Judgement day for Ratko Mladić

Fikret AliThe main in the photograph is Fikret Alic. Today he was in the Hague to witness the trial for Ratko Mladić, the Bosnian Serb commander. Charges relate to the forty-four month Siege of Sarajevo in which 10,000 civilians were killed, and the Srebrenica Massacre in which 8000 men and boys were killed.

The trial judgement summary records that: “The Accused, Ratko Mladić, was indicted on 24 July and 16 November 1995. He was arrested in Serbia on 26 May 2011, almost 16 years after the initial indictments. His trial began on 16 May 2012 and the hearing of evidence lasted for over four years.”

“The Accused stood trial for 11 counts of crimes allegedly committed in his capacity as the Commander of the Main Staff of the Army of the Bosnian-Serb Republic, also known as the VRS, between 12 May 1992 and 30 November 1995. The Indictment charged two counts of genocide and five counts of crimes against humanity, namely persecution, murder, extermination, deportation, and the inhumane act of forcible transfer. It also charged four counts of violations of the laws or customs of war, namely murder, acts of violence the primary purposes of which was to spread terror among the civilian population, unlawful attacks on civilians, and the taking of hostages. The geographical scope of the Indictment included Sarajevo, Srebrenica, and 15 municipalities in Bosnia-Herzegovina.”

Read the full harrowing summary here.

The verdict is as follows:
Not guilt: Count 1 genocide
Guilty: C2 genocide, C3 persecution (CAH), C4 extermination (CAH), C5 murder (CAH), C6 murder (WC), C7 deportation (CAH), C8 forcible transfer (CAH), C9 terror (WC), C10 unlawful attacks on civilians, C11 taking hostages (WC)

Ratko Mladić was today sentenced to life in prison for genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes committed during the war in Bosnia, including siege of Sarajevo and Srebrenica genocide.

But as Mladić is taken away screaming abuse at the judge, it’s worth re-examining the denial and evasion that some attempted to try and downplay these terrible events.

As George Monbiot wrote way back in 2011: “In a leading article last week the Times decried the “malign intellectual subculture that seeks to excuse savagery by denying the facts”. The facts are the genocides in Bosnia and Rwanda. But it was oddly vague about which intellectual subculture it meant, and it mentioned no names. Could this be because the British person who has done most to dismiss these genocides is a journalist who writes for the same paper?

The massacre of Bosnians at Srebrenica in 1995 and the slaughter of Tutsis in Rwanda in 1994 are two of the best-documented acts of genocide in history. Both cases are supported by overwhelming evidence: remains of the victims and vast dossiers of testimony from survivors and observers. The International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP), using DNA screening, has so far identified the corpses of 6,595 of the 7,789 Bosnians reported as missing after the siege of Srebenica. Its work suggests that the total number of victims is close to 8,100.”

He continued:

“From 1988 until 2000, Mick Hume was editor of a magazine called Living Marxism (later shortened to LM). The title was misleading: it was a hard-right libertarian paper, which argued that those with the power to act should not be prevented from using it. It campaigned against the control of guns, tobacco advertising and child pornography. It dismissed global warming and demanded greater freedom for corporations. It denounced what it called “the cult of the victim”.

In 2000 the magazine closed after losing a libel case: LM had made false claims about ITN’s footage from the Trnopolje camp, in which Bosnian prisoners were held by Serb forces. In 2001, Hume launched an online successor called Spiked. He also began working for the Times, writing opinion pieces until the beginning of last year. He still writes occasional feature articles for the paper.

