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Balkan politics and EU values

by vladimir Tue Dec 11th, 2007 at 06:49:07 AM EST

There are a number of reasons why leaders of the European Union are now supporting a small Muslim community to the detriment of an established Christian, European nation:

  1. It's difficult paddling upstream when your predecessors have gone halfway downstream
  2. If you nevertheless want to go back upstream, you need a motor - and in this case the motor is made in the USA
  3. Last, but not least, Serb values are at odds with the EU's - as you correctly point out - and this is the theme I'd like to develop a bit below.

Post-Modern European Culture (let's call it PMEC) is based on the weakening of the central nation state, devolution of political, economic and cultural power to regions and the strengthening of the trans-national administration based in Brussels. Avoiding future wars, thought to be an ugly byproduct of multicultural competition in a limited geographic space, was to be made possible by reducing and eventually eliminating all aspects of national cultural heritage which could be eliminated. Take a look at Euro money - none of the monuments printed on it are for real - all imaginary. No mention of Christianity - even in the European Constitution. The new God is business. The new temple is the shopping mall and all else is perceived as a threat to stability. According to the new PMEC values, the European citizen is a consumer first and foremost - before being a Muslims, an atheist, a Catholic, a gay, a Frenchman or a Flamand. Anti discrimination is among the main preoccupations of Brussels. These values are supposed to create the foundation for a Universal European Super-state that transcends national and religious boundaries. Europe is built to espouse Muslim Turkey to the South and Orthodox Bulgaria to the East. Europe's values are Universal.

In come the Serbs (damn them!) caught up not only in their 19th century infatuation with the ideals of the nation states but still unable to escape from the Battle of Kosovo against the Ottomans in 1389!!! Defiant and rebellious, they take up arms to fight for their ideal of a nation state, enshrining their cultural heritage above realpolitik. They burn mosques and their Muslim occupiers who threaten their physical existence in order to create culturally homogenous entities and preserve their "primitive" values. 100 years ago, their appeals would have been understood and supported in most of Europe's capitals. Today, it's not surprising that leaders of PMEC saw this as a danger and felt obliged to brand the Serbs as "barbaric" and "behind their time".

But at closer look, Bosnian Muslims, Croats and Albanians are also promoting the ideals of the nation state with a single dominant culture. After all, are these values really so primitive? Look at what's happening with the Basques, with the Flemish and the Wallons, with the Scots, the Welsh, the Frisians.

Europe can and will become irrelevant if it doesn't do more to promote its unique Judeo-Christian heritage, its languages, its national culture, ... And if it succeeds in whitewashing all of us into armies of consumer, it risks demise either by a nationalistic backlash or by today's Muslim minority which is the fastest growing segment of the European population. Most Muslims living in Europe haven't abandoned their cultural and religious values - and this will come to the foreground as soon as their communities are numerically and financially strong enough.

If Europe is to thrive, its value system needs to grow beyond the confines of commerce. It needs to revive and celebrate its cultural heritage.


Display:
There is a big Arab population, some French and some not, and a not that large sub-Saharan African population.

Many of the people in these groups have roots in - or links to - countries which are mostly Muslim, and a number of them are indeed Muslim (but, by far, not all).

I hate the subtle move from "Arab" to "Muslim" to describe these groups, especially in France. It is absurd, for instance, to describe Rachida Dati as a "Muslim" as all English-language newspapers do when writing about her.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Tue Dec 11th, 2007 at 07:00:01 AM EST

The numbers for French "Muslims" are almost identical to those for Christian Americans when asked if they see themselves as Christian first or americans first.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Tue Dec 11th, 2007 at 07:20:31 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Jerome's comments highlight the very great differences between French and other approaches to ethnic integration.  

At the heart of "Anglo-Saxon" (for want of a better term) scepticism about this is a fundamental belief that Islam and western European democracy have incompatible political philosophies.  Whilst still a relatively small minority in France, this sceptical approach argues, Islamic immigrants will "toe the French line" and accept the dominant French value system - much like "Uncle Tom's" did in the old days in the US.  However once they come close to attaining real political power they will revert to a fundamentalist Islamic belief system and seek to overthrow the dominant "French" elite.

All of this is so much theoretical mumbo jumbo Jerome might well say.  But there is a real belief growing (not just in fringe racist circles) in Anglo Saxon countries that they are the victims of a covert Islam conspiracy to take over their societies by deception and stealth (as they evidence from Koranic quotations) and that their liberal institutions will be undermined by Islamic ones.

There is a huge backlash against Islamic communities in Anglo Saxon countries - one which may soon rival the anti-Semitism of old.  France may have found the answer as to how to head this off.  The Anglo Saxons just aren't buying it.


Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Tue Dec 11th, 2007 at 07:42:19 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It could be mumbo-jumbo... but maybe it's not.

