Remember Srebrenica — a.k.a. ‘So what if we globalized Al Qaeda!’
Recently, “Hannity & Colmes”, of the usually less-easily-fooled-than-other-networks Fox News Channel, treated us masses to a “genocide” video that’s been handed over to the Hague’s International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY). Pouring even more fuel onto the carefully cultivated and long accepted caricature of the evil Serb, Sean Hannity and Alan Colmes were of one mind when Hannity called the actions of the Bosnian Serb soldiers in the video “pure evil” and “evil incarnate.”
Without being wrong about evil on display in the video, the network had been had. The circulation of, and the outrage surrounding, this tape — especially high right now in guilt-ridden Serbia itself — is a sign that things have gone from bad to worse in the prosecution of Slobodan Milosevic. Especially in anticipation of today’s 10-year commemoration of the Srebrenica massacre, the Hague desperately required a new wave of shocking images to win in the court of public emotion the case that’s being lost in the court of foregone conclusion.
Tsk, tsk, Fox. Somebody hasn’t been following the Milosevic trial. But since that somebody will look silly only to the six or so Americans who have been following it, there’s no risk in spouting the tribunal’s PR. PR because this trial is supposed to justify the new International Criminal Court’s (ICC) existence and convince the Bush administration of its utility, not its futility.
There’s a reason for the conspicuous three-year near silence by all major media on this oh-so-momentous Second Nuremberg, as it was billed — a silence broken only one or two days a year, when they’re finally able to offer up a damning piece of evidence that will perpetuate the version of events we’ve been sold from the beginning.
What even the most sporadic trial observer would know is that the Court has spent the last three years discovering what many of us knew in 1999: Milosevic was “a thug whose brutality played into the terrorists’ hands,” as former Boston Herald and JWR columnist Don Feder has repeatedly explained, but he was no exterminator. Working backwards to make the crime fit the punishment, however, the ICTY has had to redefine “genocide.” Thus, Milosevic faces charges of genocide even while the extermination of more than 100,000 black Muslim and Christian men, women and children by Arabic Muslims in Sudan still hasn’t been granted the label. But then, the exterminators there aren’t white Christian Serbs.
The 1995 Srebrenica massacre of 7,000 Muslim males was inexcusable, but it wasn’t genocide. If you would, imagine a scenario in which a single event is manipulated to lend credence to an ocean of lies. Imagine Srebrenica. Here it is in April 1993, from someone who was there. Haris Nezirovic was a Bosnian journalist writing for the weekly “Slobodna Bosna” (“Free Bosnia”), and this for the UK Independent:
“The UN hopes to evacuate 15,000 people over the next few days. The Muslim command defending Srebrenica claims the UN operations amount to complicity in Serbian ‘ethnic cleansing’. Privately, the commanders add, they believe that the Serbs will not launch an all-out attack as long as refugees are there. More importantly, they say that without the civilians the defense of the town would crumble. They believe that Muslim fighters are better motivated when their families are there behind them. …
“What this means in practice is thousands of civilians will have to remain in full range of Serbian guns: children with scabies who cannot be treated because of a lack of medicine; the elderly who are so weak from hunger that they cannot fight for air-dropped scraps of food; and mothers who feed their babies with warm water because nothing else is available. …
“When the first UN trucks came last month, they were supposed to evacuate only a few wounded, but hundreds rushed on board. When the next convoy came on 28 March, thousands stampeded towards the vehicles.
“‘We’ll screw up those convoys,’ said Naser Oric, the local Muslim commander….When another convoy came on 30 March, masses of civilians surrounded the trucks but were kept back by the commanders’ personal guard — a group of 30 foul-mouthed soldiers suspected of robberies and other crimes. During the night, the guards accepted bribes in German marks to let people on board. Many refugees on the UN list for evacuation were beaten up. Witnesses said the deputy commander slapped and kicked women and pushed children from the trucks.
“On 4 April the local [Muslim] police used fire hoses to keep people away from the UN vehicles. Jets of water knocked down anyone who approached. Soldiers climbed on trucks and fired into the air. …
“Ever more frequently, you hear civilians say, ‘Our soldiers are worse than Chetniks, the Serbs.’”
