Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Bosnia Still in Running for 2012 Euro Cup

Bosnia came very close to upsetting France at home and qualifying for the cup outright; as it is, they are in the play-offs. Not as a seeded team, but while the seeded teams all certainly present real challenges, none of them are teams Bosnia should be intimidated by (I think that Portugal are a shadow of their former self right now, despite still having some great individual talent, including Cristiano Ronaldo, obviously).

Seedings confirmed for EURO play-off draw

The draw will be later today; I will update this post once I see the results.

UPDATE: Bosnia will play Portugal in the two-leg playoffs, to be played in November.

Sunday, October 02, 2011

Misguided Op-Ed on Balkan Partitioning

My thanks to Yakima Gulag for this catch (from her Friday, Sept. 30 post).

This week, Ted Galen Carpenter of the Cato Institute published an article advocating for ethnic partitioning of Bosnia and Kosova, in the apparently not ironically titled The Dangers of Rejecting Balkan Partitions.

Yakima Gulag states the obvious first objection--that doing as Carpenter suggested would be a reward for genocide (I believe this would be less overtly true in Kosova than in Bosnia, but the point stands). But more to the point, Carpenter makes a very fundamental error when he makes a false equivelency between the breakup of the Yugoslav Federation into its constituent units--which were, as noted in this blog many times--historically legitimate and geographically defined geopolitical entities--with the artbitrary division of these polities along demographic lines. When one considers that these demographic divisions have been accomplished by violence and terror, and that this would be a "solution" which would merely atomize the same problem--since no ethnic division can be perfect or "clean"--it becomes even more clear that this is a proposal from a context-free alternative universe; one in which taking an ahistorical view of political conflict and regarding ethnic violence as somehow a static, natural order of things substitutes for nuanced analysis.

But then again--this is the Cato Institute we're talking about. Libertarian foreign policy wonks don't generally do nuance or context.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

CNAB welcomes the ruling striking the controversial Bosnia and Herzegovina Citizenship Act as unconstitutional

[I am passing along this press release from the Congress of North American Bosniaks. My thanks to them.]

The Congress of North American Bosniaks (CNAB) welcomes the decision of the Constitutional Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) ruling that the controversial Citizenship Act is unconstitutional. The Court ruled that the Bosnia and Herzegovina Parliament has six months to change the law which takes away the Bosnian-Herzegovinian citizenship to those citizens who have also become citizens of another country, except for those holding citizenship of countries with whom BiH has signed bilateral agreements on such issues. CNAB has repeatedly warned that the Citizenship Act discriminates against Bosniaks in the Diaspora because of the fact that the majority of them were forced to leave the country during the Bosnian war. Enforcement of the Citizenship Act in 2013 would have devastating consequences for relations between Bosniaks living outside of Bosnia and Herzegovina and their homeland.

This decision is extremely important in its intention to encourage more serious and long term solution in relation to the Bosnia-Herzegovinian diaspora. More must be done to improve the relations of the Bosnian government and the large number of citizens who now live in other countries. It is appalling that the state of Bosnia and Herzegovina, which has an extremely high percentage of citizens who live outside of its borders, does not have an established Ministry for Diaspora relations which is necessary to adequately address the needs and concerns, especially of those citizens who were forced to leave as refugees.

CNAB will continue to lobby the state institutions in Bosnia and Herzegovina as well as all relevant institutions in the United States, Canada, and the European Union to call attention to the problems faced by Bosnians living abroad. Furthermore, we will continue to voice our concerns with human rights violations against Bosniaks in the Republika Srpska entity of Bosnia and Herzegovina, including obstruction to the return of refugees as well as the lack of progress in development and implementation of key reforms that would create the necessary conditions for the return of refugees to their homeland.

On behalf of CNAB,

Hamdija Čustović, CNAB spokesperson

Friday, September 16, 2011

Hitchens on 9/11 - Bosnia Mentioned

Christopher Hitchens revisits the essential moral point about the 9/11 terrorist attacks in this article for Like virtually everything the man writes, it is worth a read not only for the substance of his arguments but for the elegance of his prose. I'm linking it partly because it is always good for the public to be reminded that the Bosnian genocide was essentially an act of evil (as he does at the end of this piece); and also because I am grateful that even with the advanced cancer he is afflicted with, it is still possible to pass along a link to the "latest from Christopher Hitchens". I hope Mr. Hitchens would approve of my choice to describe cancer as something he is "afflicted with"; it may not be the most precise or apt choice of words, but I suspect he would prefer my choice to "suffers from."

I don't know Mr. Hitchens--I once stood a few feet away from him, at a show of support outside the Danish embassy in Washington, DC, but chose not to introduce myself or take up any of his time, and unfortuately that was the only opportunity I've ever had to speak to the man. But I have a great regard for him, and I know I am not alone in saying that my own political and ideological journey has been enriched, informed, and partially shaped by the force and pursuasiveness of his polemical journey. His cancer diagnosis is not "new news", but neither is my intellectual and ideological debt to the man. Consider this post my humble tip-of-the-hat from an aspiring historian and budding writer to a master of the craft.

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

War Criminal Momcilo Perisic Convicted

[Press Release from Bosniak American Advisory Council for Bosnia and Herzegovina]

Today, the former Yugoslav army chief, General Momcilo Perisic was convicted by the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) for war crimes that he committed in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) and Croatia. Gen. Perisic was sentenced to 27 years in prison for inhumane acts, such as providing military aid to General Ratko Mladic in orchestrating the genocide in the U.N. protected zone of Srebrenica that took the lives of over 8,000 Bosniak men and boys, as well as for providing crucial military assistance during the four year shelling of Sarajevo.

Furthermore, Gen. Perisic is responsible for having direct control of rebels that injured and killed innocent civilians in the city of Zagreb in May of 1995. Lastly, he is responsible for sending military aid such as countless bullets and artillery shells from Belgrade to Serb rebels in BiH. Gen. Perisic's support of these Serb forces had a direct impact on the atrocities that were committed in BiH during the war that lasted from 1992-1995. Gen. Perisic is the most senior Yugoslav officer to be put on trial at the ICTY and presiding Judge Moloto stated that "the crimes charged in this case were not perpetrated by rouge soldiers acting independently, rather they were part of a lengthy campaign overseen by top (Bosnian Serb) officers on the Yugoslav Army's payroll."

Today, BAACBH remembers all of the victims that lost their lives due to the cruel and inhumane acts that were perpetrated by individuals such as General Perisic; and let us not forget that justice is the only path towards a democratic and prosperous Southeast Europe.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Balkan Revisionism meets Apocalyptic Christian Fundamentalism

One of these days, when I'm finished with graduate school and have more time to once again devote to this blog and Bosnia-related issues, one of the deeper questions/issues I'd like to dig into is to try and determine whether or not there is any cohesive ideological or psychological motivation behind the various, seemingly-incompatible strands of Balkan Revisionism and Bosnian Genocide Denial.

For now, though, I'll just pass along this piece of drivel I discovered, in which the theoretical basis for the Michael Parenti/Diana Johnstone post-Stalinist school of thought is embraced by Christian fundamentalist/prophetic end-of-times believers:

What Really Happened in Bosnia [Note: This is the title of the article, not my own take on the content--far from it].

It's the same nonsense we've all heard before, only this time is service to Rapture-believing right-wing Christian fundamentalists. The Z-magazine crowd must be so proud.

Sorry if you feel I'm wasting your time with this drivel, but I need to periodically touch base just to keep this blog on life support until I once again have the time to do more substantive work. Hope my regular readers are all fine.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Monday, July 11, 2011

The 16th Anniversary of the Srebrenica Genocide

[Press release from Bosniak American Advisory Council for Bosnia and Herzegovina. Thanks for permission to reproduce.]

The Bosniak American Advisory Council for Bosnia and Herzegovina (BAACBH) marks the 16th anniversary of the Srebrenica Genocide with grief and sorrow and together, with the families of those killed, is remembering the innocent victims that lost their lives in the worst atrocity that Europe has seen since World War II.

On July 11, 1995, the Bosnian town of Srebrenica, a declared United Nations safe haven, fell to Serb paramilitary forces led by General Ratko Mladic, an indicted war criminal who was recently arrested in Serbia. The fall of Srebrenica marks the final act of brutal ethnic cleansing and genocide in BiH, where more than 8,000 Bosniak men and boys were slaughtered within a five day period. Today, 16 years after the worst atrocity committed in Europe since the end of the Second World War, we are reminded that the world did not keep its promise when it said "Never Again."

The 16th commemoration of the Srebrenica Genocide is a dark reminder that the world failed to protect innocent civilians. BAACBH, an independent non-governmental organization advocating on behalf of Bosnian Americans is committed to preserving the memory of those who suffered and lost their lives in Srebrenica.

Lastly, as the surviving relatives, neighbors, diplomats and members of the international community gather to commemorate the Srebrenica Genocide, let us not forget that justice must prevail, and that the truth must be told in order to prevent atrocities such as this one from ever happening again in BiH, or anywhere else in the world.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Republika Srpska to pay for Mladic, Karadzic Hague Legal Defence

I wish I was surprised:

As explained in this article from the Southeast Europe Times, the political leadership of RS is still willing to play games with the toxic legacy of its nationalist foundations. This is shameful, and yet another sign that the administrative division of Bosnia only strengthens nationalist extremists and institutionalizes ethnic divisions.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Ratko Mladic: All Serbs Are Guilty

I have argued before on this blog--in my review of Diana Johnstone's "Fools' Crusade" for example--that one reason why so many Serb ultra-nationalists and their Western enablers so vigorously deny basic facts about events during the wars in the former Yugoslavia is because the collectivist nature of the nationalist myths they used to fuel and justify those wars erase any concept of individual conscience or accounatability. Because these myths fully embrace a collectivist notion of collective guilt on the part of the "enemies of the Serb nation", they also implicitly accept the notion of collective action, and guilt, on the part of the Serbs themselves.

