The “Srebrenica massacre” is the greatest triumph of propaganda to emerge from the Balkan wars.(Edward Herman)
The Srebrenica case is in headlines again – like during every anniversary – and also the story seems repeat itself from year to year. More light is however coming and the real (political) context is gaining space also in mainstream media. Former Hague Tribunal spokeswoman Florence Hartmann referring the arrest of Radovan Karadzic told earlier, that as “Karadžić has finally been arrested, he can tell a lot about secret deals that led to the fall of Srebrenica. His testimony represents a great risk for the great western powers.” (SourceB92)
The recent past of Bosnia-Herzegovina is violent and there was not only one brutal side – there were three of them. This past has its impact today and real truth behind successful propaganda about events of war 1992-95 is still unclear. This year I expect that the trial of war crime suspect Radovan Karadzic will clarify a bit of this bloody past when both prosecutor and defense are making their case. Statements of ICTY insider arouse few questions to my mind, such as following:
Political aims behind events?
Srebrenica case should finally put into its political context, for media it would be useful to see the case as part of lobbying/marketing to achieve political aims. It seems that the town was deliberately sacrificed by the Presidency of the Bosnia and the Military High Command in order to encourage NATO intervention. From the the U.N. Secretary General’s 1999 Report on Srebrenica, it emerges that the idea of a “Srebrenica massacre” was planned at a September 1993 meeting in Sarajevo between Bosnian Muslim president Alija Izetbegovic and members of his Muslim party from Srebrenica. On the agenda was a Serb proposal to exchange Srebrenica and Zepa for some territories around Sarajevo as part of a peace settlement.
“The delegation opposed the idea, and the subject was not discussed further. Some surviving members of the Srebrenica delegation have stated that President Izetbegovic also told them he had learned that a NATO intervention in Bosnia and Herzegovina was possible, but could only occur if the Serbs were to break into Srebrenica, killing at least 5,000 of its people.” So from here are the numbers originating, sadly the western mainstream media went to this propaganda trap. * Was the secret deal made about Srebrenica (Bosnian Government and the Bosnian Serb party, possibly with the knowledge of one or more Contact Group States, had an understanding that Srebrenica would not be vigorously defended by the Bosniacs in return for an undertaking by the Serbs not to vigorously defend territory around Sarajevo. The capture of Srebrenica made it easier for the Bosniacs and Serbs to agree on the territorial basis of a peace settlement. The result of the tragedy in Srebrenica contributed in some ways to the conclusion of a peace agreement — by galvanizing the will of the international community, by distracting the Serbs from the coming Croatian attack, by reducing the vulnerability of UNPROFOR personnel to hostage-taking, and by making certain territorial questions easier for the parties to resolve).
Source: UN report “Memorandum on war crimes and crimes and genocide in eastern Bosnia (communes of Bratunac, Skelani and Srebrenica) committed against the Serbian population from April 1992 to April 1993” and some other material can be found from my blog’s Document library
During ICTY trial of Mr. Karadzic there has been discussion if the Holbrooke-Karadzic deal is existing, like the accused has said ( Karadzic claims that his going into hiding formed part of a deal with Holbrooke, which included his withdrawal from public life in exchange for not being arrested). However more interesting secret deal is related to international peace settlement and the role which Srebrenica plays in that context.
One theory is following: Bosnian Government and the Bosnian Serb party, possibly with the knowledge of one or more Contact Group States, had an understanding that Srebrenica would not be vigorously defended by the Bosniacs in return for an undertaking by the Serbs not to vigorously defend territory around Sarajevo. The capture of Srebrenica made it easier for the Bosniacs and Serbs to agree on the territorial basis of a peace settlement. The result of the tragedy in Srebrenica contributed in some ways to the conclusion of a peace agreement — by galvanizing the will of the international community, by distracting the Serbs from the coming Croatian attack, by reducing the vulnerability of UNPROFOR personnel to hostage-taking, and by making certain territorial questions easier for the parties to resolve?
The actions of ruling Bosnian (Muslim) party (SDA) and its leader – Alija Izetbegovic – during Srebrenica events on July 1995 seems to confirm that a deal about the fate of town had been made earlier. Author John Schindler, a professor at the U.S. Naval War College and a former National Security Agency analyst, concludes in his book “Unholy Terror: Bosnia, Al-Qa’ida and the Rise of Global Jihad” describes how local Muslim leaders begged Sarajevo for assistance. None came, and the town fell to the Serbs within five days. Schindler proves that Bosnian Army signals intelligence had advance warning of a Serb offensive, and did nothing, and that even when armed Bosnian soldiers taking with them civilians (and not the simple unarmed masses that the Western media tacitly alleges) tried to contact their kin, no help came. Shockingly, on the morning the town fell to the Serbs, “there was a meeting of the (SDA) party leadership and the top officers of the General Staff in Sarajevo; the enclave wasn’t on the agenda.
