Thursday, August 19, 2010

The Persistent Myth of Srebrenica

One of the most stubborn factoids of our time is the myth that the massacre at Srebrenica in 1995 during the Bosnian civil war was solely about the killing of innocent Muslims by vicious racist genocidal Serbs. It is a relic of the coordinated media message put out at the time, which demonized the Serbs as cruel oppressors and ignored any atrocities of equal or greater magnitude by other parties to the conflict.

Now Sarah Palin has strolled into this minefield, perhaps inadvertently. Srdja Trifkovic has written an article at the Lord Byron Foundation for Balkan Studies taking Ms. Palin to task for her ill-considered words about the Bosnian Serbs during a discussion of the Ground Zero mosque:

Sarah Palin’s Misguided Demagoguery

by Srdja Trifkovic

Arguing against the building of an Islamic shrine near New York’s Ground Zero, former U.S. vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin linked the mosque project to “building a Serbian Orthodox church at Srebrenica killing fields where Muslims were slaughtered.” Mrs. Palin is right to oppose the Ground Zero mosque. It is unacceptable, and detrimental to her cause, to invoke false parallels in the process, based on events of which she knows but very little.

Mrs. Palin’s metaphor was misguided and deeply insulting to Orthodox Christians. It creates a totally false analogy between an act of brutal Islamist terror which killed three thousand innocent American civilians, and a war crime — resulting from the complex events of a three-sided civil war in Bosnia — in which the victims were, overwhelmingly, men who had previously taken an active part in that same civil war.

It implies, falsely, that the Muslims were the only victims of the tragic events at Srebrenica. In reality, throughout the war period 1992—1995, Serbian villages around Srebrenica were subjected to widespread, systematic attacks and destruction by the Muslim military forces concentrated within the Srebrenica enclave. The attacks were indiscriminate and they targeted Serbs as such. The victims were peaceful peasants, whose only fault was that they were Serbian Orthodox Christians.

The original “killing fields” in the region of Srebrenica do not date from 1995, but from 1941-45. The Serbs in that same area had been subjected to genocide during World War II not only by the Nazis but also by the Croatian Ustaša “Black Legion” (in the spring of 1942) and by the Muslim 13th SS “Hanjar” Division in 1944.
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Sarah Palin is blissfully unaware of all that, of course. What she thinks she knows is what has been served to her advisors over the past 15 years by The Hague tribunal, in official reports by governments and NGO’s and the media. Their contention that as many as 8,000 Muslims were killed has no basis in available evidence and is essentially a political construct.

Sarah Palin’s latest gaffe proves, yet again, that questioning the received elite class narrative on “Srebrenica” is a good and necessary endeavor. The accepted Srebrenica story, influenced by war propaganda and uncritical media reports, is neither historically nor morally correct. The relentless Western campaign against the Serbs and in favor of their Muslim foes — which is what “Srebrenica” is really all about — is detrimental to the survival of our culture and civilization, and an insult to the memory of the victims of 9-11. It seeks to give further credence to the myth of Muslim blameless victimhood, Christian viciousness, and Western indifference, and therefore weaken our resolve in the global struggle euphemistically known as “war on terrorism.” The former is a crime; the latter, a mistake.

Read the rest at the Lord Byron Foundation for Balkan Studies.

Mr. Trifkovic is exactly correct: the only information our political leaders have available to them is the “narrative” served up in true postmodern fashion by the media in 1995. The same narrative was later dusted off and updated for service during the 1999 bombing war against Serbia over Kosovo.

This is the only way that Serbs are depicted in American and Western European media discussions of the Balkans. The myth has been active and insistent for so long that even most conservatives have absorbed it unthinkingly.

Remember: the meme of the evil racist genocidal Serbs was created to serve an agenda that benefited the Muslims of Bosnia and Kosovo. It was part of a boneheaded geostrategic calculus that the Clintonistas and both Bush administrations concocted: the Arabs were mad at us because of what we did in Iraq, so we would liberate the Muslims of the Balkans and make the Muslim world love us. The fact that this brilliant strategy required the unjust demonization of the Orthodox Christians of Serbia was of no consequence — Time for an omelet! Break the eggs!

