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Balkan next ?

by vbo Thu Apr 7th, 2011 at 04:31:16 AM EST

Bloomberg:Serbians Wait for Prosperity 10 Years After Milosevic Arrest (Apr 1, 2011)

Ten years after Slobodan Milosevic's March 31 arrest for war crimes, citizens are still waiting for authorities to make good on promises to create jobs, stamp out corruption and build trust in the Balkan nation's institutions. No cabinet since Milosevic's ouster has lasted four years, the government is struggling to sell state assets, borrowing costs are the highest in Europe and entry into the 27-nation bloc is years away.

...

"Citizens are most afraid of uncertainty and have reached a high level of distrust," said [Svetlana] Logar [of Ipsos Strategic Marketing]. "People are unhappy because of a sense of injustice."

...

That sense of injustice has prompted about 3,000 people to sign up on the social-networking website of Facebook Inc. to protest on April 4 in one of Belgrade's main squares, the venue of many opposition protests in the past.

Looks like Balkan is next to explode in protests as it's not much better in Croatia not to mention others like Bosnia...

On top of this catastrophic economic situation Julian Assange is about to reveal some interesting cables and he thinks that "Middle East" type of protests will definitely shake Balkan...

front-paged by afew

Read more... (74 comments, 236 words in story)

3 cities of Australia

by vbo Tue Feb 22nd, 2011 at 11:17:05 PM EST

Sydney 2011 (weather not so nice)

Comments >> (25 comments)

How wrong is this?

by vbo Sat Apr 3rd, 2010 at 07:28:22 PM EST

A sign on the door of Dr. Jack Cassell's office in Mount Dora, Fla., tells patients "If you voted for Obama, seek urologic care elsewhere. Changes to your healthcare begin right now, not in four years.

...MOUNT DORA, Fla. - A central Florida urologist has posted a sign on his office door warning supporters of President Barack Obama to find a different doctor.

The notice on Dr. Jack Cassell's Mount Dora practice says, "If you voted for Obama, seek urologic care elsewhere. Changes to your healthcare begin right now, not in four years."

Cassell told the Orlando Sentinel on Thursday he wasn't questioning patients or refusing care, because that would be unethical."

I am shocked!Where USA is going?Incredibly on another forum people that live in USA do not see anything wrong here...How about you?

Comments >> (18 comments)

Is there a future at all...

by vbo Mon Mar 1st, 2010 at 09:47:15 PM EST

Very interesting documentary...
First part:

http://player.sbs.com.au/programs#/programs_08/fullepisodes/latestepisodes/playlist/Baby-Boom-To-Bus t-Ep1-Missing-Children/

Second part:

http://player.sbs.com.au/programs#/programs_08/fullepisodes/latestepisodes/playlist/Baby-Boom-To-Bus t-Ep2-Grey-Tsunami-/

Is there a future at all...

Add this:

Generation XXL

Obesity is an epidemic in some countries - nearly a quarter of British children are already obese or overweight by the time they start primary school and this figure rises to a third by the time they go to secondary school.

By 2050 a massive 90% of today's kids will be overweight or obese if current trends continue. Experts predict that this generation of children - Generation XXL - are on course for a lifetime of serious health problems and, worse still, a significantly reduced life expectancy.

This long-term observational documentary series sets out to follow a group of seven obese children for the next decade, revisiting them every couple of years to discover what it's really like to grow up as an overweight child in Britain today.

Comments >> (39 comments)

Serbia 2009 - incredible change

by vbo Fri Aug 7th, 2009 at 06:29:02 AM EST

This European summer I made a trip to Serbia (via England) and here are my impressions together with some fabulous photos. I made a million of photos and here is where you can see my selection of the best of them.

Read more... (11 comments, 2847 words in story)

I love to make photos...I play like a child...

by vbo Wed May 27th, 2009 at 08:46:52 AM EST

As I said I love to make photos.I am not near professional (all tho I have a little bit of background in design that I unfortunately never had chance to use) nor I have a great camera (it cost a lot and there is always something more important...).So it's my hobby that I really enjoy greatly (and am passionate about from time to time).
My younger daughter is making some basic website for her little business (beauty salon) and yesterday I made a few photos so that she can put it on that website once it's done.And here they are.We'll have to make much more photos with a clients but this is just to show the atmosphere of the place...
I wonder what do you think about these photos.Do you like them?Do you think some of them can do the job of promoting her business?