Sarajevo, meanwhile, “never seemed very interested in the fate of…Srebrenica,” says Radio Netherlands editor James Kliphuis, “except to list it as [a] supreme example of the outside world’s lack of interest in what happened to the Bosnian Muslims.” A statement entered into testimony at the ICTY in Feb. 2004, by UN Commander in Bosnia from 1992 to 1993 Philippe Morillon, read: “The aim of the [Bosnian] presidency from the very outset was to ensure the intervention of the international forces for their own benefit, and this is one of the reasons why they never were inclined to engage in talks.”
That presidency refers to Alijah Izetbegovic, who was being investigated by the ICTY for war crimes (which the Court revealed only upon his death in 2003), and who was part of the Nazi SS Handzar division during WWII, which butchered Serbs and the ethnic minorities of Yugoslavia. He also authored “The Islamic Declaration”, in which he stated: “The shortest definition of the Islamic order defines it as unity of faith and law, upbringing and force, ideals and interests, spiritual community and State…a Muslim generally does not exis! t as an individual… […] There can be no peace or coexistence between ‘the Islamic faith’ and non-Islamic social and political institutions.”
Pursuant to Izetbegovic’s end game, writes Michigan-based Balkans writer and historian Carl Savich, “the Bosnian Muslim faction engaged in propaganda, staged massacres, killed Bosnian Muslim civilians to garner sympathy and used civilian hostages or shields to further its propaganda of victimization.” For example, the 1992 Breadline Massacre and the Markale Marketplace bombings of 1994 and 95 resulted in U.S. economic sanctions and a bombing campaign, respectively, of the Serbs — despite European headlines like the Sunday Times of London’s “Serbs ‘not guilty’ of massacre, Experts warned US that mortar was Bosnian” (Oct. 1, 1995).
The widely cited 2002 official Dutch report on Srebrenica seems to confirm the use of such tactics. As BBC.com reported that year, the Dutch Government “pins part of the blame on the Bosnian Muslims themselves, saying the Bosnian army had provoked attacks.”
Srebrenica Muslims “ravaged and ransacked neighbouring ethnic Serb villages,” continues Kliphuis, “killing and maiming the residents, who were often too old to offer any resistance….The Serb villages were then set on fire.” After his role in killing up to 2,000 Serbs, Oric himself fled Srebrenica just before it was stormed by the Bosnian Serb army.
The Serbs evacuated women, children and elderly before the males were killed without being distinguished as civilians or POWs, making Srebrenica a massacre, something the Serbs admit.
By deeming Srebrenica a genocide, however, the court at the Hague has expanded the term’s legal definition, so that now, not only do 7,000 bodies qualify (regardless of how many belong to armed fighters), not only does there not have to be genocidal intent, but it doesn’t even have to involve eliminating the child-bearing sex or the offspring of the ethnic group in question. As a BBC.com report concluded, “the definition may now be applied to conflict in a small community, where local atrocities can be labeled as genocide.”
The 2002 Dutch report, meanwhile, goes on to state that no evidence “suggests the involvement of the Serbian authorities in Belgrade,” with principal responsibility attributed to fugitive Bosnian Serb general Ratko Mladic.
Which brings us back to the Milosevic trial. Like a Moliere farce, within months of 19 Muslim hijackers (some of whom fought in Bosnia) attacking the United States, the trial of Slobodan Milosevic began at the Hague in the Netherlands, today a country where artists and members of parliament are hunted down for practicing freedom of speech (e.g. Theo van Gogh, Geert Wilders, Ayaan Hirsi Ali) — by the co-religionists of those on whose behalf Milosevic is being prosecuted.