In 1996, LM maintained that the figure of 8,000 killed at Srebrenica was the result of “manipulation” and “misrepresentations”. But, the article concluded, 8,000 is “a more useful number for propaganda purposes than 800.” In 1997 it carried a sympathetic interview with Radovan Karadzic, former president of the Bosnian Serb republic. It challenged none of the outrageous claims he made. Of the Sarajevo marketplace massacre of May 1992, he said: “It is quite obvious to anyone objective that Muslims have done it.” He insisted that “General Mladic would not allow any sniping, particularly against civilians”. The people who died at Srebrenica were soldiers “killed in fighting”. When Ratko Mladic was arrested last month, Hume, writing for Spiked, insisted that the concept of a war crime is a “highly questionable notion”, as are both the numbers of people killed at Srebrenica and the circumstances of their deaths.”

Judgement has been a long time delayed, but it has finally been given. But as the full awful truth is laid out we should also examine the people and forces that seek to deny this truth. They are on both the left and the right of politics. As Monbiot stated today:

“As Ratko Mladic is convicted, we see a history of atrocity denial by people on the left repeating itself. It’s shameful and demeaning.”

Both Noam Chomsky and John Pilger endorsed a book by Edward Herman, The Srebrenica Massacre. It claimed that the 8,000 deaths at Srebrenica are “an unsupportable exaggeration. The true figure may be closer to 800.”

Both Chomsky and Pilger are giant figures of the left as writers and investigative journalists. But their denial in the face of facts over a great many years is bizarre.

As Monbiot explains:

“Part of the problem is that a kind of cult has developed around Noam Chomsky and John Pilger, which cannot believe they could ever be wrong, and produces ever more elaborate conspiracy theories to justify their mistakes.”

Truth and History

Living Marxism accused ITN of distorting the truth about Bosnia, and lost in court seventeen years ago. But as Ed Vulliamy reported (‘Poison in the well of history‘) truth wins out in the end,

“History – the history of genocide in particular – is thankfully built not upon public relations or melodrama but upon truth; if necessary, truth established by law. And history will record this: that ITN reported the truth when, in August 1992, it revealed the gulag of horrific concentration camps run by the Serbs for their Muslim and Croatian quarry in Bosnia.

The law now records that Penny Marshall and Ian Williams (and myself, for that matter) did not lie but told the truth when they exposed this crime to the world, and that the lie was that of Living Marxism and its dilettante supporters who sought, in the time-honoured traditions of revisionism, to deny those camps existed.

Of course Living Marxism was unable to offer a single witness who had been at Trnopolje, the camp they claimed to be a fake, on that putrid afternoon of August 5, 1992. Indeed, they were unable to produce any witnesses at all. Unlike any member of Living Marxism or their sympathisers, I was there with ITN’s cameras that day. We went to two camps: Omarska and Trnopolje.

Living Marxism does not like to mention Omarska: there, we saw little, but enough: skeletal men drilled across a yard and devouring watery stew like famished dogs before being bundled out. One man said: “I do not want to tell any lies, but I cannot tell the truth.”

The truth emerged with time. Omarska turned out to be the kind of place where one prisoner was forced to bite the testicles off another, who had a live pigeon stuffed into his mouth to stifle the screams as he died in agony. The yard at Omarska was a killing field, prisoners obliged to load the mutilated corpses of their friends on to trucks by bulldozer.

Trnopolje was a marginally less satanic place, some of whose prisoners were transferred from other hideous camps to await forced deportation. Others were rounded up and herded there like cattle, or had even fled there to avoid the systematic shelling and burning of their homes. Unknown to us when we pulled up on the road, in disbelief at the sight before us, it was the former group that was held captive behind the now celebrated barbed wire fence.

At the time I paid little attention to what would become Living Marxism’s myopic obsessions: such as which side of which pole the old barbed wire or fresh barbed wire was fixed. There were more important matters, such as the emaciated Fikret Alic’s (accurate and vindicated) recollections of the night he had been assigned to load the bodies of 250 men killed in one night at yet another camp.

If it is still of any remote interest, I will say this: I now know the compound in which these terrified men were held captive to have been surrounded on one side by recently reinforced barbed wire, on two sides by a chain-link fence patrolled by menacing armed thugs and on a fourth side by a wall. But so what? This was a camp – I would say a concentration camp – and they were its inmates.