It was (and is) a stupid and ineffective policy. It plays right into the hands of Al Qaeda and the Muslim Brotherhood, which is why we now have an Islamic terrorist gangster state in the Balkans.

One of the most important things that we Counterjihad information warriors can do is to debunk the myth of the genocidal Serbs by pounding home the truth about the Balkans as often as we can. Israpundit and Emperor’s Clothes have done journeyman’s work in publicizing the truth about Srebrenica “genocide”. And Srebrenica is not the only piece of disinformation — another example is the “concentration camp” hoax, whose debunking gained virtually no media attention.

The success of the Muslim Brotherhood’s patient strategy can be measured in part by how many conservatives — people who should know better, and who should be on our side — have swallowed the bait hook, line, and sinker.

Many thanks to Henrik Ræder Clausen at Europe News for the additional links.


Anonymous said...

While many of your facts here are correct some of the conclusions you draw from them are not.

1. The goal of US participation in the Balkans was not to save Moslems so that they would like us. It was to save everyone, so Europe would like us. This was Europe's problem and Europe did not have the stones to deal with it themelves.

2. I was in Bosnia as part of SFOR and served in the American HQ in Tuzla and in the NATO HQ in Serajevo. I was given three priority missions: First, be nice to the Russians. This was our first cooperative venture with them since the end of the cold war. It was vital to US interests to be seen working together with them. Second, be nice to the European allies. The fall of the Soviet Union had many allies questioning the relevance of NATO. Working together with them would cement and uphold this outdated military alliance. And third, if we had any time left after 1 and 2, try to be nice to the Bosnians.

3. Whether you call the deaths of Bosnian males in Srebrenicia an atrocity or a military campaign, the fact is that those men did die. The mass graves were found. Using DNA, many of the bodies were identified (most were not). I have no opinion about who was right or wrong in this. It was obvious to me at the time that all sides of this civil war were doing what they believed was essential to their survival and they also uniformly accused their opponents of atrocities.

4. The Bosnians were known to have comitted their own atrocities on their people for the sake of news cameras. Christian Amanpour was famous for her ability to be used this way.

5. The main benefit of US participation in Bosnia was giving the three sides a chance to stop killing each other. Once they did that, it was possible for them to remember that they were once neighbors, shared a common language and are genetically indistinguishable. They are really one people. They lived happily together under Tito as one people. They did not remember their old grudges until the breakup of Yugoslavia. Then the regional political bosses drummed up propaganda using the state controlled radio stations to convince their people that "the other guys" were out to get them. It brought back the old hatreds that had been forgotten. From there it was an easy step to "we need to strike them first... in self defense".

6. I agree that it was a stupid blunder for Palin's speach writers to bring this up. Hillery Clinton also fellinto this trap when she met with the "Women of Srebrinica" and promised them justice. On Clinton's second trip there, the women were not allowed to meet with her and protested Ms Clinton's lack of any progress on the matter.

Baron Bodissey said...

Professor Hale --

I don’t disagree with any of the facts you present. I’ve never asserted that Srebrenica wasn’t an atrocity (although it was not a “genocide” — the currency of that word has now been totally debased). My primary point was twofold:

(1) Some of the atrocities attributed to the Serbs were exaggerated or made out of whole cloth by the media, or those who manipulated them; and

(2) The atrocities by the other parties, particularly the Bosniaks, were ignored or played down because they didn’t fit the “narrative”.

And as for “saving the Moslems” — yes, that was a motive for the policy. It may not have been the most important one — you’re right that we were saving Europe’s bacon, particularly German bacon — but it was there. After 9-11 it was trotted out and trumpeted: “We’re not at war with Islam — look, we saved the Muslims of Bosnia! And to prove it again, we saved the Muslims of Kosovo! And now we’ll double down and give the Kosovars their very own state!”

Read some of what Condoleezza Rice said back in those heady days of 2005 or so. The motive was there, and it was not new.

The ham-fisted foreign policy of the United States is a wonder to behold. It’s no surprise that Russia and China consider us a pushover. And, to the Muslim Brotherhood, it’s like shooting fish in a barrel to get us to do their bidding.

Henrik R Clausen said...