If one wonders why, 364 days out of 365, our media organs send us no word from this “Nuremberg II” — incidentally a laughing stock among legal experts (deputy prosecutor Geoffrey Nice had to reprimand reporters for knocking the prosecution’s performance and flimsy evidence) — the following trial developments, easily gleaned from a casual perusal of wire copy or European press, may help explain:
The first week of the trial in particular was marked by one embarrassment after another for the prosecution, starting with the testimony of Ratomir Tanic, who was supposedly present when the genocide order was given but who under cross-examination couldn’t even say where in the presidential palace Milosevic’s office was located — and eventually turned out to have been paid by British intelligence to testify. Then there was a witness named Halit Barani, whom Milosevic asked if he knew that KLA commanders were to assassinate all Albanians loyal to Serbia. Barani revealed that he was sympathetic to the KLA, had met with numerous commanders, then indicted the ent! ire Albanian population of Kosovo: “The KLA was born from within the people, to protect parents, brothers and sisters.”
A 2002 BBC wire report related Albanian “farmer” Agim Zeqiri’s testimonythat Serb forces burned down his village and killed members of his family. Upon cross-examination, when the proceedings brought to light that his village of Celina was harboring and supporting Albanian rebels, Zeqiri claimed to feel too ill to continue, but “did acknowledge that the KLA had used the village as a source of provisions and that at least 300 members of the KLA were based there.”
Another witness, Fehim Elshani, was actually rebuked by the now deceased presiding judge Richard May, when he refused to answer Milosevic’s questions at all. In the end, he testified that he did not know of any KLA crimes, while admitting that his son was KLA. Elshani, Zeqiri and another “farmer”, Halil Morina — who claimed to have no knowledge of any KLA presence in his village of Landovica (where after the war a monument was erected to the town’s fallen KLA soldiers) — frequently avoided eye contact with Milosevic as he cross-examined them.
The three-judge panel actually ruled in favor of Milosevic’s objections to admitting testimony from chief Kosovo war crimes investigator Kevin Curtis because of the irrelevance of “evidence” composed entirely of “repeating stories he had heard from others,” the AP reported. When the prosecution’s intelligence analyst Stephen Spargo detailed through maps the routes taken by 800,000 or so deported or fleeing Albanians in 1999, Milosevic asked whether he knew that 100,000 Serbs left Kosovo along with everyone else once NATO started bombing. Spargo answered that he “hadn’t been assigned to document Serb displacements.” Naturally. In Kosovo, Milosevic continued, since there were 10 Albanians to every Serb, proportionally speaking, more Serbs than Albanians fled Kosovo — casting doubt on the forced-deportation argument that the Clinton government helped craft for our consumption.
Milosevic scored points early on when he showed the court an Albanian map depicting Greater Albania, which included southeast Montenegro, southern Serbia, western Macedonia and parts of northern Greece in addition to Kosovo — a long-harbored dream of many in Albania and Kosovo. It goes without saying that the American people were not shown this map of Greater Albania as they were being sold a story of Milosevic’s push for a “Greater Serbia.”
Meanwhile, the forensic evidence at the Racak “massacre”, our final-straw pretext for bombing our historical ally whose people saved 500 downed U.S. pilots in WWII, disproved that a massacre had taken place. And virtually every Albanian-rumored “mass grave” in Kosovo turned up empty, as Wall St. Journal’s Daniel Pearl was finding a few years before Muslims decapitated him in Pakistan.
The first Western leader to appear at the trial was Lord Paddy Ashdown, former head of England’s Liberal Democrat Party and current UN High Representative in Bosnia. Ashdown was also the first witness to admit that the KLA fighters were a terrorist organization which Yugoslavia was fighting.
Eastern European and Balkan affairs writer Neil Clark summed up the trial in a UK Guardian article of Feb. 2004 (the month the prosecution wrapped up its two-year case): “Not only has the prosecution signally failed to prove Milosevic’s personal responsibility for atrocities committed on the ground, the nature and extent of the atrocities themselves has also been called into question.”
Without a smoking gun linking Milosevic to crimes in Kosovo (widely anticipated to be an easier indictment to make stick than Croatia and Bosnia, where local Serbian leaders were in command), the Tribunal gave prosecutors the green light to tack on charges related to Croatia and Bosnia. It was a move that chief prosecutor Carla Del Ponte initially said the prosecution wouldn’t pursue, given that that conflict was closed with the 1995 Dayton Peace Accords, which the Clinton administration hosted and for which the administration hailed Milosevic as a force for peace and stability in the Balkans.