What does it take to convince people? The war ground on, the British foreign office and Living Marxism in perfect synergy over their appeasement of the Serbs while other, worse camps were revealed. The bench in The Hague issued its judgment on Trnopolje in 1997: a verdict that described the camp as infinitely worse than anything we reported – an infernal place of rape, murder and torture. Witness after witness confirmed this. The Financial Times enthusiastically re-iterated Living Marxism’s claims of a fabrication, but published a hasty and grovelling retraction when it looked at LM’s non-evidence.”

The people behind LM who now have morphed into Spiked! and a hundred other front groups stand today in shame as the truth about the Srebrenica Massacre and the Siege of Sarajevo is laid open.

 

That is a victory, though a grim one.

In ‘Atrocity, memory, photography: imaging the concentration camps of Bosnia – the case of ITN versus Living Marxism’, in the Journal of Human Rights, David Campbell details the entire story.

He concludes:

“Most important of all is the fact that, during the libel trial, Deichmann and Hume conceded that the central point of their case against ITN – the nature of the fence at Trnopolje – had nothing to do with the issue of whether Alic ́ and others were imprisoned in a camp. Under cross-examination, Deichmann and Hume repeatedly stated that conditions at Trnopolje were extremely harsh, killings and rapes were regularly committed, and the con- stant presence of armed guards meant inmates were not free to leave. Accordingly, their legal team did not challenge the first-hand testimony of the Bosnian doctor detained at Trnopolje, Idriz MerdzÏ anic ́. In other words, LM accepted that Alic ́ and others were prisoners in an appalling camp at which human rights abuses were commonplace.”

Several questions arise from this.

What is going on here? What are the processes that lead to historical denial and distortion of such grim harrowing atrocities?

Is this pure ideology that drives people into ridiculous and morally indefensible positions? Is this a pathology? Is this ego?

The old cliche that the first casualty of war is truth is true, but the ideologues of the LM and Spiked don’t have that excuse, they weren’t on the battlefield, they weren’t dodging bullets, they were engaged in an exercise in propaganda to promote their own agenda, whatever that is.

Comments (27)

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  1. Peter says:

    Courtesy of Stewart McDonald MP
    https://twitter.com/StewartMcDonald/status/885047895480832000

    Maybe good old cuddly Jezza can go on Gogglebox and explain this.

  2. Alan Crocket says:

    What is going on here?

    This article castigates the late, great Edward Herman, for endorsing the statement in the book he edited on the Srebrenica Massacre that the figure of 8000 for those murdered was “an unsupportable exaggeration. The true figure may be closer to 800.” The article itself regurgitates the 8000 figure, which has now passed into holy writ as the number virtually always quoted in the media. Part of the thrust of Herman’s book, a detailed and scholarly review, is that the inflated figure has come to be taken as historical truth because it suited the purposes of NATO.

    Now consider what the ICTY court judgement summary says in the Mladić decision which just come out, which gives rise to the article and to which it conveniently links. It gives the figure as “several thousands”, and the only examples it quotes from the relevant period total 2500 to 2700.

    That appears to me to be nearer to 800 than to 8000 and, if anything, to vindicate Herman

    1. Richard Wickenden (ex Tory from the mid-ninetys) says:

      You are an A*s*hole. It matters not 8,000, 800, 80 or 8. As far as I am concerned one is too many. Do not stick up for people trying to smooth over horrendous acts by tyrants.

      1. Ian Clark says:

        Impressive! You’ve managed to be offensive, show contempt for truth and be ignorant in four short sentences.

      2. Crubag says:

        Quite right. 800 is only a misdemeanor but 8,000 a felony?

        6,838 bodies recovered from mass graves and identified from DNA analysis, so far.

        I don’t know who this conspiraloon Herman is, but he’s giving reality a wide berth.

    2. What a disgusting response.

      Maybe you didnt read the judgement or the article properly?