In this article from The Guardian, Ratko Mladic essentially makes my point for me:

What has been visible since then is a more familiar Mladic, arrogant and demanding, insisting not only on his own innocence but on the shared guilt of all of the Serbian people. "He said: 'You elected [Slobodan] Milosevic, not me. You are all guilty, not me'."

On one level, this is ridiculous. One of the core principles of this blog is that individuals are not primarily or solely members of a collective ethnic, national, or religious group, but rather sovereign individuals who should be equal before the law. But on another level, Mladic is merely taking the collectivist mentality of Serbian ethno-nationalism to its logical conclusion. If ethnic national groups rather than individual citizens are the core foundation of states, then individuals can only be judged as members of their ethnic group. It takes more than elections to make a democratic culture, and in that regard Mladic is speaking more truth than he most likely realizes.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Serbia Arrests Ratko Mladic

I was getting ready to post another story, when I saw that this news story had broke:

Ratko Mladic arrested in Serbia, president says

Not much to say, we'll see how it goes from here, but this is undoubtably great news.

Article from latest National Congress of the Republic of Bosnia-Herzegovina

From: REPUBLIC OF BOSNIA AND HERZEGOVINA National Congress of the Republic of Bosnia-Herzegovina (NCR B&H) ONLINE NEWSLETTER, International issue, No. 727 May 12, 2011

1. Is Europa going to take part in the end game of the genocide in Bosnia?

The following article nicely summarizes the issues regarding Dodik’s personal motivation to organize a “referendum” in the so-called Serbian Republic in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The more important issue -- that such a referendum would violate even the Dayton peace accord -- is set aside in the article, but it is addressed in many other published articles. In fact, that was the reason the High Representative in Bonsia, Valentin Inzko, explained for his decision to sanction RS and Dodik if they proceed with the referendum.

The most important reason against a referendum in Republika Srpska is that it is an illegal entity created by aggression and genocide from Serbia, but this is also not the focus of the article. The major problem for citizens of Bosnia is that Dodik always finds his marionettes even among the so called Bosniak politicians. However, the eventual support of the corrupt Bosniak politicians to Dodik's request should not be an excuse for Europeans to give up their influence in Bosnia.

According to the Dayton peace agreement, OHR has real power in Bosnia; it is not merely a mediator. Their influence is necessary in order to save at least some justice in Bosnia. If Europeans, i.e. Stefan Füle, the European Commissioner for Enlargement, act merely as mediators and allow the Serbs and “Bosniaks” to disable the Bosnian judiciary, it would be the complicity in the end game of the destruction of Bosnia that was started by aggression and genocide.

--Muhamed Borogovac, Ph. D., ASA, MAAABoston, USA National Congress of the Republic Bosnia&Herzegovina

2. Bosnian Court: a European entity Radio Netherlands Worldwide International Justice Tribune
Published on : 23 May 2011 - 10:51am

At the end of May, EU foreign ministers will discuss Bosnia and Herzegovina following a deal Catherine Ashton, EU foreign policy chief, achieved with the Bosnian Serb leadership on 13 May. By Nidzara Ahmetasevic As a result of this deal, Bosnian Serb President Milorad Dodik, called off the referendum challenging the legality of the Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina and the Prosecutor's Office - in exchange for a reform of Bosnia's judiciary system, supervised by the EU. Both institutions were formed during the last judiciary reform 10 years ago and led by the international community in Bosnia and Herzegovina represented by the Office of the High Representative (OHR).

State judiciary institutions, as well as number of laws (including the Criminal Code) were established in 2002 by the OHR decision. After the war from 1992-1995, Bosnia and Herzegovina was divided in two entities - Republika Srpska with a majority Serb population and the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina with a majority Bosniak (Bosnian Muslim) and Croat population. The country is a semi protectorate. But the ultimate power to impose laws and sack politicians, is in the hands of the OHR. The Court and the Prosecution, the highest state judiciary institutions, deal with war crimes and organized crime.

Structured dialogue Stefan Füle, the European Commissioner for Enlargement, will chair the first session of the "structured dialogue" on the judiciary reform in Bosnia in the first half of June, in the Bosnian Serb capital Banja Luka. This was not the first time Dodik threatened the Court and Prosecution with a referendum, and not the first time he changed his mind. At the end of 2009, he opposed an extension of the mandate of the international personnel in both institutions. In order to guarantee the independence of the Court and Prosecution when they were established in 2002, the OHR engaged international personnel as judges, prosecutors, analysts and advisors. In that decision, their mandate was limited to the end of 2009. However, finding that these institutions still need an international presence as a guarantee for their work, the OHR extended their mandate until 20 December 2012. Dissatisfied with the OHR decision, Dodik, then Bosnian Serb Prime Minister, said he would call a special session of his Parliament to vote on whether to hold a referendum.

Dodik said his decision had nothing to do "with destabilization" but "with the legal dignity and sovereignty of the country and the right of the Bosnian Serb Republic to its own opinion and we will not back away". However, he backed away that time, as well as this time. Since 2004, when the Court and Prosecution officially began their work, over 200 people have been indicted and prosecuted for war crimes, including genocide in Srebrenica. Some of the indictees were former high-ranking politicians, military and police officers.

The Court also dealt with the cases transferred from the International Criminal Tribunal for former Yugoslavia (ICTY) as a part of its completition strategy. Embezzelment Analysts claim that the real reason for Dodik's objection to the existence of the Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina and the Prosecutor's Office is related to the ongoing investigation into his alleged involvement in embezzlement of public funds. "Over the last couple of days, there have been different explanations for Dodik's decision to hold a referendum. The most common is that he is trying to draw attention away from the economic issues that he cannot solve," Azhar Kalamujic, editor for the Center for Investigative Journalism (CIN) in Sarajevo said.

Over the last couple of months, CIN has been conducting an investigation into Dodik's financial dealings. Based on this research, Kalamujic claims that Dodik should face trial. "The State prosecutor is the only one in this country ready to investigate Dodik's business. He tried everything to stop this investigation...," Kalamujic said. Eldar Hadzovic from the Balkan Investigative Reporting Network (BIRN) agrees. He claims that Dodik has tried to jeopardize the State Court and Prosecution in different ways since 2006 and that these attempts have intensified since the investigation was launched.

It is not known in which direction judiciary reform will go now, or what exactly Dodik or the EU want to achieve by it. Nevertheless, the Sarajevo daily Dnevni Avaz reports that Dodik considers Ashton's visit and acceptance of open talks on reform as a "political success for Republika Srpska".

[I edited the above press release slightly by adding somewhat arbitrary line breaks to improve readability, and some other minor cosmetic changes. The text itself is unchanged.]

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Bosnian-American Friendship Association

It's my pleasure to pass along this Facebook page for a fairly new and very worthwhile venture:

Bosnian-American Friendship Association

I encourage anyone reading this blog to check them out.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Press Release: 19th Annivsersary of the Bosnian Genocide at Visegrad

[Please see Visegrad Genocide Blog for more information. The press release follows.]

2011 Visegrad Genocide Calender
Visegrad Genocide Memories

Press Release

The central commemoration of the 19th anniversary of the Visegrad genocide will be held on 28.05.2011 on the Mehmed-pasa Sokolovic bridge in Visegrad. The commemoration will be followed by the burial of Visegrad martyrs at the Straziste Muslim cemetery.
This commemoration is organized by the Association of victims families “Visegrad 92″.
Contact person: Hida Kasapovic (062 212 631) – Bosnian
and Berina Pekmezovic (061 508 691) – English

The Pionirska Street massacre will be commemorated on 14.06.2011 at 12 o’clock noon. The official ceremony will be followed with religious prayers for the victims. The commemoration will be held in front of the site of the massacre in Pionirska Street, Visegrad.
On 14.06.1992. around 70 Bosniak civilians were burned alive in Pionirska Street by Serb soldiers – only a few survived.
This commemoration is organized by the Association Women-Victims of War.
Contact person: Bakira Hasecic (061 272 000)-Bosnian
and Berina Pekmezovic (061 508 691)

The Bikavac massacre will be commemorated on 27.06.2011 at 12 o’clock noon. The official ceremony will be followed with religious prayers for the victims. The commemoration will be held in front of the site of the massacre in the Bikavac settlement, Visegrad.
On 27.06.1992. around 70 Bosniak civilians were burned alive in Meho Aljic’s house in Bikavac by Serb soldiers – only one person survived.
This commemoration is organized by the Association Women-Victims of War.
Contact person: Bakira Hasecic (061 272 000)-Bosnian
and Berina Pekmezovic (061 508 691) – English
♦For more information on these commemorations or information on Visegrad please contact Visegrad Genocide Memories editor at♦


[Please see the original Press release at 2011 Visegrad Genocide Calendar. I also recommend keeping tabs on the Visegrad Genocide Blog; it's been quite active lately and I suspect that will continue with the commemoration coming up.]