Going ahead with the Bosnia charges, then, the prosecution brought in the UN Commander Philipe Morillon in February of last year, his testimony meant to tie Milosevic to Srebrenica. Giving instead unwelcome testimony that Milosevic had headed off an initial attack on Srebrenica’s Muslims, Morillon said he had asked Milosevic in 1993 to intervene with the Bosnian Serb government to prevent a potential massacre in Srebrenica, which Milosevic did, convincing the Serbs to halt their offensive so the UN could set up a safe haven. Morillon, whose residence was shelled by Bosnian Muslims during the war, was the one to set up the safe haven — but he failed to demilitarize it, enabling the Bosnian Muslim commander Naser Oric to turn the enclave into his military base of operations, from which he launched attacks on Serbs.
Morillon saw the exhumed remains of tortured, mutilated, and executed Bosnian Serb civilians and soldiers, and testified that Oric’s forces engaged in “attacks during Orthodox holidays [including Christmas Eve] and destroyed villages, massacring all the inhabitants. This created a degree of hatred that was quite extraordinary….”
If there was a clear guilty party, and a clear victim on behalf of whom support, and later war, by the United States was warranted, logic demands an explanation as to how it can be that more than a year into the proceedings, the Court haltingly, quietly decided it had to issue warrants for, and try, Croats and Albanian and Bosnian Muslims for war crimes as well, making the “victims” guilty too. Nasir Oric, who didn’t take prisoners, was ultimately indicted — though his indictment was not made public. There are videotapes of Oric’s atrocities; as well, images of Albanians and mujahedeen in Bosnia victoriously holding up or stepping on disembodied Serb heads are viewable.
And yet even in those once- or twice-a-year “updates” on the Hague Tribunal by our major newspapers and networks, the only graphic details we’re permitted to know of and judge are of Serbian crimes. Tapes showing the slaughter of Serbs by Bosnians and Albanians have been conspicuously absent from our airwaves, leaving the American public with only Serb crimes to speak of. It’s a silence that should be deafening to any American patriot.
When, for the sake of context, mentioning Bosnian Muslim acts becomes unavoidable, such acts are referred to as “attacks”, but not “slaughters”, “massacres”, “atrocities”, “crimes against humanity” or, perish the thought, “genocide” or “ethnic cleansing”, even if in this case intent was present. Such inflammatory language, after all, is reserved for Serbs. “Revenge killings”, the term that continues to be used to describe Albanian murders of Serbs in Kosovo (including octogenarians) and that could easily describe what the Serbs did in Srebrenica, remains the exclusive privilege of the Balkans’ Muslims.
Americans don’t hear about the ethnic cleansing of Serbs from Srebrenica, just as they didn’t hear much about the ethnic cleansing by Croatia of up to half a million Serbs. Anyone looking for the truth about the Balkans is labeled “pro-Serb”, “anti-Muslim”, or a victim of “Serbian propaganda” (try and find that in this country). Meanwhile, even the truest Bosnian Muslim victims, genuinely “believing themselves the virtuous victims of ‘aggression’ and ‘genocide’,” writes Washington-based blogger and Balkans observer Nebojsa Malic, are “blinded to Izetbegovic’s hateful ideology of domination that tore Bosnia apart.”
Serbia has been experiencing a uniquely weird national phenomenon of late. Tired of being a pariah nation, whether that status is deserved or not, the Serbs are putting themselves through a sort of self-punishment. Wanting to be allowed back into the international fold of “decent” nations, they desperately want their government to just fall in line with any Western demands, and they want Milosevic convicted, so they can finally put the 90s behind them. To that end, many Serbs alternate between practicing self-censorship (it’s politically incorrect in Serbia today to defend or explain Serb actions of the 90s), and self-deception, wherein Serbs manage to convince themselves that the world is right and they were the bad guy of the 1990s, themselves chiefly to blame for the civil wars that destroyed their country. In other words, the Serbs are betraying their own history. Perhaps the first intimation that this would come was a NY Times op-ed in 1999, written by a Serbian ! woman who said that although the numbers in Kosovo aren’t panning out, even if a single Albanian was killed excessively, her country deserved what it got.
