Questions about "Slobo"

Louis Proyect lnp3 at
Thu Feb 14 09:38:01 MST 2002

>I could be mistaken, but I believe some here HAVE
>denied that there were "massacres," and have said that
>anyone believing such stories have been duped by the
>forces of imperialism.
>Michael D. 

If they did, they were wrong. Greg Elich, who has written frequently on
Yugoslavia from roughly my perspective, says that the war in Bosnia was
characterized by cruelty on all sides. Basil Davidson's "Black Man's
Burden" has an interesting take on this. Although the book focuses on
internecine strife in places like Nigeria or the Congo, he says that
Yugoslavia's descent into tribal violence was similar. Ultimately you can
only sustain a multinational state when there is an adequate standard of
living. For example, the Walloons and the Flemish don't go around killing
each other in Belgium.

The western liberal and social democratic intelligentsia have totally
bought into the demonization of the Serbs. Except for people like Elich,
the late Sean Gervasi, Diana Johnstone and Michael Parenti, you get the
picture of a marauding bunch of Serb thugs who seek nothing in life except
to oppress other nationalities. On January 30 Milosevic quite correctly
pointed out that some 350,000 Serbs were expelled from Kosovo under UN
auspices. Where is the outcry from people like Christopher Hitchens, Tariq
Ali or even Noam Chomsky over this? These types of leftists raise bloody
hell over each and every Serb crime, guilty or not, but the silence is
deafening when it comes to brutality against the Serbs. Look at the
Serbophobe press, like Green Left Australia or Red Pepper in Great Britain,
and you almost never hear a complaint about pogroms directed against
Gypsies or Serbs in Kosovo.

Diana Johnstone:
The current campaign to demonize the Serbs began in July 1991 with a
virulent barrage of articles in the German media, led by the influential
conservative newspaper, the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ). In almost
daily columns, FAZ editor Johann Georg Reismüller justified the freshly,
and illegally, declared "independence" of Slovenia and Croatia by
describing "the Yugo-Serbs" as essentially Oriental "militarist Bolsheviks"
who have "no place in the European Community." Nineteen months after German
reunification, and for the first time since Hitler’s defeat in 1945, German
media resounded with condemnation of an entire ethnic group reminiscent of
the pre-war propaganda against the Jews.

This German propaganda binge was the signal that times had changed
seriously. Only a few years earlier, a seemingly broad German peace
movement had stressed the need to put an end to "enemy stereotypes"
(Feindbilder). Yet the sudden ferocious emergence of the enemy stereotype
of "the Serbs" did not shock liberal or left Germans, who were soon
repeating it themselves. It might seem that the German peace movement had
completed its historic mission once its contribution to altering the image
of Germany had led Gorbachev to endorse reunification. The least one can
say is that the previous efforts at reconciliation with peoples who
suffered from Nazi invasion stopped short when it came to the Serbs.

In the Bundestag, German Green leader Joschka Fischer pressed for disavowal
of "pacifism" in order to "combat Auschwitz," thereby equating Serbs with
Nazis. In a heady mood of self-righteous indignation, German politicians
across the board joined in using Germany’s past guilt as a reason, not for
restraint, as had been the logic up until reunification, but on the
contrary, for "bearing their share of the military burden." In the name of
human rights, the Federal Republic of Germany abolished its ban on military
operations outside the NATO defensive area. Germany could once again be a
"normal" military power–thanks to the "Serb threat."

The near unanimity was all the more surprising in that the "enemy
stereotype" of the Serb had been dredged up from the most belligerent
German nationalism of the past. "Serbien muss sterbien" (a play on the word
sterben, to die), meaning "Serbia must die" was a famous popular war cry of
World War I. Serbs had been singled out for slaughter during the Nazi
occupation of Yugoslavia. One would have thought that the younger
generation of Germans, seemingly so sensitive to the victims of Germany’s
aggressive past, would have at least urged caution. Very few did.


Louis Proyect
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