EDIT: I just realized that for months, I have had the wrong link for Visegrad Genocide Blog--I was using a link to a specific post rather than the main link to the main page; if anybody got the mistaken impression from my misleading link that the blog had not been updated since last June, I sincerely apologize.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Third Annual Bosnian Women's Day on Capitol Hill

[Press Release from The Bosniak American Advisory Council for Bosnia and Herzegovina (BAACBH)]:

Third Annual Bosnian Women's Day on Capitol Hill
Empowerment through Film: "Back to Bosnia"
The Bosniak American Advisory Council for Bosnia and Herzegovina (BAACBH) cordially invites you to the Third Annual Bosnian Women's Day on Capitol Hill. We will celebrate the courage of women and emphasize the role of film and multiethnic dialogue in a post-conflict society.

Opening Program and Reception: Tuesday, April 12, 2011

2:30 pm - 4:30 pm

Location: Rayburn House Office Building, Room 2253

Keynote speakers 2:30 p.m. - 3:00 p.m.
The Honorable Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX)
Ms. Sabina Vajraca, Bosnian-American Award Winning Filmmaker

Showing of documentary "Back to Bosnia" 3:00 p.m. - 4:15 p.m.

**Bosnian delicacies will be provided.**

BAACBH along with the help of Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX), her staff and the Heinrich Böll Foundation North America would like to emphasize the role of women in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

The documentary film "Back to Bosnia" is a story of a family who returns to Bosnia in order to reclaim their property after being forced out from their home during the war in Bosnia that lasted from 1992-1995. While there, the family is confronted with the destruction of their city's multiethnic character and forced to examine the community they left behind. They witness an exhumation, visit the sites of war crimes, and seek out the remnants of a city that was once their home, as well as confront those that forced them out.

This event is sponsored by the generous financial support of the Heinrich Böll Foundation North America.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

"Bosnia and Beyond" by Jeanne Haskin [5]

Part 2

...will have to wait.

My interlibrary loan copy is due to be returned to the lending library system tomorrow; the issues covered in Part 2 (lessons about humanitarian intervention, international responses to genocide, and other "lessons of Yugoslavia") deserve more than a perfunctory review; and since I haven't found much substance in Part 1, I really cannot justify putting aside further time for this book when my graduate studies are piling up.

I may revisit this book sometime later this year; in the meantime, I hope to begin tackling another, more substantive book, within the next week or two.

Sorry to bail out mid-stream.

Friday, April 08, 2011

"Bosnia and Beyond" by Jeanne Haskin [4]

Chapter 7

The role of international aid and humanitarian campaigns; the establishment of safe areas; different peace plans and the creeping institutionalization and acceptance of ethnic partition among the Western powers; the Croat-Muslim war; atrocities carried out by Muslim forces; "lift and strike"; criticism of the inactivity and passivity of the international community by Western observers in and outside of Bosnia.

Haskin passes along this quote from Lewis MacKenzie: "Now obviously the critics will say this rewards force and sets a bad example. I can only say to them, read your history. Force has been rewarded since the first caveman picked up a club. occupied his neighbor's cave, and ran off with his wife." She got this quote from Norman Cigar's "Genocide in Bosnia." She provides no comment; hopefully that is because she believes the stupidity (what sort of "history" has MacKenzie read?) and amoralism of his comment requires no explication. Unfortunately, after reading her book I am not at all certain that Haskin has a firm enough hand on the rudder.
Despite the fact that the book purports to "[show] how Western plans for the liberalization of the country resulted in ethnic polarization and the election of ethno-nationalist leaders", it is largely a mediocre and flaccid work of historiography; little more than a "this side vs. that side" summation of other people's work, with occasional--and not very convincing--editorial asides.

Chapter 8

The war ends, finally--and in this chapter, pretty quickly--11 pages to cover the Markale Massacre, the Srebrenica genocide (she calls it a "slaughter" but given how superficial her knowledge seems to be it is not surprising that the April 2004 ruling that it was a genocide had not yet registered wtih ther), Operation Storm, the intervention of NATO, and Dayton. Haskin veers dangerously close to justifying the Serb attack on Srebrenica as being of "military necessity" but at least she doesn't accept the rationales for how that attack was carried out or for the genocide which subsequently took place. She mostly rejects Sremac on the subject--but then again, why quote her at length (as she does yet again) in the first place?

This account is so perfunctory it simply isn't worth the time it would take to analyze what little substance is here.

Conclusion of Part 1

This five-page summary of what Haskin claims to have shown in the first eight chapters. As I hope to have sufficiently expressed already, I remain unconvinced, to put it mildly. Haskin sees parts of the whole, but she began by uncritically accepting the notion that Yugoslavia was broken up "by Western manipulation of the Yugoslav economy"; and that subsequent events were stage-managed by Western powers in order to achieve an end result which benefitted Western financial interests. This, in spite of the fact that even the back cover preview of the book admits that "no formal plan has surfaced to show that the whole thing was engineered to provide a base fo US/NATO troops"; I have no problem with speculative writing, except that in this case she seems to be forcing 'evidence' to fit an ideologically motivated thesis. It never occurs to her than Western inaction might have been a product of a lack of domestic political support, for example.

All in all, a very flimsy case for a very dubious thesis, made with a hodgepodge of hardly-esoteric secondary sources. I won't be reviewing Part 2 in such detail; I will summarize it briefly in my next post.

Monday, April 04, 2011

"Bosnia and Beyond" by Jeanne Haskin [3]

Chapter 4

This is a perfunctory synopsis of the War in Croatia.

Chatper 5

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

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

Chapter 6

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

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

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

Friday, April 01, 2011

Bosnia Banned from FIFA and UEFA


Bosnia federation banned by FIFA, UEFA

The article is short, and sadly not surprising considering the state of other national institutions in Bosnia; the Bosnian Serb leadership of the FA refuses to give up autonomy, and therefore is hobbling the national FA. And the result is paralysis and an inability to participate internationally as a nation. The subject in this case is soccer, but the metaphor applies to the failure of the Dayton agreement in general.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

"Bosnia and Beyond" by Jeanne Haskin [2]

I'm going to preface this post with two short apologies:

1) Sorry it took me over a week from the first post to continue this review; and

2) Sorry I selected this book without knowing more about it. Haskin does not seem to have anything particularly original to add to the debate on Bosnia. This is not necessarily a bad thing--I don't I have much to add to the debate on Bosnia, either, but I'm an amateur blogger. I freely admit to being a non-specialist and a non-speaker/reader of Serbo-Croat who relies entirely on secondary sources in English for his information. As such, I try to focus more on book reviews and historiography rather than any pretense to original research or analysis. Of course, this requires that I exercise some judgement and a willingness to make critical evaluations of the sources I rely on.

I am not convinced that Haskin is sufficiently aware that she works under the same limitations I do. This book is little more than a summary of other works, seemingly shoehorned into an ideologically pre-determined conceptual framework. A quick visit to the website of the publisher, Algora Publishing, reinforces that perception.

I will stick with this review, if only to give Haskin the chance to redeem herself, but so far I am not impressed.

Part 1
Chapter One: The Pre-War Situation

This chapter explicitly rehashes the argument made by Susan Woodward and Michael Chossudovsky--that the breakup of Yugoslavia was a direct result of a Western-imposed financial crisis at the end of the Cold War. The argument here is nuanced to the extent that she doesn't believe that the West intended to destroy Yugoslavia, but rather merely intended to overthrow the Communist government. The theory here is that disparities between the different republics created fault lines that nationalists were able to exploit; Milosevic most adroitly.

Her 'evidence' is slim, and the weakness of her book is evident within the first few pages; she states her positions briefly, includes a handful of footnotes from the same few sources, and considers her case made. If this were merely an aside to the larger issues to come, the reader could forgive her--but the premise of the entire book is that the West, particularly the United States, were primarily responsible for the breakup of the country and therefore bear a great deal of the blame for the violence which followed. Because of that, it is important that the author should establish this crucial point as best she can before moving on. She fails to do so.

Chapter 2

And yet--often is seems that Haskin's heart is in the right place. Although she accepts one of the key premises of Balkan revisionism, she seems not to have followed Woodward and Chossudovsky into the arms of Johnstone, Parenti, and company.

In this chapter, she briefly summarizes some of the context for the rise of nationalism in post-Tito Yugoslavia; specifically among Serbs and Croats. Nothing here will surprise any readers of this blog, but frankly they will surprise a reader who has just finished Chapter 1 and thinks he or she knows where Haskin is going.

Chapter 3

This chapter briefly summarizes the preparation for war among Serb nationalists, within the Milosevic regime and its proxies, to a lesser extent among nationalist Croats and the Tudjman regime, and the lack of preparation by Izetbegovic and the nascent Bosnian state. Again, there is nothing new here.

One interesting note: While Haskin accepts Woodward's thesis that Western-imposed economic hardship was the primary cause of the eventual breakdown of the Yugoslav state, she explicitly rejects Woodward's claim that the RAM--the Serb paramilitary forces created either by Milosevic or his allies--was created to defend against Western aggression. While I suppose it is good that she rejects Woodward's ridiculous claim, it is curious that she doesn't recognize that this is a warning sign that Woodward's thesis is an ideologically driven project to make the facts fit the theory rather than the other way around. Haskin picks and chooses which trees she likes without any awareness that someone is trying to get her lost in a forest.


