Tuesday, November 23, 2010

"Yugoslavia: Death of a Nation" by Silber and Little [13]

[Apologies for dragging this out so long. Graduate school is eating up much of my attention span, and I've been having computer problems on top of that. In the interests of keeping this moving, I'm probably going to stick to bare-bones summaries from now on.]

Chapter 19: "We Are the Winners" The London Conference May-December 1992

This short chapter recaps the events of the aforementioned conference, at which strong Western rhetoric aimed at rump Yugoslavia was (as Milosevic understood even prior to landing in London) not to be coupled with any meaningful, decisive action. As would be the pattern for the next two and a half years, the international community would issue threats which seemed substantive on paper, but were empty in practice.

This chapter also marks the end of the abbreviated political career of Milan Panic, the California resident who briefly returned to his homeland to serve a few months as Prime Minister in an ultimately doomed attempt to rescue Serbia from Milosevic's rule. And finally, Lord Carrington was replaced by Lord David Owen.

The most important and meaningful result of this otherwise rather useless conference was the the Bosnian Serb leadership began to emerge from under Milosevic's protective cover; and this worked quite well for Milosevic, who cleverly began distancing himself from his compatriots across the Drina.

Chapter 20: The Hottest Corner The Fall of Srebrenica and UN Safe Areas April 1993

This chapter details events which are well-known to anyone who hasn't swallowed the revisionist lie that the Srebrenica genocide of 1995 was actually a retaliation for unprovoked attacks on Serb villages which just happened to be near a large concentration of Muslims. This context for what happened at Srebrenica two years later is not essential to understand that what did happen was, in fact, genocide, but it does put that crime in context; furthermore, it explains how the bizarre Bosnian war phenomena of "safe areas" came to be.

Friday, November 12, 2010

New Article from the Institute for War & Peace Reporting

I am pleased to pass along this new article from The Institute for War & Peace Reporting. It is an interview with Merdijana Sadovic, IWPR's international justice/ICTY programme manager. In this interview Merdijana consider's Serbia's commitment to the Hague tribunal and its hopes for EU accession. It is a balanced and fair-minded examination of the relative willingness within the Serbian government to ultimately arrest Mladic and turn him over.

Is Serbia Serious About Arresting Mladic?

Thursday, November 04, 2010

"Yugoslavia: Death of a Nation" by Silber and Little [12]

Chapter 16: The Gates of Hell The Outbreak of War in Bosnia April 1-10, 1992

This chapter opens with a moving and illuminating episode from the opening days of the war, then backs up to recount the opening of full-scale warfare in and around Sarajevo. It is clear from the narrative that, up until this point, Izetbegovic had not fully grasped how much danger his country, and his fellow Muslims, were in. Balkan revisionists and apologists for the Serb nationalist project conveniently forget that this "Islamic fundamentalist" was completely unprepared for armed conflict of any kind.

Chapter 17: The President is Kidnapped May 2-3, 1992

This chapter recounts, in detail, the infamous incident where the JNA apprehended President Izetbegovic and his companions at the Sarajevo airport. This event was revisited inthe news in the past few months when Serbia tried, and failed, to have former member of the Bosnian Presidency extradicted for his role in this affair.

The details here are important, and the book makes a convincing case that the entire incident, which ended with an ambush by Bosnian militiamen and left several dead, was simply the tragic result of some incredibly poor decisions made in the middle of a confusing war. It is worth noting that the JNA forces in Sarajevo were under the command of an old-school general who was not on board with the Greater Serbia project--he would be relieved and replaced with Ratko Mladic--yet another detail which illustrates how confusing the situation on the ground was.

Also of interest to readers of this blog is how this incident, more than anything else, seems to have turned Canadian General Lewis MacKenzie into a de facto ally of the Bosnian Serb government. His initial anger and disgust with the Bosnian government forces was understandable, but his failure to put the incident into context, to recognize his own role in the tragedy, or to realize that trapped in Sarajevo as he was he was--much like the rest of the Western world--unable to see the greater horrors unfolding in the rest of Bosnia--are not.

Chapter 18: The Cleansing The Summer of 1992

While much of the Western world was unaware of what was going on in the rest of the republic, that would soon change. This chapter details both the "ethnic cleansing" of Bosnia as well as the stories of the different journalists who helped bring them to light; all this in the context of hundreds of thousands of refugees bringing incredible and grotesque horror stories which quite often were simply not believed. All this also in the context of an international reaction which chose to regard the war as a humanitarian, not a political crisis (an illusion the West would cling to far beyond the point at which this politically convenient fiction could stand up to the light of day); the authors point out that the creation of refugees was not a by-product of the war, it was the entire point.

The incidents in this chapter are infamous, and well-known to any reader of this blog. The discovery of death camps by Roy Gutman of Newsday, and then the reporting of ITV, should be news to nobody here. Still, the fact remains that there are revisionists who need to believe that these things simply didn't happen. It is crucial, then, to remember that reliable and sober reportage on these atrocities existed from the early days of the war, and that these accounts have stood the test of time and the rigor of analysis and second-guessing. Parenti, Johnstone, Chomsky and the rest don't want to know it. But we are not free to pick and choose which reality suits our ideological purposes.

Monday, November 01, 2010

Two New Articles from The Institute for War and Peace Reporting

I strongly encourage you to read the following two articles from the invaluable Institute for War & Peace Reporting. [These were passed along to me and, with permission, I am including the brief explanatory synopsis I received with each link.]

Court Hears of Mladic Rage at Bratunac by Velma Saric, which is a courtside report on a Dutch ex-UN official who spoke of Serb intimidation in meetings with peacekeepers on the outskirts of Srebrenica.

Revised Indictment in Haradinaj Case by Rachel Irwin discusses how the upcoming partial retrial of ex-Kosovo president Ramush Haradinaj will focus on alleged crimes at the Jablanica headquarters of the Kosovo Liberation Army.