Serbian nationalism and Milosevic and so forth, but are they fully aware of what they have signed up for here?

In the final two paragraphs of Chapter Two, the mask comes off.

"If presidents are to be tried in criminal court for acts committed during war, incidents immediately come to mind that could justify putting U.S. presidents on trial." What about the repsonsibility of the U.S. president for the My Lai massacre in Vietnam?

I have not encountered any proponant of the ICC who has suggested that presidents should be tried for crimes committed by individual soldiers or civilians during wartime; this isn't a nuance of meaning she is missing here, it's the fundamental premise of international justice. I don't understand how Johnstone can compare LBJ's responsibility for My Lai to Pol Pot's responsibility for the Cambodian genocide so glibly, but she does. Johnstone has succeeded in changing the terms of debate, but by way of creating an absurd caricature of the original issue.

The first sentence of the final paragraph says it bluntly:

"A major obstacle to any universal justice at present is the obvious fact that the prime suspect in truly international crimes is likely to be the U.S. government..."

The defense of sovereignty is really a battle in the war against globalization; which, in turn, is just US/Western imperialism. At the end, this long chapter just turns out to be a slightly more sophisticated version of Michael Parenti's "whatever bad things you can say about Milosevic, at least he was against the Americans" revisionism.


And with that, believe it or not, Chapter Two is finished. I plan to review what I've written so far, and correct misspellings and some grammatical errors; then I will invite anyone who is interested to email me, and I'll send you Word files of the entire review so far. After a few days reflection, I hope to have some final thoughts and observations about Chapter Two and the book so far. Then I'll be ready to tackle Chapter Three.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

"Fools' Crusade" Chapter Two [35]


The first paragraph of this section, summarized in my previous post, was naive nonsense. However, beginning with the second paragraph, Johnstone does confront a real, and serious, issue.

"The experience of the ICTY should give pause even to those who are enthusiastic about the project for an International Criminal Court (ICC). Unlike the ad hoc tribunals, the ICC is intended to be universal. But is this possible? In reality the project raises problems that have yet to be solved satisfactorily."

[as always--underlined words were italicized in the original text]

The first sentence is her predictable jab at the case against Milosevic and the Serb leadership, but the rest of this paragraph addresses a genuine concern--where would the ICC derive its legitimacy and its authority from?

I wrote earlier about Johnstone's implicit belief in the sanctimony of sovereignty. Regardless of her dishonest motiviations, issues of sovereignty and the legitimacy and authority of international actors will need to be addressed if humanity is to craft a new, better world order. If we are to overcome national divisions and craft better solutions to war, racism, religiously motivated violence, terrorism, and environmental catastrophe, we will need to address these issues.

However, conceding that Johnstone has a good point is one thing; discerning any intelligent or reasonable analysis on her part is quite another. And the signs are not good:

"There is no authentic justice that is not applied equally to all."

This might be a lovely slogan for a an idealistic protest march, but this level of sanctimonious absolutism just isn't very useful when trying to create realistic, possible solutions in the current geopolitical climate. It is not cyncial to say so; nor is it narrowly incorrect. If the international community had managed to respond promptly and robustly in Bosnia and managed to fully prosecute war criminals after the end of hostilities, but completely failed to take any action during or after the Rwandan genocide (which is, grievously, essentially the truth)--would the justice served to war criminals in Bosnia be "inauthentic"? Were the Nuremberg trials less authentic because Stalin was getting away with mass murder in the USSR?

For all her pretentions to hard-headed realism, Johnstone is reliably simple-minded and unrealistically fundamentalist in her assessment of the issue, even putting her genocide revisionism aside. She goes on to assert that:

"The Hague Tribunal has already shown that selective justice results from the political bias of the most influential powers, the prejudices created by mass media and finally from budgetary constraints."

