to the Crime Scene
Kosovo and Bosnia Revisited
by Nebojsa Malic
three years after he left office, Bill Clinton was Emperor
again – at least in the minds of worshipful Balkans peons,
who cheered him on as he strutted down his namesake boulevard
in Pristina and pontificated about good and evil in Srebrenica.
deserves some credit because he at least visited only the
scenes of his own crimes; he left Macedonia to George W. Bush,
perhaps for a similar ego trip after his reign. Perhaps that
is not quite fair. What Reuters
called the "Balkans lap of honor" wasn’t entirely a celebration
of Clinton’s ego, but also a powerful propaganda show for
the benefit of the Empire, aimed to "highlight the peace gains
of the previous Democratic administration." (AFP)
Clinton’s showboating was a message that even if the current
Emperor is in some difficulty over his Mesopotamian adventure,
the Empire itself is not in question.
Honors and Bogus Tolerance
began his visit in Kosovo, where he was greeted by cheering
throngs of adulating Albanians. Upon arrival, he said that
he was "very pleased to see things look so well." (AFP)
Either he wasn’t
paying attention, or – more likely – he didn’t care.
coverage of the visit recycled the 1999 propaganda, including
the arbitrary figure of "estimated 10,000 ethnic Albanians…
killed during the crackdown." (AP)
main event was his speech at Pristina University, site of
several grisly murders during Kosovo’s "liberation" from international
law, where Clinton was also granted an honorary
degree. Clinton confessed to an ethnically pure crowd
that he was "honoured to have been part of ridding Kosovo
of the scourge of oppression." (AFP)
should really tell that to Albanians oppressed by the KLA
thugs, who murder and extort them freely. Or to Albanians
who believe they are oppressed by the international protectorate
that bars them from statehood. Or perhaps to Kosovo’s non-Albanians,
exposed to constant Albanian violence, shrinking in numbers,
invisible in public and living in ghettos. But Albanians won’t
blame Clinton, and non-Albanians don’t take him seriously
the speech described by the media as conciliatory, the former
Emperor asked the Albanians, "don’t you want to get even?"
Note the form of the question, implying it would be the expected
and natural thing to do. He also referred to "you" (Albanians)
and "them" (Serbs and others), and said he wanted "you" to
be free. (AP)
No one should care about "them"; they are only things, anyway.
Farce in Potocari
was Clinton’s pet issue in the 1992 election, and his first
experiment. On Saturday, he attended the ceremony for victims
of Srebrenica at the new memorial shrine in nearby Potocari.
There he opened a political monument to a politicized massacre,
delivering an insipid speech brimming with clichés, hypocrisy
and outright lies. Then he paid a visit
to the dying ayatollah
Potocari speech, carried in fragments by wire services and
newspapers, sounds like standard Clintoniana. For example,
he claimed that "for much of [Bosnia’s] history, [Muslims],
Croats and Serbs have lived together in peace." (AFP)
What kind of history
books has he been reading? But there is more:
"We must pay tribute to the innocent lives, many of
them children, snuffed out in what must be called genocidal
is the alleged killing of 7000 (more on that later) "genocidal
madness," but starving 500,000 children isn’t? Well, when
the first is done by the designated villain and the latter
by the indispensable
nation, the first is an atrocity beyond the pale, and
the second is the price "worth it." Modernist logic
"Bad people who lusted for power killed these good
people simply because of who they were." (NY
people? Good people? Who was he addressing, children? And
who is Clinton to lecture about evils of lust, of all
"[P]ride in our own religious or ethnic heritage does
not require or permit us to dehumanize or kill those who
are different" (AP)
must have been spoken from experience.
"I hope you can build on the bedrock of Srebrenica
in Bosnia-Hercegovina a place where all children are safe
and loved and able to live out their dreams" (AFP)
Srebrenica, a tragedy surrounded by a tangled web of lies
and propaganda, is just the perfect foundation for raising
"Children must be taught to hate." (NY
this a lapse of tongue, lapse of pen, or a lapse in judgment?
Even if he’d said, "Children must not be taught to
hate," that would sound hollow at the dedication of a shrine
dedicated to teaching just that.
"I hope you will teach them instead to trust," he said,
and to choose "the freedom of forgiveness over the prison
of hatred, tomorrow’s dreams over yesterday’s nightmares."
words, but consider the source – and the occasion. The Potocari
memorial is a shrine to vengeance and hatred, not forgiveness
and hope. Many Muslims in attendance felt that way, as did
their political leader, who spoke afterwards.
Clinton visit gave the mainstream media a chance to indulge
in propagandistic exaggeration of the worst kind. Familiar
clichés were trotted out to describe what allegedly happened
in Srebrenica: "the worst organized slaughter since World
War II" (Reuters),
"the worst massacre in Europe since the end of World War II"
"Europe’s worst atrocity since World War II" (AFP
and BBC), the "worst war
crime in Europe since World War II," (NY
the actual truthful information, speculation about the scale
of Bosnian atrocities ran rampant: "up to 8000" were killed
in Srebrenica, and "260,000" in the entire war, said the AP;
"estimated 8000 killed" in Srebrenica, and "some 200,000"
in Bosnia; "more than 7,000 Muslim men and boys" in Srebrenica,
and "more than 250,000 people" altogether, claimed the BBC,
while the AFP
lowered it somewhat to "more than 200,000." The BBC also noted that the
memorial in Potocari was designed to eventually contain "Ten
thousand white tombstones." Only the New
York Times, while dutifully repeating the number of
"more than 7000" in Srebrenica, did not speculate on the total
death toll in Bosnia, at least not on this occasion.
figures come from the claims made by the Muslim government
during the war, and have never been independently verified.