Comments >> (18 comments)

Stolen Kosovo

by vbo Sun Aug 17th, 2008 at 07:23:24 AM EST

Here you can see Czech documentary "Stolen Kosovo", which has been censored in Czech Republic after Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg recognized unilaterally declared independence of Serbian Kosovo and Metohija province by the Pristina separatists, is now also available with English captioning on: http://ca.youtube.com/profile_videos?user=Faktastick I was in a hurry to post this diary and I did not realize that first link I gave you was one of the site with very strong Serbian national views. I thought it is Czech’s site actually. Anyway I do not endorse all of the views of this site but I will still leave it here for those of you who may be interested to see Serbian affairs through the eyes of Serbian nationalist. "Nationalist" with no bad connotation... http://byzantinesacredart.com/blog/2008/06/stolen_kosovo_english.html

Comments >> (6 comments)

Bosnia ...today...is the problem solved?

by vbo Wed Feb 7th, 2007 at 09:38:07 AM EST

Someone here argued that Bosnia is "better off" today and here is one view to situation there:

http://www.b92.net/eng/insight/opinions.php?nav_id=39472

Bosnian Blues

6 February 2007
William Montgomery

As we struggle to come up with any sort of strategy in Iraq, several in the International Community who should know better have seized on the "Bosnian model" as one to be employed there.

Post-Dayton Bosnia (bbc.co.uk)
Post-Dayton Bosnia (bbc.co.uk)

There are some attractive similarities: warring ethnic groups bitterly divided, religious issues, mindless and endless violence to name some of the key ones. Why not create three entities and a weak central government along Bosnian lines?

Leaving aside the fact that the International Community does not have nearly the amount of leverage and pressure needed to successfully force the parties in Iraq to accept such an agreement, there is an additional significant problem. Namely, it doesn't provide a lasting, viable solution. More than eleven years after the Dayton Peace Agreement was signed, the three ethnic groups in Bosnia cling to the same goals, objectives, and views of the other groups as they had when the war initially began in earnest.

In fact, one could well argue that the trauma of the war on all sides has hardened those attitudes even further. The reality is that 99% of the Serbs living in the Republika Srpska feel themselves a part of that entity and not of Bosnia. The Croats consider themselves Croats first and foremost.

The Bosniaks, being the most numerous, find themselves ironically in the same position as the Serbs in the former Yugoslavia: they want to keep Bosnia together and centralized, believing (just like the Serbs did in the former Yugoslavia) that it should be wholly unified. In contrast to the other two ethnic groups, they feel at home everywhere in Bosnia, just as the Serbs did in the former Yugoslavia.

Tito's Communist Party in the former Yugoslavia strongly forbid any expressions of nationalism and harshly dealt with those who tried to move in that direction (such as the Croatian Spring). Similarly, the Office of the High Representative (OHR) and the International Community have dealt harshly with any Bosnian politician who dared to use "anti-Dayton" language or question the underlying agreement.

Countless elected officials, mostly from the Republika Srpska were summarily and arbitrarily thrown out of their positions for such stances. The heresy of speaking contrary to the Dayton Agreement seems to be roughly equivalent to questioning the Koran in the Middle East.

The fact is that both Tito and the High Representative through intimidation could suppress opinions, but could not eradicate them. In fact, by driving those views underground, one could argue that it only strengthened them. Fueled in large part by the Kosovo question and its nationalist impact in Serbia, the Bosnian Serbs led by Prime Minister Dodik are now more openly making the case for a Referendum on Status in the Republika Srpska.

Meanwhile, Bosniaks are just as openly calling for the abolishment of the RS altogether. Constitutional reform is less likely now than even one year ago, as is police reform in the manner desired by the International Community.

For the past eleven years, most of the representatives of the International Community located in Bosnia have chosen to see the country through rose-colored glasses. They have focused on some undeniable successes (absence of violence, freedom of movement, restoration of property rights), while ignoring the major flaws in the underlying system. In so doing, they have consciously or unconsciously misled their governments about the true situation on the ground.