      The man has just been convicted of genocide, persecution, extermination, mass murder, terror, unlawful attacks on civilians.

      Why would you want to excuse or apologise for such a person?

  3. john young says:

    Howcome B/liar and Bush walk away scot free?

    1. Alan Crocket says:

      Yes, indeed. That should be the real question for us, as a country, because we have control over what we do, not what others do. All sides from the breakup of Yugoslavia engaged in conduct which was surely monstrous enough to require no exaggeration. Did Blair’s UK make it better or worse? We were fully signed up to the US aim of having NATO forge a new reason for its existence by the use of force “out of area”. I believe that was the real but unacknowledged pretext for the UK’s murderous and disastrous intervention in the Balkans. When military aggression becomes high state policy, the truth is buried even deeper than usual.

    2. Richard Wickenden (ex Tory from the mid-ninetys) says:

      Too true.

  4. Ian Clark says:

    Bella Caledonia Editor

    1. Can the way the comments appear be sorted out. I wrote a response to Richard Wickenden… and it showed up as a response to Alan Crockett. This is not the first time it has happened and it causes confusion.

    2. I assume your comment “What a disgusting response. Maybe you didn’t read the judgement or the article properly? The man has just been convicted of genocide, persecution, extermination, mass murder, terror, unlawful attacks on civilians. Why would you want to excuse or apologise for such a person?” is a response to Alan Crockett, who was defending Edward Herman’s scholarship. Why do you imply that Mr. Crockett wants to excuse or apologise for Mladic? On the basis of what he wrote above, he does no such thing. And since when does a measured response defending Herman’s figure of 800 victims warrant being called ‘disgusting’? Perhaps you did not properly read what Mr. Crockett wrote.

    1. 1. I will try. This seems to be a random glitch/bug which disappears for months then reappears

      2. Herman’s ‘scholarship’ is apology for genocide, hence ‘disgusting’. In light of the facts presented at international court and by personal testimony and having spoken to journalists who were ‘on the ground’ or have direct experience I find this ideological re-writing disgusting

      1. Alan Crocket says:

        (For the avoidance of doubt, this is a response to the editor’s response to Ian Clark.)

        Srebrenica was one affair in a brutal ethnic and territorial conflict, but it has become a kind of totem. It is only one of the topics covered by the work of Herman, famous for his theory of the “political economy of the mass media”.

        I make no claim for the number of victims of the Srebrenica outrage, but I have some respect for the seriousness and the skill of the contributors to the book which Herman edited, and if I had to bet on it that’s where my money would go. Their conclusion on the numbers was that the figure of 8000 was a concoction which attained currency through US-led political bias, and that the true figure was considerably short of that. I find it curious that after years of investigation and prosecution through the ICTY (itself largely a creature of the US, and whose first presiding judge endearingly referred to the notorious US representative at the UN, Madelaine Allbright, as the “Mother of the Tribunal”), that court has not been able to support the standard figure, and the numbers they do mention are in line with the Herman position.

        A final thought: If 8000 is in fact propaganda, is it not rather those who push that number who are being ideological, and are they not downplaying the enormity of mass murder in their readiness to subordinate the actuality of it to their own agenda? It would be almost as if, in their eyes, anything less than 8000 is not quite atrocious enough.

        1. Crubag says:

          The ICTY delivered verdicts of aiding and abetting genocide in 2004 against Kristic. The number of victims was given as being between 7,000 and 8,000.

          Sounds like this Herman is a fact free zone.

          1. Alan Crocket says:

            (This is a response to Crubag.)

            Indeed it did, and of its perpetration, not just aiding and abetting. But the figure you quote was not a finding. The finding was “several thousand”, with the number of 7000-8000 merely described as “likely”. In fact it was guesswork, as can clearly be seen from paragraphs 80 to 84 of that judgment.

