Milosevic “Crucified”: Counter-Spin as Useful Idiocy
by David Watson
(Published in the Fifth Estate, Fall 2002)

The author, borrowing Lenin’s phrase, takes on the “useful idiots” on the Left, including those who deny the existence of Serbian killing camps in Bosnia or even the massacre at Srebrenica. His prime target in this article is the Alternative Press Review's apologetics for Slobodan Milosevic.

After the publication of the present article, the magazine Wildcat offered a critical response, published in the Spring 2003 issue of the Fifth Estate, along with Watson's  response. To read the continued conversation, click here.
             -- Editor

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Slobodan Milosevic has been at The Hague for a little more than a year, the first head of state to face a war crimes tribunal since the crime of genocide was codified in the UN Charter. The former autocrat stands accused of sixty-six accounts of war crimes, including ethnic cleansing in Croatia, Bosnia and Kosova; the murder of civilians and prisoners; and genocide in Bosnia.

Milosevic has spent much of his time engaged in bluster against the West for the benefit of his audience in Serbia. He is being “crucified,” he says, and the accusations are all lies, part of a Western “Nazi” conspiracy to destroy socialist Yugoslavia. If anything remotely similar to these crimes occurred, he insists, he had nothing to do with it. Milosevic cavils about details, displays a flamboyant indifference to the suffering described, and coldly mocks witnesses, many of them victims of his storm troopers during the planned pogrom against the Albanian Kosovars in 1999.1

The catastrophe in the former Yugoslavia, Milosevic contends, is nothing but part of a “strategic concept in realizing global control” by the West, which is “subjugating countries throughout the world [and] causing … conflicts between the Slav and Muslim nations in the hope that they will kill each other or at least weaken each other so much that control may be established over them in a weakened state.”2 Though Milosevic’s claim that the Western powers caused Slavs and Muslims to kill one another is something akin to a German Nazi’s claiming that the West caused Germans and Polish Jews to kill each other, there is obviously an iota of truth in his denunciations of Western domination. As an old folklore reminds us, the Devil wraps his lies in truths all the more to mislead.

Nevertheless, gradually and inexorably, the evidence is mounting against him.3 As Norman Cigar (who has collected evidence on war crimes in the former Yugoslavia since the mid-1990s) and Paul Williams have written, there is a substantial body of evidence in the public domain alone to support the indictment of Milosevic “on charges of genocide, crimes against humanity, violation of the laws and customs of war, and grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions of 1949.” Milosevic was not only aware of the crimes of his underlings, he was “extensively involved, providing both support and direction” to the campaigns, and “knew and approved of the support the agencies under his control were providing” to the various military formations carrying out his grisly enterprise on the ground.4

The prosecution is working at some disadvantage, largely without the benefit of critical internal documents—which Serbia’s current government has proved unwilling to provide for reasons that should be obvious. The Court has also excluded much of the forensic information on massacres, gathered soon after the 1999 war, even though such testimony has been allowed in other tribunals.5 Thus, it may not be possible to get Milosevic’s fingerprints on the proverbial smoking gun. But even if the prosecutors were to mishandle the case completely (and there is some difference of opinion as to whether they are doing an adequate job), or if they were to get their conviction in something less than completely clear circumstances, such outcomes would hardly suggest Milosevic’s innocence. Anyone who closely observed the four wars Milosevic ignited and conducted had to be well aware of his intimate relationship with crimes of the Yugoslav army, police and paramilitary gangs like those of Vojislav Seselj and Zeljko Raznjatovic, known as Arkan (whom Milosevic apparently had rubbed out after the 1999 war to prevent his former minion from providing evidence against him). Milosevic’s command relationship with the brutal ethno-fascist mini-states that did his dirty work—the now defunct Krajina Serb “republic” and the still extant product of ethnic cleansing and mass murder, the Bosnian Serb entity—should also be obvious.6

Milosevic plays well in Serbia. That this mass murderer, who is arguably more responsible than any other single individual for the bloody wars of Yugoslav dissolution, can now pose as a victim of the New World Order and be taken seriously by large numbers of Serbs back home is sad testimony to the fascist mass psychology of victimology, projection, and denial under which Serbia languishes. Such delusion not only exemplifies the present post-war slough (or is this only another interwar phase?) that has seized Serbia, where one can easily buy calendars and posters celebrating war criminals Ratko Mladic and Radovan Karadzic; it has festered to one degree or another since the early days of the Yugoslav meltdown, when masses of Serbs, succumbing to nationalist demagogy, ordained their new Tsar Lazar to power in the late 1980s to forge a Greater Serbia, and then threw flowers at the tanks heading off to pulverize multiethnic Vukovar, just inside Croatia, in 1991.

Four legs good two legs bad

Anyone outside the nationalist thrall in Serbia would have to be an idiot to take Milosevic’s prevarications seriously, but in the West there are, to borrow Lenin’s memorable phrase, plenty of useful idiots whose four-legs-good-two-legs-bad oppositionism I have previously described in these pages.7 This band includes leftists who deny the existence of Serbian killing camps in Bosnia or even the massacre at Srebrenica, and an International Committee to Defend Slobodan Milosevic, a red-brown front of leftists and Serb ethno-nationalists that, perhaps, will also take up the cases of Mladic and Karadzic, if they are ever apprehended.

There have been such weird moments in the past. One is reminded of the Communist Party line defending Hitler’s Germany against that Old World Order during the Hitler-Stalin Pact, and vilifying the proletarian uprising in 1956 in Hungary in which a handful of fascists may have also gotten their licks in. There were also the fossils who defended the crushing of Czechoslovakia’s attempt to create a socialism with a human face in 1968, and maoist cultists who defended Pol Pot and the murderous gangsters of the Peruvian Shining Path. This kind of reflexive pseudo-opposition is not exclusively a stalinist phenomenon; not too long ago certain ultra-lefts in France started out arguing that there was no difference between the crimes committed by Western democracies and those committed by the fascist powers and ended up insisting that a statement denying the Nazi genocide altogether deserved equal consideration with the assertion that the camps existed.8

Radicals know too well that the US government lies, and that the media—particularly television—generally broadcast the lies as received truths. And they know that when imperialist ideologues crow about defending civilization they are for the most part sanctimoniously and venally doing so to cover up the vast crimes of the empire itself.