The pre-Srebrenica events are often forgotten. There was also a long history of atrocious Bosnian Muslim violence and treachery perpetrated against Bosnian Serbs leading up to the regretable events of 1995. The most cruel crimes were committed by the 3rd Corps 7th Muslim Mountain Brigade, to which were subordinated foreign Muslim fighters, also known as mujahedeen, who came from Islamic countries through Osama bin Laden’s terrorist network. This sc. “demilitarized safe area of Srebrenica” served as the safe haven to this brigade lead by Bosnian Muslim leader of Srebrenica forces Naser Oric and his people went from that almost unconquerable place in the series of atrocious attacks on the near-by Serbian areas.
Top Muslim generals Halilovic and Hadzihasanovic easily admit that they had no intention to honor the disarmament of Srebrenica agreement. They even did their best to arm Srebrenica war criminals. The two generals inform us that Srebrenica Muslims, already in April 1993, are organized in well formed military unit (the 28th Division), numbering 5.803 people. The “disarmament” scam left them quite well armed. The generals were able to admit that the unit had 1.947 automatic rifles, 27 submachine-guns, 15 machine-guns, 68 hand-held rocket launchers, all kinds of mortars, anti-armour, anti-missile, anti-aircraft launchers, rockets, guns…After the UN declared Srebrenica a safe haven in April 1993, the attacs continued. More about disarmament scam in ICTY files/Hague proceedings in documents “Disarming”Actually Meant - Arming of Srebrenica”
Author John Schindler, concludes in his book “Unholy Terror: Bosnia, Al-Qa’ida and the Rise of Global Jihad” that the facts were incompatible with the standard version of events in Srebrenica. Schindler points out that Izetbegovic government had been using “safe zone” to stage attacks on Serbs in neighboring villages for three years and over 3,000 Serbs including 1,300 civilians were massacred by Muslims in Srebrenica municipality, “in many cases butchered, tortured, mutilated, burned alive, or decapitated. The main figure often ultimately responsible was the Bosnian Army’s local commander, the exceptionally brutal Naser Oric, who used Muslims as human shields against the Serbs, and who eliminated enemies real or perceived, even within his own units. Oric delighted in showing Western journalists his home-made videos depicting the beheadings of Serb prisoners (p. 229). However, even as talk of a Serb offensive was growing in early 1995, Sarajevo’s local strongman was inexplicably recalled, leaving Srebrenica-area Muslims without effective leadership: “in April, Oric and his senior staff left the town under cover of darkness, headed for Tuzla, ostensibly to take a command training course. He never returned (p. 230).
Even today’s headlines are describing Srebrenica with slogan “worst civilian massacre in Europe since WWII”, there is also many arguments about political PR game behind exaggerated death numbers, misrepresentation of early reports and manipulated pictures. Probably a massacre happened but maybe not like that picture which main stream media has offered. Are we finally getting more wider picture about connections between numbers (Srebrenica figure game), reports (as mean of one-sided propaganda) and political PR marketing considering events in Balkans during 1990s?
The Aim of PR game played by Bosnian Muslims was to get US to fight aside of them. One part to achieve US involvement was to gain sympathy in West by implementing attacks towards its own citizens. Republican Policy Comittee of US Senate give good description about these self-inflicted atrocities as follows:
Almost since the beginning of the Bosnian war in the spring of 1992, there have been persistent reports — readily found in the European media but little reported in the United States — that civilian deaths in Muslim-held Sarajevo attributed to the Bosnian Serb Army were in some cases actually inflicted by operatives of the Izetbegovic regime in an (ultimately successful) effort to secure American intervention on Sarajevo’s behalf. These allegations include instances of sniping at civilians as well as three major explosions, attributed to Serbian mortar fire, that claimed the lives of dozens of people and, in each case, resulted in the international community’s taking measures against the Muslims’ Serb enemies. (The three explosions were: (1) the May 27, 1992, “breadline massacre,” which was reported to have killed 16 people and which resulted in economic sanctions on the Bosnian Serbs and rump Yugoslavia; (2) the February 5, 1994, Markale “market massacre,” killing 68 and resulting in selective NATO air strikes and an ultimatum to the Serbs to withdraw their heavy weapons from the area near Sarajevo; and (3) the August 28, 1995 “second market massacre,” killing 37 and resulting in large-scale NATO air strikes, eventually leading to the Dayton agreement and the deployment of IFOR.)