The problem is the Dayton Agreement itself. It has put in place an unworkable system that emphasizes ethnicity and not individuality.  Paddy Ashdown recognized that it was unworkable and pushed the edge (and even went beyond it) in modifying Dayton to give Central government more authority. But he was uniformly disliked by the Bosnians - one of the few things on which all seemed to agree.  

The West is now hoisted on its own petard. Disregarding the danger presented by the flawed Dayton Agreement, it came to believe that Bosnia could be managed through the same sort of incentives that have brought many of the countries of Central and Eastern Europe into the EU and NATO. This was hastened by the U.S. desire to turn over responsibility for the region as quickly as possible to the EU.

Consequently, a European Union force called EUFOR replaced SFOR. Plans were made for the Office of the High Representative to close this summer and be replaced by a smaller European Union-led office with diminished powers and responsibilities. Significantly, this office would not have the so-called Bonn Powers, which permitted the High Representative to sack uncooperative elected officials and to issue numerous decrees in place of action by the Bosnian government.

This plan is now in jeopardy. The International Community (reflecting the politics of appointments made by international organizations at its worst) installed as the "last" High Representative a decent man named Christian Schwartz-Schilling, whose heart was in the right place, but who was simply too old to do the job.

Moreover, seeing the degree of hatred for his predecessor (and having been cautioned by many Europeans to be careful in any use of the "Bonn Powers"), Schwartz-Schilling deliberately took the opposite approach. So the Office of the High Representative went from having its most pro-active, aggressive head to its most passive. Schwartz-Schilling literally slept through his time at the helm. It is the general consensus that Bosnia actually went backward in many ways during his mandate.

The West is also belatedly recognizing that events in the Balkans are linked and consequently what happens in Kosovo can have a major impact in Bosnia as well. So well after the planning was complete and the actual transition underway to the EU leadership in Bosnia, the United States in particular - but other key nations as well - got cold feet. They are now in the position best described in an old song by Jimmy Durante: "Did you ever have the feeling that you wanted to go and still have the feeling you wanted to stay?"

The United States does want to go and it does want to leave this problem to the European Union. At the same time, it now fears that a premature departure by the Office of the High Representative will make it much more difficult to deal with a Bosnia grown restive from developments in Kosovo.

The first step has been taken. If Schwartz-Schilling would simply have left well-enough alone, he may well have been permitted to finish out his mandate and depart in June as the last High Representative. But ironically, his very success while lobbying in Western capitals to have his mandate extended because of the serious problems still confronting Bosnia convinced virtually everybody, including the Germans who originally proposed and supported him that the mandate probably did need extended, but that a stronger, more pro-active personality was needed as High Representative.

But what happens now? There are several outstanding questions. The first is whether the mandate of the Office of the High Representative will actually be extended past this summer and if so, for how long. The second is whether there will be full agreement with the European Union that the OHR has pre-eminence in Bosnia and its own EU Mission will not be engaging in turf battles with it. The third is how large will the OHR Mission remain and what exact functions will it have. And the final question is who will be the new High Representative.

With regard to the last question, there is serious consideration being given to having it be an American. The reasoning is that the EU will have its own Mission already up and running in any case. Secondly, the Mission of the OHR can be narrowed to focus on a few vital issues, mainly dealing with the Dayton Agreement. Thirdly, it has been the United States that has led the charge for extension of the Mandate.

This almost certainly will not end well. Because the challenge is not to implement Dayton, but to change it. That will have deadly serious opposition from within Bosnia, as we have already seen. To have even a chance of so doing would require the full and total support of a unified Peace Implementation Council Steering Board and heavy lifting by senior officials of key countries.

That will require a High Representative with sufficient personal gravitas to exercise power, persuade the three parties of the requirement to take difficult steps, and to persuade a reluctant European Union to be prepared to fully utilize the Bonn Powers when necessary. Unless we are prepared to do all the above, it isn't worth attempting.

In fact, it will be counter-productive, as it could seriously exacerbate an already difficult situation. Attention now is primarily focused on the evolving Kosovo drama, but it would be a mistake to underestimate the significance of the Bosnian situation for stability in the region during this critical year.