This is a statement open to question, to put it mildly. But while we can dismiss that allegation out of hand, the next charge needs to be more forcefully rejected:

"An international tribunal simply lacks the means to judge equitably all the various crimes that may be committed in the course of violent civil strife or war. Serious detective work at a long distance, sifting truth from lies in distant countries torn by civil conflict is a mammoth, not to say impossible, task."

And yet, she has written a book that purports to tell the real story of what happened in places like Trnopolje and Srebrenica. Even if she were to counter with "I don't pretend to know the whole truth, her objections are ridiculous. The anchronistic "distant countries" in an age of satellite communications and internet access is laughable; her assertion that it is impossible to get a reasonable picture of what happened in a country during a time of war is so baldly stated I had to reread it several times to make sure there wasn't some nuance or extra word I was missing. This is simply a ludicrous statement.

Still, she manages to top it:

"It is neither politically nor financially feasible for an international court to prosecute all the dreadful human rights violations that take place around the world."

And since justice cannot be authentic unless it is applied in all cases at all times, the only conclusion one can draw from this is simple: Since we cannot fully and completely carry out justice in every single situatin, we must refrain from attemptint to do so at all. If we cannot have perfection, we must have nothing at all.

Why is this? Why insist on such an impossibly high standard of purity and perfection?

"Inevitably, a few spectacular cases will be singled out by the interests of Great Powers, media attentiona and financial support. In short, an international criminal tribunal is almost certain to turn into an international political tribunal that stages show trials of scapegoats."

You see? It's those damn Western Imperialists again, those turn-of-the 19th-Century "Great Powers" she invokes against so reliably. The dirty hands of politics will soil the purity of the maiden known as international justice; we must not let them get their filthy hands on her. Better to keep her looked up, safe from any threat of becoming soiled with worldly knowledge.

The ICC will continue the ICTY practice of accepting funding from governments and anyone else who cares to fund their work. Johnstone assumes this will guarantee justice for wealthy Western nations; as if no oil-rich autocrat has spare change laying around. She also points out that the UN Security Council will have control over initiatives by the ICC, which she believes will guarantee "Great Power" hegemony. As if Russia and China always work in cooperation with the US, and always will.

She goes on to note that "no court can function without a police force." NATO is the ICTY's police force, and she asks:

"And if NATO were ever to commit war crimes, who could the Tribunal send to arrest NATO?"

Given Johnstone's inability to make qualitative distinctions and reliably interpret quantitative information, we can only speculate on who--individually, or collectively--she might mean when she refers to "NATO" committing war crimes; the leadership, individual soldiers and units, the entire organization as a whole, the nations providing troops and support, etc. She certainly doesn't trust the citizens of the Western democracies--particularly the United States--holding the most power and clout within the organization.

"Fools' Crusade" Chapter Two [34]


Johnstone's remarkable capacity to trivialize the deadly serious and bulldoze a sweeping and varied topography of human struggle, suffering and conflict into one, blandly undifferentiated moral landscape achieves something of a pinnacle in the opening sentence:

"Since war is itself the breakdown of law, order and justice, stopping war would seem to be more important than attempting to turn it into yet another object of courtroom proceedings."

Johnstone seems to be defining war as some sort of contagen or social process. Comments such as this betray her lack of sophistication and nuance; for all her excoriation of "naive Westerners" she tends to rely on hyperbole and uninformed naivety.

War is, of course, more than a "breakdown" of law and order; such conditions are often a consequence of war, of course, and certainly areas suffering from armed conflict generally experience lawlessness and chaos. However, she seems to confuse the symptom with the disease; I'm tempted to create a Venn diagram for her benefit. Think she'd appreciate the gesture?

As for war being a breakdown in "justice," one must ask why she assumes this is so; is she therefore stating that justice is, by definition, an automatic condition of peace? Or is it the other way around? I assume so; this is not the first appearance of this parallel in the book. Earlier, she criticized the Izetbegovic government for, in essence, not giving the Bosnian Serb Republic what it wanted in exhange for peace, regardless of the justness or fairness of such a peace. There may well have been many Bosnian who would have happily traded justice and an integrated Bosnia for peace--especially had they known what was coming--but that is not the issue. One wonders what Johnstone believes is important; what, if anything, would be worth fighting for. The people of North Korea have known "peace" for decades now; is that peace preferable to the instability and chaos likely to come when the current regime begins to crumble?