The facts seem to be there to support "Anglo-Saxon skepticism". Christian (actually, non Muslim) communities in secular Turkey have been all but wiped out. Egyptian Copts are dwindling. In Iraq, they're almost all gone. In Iran - closing in on zero. On the other hand, the Muslim community in Europe is growing.

It seems reasonable to assume that the value systems between the European and Muslim governed nations are not the same? What you're implying is that the value system driving Muslim governed nations is set by the government for the people. So if you take the people away from their government and put them in sophisticated Europe, you'll no longer have a problem with the different values. The Anglo-Saxon analysis, on the other hand, is that the value system observed in Muslim nations is a result of their society's religious beliefs - ie. individual values that drive national values. So, if you transplant individuals from Mecca to Dollis Hill near London, you're eventually going to have a problem with conflicting value systems.

Finally, remember that wherever significant Muslim minorities cohabitated with another religion, war and separation ensued: India, Pakistan, Indonesia, Philippines, Bosnia, Kosovo, Cyprus.

So why should Europe be an exception?

by vladimir on Tue Dec 11th, 2007 at 08:28:54 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Well in India/Pakistan and Cyprus, the fact that British colonialism played one community against the other, surely contributed to the outcomes? I note Turkey enthusiastically ethnically cleansed Alexandretta of (muslim) Arabs, and has killed (moslem) Kurds in the past 20 years in shocking numbers.  

The Christian exodus out of Iraq was precipitated by the acts of a Very Christian Nation. In the Levant Christian communities are doing well enough, while you forgot to mention Albania where nationality trumps religious differences (and in fact the Albanians are the least religious people in the Balkans it seems). Also, in Turkey the secular Christian communities were less wiped out because of their religion and more because of their ethnicity (in fact the population exchanges of 1923 made sure there were but a few Moslems in Greece and but a few Orthodox Christians in Turkey - sometimes despite the fact that the exchangees didn't know a word of the language of the country they were being sent to).

But, as far as nationalist/religious dumbwittery is concerned, over here in EU Greece we may not have had any wars lately, but Serbs are a model of secular humanism and national moderation compared to a large percentage of my compatriots who (for example), just this month, were polled as opposing acceptance of any name for our northern neighbor that contains the term Macedonia or any derivatives, something like 70-30, and where the Church of Greece is very political and very bloody rich - thus influencing politics, society and policy to an extent, I'd bet, that poor Patriarch Pavle never dreamed of. So "enshrining cultural heritage above realpolitik" is not new and its not foreign to the EU - heck we own the franchise...!

The road of excess leads to the palace of wisdom - William Blake

by talos (mihalis at gmail dot com) on Tue Dec 11th, 2007 at 09:23:15 PM EST
[ Parent ]
There is a difference between Greece and Serbia however. A goodly number of Greeks may have heavy nationalist sympathies, but there are different forms of leadership in place. Sentiment does not rule over action, especially when you consider that Greeks are expert at presenting a double-face to the international community. How does a country that is seemingly anti-American support a government that does everything it can not to fall out favor with Americans? How does a pro-Serb government allow American military weaponry to use Saloniki as a port of entry for a military battle with Serbs?

Are Greeks schizophrenic?

The bit about Turkey and Christians I will have to disagree with since Greeks were not the only ones displaced from Turkey at the time. Armenians, Assyrians and other Christians were also removed, and the statements of the Young Turks between 1915 and 1921 openly targeted Christians rather than referring to them as ethnic groups.

by Upstate NY on Wed Dec 12th, 2007 at 11:41:44 AM EST
[ Parent ]
How well are Christians doing in Albania lately? How well did the Jewish population do in Albania during the second World War?

vdr:

Finally, remember that wherever significant Muslim minorities cohabitated with another religion, war and separation ensued: India, Pakistan, Indonesia, Philippines, Bosnia, Kosovo, Cyprus.

Oh really. How well did Christians do in Africa & South & North America?

Honestly. You're putting a lot of incontrovertible historic events to the wayside to uphold a very wobbly and paranoid idea of Islam evilness. I'm not saying there are no problems with immigrants from Muslim countries, but to pin it all on one over-arching religion, without differentiation, globally oriented historic background, and cultural contexts? Rather unconvincing.

by Nomad on Wed Dec 12th, 2007 at 07:07:27 AM EST
[ Parent ]
See my diary, "Is there such a thing as a European identity" making a somewhat similar argument, at http://www.eurotrib.com/?op=displaystory;sid=2007/12/10/224559/48

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Tue Dec 11th, 2007 at 07:28:49 AM EST
It's the direct opposite. There doesn't really exist an umbrella culture for the EU, national identities are fully intact and even so we're seeing a backlash for stronger cultural identities, part fed by xenophobic tendencies, part fed by alarmist thoughts that the EU would bleach all cultures into one homogeneous entity.

The EU project was, as has been countlessly pointed out here, started as a project to facilitate trading between countries. So it's starting focus was, perhaps, on consumerism, but that has long seized to be its only raison d'etre.

The EU's regional development programme is huge, go see for yourself. It does not shun regional development, it embraces it.

