by Jared Israel
This article first appeared in 2001 (revised 2006), but fourteen years later is relevant, not only to the historical assessment of what happened in the former Yugoslavia, but also to current NATO campaigns in Europe and elsewhere.
I have revised this article, originally written five years ago when the Kosovo Liberation Army terrorists escalated attacks on southern Serbia and Macedonia, because, unfortunately, the points I made then hold true today. The ‘Media Milosevic’ lives on, despite the death, in jail at The Hague Tribunal, of the real Milosevic, with the media rehashing every attack him. That is because for the media, attacking Milosevic is shorthand for attacking the Serbian people, and the Serbs are still being blamed – falsely – for the destruction of Yugoslavia. But the case is not closed
— Jared Israel
The Western media is preparing us for yet another terrorist war which NATO claims it is helpless to prevent, although NATO is training the terrorists.
Western special forces were still training the guerrillas, as a result of decisions taken before the change of government in Yugoslavia.” (BBC, Jan. 29, 2001) (1)
The ‘guerrillas’ in question are members of the terrorist Kosovo Liberation Army, or KLA. You remember the KLA, don’t you? They’re the people NATO installed in power in Kosovo in June 1999 after which they dutifully drove out almost all Serbs, ‘Gypsies’, Jews, non-Albanian Muslims (known as ‘Gorani’), and Albanians who opposed the KLA. Or just killed them. (2)
The KLA has, we are told, been dissolved, yet under new names it continues to start new terrorist wars. (3)
Aside from an invasion of southern Serbia, which it started a year ago, the KLA is also attacking Macedonia.
The KLA, by whatever name, has supposedly been fully disarmed except that somehow it has heavy weapons and somehow there are NATO combat helicopters providing air cover. (4)
Mass Media Prepares Us for War
The way the mass media gets us ready for new terrorist wars is by marinating our heads in lies.
Consider an article that appeared in the February 24th London ‘Telegraph’. The body of the article concerns the KLA’s latest terrorist attacks. But the headline reads:
NATO Forces Face New Threat In Balkans”
Huh? Is somebody threatening NATO? No, nobody is threatening NATO. The point of the title is to give readers the proper attitude prior to breaking the news that NATO’s prize pet, the KLA, is again attacking Serbia and Macedonia.
Readers must be directed away from unacceptable (if perfectly logical) speculations such as that maybe the UN, which renamed the KLA the ‘Kosovo Protection Corp,’ and NATO, which has been training the terrorists attacking Serbia and Macedonia, are behind these attacks. Oh no no no, says the title, these attacks threaten NATO, and gently nudges us away from treacherous waters.
Now for your consideration, here is the article’s first sentence:
The Kosovo war was fought to defeat Slobodan Milosevic and his dream of a ‘Greater Serbia.'”
Amazing. This article is supposedly about recent terrorist attacks. News reports are supposed to start by telling us who did it, what happened, where it happened, when and why.
Did Milosevic go out last night and launch terrorist attacks on Macedonia and southern Serbia?
By starting with this sentence, the ‘Telegraph’ dredges up our memories of anti-Serb media stories past. It gives us the impression that whatever happens now stems from Milosevic.
This is important for two reasons.
First, this suggests that the Serbian people are violently nationalist. Why? Because Milosevic was an elected leader, so if this characterization were true, it would mean that most Serbs supported a violently expansionist policy. Thus while the sentence focuses on Milosevic, he is really just a symbol. The real attack is on the Serbs as a whole.
Second, NATO and the pro-NATO leaders, who took over in Belgrade after the coup a year ago, are trying to build public support for arresting Milosevic. They want to stage a show trial to convince the world that NATO is innocent and the Serbs are guilty for the breakup of Yugoslavia.
At the same time, the opening sentence:
The Kosovo war was fought to defeat Slobodan Milosevic and his dream of a ‘Greater Serbia'”
tells readers that NATO is supposedly innocent of wrongdoing. The implication is that if NATO had not bombed Yugoslavia and occupied Kosovo it would have failed to:
…defeat Slobodan Milosevic and his dream of a ‘Greater Serbia'”
Thus, like the headline,
NATO Forces Face New Threat In Balkans,”
the first sentence puts us in the proper mental state for a constructive news experience: pro-NATO and on the lookout for Serbian dreams of expansion.