Her self-righteous cluelessness continues in the next sentence:

"It is remarkable how certain ICTY jurists take it for granted that there will be more and more wars, and are comforted by the prospect of regulating these wars by judicial institutions."

What is remarkable is how Johnstone presumes to know how ICTY jurists feel and think about their work. It is also remarkable that Johnstone expects this hard-headed international tribunal to call for the world to hold hands and sing Kumbaya rather than deal with reality. One reason to assume that there will be more wars in the future is that the history of civilization suggests that this will be so. A reasonable person might believe that establishing a new standard of international justice might be a positive step towards restricting and discouraging future wars; Johnstone wants it all now, or nothing. Or, she wants nothing now so she can scold incessently. It's hard to tell what she wants, or expects, frankly.

"The aspiration seems to be to make war more sporting, a game to be played within rules."

Keeping in mind that Johnstone was earlier complaining that international law did not exist to make the world perfect, only to establish some guidelines of accepted behavior. How this is different, she does not say, most likely because she doesn't care. And this is, to be honest, just a very stupid statement.

But not as stupid as what comes next:

"This is grotesquely inappropriate for modern warfare, which has been transformed by technology into a merciless slaughter of innocent bystanders."

Would somebody please tell this woman that World War I is over? This statement is so hopelessly wrong and outdated, I don't know where to start. The latest military technology makes it easier to kill bystanders; smart bombs sometimes make mistakes, but it is a safe assumption that the US Air Force won't repeat the carpet bombing tactics of World War II and Vietnam in Iraq or Afghanistan, or anywhere else. By way of contrast, please note: the genocide in Rwanda--around 800,000 human beings killed in the very definition of "merciless slaughter"--was carried out with clubs and machetes.

Monday, November 06, 2006

"Fools' Crusade" Chapter Two [33]


Johnstone concludes her review of the "factors" involved in the Western case against Milosevic with this claim--that NATO committed crimes equal to, or greater than, those committed by Serb police and military forces in Kosovo, and that the charges brought against Milosevic were drummed up by the US and NATO in order to justify their military action against Yugoslavia post de facto.

Because this two-page section takes us out of Bosnia and into Kosovo, I am not going to give the issues she touches on all the attention they fully deserve, even though the situation in Kosovo was, of course, directly related to the war in Bosnia. The NATO war in Kosovo is another issue, which deserves a fuller study than I can give it right now. The NATO military action against Yugoslavia in 1999 operated under a different dynamic and reacted to different circumstances than the long drawn-out Western responses in Bosnia. However, there are some points worth noting:

"The NATO air strikes against Yugoslavia, initiated on 24 March 1999, were in flagrant violation of international law on numerous counts. Yugoslavia was attacked, without any mandate from the UN Security Council, although it had not committed any act of aggression against any other country."

Putting aside Johnstone's ever-disproportionate sense of selective outrage, it must be noted that, especially in the second sentence, she is technically correct, at least in regards to operations in Kosovo (Johnstone is not willing to acknowledge the reality of JNA and Serbian paramilitary operations against Croatia and Bosnia, but since those wars had ended some years earlier we will let that pass). Kosovo was, and remains, part of Serbia.

Johnstone is consistant on this point--the sovereignty of a state trumps the rights of individuals within that states. The world community has been grappling with the problem of sovereignty for some time now; the former Yugoslavia was only one arena in which this question has been relevant. At what point do the internal affairs of a sovereign nation become the business of the outside world?

This isn't the first time Johnstone has stumbled across a good point; as always, she fails to grasp it. Instead of acknowledging that the international community came up against a somewhat new problem and was feeling around for a suitable response--including a coherent ideological/intellectual framework--she concludes that she has found another convenient stick with which to beat the Western conspiracy against Serbia. And after getting her whacks in, she tosses it aside.


