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INTERMITTENT NOTESXML

A Bosnian War Story

A string of liesThe first time Chuck Sudetic, then a New York Times stringer, took me out for a ride around Sarajevo in his NYT armored car a Serb sniper shot out the radiator. Thus proving, I suppose, that the rest of the car was, indeed, armored. Because I had more UN identification cards than Chuck did I hopped a flight to Italy, bought a replacement radiator, had a few good meals, and flew back. At that time they let you fly with whatever you could carry. Thank you, UNPROFOR. The New York Times never reimbursed me. Later, Chuck wrote probably the definitive report of events surrounding the massacres at Srebrenica, what was, as he put it to me, "a rolling cluster-fuck."

So now the former Bosnian Serb General, Ratko Mladic, has been captured and doubtless will be tried and found guilty by the ICTY at the Hague, for "Genocide" in Srebrenica. David Rohde and John Burns, of the New York Times, cannot contain their glee. Rohde, perhaps the most dishonest and incompetent journalist ever to win a Pulitzer Prize, whose reputation was built on the bones of Srebrenica, will never tell us — if, indeed, he were familiar with it — the real story. As for Burns, it's enough to point out that his byline is on a story filed today that contains the howling error (the sort of error much beloved by the Western press during the Bosnian war), of an extra, entirely fictitious hundred thousand killed during the war. If Burns were a real war reporter he would have learned, by now — six years after the issue was decided — that experts have come to the conclusion that about 100,000 people lost their lives in the Bosnian civil war, the total from all sides. Not 200,000, or whatever big number he fancies...

Without going into all the gory details regarding Srebrenica (if you want them I suggest you look to Edward S. Herman [.pdf]) I would second Chuck's judgment while also pointing out that for a considerable period of time the Serb villages near to Srebrenica had been terrorized by an especially brutal Bosnian Muslim warlord (a person, for example, who kept human body parts in a glass jar in his office), based out of Srebrenica, and that to a not so incomprehensible extent the eventual massacre of (some) Muslims in Srebrenica, after their UN protectors left, was pay-back by local Serb militias. Just as had happened, on all sides, throughout the war, but in a more exaggerated form.

The other thing to keep in mind about Srebrenica is the well-founded rumor that the Bosnian Muslim President, Alija Izetbegovic, knowing in advance about a UN withdrawal from Srebrenica, fully anticipated and actually welcomed a massacre, for propaganda purposes. That's something I can't prove but believe to be true.

How much other history gets irretrievably lost on a routine basis I hesitate to imagine...

« EP Podcast Schedule Late May/Early June | Main | Robert Gates: Pitchman for a Declining Empire »



Comments


George: Not only hasn't David Rohde's dishonesty precluded him from writing about Srebrenica for the New York Times in the days after the May 26 arrest of Ratko Mladic, it didn't preclude him from appearing as a guest on The Charlie Rose Show the same day as the arrest, either. In fact, it's probably what recommended Rohde to the show's producers.

Along with Rohde, the other guests who discussed Mladic and Srebrenica were Madeleine Albright, Christiane Amanpour (for many years with CNN, and now ABC News) — and the late Richard Holbrooke, via some archival video-clip from when he also had appeared on the show.

Amanpour gushed that the "important thing" about the indictments and eventual arrests and trials of Serb figures such as Slobodan Milosevic, and the Bosnian Serbs Radovan Karadzic and Ratko Mladic, is that no one can get away with the "worst crimes under international law, genocide [and] crimes against humanity,…[no one can commit these crimes] with immunity anymore."

Apparently, she was out to lunch in 1999 when the International Court of Justice declined to enjoin the United States and its allies from carrying out their illegal bombing war against the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, on grounds that the aggressors refused to accept the ICJ's jurisdiction over the case.

Similarly, in 2000, when the chief prosecutor of the ICTY announced that there was an insufficient criminal basis to open an investigation of the United States and its allies for the actual conduct of their bombing campaign against the FRY the year before.

Or maybe Amanpour was on vacation in 2006, when the chief prosecutor at the International Criminal Court declined to formally investigate the United States over its conduct during its war and occupation of Iraq, informing the world that in this particular theater with hundreds of thousands of deaths and millions uprooted, the war and occupation failed to meet the "threshold of gravity" of the ICC's Rome Statute.

Compare this with the same prosecutor's response to the case of the authorities in Libya, where it took him only eight days to open an investigation, once the Security Council referred Libya to his high and mighty offices.


Nice to see a reference to the Edward Herman work. It's missing from most news accounts.

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