But wait a minute. Is the ‘Telegraph’ seriously saying NATO bombed Yugoslavia to stop a Milosevic dream?
Or did this dream take some earthly form? Was Milosevic trying to expand Serbia into Kosovo?
That must be the idea, but there is a wee glitch. In spring of 1999, when NATO attacked Yugoslavia, Kosovo was a province of Serbia.
In fact Kosovo has been an internationally recognized province of Serbia since before World War I.
The border between Kosovo (that is, Serbia) and the country known as Albania is one of the oldest internationally recognized borders in Europe.
Moreover, Kosovo is the heart of Serbia. It’s where Serbia started. Saying that Serbia is expanding into Kosovo is similar to saying New York City is expanding into Manhattan.
This ‘Greater Serbia’ stuff was invented by the Austro-Hungarian Empire as war propaganda to justify its attack on little Serbia, an attack that turned into World War I. It was black humor then – this elephant whining that it was threatened by the expansionism of a mouse.
And it has not gained intellectual stature with time, but so what? It is not brains but money, might and media that count in the new, Euro/American order. Lucky for them.
The “Greater Serbia” nonsense was reissued in the early 1990s. Since then it has been foisted on us continuously by Western journalists, politicians and professors. It is the stock explanation for every conflict in Yugoslavia.
But despite all of Milosevic’s expansionist dreaming, Serbia has never annexed any land. Not an acre. And even now, after the destruction of Yugoslavia, about 40% of the people living in Serbia are *not* Orthodox Christian Serbs. That is the same percentage as before the breakup of Yugoslavia. In other words, the Serbs have not “ethnically cleaned” the place where it would have been easiest: inner Serbia, where ethnic Serbs are a majority.
By way of contrast, Croatia and Slovenia, the Yugoslav Republics that launched the wars of secession, are virtually Serb-free.
A million Serbs and non-Serb Yugoslav loyalists have been driven from their lands and/or homes in other parts of Yugoslavia (e.g., the Serbian farmers who owned most of the land in Bosnia for the very good reason that they farmed it). Those refugees, mostly but not all ethnic Serbs, now live in Serbia.
“To Defend the Union”
Yugoslavia, led by Serbia, fought defensively throughout the 1990s, resisting secessionists who launched armed attacks on Yugoslav forces and who depopulated vast areas of Serbs and other people whom the secessionists considered undesirable, for example, “Gypsies”.
The two most extreme examples are the Krajina section of Yugoslavia (over 250,00 Serbs were driven out by Croatian fascist troops under U.S. leadership in August, 1995; during the whole period from 1990 to 1995, nearly 500,000 Serbs were driven out) and Kosovo (about 350,000 Serbs and other Yugoslav loyalists were driven out following NATO takeover in June, 1999).
The goal of the secessionists – the neo-fascists in Croatia and Kosovo and the Bosnian Islamists – was to rip off parts of Yugoslavia and form mini-states under US and West European sponsorship. Serbs were the main targets because they are the cement of Yugoslavia. That is, they were the key force in uniting the South Slavs (“Yugo”=”South”) in a state whose unity provided its constituent national groups with sufficient strength to resist – or at least try to resist – foreign domination. The German Establishment has been fully aware of this fact for 100 years which is why the Austro-Hungarian Empire launched World War I by attacking Serbia, and why Nazi Germany put so much effort into crushing the rebellious Serbs, who were the backbone of the Partisan resistance to the Nazis.
Thus throughout the 1990s Yugoslavia, led by Serbia, has in effect resisted Anglo-U.S.-German-Islamist “dreams of expansion.”
Serbia was in a position similar to that of the northern states during the U.S. Civil War. The North fought to prevent the southern states from forming a slave nation under British domination and Serbia fought to prevent parts of Yugoslavia from forming ethnically ‘pure’ statelets under Western domination.
Western politicians and the mass media have accused Serbia of destabilizing the Balkans. What breathtaking cynicism. As anyone who has read European history knows, the existence of a state unifying the ‘south Slavs’ (hence ‘Yugo-slavia’) is crucial to the stability of southern Europe and Russia. Serbia’s opposition to the splintering of Yugoslavia into weak Anglo-American and German neocolonies has nothing to do with “dreaming of a ‘Greater Serbia'”.