On the other hand, if the imperialist powers or The New York Times or anyone else cites, say, gravity as the reason why objects fall to earth, it would be notable foolishness, as well as an extraordinary waste of time, to contest this part of the dominant paradigm. And yet some seem intent on doing something like that. This is the case of the Alternative Press Review—which is published and edited by anarchists, no less, and which prides itself on being “Your Guide Beyond the Mainstream”—in printing the “censored” (their word) “Statement of Slobodan Milosevic on The Illegitimacy of the Hague Tribunal” in its Spring 2002 issue. (formerly at http://www.altpr.org/apr16/milosevic_statement.html )

It is not worth addressing every detail of the tangle of ignorance and manipulation in this spread, from its befuddled introduction, to Milosevic’s maledictions, to an accompanying piece of agitprop (formerly at http://www.altpr.org/apr16/wsws.html) by some outfit calling itself “The World Socialist Website”; it is a blithering mess. But for openers, the idea that Milosevic has been censored is inane; his statement is available on the Internet and has been covered widely, even broadcast in part on CNN. Milosevic makes good media; what has been far less reported is the detailed testimony of his victims, the actual terms of the war crimes conventions, or the complex workings of the tribunal itself. If the mainstream has demurred from printing Milosevic’s rantings in their entirety or from giving him his own talk show (after all, they already have enough right-wing talk show hosts), many Balkan info publications and even some mainstream European and American publications have done a better, more nuanced and more realistic job than APR in apprising their readers of the issue.

Despite some thought-provoking and useful contributions to alternative publishing (including, I should say in the interest of disclosure, my articles and articles by other FE writers, and including as well, several articles in the very same issue on the wars in Colombia and Afghanistan, the sanctions against Iraq, and other matters), the APR has been dismal on the issue of the Balkans. They have given ample space to the stalinist hack and Milosevic apologist Michael Parenti, and printed one of the more cheerfully inhumane articles about the 1999 war I have seen. In this execrable piece in the Spring/Summer 1999 issue, “Twenty Reasons Why NATO’s War Sucks,” authors Mark Aims and Matt Taibbi comment that in comparison with Central America, etc., the pogrom against the Albanian Kosovars was a “parking lot scuffle.” They explain, “The Serbs were behaving with relative restraint in Kosovo last year.” In this case “relative restraint” meant attacking villages and carrying out massacres, driving some three hundred thousand people out of their homes and into the hills, or out of the country altogether. This massive violence occurred in the summer of 1998, after a decade of fierce apartheid repression against the nonviolent resistance of the Albanian Kosovars, and well before Rambouillet.

Citing British Defense Minister George Robertson’s perfectly reasonable statement in 1999 that the West was “confronting a regime … intent on genocide,” Aims and Taibbi sneer, “Just so we don’t forget, ‘genocide’ means to kill everyone in a race”—which would mean that even the genocides against the Jews, East Timorese and American Indians wouldn’t qualify. Comparisons of Hitler and Milosevic, they insist, “insult the public’s intelligence,” since “Hitler killed six million Jews; he made lampshades out of little children; he tried to take over the whole world. Milosevic is a monster, but he’s not close to a record like that. Comparing Milosevic to Hitler proves that the US government no longer trusts its citizens to make real moral distinctions.”

Having been in a few parking lot scuffles myself, I find their comparison odious. Apparently, these complacent fellows didn’t even notice that the distinctions they were making were not moral or qualitative but rather merely proportional and quantitative. Milosevic and his legions may not take first place in a competition with the Guatemalan and Salvadoran juntas, and they weren’t exactly Hitler, but how bad did they have to be to make the club? Such crude and derisive sophistry reflects the notorious incapacity of shallow ideologues to identify with or even to recognize the authentic suffering of real human beings.

An age of institutionalized injustice

It was disappointing to see that FE collaborator (and APR contributing editor) Allan Antliff had written the introduction to Milosevic.9 Antliff (and with him presumably APR editors Jason McQuinn, Chuck Munson and Tom Wheeler) agrees with the premise of the tribunal that, as he begins in his introduction, Milosevic “engaged in numerous crimes of war and genocide.” One can only wonder why these anarchists expend so much energy protesting Milosevic’s getting some portion of his just deserts. Though mob executions are hardly consonant with anarchist values, I find myself attracted to the Ceaucescu solution, which was a common demand on signs and in chants at protests in Belgrade during the early 1990s. Perhaps a better alternative, also on demonstrators’ placards, urged, “Slobo, Save Serbia—Kill Yourself.” On the other hand, despite its limitations, the trial is giving victims something like their day in court, and has brought and will continue to bring important information to light.

Milosevic, Antliff explains, “is being tried under the umbrella of international justice, or so we are told. But why is Milosevic the one state criminal to be singled out for trial?” He cites, quite appropriately in my opinion, the transparent hypocrisy of an international order in which Ariel Sharon butchers Palestinians, Chinese despots do business with the US, and Russia, having waged its monstrous war against the Chechen population, joins the global crusade against “terrorism.” The editors do not “endorse Milosevic’s posturing as a legitimate force of opposition” to this world capitalist order, Antiliff assures the reader—”far from it.” Then, he continues, quite inappropriately, that “given his demonization in the Western media and the suppression of his voice,” and given Western double standards, “Milosevic’s statement contesting the legitimacy of the International Criminal Tribunal throws considerable light on why the leaders of Western governments have targeted him for sanction. He is one of them and knows how they work.”

One could argue that because we live in an age of institutionalized injustice, and because other enormous crimes are therefore not being addressed—the crimes, specifically, of some of the sponsors of the Hague Tribunal—then this tribunal is illegitimate. Jacques Ellul made such a claim during the Nuremberg trials. The trial, he said, had “nothing to do with civilization condemning crime or war, but only the stronger doing what they want to the weaker. That is why we cannot speak of a division into good and evil, but only between conquerors and conquered. Was it possible that this relationship would become just?”

This is a suitable question in the present case. Can those who are plundering the world, devastating whole regions economically and ecologically for their own gain, and militarily when they are challenged, bring justice where there has been only injustice? This needs to be said, and repeated, for the sake of those who naively presume the New World Order capable of resolving the conflicts and conflagrations that characterize its reign.

In 1947 Ellul argued that the Nazi exterminations were “not a single episode conditioned by politics or war. All this murderous activity is based on a conception of the world that comes directly from the givens of our civilization,” that “Human beings are only matter. Why have more respect for this matter than for any other?” Real justice would have had to confront not only “the visible consequences” of this state of affairs, “but also … the causes. It should have called into question not just nazi concentration camps, but the concentration camp itself, including those of Russia, Spain or France. It should have called into question not only anti-semitism but racism, including that of England and the USA—and so on, up to the values of a civilization that manufactures these widespread facts.”