It’s gotten so that in January 2004, the United Nations Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) had to issue a statement disputing a self-blaming Belgrade report on mass graves in Kosovo: “Some media reports have quoted a senior Belgrade official as stating that there are 198 mass graves in Kosovo. The Office on Missing Persons and Forensics (OMPF) would like to categorically state that no evidence has been provided to OMPF regarding existence of any mass graves in Kosovo. Such unfounded statements reflect a lack of sensitivity to an issue that is extremely emotive and causes considerable anguish for all affected families.”
In the meantime, the authentic mass graves that are being found contain Serb bodies — presumed to be those of civilians missing since 1998 and thought to be kidnapped by the KLA, as BBC.com reported in March. “If confirmed, this would be the second such find in a month after 24 bodies were found in a cave” in February, with wrecked cars thrown on top of them, according to local media.
The “Hannity & Colmes” hosts said that it seemed whoever the Serb was that offered up the Srebrenica tape to the Court apparently had a “bout of conscience.” But if one knows anything about the way things work in the Balkans today, the more likely story is that someone was just looking to get paid (or to get amnesty and a new life), and the easiest way to do that today is to help push the old story.
Last December, when some wayward media in Serbia published graphic photos of crimes committed by Ramush Haradinaj — who recently stepped down as Kosovo’s prime minister to face war crimes charges — the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and other members of the international community were critical, saying that “by publishing such vivid reminders of crimes committed against the Serbs, the media was guilty for perpetrating hate and intolerance, whereas its task is to look ahead towards peace and reconciliation,” reports Serge Trifkovic, author of “The Sword of the Prophet” and director of the Institute for International Affairs in Rockford, IL.
Offering a glimpse into the Serbian state of mind, along with a hope for reconciliation with America, is a letter from Aleksandar Kis, of Vrsac, Serbia:
“In my country today it is almost illegal to say that we are right. Sometimes when I wake up, I believe that I live in Albania or Croatia. Even our own media are anti-Serbic! Only few media are free to comment anything, others are under democratic censorship. …
“You see, there are less than 2-3% Serbs in Kosovo comparing to pre-war numbers, but there are 100,000 Albanians in Belgrade. In my hometown, I go to Albanian-held bakery. …
“In Serbia, we have few free media, of which one is ‘Srpski Nacional’ newspaper that was supporting Bush campaign last year, calling for Serbs to influence their relatives in USA to vote for Bush. This paper is trying to tell Serbs that USA is no longer foe and aggressor. [I hope] to achieve that Star Spangled Banner isn’t a symbol of oppression for us anymore…We never considered USA as evil. Strangely for Europeans, we more liked Nixon and Reagan than Kennedy. I want to say, we considered USA a country ‘across the lake’. We don’t understand what happened with our relationship.”
Trying to improve that relationship, Serbia has offered a battalion to assist U.S. troops in Kabul. But who will assist Serbia with the terror haven that is Kosovo? Certainly not those pushing for the province’s independence, something that would be a key nail in the free world’s coffin once peacekeepers, now acting as our eyes and ears there, have to leave.
As the world adeptly looks the other way, not only is cultural genocide and defamation taking place and history being perverted, but the international meddlers are capitalizing precisely on the public’s disinterest in the Balkans, officially establishing an Islamic gangster state in Europe as our exit strategy.
The meddlers include the Council on Foreign Relations, the International Crisis Group, a number of Congressmen, most of the Clinton-era State Department — now working for quasi-governmental institutes — and Wesley Clark. Clark warned in a February Wall St. Journal op-ed that “a violent collision may occur by year-end” if we don’t give the Albanians what they want — and this four-star general advocated doing just that. After all, a violent collision would shine an unwelcome spotlight on his “successful war”, as he spent all of election year billing it in contrast to Iraq. So Clark wants to close the book as soon as possible on Kosovo, where there were four more explosions over the July 4th weekend — ongoing attempts to persuade the international community that only one final status is acceptable: complete independence, without bo! rder compromises. Besides, he already promised his erstwhile campaign donors, the National Albanian American Council, that “Kosova” would be independent, using the purposeful Albanian mispronunciation of the Serbian word as his old boss had. In the Journal piece, Clark even suggested pummeling the Serbs again if Belgrade got in the way (since it’s easier than fighting Albanian terrorists).