I will probably continue to review Part 1 in a perfunctory manner; Part 2 might merit slightly more measured consideration and attention.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

"Bosnia and Beyond" by Jeanne Haskin [1]

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

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


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

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

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

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

This could be interesting.

Friday, March 04, 2011

Press Release: BAACBH Condemns the Arrest of General Divjak

[It seems that the government in Belgrade is still playing this tired game; apparently the government there still feels that there is political traction is these stunts. Thanks to the Bosniak American Advisory Council for Bosnia and Herzegovina for this press release.]

General Jovan Divjak, former Deputy Commander of the Army of Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH), was detained on March 3, 2011, by the Austrian authorities on an international arrest warrant issued by the government of Serbia. General Divjak was arrested at the Vienna International Airport at approximately 8:00 pm local time. The Austrian judicial authorities have indicated that they intend to keep General Divjak detained for two weeks until a determination is made regarding Serbia's extradition request.

The Serbian government issued a warrant for Mr. Divjak's arrest on the grounds that he was involved in war crimes during the siege of Sarajevo which lasted from April 5, 1992 to February 29, 1996. Specifically, Mr. Divjak is accused of war crimes during an incident that occurred on Dobrovoljacka Street in Sarajevo on May 3, 1992.

Mr. Divjak's arrest is not an isolated case and is part of a continued pattern by the government of Serbia to intimidate all those who stood in defense of BiH. Last year, on March 1, 2010, the Serbian government issued a similar arrest warrant for Mr. Ejup Ganic, the former member of the wartime presidency of the Republic of BiH. Mr. Ganic was arrested on March 1, 2010, at London's Heathrow Airport for the alleged crimes committed during the same Dobrovoljacka Street incident. Four months after the arrest, Mr. Ganic was released because there was no evidence against him, proving that Serbia's arrest warrant was politically motivated.

BAACBH strongly condemns the arrest of General Jovan Divjak and believes that once again, Serbia's action is an assault on Bosnia's inherent and inalienable right to defend its population against the Serbian aggression. It is an assault on the reconciliation process, and it is an attempt to undermine the atrocities committed in BiH from 1992 to 1995 by the Yugoslav National Army (JNA) and Serbian paramilitary troops under Belgrade's command. Serbia has demonstrated by this politicized action that it does not respect Bosnia's sovereignty and that it is not yet prepared to be a trusted neighbor in the Balkans.

BAACBH urges for the appropriate authorities to swiftly carry out the necessary investigation so that General Jovan Divjak is released.

Monday, February 14, 2011

New Article from the Institute of War & Peace Reporting

It is again my privilege to reprint this article with the kind permission of the Institute for War & Peace Reporting. Many thanks for permission to reproduce it and pass it on:

Karadzic and Mladic “Operated Together”
Ex-UN military chief in Bosnia gives evidence about relations within Bosnian Serb leadership.

By Rachel Irwin - International Justice - ICTY
TRI Issue 679, 11 Feb 11

The former commander of United Nations forces in Bosnia told Hague tribunal prosecutors this week that Radovan Karadzic and his top general Ratko Mladic were effective leaders and “operated together”.

“Both Mr Karadzic and General Mladic were very clearly in command of what they were doing,” said prosecution witness General Sir Rupert Smith, who met with both men on several occasions during 1995.

“They were clearly operating together [with other members of the Bosnian Serb leadership],” Smith continued. “That was [what] we were told by them - that they operated together as one.”

“With respect to the military itself, the Bosnian Serb army, did you have the opportunity to observe the nature of its command structure and command and control relationships?” prosecuting lawyer Alan Tieger asked.

“Speaking from the impression formed over time - here was any army in which orders were obeyed,” Smith replied. “Instructions, if given at the top, saw action at bottom, and you could see communications going to the top.”

Prosecutors allege that Karadzic, the president of Bosnia's self-declared Republika Srpska, RS, from 1992 to 1996, planned and oversaw the 44-month siege of Sarajevo that ravaged the city and left nearly 12,000 people dead. Karadzic’s army is accused of deliberately sniping and shelling the city’s civilian population in order to “spread terror” among them.

The indictment - which lists 11 counts in total - alleges that Karadzic was responsible for crimes of genocide, persecution, extermination, murder and forcible transfer which "contributed to achieving the objective of the permanent removal of Bosnian Muslims and Bosnian Croats from Bosnian Serb-claimed territory". He was arrested in Belgrade in July 2008 after 13 years on the run.

Smith said that when he would express concern to General Mladic about the continued sniping and shelling of Sarajevo, there was a “frequent theme” to the latter’s response.

“The response is, ‘We’re doing it because they (the Bosnian government) are doing it,’ and secondly, ‘You are not stopping it, so I had to do it’,” Smith recalled.

However, the witness said that in his opinion, the “bulk” of the shelling was coming into Sarajevo from Bosnian Serb forces, which surrounded the city.

“During the course of your service, were you able to identify the effect or objective of the shelling of civilian areas?” Tieger asked.

“The objective appeared to me to be the harassment of the population at large,” Smith said. “There was no specific target, and events occurred randomly. You couldn’t see them connected to events happening on the ground where this shell landed.”

Smith said he also met with Mladic after paying a visit to the eastern enclave of Srebrenica in March 1995, when it was still a UN designated safe area. In July of that year, Bosnian Serb forces captured the enclave and murdered some 8,000 Bosniak men and boys, an event which both Karadzic and Mladic are accused of planning and overseeing.

However, Smith said that in March, Mladic had a “different understanding of what the safe area was”.

According to Smith, Mladic took out a map and drew a small “lozenge” centered on Srebrenica town itself.

“If he attacked, he would respect that lozenge but nothing else,” said Smith, who added that he disagreed with Mladic’s limited characterisation of the safe area.

A few months later, in May 1995, Smith said he issued a warning to both the Bosnian Serb army and the Bosnian government army to return heavy weapons to what was called a “weapons collection point”.

“I made a point that whether force was used was entirely in the hands of General Mladic - if he returned the weapons, it would not be used,” Smith said.

But the weapons were not returned by the imposed deadline, Smith continued, and NATO airstrikes on Bosnian Serb military targets commenced on May 26. In response, Bosnian Serb forces allegedly took hostage more than 200 UN military observers and peacekeepers, using many of them as human shields.

Smith said he believed the hostage-taking was a “centrally controlled” effort which Mladic led.

“I don’t think there was a doubt in either of our minds that he was in charge of dealing with the hostages,” Smith said.

When it was Karadzic’s turn to conduct his cross examination, he greeted Smith and remarked on his “good health”.

“I see you are not aging and that your memory is very fresh,” Karadzic noted with a smile.

As the questions got underway, however, their exchange was at times quite tense.

“You arrived with the intention to end the war, and to end it, it was necessary to bomb the Serbs, and that the UN should change [its] mandate and be able to use force, would you agree?” Karadzic asked.

“I did not arrive with intention to end the war,” Smith responded.

“Was your position that the United Nations should resort to force?” Karadzic asked.

“No, it was not my position, and it certainly wouldn’t have been one at all at the beginning of my tour,” Smith said.

Later, Karadzic presented a series of documents related to the NATO bombings and ensuing hostage crisis, and said that “one gets the impression that you’re waging a personal war against Mladic”.

“Did you try to vanquish Mladic during the war… to humiliate him, and did that contribute to our suffering?” Karadzic asked.

“No, I didn’t want to humiliate him and I wasn’t interested in increasing the suffering of anybody,” Smith replied. “The burden of what I was required to do … was to change the intentions of that commander (Mladic) and those around him such as yourself. In that sense, of course, it’s personal.”

Karadzic countered that in a “planned fashion you became a war time ally of our enemy”.

“Is it not clear that … you tried to change the situation on the ground in order to make it possible for Muslims and Croats to have better negotiating position?” Karadzic asked.

“I was not doing anything to improve the situation for the other party,” Smith said. “Inevitably what we were doing, attacking the Bosnian Serb army [through the NATO bombings], would alter that balance. My purpose was to re-impose the exclusion zones and get weapons withdrawn from them.”

The trial continues next week.

Rachel Irwin is an IWPR reporter in The Hague.


Wednesday, February 09, 2011

New Article from the Institute for War & Peace Reporting

It is again my privilege to reprint this article with the kind permission of the Instiute for War & Peace Reporting. Many thanks for permission to reproduce it and pass it on:

UN Hostage Speaks of Execution Fears
Ex-Canadian observer tells court how he feared for his life after being seized by Bosnian Serb soldiers.

A former United Nations military observer testified this week at the Hague tribunal that he was taken hostage by soldiers in Radovan Karadzic’s army and repeatedly threatened with violence.

Canadian army major Patrick Rechner is the fifth prosecution witness in recent weeks to describe his ordeal as a hostage during the Bosnian war.

On May 25 and 26, 1995, NATO forces conducted air strikes on Bosnian Serb military targets. In response, Bosnian Serb forces allegedly took over 200 UN military observers and peacekeepers hostage between May 26 and June 19 of that year, including Rechner, and according to the prosecutor’s pretrial brief, held them at “various locations in the [Bosnian Serb entity], using them as human shields and maltreating some of them”.

