13 March 2006

Butcher of the Balkans?

Interesting contrast in news media reporting on a couple of today's top stories:


Milosevic found dead in his cell - news.bbc.co.uk

“Excerpts : Former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic has been found dead in the detention centre at The Hague tribunal. The tribunal said an autopsy will be conducted to establish cause of death, but there was no indication of suicide.”


'Butcher of the Balkans' found dead - cnn.com

“While some may rue that he was not found guilty at the court in the Hague the fact that the 'Butcher of the Balkans' Milosevic found dead in cell is probably the best outcome for all concerned because it prevents his being considered a martyr to the West. Slobodan Milosevic was a lawyer, gas company executive, and party apparatchik who used nationalism and the media to murder hundreds of”

The first, at least to begin with, seems objective, and sticks to the facts. But CNN comes up with the tendentious epithet "Butcher of the Balkans". Where does that come from, I wonder?

And in almost everything I've read in the media about this story, there is the same exaggeration and spin. One obituary said he was the one who "orchestrated" the Balkan wars of the 1990s -- as if nobody else had any responsibility at all. He did it all, single-handed.

And most people seem to parrot this, and accept it unquestioningly, unthinkingly. Are the Western media propagating these twists and exxagerations unthinkingly, or is someone "orchestrating" them? Almost they persuade me to believe in conspiracy theories.

Undoubtedly Slobodan Milosevic played a major role in the wars of the Yugoslav succession, in fanning the flames of nationalism. But were people like Tudjman and Izetbegovic simply puppets, dancing to his tune? Were Bill Clinton, Tony Blair and Madeleine Albright simply obeying his bidding, playing the tunes that Milosevic had "orchestrated" for them?

It seems that there is a massive attempt to make Milosevic the scapegoat for all the ills of the Balkans, so that others can deny responsibility for the part they played.

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