No mention of Christiantity is also a good thing and doesn't imply God = business. You also skimped on the humanitarian rights that were one the treaty's center pieces.

European Tribune - Comments - Balkan politics and EU values

Most Muslims living in Europe haven't abandoned their cultural and religious values - and this will come to the foreground as soon as their communities are numerically and financially strong enough.

How is this a problem?

by Nomad on Tue Dec 11th, 2007 at 07:35:12 AM EST
You're right about the humanitarian chapters of the Treaty.
See reply to Frank - above.
by vladimir on Tue Dec 11th, 2007 at 08:30:07 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Europe can and will become irrelevant if it doesn't do more to promote its unique Judeo-Christian heritage, its languages, its national culture, ... And if it succeeds in whitewashing all of us into armies of consumer, it risks demise either by a nationalistic backlash or by today's Muslim minority which is the fastest growing segment of the European population. Most Muslims living in Europe haven't abandoned their cultural and religious values - and this will come to the foreground as soon as their communities are numerically and financially strong enough.

As the responses to Frank Scnittger's diary show, most of us here believe that we identify european values as stemming more from enlightenment values of questioning than the Judeo-Christian certainties which preceeded them.

Beware of associating muslims with a homogenous culture of arabism that is alleged to be opposed to democracy. It just ain't so. Also the concept of muslims outbreeding and swamping us is associated with right-wing militarist fantasists such as Mark Steyn in the US and is exemplified by Johann Hari's scary essay Ship of Fools

Steyn's thesis in his new book, America Alone, is simple: The "European races" i.e., white people - "are too self-absorbed to breed," but the Muslims are multiplying quickly. The inevitable result will be " large-scale evacuation operations circa 2015" as Europe is ceded to al Qaeda and "Greater France remorselessly evolve[s] into Greater Bosnia."

He offers a light smearing of dubious demographic figures - he needs to turn 20 million European Muslims into more than 150 million in nine years, which is a lot of humping.

Plus, I am curious at your rather blase acceptance that it is a legitimate national aspiration to acquire a culturally homogenous country by the process of burning a few mosques. Kinda glosses over the other stuff that goes with mosque burning. We know that the serbians did more than kill a few muslims as a part of their mosque burning programme and it is frankly worrying when you allow the suggestion that such things are all part of the necessary knockabout of nation creation in what the rest of us hope is a civilised europe for the 21st century.

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Tue Dec 11th, 2007 at 12:46:31 PM EST
Helen,

My tone as well as my human judgment was critical of Serb Mosque burning in Bosnia in the above blog. I am also critical of the Srebrenica massacres, even though I dispute the facts as presented by the Western press.

But I am especially critical of the fact that you seem to be focusing entirely on Serb "wrong-doing" in the Balkans and systematically oversee, omit or otherwise disregard the context in which events unfolded in ex-Yugoslavia in the early 1990's. You seem to know nothing of Muslim atrocities committed against Serbian civilians in Bosnia, nor do you know anything of the Croat Nazi insignia that is embroidered on Croatia's flag that flies in front of the UN today - under which over 600 000 Serbs were exterminated just over 70 years ago. That's tantamount to a New United Germany placing a swastika on its flag - and being surprised to hear the Jews complain. I won't go into Croat politics prior to the outbreak of hostilities, but will instead focus on Bosnia and the Muslim Jihadist adventure that Alija Izetbegovic was preparing at the time.

Alija Izetbegovic was always known as a Muslim extremist. In 1970, he authored and published a book entitled "Declaration" in which he explicitly states his political objective of creating a fundamentalist Muslim pro-Turkish and pan Islamist Bosnia and Herzegovina. He believed that (quote from book) "There is no peace, no coexistence between Islam and non Islamic social and political institutions [...] The Islamic movement can and must take power as soon as it is numerically strong enough in order to not only destroy non Islamic power but also to represent The New Islamic Power". In 1983 he was convicted and sent to jail for propagating violent Muslim fundamentalism in then Yugoslavia.  After serving his term, he organized a tour of the Middle East raising funds for his "enterprise". Funds, arms and many Mujahedeen he did receive. Encouragement from the likes of Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the United States (brothers in arms) he also received. In 1993, Izetbegovic was awarded a high Muslim distinction: the Islamic Prize of Jihad delivered personally to him by King Faisal in Riyadh.

Estimates of the number of burned Serbian Orthodox churches and monasteries ranges from 200 to 400 (depends on which source you take) with another 350 to 400 damaged. Now that's a lot of cultural heritage sites. Of the 125 000 or so victims, 40 000 were Serb. And last, but not least, you need to know that Serbs make up the largest refugee population in the Balkans: 500 000 from Bosnia during the war, 250 000 from Croatia and another 150 000 from Kosovo. That's close to 1 000 000 Serb refugees.

