More Myth than Massacre at Srebrenica – by Stephen Lendman
Headlines explaining former Serbian General Ratko Mladic’s May 27 arrest allege his 1995 responsibility for massacring 8,000 Muslim men and boys at Srebrenica. True or false is at issue. More on that below.
Meanwhile, inflammatory accounts already convicted him by accusation, including New York Times writers Dan Bilefsky and Doreen Carvajal headlining, “Serbia Says Jailed Mladic Will Face War Crimes Trial,” saying:
Arresting him “signal(ed) Serbia’s intention of finally escaping the isolation it brought on itself during the Balkan wars,” ones Western media, including The Times, consistently misreported on throughout the 1990s, culminating in NATO’s 1999 war of aggression, falsely called humanitarian intervention.
Inflating Srebrenica deaths to “10,000….including 3,500 children,” Bilefsky and Carvajal called the alleged massacre “the worst ethnically motivated mass murder on the European continent since World War II,” Mladic to stand trial for “war crimes….”
Other accounts were similar, including Reuters headlining, “Instant view: West hails news of Mladic arrest in Serbia,” quoting “sources” like UK Defense Secretary Liam Fox saying:
“It’s clearly (an arrest) to be welcomed….It’s a reminder to all those who fly in the face of international justice that sooner or later they will be brought to book for their crimes.”
He’s right, hopefully. Sooner or later real war criminals like American, Israeli and UK ones may have to answer for numerous crimes of war and against humanity, slaughtering millions for power and profit.
For example: Years of Western-backed Balkan wars culminated with NATO’s 1999 Serbia/Kosovo terror bombing, an atrocity playwright/Nobel laureate Harold Pinter described as follows:
“Little did we think two years ago that we had elected a government which would take a leading role in what is essentially a criminal act, showing total contempt for the United Nations and international law.” Saying it made him ashamed to be British, he called cutting children to pieces from 15,000 feet “barbaric” and despicably hypocritical.
“Let us face the truth,” he added. “Neither Clinton nor Blair (gave) a damn about the Kosovar Albanians. This action has been yet another blatant and brutal assertion of US power using NATO as its missile. It set out to consolidate one thing – American domination of Europe. This must be recognised and it must be resisted.”
This barbarism mustn’t be allowed to stand. Yet victims are held accountable for the perpetrators, the way victors’ justice always works – including writing the mythology about what allegedly happened in July 1995 at Srebrenica.
A Potocari, Bosnia Genocide Memorial Stone (SrebrenicaStone.jpg) lists “8372….” deaths. Saying it, however, doesn’t make it so.
Separating Truths from Mythology
Diana Johnstone wrote the definitive Balkan wars history. Her book, “Fools’ Crusade: Yugoslavia, NATO and Western Delusions,” is essential reading to understand its causes and long-lasting effects.
For the West, it was about deterring Milosevic’s “Greater Serbia” quest, a gross mischaracterization about a war Western powers wanted and initiated, notably America and Germany. They encouraged cessation, provoked conflict, then took credit for ending it, committing real massacres in the process.
Milosevic, in fact, wanted Yugoslavia’s disintegration prevented. When it happened, he wanted minority Serbs protected, allowed either to stay in Yugoslavia or get autonomy in newly created rump states. Washington, however, had other aims. Johnstone believes they included:
— occupation, colonization and exploitation;
— preventing a European-backed settlement;
— “assert(ing) dominance over European allies in the arbitration of European conflicts;”
— expanding NATO through an “out of area” humanitarian mission, aka US-led war, domination, colonization and military occupation; and
— “gain(ing) influence in the Muslim world by (allegedly) championing the Bosnian Muslims.”
She also called “government by international bureaucracy (a) new trend in the New World Order.”
As a result, “Bosnia-Herzegovina has been ruled by a similar combination: a complicated set of local authorities under the strict supervision of a ‘High Representative’ (a contemporary Proconsul or Viceroy) who can, and does, annul laws adopted by the local democratic institutions or dismiss democratically chosen officials” not in tow with official Washington.
In other words, dictatorship called democracy, the kind Washington disdains and won’t tolerate abroad or at home. Never, in fact, in one of its colonies, the latest at the time pounded mercilessly from March 24 – June 10, 1999.
Around 600 aircraft flew about 3,000 sorties, dropping thousands of tons of ordnance as well as hundreds of ground-launched cruise missiles. Up to then, its ferocity was unprecedented.