Rechner told the court that prior to the events in May, his team lived and worked in the town of Pale, in a three-storey house about 300 metres from the headquarters of the Bosnian Serb presidency. Unlike some others, his group of military observers, UNMOs, did not go on patrol, but instead mainly worked as liaisons between the UN and the Bosnian Serb political and military leadership.

On the morning of May 26, Bosnian Serb soldiers entered their house, Rechner said. Before they saw him, Rechner said he managed to call a few people with whom he had been in frequent contact, including Karadzic’s personal secretary and Jovan Zametica, Karadzic’s senior political advisor. The secretary told him that the soldiers were sent “officially” while Zametica suggested Rechner be “as cooperative as possible”.

At that point, Rechner said that his interpreters summoned him to the office where two Bosnian Serb soldiers were waiting, both of whom carried AK 47s. One of the soldiers, Nicholas Ribic, was a “Canadian of Serbian origin”, Rechner had met before, he said.

Rechner contacted his headquarters via radio and said there were armed men in this office, and then “Ribic, who of course spoke perfect English as a Canadian, started making threats that he wanted the airstrikes called off”.

Ribic’s threats soon became more specific, Rechner said.

“[Ribic] said that if the bombing continues, we will execute the UNMOs, meaning myself and other two team members,” Rechner recalled. “The threats got more specific to the point where [Ribic said] ‘For the next bomb that falls, one UNMO will be killed’.”

Ribic then called the office of General Rupert Smith, who was the commander of UN forces in Bosnia at the time, and made similar threats, Rechner said.

After that, Rechner said he and his colleagues were driven away to an ammunition depot known as Jahorinski Potok, a NATO target. During the journey, they were handcuffed to each other, he said, and once they arrived, they encountered an angry group of civilians.

“One of them then broke away from the crowd, came to our vehicle and opened the door and started punching and kicking me,” Rechner said. “Unfortunately I had only one hand to defend myself [because of the handcuffs] so I got a few good punches and kicks in the process.”

Bosnian Serb soldiers pulled the man off and he appeared to calm down, Rechner said, but then he took out a pistol. Once again, the soldiers took it away, but the man then grabbed Rechner by the throat, he said.

“[The man] said he had lost 12 sheep in the airstrike and he said that this was his livelihood,” Rechner recalled, adding that the man also expressed fear that a missing relative had been killed in the airstrike that morning.

“He ended by saying that for those reasons he should be allowed to kill me and I shouldn’t be surprised by his reaction,” Rechner said. “I told him that we had nothing to do with the airstrikes, but he was too emotional and angry to discuss that issue.”

When the group finally entered the facility, another Bosnian Serb soldier approached and took out a revolver, Rechner said.

“[The soldier] pointed to two notches he had in the handle and he explained that those notches were for two people he had already killed with it,” Rechner recalled. “And he said that if airstrikes would not kill us by the end of the day, he would come over and personally execute us, and he would really enjoy getting three more notches on his revolver handle, indicating that the three notches were for the three of us [military observers].”

Sometime later, Rechner said they received confirmation that the airstrikes had been called off, but shortly thereafter, there was yet another airstrike.

“It wasn’t clear to any of us what real situation was—if airstrikes had been called off or not,” Rechner said.

The group was then driven to four bunkers that had not yet been hit, Rechner said. The soldiers handcuffed him to one of the lightning rods in front of the bunkers, he said, adding that his two colleagues were subject to similar treatment.

Rechner said he remained handcuffed to the lightning rod for five to six hours, but was given a crate to sit on after a while. During this time, a group of people in civilian clothes came to visit the facility, one of whom was Zametica, the political advisor to Karadzic who in an earlier phone call had told Rechner to cooperate.

“Mr Zametica came over to me and I expressed to him my shock and surprise at how we were treated, because up to that point I had thought maybe there was some kind of mistake, that this was an out of control group that had taken us hostage,” Rechner said.

“…I asked him what was going on and how he could justify this treatment of us, and I explained that I had been attacked and so on, and [Zametica] said, ‘Well, times have changed’,” Rechner continued. “And then in a self-satisfied way, he added a comment to himself, ‘I wonder what General Smith will do now.’ And then he walked up the road.”

At around 5 pm, some Bosnian Serb soldiers unhandcuffed Rechner, blindfolded him, and took him and some other UNMOs for a drive up “a steep and bumpy” road, the witness said.

When the car stopped and his blindfold was taken off, Rechner said he found himself in front of a “large radar dome.

“Two of the soldiers took out AK47s, donned black masks and then [one of them] turned to us and asked if we were afraid, and I said no, trying to appear as calm as possible.”

Prosecuting lawyer Alan Tieger then asked what Rechner thought would happen at that point.

“…When we were taken to the radar dome, my grave concern was that we were being taken there to be executed,” Rechner replied. “Driving up the dirt track, one soldier turned to another and asked why they were going there, … and the other soldier turned to him and said, ‘Oh, it’s because [General Ratko] Mladic wanted us to film some UN people there’, so one of the possibilities was we were being taken there to be executed and filmed in the process.”

That did not happen, and instead the soldiers took one of Rechner’s colleagues up to the radar dome and “conducted some sort of interview” with him there.

After that, the day took an especially “bizarre” turn, Rechner said. He and his colleagues were taken to a hotel and treated to dinner “as if nothing at all had happened to us”.

They were subsequently allowed to pick up blankets and provisions from their house in Pale, and Rechner was taken to a military garrison and reunited with other UNMOs.

“It was a very relieving situation to see that everyone was ok,” Rechner said, his voice breaking with emotion.

Rechner also said that, according to his interpreters at the time, local newscasts had shown video footage of him handcuffed to the lightning rod and they “accused us of being the people on the ground who were guiding the airstrikes.

“[This] was not only false, but it infuriated us because accusations like that put our lives in danger, because local people had very little access to independent media and we were concerned that … [they would] see these reports and take their angry and frustrations out on us.”

Towards the end of his time in captivity, Rechner’s repeated request for a meeting with Professor Nikola Koljevic, the vice-president of the self-declared Bosnian Serb entity and a close associate of Karadzic, was granted.

“I wanted to make sure Professor Koljevic understood everything [about how we were taken hostage]—he was bit surprised,” Rechner said. “He knew about some of the details but not everything, that we had actually been threatened and how the whole situation had impacted on all of us.”

Koljevic told Rechner that the airstrikes had been a “major crisis” for the Bosnian Serbs, and that the strikes had occurred prior to a deadline set by the UN for certain conditions to be met.

“He used the analogy of electric shock—sometimes if you treat a patient with electric shock you can kill him, but you can also cure him,” Rechner recalled. “[Koljevic] said that from his point of view this was worth the risk.”

When it was Karadzic’s turn to cross-examine the witness, he spent several minutes asking about Rechner’s status during his captivity.

“Were you ever told that you were prisoners of war?” Karadzic asked.

Rechner said that he was told this twice, but on one occasion he was referred to a “captive combatant”.

“You as a group asked for certain rights and privileges, among other things, for visit from the Red Cross, from a doctor and to watch television, right?” Karadzic asked.

Rechner confirmed that they asked for those things, but emphasised that the request to watch television was so as to “receive information through the media”.

“It was not because anyone called us prisoners of war, but because we considered it unjust to be taken captive,” Rechner continued. “…We requested the minimum that we as a group were entitled to if the Bosnian Serb side designated us as prisoners of war, because we weren’t getting any of that.”

“You got all three [requests], didn’t you?” Karadzic asked.

“Towards the end, yes,” Rechner responded. “We made the requests early on.”

Rechner said he also asked Koljevic for permission to make more frequent phone calls home, since the few that were permitted only lasted for one or two minutes at a time.

“You were in different theatres of war on behalf of the UN,” Karadzic remarked. “Did you ever see POWs entitled to satellite phones or wireless communications? Does international law envisage that kind of thing?”

“Move on to the next question,” presiding judge O-Gon Kwon interjected.

Karadzic concluded by thanking Rechner for his testimony.

“I’m sorry you went through what you went through, but I can’t help thinking also of the Serbs who were there at the time suffering from NATO airstrikes.”

The trial will continue next week with the testimony of General Rupert Smith, the commander of UN forces in Bosnia from January 1995 until the end of the conflict.

Rachel Irwin is an IWPR reporter in The Hague.


Allow me to editorialize a little bit--I hope that the next person who interviews General Lewis MacKenzie puts him on the spot about this. MacKenzie was collaborating with and publicly supporting an illegal regime which committed terrorist actions against his own troops. He may not have been the direct commander of this particular UN troop, but they were still from his force; what's more, this man was from the Canadian military. It is simply incomprehensible that a military office with any sense of honor and loyalty would have chosen to support a military force and 'government' which was committing this sort of war crime against a soldier from his own army. The man should be ashamed of himself.

Monday, January 24, 2011

New Article from Institute for War & Peace Reporting

It is again my privilege to reprint this article with the kind permission of the Instiute for War & Peace Reporting. Many thanks for permission to reproduce it and pass it on:

Bosnian Serb Command Structure "Crystal Clear"
Witness tells Karadzic trial that action could not be taken in Sarajevo without high command authorisation.

By Rachel Irwin - International Justice - ICTY
TRI Issue 676, 21 Jan 11
A former member of the United Nations peacekeeping operation in Sarajevo told the Hague tribunal trial of Radovan Karadzic this week that the Bosnian Serb army could not initiate attacks on the city without first receiving orders from the army’s top commander.