Now, given this context, can you understand the motives behind the Bosnian Serb nation building effort? I'm not asking you to condone them - just understand.

by vladimir on Tue Dec 11th, 2007 at 04:18:02 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Actually I am very aware of the nazi influence on croatian culture. Their use by the germans during WWII is well documented. I always thought it was an admirable aspect of Tito's rule that he managed to paper over the resentments and create a nation. and yes, we know the influence persists.

I am also aware that atrocities were committed on both sides during the recent conflict. But it's kinda like the Irish problem we had here. It become tiresome to listen to people trying to claim a monopoly of victimisation by citing ever more obscure actions in history to justify who is at absolute fault.

The reason why people like myself seem to criticise the serbians more than others in the conflict is not because the serbians are especially guilty, but because the serbians appear to be in denial about what was done by their armies and militias. Other groups have accepted that their people have done such atrocites that cast shadows over their endeavours. Of course that is does not lead to forgiveness but you can move forward from such a position. We can't do that with serbia yet.

I understand, it's all human nature, grubby as it is. But some have this Bart simpson thing going on; it never happened, it wasn't us, you didn't see it, you can't prove it was us.

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Tue Dec 11th, 2007 at 05:34:33 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The reason why people like myself seem to criticise the serbians more than others in the conflict is not because the serbians are especially guilty, but because the serbians appear to be in denial about what was done by their armies and militias. Other groups have accepted that their people have done such atrocites that cast shadows over their endeavours.

Other groups are in denial as well (Kosovo Albanians), but they are being rewarded. The supposedly high moral ground simply supports a cynical politicking. As all too often.
by Sargon on Wed Dec 12th, 2007 at 06:01:56 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I was genuinely unaware the Kosovan albanians were in denial about the atrocities they committed. After all, the kosovan serbians are deserting the region in anticipation of independence because they remember what happened, yet what little I have seen suggests that the KAs want no repeat of that period.

My view is that if EU/NATO support this independence movement and intend to militarily guarantee it, then KSs should not just be protected but compensated generously. If they wish to leave then they should have equivalent land and shelter bought for them on our dollar in serbvian territory. Peaceful transition in a hot zone is expensive and this sounds a lot cheaper than any war to me. not that it will happen as I'd wish, we are short-sighted like that, but it should if we are to claim any high ground. the serbians have genuine fears and peacekeeping ain't good enough.

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Wed Dec 12th, 2007 at 06:33:38 AM EST
[ Parent ]
You suggestion (on compensation) kind of reminds me of debates here and elsewhere on (potential) Pareto efficiency. The (counter)argument goes like this: yes, it might be true the losers from a particular policy could be compensated and there would still be something left for the winners, but the compensation is never going to happen/never has happened. As I see it, a definite anti-free-trade slant of ET is directly linked to this argument.

Now, it is very funny to find someone seriously proposing a compensation scheme in a case where potential losses are much larger than even a long unemployment spell for a Barby maker whose job has moved to China. Do you really believe anyone would think about compensating the losers, especially the losers who fought under "Hitler of our times" and thus deserve everything they've got?

I don't really understand your argument in the first paragraph. Majority of ethnic cleansing has been accomplished already, and Mitrovica could be lazily dealt with once the international community declares victory and leaves. Of course serious politicians would not contemplate war-like events now - they are simply not needed.

by Sargon on Wed Dec 12th, 2007 at 07:16:58 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I think there is a bit of a difference between a worker who loses a job as a result of a policy when others are available and somebody who is fleeing in fear of their lives as a result of an international policy.

However, we are getting into the realms of strange hypotheticals where we end up with what the meaning of "is" is.

My position in this situation was clearly stated.

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Wed Dec 12th, 2007 at 07:24:30 AM EST
[ Parent ]
BBC Radio 4's flagship current affairs programme, Today, had an interview with Gen Sir Mike Jackson (infamous for refusing Wesley Clark's order to use force on Russian troops at Pristina airport). He also seems to have heard that Kosovo's bordered were expanded at Serbia's expense in 1960's to include the Mitrovica and more importantly the Trepca mining complex.

Audio here: http://www.yugofile.co.uk/mp3s/20071211_today_kosmet_boundary.mp3
Transcript follows:
BBC (Sarah Montague): One of the things you have suggested is possibly changing the boundaries... General Sir Michael Jackson: Well, I put that forward for what it's worth. I'm sure Mr Ahtisaari will have looked at it, but it does seem to me that northern Kosovo, north of the river Ibar, Mitrovica, the town of Mitrovica, that area is almost entirely Serb. My understanding is that that area - which is relatively small - was, is not part of historic Kosovo. It was "moved" from Serbia to Kosovo by an administrative order of Tito sometime, I think, in the mid sixties.

by vladimir on Wed Dec 12th, 2007 at 09:00:12 AM EST
[ Parent ]
There you go again with your Serb bashing. I'd like to point out that throughout our exchanges over the past couple of days I have only heard criticism of Serbs. Once of Croats (above) and never of Bosnian Muslims. It's either the result of personal bias or, more likely, of the constant media barrage you have been enduring for the past 20 years now, about the Evil Serbs.