Comments >> (28 comments)

Serbia condemns Kosovo plan

by vbo Sun Feb 4th, 2007 at 06:33:16 AM EST


Serbia condemns Kosovo plan
3.2.2007. 11:07:55

http://www.worldnewsaustralia.com.au/region.php?id=134520&region=3

UN envoy, Martti Ahtisaari, proposed the Kosovo breakaway plan. (Getty)
The United Nations has unveiled its long-awaited plan for Kosovo, raising hopes of independence among ethnic Albanians but drawing condemnation from Serbia.

UN envoy Martti Ahtisaari's plan for the southern Serbian province, which has been under UN administration for almost eight years, avoided the word "independence" while promising a multi-ethnic, self governing democracy.

Serbian President Boris Tadic slammed it as a de facto grant of independence, while Kosovo President Fatmir Sejdiu welcomed it for the same reason.

The plan said Kosovo would be a self-governing, multi-ethnic democracy with full respect for the rule of law and human rights.

"Kosovo shall be a multi-ethnic society, governing itself democratically and with full respect for the rule of law," said the envoy's proposal.

It also stressed conformity with "the highest level of internationally recognized human rights and fundamental freedoms ... which promotes the peaceful and prosperous existence of all its inhabitants."

The plan called for Kosovo to be allowed its "own, distinct, national symbols, including a flag, seal and anthem."

Tadic bluntly rejected the UN's vision for the disputed province, seen as the cradle of Serbian culture and religion and a lightning rod of nationalist sentiment in the former Yugoslav republic.

"Ahtisaari's plan paves the way for the independence of Kosovo. I told Mr Ahtisaari that neither Serbia nor I, as its president, will ever accept the independence of Kosovo," he said.

Serbian Prime Minister Vojislav Kostunica refused to even meet Ahtissari when he presented his plan in Belgrade.

"Martti Ahtisaari has had no mandate to deal with the state status of Serbia and to encroach on its sovereignty and territorial integrity," Kostunica said.

But Kosovo's ethnic Albanian majority welcomed the plan as a major step toward realising their dream of an independent state.

President Sejdiu said his negotiation team was "deeply convinced" that the proposal would end with the independent state demanded by the province's majority community.

Diplomats and independent observers were also united in their conviction that Kosovo was on the road to full statehoood, regardless of Belgrade's strident opposition.

Observers believe the word "independence" was intentionally omitted to encourage new negotiations between the Serbian and Kosovo Albanian leadership.

This was expected to give the West more time to convince Serbia and its traditional Slav ally Russia of the merits of the settlement, particularly the rights it offers to Kosovo's estimated 100,000 Serbs, about 10 percent of the territory's population.

The tiny, landlocked province has been run by a UN mission (UNMIK) since the end of a 1998-1999 war between Serbian security forces and ethnic Albanian separatist guerillas.

The conflict was ended by a 78-day NATO bombing campaign which led to an ongoing peacekeeping mission. The two main ethnic communities remain bitterly divided, with most Serbs living in isolated enclaves.

Tensions most recently came to a head in March, 2004 when ethnic Albanian mobs rampaged through Serb enclaves, forcing thousands to flee their homes and razing historic Serbian Orthodox churches.

In Belgrade, Ahtisaari refused to discuss the issue of independence and urged both sides to return to the negotiating table.

He said there was still room for further compromise before he submitted his final proposal to the UN Security Council next month.

After Belgrade, Ahtisaari arrived in Pristina where security was tight amid fears that details of his proposal could spark inter-ethnic clashes.

Ahtisaari told reporters there that he was "not terribly optimistic" about the chances of a compromise being reached through talks, which he hoped would take place in Vienna from February 13.

"I will be very clear on the final status when I submit the proposal to the Security Council. There will be a clear definition of a status," he told reporters.

The United States welcomed the "fair and balanced" proposals put forward in the Ahtisaari plan, while the EU urged political leaders on both sides of the ethnic divide to give dialogue another chance.

"It is a blueprint for a stable, prosperous and multi-ethnic Kosovo," US State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said.

The German presidency of the EU said it "firmly supports" Ahtisaari's intention of holding additional talks and urged both sides to approach them "in a serious manner and without reservations."