She has nothing to say about the situation in Kosovo, of course. She believes that the US indictment against Milosevic was brought to The Hague as the war was still going on in order to justify it in light of civilian casualities in Serbia and growing opposition in the US. Which might be partially true. The Clinton administration had many conflicting motivations going into Kosovo; their spotty track record in Bosnia certainly being one of them. No reasonable person can doubt that in Kosovo, the US regarded Milosevic as some sort of "unfinished business" from Bosnia.

If Johnstone were seriously interested in some of the international legal implications of NATOs war against Yugoslavia, this section might have been worthwhile reading. But she isn't, and it wasn't. As an example of the laughable nature of her analysis, I present this quote:

"The Yugoslav government itself tried on 29 April 1999 to institute proceedings at the International Court of Justice in The Hague against NATO governments for a broad range of war crimes and crimes against humanity. The Western media, in brief reports, let it be known that such an intitiative was "not serious." "

Again, if her intent was to question the impartial nature of international justice by asking whether a small nation can effectively use the institutions of internatinal justice against powerful nations, she might have an interesting and productive line of inquiry going. But Johnstone's vision is narrow and petty; she only wants to discredit the West on behalf of her nationalist heroes.

The section ends with Johnstone decrying the government of Zoran Djindjic (who, she explains, had "risen to power on Kostunica's coat-tails with much financial backing from the United States and Germany"--I'm assuming she's not all that distraught over his murder) for turning Milosevic over to The Hague. "Serbia got virtually nothing for selling its former president," she complains, raising the question of why a nation should be conpensated for surrendering a man who started four bloody wars and tore the delicate social fabric of his neighbors to shreds.

Lecture at Bosnian Embassy

I attended a lecture last Thursday--November 2, 2006--at the Bosnian Embassy at 2109 E Street NW in Washington, D.C. Igor Davidovic and Osman Topcagic spoke on Bosnian Integration into the European Union. I was a little late, and I didn't take notes, so I apologize that I cannot provide a better report of what was said. But the lecture was well-attended, and two former US ambassadors were present, as well as representatives from Slovenia, Macedonia, and Bulgaria; and possibly others as well.

The mood was positive; both Davidovic and Topcagic are optimistic about Bosnia's ability to comply with EU requirements and qualify for EU membership. They understand that Bosnia must move forward with the process.

Someone asked a question about police reform. The answer, briefly, was that while that is an issue which must be dealt with, it is not currently a deal-breaker; the process can continue to move on while necessary reforms are worked out.

I wish I had been able to attend the entire lecture; I also wish I had been able to record the proceedings. Obviously, the lecture was for public consumption and accentuated the positive; still, I did not get the impression that the two men were wearing rose-colored glasses. One point that was made--entry to the EU is not a zero-sum game; the more Balkan nations that get in, the better. Serbia was mentioned--specifically, the dely in negotiations stemming from the failure to arrest Karadzic and Mladic. Both men agreed that Serbia needs to get in as well.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

"Fools' Crusade" Chapter Two [32]

The final "factor" regarding Srebrenica, in Johnstone's "analysis":


She doesn't even wait until the actual text to begin lying this time; contrary to what she assert in this title, the mass executions at Srebrenica bore quite a bit of evidence of prior planning and systematic execution. If Johnstone can come up with a convincing reason why a Bosnian Serb force intent on a rapid, retaliatory raid into the outskirts of Srebrenica just happened to have bulldozers handy, I'd love to hear it.

"Much is made of the facct that when they captured Srebrenica, the Serb forces filtered the men of military age from women and children, who were offered safe passage."

Her definition of "safe passage" certainly differs from mine, even without the endemic rape. She does not have another word to say regarding the treatment of the women, children, and elderly civilians of Srebrenica; not where they were sent or under what conditions. More to the point--she does not mention how many of them ever saw their loved ones again. While snidely asking for satellite pictures of slaughters-in-progress and crunching numbers with suspect data, Johnstone never considers that if one really wanted to know if thousands of Muslim men were killed at Srebrenica, one could merely ask the people who knew them and miss them the most.