Referring directly to the horrors of the first nuclear terror bombings, in a passage anticipating his own profound critique of technology, he observed, “It is easier to push a button and so unleash an atomic bomb that kills a hundred thousand people than to plunge a knife into the stomach of your adversary. It is easier to sign a decree than to lean on a button, one signature among a thousand an administrator makes every day. In the enormous abstraction of our civilization, life and death have also become abstract; they are no longer human problems but technical problems.” In the face of such a reality, he asked, “In the name of what is the act of the victor an act of justice?”

Ellul’s christian anarchist perspective is compelling, and I am almost convinced. Taoism reminds us that when the concept of justice appears, that is the sign that there is injustice; as Blake put it in Proverbs from Hell, “Prisons are built with stones of law. Brothers with bricks of religion.” And Nuremberg, which prosecuted the Nazis selectively, letting the German industrialists who supported and benefited from the Nazi regime off the hook, not only concealed the vaster crimes of the whole civilization—colonial rapine and genocide in Africa, Asia and the Americas, most notably—it covered up the specific war crimes against civilian populations and mass terror bombings by the allied powers. Here too one might recall NATO’s use of cluster bombs and depleted uranium weapons, as well as its cynical decision during the 1999 bombing campaign, in order to protect its flyers and equipment, to fly at such heights that civilian casualties were inevitable—all of which are war crimes.

But in the present case at least the implicit refusal to consider any justice until justice as a whole is attained strikes me as hopelessly utopian. Even Ellul praised, in contrast with the flawed justice of the tribunals, the spontaneous popular cry for justice, and even vengeance, of the victims of the war. This cry, he said, “demanded that things respond to a certain justice. But, as we have seen, the law they asked for was impossible to realize in the absence of a stable scale of values.”10 To push such an argument too far in the present context, in the face of the real suffering of Milosevic’s victims, would be to undermine a limited good with a (highly ideological) notion of the best. I prefer to let Milosevic hang (which. strictly speaking, he will not, even if he is convicted) than to disseminate specious arguments about his relative innocence. Milosevic is guilty. His victims count in the hundreds of thousands, and the grim historical legacy of his misdeeds is incalculable.

On darkness and light

Clearly, the idea that Milosevic could say anything enlightening to us, or anything that was not so larded with lies and misinformation as to be utterly useless, is ludicrous. Do the APR editors really think anarchists or radicals would have benefited anyone’s understanding of the Second World War by printing the rationalizations of German Nazis? When Israel tried the Nazi bureaucrat Eichmann in 1961, prosecutors used the trial to focus exclusively on Jewish suffering as well as to legitimize the colonial-settler state that had recently despoiled the Palestinians; but did that mean that radicals should print Eichmann’s analysis of the Second World War?11 In an e-mail to me APR editor Chuck Munson said he had agreed to publish Milosevic as an expression of “free speech.” Such thinking fails to recognize the simple truth that Milosevic deserves to be heard far less than do his victims, who, by my reckoning, have not had much copy in the mainstream press of late, and practically none in the alternative press.

Indeed, perhaps APR will now decide to print Pol Pot on the well-known destruction of Cambodian society by the United States, a catastrophe that ushered his own movement into power. Or why not print Saddam Hussein or the Taliban, whose cesspool regimes have come under more intense attack from the US than just about any other in recent memory? And shall the Rwandan genocidaires, who also have not been given their Times op-ed, be given space to counter the censorship of the mainstream? At a time when the means available to radical publishing are so painfully scarce, there are more coherent, and less grotesquely self-serving texts to offer a deeper argument about justice and the limits of tribunals than the declamations, with their pseudo-legalistic aura (more than five pages of them), of this pathological liar and palpably guilty fascist—whose guilt, in fact, the APR editors say they recognize—and of his gaggle of apologists.12

Speaking of Rwanda, not even Antliff’s claim that Milosevic has been “singled out” is quite accurate. Even though the trial got far less coverage, the first person to be found guilty of genocide by a modern international court was Jean-Paul Akayesu, the former mayor of the Rwandan town of Taba, convicted by the International Criminal Tribunal for ordering the killing of two thousand people.13 Croat, Serb and Bosnian Muslim war criminals have been tried and some convicted, and they continue to be indicted and tried.

One also is reminded of the case of Augusto Pinochet, who also found himself at the receiving end of such treatment, at least from bourgeois Spain and England. His case also raises interesting questions about the nature of justice. For one thing, even the conviction of Pinochet would also have been pitifully inadequate. It would have been too little and too late, and would have left plenty of his collaborators, at least for the time being, unscathed (though it has, happily, put some heat on Henry Kissinger). Certainly, even if it had brought focus on the roles of Nixon and Kissinger, such a trial and conviction would have left the whole system of injustice intact. I didn’t hear leftists or anarchists printing Pinochet’s useful insider insights, or protesting the injustice of that selective justice. And I was glad they didn’t. I rather enjoyed the spectacle of the general in his labyrinth, and sympathized with the victims demanding justice.

But what is most bewildering about Antliff’s introduction is his claim that “Milosevic’s statement … throws considerable light on why the leaders of Western governments have targeted him for sanction.” True, Antliff advises, one must “look beyond his lies to the truths he articulates,” but then he adds: “Cornered and desperate, [Milosevic] throws caution to the winds and spells out the machinations that contributed to the break up of Yugoslavia.”

An alert reader is bound to wonder how one is supposed to distinguish between lies and truths, and what “light” is being shed. Antliff does not say; perhaps that is the job—a bizarre division of labor it seems to me for anarchists to engage in—assigned to the apparatchiks at the World Socialist Website. But WorldSoc’s article, “The New York Times on the Milosevic trial: a triumph of cynicism,” despite its own muddled disclaimers, essentially legitimizes Milosevic and his victim pose. (Actually, for all I know, WorldSoc may be a single leninist hack without a party, the lone member of his own Fourth or Fifth or Sixth International, smoking countless cigarettes and drinking buckets of coffee, clacking away in his cubicle. Can’t anarchists aspiring to guide their readers beyond the mainstream do better than to promote this discredited ideology?)

More importantly, Milosevic is hardly “throwing caution to the winds” to reveal some dark secret known only to him and the Western powers, as Antliff suggests. His statement is exactly what he has said all along. Nor does the defendant in any meaningful sense “spell out the machinations that contributed to the break up of Yugoslavia.” This eyewash is the very Serb nationalist (and leftist) chimera of a Western conspiracy to carve up Yugoslavia, with the Serbs as the country’s defenders. But as most people reasonably understood during the 1990s, even without a guide beyond the mainstream news, it was Milosevic’s machinations, not those of Washington or Bonn or the Vatican or Muslim fundamentalists—as various sclerotic leftists like Michael Parenti, the International Action Center, Diana Johnstone and such ilk propose—that destroyed not only Yugoslavia, but even the potential for peaceful interaction among peoples of what might have become a loose federation of smaller post-Yugoslav states for a long time to come.