The Media Milosevic
To make the ‘Greater Serbia’ charge believable it has been linked to the accusation that Mr. Milosevic was and is motivated by hatred of non-Serbs.
The Western media has come up with a new, improved Milosevic to aid in digesting this idea. I encountered this Media Milosevic while watching a Fox News program during the NATO bombing of Yugoslavia. Fox was interviewing a ‘NY Times’ reporter, an ‘expert’ on Yugoslavia. The reporter said:
“The ethnic cleansing of Kosovo, as Milosevic would call it, is a success.”
“As Milosevic would call it.” So brief but so untrue. If the reporter had said, “Milosevic has popularized the term ‘ethnic cleansing’ and used it in Kosovo,” it would have been a lie, but at least a straight forward lie. One could have asked: “Where’s the proof?”
But the reporter presented his accusation (that Milosevic supported ethnic cleansing) as if he were mentioning a fact so well known it required no proof. Such casualness has great power for it leads the viewer who is uninformed about the Balkans (virtually all Americans) to think: “Milosevic invented ethnic cleansing. One more reason to get that guy.”
New York Times reporting is replete with references to Milosevic as the author of the term ‘ethnic cleansing.’ For instance, on August 3, 1992, Anthony Lewis, a Times columnist and prolific Serb-baiter, wrote, in a column syndicated in other papers:
“President Bush compared Saddam Hussein to Hitler. I am against such analogies, because they cheapen the Holocaust. But if that one is to be used, it better fits the Serbian leader, Slobodan Milosevic, the inventor of ‘ethnic cleansing.'” (Anthony Lewis, ‘N.Y. Times,’ August 3, 1992)
Emperor’s Clothes uses a research tool called Lexis. With it we can, in a few seconds, scan the world press going back 20 years.
I did an exhaustive search of ‘N.Y. Times’ articles. The ‘N.Y. Times’ has never quoted Milosevic saying one word in favor of ‘ethnic cleansing’. Never.
How could Milosevic have originated the term, ‘ethnic cleansing,’ without using the term, ‘ethnic cleansing’? And how could Lewis know Milosevic originated the term, when the supposed statement in which Milosevic originated it has never been reported?
The reporter interviewed by Fox (and Mr. Lewis, and many others) was simply lying. Or to be more accurate, he was not only lying, he was presenting his lie in a manner calculated to make the viewer feel that everyone except perhaps himself or herself already knew it was true.
The term ‘ethnic cleansing’ has an interesting history. It was first used in Kosovo in the early 1980s. Albanian secessionists were waging a campaign of racist harassment, driving tens of thousands of Serbs from Kosovo. (4a)
The ‘N.Y. Times’ covered this nightmare in a news story in 1982. The ‘Times’ reporter interviewed a Yugoslav official in Kosovo, a man of Albanian ancestry, and this is where the term “ethnically clean” was first used:
“‘The [Albanian] nationalists have a two-point platform,” according to Becir Hoti, an executive secretary of the Communist Party of Kosovo, “first to establish what they call an ethnically clean Albanian republic and then the merger with Albania to form a greater Albania. “.” (“N.Y. Times’, July 12, 1982)
Before the media began demonizing the Serbs in the late 1980s, they did publish reports describing how the “ethnic cleansing” of the Serbs took place. Here is a quote from a 1987 London Times article which discusses anti-Serb violence in Kosovo. It gives one a sense of the routine, pervasive, and monstrous character of the anti-Serb racism, very much like anti-Black racism in the American South at the height of the power of the KKK:
[Excerpt from London Times article starts here]
There was more trouble to come. It was revealed that Fadil Hodza, an ageing Albanian politician in Kosovo, once vice-president of Yugoslavia and an old colleague of Tito, had insulted Serbian women.
What Hodza had to say was fairly spectacular. He suggested that the rape problem in the province could be solved if there were more prostitutes – particularly Serbian ones. ‘Albanian women won’t do it. Serbian and other women would like to. So why not let them?’ he said.
Serbian women were soon out in the streets in unprecedented demonstrations. Hodza himself, who in the quaint language of the party ‘did not express self criticism’, has been punished in a way calculated to devastate any happily-retired communist leader: he has lost the sentry box outside his home, his bodyguard and, perhaps worst of all, his limousine.
