On the pages of the Washington Post, Serbophobia tends to be impersonal: just your everyday sneering at nations standing in Empire's way. Even the famously wrong Richard Cohen sticks to using the standard manual of Serbophobia, hitting the appropriate cliches in order to make a point about supporting interventionism.
Then there is the Washington Times, a paper claiming to be as conservative (i.e. GOP) as the Post is liberal (i.e. Democratic). True enough, over the years, the Times has printed criticism of the Democrats' Balkans policies. And in 2007, they did publish an unusually frank staff editorial condemning the "perception management" in the case of the Fort Dix Six. On the other hand, they employ Jeffrey T. Kuhner.
A regular columnist at the Times, Kuhner can be relied on for a good hysterical rant about the "Evil Serbs" just about anytime. In 2003, he blamed the Serbs for jihad in Bosnia. In 2004, he saw the sky falling when the Serbian Radical Party got the biggest chunk of votes in the election that saw the demise of DOS. Yet the apocalypse he foresaw failed to materialize. Now he's at it again, arguing that the election of Tomislav Nikolic to Serbian presidency is a "vote for war" in the Balkans.
Kuhner's latest screed is simply stuffed with so many factual errors that arguing with them would take up three times his word count: a clever strategy, when letters to the editor are typically limited to 150 words. But at its core is the smear of the newly elected President of Serbia as "neo-fascist", and the Serbs themselves as Nazi Germany reborn.
"Mr. Nikolic embodies the worst forms of Serbian nationalism, whose ideological roots go back to the “Chetniks” - the term for Serbian royalists - of World War II. Led by Drazen Mihailovic, the Chetniks formed a racist far-right-wing movement that sought to forge an ethnically pure Great Serb empire incorporating Serbia, Montenegro, Kosovo, Macedonia, most of Bosnia and large chunks of Croatia. Allied to Benito Mussolini’s fascist Italy, the Chetniks engaged in murderous ethnic cleansing, slaughtering tens of thousands of Bosnian Muslims, Croatians and Kosovar Albanians." (emphasis added)Where to begin? First off, Kuhner doesn't even know the proper party line, which is that "Serbian nationalism" supposedly dates back to the 19th century (and Ilija Garashanin's "Nachertanie"). The whole "Greater Serbia" claim was manufactured by Austria-Hungary in the early 1900s, to create a pretext for a war against the independent principality that obstructed its plans for hegemony in the Balkans (a war Vienna finally got in 1914, but ended up not liking very much).
Kuhner can't even get Mihailovic's name right - it's Dragoljub, shortened to "Drazha", not "Drazen". "Chetnik" is actually a Serbian term for a guerrilla, dating back to the conflicts of the early 1900 (in particular the 1912-13 Balkan Wars). Mihailovic's forces were actually the Royal Yugoslav Army, a legitimate resistance movement fighting against the Axis occupation. The claim they fought for an ethnically pure Serbian state is a lie concocted by Communist propaganda, as are the allegations of their mass murder of innocent civilians. That was actually the policy of the Nazi-allied Independent State of Croatia; established in April 1941, it included most of present-day Croatia, Bosnia and parts of Serbia, and engaged in wholesale genocide of Serbs, Jews and Roma.
Kuhner doesn't mention Nazi Croatia even once. Yet he can't possibly believe it's irrelevant, since he claims the "Chetniks" were allied with Mussolini's Italy. What actually happened is that there was a truce between the Royalists and the Italian troops stationed in southern "Croatia" (but not in Montenegro or Albanian-occupied Kosovo) - but only because Mussolini's men actually opposed the Croatians' mass murders. Why would they fight the Italians, when the Italians were trying to prevent genocide?
So "fascist" was the royalist resistance, Mihailovic was decorated by President Truman, and his men rescued over 500 Allied aviators (including the men who bombed Serb civilians), at great cost in lives. Kept under wraps for decades so as not to offend the Communists in Yugoslavia, the story only recently came to light, even as its heroic protagonists pass away.
But none of this fits Kuhner's narrative, so it isn't mentioned. He barrels on:
"As Yugoslavia disintegrated in the 1990s, Belgrade launched brutal wars of aggression against Croatia, Bosnia and Kosovo. More than 250,000 were killed and nearly 2 million ethnically cleansed."
Here "disintegration" serves to sanitize the violent and illegal secessions by the above-named entities, accompanied by wholesale murder of Serbs and the resurrection of Nazi-era symbols and policies. To cover this up, propagandists concocted the story of "Serb aggression" and deliberately invoked Nazi imagery to defame the Serbs. Kuhner recycles the old, debunked figure of 250,000 dead, and doesn't count one million Serbs who were ethnically cleansed.
He then proceeds to talk of "death camps" in Croatia and Bosnia, quoting outlandish claims of alleged survivors - whereas even the Hague Inquisition (established for the purpose of blaming the Serbs for everything) has shied from such allegations. Even the most outspoken professional Serbophobes haven't dared to claim that Ovcara was a "death camp" for 2000 people, as opposed to a farm where about 200 Croatian POWs were executed. Until Kuhner, that is.
Kuhner's diatribe is basically another example of what happens when the official distortions of WW2 history are allowed to go unchallenged: we see a triumph of Hitler's allies and Hitler's policies, while those opposing them get smeared as "fascists".
Why would Kuhner engage in these distortions of history, so extensive they cannot possibly be accidental or a product of ignorance? He has a degree in history, and even taught it for a couple of years, if his Wikipedia page is correct. But the page also says he was "born in Montreal, Canada to Croatian immigrant parents."
The only conclusion I can draw from Kuhner's op-ed - which is just the latest in a long series of Serbophobic diatribes - is that he's harping on about Serbs-as-Nazis in order to cover for the real Nazi allies: the very same Croats, "Bosnians" and ethnic Albanians claiming to be victims of "Serb aggression."
If that's "conservatism" then Edmund Burke is spinning in his grave.