"This was often mentioned as something particularly sinister."

It takes a particularly calloused and empty soul to write such a sentence, given that even if she is right about the massacre, such a move would have seemed incredibly "sinister" and terrifying to the people going through it. How could it not?

"However, one thing should be obvious: one does not commit "genocide" by sparing women and children."

One thing IS obvious: Diana Johnstone does not understand what genocide is. She is divorced from reality, decency, and common sense.

"The men were singled out partly because the Serbs could exchange Muslim POWs for Serb POWs."

Civilians--even of military age--are not POWs. It is interesting that Johnstone--who doubts everything, even eyewitness testimony--is so certain about Bosnian Serb intentions and plans. Not only does she always know what they were thinking and planning, she never has any doubt as to motive.

She does go on to admit--in the most roundabout way possible--that Muslim men of military age were massacred; by soldiers looking for revenge against Oric and his troops, and to "eliminate easily a part of the enemy's war army." She concludes this blase admission with:

"The Serbs themselves do not deny that crimes were committed."

Some do, some don't.

"Part of a plan of genocide? For this there is no evidence whatsoever."

By her own admission, women, children, and elderly members of one ethnic group were evicted from the region, while the military-aged men were rounded up and killed as prisoners. That's her defense of Serb actions at Srebrenica. And, somehow, she has parsed the entymology of the word "genocide" so as to convince herself that the above scenario doesn't qualify.


She closes this short section with the accusation that the fall of Srebrenica was a clever Muslim trap, laid by the Izetbegovic government, which knew that the vengeful Serb army wouldn't resist the temptation to commit a huge atrocity, thereby soliciting worldwide condemnation. And who was the biggest victim of this devious plot by those shifty Muslims? Why, Slobodan Milosevic, of course.

Friday, November 03, 2006

"Fools' Crusade" Chapter Two [31]


"The accusation of a "Srebrenica massacre" was used by the Clinton administration to focus world attention on Serb misdeeds at precisely the moment when some 200,000 Serbs were being driven out of the Krajina by the Croatian army, supported by the United States."

The fate of the Krajina Serbs did not receive the attention it deserved at the time. Operation Storm accomplished something terrible in Croatia; after 400 years of continuous inhabitation, Croatian territory was essentially emptied of ethnic Serbs. It is true that the Krajina Serbs mostly fled as opposed to being slaughtered in large numbers; it is also true that they were completely abandoned by Milosevic and the Serbian government, and that their own rebel government and miltary forces melted away without putting up any serious resistance.

Considering the role the rebel government in Knin had in starting the wars in Yugoslavia, and the atrocities carried out by their forces and on their behalf by the Serb-controlled JNA, it is understandable that many Western observers felt that the Krajina Serbs were only getting what they deserved. Reaping what they sowed.

But that would be wrong; not only because many thousands of ethnic Serb civilians shouldn't be held responsible for the crimes of the state (even an illegitimate state), but because the flight of the Krajina Serbs was anything but orderly and unmolested.

The atrocities carried out against Serb civilians--mostly elderly Serbs too old or weak or just tired to run--may not have been killed as part of a premeditated plan by the Croatian government and its armed forces; however, given the toxic propaganda put out by the Tudjman government, and given that the leadership of the Croat military had to know its troops were itching for "payback" while reclaiming a third of their territory, it would take an unfathomable level of chutzpah to deny that the Croatian government has a great deal of war crime guilt on its hands.

Johnstone is not merely suggesting a double-standard at the expense of ordinary Krajina Serbs, however--she believes that the Clinton administration manufactured evidence of a "Srebrenica massacre" (the parenthesis are hers) in order to divert attention from a widespread project of ethnic cleansing throughout the Croatian Krajina.

