Friday, May 25, 2012

Wherefore the Distortions?

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.

Per Kuhner:
"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.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Rise of the "Undertaker"

No, this isn't an article about staged wrestling, but rather about the (somewhat) surprising triumph of Tomislav Nikolić in yesterday's presidential election in Serbia. Contrary to "journalist" fantasies, his graveyard-related moniker has nothing to do with the phantom "gruesome reputation... organising recruitment to Serbian paramilitaries to fight in Croatia and Bosnia" [sic], and everything to do with the fact that he once held a job as manager of a cemetery.

His enemies - who generally never held honest jobs in their lives, but had really good spin doctors - used this to smear him as a man who'd "bury" Serbia if elected. Meanwhile, they did "everything they could" (in the favorite phrase of the now ex-President) to destroy Serbia and salt the earth in their wake. They even resorted to wholesale fraud to ensure their continued rule. Yesterday's vote brought those plans to a halt.

Or did it? For all the bleating of Western "journalists", spoon-fed sordid political pornography by their well-paid Serbian (or rather, Serbophobic) sources, Nikolić is not the same man he was four years ago.

Having lost the second presidential election to Boris Tadić, and seeing his party once again left out of the cabinet - cobbled together in a mockery of electoral results by Western ambassadors - Nikolić snapped. He left the Radical Party, whose caretaker leader he'd been, and founded the Progressives. He also hired former American ambassador William Montgomery as a consultant, went to Brussels and Washington to pledge fealty, changed his tune on Serbia getting annexed by the EU, and offering a platform filled with nothing but fluff. His criticism of the Tadić regime boiled down to, "We'd do the same thing, only better."

Especially interesting was his choice of party name. It is possible it was chosen for him by Montgomery or some other foreign consultant, since progressivisim is all the rage in the West right now. But to the few who still have a working knowledge of Serbian history, the choice was very symbolic: the Progressives used to be the ruling party under the corrupt, Austrophile King Milan Obrenović, and were famously defeated by the Radicals in 1887. They were so hated by the people, that their final convention in 1889 was dispersed by an angry mob throwing stones and wielding clubs. For over a hundred years, their name was mud - until Nikolić resurrected it.

Wouldn't it be par for the course if the "nationalist" Nikolić was really an Imperial agent? It is a distinct possibility. What is certain, however, is that the Empire will now try to pressure him to continue Tadić's policy of unconditional surrender in order to prove he's not a "nationalist." It is, of course, an impossible quest: the moment Nikolić gives them an inch, they will move the goalposts and demand more, just as they've done with Tadić.

But while Tadić was ideologically committed to Imperial supremacy and even ran his mouth about the need to "transform society" and "change the mentality" of the Serbian people so they would fit better into the Brave New World of EUtopia, Nikolić's principal support comes from the frustrated, disenfranchised Serbs who still care about their identity, tradition, culture, history and nation. He wasn't their ideal candidate by any stretch, but they voted for him because Tadić was worse.

By the virtue of that victory, Nikolić is in the unenviable position of having many expectations to meet and very little room to maneuver. If he defies the Empire, expect the storm of abuse to increase. But if he chooses to be another Tadić, he will quickly draw the wrath of the Serbians - without having Tadić's media machinery and direct foreign backing to shield him. The question then remains who will Nikolić fear more, the foreign overlords or his own folk.

If this really turns out to be a ploy to replace a worn-out puppet with a fresh one (while fooling the Serbs they had a choice in the matter), it may well explode in its authors' faces. The fall of Tadić has opened the floodgates of frustration. No amount of marketing tricks will close them again.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Vampire Journalism

No sooner had Ratko Mladic's "trial" before the Hague Inquisition opened today, reports began appearing in the press of his "taunting the victims". Supposedly, Mladic motioned towards the "Mothers of Srebrenica" sitting in the observation gallery with a throat-slitting gesture.

The claim accompanied the descriptions of Mladic as the organizer of the "murder of 8,000 unarmed men and boys" in Srebrenica, which was of course the "worst massacre in Europe since World War Two," easily inducing the casual observer to instantly dislike Mladic.

The problems with this "trial" are many, from the ICTY lacking legitimacy to try anyone, the fact that it writes its own ex posto facto laws and rules, has standards of evidence that would be laughed out of any legitimate courtroom, to the consideration that the people brought before it have already been lynched in the court of public opinion, and therefore cannot have a fair trial even if the Tribunal itself weren't a travesty.

But the story of the taunting throat-slitting gesture is a prime example of journalistic misconduct when it comes to the Balkans, a case of not just gilding the lily, but of actually reversing the facts of the case.