            As a matter of interest, Herman viewed the Krstic decision as “tortured” and “political to its core”. He was not alone. Canadian law professor Michael Mandel explained the deliberate exaggeration as follows: “The tribunal wasn’t really interested in the murder charges. They were after the big prize of genocide, a much more difficult case to make in these circumstances, so the higher the number of dead the better.”

          2. Indeed, and belittling or excusing genocide is a pretty gruesome exercise. I’m not sure what the motivation is?

        2. Ian Clark says:

          (For the avoidance of doubt, the first paragraph is a response to Alan Crocket and the second and third more general observations.)

          My apology for adding a ‘t’ to your name in my earlier post. More importantly I commend your restraint in not responding angrily to your first comment being described as ‘disgusting’ and to you personally being unfairly accused of being an apologist for Mladic. I doubt I would have been so gracious.

          Regarding the Srebenica massacre, it’s unfortunate that many thoughtful commentators have allowed their normally sound judgement regarding Western imperialist propaganda to be overwhelmed by understandable emotional responses to finding out just how appalling humans can be to each other and of how far some people will go to deny particular examples of this.

          However, misplaced anger, the desire to blame, the lashing out at messengers (and perhaps the taking of opportunities to settle journalistic and academic scores?) should be resisted when the stakes are so high. Without denying the horror of what happened at Srebenica, perhaps we should direct our anger etc. in the first instance at elites who for their own advantage regularly manipulate us to acquiesce in the destruction our fellow humans in other countries.

          1. Crubag says:

            @Alan Crocket – in determining Kristic’s appeal in 2004, the ICTY states that “Bosnian women, children and elderly were removed from the enclave,2 and between 7,000 – 8,000 Bosnian Muslim men were systematically murdered.”

            So a statement of fact. What was Herman doing in 2004, on Easter Island measuring the skull shape of extra-terrestrials, or roaming the Hollywood back lot where they filmed the moon landings?

          2. Alan Crocket says:

            (This is actually a response to Crubag’s latest comment, in which he refers to the Krstic appeal. That comment has no reply button, so I hope Ian Clark will forgive me for hijacking his button.)

            I’m sorry to have to labour this, but you seem to me to have put your finger on an example of the very exaggeration Herman and others complained of.

            The Krstic trial court, which was the one which actually heard the evidence, did not find that 7000-8000 had been murdered, simply stating that that number was “likely” (and that on the basis of guesswork, which the court itself goes through in the paragraphs to which I pointed). Their actual finding was “several thousand”.

            The appeal court, to which you now refer, and which did not hear the evidence, does indeed make the bald statement that “between 7,000 – 8,000 Bosnian Muslim men were systematically murdered”, but quotes as its only source for this the very paragraph (83) of the trial court’s judgment which carefully avoids any such finding.

            This is just a small, and perhaps now obscure, instance of the insidious carving into stone of the magic figure of 8000 which has taken place, so successfully that to question it at all is almost universally abhorred as heresy.

          3. Can you explain your motivation in this? I’m genuinely perplexed.

          4. Alan Crocket says:

            (This is a response to the editor’s request to assuage his perplexity.)

            Well, I don’t see why motivation is an issue, unless the motivation is to lie, but let me attempt a brief explanation.

            The precise Srebrenica number is not in itself important. 8000 is twice as appalling as 4000, but either is an unspeakable atrocity. Again, whether we label it murder or genocide in essence matters not, and certainly not to the victims, apart from the technical legal and political (not to say financial) consequences of categorizing it as genocide. The problem for us, as with the whole Balkans debacle, is our role in it, which is of a part with our bloody rampage through Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya and now Syria, and our support for murderous violence elsewhere. In each case for our own ulterior motives, we set up the enemy, label them as monsters (irrespective of where they may really lie on the spectrum of good and evil), and bomb them to hell. That labelling exercise was turbo-charged in the Balkans, and the ICTY, which is some respects is no better than a kangaroo court, was set up to lend it credibility. It’s not a simple matter, and it’s not black and white, because courts do have to go through the motions and write detailed judgments, and they do have to make decent judgments to hide their dodgy ones among. For whatever reason, and I believe by design, Srebrenica has become the fulcrum on which the UK state paradigm has been falsely levered into the popular mind. That is why I thought it worth taking up the matter when I identified what I regarded as an instance, perhaps unwitting, of this in the article, whose main thrust was, I accept, on a different facet.

