Just a few points about the terrible reporting in the wake of the death of former Yugoslavian President Slobodan Milosevic.it's a complex history that is dealt with in the final chapters of The Dream of the Decade volume. The Dream of the Decade's final book (in the same volume and amongst other stories) looks at how a journalist protaganist finds himself in Yugoslavia, unwittingly spreading disinformation. Click here for a free extract. Yugoslavia, one should add, was famous in the 1980s.
Supporters lauded its economy, a system known as "self-management," whereby under the 1976 Law of Associated Labor the means of production and other major resources were not regarded as state property, as in the USSR, but as "social property". Literacy rose from 55% in the 1950s to 90% in 1986. Infant mortality dropped from 116.
5 per 1,000 births to 27.1 per 1,000 births over the same period. There was free medical care and free education. The 1992 Encyclopedia Britannica intoned that since 1945, there was an ever-growing number of people who described them as "Yugoslavs" and that "their numbers are growing steadily, more as a result of ethnically-mixed marriages than because of high natural increase.
" Critical to understanding the war is that Milosevic, after the collapse of Soviet Communism, met up with officials from the International Monetary Fund.but more on that later.including how the name "bin Laden" turned up at the Hague Tribunal, just a month ago and connected with a man supported by the Clinton administration. The Strategic Issues Research Institute of the United States details wire reports around the time of the "massacre" in Racak which was a key event used by the U.
S. and NATO to justify bypassing the U.N. and start bombing Yugoslavia. It asks readers to make up their own minds (see this page).
But Le Monde also cast doubt on the story - see FAIR on the subject. There is controversy in every element of the story of the breakup of Yugoslavia. And very little of that controversy emerges on our TV screens when it comes to the death of the former Yugoslav President.
? The ex-OSCE Kosovo Verification Mission observer, Rollie Keith, testified at the Hague claiming that he never saw any evidence of genocide or ethnic cleansing involving Slobodan Milosevic and Serbian forces in Kosovo and Metohija. See this interview. ? The FBI's investigations in June and August, 1999, found no mass graves; nor did a team of Spanish investigators. ? UNHCR, that was on the ground, did not report one external refugee leaving Kosovo prior to the NATO attack. ? Former associate editor of the Wall Street Journal, Jude Wanniski, forwarded a memo to the then U.
S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright consisting of a report prepared by economist, Criton Zoakos (The new U.S.
-European detente: why the Europe of 2005 is nothing like the Europe of 2003 or even 2004. : An article from: The International Economy) , in May 1993. "In 1987," Zoakos wrote, "the old Yugoslavia, with all its tragic failings, was still a functioning state.
The International Monetary Fund then took over economic policy, implementing a number of all too familiar shock therapies: devaluation, a wage freeze, and price decontrol--designed on the Harvard/MIT economic textbook principles meant to drive the wage rate down to a level where it would be internationally competitive. As the economy contracted from this shock, revenues to the central government declined, triggering pressure from the IMF to raise taxes to balance the budget. . "These centrifugal forces began to tear apart at the federation, with the richer provinces of Croatia and Slovenia objecting to being drained of resources by the poorer provinces.
Just as the USSR splintered as the IMF browbeat the Gorbachev government into a ruble devaluation, Yugoslavia broke into pieces as ethnic and religious rivalries were reasserted in an attempt to control the rapidly shrinking pool of resources. .When the IMF shock therapy hit Yugoslavia, the initial form of social disorder was not ethnic friction but massive and repeated strikes and labor actions." ? The writer, Nick Breams, contends "Ordinary people turned into ethnic monsters only after all their options for a normal economic life were destroyed. 'Ethnic cleansing' arrived only after 'shock therapy' had done its work.
"" The Srebrenica Massacre Contrary to media reports about Milosevic's role in the massacre, Diana Johnstone clearly describes the context for the events of July, 1995. See Fools' Crusade: Yugoslavia, Nato, and Western Delusions in which Johnstone says "The false interpretation of "Srebrenica" as part of an ongoing Serb project of "genocide" was used to incite the NATO war against Yugoslavia, which devastated a country and left behind a cauldron of hatred and ethnic cleansing in Kosovo." She also quotes Britain's Lord Owen about what he thought about Milosevic's intentions. "On 16 April I spoke on the telephone to President Milosevic about my anxiety that, despite repeated assurances from Dr. Karadzic that he had no intention of taking Srebrenica, the Bosnian Serb army was now proceeding to do just that. The pocket was greatly reduced in size.