Milosevic’s truths, of course, are well known to us. The West is hypocritical; NATO bombing was in many aspects criminal (though in which aspects is another question); the US bullies and bombs nations everywhere. Furthermore, to quote the defendant, the US keeps itself “immune from control or prosecution and above the law,” and “if the US or any ally or client state it chose to protect was the subject of a serious effort by the Security Council to be honored with a criminal tribunal in its own name, the US would veto the threatened action.”

Careful consideration of these claims is worthwhile, but one can read this almost anywhere in the progressive left press—in The Nation, The Progressive, the Common Dreams website, and elsewhere, even in the European mainstream press. US opposition to a permanent war crimes court, and recent US threats to pull out of the Bosnia peacekeeping mission altogether because of the Pentagon’s unwillingness to allow its soldiers to come under the scrutiny of international law and courts, have been widely censured, along with US disregard for international standards and treaties on the environment, women’s reproductive rights, nuclear proliferation, and other issues. As for the 1999 war, Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International have both documented NATO war crimes and possible war crimes during the bombing campaign. (All aerial bombing strikes me as fundamentally criminal, though according to international law it is not a war crime per se; this is another discussion.)14

Milosevic shapes these truths to his own purpose, leavening them with exaggerated claims about the destruction of Kosova and Serbia by NATO, and with a grotesque attempt to claim the titoist mantle of Balkan federation. According to this national-socialist kleptocrat, the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (the name for his post-Tito rump-Yugoslavia of Serbia and Montenegro, by the way) represented “a long-term successful solution for south Slav peoples” and “the remaining socialist government threatening the capitalist control of Europe. Therefore, “foreign capital and the geopolitical interests of the US considered this a dangerous obstacle to their plans for the New World Order, globalization, new colonialism.” The US “engaged in a decade long effort, aided by several European countries, to break up and destroy the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia,” including “causing the secession” of Slovenia and Croatia and even having “pried away” Bosnia “and segregated [it] into an unnatural three-region religious apartheid….”

These are apparently the machinations APR credits Milosevic for revealing, despite the night and fog of his lies. One might think that US troops, and not Milosevic’s henchmen, had burned and looted villages and towns and murdered and deported ethnic others across Bosnia in the spring and summer of 1992 to create an ethnically “pure” territory. But Milosevic appeals to certain carve-up fantasies that conflate the sensible recognition of manifest US hypocrisy with a notion of coherent US conspiracy.  

Diplomacy on the cheap

Of hypocrisy, of course, there was an abundance; the US, as it was later understood, knew about these crimes and did nothing, when it could have acted at relatively low cost to halt them; but that, too is another discussion.15 But contrary to the phantasm of a “decade long” US effort to break up Yugoslavia, dutifully parroted by the WorldSoc website (despite the perfunctory disclaimer it makes of vague “political opposition to” Milosevic), there has been little noticeable attempt to break up large units like Brazil or Nigeria—or, to stay within an Eastern European context, even Romania, also riven with ethnic tension—into El Salvador-sized entities to be exploited. And despite WorldSoc’s convenient claim that responsibility for the Yugoslav wars “rests first and foremost with the Western powers”—convenient because these are powers Western dissidents love to hate—the US, the West, and the UN all opposed break-up along the lines of the republican borders of Yugoslavia; Slovenian and Croatian republican leaders Milan Kucan and Franjo Tudjman were in fact pressured into abandoning the declarations of independence that had become their last resort against being swallowed by Milosevic’s Serb nationalist counterrevolution and the subsequent total breakdown of constitutional authority that had already wrecked the fragile Yugoslav equilibrium. In fact on June 23, 1991, the European Community foreign ministers voted unanimously against recognition of Slovenia and Croatia if the republics seceded.16

As for Milosevic’s claim that Germany was behind the breakup, also dutifully parroted by WorldSoc, leftists have provided no motive and not a shred of evidence, no Wannsee Conference, so to speak, at which German imperialists decided to break up the country. The reality is that Germany was in fact involved in its own reunification and loath to get involved, and perfectly able to exploit the former Eastern Bloc countries without bombing or dividing them into smaller units. But after six months of brutal war in Croatia, ten thousand dead, and the ethnic cleansing of several hundred non-Serbs from the Krajina puppet state (as well as retaliatory ethnic cleansing of lesser numbers of Serbs from other Croatian towns), public pressure to do something forced government officials to push for recognition as a way to stop the fighting. And indeed, recognition did bring an end to the fighting at the time.17

As for Bosnia, the Great Powers’ crime was not so much in recognizing the former republic as it was in refusing to help it defend itself from aggression and, by imposing an arms embargo, allowing its attackers, with their overwhelming military superiority, to carry out their program. Here it is worth considering not only the terrible crimes committed by the Imperium in places like Vietnam, Indonesia, Central America and Iraq, but its crimes of omission—its failure to prevent disasters when and where it has the power, and therefore the responsibility, to do so.

Thus, the reality is that while Western leaders played to an enraged public by eloquently trumpeting their opposition to ethnic cleansing and aggression, the West and the UN chose diplomacy on the cheap and humanitarian aid over military confrontation with the aggressors. They did so both out of confusion and blatant self-interest (including the narrower self-interest of individual politicians, like Bush and later Clinton, who were focused on getting reelected and doing everything to avoid complicated and possibly costly foreign military involvement).

As Branka Magas recently put it, “As Bosnia was being ‘cleansed’ of its population, so too was Europe to be ‘cleansed’ of Bosnia.”18 Clinging to the vain hope that the Serbs might win quickly and end the problem, or that it might simply burn itself out, the West spent years sporadically and inadequately feeding the victims, so that the gunners in the hills above places like Tuzla, Gorazde, Sarajevo and Srebrenica could kill them. The Bosnians joked bitterly about this state of affairs, calling the UN Protection Force a “self-protection force,” and “eunuchs at the orgy.”19

The West consistently appeased the Serb nationalist aggressors, as well as their Croat imitators, and only finally intervened militarily when politicians perceived Milosevic’s wars to be getting so far out of hand that the clamor for action at home had become a greater political liability than action. They were also motivated in time by the worry that they were going to be drawn into a Macedonian conflagration (still a possibility) and be swamped with a couple of million more refugees.

