Will The Demonization of The Serbs Ever Abate?

by Gilles d'Aymery

August 6, 2001

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The New York Times Magazine of July 22, 2001 published a series of 24 pictures of gutted, roofless houses with a short commentary by Roger Cohen, entitled Slobo Was There - The landscape Milosevic left (page 38 - 39). (1)

The text is yet another recitation of all the accusations of evil-doing, blood-thirsty acts the Serbs have allegedly committed during a decade of rampage going back to April 1992. It ends with the following paragraph:

"'What is it the Serbs have against a roof?' a colleague once asked me in the Drina River Valley. I do not believe that question has been answered - or even posed - in Serbian society as a whole with respect to the first months of the Bosnian war. In its way, it is a significant question, which Milosevic's trial before an international tribunal may eventually raise."

Surely Mr. Cohen, brushing aside the role of Milosevic at Dayton, will see to it that Slobo gets at least a 50-year to life sentence! By the way, were the 24 pictures all taken in the Drina River Valley? Were they all pictures of Muslim Bosnian homes? (cf. infra) Would he care to comment?

On July 31, 2001, The New York Times published a story by Carlotta Gall on page A3, Serbia Finds Where Bodies Are Buried, and Investigates. Surprise, surprise, it's the very same story of the now famous refrigerated truck (or freezer truck) that we reviewed on July 23 in Not Only Are They Demons, Serbs Are Imbeciles and in The Fabrication and Dissemination of Deception (well, that's a full week prior to the NYT!).

While our coverage and conclusions with respect to the story widely differ from that of Carlotta Gall, it looks like we had the same sources. Her piece seems to come directly from Natasa Kandic and her Humanitarian War (oops, Freudian slip), Humanitarian Law Center. If not, it has to be a pure coincidence. The piece even reproduces the picture of the truck (the second picture on the HLC site we referred to in our story). To make sure the readers can clearly associate the picture with the title of the article, it is inserted right under it; and the picture cannot be missed as it measures 8.5 x 16 cm (about 3 1/2 x 6 3/8 inches). On The Times' Web site however the picture, now colorized, is only 1 3/4 x 2 1/2 inches and is buried on the right side of the screen below an ad. Different target audience, we can only suppose.

Propaganda: Propagation of a given doctrine or allegations reflecting its views and interests for the purpose of influencing actions of individuals or groups... For most readers the title and the picture must have been sufficient. The message was crystal clear. They could go on with their coffee and morning paper. Those inclined to peruse the relatively long piece learned that "at least 10, but maybe dozens, of truckloads of bodies were shipped from Kosovo to Serbia proper and dumped underwater or in mass graves." They also learned that "as many as 1,000 bodies have been found so far." Further down in the text, the reader could also read that "What is known is that bodies were dumped in mass graves, either in the Danube or on land. The exhumations of the 800 to 1,000 bodies known about so far will take months."

Hmm, 800? 1,000? Known so far but yet to be exhumed... And how do you count the bodies if they have not been exhumed?

The article also states that "The authorities say they now have solid evidence that Mr. Milosevic [...] ordered his security to cover up any evidence of crimes that would be of interest to the Hague tribunal." Then again, "Captain [Dragan] Karleusa [in charge of the investigation] says he will need much longer [than the time for the exhumations] to establish who gave the orders for the carnage and who carried it out." Solid evidence? Stephen Gowans went through some of them in Genocide or Veracicide: Will NATO's Lying Ever Stop? (also published on July 23).

Again, Propaganda: Propagation of a given doctrine or allegations reflecting its views and interests for the purpose of influencing actions of individuals or groups...

Meantime, in Canada, the National Post publishes a story (July 26) on the indictment of two Croatian generals that has largely been brushed under the rug in the US media (Sanjay Basu reviewed this for Swans in The Other War Criminals). In the Post's article one can read:

The campaign allegedly directed by Maj.-Gen. Ademi focused on the Medak Pocket, a farming area around the village of Medak in southwestern Krajina.

From Sept. 9, 1993, Croatian troops occupied the region for nine days before Western pressure forced them to withdraw.

"In that time, most Serb villages of the Medak Pocket were destroyed," says the indictment against Maj.-Gen. Ademi. "Many of the killed and wounded civilians were women and elderly people. Croatian forces also killed at least two Serb soldiers who had been captured and/or wounded."

The Croat soldiers also made off with anything they could move: personal belongings, household goods, furniture, farm animals and machinery.

Everything else was riddled with bullets or destroyed by fire or explosives. As many as 164 homes and 148 barns and outbuildings were reduced to ashes.

"Prior to the attack, 400 Serb civilians inhabited the area," says the indictment. "As a result of [the] widespread and systematic unlawful acts during the Croatian military operation, the Medak Pocket became totally uninhabitable."

Did Roger Cohen ever travel to the Medak Pocket in the Krajina? Would he care to comment about "What is it the Croats have against a roof?" Are any one of the pictures from the Medak Pocket? (cf. supra) Would he care to comment?

Elsewhere in the Canadian press, The Ottawa Citizen publishes on July 12 a story by David Warren in which he explains how he'd been duped when he had written in a former column that "more than a thousand, perhaps many thousands, corpses of massacred Kosovars" had been trucked by the Serbs. Warren is certainly not a pro-Milosevich journalist. Far from it. He finishes his article thus: "A thug and a thief by disposition, no doubt; a cynical ex-communist; and an incompetent whose project blew up in his face. The man on trial for 'war crimes' at The Hague is just a typical Balkan politician."

Warren, like many of his cohorts on the "right" of the ideological spectrum, belongs to the crowd of the equal opportunity thug theory. Milosevich is bad but so are they all... Because in the Balkans, you know, they ain't civilized!

Nevertheless one has to wonder whether Carlotta Gall and David Warren share the same sources in Belgrade. Would Carlotta Gall care to comment?

Would Carlotta Gall and Roger Cohen care to comment on the article, We Created a Monster, by James Bisset, the former Canadian ambassador to Yugoslavia, Bulgaria and Albania, that was published in The Globe and Mail (2) on July 31? This, of course, would require that Ms. Gall and Mr. Cohen take the time and have the willingness -- and the open mind -- to be informed!

More importantly why is it that such a venerable paper like The New York Times and the whole US media keep rehashing anti-Serbian stories? After all Milosevich is behind bars and Serbian prime minister Djindjic is fully dedicated to the Western vision of "democracy" and "free market economy." Is it because Macedonia, once a darling of the multiethnic crowd is unraveling - and this time the Serbs can't be made the scapegoats (instead, now it's the "Slavs!" -- like....the Jews....no racism intended of course...)? Is it because the political leader of the self-styled National Liberation Army (NLA) in Macedonia, Ali Ahmeti, is reported having announced on an Australian radio the launching of a Liberation Army of Chameria in Northern Greece? Is it because all over Europe stories of collusion between the US (within and without NATO) and the Albanians are surfacing at an increasing pace? Is it mere diversion? Or is it just old habit?

One question is easily answerable though, that posed by Stephen Gowans: Will NATO's Lying Ever Stop? Probably not soon.

Nor will the demonization of the Serbs.


1.  We are not linking this article to The Times' Web site because they can be accessed free of charge for only one week. Then, one needs to pay a fee to read them. The concept of "free press" has obviously its limits...  (back)
2.  The Globe and Mail did not publish James Bissett's opinion on its Web site. But, in addition to the Macedonian site that reproduced a copy, you can also read it on the Web site of the former Canadian ambassador. Actually, a visit to his site is highly recommended.  (back)


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Published August 6, 2001
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