The Turks are in denial about their role in the Armenian genocide (not to mention the Greek genocide), yet that doesn't stop your country's government from having a cozy relationship with Ankara, nor from promoting their entry into the EU at every available forum. Could that be an example of double standards?

Out of the "war criminals" indicted by Del Ponte's Kangaroo Court (financed in large part by the US and Saudi Arabia) the overwhelming majority are Serbian who were delivered to The Hague by the Serb government. Also, a number of top government officials in both Serbia and Republika Srpska publicly apologized to the Croats and the Muslims for atrocities committed by Serb forces. In my books, that's about as contrary to denial as a national government can go.

But to people like you, that's not enough. It's never enough. There's always a "yes but the Serbs..." You know when it'll be enough? When Serbia kneels, kisses Empire's boot and give up its sovereignty to NATO.

Besides, I don't recall the Bosnian Muslims, Croats or NATO (heaven forbid) ever apologizing to the Serbs for their atrocities against civilians. Did the English ever apologize to the Irish? To the Indians? To the Boers? To the Germans for wiping out Cologne's unarmed women and children? And who's going to apologize to the Iraqis for their 800 000 dead? Or will your government deny and say it was all an American adventure (as is often hinted on the BBC)? What about the dead Afghan civilians? Where does that leave the UK in terms of European values?

So many questions :-)

by vladimir on Wed Dec 12th, 2007 at 06:30:08 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The Turks are in denial about their role in the Armenian genocide (not to mention the Greek genocide), yet that doesn't stop your country's government from having a cozy relationship with Ankara, nor from promoting their entry into the EU at every available forum. Could that be an example of double standards?

Yes, they are in denial, which is pathetic cos it was under another government (the Ottomans) entirely and long before the Attaturk rule which changed Turkish society completely. Equally, anybody who was involved is dead and their children are dead as well. There is nobody who carries guilt to apologise to anybody who was directly affected.

However, the reason why it's a problem that Turkey can't bring themselves to admit their crime is because it causes them to commit injustice today. Not because of what was done long ago.

The recent indulgences of politicians in apolgising for atrocities committed by ancestors to people who barely remember except for history books annoys me in the extreme, so your litany of crimes of the British Empire doesn't really bother me. I'm far more interested in protesting the crimes of today (such as Iraq) or those where the living are still suffering from the injustice (Diego Garcia, Kenya etc). Apologising for 250 years ago is pointless and cheap, apologising for 25 years ago, let alone 250 days seems a lot more difficult.

So we go back to the mess of the Balkans. Everybody in the Balkans seems to have committed some sort of atrocity on somebody else in the last 20 years, and those who suffered seem to have exacted gruesome reprisal at some stage. I thought the serbians alone were in denial, Sargon assures me that is not so. I apologise.

So two wrongs make a right ? Not really. Can confession make things right ? No, of course not. But if two sides in a conflict refuse to accept responsibility for the suffering they caused others then we end up where we are; with the (probably) unnecessary partition of a country and further future suffering as the now minority KSs are, if not forcibly displaced, then likely to flee certain future penal discrimination.

That cannot be a good thing. I don't knock the serbs cos I want them in the EU or NATO (despite my diary I don't actually care that much), nor do I suspect do our elites have the imperial ambitions you ascribe to them. No, I do it because I trhink peace would be good and in a situation such as the serbs and the other states find themselves, a little humility and a lot less nationalist chauvanism just to get on with the neighbours would be better than the alternative.

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Wed Dec 12th, 2007 at 06:57:04 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Regarding the Turks, I forgot to mention the Kurds...
But judging by your last post, looks like we're starting to agree - how pleasant.
by vladimir on Wed Dec 12th, 2007 at 07:21:40 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Serb bashing? Helen starts off with her acknowledgemets about the nazi influences and anti-semitism under Tudjman, who also was targeted by the ICTY, but as Milosovic, escaped justice by dying.

You also haven't touched my recent question. Where are your modern numbers that the Srebrenica mass graves total some 1500 bodies?

I find your accusations that the ICTY would be a "kangaroo court", your consistent harping on the crimes that others did rather tiresome and unnecessary. Throughout my readings on the Yugoslavian War I've hacked my way through the press images that were dominating my memories on the war. I think I'm aware enough to know that there were no angels on any side and everyone is to blame. Can you stop now with your litany how bad others were?

You are Serbian are you not? If you defy modern numbers, if you consistently point out how bad others are, you will get the argument of Serbian war crimes back, over and over again. Don't make it so hard on yourself.

And why the endless list of historic apologies? Why did you leave out Mesić apology? Or the nationalistic backlash when Tadić apologised? You're starting to become an example of Westerman's conclusion.

