February 25, 2002
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Cowardice asks the question, "Is it safe?" Expediency asks the question, "Is it politic?" Vanity asks the question, "Is it popular?" But conscience asks the question, "Is it right?" And there comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular -- but one must take it because it's right.
Just imagine a headline in a major newspaper: "Could Milosevich Be Found Innocent Of All Charges?" or "Milosevich, Not Guilty?" You would not believe your eyes, would you? The author of the piece would be crucified, immediately discredited. He or she would lose her position instantly or at least all expectation to further her career. To even utter such thoughts would be viewed as a crime of lèse majesty. After all, for the past decade, Milosevich has personified the horrors that took place in the Balkans, horrors that were squarely placed on the shoulders of the Serbs, the latter-day Nazis.
But think of it, have you ever read such a headline in the main media, in the marginal "opposition" media, or in intellectual circles? Have you had any chance to ponder on an article that was asking this simple question: Could the depiction of Milosevich, and by extension the entire Serb nation, have been somewhat doctored, somewhat fabricated?
No, of course not. You've never had this opportunity. Have you ever asked yourself whether it could be? Chances are you didn't. And why should you? This is not an age where skepticism is a valued quality. Certainty -- moral certainty, that is -- has long been an inherent part of the American consciousness and that of most westerners. We live in a dangerous black and white world, with no shades in between, where there is good and there is bad (we, of course, are the forces of goodness). Evil roams the lands. This is not the most propitious time to ask questions.
And have they not been branded evil, those Serbs, and their bloodthirsty leader? They have, right? And all the pictures and the stories have demonstrated their vicious misdeeds, right? Even the opponents of NATO's intervention in Yugoslavia have condemned Serb actions and their nefarious, wicked dictator. Not just the main media but, with a handful of exceptions, deemed lunatic or extreme fringes -- therefore to be written off as biased or, worse, as moral appeasers of crimes beyond imagination -- all the various marginal ideological or political movements and institutions of higher education have condemned them.
"The last Stalinist despot in Europe," "the former Serbian strongman who presided over the destruction of Yugoslavia," would clamor a Libertarian commentator (Libertarians tend to see communist conspiracies everywhere; there is not one unturned stone that does not hide a "commie" or a "leftie"). Yes, indeed, goes the reasoning, Milosevich is a tin-pot dictator who should be killed, a tyrant, a corrupted miscreant, BUT, you see, we still shouldn't have been there, we shouldn't still be there. It's all about those liberals and neo-cons in power, conspiring to create a world government, all controlled by the Rockefellers et al., to implement a worldwide socialist empire.
On the other marginal side, those who have claimed the mantle of leftist purity for as long as I have been in the US (20 years), the thought process was eminently similar. Take one of their grand priests: "That doesn't say he's [Milosevich] a nice guy: he's a monstrous thug. But the term 'genocidal' is being waved as a propaganda device to mobilize the public for Clinton's wars." Or, "The Milosevich regime has committed many crimes, but one cannot attribute the terrible conditions completely to its crimes." With them, it's all about imperialism and the capitalist empire BUT, see, Slobo is a big-time criminal too.
Even the religious, interfaith, dialogue-seeking, reconciliation-prone, non-violent crowd employed the same reasoning method. An example: "Yes, it is clear that Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevich is using the Yugoslav army and Special Police to commit acts of genocide against the ethnic Albanian majority in Kosovo, just as he did against the ethnic Muslim and Croat majority in Bosnia seven years ago. But the answer is not to kill more innocent people to punish Milosevich for his killing of innocent people." Here the man is bad, really bad, and should be punished, BUT, we should answer hate with love, keep hope alive, and all the touchy feelings of the wishy-washy do-gooders...
In other words, a double-negative mental construct best summarized by the slogan that was used by the French Communist Party, "Neither NATO nor Milosevich."
The point is that whatever their intent or their agenda or their personal interest in opposing NATO's illegal intervention in Yugoslavia, they all have concurred and keep concurring that the Serbs indeed were responsible for the mayhem. They have never publicly asked what any detective, or intellectual, or scientist for that matter, should when searching for the truth (that ever lasting, never obtainable search), what if?
What if Milosevich was innocent of the charges of genocide, crimes against humanity and violations of the laws and customs of war in relation to the wars in Croatia in 1991, Bosnia in 1992-95 and Kosovo in 1999? What if the charges had been cooked up, the facts doctored, the events fabricated?
What an outrage, will shout the mighty crowds. How can you even suggest such a question, you immoral unknown, you imbecile... Invectives, the first line of defense of the rationalizers, will fly high against the messenger....or they'll remain silent and ignore the message...
Some may counter with "facts." They'll ask, what about, among many, many "facts," the Vasa Miskin street massacre (so-called bread line massacre), Trnopolje, Omarska, Markale Market, Tuzla, Srebrenica, the Drina River Valley, Racak, the Trepca mines shafts ("Trepca -- the name will live alongside those of Belsen, Auschwitz and Treblinka"), the Pristina stadium, Operation Horseshoe, the mass graves ("the numbers game") like the site at Ljubenic near Pec, the refrigerated trucks, and countless "examples" of atrocities committed by the Serbs? Hundreds, thousands of them... It's an endless list.
Yes, yes, the "facts..." Still, the question remains:
What if Milosevich is innocent of the charges brought against him by The Hague Tribunal?
Care to respond?
Meantime, do not be particularly dumbfounded if the case # IT-02-54, the trial of Slobodan Milosevich at The Hague Court, stays largely unreported in the main media. For those of you who have an interest in these developments, you can read the transcripts of the Court's sessions at http://www.un.org/icty/transe54/transe54.htm
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Related Internal Links
The Other War Criminals - by Sanjay Basu (July 2001)
Genocide or Veracicide: Will NATO's Lying Ever Stop? - by Stephen Gowans (July 2001)
Beneath the Cloaking Device - by Michael Stowell (April 2001)
Justice - by Aleksandra Priestfield (April 2001)
The Ritual Murder of Milosevich - by Gilles d'Aymery (April 2001)
Kosovo: The "Banality of Evil" - by Gilles d'Aymery (February 2001)
An Impartial Tribunal, Really? - by Christopher Black (November 1999)
All articles Published on Swans Regarding the War in Yugoslavia and its Aftermath
This Week's Internal Links
The Barbarians Stand Before the Gates of America - by Stevan Konstantinovic
Operation New Justice - by Aleksandra Priestfield
Munchausens At The Hague, Cowards At Woods Hole - by Stephen Gowans
I Am Tired - by Alma Hromic
The More Things Change - by Deck Deckert
The First Stone - by Michael Stowell
History, Patterns, Differences. . . Not Again! - by Milo Clark
South of Jade - A Poem by Sandy Lulay
Kosovo Polje Speech on June 28, 1989 - by Slobodan Milosevich
Letters to the Editor (on the US Defense budget for FY2003)
Correspondence (on the IWCT)