You see, the throat-slitting gesture was first mentioned in June last year, when it supposedly took place at Mladic's "status conference" hearing. News agencies and papers relying on their feeds reported that the general had taunted his (alleged) victims with a throat-slitting gesture. However, some careful research by an observant reader quickly produced the actual story:

Kada Hotic, who has relatives who were killed at Srebrenica, said Mladic taunted her when she threatened him.
“I told him he will pay the price for murdering my son,” she said, adding that she drew her finger across her throat. Mladic could not hear her, but she said he gestured back, holding his thumb and forefinger close together to indicate she was insignificant. (emphasis added)
So, the gesture did happen. But it wasn't Mladic who made it, but a Muslim observer! She admitted to it, proudly - and the only interpretation of Mladic's finger gesture is hers, too. Now, it is obvious why the AP would mis-report that Mladic had made the motion - it makes the designated villain look properly villainous, and fits the propaganda narrative. But how dare they, when it was so obviously not true? Did they think they wouldn't get caught?

Apparently so. Until someone did catch them, and informed blogger Julia Gorin. She then sent letters to the offending agencies and newspapers, pointing out the problem. Finally, on September 30, 2011, the Toronto Star - one of the papers that ran AP's story on July 4, issued the following correction:
"Online News Correction for September 30
Published On Fri Sep 30 2011
A July 4 article about the war crimes tribunal of Gen. Ratko Mladic incorrectly stated that Mladic drew his finger across his throat while looking at the public gallery. In fact, a person in the gallery made the threatening gesture to Mladic." (emphasis added)
The Star's correction prompted a chain reaction of retractions by other papers, and the AP itself. Gorin's blog entry provides a complete list and many details of the case.

Of course, the retraction got very little attention, while the lie of Mladic threatening the women in the gallery got spotlight treatment. And now the story has been raised from the dead, reported in the exact same words - again, with no visual evidence to back it up, no indication that it refers to an event from last year, or that it was originally mis-reported in a manner that merited an official retraction!

There you have it, folks: vampire journalism, courtesy of your mainstream media. Ready the garlic and the stakes.

Wednesday, May 09, 2012

Victory Day

"To our Victory!" Soviet propaganda poster, 1945 (source)
Sixty-seven years ago, Nazi Germany officially surrendered to the Soviet forces in the ruins of Berlin. The "Thousand-year Reich" had lasted not even a dozen. Lacking courage to face defeat and blaming everyone but himself for it, Hitler had committed suicide a week earlier. The war that had devastated Europe for a second time in a generation was officially over.

But who won? Oh, we're supposed to believe it was the "good guys," the noble Allies who bravely sacrificed millions of lives to stop the unprecedented evil of Nazism and its genocidal plans. Yet the cold hard truth is that no one but the Jewish resistance fought Hitler because of what he was doing to the Jews. British, French, Soviet or American governments couldn't have cared less. They all entered the war for entirely selfish reasons: London and Paris to keep their empires, Washington to make America into one, and Stalin to stay alive.

Of all the major Allied powers, only the people of the Soviet Union actually had a legitimate reason to fight: they were being invaded and murdered en masse. Perhaps that is why only the Russians still commemorate the victory today.

The West doesn't dwell on the actual facts of WW2. It prefers useful myths, such as that D-Day and the campaign in France equaled the struggle on the Eastern Front (which was 90% of the actual war effort against Germany). Or that the war was about stopping the "Final Solution." Or that the Nuremberg trials were about the genocide (the Nazis were actually condemned for starting the war). Or that Pearl Harbor somehow deserved Hiroshima and Nagasaki in return. Hypocritical cries of "Munich!" and reductio ad Hitlerum are used against the ruler of any country the American Empire wishes to invade.

Yet when you look at the EU, it resembles nothing so much as what Nazi slogans described as the "European family of nations" working together for the prosperity of all. The whole endeavor has roots in National-Socialism. Modern managerial state lives up to Mussolini's definition of fascism: "Tutto nello Stato, niente al di fuori dello Stato, nulla contro lo Stato." Everything in the State, nothing outside the State, nothing against the State. All demands to retain national sovereignty, or stop social engineering through the flood of immigrants and the tyranny of diversity, are branded "fascist". Meanwhile, EU bodies adopt resolutions equating Fascism, Nazism and Communism, spitting in the face of Russia - a nation itself grievously harmed by Communism, but refusing to dishonor the banner under which it bore the brunt of the fighting against Hitler.

Then there is the bizarre situation that the map of Europe today looks suspiciously like the one from 1942, and all of Hitler's allies in the Balkans are now the staunchest allies of the American Empire. In that corner of Europe, at least, WW2 is still being fought. Only this time, the Luftwaffe and the panzers are supposedly the "good guys".