European Tribune - Bridge Across the Tara: A Review

Yet: because he's become entangled in the web of his own history, he's become powerless to look ahead neutrally. That's his tragedy. The Balkan-man marches with his back first into the future.
by Nomad on Wed Dec 12th, 2007 at 07:30:15 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I'm actually French. I live in Paris and work in the field of banking technology. I have a very international background - which explains my interest in foreign affairs. Lived in the US for 8 years, Belgium for 2 years (working for DG1), Zambia 4 years, Zimbabwe 2 years, South Africa 1 year and Yugoslavia 5 years. Rest was in France.

And you're British? Or are you American? I've met smart Americans and dumb Americans. Which one are you? What does it prove if I'm Serb??

I invite you to do a search on BBC - which, surprisingly, has not stooped so low as to lie about dead bodies. You will see that the BBC is very cautious when it gives body counts.

Latest BBC story on Srebrenica:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/6560961.stm
Quote: "Serbs killed thousands of Muslim men and boys" - no more mention of 14K, 8K, 7K, ... 2K?

Here's another one on BBC:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/4350840.stm
Quote: "Thousands of bodies have been recovered from mass graves around Srebrenica over the past few years".
Do you really think that the BBC would have omitted printing the figure 8K if there had been 8K bodies? or 7K? 6K? 5K? 4K? So how many K does that make?

Then there's the fantastic Sunday Times piece I mentioned (Nov. 3, 1996 by Jon Swain)

I could keep searching... but then so can you. Apart from different sources on the Internet, I wasn't in Srebrenica, I didn't sleep with Mladic and I didn't count the dead bodies. So my numbers could be wrong. Where's your truth from?

Why is my harping tiresome and unnecessary? We've had constant deafening harping about Serb crimes on all Western media for 20 years now. Is that unnecessary? Is it tiresome? To you, probably not.

How on earth do you imagine discussing political developments in Kosovo, Bosnia and the Balkans without discussing relations, wars and suffering among Moslems, Christians, Serbs, Croats and Albanians over the past 20 years? World War 2 was an obsession in France and French politics for 20 years after 1945 - that's one of the reasons why the Communists had such enormous political and popular clout at the time. What do you suggest - that everyone just accept the standard propaganda without questioning, without offering the other side's story?

by vladimir on Wed Dec 12th, 2007 at 08:35:33 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Gendercide Watch: The Srebrenica Massacre
Extensive forensic investigations of the Srebrenica massacre sites has so far turned up some 3,000 bodies. Only a few have been successfully identified. They are held at a combined memorial and mortuary in Tuzla

The red cross lists 7,079 missing from Srebrenica, although  they acknowledge that that number could be an underestimate as they only take reports of missing people from family members. if an entire family has been killed they do not include them

Srebrenicas missing form 38% of the entire number missing from the entire war. and I know people who were there and did have the job of digging up mass graves and recovering the remains. The idea that we're part of a western anti-Serb campaign is frankly insulting, If you look back over past postings here you'll see that we have been as forcefull in condemning and calling for the prosecution of people involved in the Iraq campaigns.

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.

by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Wed Dec 12th, 2007 at 09:09:57 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I'm not suggesting that you are part of an anti-Serb campaign. I am suggesting that there IS a Western anti-Serb campaign.
I do not condone in any manner way or form the massacres in Bosnia, Croatia or Kosovo. I do condemn the continuous over mediatization of atrocities perpetrated by one of the 4 sides.
And in particular, I condemn the fact that "Serb atrocities" are being used 10-15 years down the line, to justify the illegal redrawing of national borders which will end up shrinking the Serbian state to Belgrade and its suburbs.
Of the 3 000 corpses, how many were Serb? Regarding the Red Cross, I've read a number of (disputable) reports which question their neutrality. In particular, they were accused, by the Serbs, of ferrying soldiers and arms to and from Bosnian Muslim controlled areas. The International Red Cross is known to have run the Rat Lines after World War II which organized the evacuation of Croatian Nazis to the Vatican and out to the Americas for later use against the Soviets during the cold war. (see Rat Lines by Mark Aarons and John Loftus - 1991).
But even if it was 8 000 dead... there were 900 000 refugees in Serbia. Conclusion: war is terrible.
by vladimir on Wed Dec 12th, 2007 at 09:57:03 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Regarding the Red Cross, I've read a number of (disputable) reports which question their neutrality. In particular, they were accused, by the Serbs, of ferrying soldiers and arms to and from Bosnian Muslim controlled areas.

This reeks of bovine excrement. The 'they're ferrying soldiers/terrorists/partisans around in ambulances' is standard propaganda fare. Every time some overly nervous/shell-shocked/trigger-happy gunner somewhere massacres a medevac team we get the same old sh/t about kalashnikovs in the ambulance. Sorry, but I don't buy that anymore.