The International Red Cross
said they received "7,599 enquiries regarding people who
went missing in the town. Only 22 people have been found alive;
the mortal remains of 1,083 others have been identified."
Also, "currently, the identities of 6,461 Srebrenica-related
individuals are recorded in an ICRC-managed… database." Here
are some very real numbers, even if they only indicate that
the fate of some 6500 people is unknown. But no one bothers
to cite them.
reporters embellished their accounts with strong and vivid
language, presenting sheer speculation as established truth.
In their eagerness, they often contradicted themselves and
the official story. For example, Reuters
claimed that Srebrenica was "95 percent" Muslim before the
war. The actual figure is 72
percent. Muslims were a majority either way, so why lie?
Funny thing is, every Reuters story on Kosovo mentions a "95
percent Albanian majority." Magic numbers, sloppy editing,
or something else altogether?
there are attempts to capitalize on the identity and age of
the deceased. AFP
cites, for example, the burial of the Delic family – a father
and three brothers, aged 33, 25, and 20. Yet the Reuters
victims were laid to rest alongside 882 already buried
here, among them three Delic brothers and their father,
the youngest 17 and the oldest 75."
clearly implies the youth and the senior were among the Delics.
did even worse:
victims included three Delic brothers and their father
- the youngest 17 and the oldest 75."
Reuters could use the excuse of sloppy editing, the BBC clearly
is mentioning the age so important? Because it creates the
impression that the victims were civilians, boys and old men,
not conscripts in the Muslim military, as all males above
the age of 16 had to be by law. (Though executing POWs is
also a war crime, it doesn’t have the visceral impact of "genocide"
and is thus far less politically useful. The Muslims and their
backers knew exactly what they were doing.)
as a local reporter for Transitions Online indicates,
"Since July, 881 bodes have been buried here, and, of them,
four were under 18 years old, [emphasis NM] while the
oldest victim was 75." Yet Clinton spoke, of "innocent lives,
many of them children" – and the press repeated in unison.
Bill Clinton’s loose relationship with the truth isn’t the
only problem here. The specter of Jayson Blair still haunts
Subasic, president of Mothers of Srebrenica, is quoted
by Transitions Online:
said there was nothing he could do to stop it because there
was always someone who was slowing down the process of Western
intervention, and I believe him. I think he is an honest man."
if they were somehow honest, Clinton’s calls to forgiveness
and rebuilding in Potocari fell on deaf ears. Speaking at
the same ceremony, the highest Bosnian Muslim official, Sulejman
"Everybody knew about the concentration camps, genocide
and the other ways of crime. They knew who was participating
in it. They knew who was the criminal and who was the
victim." (NY Times)
is rhetoric typical of the wartime Sarajevo regime: long on
name-calling, claims of moral purity, and serious accusations
aimed at emotional impact, but utterly devoid of evidence.
Tihic’s words also continued the policy of deliberate ingratitude
to the Muslim government’s benefactors, calculated to shame
them into even more favorable behavior. Whatever anyone does
for this cabal,
it will never be enough to satisfy their feeling of entitlement.
the words of Ahmija Delic, a former Srebrenica resident:
if someone killed all the cheniks, [sic]" she
said, using the word for Serbian nationalists, "I cannot forgive.
They were not human beings and it was a shame for the
rest of the world to allow one people to carry out
these killings. […] Clinton could have helped this not to
happen," she said. (NY Times,
ignorant NYT reporter did not know that in modern Muslim
parlance, "chetniks" are Serbs in general, not just ‘nationalists.’
Ms. Delic clearly believes that Serbs were collectively responsible
for mass murder, that this makes them inhuman, and that they
deserve collective extermination. Because Clinton was perceived
to have the ability to ‘help,’ he was also perceived to have
the obligation. And because he did not exterminate
the Serbs, as Ms. Delic desired, he obviously did not do his
Clinton’s policies really aimed at peace, and his speech at
reconciliation, he failed on both counts.
Politics of Empire
their coverage of Clinton’s visit to Srebrenica, AFP
cited a local Serb, Novo Mladenovic: "Clinton is not coming
here for us or for them, but rather so that his picture from
Srebrenica will be broadcast in the United States."
the time when war criminal Wesley Clark
is championed as the likeliest Democratic challenger to Bush
the Younger, supported
even by some otherwise reasonable people, it seems logical
for Clark’s political patron and former boss to stump for
his favorite in their Balkans battlefields. It would also
seem logical for Americans to look at their former Emperor,
his favorite to become the next one, and the current one,
and understand that all three believe in power and force.
They use them in different places, and mask them with different
platitudes, but does that really make a difference?
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