In April 1941 Hitler made it a personal mission to obliterate a country called Yugoslavia. Partly to make an example of anyone attempting to weasel out of surrendering to his demands, and partly to indulge grudges from the previous war. Remember, WW1 started with an Austro-Hungarian invasion of Serbia. After two failures, the Austrians and their German and Bulgarian allies finally thought they'd crushed the Serbs, only to have them return in 1918 and win a decisive victory that collapsed the Central Powers' southern flank.

So Hitler wiped Yugoslavia off the map. Parts of its territory were annexed directly to the Reich, others given to Italy, Hungary, Bulgaria, and Albania (an Italian protectorate until 1943, a German ally thereafter). An "independent" Montenegro was set up as an Italian protectorate, while most of today's Croatia and Bosnia-Herzegovina became the Independent State of Croatia (NDH). The remainder was dubbed Serbia and placed under German occupation.

While the Serbs in the NDH faced wholesale extermination (the visceral brutality of which appalled even the Nazis), the brutality of the occupation forces in "Serbia" rivaled that of the Eastern Front. In June 1941, royalists guerrillas (commonly mislabeled "chetniks") launched an uprising against the Germans. With Germans executing up to 100 civilian hostages for every one of their soldiers killed, and 50 for every soldier wounded, the royalists were quickly compelled to adopt a lower profile. Soon they were engaged in a shooting war with the Communists, who launched their own insurrection in June, after Hitler invaded the USSR. While the royalists expected an Anglo-American landing, the Communist waited for the Soviets, meanwhile slaughtering each other and occasionally raiding German supplies.

In the end, the Communists prevailed. By 1944, they had secured British backing, and successfully lobbied the Allies for massive air strikes against cities in Serbia, which did little damage to the German war effort but caused great loss of civilian life in royalist strongholds. In September 1944, Soviet forces – reinforced by Bulgarian troops, who had switched their allegiance from Hitler to Stalin – entered Serbia and drove out the Germans.

Think about that for a second: the territory of Nazi-occupied Serbia had to deal with four years of brutal repression, a civil war, tens of thousands of refugees fleeing Croatia's genocide, heavy bombing by the Allies, and a Communist takeover. Having been thus despoiled, Serbia was then ground into dust by the Communists, who in the true tradition of victim politics claimed the principal problem had been the old kingdom’s alleged "Greater Serbian hegemony", rather than alliances of other groups with Axis powers, and the atrocities they committed.

After the war, the  Communists  made Hitler's dismemberment more or less official. Parts annexed by Germany ended up the "republic" of Slovenia. The NDH was split into Croatia and Bosnia, with Croatia getting the entire Adriatic coast. Montenegro remained separate, while the territories held by Bulgaria became Macedonia. The stump Serbia created by Hitler became the "Republic of Serbia", while the Hungarian- and Albanian-occupied areas in the north and the south became its "autonomous provinces" of Vojvodina and Kosovo. The borders didn't correspond exactly, but the spirit of the division was what counted.

Future generations were taught that “Yugoslavia” had been among the victors in WW2. Official history claimed that Tito's multiethnic Communist partisans were the only real resistance movement, fighting the very few Croatian Ustasha, the Albanian Balli Kombetar, and the worst of the lot - the bloodthirsty Greater Serbian nationalist "chetniks". Any suggestion that the royalists had actually helped the Allied war effort was suppressed - and the West went along with it.

Ten years after Tito's death, the myths collapsed under their own weight, no longer propped by Western credit and Eastern markets. The newly reunited Germany, the nascent European Union and the rising American Empire all saw an opportunity in dismembering Yugoslavia.

What followed was an eerie re-run of the 1940s carnage. Croatia's "democratic" president, Franjo Tudjman, led a NDH revival - but because he was allied with the U.S. and not Hitler this time around, he succeeded where his predecessor failed. In Bosnia, Alija Izetbegovic had Washington's support to make a bid for an Islamic state, causing a bloodbath when both Serbs and Croats objected. Albanians were likewise armed and supported to re-establish the "Natural Albania" of 1941-45.

But the cruelest twist was that these Imperial allies accused the Serbs of Nazism - and their PR flacks used Communist propaganda to do so. And they are still at it, even today. The Serbs, for their part, reacted with utter confusion. They didn't create a grievance lobby, as is common in modern politics. Rather, they followed their instinct and history and reached for their guns - fighting first for Yugoslavia, then for independence, then for survival, but all the while unable to understand what was happening. That confusion is also an enduring condition, unfortunately.

Even though they were the principal victims of Nazi aggression, and the overwhelming majority in both the Communist and the royalist resistance movements, the Serbs first became second-class citizens in Yugoslavia (which they allegedly "dominated") and then got smeared as Nazis reborn - by actual Nazi heirs, people who had their own Waffen-SS, two-time winners of WW2. Who would have ever thought to see American bombers, German tanks and Communist propaganda working together towards a goal Hitler once had: to crush Serbia as an example to others.