The final proposal is expected to reach the UN Security Council after being submitted to Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, possibly by the end of March.
---------

As I previously said there will be no one in Serbia to sign "agreement" (this word really makes me laugh) on giving up Kosovo.
I am really curious if anybody in EU really thought that you can FORCE Serbs to simply give up on Kosovo. Obviously Americans think they can force anybody to do what ever they want but it lately looks like their fantasy ALL OVER THE WORLD.
What do you think will happen now?
Do you think Russians will come up with veto on Ahtisaari's list of USA wishes when it comes to UN? To be honest I don't think so. I never ever put too much hope on the Russian card. UN as such is USA service anyway and when it from time to time fails to give instant support to USA it is simply ignored. For the real situation on the field UN proclaimed "independence" really does not mean much. We all know what real independence means. Kosovo is occupied Serbian territory and will continue to be just that for decades...Even when NATO is not going to need military bases there but will have to have military presence to support "independence" that they proclaimed.  
How do you think Serbia will be punished (yet and) in addition to punishment it had to endure for almost two decades now?
When do you think someone will come with anything that even remotely looks like a solution for Balkan ex-YU countries? Something like more fair redefinition of all borders in this area?
What difference do you think will make internationally this proclamation of Kosovo "independence"? Do you agree for your country to recognize Kosovo as independent state?
If you agree what your arguments are for not allowing Serbs and Croats too to break from Muslims in Bosnia and make their independent state and would you support their peaceful move toward independence (referendum , proclamation of independence etc.)?

Comments >> (184 comments)

USA (democrats) and Kosovo...Sound and Fury

by vbo Thu Jan 11th, 2007 at 09:21:40 PM EST

Read this:

Sound and Fury

http://antiwar.com/malic/

and tell me what you think???

Comments >> (5 comments)

Vote on Kosovo , please...

by vbo Sun Mar 26th, 2006 at 11:50:27 PM EST

Just out of curiosity I put practically same poll about Kosovo as Migeru put about Basque country.
Now situation is not all that similar in both cases and I am not going to go in to the differences here. What is similar is that we have two European minorities wanting to break with country of which they are part at this moment. Now when you know (I hope) a little bit more about history and circumstances around Kosovo I am curious what would you vote. Also I would PLEASE like you to explain IN SHORT why you are voting the way you vote...

Comments >> (50 comments)

Serbian case 2

by vbo Wed Mar 22nd, 2006 at 01:42:37 AM EST

First something very interesting here:
http://www.balkan-archive.org.yu/politics/myth/articles/042395.George_Kenney.html

THE BOSNIA CALCULATION: How many have died?
Not nearly as many as some would have you think.

George Kenney

The NY Times Magazine, April 23, 1995, pp.42-43

[George Kenney, a Washington writer, resigned from the State Department int 1992 to protest United States policy Yugoslavia.]

ALL TOLD, HOW MANY PEOPLE HAVE DIED IN BOSNIA? For news organizations and policy specialists, the easy answer is 200,000. As someone who have followed the conflict closely from the begining in a proffesional capacity, I'm not convinced. Bosnia isn't the Holocaust or Rwanda; it's Lebanon.

A relatively large number of white people have been killed in gruesome fashion in the first European blowup since World War II. In response, the United Nations has set up the first international war crimes trial since Nuremberg. But that doesn't mean the Bosnian Serbs' often brutal treatment of Bosnian Muslims is a unique genocide, as the United Nations and the Bosnian Muslims have charged.

There can be no minimizing of what the Serbs have done in Bosnia. Their punishment of the Muslims far outweighs any Muslim transgression. For there to be peace in the long run there must jusitice. Yet the more serious the charge, the more effort we must make to get the facts right. We should think twice before revising historical fact into a fearful epic that plants the seeds for a future war.

By my count, the number of fatalities in Bosnia's war isn't 200,000 but 25,000 to 60,000 -- total from all sides. What surprises me is not that the popular figure is so inflated -- informed people can and will argue about it for some time to come -- but that it has been so widely and uncritically accepted.

The notion of hundreds of thousands of deaths emerged late in 1992, when "ethnic cleansing" was in full swing and journalists suspected the State Department of concealing its knowledge of a Bosnian killing field. It didn't. Its real failure was knowing nothing and not wanting to know.