          5. Your motivation is important because when people are denying genocide its important to understand why,. what are their motivations and what facts are they drawing on, because, you k now, mass murder is important.

            I look forward to your responses to JFVarlet and John McGowan.

        3. JFVarlet says:

          @Alan Crocket

          “but I have some respect for the seriousness and the skill of the contributors to the book which Herman edited, and if I had to bet on it that’s where my money would go.”

          Then you are either naive or willfully ignorant. Assuming this book (http://resistir.info/livros/srebrenica_massacre_rev_3.pdf) is the one you’re talking about, it falls very far short of serious scholarship. Before we even get into the content, it’s worth taking a glance at the Bios of the Contributors at the end. Notice there are no academic historians of Bosnia/Yugoslavia/The Balkans, nor any Political Scientists working in the fields of ethnic conflict or peace processes. Or indeed, anyone with any real credence or expertise in the subject other than having been to the region once or twice. The only half-exception to this is Philip Corwin, who wrote only the foreword, the shortest section of the whole book, and the one lightest on references (Corwin only makes one citation – to himself). The only real reason Herman has included those he has is that they are his fellow travellers. This is most apparent in the case of George Bogdanich, whose given Bio consists solely of the fact that he once made a similarly apologist/denialist film.

          Going into the content, I’ll limit this to just a few of the more egregious examples in Herman’s own introductory sections:
          – Herman claims that “well over 1,000, with one estimate as high as 3,287” Serb civilians around Srebrenica were killed by Bosnian Army forces during the war. The only source he cites for this is an obscure Serbian author (who actually only claims 3,287 as the total number of combatant & civilian deaths, not just civilians), ignoring more credible sources like the RDC (which Herman obviously considers a reputable source, given he cites it as such elsewhere in the book) or contemporary Republika Srpska documents, which (depending on which source you check), give estimates ranging from ~550-1000 total, of whom the clear majority were combatants. Herman cites Ivanisevic only because he agrees with the conclusion.
          – Herman claims that the US State Department officially claimed during the Kosovo War that 500,000 Kosovo Albanians were killed by Serbian forces. Only in his footnote does he admit that this was merely the upper end of a wide 150,000-500,000 range of estimates, and that the US claim was merely that they were missing, not dead. Herman still claims that “missing” was an implication of “dead”, but the State Dept document he cites actually clearly understands those “missing” Albanians as mostly being held in detention centres, not killed.
          – Herman uncritically repeats the conspiracy theory about the Trnopolje picture of Fikret Alic having been faked, citing Thomas Deichmann’s original article in this claim. He ignores the fact that Deichmann’s claims have been completely discredited, including most notably by a British libel court.

          Just a few examples – I could go on for ever both in terms of factual inaccuracies and more subtle biases (e.g. Herman studiously avoids ever referring to the “Bosnian government” or the “Bosnian Army” (or ARBiH), instead only ever referring to the “Bosnian Muslim leadership” or the “Bosnian Muslim Army” – even using the acronym “BMA” for the latter as if it were an official name), but a few examples illustrate the point.

          Herman isn’t just being sloppy here, he’s being dishonest. He decided on his conclusion before starting (i.e. that because the US was generally on the opposite side to the Serb nationalists, the latter must have been the good guys), and accepts only the evidence that supports this, however thin, ignoring everything else or dismissing it as “establishment” (though of course, he’ll cite establishment sources if they do agree with him). He cites parts of sources that support his claims, and ignores other parts of the same sources which contradict those claims. No serious historian of the Yugoslav Wars even remotely takes him seriously.