Regarding the claimed excessive hounding of the Serbian government and/or people over the Balkan war atrocities, I got pretty much the same line from a Croatian I talked with at a conference last year. Except, of course, that in his version of history the Croatians were the ones that were being unjustly maligned, while the international community was coddling and appeasing Serbia. The two recurring themes were that yes, the Croatian generals had committed war crimes, but they had done so defending their country - an argument that was not hard to dismiss - and "the US is committing war crimes too. Is the US ever going to hand one of its generals over to the Hague?" (which I must admit was somewhat harder to come up with a good answer for on the fly).

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Wed Dec 12th, 2007 at 03:58:27 PM EST
[ Parent ]
going to ignore your borderline ad hominems for now. If you need to know about my nationality, you can look at my profile here at ET or my diaries posted at this forum.

You're still not giving modern numbers. An -absence- of the 8K number is not exactly a verification for your quoted 1500 bodies from an article, which I will repeat, is from 1996.

Your harping and groundless accusations is tiresome because you're dealing with an audience that's more than willing to consider your viewpoint, but not one that beats the same horse over and over again. That gets old real quick. Most, if not all, of the commenters have already expressed their awareness that Serb atrocities did not form the whole pie of the war. Five posts later, we don't need to read it again. And again.

I can't speak for the years prior to Srebrenica, but I'd say we've had Serbian atrocities in the Western limelight for some 10+ years because Serbian forces committed the largest and best known mass-killing on European soil since WWII, no matter how the number game plays out. Doesn't really make Serbs the most popular guy on the field, I'm afraid, and kinda overshadows the other bite-size clips the press machine churns out. It takes slightly more in-depth reading to find out that it wasn't all that black and white.

Again, you've that audience here. Rubbing people's faces in your alternative view at every opportune moment, doesn't really set conditions to sway minds.

by Nomad on Wed Dec 12th, 2007 at 10:06:15 AM EST
[ Parent ]
You asked for the sources. Here they are. Please don't accuse me of harking.

Jan Willem Honig and Norbert Both - from their book entitled: Srebrenica: Record of a War Crime:

Quote: Oric and his cronies were also responsible for much of the trouble with the Serbs, which stemmed from Muslim raids on Serb communities just outside the enclave. Also, Oric's men had the disconcerting habit of taking up positions close to the Dutch and then opening fire on the Serbs, hoping to entice them and the Dutch into a firefight. (pp. 132-133.)

Two other journalists, Laura Silber and Allan Little, who will never be accused of being sympathetic to the Serbs, note in their book Yugoslavia: Death of a Nation, that

Quote: on January 7, 1993 (the Orthodox Christmas), Oric's forces launched a surprise attack on Serb positions to the north, killing Serb civilians and burning their villages.(pp. 265-266). Serb sources claim Oric massacred as many as 2,500 Serbs on this occasion.

In his report issued on 30 May 1995, the UN Secretary-General had this to say about the Bosnian Government's provocations from the safe areas:

Quote: In recent months, (Bosnian) government forces have considerably increased their military activity in and around most safe areas, and many of them, including Sarajevo, Tuzla and Bihac, have been incorporated into the broader military campaigns of the government side. The headquarters and logistic installations of the Fifth Corps of the government army are located in the town of Bihac and those of the Second Corps in the town of Tuzla. The Government also maintains a substantial number of troops in Srebrenica (in this case, a violation of a demilitarization agreement).

Srebrenica: Manipulating a Tragedy. Project Director: Ed Herman. Chief Participants and Contributors: Ed Herman, Jonathan Rooper, George Bogdanich, Michael Mandel, George Szamuely, Tim Fenton, Philip Hammond. With Foreword by Phillip Corwin

Quote : There can be no equivocation about that. At the same time, the facts presented in this report make a very cogent argument that the figure of 7,000 killed, which is often bandied about in the international community, is an unsupportable exaggeration. The true figure may be closer to 700.

BBC reporter Jonathan Rooper
Quote: the number killed in Srebrenica was most likely in the hundreds, not in the thousands.

On July 14, 2005 edition of Canada's The Globe and Mail, under "The Real Story Behind Srebrenica", General Lewis MacKenzie stated:

Quote: Evidence given at The Hague war crimes tribunal casts serious doubt on the figure of "up to" 8,000 Bosnian Muslims massacred. That figure includes "up to" 5,000 who have been classified as missing. More than 2,000 bodies have been recovered in and around Srebrenica, and they include victims of the three years of intense fighting in the area. The math just doesn't support the scale of 8,000 killed.... It's a distasteful point, but it has to be said that, if you're committing genocide, you don't let the women go since they are key to perpetuating the very group you are trying to eliminate. Many of the men and boys were executed and burried in mass graves.

by vladimir on Wed Dec 12th, 2007 at 11:06:03 AM EST
[ Parent ]
You give us the Srebrenica report.

8,106 with the official report here.
>7,800 by Bosnian Serb acknowledgement.
7,079 from the ICRC with still 5,500 missing in 2005. Numbers which probably mean nothing to the likes of Jonathan Rooper.