Edward S. Herman - a Professor Emeritus of Finance at the Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania - gives one example of successful propaganda in his article on July 7th 2005 “The Politics of the Srebrenica Massacre” I quote:
One of the most important propaganda lies of the 1990s featured the Serb-run Trnopolje camp, visited by Britain’s ITN reporters in August 1992. These reporters photographed the resident Fikret Alic, showing him emaciated and seemingly inside a concentration camp fence. In fact, Fikret Alic was in a transit camp, was a sick man (and was sick with tuberculosis long before reaching the camp), was not in any way representative of others in the camp, and was soon able to move to Sweden. Furthermore, the fence was around the photographers, not the man photographed.  But this hugely dishonest photo was featured everywhere in the West as proving a Serb-organized Auschwitz, was denounced by NATO high officials, and helped provide the moral basis for the creation of the ICTY and its clear focus on Serb evil.
The message went through western mainstream media – it was easy to believe that the Bosnian Serb Army organized and executed a premeditated slaughter of 8,000 unarmed Bosnian Muslim civilian males; the case has become a crucial element in portraying Serbs, collectively, as genocidal aggressors. This picture has stayed stabile in spite of evidences that Izetbegovic’s own party, the SDA, specialized in staged mortar attacks on civilians which were then blamed on Bosnian Serb forces. As described above by RPC of US Senate release this operational tactic of the Sarajevo regime’s Special Forces (AID) was designed to gain sympathy and invite NATO intervention on behalf of the Izetbegovic regime … and it was successful.
In Balkans Srebrenica was not only case being part of bigger political came and fabricated manipulation; few years later the same tactic was implemented in Kosovo e.g with the Racak case was similar (More about this one may find from my article “High pressure to fabricate Racak reports“). After over decade it is still difficult in western media to admit that also Serbs were victims of war crimes - instead from year to year media repeats one sided picture about Serbs created mid 90s when US selected its side. Also the same manipulated approach was later applied in Kosovo (Other side of story can be found e.g. from my article “Kosovo March/February: Pogrom with Prize” and “10th anniversary of Nato’s attack on Serbia“. What is amasing for me is how easy the mainstream media can be used for political manipulation.
Srebrenica, the figure of 8,000 originated with September 1995 announcements by the International Committee of the Red Cross that it was seeking information about some 3,000 men reportedly detained as well as about some 5,000 who had fled to central Bosnia. Neither the Bosnian Serbs nor the Muslims were ever forthcoming with whatever information they had, and the “8,000″ figure has tended ever since to be repeated as an established total of “Muslim men and boys executed by Serb forces”.Despite unprecedented efforts over the past ten years to recover bodies from the area around Srebrenica, less than 3,000 have been exhumed, and these include soldiers and others-Serb as well as Muslim-who died in the vicious combats that took place during three years of war. Only a fraction have been identified.
The above map clearly explains why round 2,000 Srebrenica Muslims lost their lives. The decision that the 28th Muslim Division should refuse to lay down its arms and embark on a break-through along a 100km-long route in the hardest of military operations, for which it was not prepared in view of the prior retreat of command personnel, amounted to a conscious sacrifice of round two thousand Muslim men of military age. The Western allies would do their best to present it as no less than genocide.
Edward S.Herman gives a short history lesson about number game in his article “The Politics of the Srebrenica Massacre” as follows
Both before and after Srebrenica lying about numbers killed was also standard practice, helpful in sustaining the dominant narrative. For Bosnia, in December 1992 the Bosnian Muslim government claimed 128,444 deaths of their forces and people, a number which grew to 200,000 by June 1993, rising to 250,000 in 1994. These figures were swallowed without a qualm by Western politicians, media, and intellectual war-campaigners, with Clinton himself using the 250,000 figure in a speech in November 1995. Former State Department official George Kenney has long questioned these figures and marveled at media gullibility in accepting these claims without the least interest in verification. His own estimate ran between 25,000 and 60,000. More recently, a study sponsored by the Norwegian government estimated the Bosnian war dead as 80,000, and one sponsored by the Hague Tribunal itself came up with a figure of 102,000 dead. Neither of these studies has been reported on in the U.S. media, which had regularly offered its readers/listeners the inflated numbers.A similar inflation process took place during the 78-day NATO bombing war in 1999, with high U.S. officials at various moments claiming 100,000, 250,000 and 500,000 Serb killings of Kosovo Albanians, along with the lavish use of the word “genocide” to describe Serb actions in Kosovo. This figure gradually shrank to 11,000, and has remained there despite the fact that only some 4,000 bodies were found in one of the most intense forensic searches in history, and with unknown numbers of those bodies combatants, Serbs, and civilian victims of U.S. bombing. But the 11,000 must be valid because the NATO governments and ICTY say it is, and Michael Ignatieff assured readers of the New York Times that “whether those 11,334 bodies will be found depends on whether the Serb military and the police removed them.