          1. Alan Crocket says:

            I think we’re getting pretty much away from the issue, and we may already be past the tedium level of readers, but here goes. I’ll try to be brief.

            I have virtually no interest in the professional, officially-recognised qualifications of the authors, or lack thereof, and do not share your implication that only those with such institutional imprimaturs are worthy of attention. Whatever their background, they have produced a scholarly work, but readers of the dry, factual, detailed, 300-page, footnoted, cited and sourced book must form their own opinion. As I said above, I accept their seriousness and skill.

            I’m afraid I don’t see that your particular instances have much to do with Srebrenica, but I don’t buy them anyway. First, the “obscure Serbian” (Milivoje Ivanisevich, I take it) is surely quoted, like many other sources, as evidence not for that high estimate of Serb deaths, but for just how all-over-the-place the numbers are. Next, on the US State Department figures, nowhere does Herman make the claim you speak of, as far as I can see. His only reference to that source is in a footnote, where what he actually writes is pretty clear: “One Weekly Report even stated that, “Disturbingly, some 150,000 to 500,000 military age men remain missing in Kosovo””. And again, you have to see the wood, not just the trees. His context here is the usual phenomenon of huge figures appearing in the heat of the moment, and being revised down later when more complete information becomes available, against the intriguing fact that this never happened to the magic 8000 at Srebrenica. And last, it is not true that Deichmann’s claims have been completely discredited (by a British [English!] libel court, God help us!). One of his claims was that in the camp picture (yes, the same one which tops this Bella Caledonia article, and we will all recall the lurid saturation coverage it achieved at the time) the fence was actually a small enclosure in which the newsmen were standing, not the inmates. Readers will note the significance of way the photo is framed, suggesting a particular scenario. In the libel trial, the judge explicitly confirmed Deichmann’s claim: “Clearly Ian Williams and Penny Marshall and their TV teams were mistaken in thinking they were not enclosed by the old barbed wire fence.”

            But we’re kind of missing the point. Put on one side of the scale the mountain of print and newsprint written about Srebrenica in which 8000 is taken as gospel, and on the other side the molehill written in the same vein about the hundreds of thousands (or more) of deliberate, miserable deaths for which this country, with others, has been responsible over the last few decades. Dare we be weighed in such a balance?

            Finally, any readers who remain will be comforted to know that I now withdraw from this thread.

  5. Willie says:

    The question about what part our Great British government together with our American cousins played in all of this, is a question we should be asking.

    I am no expert in what went on in the Balkans but I do recall reports that the British and American militaries were active in fomenting ethnic tensions by arming some of the groups to destabilise the region – just as was done in Afghanistan in the 80s.

    1. Crubag says:

      No, I think we’ve a duty to participate in international war crimes trials and bring perpetrators to justice.

      If you’re talking about the breakup of the Yugoslav federation, then there are a lot of countries to consider, Germany being a prominent one in pushing for early recognition of Slovenia and Croatia. The EC generally (as it then was), including the UK, was more reluctant to see Yugoslavia broken-up and tried to broker some kind of accommodation.

      Croatia and Slovenia both used referenda (big turn-outs and healthy majorities) to pave the way to independence.

  6. Monty says:

    Excellent summary and a warning to be wary of much journalism from both the left and right. It is all too easy to lose touch with reality through ideology. Witness Ken Livingstone’s remarks about Hitler and Zionism. I think he genuinely does not understand why these are offensive and make him appear at best eccentric to most people. In some cases ideology can be a trap and make it not possible to see things as they really are.

  7. Peter Hurrell says:

    Welcome to the new media. For daring to question the accuracy of an article you can be denounced as a “genocide denier”, trashed for having “disgusting” opinions, accused of supporting tyranny and asked to “explain” your motivation.
    I cannot find anything in Alan Crocket’s comments to support these accusations. Maybe Bella should just settle for watching Nicholas Witchell gushing about the new royal wedding.

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