I weary of this.

by Nomad on Wed Dec 12th, 2007 at 12:40:50 PM EST
[ Parent ]
And George Bush said that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction. That was official too.
by vladimir on Wed Dec 12th, 2007 at 02:09:08 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Those +5,000 people never existed too. QED.
by Nomad on Wed Dec 12th, 2007 at 02:29:45 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I apologize for my borderline comment. It was a reaction the remark you made regarding my nationality which I understood as being prejudiced.
by vladimir on Sat Dec 15th, 2007 at 06:10:17 AM EST
[ Parent ]
So the best counter to consumerism and perceived Islamic barbarism (some of which is real, some of which is a mirage) is to encourage (Judeo-)Christian [1] barbarism? That does not strike me as an exceptionally wise move. To use a polite turn of phrase.

- Jake

[1] The term 'Judeo-Christian' is in itself an interesting construct, but I'll defer a discussion of the etymology and political use of that term to someone more knowledgeable about the subject than I (and possibly another diary where it would be less of a threadjack).

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Tue Dec 11th, 2007 at 02:43:14 PM EST
There's a lot of phony history in the construction of Muslims as religious radicals.

I would point you to Sarajevo before 1990, Beirut in the 1960s, Tehran and Baghdad in the 1960s.

Many cities with heavy Islamic traditions were liberal and cosmopolitan centers. What changed?

Once again I fear religion is being used to divide people for the economic benefit of elites. It would be interesting to see how religion cuts across the class war, by dividing potentially potent lower classes.

I do recognize that there are indeed radicalizing forces, chief among them the Saudis who spend a great deal of money pushing their limited view of the world. But their theories seem to take root wherever resentment already exists.

by Upstate NY on Tue Dec 11th, 2007 at 08:47:54 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I would point you to Sarajevo before 1990, Beirut in the 1960s, Tehran and Baghdad in the 1960s.

Indeed. And you could probably add Cairo to your list, at least during some periods of the 20th century.

But there's also a lot of phony history in the view of Islam as clean as the driven snow. On balance, I think you'll find it hard to argue that Islam is better or worse than Christianity. Which, OTOH, is not exactly a recommendation...

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Wed Dec 12th, 2007 at 04:07:32 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I'm having a hard time understanding the proposal that there is something inherently better about the Christian heritage--given its long history of conquest, war, genocide, slavery, etc.--in comparison to Islam. Neither is a paragon of toleration.

I thought the whole point of the Enlightenment was to try to move away from government based on superstition, tradition, and prejudice. Perhaps three hundred years has not been enough to finish up the argument about Spinozism?

by asdf on Tue Dec 11th, 2007 at 11:22:06 PM EST
The proposal here is not that Christianity is inherently better or worse than Islam. It is that they are fundamentally different in their value systems and social dogmas, which often makes cohabitation difficult - as is factually attested in numerous geographic locations where the two communities live side by side.

Indeed, that was the whole point of Enlightenment, which does not mean that its values are accepted by all (or most for that matter) Christians, atheists, Hells Angels or Muslims - whether they live in Europe or Mecca.

It's good to have vision and philosophy, but it's also necessary to be down to earth and practical. This is about the real interactions between people on Dollis Hill and the East End, between Les Mureaux and the 16th Arrondissement in Paris...

Are we talking about the same thing?

by vladimir on Thu Dec 13th, 2007 at 04:22:33 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I'm not sure where you're coming from here. Christianity and Islam have roughly the same value system: Patriarchy, authoritarianism, traditionalism, (varying degrees of) hierarchialism and a pronounced martyr complex.

Of course, those values are sufficiently misanthropic all by themselves to ensure plenty of conflict anyway.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Thu Dec 13th, 2007 at 06:03:29 PM EST
[ Parent ]
To suggest that the Christian faith is misanthropic is completely off the mark. The message of the New Testament is one of love, tolerance and forgiveness, NOT hate and destruction. The very objective of the "wise men" of the time who put the philosophy together, was to bring man out his emotional, instinctive past into a new age of harmony with his neighbor. The fact that The New Testament has so often been used by man to mobilize, inspire or lead other man into intrinsically criminal enterprise is a true regret - for man. But that doesn't change the philosophy behind the New Testament.

The differences between Christianity and Islam are numerous, starting with the religious, textual  philosophy to it's modern day application.

On a textual level, the major difference between the New Testament and the Surats is precisely  the tolerance which in one is apparently called for while being outright rejected in the other. The Koran openly calls for the elimination of the infidels. The New Testament doesn't. Other differences are also apparent, namely in terms of the role of religion in society, the role of woman in society and the relationship between men and women in a family.

In terms of modern day application, the most blatant difference is that Moslems overwhelmingly favor incorporating their interpretation of Islamic Law into the political apparatus of government. Christians do not, partly because the faithful represent a minority in today's Europe and partly because ... we've been there, done it & moved on. The fact remains that there is a clear separation between the church and the state.

by vladimir on Fri Dec 14th, 2007 at 02:46:46 AM EST
[ Parent ]


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