The serial lying had been largely unchallenged in the mainstream, the demonization process and good-versus-evil dichotomy had been well established, the ICTY and UN leadership were closely following the agenda of the United States and its NATO allies, and the media were on board as co-belligerents. The Srebrenica events had a number of features that made it possible to claim 8,000 “men and boys” executed. One was the confusion and uncertainty about the fate of the fleeing Bosnian Muslim forces, some reaching Tuzla safely, some killed in the fighting, and some captured. The 8,000 figure was first provided by the Red Cross, based on their crude estimate that the BSA had captured 3,000 men and that 5,000 were reported “missing.” There are also lists of missing, but these lists are badly flawed, with duplications, individuals listed who had died before July 1995, who fled to avoid BSA service, or who registered to vote in 1997, and they include individuals who died in battle or reached safety or were captured and assumed a new existence elsewhere. But because of its key political role for the United States, Bosnian Muslims and Croats, and an almost religious ardour of belief in this claim, Sebrenica has been immune to evidence. From the beginning until today the number has been taken as a given, a higher truth, the questioning of which would show a lack of faith and very likely “apologetics” for the demon.
This nice round number lives on today in the face of a failure to find the executed bodies and despite the absence of a single satellite photo showing executions, bodies, digging, or trucks transporting bodies for reburial. The media have played an important role in making the Srebrenica massacre a propaganda triumph. As noted earlier, the media had become a co-belligerent by 1991, and all standards of objectivity disappeared in their subservience to the pro-Bosnian Muslim and anti-Serb agenda.
The transformation of Srebrenica into myth
Jared Israel concludes in his article published in Emperor’s Clothes that
Why should people read articles challenging this massacre story? After all, it’s consistent with what one has been told: that Srebrenica was a safe haven where the UN was supposed to protect Muslims from supposedly murderous Serbs; that the Muslims, portrayed in the media as an oppressed group, were moderate and tolerant while the Serbs were supposedly fanatical Muslim-haters with a Hitlerian vision of a mono-ethnic state; that therefore it was no surprise that when the Serbs took Srebrenica, they supposedly killed thousands of Muslims as fast as they could.
John Schindler concludes in his book mentioned earlier that all sides committed atrocities, but those of Muslims generally went unreported. For example,
The number of Christians murdered in Sarajevo during the war by Muslim military and police, right under the noses of Western journalists, is at least in the many hundreds and probably in the low thousands. Between 1992 and 1995, some 1,300 Serb civilians were liquidated by Muslim troops based at Srebrenica; this was the precursor to the infamous July 1995 Serb offensive against that town.
While Muslims were certainly expelled from their homes in large numbers, so were Croats (Catholics) and Serbs (Orthodox), but only Muslim victims and refugees were really considered newsworthy.
Srebrenica – a hoax or massacre? I would say both; a hoax due the well planned and implemented PR maneuver , a massacre when the Serbs went to trap and used brutal force also against civilians. When the Serbs got a tactical win in warfare the Muslims got US as their strategic ally with Serb demonization. In addition to human sacrifice – victims from all ethnic groups, civilians and soldiers/mercenaries – one loser was the investigative journalism and media on the whole by accepting one-sided truth in Bosnia and since then also in future conflicts.
It is notable that the ICTY has never called the Croat ethnic cleansing of 250,000 Krajina Serbs “genocide” although in that case many women and children were killed and the ethnic cleansing applied to a larger area and larger victim population than in Srebrenica. Perhaps the ICTY had accepted Richard Holbrooke’s comic designation of Krajina as a case of “involuntary expulsions.” (More about “Operation Storm” in my article “Operation Storm – forgotten pogrom”
One can have different opinions about bias of ICTY but from my point of view it offers so far best forum to get some answer to questions mentioned before when both prosecutor and defence have made their case. Anyway the statements of Mrs.Hartmann – as well the book of her former boss del Ponte describing e.g. organ trafficking (More e.g. in “War crime selected – organ harvesting from Serbs by KLA”) of Serb civil people by Albanian mafia – are giving quite disgusting picture about realpolitik behind noble statements of international community.