No one is going to understand any of this by reading Milosevic, or WorldSoc’s fulminations over the alleged falsehoods of a single sanctimonious and self-congratulatory New York Times editorial about the trial. Instead we get threadbare myths of noble Serbdom and independent Yugoslavia against the world, conspiracy theories and oil-pipeline fantasies, and slander against the Albanian Kosovars, whose armed resistance, which emerged after a decade of intense Serb colonial violence (in fact more than a decade, but that is too involved a story to tell here), is blamed for “fomenting civil war in the province” (WorldSoc). However ardent its disavowals of the defendant, WorldSoc cements his lies firmly into place so no light could possibly shine through. 

An aggregate of truth and fable

Indeed, I never thought I’d hear myself say such a thing since becoming an anarchist twenty-five years ago, after a decade as a marxist, but WorldSoc gives socialism a bad name. Their article is a farrago of partial truths and less-than-half-truths, innuendo, misplaced indignation, moral vacuousness, unsubstantiated claims, and outright lies. Apparently utterly incapable of reasoning, these hapless propagandists insist that “virtually every sentence” in the Times editorial “contains a falsehood; some contain two or three.” Then, without even seeming to notice (didn’t the APR editors notice?), the text proceeds to argue with issues of interpretation, and never refutes even a single statement of fact.

WorldSoc’s version of events, also an aggregate of truth and fable, takes the Times to task for things it thinks the newspaper “conveniently” left out; but WorldSoc conveniently leaves out a lot of history, too. Apparently, Milosevic’s main crimes were stirring up nationalism to facilitate his rise to power rather than addressing growing poverty in Yugoslavia, and, less coherently, that he “was incapable of mounting a struggle against the ruinous intervention of the Western powers,” whatever that means, since “ruinous intervention,” however inadequate, was in reluctant response to his genocidal policies. Our WorldSoc propagandists don’t even deign to address the well-known history of the massive attacks on Bosnian communities in 1992 and after, or the years of Israeli-style repression against the non-violent intifada of the Albanian Kosovars, followed by the Central American-style counter-insurgency and brutality against the population that led up to the 1999 war. Just as the Imperium has its worthy and unworthy victims, so too does the fossil left. No Bosnian Muslims, Croatians or Albanians need apply.

Ironically, these clumsy ideologues ape the Western politicians they claim to denounce, confusing the causes, chronology and proportionality of crimes in the former Yugoslavia, and relativizing the crimes by suggesting all sides were equally responsible. Milosevic, they declare, was “no different” from Franjo Tudjman of Croatia and Alija Izetbegovic of Bosnia, “all of whom whipped up communalist hatreds and carried out violent attacks on minorities within their own territories.” This of course was precisely the cynical line of shuttle diplomats and foreign ministers determined to evade this “problem from hell,” this “humanitarian crisis a long way from home, in the middle of another continent” (US Secretary of State Warren Christopher’s charming lines, evocative of Chamberlain). “Here you have atrocities on all sides,” intoned Christopher, and WorldSoc agrees.

But the reality is that according to every credible analysis, Milosevic’s movement fomented ethnic conflict, started the wars and perpetrated the far greatest proportion of crimes.20 Croatia’s Franjo Tudjman incontrovertibly shared responsibility with Milosevic, though historical nuance requires that we recognize him as a lesser player, an opportunist who followed Milosevic’s lead and who likely only escaped the Hague Tribunal by dying of cancer.

In contrast, Izetbegovic ran a campaign in the 1990 elections based on maintaining Bosnia’s multiethnic, multireligious character; moreover, along with Macedonia’s Kiro Gligorov, he attempted to negotiate with the other Yugoslav republican leaders to reach a compromise that would save the country by allowing for a loose federation (a solution that Milosevic scuttled). Izetbegovic surely had his flaws, but all politicians are not exactly the same. Even as Radovan Karadzic’s Serb party was arming itself with Milosevic’s help, and obviously preparing to destroy the country, and as the Yugoslav army was constructing artillery emplacements around Bosnian cities, Izetbegovic refused to prepare for war and insisted on working for peace—arguably to the point of criminal naivete and negligence. Throughout the Bosnian war he continued to insist on Bosnia’s multiethnic character—which, in fact, as anyone who has bothered to pay attention to the rich history of that tragic place, is at the core of authentic Bosnian identity, whether Muslim, Roman Catholic, Orthodox, Jewish, atheist, or other.

Many Bosnian Muslims, and the Bosnian government as well, did eventually tend to retreat to an exclusive nationalist position. Bosnia’s desperate, besieged defenders also sometimes fought back dirty, and certainly committed war crimes, though on a much smaller scale than their adversaries. Every army does in war; even Spanish anarchists committed war crimes. But where can the Bosnian Muslims and supporters of multiethnic Bosnia reasonably be said to have besieged and starved and bombed towns of Serbs? Where is the Serb Sarajevo, or Gorazde? Considering that Bosnian Muslims were being killed on the basis of their alleged identity by Serb and Croat ethno-fascists, it should not surprise us that retaliation happened, that in some cases prisoners were massacred or civilians killed and driven out of their villages, that Serbs were killed in the enclaves by individuals bent on revenge; what should surprise us is how much the Bosnian Muslims resisted being reduced to the ethno-nationalist blueprint the Serb and Croat nationalists had imposed on them, and how relatively little they engaged in such practices. To equate Izetbegovic with Milosevic is to betray not only the victims of genocide, to betray Bosnia’s ideal of multiethnic harmony, but to betray the very principles of internationalism, peace and justice that human beings will need to survive in this new millennium. 

More than a show trial

I write this in late July, seven years from the days that Milosevic’s marauders were slaughtering some eight thousand unarmed Muslim men and boys, as well as some women and children, at Srebrenica, after a long, grinding, ferocious siege of the town. Nowhere in APR will the puzzled reader learn about them. Instead we are harangued by the chief architect of these crimes for the “light” his testimony purportedly offers. In a defense evocative of the murderer of his parents who asks for mercy because he is an orphan, this monster declares that “the very charge of the Security Council—genocide, crimes against peace, war crimes, or crimes against humanity—demonizes any person thereafter accused.” According to this twisted, Kafkaesque logic-in-reverse, accusation itself signals his innocence and the tribunal’s illegitimacy, and therefore “its prisoners … should be released.” Is this APR’s point? Shall anarchists and others fight for the release of the butcher of Srebrenica and other war criminals? Shall they join his defense committee, this coven of stalinist hacks and bewildered others whose grunting polemics are disseminated on APR editor Tom Wheeler’s e-mail list? Does a consistent anti-imperialism require us to show our solidarity with the executioners, and our indifference to their victims?