But Hodza is still being greeted as a local hero by many Albanians, and at a recent football match his name was chanted by Kosovo supporters, infuriating the rival Serbian fans.
[Excerpt from London Times article ends here]
The full text of the Times article may be read here
For more on the history of the use of ‘ethnic cleansing’ to smear the victims of ‘ethnic cleansing’ see footnote (8).
Everybody’s Doing It
The accusations against Mr. Milosevic (i.e., against the Serbs) have come from all sides. Liberal and even leftist writers have taken part in – and even led – these attacks.
Consider the example of the Spanish author, Juan Goytisolo, who views himself an icon of broad-mindedness.
During the bombing of Yugoslavia, Mr. Goytisolo wrote a piece for the London Independent attacking a phenomenon which in his title he broadmindedly called “The Virus That Has Invaded the Left.” This virus consisted, in Mr. Goytisolo’s opinion, of writers who opposed NATO’s bombing of the Serbs.
Establishing his credentials in the first line, Mr. Goytisolo assured us that: “NO ONE detests aerial bombardments more than I do”. (His emphasis.) This is encouraging, and once said, Mr. Goytisolo gets down to business, which is to explain why he does not detest the aerial bombing of Serbia:
“Since 1992, it has been apparent to anyone familiar with the Serbian ultra-nationalist ideology embraced by Milosevic that the Kosovo ethnocide was inevitable…Full of hatred and scorn for the Bosnian Muslim and the Kosovar Albanian, [Milosevic’s views] did not differ greatly from the anti-Semitic diatribes of the Nazis.” (4-21-1999, London Independent)
Please note that Mr. Goytisolo does not provide evidence for his charge that anti-Albanian ethnocide has taken place in Kosovo. Rather he acts as if the existence of this supposed ethnocide is an established fact and concerns himself only with the question of *why* it has happened.
The answer, says Goytisolo, is Mr. Milosevic and his supposed ideology of hate.
The problem is, at the time Mr. Goytisolo wrote these words many people said the ethnocide charge was a lie. And clearly, were the ethnocide charge a lie, the hunt for Serbian motivations for carrying it out would carry less weight.
Since NATO took over Kosovo in June 1999, it has employed an army of forensic experts in Kosovo. These folks have dug up half the province, accompanied by frequent press conferences in which various NATO and Hague Tribunal types promised to find mass graves with tens of thousands of victims of Serbian brutality. In fact, they have produced none – no mass graves, no Serbian atrocities. Digging up individual graves all over Kosovo, they found fewer than 3000 bodies. NATO has said 2000 people died before the bombing of Yugoslavia, that is, before the supposed ‘ethnocide’ took place. That leaves 1000. We know that hundreds of people died in NATO bombing and hundreds more in fighting on the ground between the KLA and Yugoslav troops.
Thus, after the most exhaustive hunt in history, NATO has produced exactly no evidence that Serbian troops massacred ethnic Albanians.
The accusation of ethnocide was a fabrication. (7)
Why were Goytisolo and others able to get away with writing articles that assumed the truth of this lie? Because the mass media barraged us with sound bites, voiceovers, gruesome film footage, interviews with ‘victims.’ Constantly repeated, these established the ethnocide lie as an emotional truth; then people like Goytisolo could embellish without fear of repercussions. The Serbs were fair game.
Mr. Goytisolo says he knew the (nonexistent) ethnocide would happen because he was familiar with Milosevic’s “ultra-nationalist ideology” involving “hatred and scorn for the Bosnian Muslim and the Kosovar Albanian” not unlike the “anti-Semitic diatribes of the Nazis.”
Was this ideology, like the nonexistent drive for ‘Greater Serbia’, also limited to Mr. Milosevic’s dreams? Or was Milosevic’s ideology written down somewhere?
If it was not written down, then how did Goytisolo become familiar with it?
If it was written down, where? In a book? In the text of a speech? Is Milosevic at least quoted in a single news report saying hateful things about Muslims and Kosovars?
Goytisolo is silent. That is really too bad because in all the interviews and speeches I have read Mr. Milosevic attacks Nazi-type ideologies and calls for national brotherhood.
Could it be that Mr. Goytisolo is reading stuff written by that Media Milosevic mentioned above? The one who doesn’t exist?