In August 1992, shortly before I resigned as acting head of the State Department's Yugoslav desk, I wrote a memo suggesting that we send teams to investigate, and was rebuffed. At that time my most dire concern was a C.I.A. report predicting up to 150,000 deaths through the winnter if the West did nothing. Leaked in September, the report seemed tame next to a prediction of 400,000 deaths, made by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees Special Envoy, Jose-Maria Mendiluce, a man, one senior United Nations official says, "gifted with theatrical flair." As it turned out, the winter was exceptionally mild. Few died.

Nevertheless, revelations of ethnic cleansing, combined with the C.I.A. and United Nations predictions, created expectations. Images of a killing field lingered, personified in grim photographs of skeletal Muslim men in Serbian concentration camps. That backdrop made it easy for Haris Silajdzic, then Bosnia's Foreign Minister, to give the first big boost in the number of deaths. In December 1992, he told journalists that there were 128,444 dead on the Bosnian side (induding Croats and Serbs loyal to the Bosnian Government). He evidently got the figure by adding together the 17,466 confirmed dead and the 111,000 that the Bosnian Institute of Public Health had estimated to be missing. An able politician, Silajdzic understood the benefit of apparent slaughter. In the West, it meant political support; in the Islamic world, much-needed donations to lubricate the Bosnian war machine.

At first, such high numbers didn't take. But on June 28, 1993 -- as near as I can pin it down -- the Bosnian Deputy Minister of Information, Senada Kreso, told journalists that 200,000 had died. Knowing her from her service as my translator and guide around Sarajevo, I believe that this was an outburst of naive zeal. Nevertheless, the major newspapers and wire services quickly began using these numbers, unsourced and unsupported (Mea culpa: I used the figure of 200,000 dead in articles and speeches for a while in 1993.) An inert press simply never bothered to learn the origins of the numbers it reported.

Today, Silajdzic, now the Prime Minister, routinely talks about genocide and the "Bosnian holocaust" with nary an eyebrow raised in his audience. But there was no holocaust. For Bosnia, an area slightly larger than Tennessee, to have suffered more than 200,000 deaths would have meant roughly 200 deaths per day, every day, for the three-plus years of war. But the fighting rarely, if ever, reached that level. After the Serbs carved out the areas they wanted in 1992, fighting declined steadily, reaching a virtual stalemate by autumn 1993. Now on the front lines, combatants often shoot past each other, tacitly understanding that in a low-intensity war nobody wants to get hurt.

Outright warfare, therefore, has probably resulted in deaths measured in the tens of thousands, induding civilians. If there were huge numbers of other dead, they would be accounted for only by systematic killing in concentration camps or the complete, as- yet-undiscovered extermination of entire villages.

Neither the International Committee of the Red Cross nor Western governments have found evidence of systematic killing. Nobody, moreover, has found former detainees of concentration camps who witnessed systematic killing. Random killing took place in the camps, but not enough to account for tens of thousand of dead. And, apart from the few well-known massacres nobody sees signs of missing villages, either.

The Red Cross has confirmed well under 20,000 fatalities on all sides. Extrapolating from that and from the observations of experienced investigators in Bosnia, its analysts estimate total fatalities at 20,000 to 30,000, with a small chance that they may exceed 35,000.

Analysts at the C.I A. and the State Department's Bureau of Intelligence and Research put fatalities in the tens of thousands but hesitate to give a more precise range until the war is over. European military intelligence officers with extensive experience in Bosnia estimate fatalities in the mid tens of thousands. From these and other estimates by generally reliable relief workers, and given the arguments about the physical impossibility of high numbers, I arrived at the range of 25,000 to 60,000 fatalities.

THE QUESTION OF HOW MANY FATALITIES there have been in Bosnia is far from academic. Many wars, maybe all -- but this war especially -- are fought for prestige and honor, not rational reasons. Many atrocities in the former Yugoslavia have been justified as revenge for killings during World War II. Yet the number of fatalities in Yugoslavia during World War II was also never documented. In fact, interpreting those numbers today defines your brand of ethnic nationalism. Thus, people in the Balkans think the number of fatalities makes a difference -- and since they do, so should we. The difference could be between getting a settlement in our lifetime and waiting generations. Not to break the cycle is a grattuitous, even immoral error.

