Monday, June 06, 2005


I am not shocked.

Hey, I was in Bosnia during the war - spent the entire siege in Sarajevo, matter of fact - and have seen plenty of death, onscreen and off. I almost want to say I can't be shocked by any atrocity porn anymore, though I probably shouldn't; there seem to be no limits on human depravity, and someone, somewhere might just surprise me.

But the couple of minutes of "shocking" video that have been playing over the weekend as "proof" of Serbian involvement in the July 1995 events in Srebrenica - courtesy of the notorious Natasa Kandic and the crew from IWPR - while horrifying, are nothing that hasn't happened in dozens of places around Bosnia between April 1992 and November 1995. The cast of characters and locations differ - sometimes it is Serbs shooting Muslims or Croats, other times it is Croats shooting Serbs or Muslims, or Muslims shooting Croats or Serbs (and often other Muslims) - but the script remains the same. It proves absolutely nothing but the depravity of war and of people who make a spectacle of it, be they the executioners who film their own handiwork (e.g. "Naser Oric's Greatest Hits") or those who use such recordings to further their political agendas.

There is much to be written about this, and not enough time in the world to do so, but I shall give it a try over the next couple of weeks. The issue of how many people died in the aftermath of Srebrenica's fall - and how - is too serious to be addressed in an off-handed, hysterical or propaganda manner, which is what the general tone of reporting about it has been for nearly a decade. Indeed, the very vehemence with which the champions of the Official Truth push their story - which brims with righteous rage but often lacks sense - suggests there is more to it than meets the eye, the paper, or the screen.

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