Give Johnstone this much credit--she doesn't settle for damage control. Apparantly she understands that the best defense is a strong offense; accuse the United States of complicity in genocide in Croatia. Unfortunately for her, the evidence for this seemingly damning counter-charge is thin--that Secretary of State Madeline Albright made her charges of genocide in a closed session of the Security Council on August 10, some weeks after the actual massacre but (conveniently, in Johnstone's estimation) right when the Croatian offensive was in full swing. Although conspiracy theories are built on coincidences such as these, advocates of such usually try to marshall at least a semblance of corraborating data. All Johnstone goes on to offer is insinuation--and rather naive and clumsy insinuation, at that.

"Most of Albright's satellite photographs were classified "for security reasons." They could not be critically examined by the public."

At the risk of sounding glib--give me a break. This was a closed session of the United Nations Security Council. There is absolutely nothing sinister or unusual about one nation sharing classified information in a closed session which is not for public consumption. Our government has been taking satellite photographs for decades--the public knows what they are, and what they are and are not capable of showing. Putting the phrase "for security reasons" is laughable; of course it was for security reasons.

"The meaning of these unseen photos was "spun" for the media by the habitual American official who did not wish to be identified:"

Why is "spun" in quotes? She is the person describing this report as "spin." She isn't quoting anybody; this is her own paranoid interpretation of events.

At any rate, here is what this "habitual" unnamed source had to say:

"According to one American official who has seen the photographs, one shows hundreds and perhaps thousands of Muslim men and boys in a field near a soccer stadium about 5 miles north of Srebrenica. Another photo taken several days later shows a large area of freshly dug earth, consistent with the appearance of known mass graves, near the stadium, which is empty."

[Note: I'm using a photocopy of this section of Chapter Two at the moment, so I cannot look in back to see where Johnstone is quoting this from. I apologize. When I get another copy of the book sometime in the next week or so, I will try to remember to verify this quote, which is obviously second-hand.]

Note that we are talking about two different pictures taken days apart. This is not a constant surveillance-camera situation being described.

"Waving her picture at the 14 members of the Security Council, Albright excused any future failure to find the "hundreds and perhaps thousands of Muslim men and boys" in the "mass grave" by warning ominously: "We will keep watching to see if the Bosnian Serbs try to erase the evidence of what they have done." "

Johnstone only presents this scene in order to mock Albright's sincerity, of course:

"If the United States was really able to watch everything the Bosnian Serbs were doing, and the massacres took place on the scale alleged, questions arise."

Note: Even in the quotes that Johnstone has selected to buttress her conpiracy theory, neither Albright nor anyone else has claimed that the United States can watch everything the Bosnian Serbs were doing.

"Why were no photos displayed showing the massacres?"

I don't think this piece of noxious nonsense even deserves a reply. The Srebrenica massacre was carried out in dozens of different locations over a period of days, by numerous scattered small units. The Serb forces weren't looking for a photo op.

"More troubling still, if U.S. satellites observed the Serbs carrying out massacres in July, why did the United States wait until August to denounce the crime? If the U.S. government was aware at the time that thousands of men were being executed, why did it makeno move to prevent it?"

In light of recent revelations regarding the knowledge Western governments had about events at Srebrenica, this is an interesting--and disturbing--line of inquiry. But Johnstone, as always, isn't really interested in the truth. It is increasingly clear that the U.S. and other Western powers knew more than they let on at the time, and the full story is beginning to come out. But while this new information will prove embarrasing, to say the least, the the U.S. and others, ironically these revelations hurt Johnstone's case as well, since she isn't actually arguing that the U.S. was hiding anything it knew--she doesn't believe there was anything to know in the first place. She has asked the right question, but at her own arguments expense.