“The … command in Sarajevo could not take [its own] initiative,” said anonymous witness KDZ450, who testified in French with digital image distortion.

“It was General [Ratko] Mladic who was telling them, act on Sarajevo in order to exert pressure on the Muslims so they would stop their actions in the rest of Bosnia-Hercegovina,” the witness continued. “For me it was crystal clear.”

Mladic, who remains wanted by the tribunal, was commander of the Bosnian Serb army and subordinate to Karadzic, who from 1992 to 1996 was president of the self declared Bosnian Serb entity, Republika Sprska, RS.

Karadzic – who represents himself - stands accused of planning and overseeing the 44-month siege of Sarajevo that left nearly 12,000 people dead. His army is accused of deliberately sniping and shelling the city’s civilian population in order to “spread terror” among them.

The indictment - which lists 11 counts in total - alleges that Karadzic was responsible for crimes of genocide, persecution, extermination, murder and forcible transfer which “contributed to achieving the objective of the permanent removal of Bosnian Muslims and Bosnian Croats from Bosnian Serb-claimed territory”. He was arrested in Belgrade in July 2008 after 13 years on the run.

During the cross-examination, Karadzic asked the witness to elaborate on his previous statements regarding the “initiative” of the Bosnian Serb army.

“The [Sarajevo Romanija] corps could only take the initiative to return fire,” the witness reiterated. “When they had to launch an action… on Sarajevo and when there was a link with an operation outside Sarajevo, [the corps commander] was receiving orders from the higher command, from Mladic.”

After posing some questions in private session, Karadzic asked if the witness agreed that the “civilian head of state and the civilian commander of the army does not deal with operative and tactical issues, only strategic issues?”

“I do not understand the difference you are making between operational and tactical,” the witness replied.

Karadzic also asked the witness to identify a “single case” where the Bosnian Serb side “started action” in Sarajevo.

The witness pointed to a shelling incident that killed eight people on February 4, 1994, in a residential area of Dobrinja.

“The shell fell and it was clearly identified as coming from the Serb sector and it led to the casualties of civilians - adults and children,” the witness said. “As far as I know, Dobrinja [was] not a military target and [this] only led to civilian deaths.”

The witness mentioned another shelling incident in the area of Alipasino Polje on January 22, 1994, in which six children were killed.

“Those examples show that actions were taken, and were … targeting the population and coming from the Bosnian Serbs,” the witness said.

Karadzic then contended that the origin of the shell was never established in the Alipasino Polje incident.

“For technical reasons it wasn’t possible to ascertain where the shell was coming from, but there were suspicions,” the witness said.

“But we informed you that we didn’t open fire, and we still claim that all major incidents involving civilian casualties originated from those who wanted to involve NATO as a warring party on their side,” Karadzic replied.

He also contended that “as many as 5,000 troops” from the Bosnian government army were deployed in Dobrinja at the time of the February 4 shelling.

“Did you know that?” Karadzic asked.

“The confines of Dobrinja were indeed on the confrontation line, but shells arrived in a residential area and only caused civilian casualties,” the witness responded. “This is what I noticed, and I could tell without a doubt that those shells were coming from an area controlled by Bosnian Serbs.”

“Who established that?” Karadzic asked.

“An investigation carried out by UNPROFOR [UN Protection Force] services,” the witness said.

Karadzic countered that he had “managed to prove” that there was a mistake in this report through the testimony of a prior witness.

He was interrupted by Judge Howard Morrison, who told the accused that it was “not appropriate to put a witness’s testimony to another witness and claim it has been proved.

“It’s not accurate, and certainly not appropriate,” the judge said.

Karadzic later asked if the witness had “proof” that Bosnian Serb forces targeted civilians.

“Do you know there were up to 70,000 Serbs living in the Muslim part of Sarajevo?” he asked.

“I was not aware of exact figures, but I was aware of the fact that Serbs were living in the Bosnian Muslim-controlled part of city,” the witness said.

“Is there a difference between Serbs and Muslims when you see them walking in the street?” Karadzic asked.

“It is difficult to tell them apart and you are quite right to underscore this,” the witness answered.

“If Serbs are the type of criminals who wouldn’t spare civilians, how [did they do this] considering that one third of the population was Serbs? Is any proof that [Bosnian Serbs] deliberately targeted civilians?” Karadzic asked.

“I have proof that civilians were targeted and fire was coming from a sector controlled by Serbs,” the witness answered. “That’s what I can ascertain here.”

The witness acknowledged that it was often difficult to establish the origin of fire, but they “tried to do it every time” and also sent protests to the side they believed to be responsible.

At the end of the cross examination, prosecuting lawyer Carolyn Edgerton asked some follow-up questions.

“Did the protests [regarding shelling incidents apply] equally to both sides or more frequently to one of warring factions?” she asked.

“We sent more protests to Bosnian Serbs than we did to Bosnian Muslims,” the witness said.

“Did this signify anything in terms of the establishment of the origin of fire?” Edgerton asked.

“This demonstrates that we established that the origin of fire came more often from Serbian sector than it did from the Muslim sector,” the witness said.

The trial continues next week.

Rachel Irwin is an IWPR reporter in The Hague.

Friday, January 21, 2011

David Gibbs--Another Balkan Revisionist

Any readers of Greater Surbiton or Daniel Toljaga's excellent blog is already aware of the minor storm that was kicked up when Gibbs--who proved himself to be as thin-skinned in debate as he is confused or (more likely) dishonest about American intervention in Yugoslavia--took offense at Marko Attila Hoare's review of his perfectly awful book First Do No Harm: Humanitarian Intervention and the Destruction of Yugoslavia.

Gibbs' response to Hoare wastes no time in indulging in self-pitying hyperbole--the title "The Second Coming of Joe McCarthy" is evidently intended with irony or self-depreciating humor. Gibbs, seemingly, actually believes that he is a persecuted victim simply by virtue of having his horrid little book subjected to a negative review in a blog.

Gibbs' petulant tantrum speaks for itself--he lashes out without dealing in any meaningful way with the substance of Hoare's criticisms, while throwing out unsubstantiated innuendo about "ethnic partisanship" and other slights against his motives. Meanwhile, he actually makes the claim that while Hoare is fluent in Serbo-Croat and he is not, he is actually more qualified to write about the conflict because he is fluent in German! As if being able to read primary sources regarding German diplomacy is more important than Serbo-Croat documents from the region in question; it is astounding that the man was able to write that and not then realize how stupid it makes him sound. But again, I refer you to the hysterically pathetic title of his response. David Gibbs seems to lack both self-awareness and shame.

Those shortcomings come into play in the comments section below, particularly after Marko showed up to defend himself against the ridiculous charges. Gibbs--with an assist from his fanboy Louis Proyect, a hideous defender of the genocide in Bosnia who at one point seriously attacks the Modernity Blog by mocking its low readership (sounding very much like a preteen girl mocking the less popular crowd)--keeps throwing things at Hoare in an increasingly desperate attempt to hope something sticks, or at least distracts the less discerning participants in the argument from the substance of Hoare's arguments and the thinness of his own. At one point, he even throws in a veiled attack on Marko's parents--a loathsome and gutless tactic. Gibbs and Proyect reveal themselves as cowardly, passive-aggressive bullies who turn nasty and vindictive when exposed.

The weakness of Gibbs' book has been ably detailed by others, so for the time being I won't waste any more pixels dragging my poor readers through yet another piece of disengenuous dreck. However, the important thing to know about this book--and the reason that it potentially could be slightly more damaging to the historical record than Johnstone or Parenti's assaults on the truth is because Gibbs has learned a painful lesson that many of his fellow revisionists have yet to fully digest--the facts are in, and their cherished myths have wilted and died in the harsh light of reality. It is no longer possible to pretend that Srebrenica didn't happen or the Racak massacre was faked or the Bosnian Serb Army committed widespread crimes against humanity. That ship has sailed.

Instead, Gibbs hangs his hat on the equally-debunked (but less publicly so) myth that it was Western intervention, not domestic politics, economic insecurity, and constitutional instability, which destroyed Yugoslavia. In order to make this argument, he constructs a strawman caricature of humanitarian interventionism in the first chapter. In this chapter, he reveals the intellectual shallowness and crudeness of his method; despite the superficial improvement over Johnstone and Parenti, Gibbs ultimately makes an argument which requires the reader to accept a simplistic view of the Western/American handling of the Yugoslav wars. He claims a level of deliberate planning and centralized coordination that simply isn't there.

One example will hopefully suffice--while repeatedly dismissing the notion that Western powers were reacting to intense media coverage rather than quietly guiding events from behind the scenes, he often quotes media sources such as the New Republic by way of demonstrating what "the interventionists" believe. In other words--the media are part of the whole conspiracy when it suits his rhetorical purposes, and they are not when they aren't.

And that, really, just about sums it up--facts count when they fit his argument, they don't count when they don't. Context, intellectual honesty, using source material in a manner consistent with the argument and thesis of the source--such traits are absent here. Gibbs seems more reasonable than the rest, but ultimately underneath his sober facade is the same tune being played in a slightly different key.

Monday, January 17, 2011

New Article from Institute for War & Peace Reporting

It is again my privilege to reprint this article with the kind permission of the Institute for War & Peace Reporting:

Siege Was “Noose” Around Sarajevans
BBC man recounts hardships and risks faced by residents during the 44-month campaign against their city.

