Here is just an example of the banality of journalistic evil:
On May 2, 1992, one month after the Bosnian Republic‘s declaration of independence, Mr. Mladic’s forces blockaded Sarajevo. They shelled the city and destroyed its mosques.
More than 10,000 people died in Sarajevo during the siege, including about 1,500 children. Thousands of Serbs also died in the Bosnian conflict.
The numbers given here are about as reliable as the "250,000 dead" canard repeated for so many years. The mosque claim is patently false. The part about Serbs shelling Sarajevo leaves out the part where Muslims shot up the Serb parts of the city. Honestly, the biggest surprise for me is the admission that "thousands of Serbs also died" in the war. That's more than the mainstream media ever dared admit before. Even so, it's an afterthought, and presented in passive voice, as if no one actually killed (or beheaded, burned, impaled or mutilated) those Serbs.
Bilefsky's "understanding" of Yugoslavia's collapse is equally facile:
When Slobodan Milosevic played on Serbian grievances to win control of Yugoslavia in the late 1980s, he also appealed to army officers, indoctrinated to maintain the old Yugoslav federation, that they had to act to prevent its dissolution.
Uh, what? Milosevic did not "win control" of Yugoslavia, he became president of one of its republics. And since when is teaching army officers to defend their country "indoctrination"?! To Bilefsky, a 45-year-old country may be "old," but I bet he would not describe the United States as "old federation" in an article about the misnamed Civil War, now would he? And the U.S. was 74 or 85 years old at the time, depending on whether we count from 1776 or 1787 (when the Constitution was adopted). Finally, wasn't Yugoslavia, in fact, disintegrating? And wasn't the army's job to, you know, prevent that?
Here's another sample of Bilefsky's turgid prose:
"...as Yugoslavia began to disintegrate in 1991, Mr. Mladic was ready to do his part in the schemes devised by Mr. Milosevic in the name of protecting and assuring the dominance of the Serbs, the largest ethnic group."
What "schemes" are these, precisely? And what "dominance"? If being derided as "bourgeois oppressors", divided between four republics, having several new "nations" (like "Montenegrins") carved out of them and being the only component of the federation sub-partitioned with autonomous provinces (Vojvodina and Kosovo, the latter being under Albanian domination for decades) qualifies as "dominance", I'd hate to see what subjugation would look like.
But the reason I decided to even bother writing about this is that Bilefsky included a juicy quote about Mladic hating "the West, Albanian nationalism, and Muslims" from "Seki Radoncic, a leading Bosnian investigative journalist."
Now that's just laugh-out-loud funny. Go Google "Seki Radoncic." He wrote a screenplay for a 2006 movie, a book about Muslims in Montenegro, and another book or two about police in Montenegro. The propaganda outfit IWPR describes him as "investigative journalist from Montenegro currently living in Bosnia." Stipulating he is, in fact, an investigative journalist (as opposed to, say, a tabloid muckraker - and those are a dime a dozen over there), he's not "Bosnian" and all, and much less "leading."
The biggest media empire in Bosnia is owned by one Fahrudin Radoncic. He is also a Montenegrin Muslim - or, as the Bosnian Muslims call them derisively, Sandzaklija - who rose from obscurity as the propaganda chief for the Izetbegovic regime. What are the odds that Seki and Fahrudin are related, and that this is the secret of Seki's success?
Either way, that Bilefsky quotes Radoncic as a "leading Bosnian investigative journalist" suggests that he's being fed "information" by the other Radoncic. Thus the New York Times becomes an outlet for Radoncic's Avaz, a government-subsidized daily blending tabloid journalism with vitriolic propaganda. Not that this is by any means hard.
Maybe the NYT should re-hire Jayson Blair. That way we'd get testimonies from "Srebrenica genocide" survivors, leading experts on Balkans politics, and even secret supporters of Ratko Mladic, all without the author ever leaving his New York cubicle. Saves the expense of a plane ticket, and is just about as credible, or truthful.