No, she wants to believe that it was all an elaborate plot to provide cover for the real genocide being carried out by Croatian forces in the Krajina. She quotes David Rohde's Endgame on the subject of the international communities' role in allowing genocide to occur. Rohde's book is excellent, and his argument persuasive. Unless, of course, you are a deluded genocide denier like Johnstone:

"Significantly, Rohde rests his case not on the 7,000 figure whose fragility he must know, but on the political argument, which can be valid even if the number of victims proves no higher than roughly 500 or 600. What matters, finally, is that the "International Community" must in the future intervene more vigorously on the "right" side. The point is to discredit neutrality in favor of aggressive military "humanitarian intervention." "

Minus the snarky quote marks around 'International Community' and 'right' and I could have written the first two sentences myself; charges of genocide are qualitative, not quatitative, in nature.

As for the third sentence: When confronting genocide, one must abandon neutrality. If one chooses to remain neutral in the face of genocide, you discredit yourself.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Bosnian Soccer Players Threaten Boycott

Bosnian Footballers Demand Ouster of Current FA Leadership

This isn't just about soccer, by the way:


"The domestic league is also in a poor state, mired in allegations of corruption and match-fixing. The NFSBIH is run on ethnic lines that reflect the delicate balance between the country's two parts, the Serb Republic and the Muslim-Croat Federation, created after the 1992-95 war.

The letter called specifically for the resignations of the NFSBIH board's Muslim, Serb and Croat members and of the national team director.

"Those gentlemen (in the NFSBIH) do not want to face the truth and admit to themselves what they have done for team, besides degrading its honour and constantly disturbing relations among us," the players added.


Could there be a better metaphor for the stae of the country? The division of the nation's soccer federation along ethnic lines has weakened the team--and worked to undermine team unity.

Bosnia's citizens, like it's best soccer players, deserve better.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

"Fools' Crusade" Chapter Two [30]


We're now officially in "I won't dignify that comment with an answer" territory, or at least damn close. Nowhere up to this point has the difference between Johnstone's revisionism and typical Holocaust denial been so slight. The same tactics are at work here--this is the "Where are the bodies?" act of her noxious drama. She also throws in yet more digs at the SDA-led government in Sarajevo.

She starts off with this comment:

"After Bosnian Serb troops captured the town on 11 July 1995, women and children were evacuated."

And that's all she has to say about that. "Evacuated" sounds much better than "deported after being forcibly separated from their husbands, sons, and fathers" after all. It also has the faint ring of "rescue" to it.

The paragraph continues; here are some quotes:

"...the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) announced that it was trying to obtain information from the Bosnian Serb authorities about 3,000 persons who witnesses said had had been detained, and from Sarajevo authorities about some 5,000 individuals "who fled Srebrenica, some of whom reached central Bosnia." The total of these two figure was the original source of the oft-repeated estimate that 8,000 Muslims had been massacred."

On the face of it, this seems reasonable. She goes on to claim that these 5,000 men made it to safety in central Bosnia. And then she accuses the Bosnian government of playing politics with their identities:

"The problem was the Bosnian government authorities were not cooperative in revealing the names and number of these survivors."

""The London Times reported on 2 August that thousands of "missing" Bosnian Muslim soldiers from Srebrenica at the center of reports of mass executions had been regrouped in Muslim territory."

"THe ICRC continued to post a list of "missing" that its own officials knew was not accurate, because the Bosnian government refused to provide information, holding back the names of the survivors not only from the Red Cross, but even from the men's own families."

My purpose in writing this blog is not to defend every single action taken by the SDA during the course of the war. Johnstone, knowing that the Izetbegovic government was sometimes shady or crude in its operations, uses this knowledge not to illuminate the fate of the Muslims of Srebrenica, but to conceal. There is not a word in this section of the fate of the 3,000 Muslim men that even she is willing to acknowledge were taken into custody. And while Johnstone has previously decried the pracice of relying on unnamed sources passing along unverified information through a third party, she accepts the explanation for the identity of 2,000 Muslim soldiers "in an area north of Tuzla", according to a Red Cross report.