By Velma Šarić - International Justice - ICTY
TRI Issue 675, 14 Jan 11
British journalist Jeremy Bowen told the Hague tribunal trial of Radovan Karadzic this week that he believed the siege of Sarajevo was used as a weapon of war by the Bosnian Serbs.

“It was simply a noose around the neck of the ordinary people in the city which could be tightened and loosened as necessary,” he said.

Karadzic, the first president of Republika Srpska, RS, and supreme commander of its armed forces, has been charged with 11 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity, including orchestrating the 44-month campaign of sniping and shelling of the city of Sarajevo, whose aim was to “terrorise the civilian population”, and which resulted in nearly 12,000 civilian deaths.

The indictment alleges that Karadzic was responsible for crimes of persecution, extermination, murder and forcible transfer which “contributed to achieving the objective of the permanent removal of Bosnian Muslims and Bosnian Croats from Bosnian Serb-claimed territory”.

After years as a fugitive, Karadzic was arrested in Belgrade on July 21, 2008 and his trial started in October 2009.

Prosecution witness Bowen, now the BBC’s Middle East editor, reported from various parts of Bosnia and Hercegovina, including Sarajevo, Gorazde and Srebrenica, between 1992 and 1995. He told the court that when he first came to the Bosnian capital in July 1992, he saw that life was desperate.

“People would stand in line for water and food despite all the fear and dangers,” he said. “They had to avoid snipers, living in horrid conditions, without access to communications, it was a time before internet and mobile phones, and they were simply cut off.”

The witness stated that the population’s fear and anxiety continued to deteriorate. “In 1995, briefly before the end of the war, the conditions in which people were living in were worse, and despite all the humanitarian aid, the desperation was enormous,” he continued.

“Sniper fire had become a part of the citizens’ lives. People had to run, I had to run as well, although as journalist I was privileged to wear bulletproof clothing, or to have money. However, we had to realise how it was to be found in a situation in which you could simply be shot.”

Bowen said that he had personally seen “bodies of the dead and of sniper victims”, explaining that foreign cameramen used to film crossroads, or rather film citizens running across crossroads hoping not to be shot by snipers. Recalling one sniper incident he witnessed during lunchtime at the Sarajevo Holiday Inn hotel, he said that he saw a man shot in the leg while running across the parking lot.

“I saw bullets falling around him, he fell to the ground, I ran out with a colleague and a vehicle, and we wanted to save him, but by the time we got there he was gone; only a stain of blood had remained on the asphalt,” Bowen said.

The witness emphasised that Sarajevo’s residents were never able to feel safe, recounting how the pavements throughout the city were dotted with weapon marks and craters, and one could never know where the next mortar would hit.

“I used to report about the bombing of Sarajevo, every morning we had have a meeting at the UN headquarters and every morning would begin with the shelling and the number of mortars which fell during yesterday, and the numbers were often four-figure. You could never know that shelling would happen because it could happen anywhere and anytime,” the witness continued.

“During shelling, it was dangerous to be outdoors, but if you wanted to report on it you could just stand in front of Kosevo hospital to see wounded people being brought in some 20 or 30 minutes after the shelling.”

Prosecutor Carolyn Edgerton showed a BBC report by the witness, without stating its date in the courtroom. In the film, Bowen reported on an incident in which at least five family members and close friends of a certain Zijad Kujundjic had been killed. The account was included onto the prosecution’s evidence record.

“This news report demonstrated that the shelling was going on everywhere and at all times,” Bowen said, “while you moved through Sarajevo, you were vulnerable.” The prosecution also showed another BBC story on how a two-year-old girl, Vedrana Glavas, had been killed, alongside a boy named Roki Sulejmanovic who was several months younger.

They died on August 1, 1992, when a bus full of children from the Ljubica Ivezic orphanage was fired upon. This BBC report was also included onto the record.

The witness said that he and colleagues from Reuters tried to attend the funeral of the girl, alongside her mother and grandmother. However, by the time the family members and the journalists arrived at the cemetery, the funeral had already been carried out because the cemetery had been targeted by sniper and artillery fire.

A boy from the orphanage, who had come with his friends to bring some flowers to the funeral, had been wounded during the funeral. The grandmother of the girl had also been wounded. Describing that day, Bowen said, “I have extremely rich experience covering conflict and I have seen some really bad things, but I get furious even today when I think of this very, very cruel day.” “Even during a funeral you were still exposed to artillery fire,” he continued, adding that the cemetery was targeted very often.

In his film at the time, he reported that gunfire from Serb positions. “The Serbs said that it was a set-up and that the Bosnian authorities had been setting up incidents of shelling and sniper fire knowing that foreign cameras would be there, and that they would film those things, but I can’t believe it,” Bowen told the tribunal.

“The city was a permanent target and was being shot even while the cameras were off, so I cannot believe that any of it had been staged for us. “I stand by my statements, 100 per cent, because I believe them to be based on solid facts.”

The trial continues next week.

Velma Saric is an IWPR-trained journalist in Sarajevo.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

"Yugoslavia: Death of a Nation" by Silber and Little [19]

Chapter 30: Conclusion

Because this book was published in 1996, this final chapter is obviously somewhat dated, but unfortunately not nearly enough--the pessimistic tone of this closing chapter remains largely justified. War did not return to Bosnia or Croatia, and both Milosevic and Tudjman have done the world the favor of dying, but on the other hand this book was written before the Kosova war so the author's concerns about possible future conflict was not unmerited, even if the worst-case scenarios or renewed conflict in Bosnia and a possible wider Balkan war was mercifully avoided.

The Dayton agreement achieved peace by institutionalizing ethnic separation, and the biggest winners were Tudjman and Milosevic, even if both Croatia and the rump Yugoslavia (Serbia and Montenegro were still maintaining the fiction of Federal Yugoslavia) were suffering the effects of economic hardship and autocratic rule.

And so this excellent book--probably the best one book to read on the Yugoslav wars (except Kosova, obviously)--comes to a close. The authors make no projections for the future, nor do they suggest a road map. They are too aware of how flawed and compromised Bosnia's chances were, and how limited the international community was to anything other than a simplistic "stability" which could keep the region out of the news.

If you haven't read this book, it is an essential account of the war. If you are looking for suggestions on where Bosnia and its allies need to go from here, you will need to look otherwise--but the next time you are arguing with someone who has been fooled into thinking that the "standard narrative" of the Bosnian war is an emotionally-charged and ideologically-slanted justification for Western intervention, you can rest assured that they have never read this sober, methodical account.

Friday, January 14, 2011

"Yugoslavia: Death of a Nation" by Silber and Little [18]

Chapter 29: Pax Americana

This penultimate chapter detals the negotiations which led to the peace treaty that ended the wars both in Bosnia and between Croatia and Serbia, and established the Dayton Agreement which divided Bosnia into the Republika Srpska and the Bosnian-Croat Federation. Milosevic embraced his new-found role as a respectable "peacemaker" even as he continued to show contempt for his kin in Bosnia and Croatia whom he had once presumed to speak for.

The negotiations were tangled and contentious, and ably summarized in this chapter. The end result was the Dayton agreement, and hastily called elections, in which the three nationalist parties dominated and the ethnic cleansing of the country, to which the United States and the Western powers were now a party to, became further institutionalized. The leadership of the three nationalities were still determined to look for an advantage at the expense of the other two, and although the war was over it was a peace that was accomplished at the expense of mulit-ethnic Bosnia.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Article from IWPR: "Bosnia War Compensation Dispute"

This latest article, which covers the issue of how Bosnian Serbs say claims being made by hundreds of Sarajevo residents are politically motivated, is being reprinted here courtesy of the Institute for War & Peace Reporting. Many thanks for permission to reproduce it and pass it on:


Bosnia War Compensation Dispute:
Bosnian Serbs say claims being made by hundreds of Sarajevo residents are politically motivated.

Bosnian Serb leaders have described demands for hundreds of war reparation payments from Sarajevans as an “organised political act” against Republika Srpska, RS.

The RS authorities said last month that they received some 1,400 compensation requests from the Union of Civil Victims of War from the Sarajevo canton - amounting to around 470 million euro - for the suffering endured by residents of the capital during the 1992-95 siege.

The legal basis for the reparation claims stems from the Hague tribunal’s judgement in the case against the former commander of the Sarajevo-Romanija Corps of the RS Army, VRS, General Stanislav Galic.

In 2006, Galic was sentenced on appeal to life in prison for crimes committed against civilians in the besieged city. Nearly 12,000 Sarajevans were killed and many more wounded by Serb forces during the 44-month sniping and shelling campaign.

The RS government has until January 13 to respond to each of the 1,400 claims, or else it will be assumed that it does not oppose them. The municipal court in Sarajevo could then issue a ruling ordering RS to pay the requested amount to the victims.

RS politicians have responded angrily to the legal action.

Bosnian Serb president, Milorad Dodik, told the local media, “Lawsuits are usually filed by individuals, and here we suddenly have 1,400 people filing their cases simultaneously, which is a proof that this is an organised political act and an attack against RS.”

The RS legal representative Slobodan Radulj told journalists, “This has nothing to do with law and is aimed at weakening the RS economy.” He said the authorities were using “all available resources” to process the reparation demands by the deadline, but questioned their legal validity, claiming they were incomplete and lacked the necessary evidence.