Or is it APR’s point, as WorldSoc avers, quoting with approval another capitalist media bastion, Britain’s Financial Times, simply that “there is more than a whiff of victor’s justice about the proceeding”? Does that make the trial wholly illegitimate? I am not sure how APR distinguishes the lies from the light.

According to WorldSoc, compared to Nuremberg, the current Hague tribunal is a “mockery of justice.” Not only is the scale far different (which though true does not invalidate charges of genocide), Nazi victims “were not simply casualties of war or civil war, but rather the victims of an organized and systematic effort to exterminate entire classes and races of people.” This of course is the very thing that the Hague Tribunal, even without access to many internal government documents, should be able to demonstrate about Milosevic’s project, which in some aspects was largely accomplished: that it was “an organized and systematic effort to exterminate entire classes and races of people” from the lands Greater Serb politicians coveted and conquered.21

The Milosevic trial, like the entire Western intervention in the Balkans, is too little and disastrously too late. The Nazi regime had already been destroyed when some of its leaders were tried and punished. Today, significant vestiges of Milosevic’s project remain intact. Serbia is riddled with individuals and institutions that played a significant role in territorial conquest, brutality and mass murder. The 1995 Dayton Accords also ratified the destruction of the Bosnian synthesis and the conquest of territory through ethnic cleansing by recognizing the ethno-exclusive Bosnian Serb “entity,” a functioning product of genocide. As Rusmir Mahmutcehajic has observed, for the most part Bosnian Muslims now live only in those areas of Bosnia where they were able to defend themselves. Everywhere else they and their cultural monuments and institutions were swept away and “disappeared” by the Serb and Croat ethno-fascist armies.22 Despite the terms of the agreement, and in contrast with the Albanian Kosovars, hardly any Bosnian Muslims have been allowed to return to their homes. This entity must be abolished, and the massive denial in Serbia reversed, before an honest coming to terms can be achieved. Leftists in the West who participate in genocide denial and directly or indirectly champion Milosevic and his cronies by promoting his claims undermine that necessary process.23

Ultimately, from an anarchist point of view (which is by definition a kind of “ultimate” view), neither the mass murderer in the dock nor the governments accusing him are legitimate. Anarchists desire not a world of courts, but one founded on freedom, peace, justice, and the whole truth. But this world is complex; humility and humanity require that we recognize that therefore some aspects of the dominant paradigm and our counter-paradigms must at times inevitably converge.

In this vein, I have to say I was pleased when a KKK assassin was recently found guilty in Birmingham, Alabama of killing four little girls and injuring others in the bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church back in 1963. Again, it was too little, too late; even worse, the rich and powerful of Birmingham, who had incited the mostly lowly KKK thugs to terrorize Birmingham blacks and their allies, escaped both scrutiny and justice. Such trials tend to foster the illusion that things have changed, when fundamentally they have not; but they also, paradoxically, prove that in some other sense things have changed since 1963. As uncertain as that gained ground may be, I refuse to surrender it, to return to 1963. I am willing to live with that paradox, and so I didn’t protest the FBI or the police or the courts on that one. I felt some relief, and some sense of vindication for the victims. I say this not only because serious injustices and justice are often wound up in the same skein, but because there is more important work to be done. Hence APR’s gift to Milosevic, this clumsy attempt at counter-spin in the interest of “free speech,” offends both one’s sense of humility, and humanity. Too many people have suffered and died, too much cultural patrimony and historical promise have been lost, to respond to such folly with anything but the disappointment it has caused, and the contempt it deserves.24

The Hague Tribunal is clearly something much more than a mere victors’ show trial; the institution itself has proven to be an amalgam of power and justice, of imperial military authority and the authority of conscience that has motivated activists, human rights workers, jurists and others to struggle to create international standards of justice and to see them enforced.25 As an antiauthoritarian, I generally leave it to others to attempt to impose even humane international norms; I am enough persuaded by Ellul’s intransigent logic to choose not to lend my own meager resources to such ventures. But from an anti-statist perspective, the whole Balkan debacle has been a series of impossible choices—ambivalent, human choices. When Milosevic is convicted, as he will likely be if he doesn’t choose Tudjman’s way out, it will also be far too little, but it won’t be all bad. His victims, too, will have had some say; decency and the fate of the victims both require that one not stand in the way.

Surely, whatever the outcome of this trial, the truth should be clear enough. If there is a “whiff of victor’s justice” about it, without it there might be no justice at all.

Thanks to Lorraine Perlman, Roger Lippman, Peter Lippman, Sunfrog Jazz, and Peter Werbe for their comments and suggestions on this essay.


After the publication of the article above, the magazine
Wildcat offered a critical response, published in the following issue of the Fifth Estate, along with Watson's  response. To read the continued conversation, click here.


Endnotes

1. See Anthony Borden, “Milosevic at the Bar,” The Nation, April 1, 2002, and Ed Vulliamy, “Face to face with the victims of his horror,” The Observer, February 17, 2002. See also Borden’s “Milosevic ‘Planned’ Kosovo Deportations,” Balkan Crisis Report No. 317, February 13, 2002.

2. Milosevic is quoted in Tim Judah, “The Star of The Hague,” The New York Review of Books, April 25, 2002.

3. News of the trial and the transcripts are available at the very useful website of the Institute for War and Peace Reporting. Human Rights Watch has also published a thick and thorough summary of the war, Under Orders: War Crimes in Kosovo. The Balkan Witness website also has a page with useful links to commentary and reports.

4. See their Indictment at The Hague: The Milosevic Regime and Crimes of the Balkan Wars (Pamphleteer’s Press/NYU Press, 2002). “A person is individually responsible for the commission of a crime of war if he commits a clearly definable war crime or aids and abets in the commission of such a war crime. An individual is also to be held legally responsible if he is complicit in the commission of genocide, has command responsibility for individuals or organizations that commit war crimes, or if he fails to prevent or punish the commission of war crimes by those individuals or organizations over which he has authority” (page 35). Though according to international law culpability on any single level of these levels of responsibility—direct responsibility, command responsibility, and complicity-based responsibility—would be enough to convict him, Milosevic is clearly guilty on all three. Cigar and Williams provide a valuable and detailed description of the war crimes convention protocols as well as ample evidence from the public domain of Milosevic’s guilt.