So that Americans don’t start connecting any obvious dots, two things must remain obscured as the Milosevic verdict nears and as the push for Kosovo independence goes full throttle this year: the al Qaeda connection to Bosnia and Kosovo, and the ever-present atrocities against Serbs.
The broadcasting of the Srebrenica video was actually an opening salvo in this campaign, whether the Fox News Channel is aware of it or not (the hosts certainly are not, but if the network is, it’s an ominous sign). The channel that’s supposed to function as a deprogrammer for the public’s media-produced minds has itself become part of the machine. A couple weeks ago, Fox News announced Wesley Clark, whose Albanian friends are promising war against NATO and UN forces if there is no independence for Kosovo, as its newest military and foreign affairs analyst. (On July 19th, PBS will be broadcasting a Dutch documentary about one Albanian-America making precisely this promise: Brooklyn roofer Florin Krasniqi, who has been smuggling arms into Kosovo for years and helping resettle KLA fighters here.)
Understandably, for Sean Hannity the broadcast offered a rare chance to throw a bone to the Muslim world — precisely the purpose the Serbs have been serving for the rest of the globe all along. (Because somehow, even while atrocities across the planet are indeed brought to us by Muslims, in a bizarre twist from the trend, we found a singular, exceptional case not of Muslims waging a jihad, but of secular Europe’s religious misfits doing so, the Orthodox Christian Serbs.)
Serbs are the universal punching bag; there are no repercussions for anything one might say about them. Initial reports in 1993 even attributed the World Trade Center bombing to “Serbian terrorists.” Serb concerns are routinely trivialized, their perspectives dismissed as whining or self-serving. When, in the midst of our 1999 offensive on Yugoslavia, a friend calling in to a talk radio show dared imply that Serbs weren’t responsible for the Markale Marketplace bombings, she was instantly reprimanded by the incredulous hostess: “Are you defending the SERBS?!”
“Serbs perfectly meet all the PC-villain criteria,” explains political satirist Oleg Atabashian, who runs PeoplesCube.com (the site will be operational again tomorrow). “They’re another white, Christian, European minority supposedly guilty of oppressing the most popular ‘minority’, the Muslims. A whole new nation of Serbs is getting sacrificed right before our eyes on the altar of the self-hating cult that western society has become.”
The Serbs have been “targeted by propaganda of unprecedented proportions accusing them of Nazi-like evil,” writes Malic (recall former CNN reporter Christiane Amanpour showing us a funeral she said was for two Muslim babies killed by a Serb sniper but who turned out to be Serbian babies killed by a Muslim sniper). If there has been hesitation from Serbian authorities, whether in handing over war criminals or officially admitting that Srebrenica was a massacre, it’s because they are “rightly afraid it would be considered an admission of the fabrications as well,” Malic explains. He is echoed by Trifkovic: “Serbia needs to come to terms with all that came to pass under Milosevic, but not at the cost of losing its soul.”
With the current media blitz surrounding the Srebrenica video, which was seized on by every major news organization and news site, there is a renewed rehashing of Serb wickedness, its pitch highest in Serbia itself where, Mr. Kis reports, all media are pointing an accusing finger at Milosevic, the country and the Serbian people in general. One law professor on national TV said the execution showed the “collective guilt” of the Serbian people. No connections are made about the disparity that while Muslims returning to the now Serb-dominated Srebrenica do so without incident or danger, Serbs daring to return to Kosovo face pogroms (which reached a crescendo in March of last year).
As the July 11th mark has neared, we’ve seen a sensational flurry of Serb vilification — again. On July 4th, the New York Times ran a Srebrenica article that devoted a single paragraph to the trial of Muslim forces at Srebrenica. To corral any potentially wayward readers, the writer paraphrased the prosecution’s take that “while war crimes were committed by Bosnian Muslims and Croats during the wars, evidence is overwhelming that most were committed by Serbs.” Indeed, that was the only evidence being sought.
