04 March 2007

The demonification of Serbia

There has been very little publicity in the Western media about the International Court of Juctice's ruling that Serbia was not responsible for many of the war crimes that the Western media had accused, tried and convicted it of. Here is one of the exceptions.
Slobodan Milosevic was posthumously exonerated on Monday when the international court of justice ruled that Serbia was not responsible for the 1995 massacre at Srebrenica. The former president of Serbia had always argued that neither Yugoslavia nor Serbia had command of the Bosnian Serb army, and this has now been upheld by the world court in The Hague. By implication, Serbia cannot be held responsible for any other war crimes attributed to the Bosnian Serbs.

The Western Confucian asks whether Mr Clinton will soon be shipped off to the Hague to face trial. Or Messrs Blair and Bush, for that matter. There are also interesting comments here and here.

Nobody came out of the wars of the Yugoslav succession smelling of roses. Horrible atrocities were commited on all sides. But the attempts of Western politicans and the Western media to demonify the Serbs and lay all the blame on them must rank as one of the more disreputable spin attempts of the 20th century.

The situation was summed up rather well by Samuel Huntington, in his The clash of civilizations and the remaking of the world order:
The breakup of Yugoslavia began in 1991 when Slovenia and Croatia moved toward independence and pleaded with Western European powers for support. The response of the West was defined by Germany, and the response of Germany was in large part defined by the Catholic connection. The Bonn government came under pressure to act from the German Catholic hierarchy, its coalition partner the Christian Social Union Party in Bavaria, and the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung and other media. The Bavarian media, in particular, played a crucial role in developing German public sentiment for recognition. 'Bavarian TV', Flora Lewis noted, 'much weighed upon by the very conservative Bavarian government and the strong, assertive Bavarian Catholic Church which had close connections with the church in Croatia, provided the television reports for all of Germany when the war [with the Serbs] began in earnest. The coverage was very one-sided'... Germany pressured the European Union to recognise the independence of Slovenia and Croatia, and then, having secured that, pushed forward on its own to recognize them before the Union did in December 1991.

Austria and Italy promptly moved to recognize the two new states (1991) Slovenia and Croatia, after German recognition and pressure, and very quickly other Western countries, including the United States, followed. The Vatican also played a central role. The Pope declared Croatia to be the "rampart of Christianity," and rushed to extend diplomatic recognition to the two states before the European Union did. The Vatican thus became a partisan in the conflict, which had its consequences in 1994 when the Pope planned visits to the three republics. Opposition by the Serbian Orthodox Church prevented his going to Belgrade, and Serb unwillingness to guarantee his security led to the cancellation of his visit to Sarajevo. He did go to Zagreb, however, where he honoured Cardinal Alojzieje Stepinac, who was asociated with the fascist Croatian regime in World War II that persecuted and slaughtered Serbs, Gypsies and Jews (Huntington 1998:282).


handmaid mary-leah said...

This is the stuff that chaps my hide about american media, they think they are a free press but they are Corporate and if news doesn't sell...
Its such a fine line.
As an Orthodox Christian and an American, I can appreciate why people in countries much older than my own have long memories about atrocities, JPII's honoring of Stepinac was a crucial error, that man was a monster, an ideological monster who butchered people because they we the wrong type of Christian.
In this day and age, the media is truly an agent of war, its just who gets to them first.
the handmaid,

Steve Hayes said...

Actually long before Yugoslavia actually broke up, the media campaign began. I read an op-ed article that described the Serbs as backward, Oriental and barbaric, and the Croats as progressive, Western and civilised, because the former had been under the Ottoman Empire and the latter under the Hapsburgs. At that time in South Africa we were ell attuned to media spin, and this piece positively reeked of it, and with hindsight i can see that it was part of the softening up process, to prepare people for the coming break up, and gain approval for it. The poor Croats couild not be expected to live with those barbaric Serbs, could they?

Anonymous said...

Serbs should join with Bulgaria. We are now to small to survive.
What will we be? A Slavic Lichtenstein dominated by Albanian, Greek,
Romanian and Jewish reptiles? We were on the wrong side in 1913.
Ignatieff was right at San Stefano. The South Slavs are the REAL
Macedonians. The steam bathing cattle of Mokosh must unite to stampede
over the reptiles.


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