To be fair, in the Independent article Mr. Goytisolo does offer some monstrous quotes to support his charge. The first is from Generalissimo Francisco Franco, the Fascist dictator of Spain. Another is from Adolf Hitler. Then we get more Franco, and finally…another from Hitler. And then Mr. Goytisolo lays down his trump card: Milosevic, he declares, is just like them!
Alas, it doesn’t sit right. If only Goytisolo could provide some word, some deed, some sort of indication of “hatred and scorn” for the Muslim or the Kosovar.
Goytisolo provides: nothing. Could it be he was really thinking about Franco and Hitler all that time, and it just came out ‘Milosevic’?
The Infamous Speech
For years we have been told Milosevic launched the drive for ‘Greater Serbia'” at a speech he gave in Kosovo in 1989.
The only thing that nobody who attacks the speech ever does is quote it.
We have posted the speech on Emperor’s Clothes. (6) Below are two excerpts.
First, here is what Milosevic said about non-Serbian citizens of Serbia, including of course ethnic Albanians and Muslims of varying ethnicity:
“Serbia has never had only Serbs living in it. Today, more than in the past, members of other peoples and nationalities also live in it. This is not a disadvantage for Serbia. I am truly convinced that it is its advantage…Socialism in particular, being a progressive and just democratic society, should not allow people to be divided in the national and religious respect. The only differences one can and should allow in socialism are between hard working people and idlers and between honest people and dishonest people. Therefore, all people in Serbia who live from their own work, honestly, respecting other people and other nations, are in their own republic.”
It has been estimated that the audience for Milosevic’s 1989 speech was as high as one million people. If Milosevic was going to whip the throngs into a frenzy over his ”dream of a ‘Greater Serbia”’, this was the time to do it.
“For as long as multinational communities have existed, their weak point has always been the relations between different nations. The threat is that the question of one nation being endangered by the others can be posed one day — and this can then start a wave of suspicions, accusations, and intolerance, a wave that invariably grows and is difficult to stop. This threat has been hanging like a sword over our heads all the time. Internal and external enemies of multi-national communities are aware of this and therefore they organize their activity against multinational societies mostly by fomenting national conflicts. At this moment, we in Yugoslavia are behaving as if we have never had such an experience and as if in our recent and distant past we have never experienced the worst tragedy of national conflicts that a society can experience and still survive.” [My emphasis, J.I.]
Smear campaigns are often successful because most people are reasonably honest and make the understandable if mistaken assumption that everyone is like them. Thus when a well-known and supposedly broad-minded writer (like Goytisolo) says Milosevic has an ideology similar to the Nazis, people are inclined to think, “Where there’s smoke, there’s fire,” i.e., there must be some truth to the charge. But the truth is, it is a barefaced lie.
Meanwhile, Back In Southern Serbia
France, whose Establishment is one of the lesser “external enemies of multi-national communities,” has squealed on two of the greater enemies, the U.S. and Britain, informing newsmen that:
“NATO countries were discussing whether to send troops into a tense southern Serbia buffer zone, but the alliance flatly denied such a move was being considered.
“‘The question of whether it is necessary to deploy an international military force in this region is now being discussed among the allies,’ French Ministry spokesman Bernard Valero said…
“French diplomatic sources said discussion of a force was prompted by concern over the safety of EU [European Union] monitors.” (‘Reuters’, 3-1-2001)
You remember Southern Serbia, don’t you? That’s one of the places which the KLA, under one of its names, is invading. It is the violence resulting from this KLA invasion which, if the French happen to be telling the truth, is to serve as NATO’s excuse to invade southern Serbia as well.
Do you remember the KLA? That’s that terrorist group which the BBC said “Western special forces were still training.” But don’t worry, it’s OK for the West to be training these terrorists because it’s being done “as a result of decisions taken before the change of government in Yugoslavia”, in other words, while Milosevic was still running things and I’m sure you remember Milosevic.
Come on, how many times do I have to explain? He’s the guy who hates everyone ’cause he’s dreaming about attacking other countries, can’t you remember anything? No no not Bill Clinton. Not Tony Blair for Pete’s sake. Not Junior Bush — Milosevic. He’s behind that violence in southern Serbia which is threatening our NATO troops. We need to put that guy away somewhere he can’t do any more harm by murdering all those Albanians and Bosniaks or whatever you call them, plus the Croatians, who just want freedom and – and…
So many lies. So much confusion. So little time.