Red Cross officials, normally secretive, surprised me by warmly embracing a public airing of the question. Their worry is that obsessive attention to Bosnia will come at the expense of the world's ability to allocate humanitarian resources among similar or more serious wars. Of perhaps greater long-term concern to them is that wild inflation of Bosnian fatalities will discredit reports of subsequent atrocities.

There is always a tension between moral outrage at particular horrors and the effort to put them into perspective. Michael Berenbaum, director of the Holocaust Research Institute at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, deftly explains: "The Holocaust has raised our tolerance for ordinary evil. This forces people to make their own plight more Holocaust-like." Bosnia was an ideal candidate for such an image make-over, since in the early confusion of ethnic cleansing and concentrauon camps American uncertainty about what was happening made our worst fears seem quite real.

Those who sounded the early alarm profoundly believe that "Never again" means "Never again." Preventive concern, however, evolved perversely into a distorted picture. My sense is that the chorus warning of genocide gradually got taken over by those who sought to stampede the United Sutes into unilaterally lifting the arms embargo against the Muslims. The activists half-succeeded. Though there has been no unilateral lifting, recent polls suggest that a large majority of Americans believe that the Serbs committed genocide. It may already be too late to change that perception.

Magnitude matters. As Berenbaum notes genocide with a small "g" (in which we might lump Bosnia with East Timor, Liberia, Guatemala, Sudan and Chechnya, among a score of others) is quite different from Genocide with a big "G" (the Holocaust -- and, perhaps, Cambodia or Rwanda). To their discredit, some advocates of lifting the embargo played down the difference. The emotional resonance of Genocide obscured the dismal possibility that arming the Muslims could inflame the war, killing far more than had already been killed: after a supposed 200,000 deaths, it didn't matter if additional tens of thousands died so long as we did what was "right." Like the cruel Balkan leaders themselves, advocates of arming the Muslims became strikingly callous.

In 1995, lacking the bodies, the charge of Genocide has worn thin. It seems to have almost become sensationalism for its own sake. Apart from any question of the number of fatalities, journalists have begun a hot little debate about how "objective" coverage of Bosnia has been, about whether it has tended to favor the Muslims. Several journalists with whom I spoke expressed the uneasy feeling that something was obviously wrong. In the words of the writer David Rieff, "Bosnia became our Spain," though not for political reasons, which is what he meant, but rather because too many journalists dreamed self-aggrandizing dreams of becoming Hemingway.

Who could do a reliable count? Probably not the State Department. Unfortunately, Secretary of Stae Warren Christopher folded under pressure from the interventionists and began-however furtively -- charging the Serbs with Genocide. Having thus taken sides, the State Department can hardly be expected to investigate reliably.

The United Nations is well placed, but its officials have every incentive to duck controversy. Western govermnents have repeatedly shrugged off any responsibility for an authoritative count. The news media can report figures only from others; it does not have the access needed to compile its own numbers. And the Balkan people can't be trusted.

The only other possible sources are nongovernmental organizations like the Red Cross, and their counting criteria vary greatly. But a neutral source is important. As long as the world tosses around words like "genocide" so loosely, the present tragedy will revolve endlessly. Counts count.

Comments >> (10 comments)

Serbian case - introduction

by vbo Mon Mar 20th, 2006 at 10:41:46 AM EST

For the sake of future conversation about ex-YU and Serbia  I will first try to pass on you some historic facts. Who ever has enough time and interest can read some history of South Slavs on Balkan here. First is a site of Serbian Orthodox Church but it does not preach or anything and is very informative for those of you who are curious.

From the diaries, with excellent resource materials (in diary and comments) - whataboutbob

Read more... (31 comments, 2122 words in story)
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News and Views

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by Bjinse - Jul 9, 178 comments

Your take on this week's news

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by Bjinse - May 28, 326 comments

Your take on this week's news

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And so with the sunshine and the great bursts of leaves growing on the trees, just as things grow in fast threads

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The lovely conversation that left me to ponder was the long thread I had with June

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