By Richard Palmer, theTrumpet.com 12 July 2011
It was genocide. Charles Krauthammer called it “the largest ethnic cleansing of the entire Balkan wars.” A March 1999 New York Times article agreed with him.
“Investigators with the war-crimes tribunal in the Hague have concluded that this campaign was carried out with brutality, wanton murder and indiscriminate shelling of civilians,” Krauthammer wrote (Time, April 5, 1999).
Is this the dreaded Srebrenica “massacre,” commonly referred to in the media as the “worst atrocity in Europe since the Second World War,” perpetrated by the “evil” Serbs led by Ratko Mladic, who has now been arrested to be brought to justice?
No. This genocide was carried out by the Croats—the “good guys”—and thus, it was encouraged and praised by the West.
The Krajina Massacre
The massacre Krauthammer was describing occurred in the region of Krajina in Croatia. Croatian troops forced an estimated 200,000 Serbs to flee (National Post, March 13, 2004).
“A war that begins with civilian areas being shelled at 5 a.m. when women and children are asleep in their beds and ends with a massive exodus of more than 100,000 people is surely tantamount to ethnic cleansing,” said UN spokesman Chris Gunness.
According to Robert Fisk, writing in the Independent, the European Union’s confidential assessment from Krajina in 1995 stated the following: “Evidence of atrocities; an average of six corpses per day, continues to emerge … the corpses; some fresh, some decomposed, are mainly of old men. Many have been shot in the back of the head or had throats slit, others have been mutilated. Isolated pockets of elderly civilians report people recently gone missing or detained …. Endless ?Croat invitations for Serbs to return, guarantees of citizens’ rights and property rights, etc., have gushed forth from all levels …. However, Serbian homes and lands … continue to be torched and looted.
“Contrary to official statements blaming it on fleeing Serbs and uncontrollable elements, the crimes have been perpetrated by the HV Croatian Army, the CR Croatian police and CR civilians. There have been no observed attempts to stop it, and the indications point to a scorched-earth policy.”
Two senior Canadian military officers present in Croatia at the time testified that the Croatians attacked indiscriminately and targeted civilians.
One of these officers, Maj. Gen. Andrew Leslie, estimated that around 500 civilians had been murdered. “In the hospital itself, there were bodies stacked in the corridors,” he said. “There were bodies in almost every hospital bed. And there were bodies lying in the foyer, the reception area and some of the corridors” (National Post, Dec. 9, 2005).
Yugoslav envoy Vladimir Pavicevic claimed that 15,000 Serbs were dead in Krajina, and that this total included slain refugees and soldiers who had already surrendered (Deutsche Presse-Agentur, Aug. 14, 1995). The International Committee of the Red Cross reported that 10,000 to 15,000 refugees were still missing over three weeks after the initial attack (Sun Herald, Aug. 27, 1995).
Why is Srebrenica everywhere, yet Krajina barely gets a mention? On April 15, Croatian Gen. Ante Gotovina was found guilty of war crimes and crimes against humanity by the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (icty) for what he did in Krajina. It was hardly mentioned in the press. When Ratko Mladic was captured on May 26, it was all over the papers.
The double standard on display here is a monumental story—when you understand who, ultimately, was really behind it.
Manipulating the Media
Serbia’s earliest defeat came in the PR war. Early on, Serbia’s enemies engaged Ruder Finn, an American public relations firm, to get their message out. James Harff, director of Ruder Finn’s Global Public Affairs section, boasted about his success against Serbia.
“Nobody understood what was going on in (former) Yugoslavia,” he said in an October 1993 interview with French journalist Jacques Merlino. “The great majority of Americans were probably asking themselves in which African country Bosnia was situated.”
Ruder Finn took advantage of this ignorance. Its first goal was to persuade the Jews to oppose the Serbs—not an easy task. “The Croatian and Bosnian past was marked by a real and cruel anti-Semitism,” said Harff. “Tens of thousands of Jews perished in Croatian camps. So there was every reason for intellectuals and Jewish organizations to be hostile towards the Croats and Bosnians.”
Harff used a couple of reports in the New York Newsday about Serbian concentration camps to persuade Jewish groups to demonstrate against the Serbs. “This was a tremendous coup,” said Harff. “When the Jewish organizations entered the game on the side of the Bosnians, we could promptly equate the Serbs with the Nazis in the public mind.”
He continued: “By a single move, we were able to present a simple story of good guys and bad guys which would hereafter play itself. We won by targeting Jewish audience, the right target. Almost immediately there was a clear change of language in the press, with the use of words with high emotional content, such as ‘ethnic cleansing,’ ‘concentration camps,’ etc., which evoked inmates of Nazi Germany and the gas chambers of Auschwitz. The emotional change was so powerful that nobody could go against it.”
Western reporting of the Balkan wars became spectacularly biased. Consider the statements at the bottom of the page, most of which are from people who were actually in the Balkans during the wars.
Foreign Policy magazine reported, “Despite steady reports of atrocities committed there by Croatian soldiers and paramilitary units against Serbs, which some Belgrade correspondents were later able to confirm, the stories that reached the world talked only of Serb abuses …. In a three-month study of news reports, Howard University Professor of International Relations Nikolaos Stavrou detected ‘a disturbing pattern in news coverage.’ He claimed most of the stories were based on ‘hearsay evidence,’ with few attempts to show the ‘other side’s perspectives.’ Ninety percent of the stories originated in Sarajevo, but only 5 percent in Belgrade. Stavrou’s analysis cited ethnic stereotyping, with Serbs referred to as primitive ‘remnants of the Ottoman Empire’ and Yugoslav Army officers described as ‘orthodox communist generals’ … while newspaper photographs neglected to show suffering or dead Serbs or destroyed Serb churches and villages” (emphasis added throughout).
Foreign Policy pointed out that news outlets published many photos they said showed victims of Serbian persecution. But the captions were wrong. In many cases, the victims themselves were Serbs.
It is little wonder, then, that the events that took place in Srebrenica have been horribly twisted by the media. Yes, the Serbs killed Bosnian Muslims whom they had taken prisoner. But the context in which this occurred is vital to understanding this event.
The Truth About Srebrenica