Nearly everything was struck, causing massive destruction and disruption, including:
— known or suspected military sites;
— power plants;
— telecommunications facilities;
— vital infrastructure, including roads, bridges and rail lines;
— fuel depots;
— a TV station;
— China’s Belgrade embassy;
— government offices;
— historic landmarks; and
— other targets in cities and villages throughout the country.
Using NATO as a missile, it was lawless Pentagon aggression called humanitarian intervention whenever America goes to war, including Iraq 1991, again in 2003, Afghanistan in 2001, and currently Libya, slaughtering civilians, not protecting them.
In Serbia/Kosovo, an estimated $100 billion in damage was inflicted. A humanitarian disaster resulted. Environmental contamination was extensive. Large numbers were killed, injured or displaced. Two million people lost their livelihoods, many their homes and communities, and for most their futures under Western domination.
Serbia/Kosovo, in fact, was a prototype for new millennium aggression to eliminate challenges to US dominance, waging permanent wars to perpetuate it.
Srebrenica – Separating Myth from Known Facts
On October 12, 2005, Johnstone discussed it in her CounterPunch article titled, “Srebrenica Revisited,” remembering its summer 10th anniversary when the “dominant themes were ‘nostra culpa:’ ‘we’ let it happen, ‘we’ didn’t want to know about it, and ‘we’ mustn’t let it happen again.”
Who are “we,” she asked, and how accurate is the official story, questions to this day “virtually taboo” to preserve the official myth, including exaggerating Serb atrocities “whereas Muslim atrocities (such as the decapitations of Serb prisoners, fully documented) remained confidential.
Official accounts portrayed “a one-sided conflict between a Serbian ‘fascist aggressor’ and innocent victims, all unarmed civilians.”
Unexplained was that Srebrenica was a Muslim military base, besides a refugee “safe area.” Slobodan Milosevic, in fact, wanted Serb forces restrained from overrunning it. In addition:
— before the July 1995 attack, Srebrebica-based Muslim forces “carried out murderous attacks on nearby Serb villages;”
— Muslim Sarajevo officials withdrew their Srebrenica commanders, “leaving thousands of….soldiers (leaderless), without orders, and in total confusion when the foreseeable Serb attack occurred;”
— when “Bosnian Serb forces captured (Srebrenica) on July 11, 1995,” civilians wanted to leave because normality there didn’t exist;
— separating women and children from men was, in fact, done to find “the perpetrators of raids on Serb villages (to) take revenge;” and
— yet only a small number “were detained at that point;” some, in fact, survived.
The alleged Srebrenica victim count reflected lies and half-truths based on what’s known but omitted in official and major media accounts. The 8,000 number included the Red Cross estimate of 3,000 “witnesses,” allegedly detained by Bosnian Serbs, as well as another 5,000 Red Cross accounts said “fled Srebrenica, some of whom reached Central Bosnia.”
In other words, they fled. They weren’t killed. Yet, they were added to the mythical death toll to inflate it. Years later, in fact, forensic teams discovered 2,361 bodies in the area where heavy fighting occurred, including combatants on both sides, not massacred civilians.
Johnstone explained that “(n)either the Bosnian Serbs nor the Muslims were ever forthcoming with whatever information they had, (yet) the ‘8,000’ figure (became) an established total of ‘Muslim men and boys executed by Serb forces.’ “
Afterward, Washington exploited Srebrenica to:
— conceal “the US-backed Croatian offensive,” forcefully removing Serbs from Krajina, an operation approved and supported by Washington, perhaps killing larger numbers than the alleged Srebrenica numbers, including women and children ruthlessly; and
— “implicate Bosnian Serb leaders in ‘genocide’ (to) disqualify them from negotiating the future of Bosnia-Herzegovina.”
Exploiting the alleged Srebrenica massacre facilitated waging 1999 imperial war by blaming UN inability to protect it, so NATO’s humanitarian war had to intervene. In addition, Milosevic was falsely criminalized for alleged genocidal killings “against non-Serbs for purely racist reasons.”
Claiming Serbian caused genocide was, in fact, used “as an effective instrument (to) restructur(e) Yugoslavia,” balkanizing it under US control. Official and media propaganda repeated fabrications, exaggerations, and half-truths about what happened, portraying victims as perpetrators to this day.
Heading for a Hague tribunal lynching, Ratko Mladic is already guilty by accusation before he arrives. Washington, of course, insists on it to perpetuate the official lie, a massacre invented out of whole cloth.
Yet most people still believe it, the same ones perhaps thinking Washington’s led NATO war on Gaddafi is another humanitarian intervention, when, in fact, it’s more imperial aggression, slaughtering civilians daily, not protecting them!
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.