Thanks for the comments. One thing needs to be adressed here:

They are really one people. They lived happily together under Tito as one people. They did not remember their old grudges until the breakup of Yugoslavia.

Well, Tito sortof forced them to forget. The 1974 Constitution brought the country into a political deadlock, but the death of Tito permitted excavation of mass graves from WWII, as well as talking of the atrocities caused by the Nazi-allied Ustasha regime. Having Franjo Tudjman revive that ghost was, ehm, unfortunate.

Three peoples, three cultures, kept together under a Communist system living off extensive weapons exports, yet keeping its dark past unconfronted, is an unstable system.

I believe the chaos was fully avoidable, and that Western meddling made things much worse, including opening the gates for Al-Qaeda (whose evil ways we didn't really know back then).

Henrik R Clausen said...

Further - and this really deserves a much longer comment - I consider our interfering into the Balkans a serious fall from grace, in that we abandoned a core principle of national sovereignty, dating back from the Peace of Westphalia, to not attack a country which has not already attacked or seriously threatened your own country.

This is undermining the viability of the nation states at large, and will take decades to recover from.

Cobra said...

I think I can bring some local understanding to the issue at hand.
First, i must say that I am an Orthodox Christian, so,hopefully, I can not be accused of anti-orthodox-ism here.
From what I read it is almost 100% sure the Serbian people killed those Bosniacs.
The Serbian people are Orthodox Christians, those Bosniacs were mostly Muslim.
Was it wrong?
Wasn't unexpected?
No, in the light of centuries of Muslim crimes and pillaging against the local Orthodox population.
As a matter of fact, most of those Muslims had Orthodox ancestors, converted themselves by their own will, to achieve the first class status in the society where Christians were second class citizens, at best, thus becoming traitors to their own people.
The Americans got involved to kill the nationalist movement in Yugoslavia,and in Eastern Europe, that's the truth.
The ruling class in America, as in Western Europe now, has long decided nationalism is their worst enemy.
Those who read enough, understand more about this subject...
So, Palin is technically correct, but she doesn't master the details, where the details matter a LOT.
That's why I would be skittish about her becoming president.
Not that I do not like her. I do very much.
But Bush and this commie Muslim disaster in the WH brought our country very close to the point of no return.
We just can not afford a light weight at the helm anymore.

Sean O'Brian said...

1. The goal of US participation in the Balkans was not to save Moslems so that they would like us. It was to save everyone, so Europe would like us. This was Europe's problem and Europe did not have the stones to deal with it themelves.

Blair's Wars by John Kampfner gives a good overview of the political lead-up to the war. (Recommended reading as an antidote to Blair's no doubt self-serving just-released memoirs.) Proto-neoconservative Tony Blair personally put a huge amount of pressure on Bill Clinton to intervene while Chirac and others essentially tagged along as Blair's "European partners". The Germans wouldn't have been able to pressure Billy boy on their own.

The unexamined assumption of Professor Hale's comment and of a lot of writing on this subject is that someone (Europeans or USA) had to *do something* about the Balkans conflict -- yet it is never explained why this is. Where was Milosevic going to invade next? Bulgaria or Greece or Hungary? Was he going to invade Italy by sea? The propaganda said that Milosevic was a new Hitler but we in the West say that about all our enemies. In any case, it wasn't true.

The fact is that the war had been going on since the 1980's. The intervention was an extremely belated reaction. For perspective imagine the Great War had begun in 1924 -- ten years after the assassination of the Archduke Franz Ferdinand. Conservative British PM John Major's Balkans policy was to ignore the conflict indefinitely and although Jacques Chirac used to accuse him of appeasement (yes, really) nobody was going to do anything.

So what changed? Well I think it was a lot of very complex factors. For instance I seriously believe that the release of Steven Spielberg's Schindler's List (1993) may have contributed to the atmosphere of intervention. Have you ever heard of Lawrence of Arabia syndrome - the desire of Westerners to liberate the Arabs? I think there may also be an Oskar Schindler syndrome. That is why Srebrenica is so key, and it is how Tony Blair and Clare Short 'sold' the war to the British public.