5. For Belgrade’s noncompliance, see Bozo Nikolic, “Serbia is sick with indifference,” translated from Monitor (Podgorica, Montenegro), and “Belgrade isn’t fit to help,” The Washington Post/The International Herald-Tribune, March 22, 2002, reprinted in Bosnia Report, January-May 2002. According to Tim Judah, the Belgrade weekly Nedeljni Telegraf has confirmed reports that “Milosevic ordered the entire archives of the Yugoslav army’s military intelligence to be transferred to his office. After he fell on 5 October 2000 none of these was found.” The Telegraf also reported that Radomir Markovic, Milosevic’s secret police chief until his own arrest for suspicion of political murders and attempted murders of Milosevic opponents, “copied the entire archive about the Kosovo Liberation Army on to CDs.” Milosevic has been using this information, and information compiled by Markovic’s successor, in court against Albanian witnesses. (See Judah, “Serbia backs Milosevic in trial by TV,” The Observer, March 3, 2002.) The Serbian government has also failed to investigate mass graves of Albanian Kosovars recently discovered inside Serbia, including on police property. Four graves found in the late spring of 2002 yielded four to five hundred bodies. See “Serbia: New Mass Graves Found,” IWPR Balkan Crisis Report No. 343, June 14, 2002. See also Mirko Klarin, “Analysis: Milosevic Hague Anniversary,” IWPR Tribunal report No. 272, June 24-30, 2002.

6. After the attack from across the border in Serbia and subsequent slaughter and deportation of Bosnians at Zvornik in the early days of the Bosnia war in 1992, Seselj stated, “Milosevic was in total control, and the operation was planned in Belgrade … The Bosnian Serb forces took part in it. But the special units and the best combat units came from this side [Serbia]. These were police units—the so-called Red Berets—special units of the Serbian Interior Ministry of Belgrade. The army engaged itself to a small degree—it gave artillery support where it was needed. The operation had been prepared for a long time. It wasn’t carried out in any nervous fashion. Everything was well-organized and implemented.” See Laura Silber and Allan Little’s highly praised Yugoslavia: Death of a Nation (Penguin, 1997), pages 223-24, and Mark Danner, “America and the Bosnian Genocide,” The New York Review of Books, December 4, 1997. Danner’s series of articles in The New York Review is excellent. [See Stripping Bare the Body: Politics Violence War, October 2009.]

7. See “Workers Aid & the Betrayals of the Left, in the Spring 2002 Fifth Estate.

8. See “L‘Ultra-Gauche dans la tourmente revisionniste,” François-Georges Lavacquerie, in Libertaires et ‘Ultra-Gauche’ contre la Negationnisme (Editions Reflex, not dated, probably 1995).

9. After learning that I intended to comment on the APR Milosevic spread, and after a disappointing e-mail exchange, Antliff withdrew from the FE collective.

10. See “Lessons from Nuremburg,” reprinted in The Catholic Worker, March-April 2002.

11. See Hannah Arendt’s Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil (Viking, 1963).

12. If they had wanted to print something “beyond the mainstream,” they might have printed a whole range of humane radical and democratic voices from the former Yugoslavia who almost never even get mentioned, e.g. Srda Popovic, Zorana Papic, Bogdan Bogdanovic, Bogdan Denitch, Dubravka Ugresic, Slavenka Drakulic, Sonja Biserko, Branka Magas, Kemal Pervanic, Skelzen Maliqi, Veton Surroi, Nenad Canak, Zlatko Dizdarevic, Kemal Kurspahic, Rusmir Mahmutcehajic, Ivo Banac—I could go on. One gets the idea that APR editors don’t even know such people exist. One way to learn more, besides checking out the sources already mentioned, is to read current and back issues of Bosnia Report. (For information on this invaluable project see www.bosnia.org.uk.)

13. The UN court’s findings can be found here. That there are injustices in the process in Rwanda is clear. For example, while lower-level mass killers are jammed into local prisons under terrible conditions facing the death penalty, relative bigshots like Akayesu have enjoyed Western standards of incarceration, exercise machines and big-screen television, and prospects of a life sentence. Nor do the tribunals do anything to bring restitution to the victims. But none of this exactly invalidates Akayesu’s conviction. He really did it. See Elizabeth Neiffer’s The Key to My Neighbor’s House: Seeking Justice in Bosnia and Rwanda (Picador USA, 2002).

14. For the Human Rights Watch report, see note 3 above. For the Amnesty report, see “NATO Violations of the Laws of War during Operation Allied Force Must Be Investigated,” AI Index EUR, News Service Number 102, June 7, 2000, and “AI’s Initial Comments on the Review by the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia of NATO’s Operation Allied Force,” News Service Number 116, June 13, 2000.

15. See Mark Danner’s series in The New York Review of Books, particularly “The US and the Yugoslav Catastrophe” (November 20, 1997), “America and the Bosnia Genocide” (December 4, 1997), and “Clinton, the UN, and the Bosnian Disaster” (December 18, 1997). See also Charles Lane and Thom Shanker, “Bosnia: What the CIA Didn’t Tell Us,” The New York Review of Books, May 9, 1996. During 1992-93 four American diplomats and officials resigned to protest US policy in the former Yugoslavia, unusual in the history of US diplomacy. One, George Kenney, commented that State Department policy amounted to “Let’s pretend this is not happening” (Silber and Little, 252). He wrote in his resignation, “The trick … was to ignore any facts—whether they pertained to atrocities, rumors of concentration camps, or starvation—that would complicate the policy goal of not getting involved … Discussions about how to characterize the conflict without taking sides often bordered on the absurd. Supported by others at the working level, I drafted press guidance—material for State Department spokesmen—which consistently referred to and condemned Serbian shelling of Bosnian civilians. The Serbs, after all, had more than one hundred pieces of heavy artillery around Sarajevo, while the Bosnian government defenders had fewer than a dozen. This was essentially a Serbian siege in which the Bosnians were shooting back as much as they could. But senior officers … pressed repeatedly to have spokesmen say that ‘all sides’ were shelling each other, without focusing blame on Serbian forces.” He told reporter Peter Maass afterward, “I just couldn’t stand it anymore, writing stuff that was covering up our inability to deal with the problem, and by covering it up, we were letting things get worse … I got fed up. Every day it was lies.” See Maass’s Love Thy Neighbor: A Story of War (Vintage, 1996), pages 62-64.