The Union of Civilian Victims of War has dismissed RS politicians’ claims that the compensation claims are politically motivated.

“The judiciary has to provide satisfaction for victims, and we are victims in all this. We have no one’s support, but justice is on our side and that’s what’s important to us,” said the union’s president, Senida Karovic.

The union’s secretary, Muzafer Teskeredzic, believes reparation demands were being unnecessarily politicised, adding that “the only reason why the plaintiffs have initiated proceedings was because they were wounded in the war or because their immediate family members were killed”.

Newly-elected RS prime minister, Aleksandar Dzombic, said it’s unrealistic for the victims to expect to be paid in cash and that any compensation would come in the form of RS bonds.

“The legal framework for paying the compensation for the civilian victims of war is clear – we can give out bonds for the period of 14 years, with a certain grace period,” he said.

However, Teskeredzic said this was not an option, claiming that international law stipulates that the kind of damages the Sarajevo residents are seeking cannot be paid in bonds.

“It has to be paid out in cash. We are talking about compensation for lost limbs, for murdered family members. Bonds will not be accepted,” he said.

Teskerdzic added that the union would take its case to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, if necessary, and is preparing further compensations claims.

“This is not the final number. We are being contacted on a daily basis by union members who have acquired their status in accordance with the law. This means that only those who have a proof that they were wounded or lost a family member during the siege can demand reparation through our union,” Teskeredzic explained.

At the beginning of this month, Radulj, the RS legal representative, told the local media that his office had received an undisclosed number of reparation claims from residents of Tuzla, a town in Bosnia’s Federation, who demand compensation for the suffering inflicted on them during a VRS attack on Tuzla in 1995.

The legal basis for these lawsuits is the judgement of the Bosnian state court in the case against the former VRS general Novak Djukic. In September last year, Djukic was sentenced on appeal to 25 years in prison for ordering the shelling of Tuzla on May 25, 1995, which resulted in 71 deaths and injuries to 150.

Radulj said his office would demand that these actions be dismissed, because RS cannot be held responsible for an act of an individual.

While RS is struggling with a great number of reparation demands, Bosnian Serb war victims have yet to issue similar claims against the Federation.

According to the president of the Union of Associations of Civilian Victims of War in RS, Dusan Babic, there were about 3,700 civilian victims of the 1992-95 war in the Bosnian Serb entity, but he is not aware of any lawsuits filed against the Federation.

One of the problems is that there’s no law regulating the issue of reparations in Bosnia.

In June last year, the Bosnian ministry for human rights and refugees prepared a draft law on victims of torture and civilian victims of war, but it has yet to be passed.

Assistant Minister for Human Rights and Refugees Saliha Djuderija said there are still many issues that the two entities cannot agree about, “such as who should be paying reparations and who should protect rights of the victims - state or the entities”.

According to Djurderija, no real progress is expected for at least another year. In November last year, the United Nations Committee Against Torture urged Bosnia to pass the draft law on war victims.

According to Lejla Mamut Abaspahic, Human rights coordinator for the NGO Track Impunity Always, current state legislation on reparations for war victims is unsatisfactory because they have to prove that they are unable to work and have no other source of income in order to exercise their right to compensation.

“This is contrary to international standards, because a victim of war has to be compensated, regardless of whether they are employed or not, rich or poor,” she said.

Maja Bjelajac is an IWPR reporter in Banja Luka.

Saturday, January 08, 2011

"Yugoslavia: Death of a Nation" by Silber and Little [17]

Chapter 28: "Let Us Be Pragmatic" Cleaning up the Maps July-August 1995

In order for the United States and its allies to achieve the peace deal they wanted and which they believed their clients could live with, the map of Bosnia needed to be "cleaned up" quite a bit. The three eastern enclaves of Srebrenica, Zepa, and Gorazde were an obstacle to this end, as was the fact that the Bosnian Serb regime still controlled much of Bosnia, and their allies in the Croatian Krajina still controlled a third of Croatia. Event during the summer of 1995 would change all that in grim fashion.

While this chapter is quite lengthy, I will not give a detailed synopsis of it because frankly if you don't know the essential outlines of what happened at Srebrenica in July of 1995, you most likely either aren't reading this blog or you have no interest in truly understanding what my mission in maintaining it is. As you might guess from the title of this chapter, the authors focus mainly on the sobering reality that the fall of Srebrenica and Zepa, if not exactly "planned" by the Bosnian government and the United States, were certainly events which proved beneficial to larger strategic goals.

The authors also understand that Washington and the international community were equally cynical in their dealings with Tudjman when Croatian forces unleashed "Operation Storm" which was clearly a creature of NATO planning and covert (and theoretically illegal) arms acquisition. The collapse of the Krajina Serbs statelet was sudden and total, as it had become little more than a corrupt paramilitary state led by craven bullies (Martic and Babic) who also turned out to be cowards who fled immediately, having done nothing of substance to prepare for the return of war. They left their people at the mercy of a well-armed and vengeful Croatian war machine, who helpfully publicized escape routes for terrified Serbs, although all too often they found that those routes, while open, weren't safe. They were exposed to abuse and attack from Croatian forces and civilians alike; and those who stayed behind--mostly those too elderly to flee--death and torture was their fate. Although the number of atrocities and deaths pales next to the numbers inflicted by the Serb nationalists, they were still part of a systematic plan which resulted in the largest single mass expulsion of people of the entire war. Within a few days, centuires of continuous Serb society in the Krajina had been completely eliminated.

Milosevic was silent through all that, even as he had pretended to be completely uninvolved in the Srebrenica operation (this book was written before later revelations of the involvement by the "Scorpions" and other Serb units had come to light). The protector of all Serbs, who had done so much to stir up and encourage the Serbs of Croatia and Bosnia to take up arms, was now throwing them all aside.

The Croats were able to get away with this because they were obligated by their American sponsors to cooperate with the Bosnian government to take the war to the Serbs. They did so, and the Bosnian Army Fifth Corps took advantage of the altered balance of power to launch a successful attack out of the Bihac pocket. The collapse of the Bosnian Serb frontlines was about to happen.

Tuesday, January 04, 2011

"Yugoslavia: Death of a Nation" by Silber and Little [16]

Chapter 26: To the Mogadishu Line The Battle for Gorazde April 1994

Of the three government-controlled Muslim enclaves remaining in eastern Bosnia, Gorazde was the most formidable and the most obstructive from the Bosnian Serb perspective. Given the obstacle that Gorazde presented to the completion of a contiguous Serb Republic in Bosnia, reports that the Bosnian Serbs were launching a serious offensive operation should have been taken seriously. However, the initial reports were dismissed by UNPROFOR commander General Michael Rose.
The reasons for his refusal to acknowledge the seriousness of the situation eventually would become clear to UN personnel on the scene in Gorazde, who became increasingly frustrated as their reports were not only ignored by Rose, but he continued to misrepresent them to the international media while hiding what he knew. In a word—Rose did not want NATO to repeat the air strikes which had been launched against the Serb forces around Sarajevo. He had become more concerned about maintaining neutrality and protecting his mission than anything else.
Pressure to do something finally mounted however; but Rose kept the airstrikes at such a limited and restrained level that they had no effect. It was hard to avoid at least suspecting that he had deliberately undermined the effectiveness of this strategy in order to devalue the use of air strikes in the future.
At the point the Russians became increasingly involved; at the same time, the calls for air strikes had not gone away simply because Mladic almost seemed to relish mocking the international community, this time by taking UN personnel hostage like the terrorist he was while launching extensive artillery attacks on the government-held stronghold of Tuzla. All the while, the death toll in Gorazde continued to rise.
Eventually, UN envoy was to wrest “concessions” from Karadzic, who was eager to give the international community the illusion of progress and who may have suspected that the rift between his government and the Milosevic regime was coming. These concessions were sufficient to halt the air strikes, although naturally the Serbs did not comply with them. In the end, Mladic was able to get pretty much what he wanted—it was not clear that he intended to completely take Gorazde, only to “neutralize” and contain it—and Karadzic had managed to deepen the rift between the NATO allies. The cost was high, though—the Bosnian Serbs had also managed to alienate their Russian allies and their patrons in Belgrade. The consequences of this new development would soon appear.

Chapter 27: “A Dagger in the Back” The Serbian Split June-August 1994

Karadzic and the Bosnian Serbs didn’t know it, but they had tried Milosevic’s patience as far as he felt he could afford, given the continuing damage economic sanctions and international pressure were inflicting in rump Yugoslavia. When the Western Powers represented by the “Contact Group” presented the parties (the Bosnian Serbs and the Croat-Muslim Federation) with yet another peace plan (one which gave the Serbs just under half the country but which expected them to give up secure control of the northern corridor) with their peace plan, the Bosnian government accepted it reluctantly, knowing that it wasn’t just but conceding that they knew the Bosnian Serbs would reject it. And, despite pressure from Milosevic (mostly through Yugoslavian President Zoran Lilic), they did exactly that.
Milosevic was furious, and this time the embargo he imposed on his ethnic allies was genuine, if not total (he didn’t want them to collapse militarily, he merely wanted to punish Karadzic and the other leaders who had defied him). Serbs in Serbia were mystified that the war for Serbian unity could be tossed aside so quickly, while those in Bosnia were stunned that they were being condemned for fighting the unwavering war of ethnic cleansing that Milosevic had done so much to bring about.