When you consider that Osama Bin Laden had met with the President of Bosnia, and one of the men who attempted to blow up the WTC in 1993 went on to fight for the Bosniac cause, you have to wonder why NATO ended up intervening largely on the Muslim side. Was it in part a particular attempt to make friends with and influence America's jihadist enemies? Okay, now I'm into conspiracy theory territory but Al-Qaeda were not an unknown quantity before Sep. 2001 and their connections to Bosniac fighters must have been known.

Profitsbeard said...

Palin (or her speechwriters) should stop while they are ahead.

Bringing up a subject they only know the slanted MSM gloss about is to be led by the nose by those whose intentions are against the West. They distort History to promote an exonerate-Islam, multicultural meme.

Islam is the Problem, not Orthodox Serbs.

Islam is the existential threat to the West and the world.

Any distraction from this danger is unfortunate and delusional.

Henrik R Clausen said...

The goal of US participation in the Balkans was not to save Moslems so that they would like us. It was to save everyone, so Europe would like us.

This, by any measure, is one of the most inept reasons to conduct foreign policy, not to mention putting soldiers' lives at risk or interfering with conflicts too complex to understand across continents...

I much prefer an openly selfish policy, with sincere concern for the use of resources, human life in particular, setting American interests first, working with suitable partners (preferably us Europeans) to achieve this goal.

Democracy-building in Iraq? Blah!

Bill Clinton deployed US soldiers abroad 44 times during his 8 years in office, versus 8 times in the preceding 44 years. That didn't keep Americans secure, that didn't keep Europeans secure, that didn't bring "Peace to the Middle East".

America First, please...

Anonymous said...

"Their contention that as many as 8,000 Muslims were killed has no basis in available evidence and is essentially a political construct."

This is insulting. All the bones found in mass graves are NOT a political construct.

"The relentless Western campaign against the Serbs and in favor of their Muslim foes — which is what “Srebrenica” is really all about — is detrimental to the survival of our culture and civilization, and an insult to the memory of the victims of 9-11."

This is rubbish. There is NO relentless Western campaign against Serbs.

Max said...

Big lie by Muslim anti-Serb propaganda about Srebrenica masacre in July 1995:

Max said...

At the presentation of the "Bosnian Atlas of War Crimes" held in Banja Luka on 31 March 2010, the director of the Research and Documentation Center in Sarajevo - Mirsad Tokaca - discussed the number of victims that were killed during the 1995 Srebrenica Genocide.Those buried at the Srebrenica Memorial Complex not only were not killed in July 1995, but actually died much earlier,, even in the early 1980s – more than 10 years before the civil war in Yugoslavia even started: Fetahija (Nazif) Hasanovic, b. 1955 – d. Dec.15, 1996, Srebrenica; Sukrija (Amil) Smajlovic, b.1946 – d. May 2,1996, Zaluzje; Maho (Suljo) Rizvanovic, b.1953 – d. Jan. 3,1993, Glogova; Mefail (meho) Demirovic, b.1970 – d. May 10, 1992, Krasanovici; Redzic (Ahmet) Asim, b.1949 – d. April 22, 1992, of Osman (Ibro) Halilovic (1912-1989), Nurija (Smajo) Memisevic (1966-1993), Salih (Saban) Alic (1969-1992), Mujo (Hasim) Hadzic (1954-1993), Ferid (Ramo) Mustafic (1975-1993) and Hajrudin (Ismet) Cvrk (1974-1992)......................................Hamed (Hamid) Halilovic (1940-1982), transferred from the nearby cemetery in Kazani, who apparently died a full 13 years before the Srebrenica "genocide."Several hundred soldiers as well as civilians were transferred to the Srebrenica Memorial from other cemeteries and reburied, with Muslim burial rituals.In the summer of 2005, on the 10-year anniversary of the event, the "Srebrenica Research Group," composed of mostly American and British media and academic figures, as well as former U.N. civil officials and military observers with ex-Yugoslavia experience, put up a website in which the entire "Srebrenica massacre" account was reconsidered and demystified. Instead of the 7-8,000 figure, U.N. officials and U.S. Congress experts were quoted giving figures of "700-800," "the low hundreds," "about 2,000 Muslims and Serbs total," etc.