/ massacres / examined /
Diana Johnstone revisits and re-examines the facts and the circumstances regarding the Srebrenica massacre. She also examines the modern political uses of the massacre - and the rather skewed, perpetrator-dependant sensibilities regarding large scale murder.
I post this article, because it is argued rather convincingly and makes some important points regarding, not only Srebrenica and the Bosnian war, but also the breakup of the former Yugoslavia, that are both true and forgotten - frighteningly so, for someone who followed the events as they were reported at the time - for example that:
...Whatever happened in Srebrenica could have best been prevented, not by U.S. or NATO bombing, but by preventing civil war from breaking out in Bosnia Herzegovina to begin with. This prevention was possible if the "international community", meaning the NATO powers, Europe and the United States, had firmly insisted that the Yugoslav crisis of 1990 should be settled by negotiations. But first of all, Germany opposed this, by bullying the European Union into immediate recognition of the secession of Slovenia and Croatia from Yugoslavia, without negotiation. All informed persons knew that this threatened the existence of Bosnia Herzegovina. The European Union proposed a cantonization plan for Bosnia Herzegovina, not very different from the present arrangement, which was accepted by leaders of the Bosnian Muslim, Serb and Croat communities. But shortly thereafter, Muslim president Alija Izetbegovic reneged, after the U.S. ambassador encouraged him to hold out for more. Throughout the subsequent fighting, the U.S. put obstacles in the way of every European peace plan. These years of obstruction enabled the United States to take control of the eventual peace settlement in Dayton, in November 1995...
I'm usually loathe to post much that might be considered exculpatory of Serb crimes in Bosnia, because of the sort of people that advance pro-Serb apologetics in Greece - in defense of Serbian nationalism in any form and shape. These are the sort of arguments that are patent nationalist nonsense, invoking past crimes to justify recent atrocities, but they are argued seriously and passionately over here - indeed there were Greek ultranationalist volunteers that were involved in Serb atrocities in Bosnia. In fact there is no doubt that the attitudes of the average Greek on the issue are certainly pro-Serb in a rather instictive and ill-reasoned way. Yet it's equally obvious that reading the disaster of the Yugoslav civil war as a "morality pantomime between pure good and pure evil", in Johnstone's words, is so patently unsatisfactory a version of events, that I can't help but be amazed at the ubiquity of such a view among intelligent and erudite people in the West. It is still useful therefore, to discuss the events surrounding the whole Yugoslav war, not only as a matter of history, not only to identify the culprits of horrendous crimes, but to understand the way in which versions of historical reality are honed as tools in modern propaganda wars - and real victims become alibis for even worse atrocities.
I'm eager to hear opinions on Johnstone's piece - and the issues she tackles.
A related side note: it seems to me that any version of Balkan history, from Ottoman times onward, that tries to explain events based mainly on local events and local societal and political dynamics, without emphasizing the dominant role that all sorts of "Great Powers" have played in the region, is a naive version of history. Balkan states were marginally more than protectorates throughout their history, the only exception being - for better or for worse - Tito's Yugoslavia.