I had rarely heard Milosevic so exasperated, but also so worried: he feared that if the Bosnian Serb troops entered Srebrenica there would be a bloodbath because of the tremendous bad blood that existed between the two armies. The Bosnian Serbs held the young Muslim commander in Srebrenica, Naser Oric, responsible for a massacre near Bratunac in December 1992 in which many Serb civilians had been killed. Milosevic believed it would be a great mistake for the Bosnian Serbs to take Srebrenica and promised to tell Karadzic so." Of course, it seems almost unbelieveable that virtually every journalist on every newspaper in the world and at every TV station could be wrong about the reasons for such a pivotal massacre. The British and the 175,000 death toll It was Douglas Hurd, an admirer of Milosevic, who believed that Milosevic's talking to the IMF might herald the privatisation of Yugoslavia's industrial infrastructure. At the same time, many believe (see the UK parliament's Hansard for 18 June 1997) that he made a deal with Germany, whereby the UK could opt out of a EU social chapter and precursor agreemeents over the Euro if the UK allowed Germany to recognise an independent Croatia - the major catalyst for the war.
And what of those that the West backed and who Milosevic regarded as an enemy? According to the Senate Select Intelligence Committee Report on the CIA and National Security report in 1996, the CIA indirectly aided Croatia's Franjo Tudjman, even allowing him to use Croatia as a transit point for Iranian arms to Bosnia. Tudjman claimed in a book he authored in 1989, that "the establishment of Hitler's new European order can be justified by the need to be rid of the Jews," and that only 900,000 Jews, not six million, were killed in the Holocaust. Tudjman presided over the forced evacuation of over half a million Serbs from Croatia between 1991 and 1995 including 200,000 from Krajina in 1995, whose expulsion was facilitated by attacks from NATO war planes and missiles. ? "SEN. SPECTER: Director Deutch, returning to the issue of the sale of arms to Bosnia, and reviewing the hard facts, Ambassador Redman asked National Security Councilor Anthony Lake if he should file a written report on what Ambassador Redman had done on this "no instructions" to President Tudjman of Croatia, which was the perceived green light, and Mr.
Lake said no written report. And Ambassador Galbraith said to Undersecretary -- or Deputy -- number-two man in the State Department Strobe Talbott, "Shall I file a written report as to what we did with President Tudjman?" And Mr. Talbott said, "File one after you have the affirmation" -- and he identified two State Department officials -- "after they call you." And neither of them called, so the effective instruction from Mr.
Talbott or Mr. Galbraith was "no written report." How Milosevic tried to stop bin Laden? In Bosnia, U.
S. leaders supported the Islamist, Alija Izetbegovic, an active Nazi in his youth, who called for strict religious control over the media and wanted to establish an Islamic Bosnian republic. Izetbegovic himself does not have the support of most Bosnian Muslims. However, the U.S.
was his friend. Last month, in evidence at The Hague, The Guardian's Eve-Ann Prentice talked about an interview that she scheduled with Alija Izetbegovic in November 1994. While she was waiting in Izetbegovic's foyer both she, and a journalist from Der Speigel, saw Osama bin Laden being escorted into Izetbegovic's office. The Tribunal's judges cut off the testimony immediately declaring it "irrelevant.
" Bosnia is now under IMF and NATO regency. Critics of the U.S.
As to the United States and the war - which was undertaken without U.N. sanction - one of its government's harshest critics, Noam Chomsky, published a book in 1999 which details what the war actually meant for the world as a whole. He has come under repeated attack from liberals - after all the intervention in Yugoslavia was backed by a large proportion of those who call themselves "progressive.
" The Guardian, a newspaper I used to be a regular writer for, interviewed Chomsky recently and had to withdraw after it did a hatchet job that centred on Chomsky's view of why the Yugoslav war happened and whether selective and emotive news reporting was used to create horror and outrage against the Milosevic government. The book's analysis of the war is now dated - lots of criticism of the U.S.
centres on why it never helps the Kurds and, arguably, the invasion of Iraq has done just that. However, it does make a compelling case against the NATO bombing having anything to do with humanitarian altruism on the the part of the Clinton administration. The real reasons. In many ways, the demonisation of Slobodan Milosevic resembles the Western media's attitude to Zimbabwean President Mugabe. Both tried and failed to negotiate with the IMF over structural adjustment, not realising that negotiations with this institution are not all they seem.
Unless a country bows down to what the IMF says, it will suffer - or, at least, the people of that country will suffer. As a ready reckoner, if you hear about a country from, say Africa, in the news and you've never heard it in the news before, it's more than likely that it has broken off negotiations over the privatisation of its industries with the IMF. When the news goes quiet, it has capitulated to the demands of the IMF. Milosevic's mistake was not to realise how seriously strategists wanted the breakup of Yugoslavia and private control of Europe's major waterway.
As to the reporting of the conflict, it remains a brutal episode that will forever be a stain on the craft of journalism. If all one had to see or hear were the reports in mainstream broadcast and print journalism, I can't see how anyone could understand why so many people people died in the heart of 1990s Europe . "Ethnic tension", "ethnic rivalry" and such phrases obscured why the "ethnic cleansing" took place. There were honourable exceptions.
But the "innocence" of journalists in Sarajevo's Holiday Inn, as portrayed in The Dream of the Decade, can surely be no excuse.
Edward Victor is a London-based agent, representing Afshin Rattansi, author of The Dream of the Decade - The London Novels, published by Amazon.com and Booksurge LLC in 2006.