At any rate, playing this numbes game is a pointless exercise; Johnstone has grossly underreported the actual numbers of Muslim men at Srebrenica. She has deliberately ignored eyewitness accounts and testimonials made by relatives of the missing. I'll make this point yet again--this book was written in 2002, yet she relies on tentative figures and reports contemporary with the events she is describing when it suits her purpose to do so. A lot more was known--and known rather definatively--about Srebrenica when she wrote this book than was known in the confusion of August, 1995. Yet she relies on inaccurate figures and sketchy reports from the era, in order to cast a shadow of doubt and ambiguity on events which, in reality, are amply documented.

"Six years after the summer of 1995, ICTY forensic teams had exhumed 2,361 bodies in the region, and identified fewer than 50. In an area where fighting had raged for years, some of the bodies were certainly of Serbs as well as of Muslims. Of those bodies, 199 were found to have been bound or blindfolded, and must reasonably be presumed on the basis of the material evidence to have been executed."

And five years after this book was published, more bodies and more mass graves continue to be discovered. And reports and information has been collected and analyzed, and it is fairly well established that 8,097 Muslim men were killed at Srebrenica.

As for her comment that "fighting had raged for years" in the area--she can only get away with nonsense like this by ignoring the condition and context in which these bodies were found. Keep in mind that one reason so few had been identified was because body parts were mixed together, mass graves having been excavated and sometimes relocated by bulldozers and trucks.

As for the blindfolds; if you have read any of the accounts of the slaughter, you know that blindfolds were, to put it callously, optional for Serb soldiers carrying out their bloody business.

And so this section ends; with a pathetic attempt to use the physical evidence provided by widely scattered corpses as revisionist exhibits in a trial where the survivors are not allowed to speak on their own behalf.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

"Fools' Crusade" Chapter Two [29]


This section consists of only one (rather lengthy) paragraph. The argument is more of her typical cart-before-the-horse logic. The entire premise is ridiculous--the UN did a fine job of discrediting itself long before Srebrenica.

While there isn't much substance in this section--how could there be, given the non-starter of a premise above--a couple of points need to be addressed.

"For the advocates of armed "humanitarian intervention," the fall of Srebrenica was used as proof of the failure of the United Nations. More than that, it was used to discredit the whole tradition of neutral diplomacy in favor of the moral absolutist approach of "identifying and destroying the enemy." "

Some advocates of humanitarian interventionism most certainly did point to Srebrenica as proof of UN weakness; what of it? The bold statement at the beginning of this section claimed that The United States is the culprit; now that we are reading the fine print, we find that we're actually talking about "some advocates of "humanitarian intervention" "? For all her self-professed sophisticated grasp of complex issues, Ms. Johnstone often manages to get herself mighty worked up over what "some" people say and believe.

Also--this is becoming quite the motif in her book--who is she quoting when she puts "identifying and destroying the enemy" in quotation marks? She doesn't say. I suspect it comes from her own paranoid imagination.

Finally, she quotes Kofi Annan ("Washington's choice as Secretary General" she notes) on Srebrenica; his condemnation of the:

"institutional ideology of impartiality even when confronted with atempted genocide"

sounds pretty refreshing to me, after the craven blathering of Boutros-Gali. But leave it to Johnstone to find something far more sinister in his comments (from 1999).

"The United Nations thereby renounced the role of impartial diplomacy and endorsed U.S. military might as the best means to deal with civil conflicts."

For a woman who can write pages detailing the uncertain provenance of rape victim eyewitness testimonies, this is pretty pithy description of what would surely be a monumental shift in the geopolitical order, were there a shred of truth in it. Not only does she not have a bit of evidence to back up this incredibly crude bit of hyperbole, she doesn't even get her own comparison correct: Annan, in the quote above, is not addressing "civil conflicts"--he specifies attempted genocide. We already know that she doesn't believe a genocide actually happened in Bosnia; but Annan's comments make clear (not only in the quote above) that he believed there was a genocide underway in Bosnia; if she had even a shred of integrity and honesty she would have felt compelled to address this. Needless to say, she does not.