In contrast to the current anti-Serb orgy, we haven’t heard much about all the Bosnian charities being monitored or raided for funding terrorism, or about the Bosnian who was one of the masterminds behind the Madrid bombing, or about the six Algerian-born Bosnian citizens held at Guantanamo for planning to blow up the American and British embassies in Sarajevo (NY Times, 10/21/04), or about Bosnia issuing passports to Osama bin Laden and his second-in-command Ayman al-Zawahiri, who has operated camps and WMD factories throughout Albania, Kosovo, Macedonia, Bulgaria, Turkey and Bosnia. Nor will we hear that the terrorists who carried out a spate of suicide attacks in Iraq last August, including one at the UN headquarters that killed 22, were trained in Bosnia, or that al Qaeda’s top Balkans operative, al-Zawahiri’s brother Mohammed, had a high position in the KLA. We’ll never know that Bosnia today is the “one-stop shop close to Europe” for all the terrorism needs — weapons, money, documents — of Chechen and Afghani fighters passing through Europe before heading to Iraq. Little wonder, then, that when SFOR (the UN Stabilization Force in Bosnia) intercepts weapons shipments to Iraq, we don’t hear about that either.
Three weeks into our 78-day bombing of Belgrade, an Indian UN commander in Bosnia, General Satish Nambiar, gave a speech in New Delhi saying, “Portraying the Serbs as evil and everybody else as good was not only counter-productive but also dishonest. According to my experience, all sides were guilty but only the Serbs would admit that they were no angels, while the others would insist that they were. With 28,000 forces under me and with constant contacts with UNHCR and the International Red Cross officials, we did not witness any genocide beyond killings and massacres on all sides.”
Yet when former Kosovo Verification Mission observer Roland Keith testified earlier this year that he had seen no evidence of genocide in Kosovo, Canada’s New Democratic Party forced him to withdraw his candidacy in British Columbia’s provincial elections.
Starting with the elder President Bush and escalating under Clinton, we consistently abetted nationalism and xenophobia in the Balkans, and today our media and government continue trying to make a square peg fit into a round hole. With the decision on Kosovo’s status looming, the administration of George W. Bush has an opportunity to right a historic wrong and chart a straight course in the Balkans, one that will finally be in line with his defining vision, the War on Terror.
Great nations admit their mistakes. They don’t reinforce them. But in the past weeks, as this country has fallen way short of its potential for greatness and Americans have been treated to a rare, genuine propaganda campaign reinforcing our Balkans mischief, it is up to the American people to demand that the record be set straight.
If a commission was set up to determine whether a presidential administration did or didn’t do all it could to prevent kamikaze attacks on 9/11, good G-d, what of an administration that committed the might of the U.S. Air Force to bomb Europe for a legacy beyond sexual harassment — lying about genocide to achieve it?
Anyone looking for evidence of a “treasonous war”, of being “misled into war”, “rushed to war” or being “lied to”, look no farther than 1999. Recovered at an Afghanistan al Qaeda training camp was an Albanian Kosovar’s application reading, “I have Kosovo Liberation Army combat experience against Serb and American forces. …I recommend (suicide) operations against (amusement) parks like Disney.” If the protests reserved for a Republican war had also been mounted against the Democrats’ war in Kosovo, had we known our friends from our enemies and not allowed the Balkans to become a terror gateway into the Western world, it’s just possible we may never have had 9/11.
It was Lee Hamilton, the man who would become co-chairman of the 9/11 Commission, whom President-elect Bill Clinton patted on the shoulder in 1992 and assured, “I’ve been traveling around our country for a year and no one cares about foreign policy other than about six journalists.”
Hamilton responded by reminding Clinton that the last two presidents had built their legacies on foreign policy. It would appear that ultimately, President Clinton fell back on Hamilton’s suggestion.
Testifying at the Milosevic trial at the Hague last September, former policy analyst James Jatras, who worked for the Senate Republican Policy Committee from 1985 to 2000, quoted the 9/11 Commission’s finding that it was in 1990s Bosnia that the “groundwork for a true terrorist network was being laid.” That network is today known as al Qaeda.
The Balkans were the early, key prize that Iran and Osama bin Laden sought as a terror corridor to the West. We delivered it to them. Why?
Senator Hamilton, your commission’s work is unfinished.