16. See, among many other books making this argument, Christopher Bennett’s Yugoslavia’s Bloody Collapse: Causes, Course and Consequences (NYU Press, 1995). By wrecking the constitutional order, overthrowing the legal autonomy of Kosova, and renewing the age-old problem of Serb nationalist hegemonism, it was in fact Milosevic’s Serbia that was secessionist, and not the four of six republics (and the province of Kosova) that ultimately decided on independence. This has been succinctly argued by, among others, commentators of the left with impeccable credentials such as Branka Magas and Catherine Samary. See Magas’s indispensable The Destruction of Yugoslavia: Tracking the Break-Up 1980-1992 (Verso, 1993), and Samary’s Yugoslavia Dismembered (Monthly Review Press, 1995).

17. The Wannsee Conference took place in January 1942 in that Berlin suburb. There, Nazi Undersecretaries of State planned the Final Solution for all of European Jews. See Arendt, chapter seven. For the impact of recognition, see Mark Thompson, A Paper House: The Ending of Yugoslavia (Pantheon, 1992). Misha Glenny takes another position in his The Fall of Yugoslavia: The Third Balkan War (Penguin Books, 1992). But no commentator doubts that recognition came long after the war in Croatia had already wrecked the republic.

18. See “The Great Betrayal,” a review of Brendan Simms’s Unfinest Hour: Britain and the Destruction of Bosnia (Allen Lane/Penguin, 2001), in the January-May 2002 Bosnia Report.

19. For a particularly vivid portrayal of UN complicity, see David Rieff’s Slaughterhouse: Bosnia and the Failure of the West (Touchstone, 1995).

20. In August 1992 the London Conference found the Serb nationalist camp to be “responsible for the overwhelming majority of transgressions.” See James Gow, Triumph of the Lack of Will: International Diplomacy and the Yugoslav War (Columbia University Press, 1997), page 234. So had the International Red Cross, Helsinki Watch, Amnesty International, the US State Department (for what that is worth), and the International Court of Justice. See Robert J. Donia and John V. A. Fine, Jr.’s worthy history, Bosnia and Hercegovina: A Tradition Betrayed (Columbia University Press, 1994), page 246, and Carol Rogel, The Breakup of Yugoslavia and the War in Bosnia (Greenwood Press, 1998), page 32. The UN Security Council Commission of Experts report in May 1994 called Serb nationalist ethnic cleansing “systematic,” and “influenced, encouraged, facilitated and condoned” by Serb leaders, and added, “It is clear that there is no factual basis for arguing that there is a ‘moral equivalence’ between the warring factions.” See Maass, page 280. See also Tim Judah, The Serbs: History, Myth and the Destruction of Yugoslavia (Yale, 2000), and Noel Malcolm’s Bosnia: A Short History (NYU Press, 1996).

21. Here it is worth addressing this issue of genocide as the destruction of whole groups more fully. The term genocide, writes Michael Sells, “was coined by the jurist Rafael Lemkin as part of an effort to learn from the experience of the Holocaust and to develop an international legal consensus about certain kind of systematic atrocities.” As Sells notes, “Lemkin emphasizes that the term does not necessarily mean the immediate destruction of an entire nation. Rather, it entails ‘a coordinated plan of different actions aiming at the destruction of essential foundations of the life of national groups.’ Among the targets for destruction in such a plan, Lemkin lists institutions of culture, language, and national feelings, and the security of property, liberty, health, dignity, and human life. The key criterion for genocide, according to Lemkin, is that it be ‘directed against the national group as an entity’; violence against individuals is directed against them ‘not in their individual capacity, but as members of the national group.’” Sells has performed something of a Chomskyesque role as one-man truth squad in the US about the Balkans (a far more admirable role, alas, than Chomsky has played in this matter). See his The Bridge Betrayed: Religion and Genocide in Bosnia (University of California Press, 1996), 40-45. His website on war crimes can be found here.

22. See his The Denial of Bosnia (Pennsylvania State University Press, 2000). See also Ivan Lovrenovic, “Milosevic’s crimes and the existence of the Republika Srpska,” and Kemal Pervanic, “The Violence Continues," in the January-May 2002 Bosnia Report.

23. As Mirna Jancic, herself made a refugee by Milosevic, has written, “If it were not for the tribunal, the world would be hailing Milosevic as a fighter against terrorism; Croatia would be basking in the reflected glory of its innocent war of independence; Bosnia would not even question the possibility of its own guilt and Ratko Mladic and Radovan Karadzic would be taking turns as presidents of Republika Srpska. How torturous it would be then even to try opening up a debate on war crimes.” See her  “An Audience with Milosevic,” April 25, 2002, available on the Bosnia Report website. In fact the tribunal has brought a lot of pressure to bear in Croatia and Bosnia, not just in Serbia. In all three countries, the people opposing the tribunal’s work are reactionary nationalists or worse. Serbian human rights activist Sonja Biserko has noted that for Serbia, “The process of establishing justice is an essential component of all post-conflict situations. So it is particularly important for the Milosevic trial to gain credibility also in Serbia itself, since that is the only way for Serbia to become normalized and to establish relations of trust with its neighbors.” See her “Serbia and the Hague process,” Bosnia Report, January-May 2002. The failure to bring even a flawed international justice to bear on the perpetrators of Croatia and Bosnia after 1995 laid the groundwork for Serb nationalist military and paramilitary forces to renew their genocidal ventures in Kosova in 1999. See Cigar and Williams, pages 22-23.

24. For the effects of Milosevic’s crimes on two Bosnian families, see Chuck Sudetic’s unrelenting Blood and Vengeance: One Family’s Story of the War in Bosnia (Penguin Books, 1999), and Roger Cohen’s Hearts Grown Brutal: Sagas of Sarajevo (Random House, 1998). For the Alabama trial, see “In One Last Trial, Alabama Faces Old Wound,” Rick Bragg, The New York Times, May 12, 2002. For the limitations of the trial, see Diane McWhorter, Carry Me Home: Birmingham, Alabama: The Climactic Battle of the Civil Rights Revolution (Touchstone, 2002).

25. In fact, one modest outcome of the international tribunals is the demand from Israeli anti-war and anti-occupation activists to send Ariel Sharon to The Hague, and their warnings to Israeli soldiers that they may face war crimes charges for their role in the occupation of remnant Palestine. See www.gush-shalom.org/warcrimes/index.html.

  Also by David Watson:

Response to Noam Chomsky, June 2006
The Balkan Wars and the New World Dis/Order, January 2002
Empire and Exterminism, May 2000

Deniers of Serbia's War Crimes Index

Articles Index

Balkan Witness Home Page

 


LETTERS from KOSOVO and BOSNIA, by PETER LIPPMAN

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