When Hitler invaded, Yugoslavia had been rotten already. Croats actually greeted the Wehrmacht with flowers. Few have dared ask how Tito could have put Yugoslavia back together, after all that. Yet the answer is very simple: he allowed many of the Nazi collaborators to change their uniforms at the last moment, defecting to the winning team, while smearing the Serb royalists as traitors and quislings, thus imposing moral equivalence. The laundering process was completed in the 1990s, by projecting the stigma of Nazism onto the Serbs.

No wonder only Russia still celebrates Victory Day. In the rest of Europe, it's Hitler's ghost that rejoices.

Tuesday, May 08, 2012

The Dragon Wins

Sunday was the feast of St. George, the fabled dragonslayer. It was also the day of general elections in Serbia, offering the people there an opportunity to challenge the record of misrule and abuse of their corrupt, unelected quisling regime.

They failed. The dragon won.

Oh, the New York Times is spinning a tale of angry voters turning to "nationalist and populist leaders once allied with Mr. Milosevic" - but conveniently forgets that one of those parties, the supposedly evil Milosevic Socialists, was part of the government for the past four years with Empire's beloved Democrats! (The phrase "supported by Brussels and Washington" actually appears in the article.) A government, remember, that Brussels and Washington put together against the wishes of Serbian voters.

As for Nikolic and his "Progressives," even the clueless NYT reporter calls him a "former pro-Russian hard-liner" (emphasis added) and notes he "had been an ardent supporter of Russia but now says he supports Serbia’s membership in the European Union." Oh, but unnamed "experts" - harpies on Empire's payroll, naturally - say it's all just a ruse, and imply Nikolic is really a Moscow stooge. If only!

For years, Nikolic managed the Radical Party while its leader, Vojislav Seselj, was on trial on trumped-up charges of "hate speech" before the Hague Inquisition. Election after election, the Radicals would win the largest single bloc of votes, but could never form a government, as the various and sundry "democrats" would combine and recombine to stay in power. Nikolic himself nearly defeated Tadic twice, only to narrowly lose in second-round polls accompanied by enormous pressure from abroad and media hysterics at home. So in 2009, probably having had enough of this, he ditched the party, took many of its elected legislators with him, and established the "Progressives" in a hijacking made possible by Serbia's ill-designed laws. Then he went to Brussels and Washington and swore fealty. That is why I don't consider the Progs true opposition; they aren't a part of the outgoing government, but their aim is to become a part of the pro-Empire establishment.

Now, if the results that were announced yesterday are correct - that is, if the elections haven't been rigged or stolen, which is a very distinct possibility - the Empire can rub its hands with glee. As I explained a couple of weeks ago, Washington and Brussels had a stranglehold on Serbian politics already. The Progs are sworn to them. The Socialists will most likely continue their profitable association with the Democrats, only on better terms. And the Democrats get to keep Serbia on course for total destruction. Whether they do it with the help of "United Regions" - the rebranded banksters - or the Empire-worshipping cult of "Reversal", or both, is entirely irrelevant.

The quisling establishment actually benefited from being split into a multitude of parties. This effectively diluted the anger of the electorate, who thought they were punishing the Democrats by voting for their coalition partners. Yes, it's entirely irrational, but there you have it.

On the other hand, the opposition forgot Franklin's memorable phrase, and ended up being hanged separately. The only opposition party that actually made it into the parliament are the passive, waffling Serbian Democrats, who - predictably - said they were "entirely content" with their results. The Radicals didn't even get enough votes to qualify for a single mandate. Depending on whether they successfully challenge the fraud, Dveri might get a seat or two - far less than what they were aiming for.

Apparently, there was also a great deal of invalid, creatively desecrated ballots - which, as predicted, did nothing to invalidate the election and had the effect of helping the quisling establishment win.

There is abundant anecdotal evidence of fraud, theft, bribes and bought votes. But the plural of anecdote is not data. Unless someone actually manages to produce hard evidence of massive fraud, the election is likely to stand. Moscow didn't send observers. There were no cameras at the polls. The Empire has already declared everything was peachy (they would, wouldn't they?). Rotten as it was, it really seems like a done deal.

So, now it gets worse. Whereas over the past four years Serbians could at least say they had an unelected government that worked against the wishes of the majority, this election just seated a parliament that is overwhelmingly in favor of Serbia being the sex slave of Brussels and Washington, only differing on the degree of S&M involved in the relationship.

"Hell: No need to die, you're already there"
The question now is whether there are any people left who will fight this state of affairs, and in what way. I don't know the answer. But I suspect we'll be finding out very soon.