Monday, May 05, 2008

Censorship And The Yugoslav Civil Wars

By Michael Pravica

(Swans - May 5, 2008) The Kosovo debacle continues to haunt Western governments, especially the U.S., and has already exacerbated a number of conflicts in Turkey, China, Spain, and the Caucasus regions. The illegal recognition of Kosovo's "independence" by mostly Western nations (less than 40 out of 192) has encouraged terrorists that they can successfully alter the borders of sovereign nations via force. Though the Kosovo case is called "special" by many Western foreign policy "experts," in reality, it is the tremendous misreporting and censorship of the Serbian side of the tragic Yugoslav civil wars which condoned and justified mistreatment of Serbians that is unique and has encouraged Western imperialism elsewhere via the "humanitarian" intervention "concept."

Recently, Hague prosecutor Carla Del Ponte wrote a book wherein she detailed a macabre international trafficking ring involving the harvesting of organs from live Serbian prisoners during 1999 organized at the highest levels of Kosovo Albanian leadership and her extreme difficulty in prosecuting these criminals due to Western lack of interest in prosecuting crimes committed against Serbian civilians. The government of Switzerland banned her book. This pattern of censorship of Serbian suffering has been consistent since the Western-catalyzed breakup of Yugoslavia in 1989. Rarely do Western media outlets allow a Serbian voice to be heard except maybe fifth-column "Serbian" voices from extremists who wanted NATO to bomb their own people (e.g., Srdja Popovich). Too frequently, we hear anti-Serbian perspectives from Albanians, Croatians, Bosnian Muslims, Slovenians (many of whom have no connection with or expertise on Serbia), or other ignorant, racist, and biased columnists who know nothing of the Balkans or are virulent Serb- and Russian- haters (e.g., Georgie Ann Geyer, Morton Abramowitz, and Zbigniew Brzezinski). Indeed, many Western columnists such as David Rhode and Samantha Power made their careers, even winning Pulitzer prizes, at the expense of Serbian suffering and the truth alleging "genocide" committed by Serbians but never investigating atrocities committed against Serbians that (e.g., in the case of Srebrenica) formed a strong motive for revenge. When anti-Serbian points of view were published or aired, rarely did the Western media allow a response. If we were lucky, a published letter to the editor of 250 words or less would have to suffice as a response to 800-plus-word articles full of distortions, misrepresentations, and outright lies. And of course, there were numerous times (e.g., The Boston Globe and The New York Times) where dozens if not hundreds of us responded to falsities in numerous articles to see nothing published challenging the "conventional wisdom." In an interview with Voice of America in 1999 (which even misspelled my name), my words were so distorted, clipped, and misrepresented that I will never grant an interview with this organization again. It appears that many of our political and social "elite" need to revisit the concept of debate, which is essential to democracy.

Universities were not immune to censorship of the Serbian point of view as activists and scholars with potentially "pro-Serbian" or alternative points of view were rarely invited to symposia and conferences "debating" the Yugoslav civil wars. When challenging biased anti-Serbian presentations, we were frequently not allowed to ask questions or given a few minutes (for one question) to counter the ignorance of an hour-long presentation. After our challenging Croatian Prof. Ivo Banac at a conference at Wellesley College many years ago, a professor there actually apologized to our group of activists for the fact that no Serbians were invited to present their views except Srdja Popovich, who advocated the bombing of his own people.

As a Serbian-American activist, I could write (and probably will) a book on the countless futile attempts I and my fellow activists had trying to express points of view contrary to the US State Department whether in writing letters, op-eds, calling radio stations and television stations, in Western nations. The goal of preventing the Serbian side of the tragic civil wars was aimed at misrepresenting what were really civil wars in the former Yugoslavia, where no side was completely innocent, as wars of "aggression" where all Serbs were "evil" and their enemies (Croats, Bosnian Muslims, Slovenians, Kosovo Albanians, etc.) were all "angels." By encouraging racism against Serbians and Serbian-Americans, NATO illegal and vicious aggression against the Serbian people was made palatable to many in the West. Just as some US soldiers referred to dead Iraqis as "crispy critters" in the first Gulf War in 1991, and the subsequent atrocities and torture committed by some US soldiers in places such as Abu Ghraib prison and Haditha, mercilessly slaughtering your enemies whether innocent civilians or fighting opponents is made much easier when they are viewed as subhuman. Given that, e.g., Richard Holbrooke referred to all Serbs as "murderous assholes" and Madeleine Albright told a friend of mine (in Serbian) that Serbs are animals, it is evident that racism exists at the highest levels in the US government.

As a deeply patriotic American, I am very concerned that many of my misguided, ignorant, and corporate-controlled leaders are leading my country toward total war and economic ruin. The "humanitarian" intervention in Yugoslavia was a ruse to support NATO's continued senseless existence (in the wake of the Cold War) and illegal occupation of Kosovo to act against Russia and to serve as the strong arm of US foreign policy. It has set a precedent for how to achieve Western foreign policy objectives using the pretence of bringing "democracy" to "enemy" nations such as the formerly peaceful and truly multiethnic former Yugoslavia by encouraging secessionists, ethnically cleansing and slaughtering the "enemy" population (Serbs) from their centuries-old territories, and rewarding "client" separatists/terrorists by aiding in the creation of fascist ethnically and religiously "pure" banana republics such as Croatia and Kosovo that still revere the Nazis to this day. The Western "might versus right" and "preemptive" approach violates international law and is destroying the current world order that was established over the sacrifices made by millions during WWII. The mainstream corporate-controlled Western media has served as a cloak to mask machinations of Western leaders and is the single greatest threat to democracy and world peace today. All citizens of the world must learn the truth of what really transpired in Yugoslavia and stop their leaders from continuing on their disastrous course toward WWIII.

About the Author

Michael Pravica is an assistant professor of physics at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas (tenured effective July 1, 2008). Of Serbian ancestry, Professor Pravica has been active in seeking to present an alternative point of view on the civil wars in the Balkans since 1992. He was formerly the Vice President of the Serbian American Alliance of New England, the Vice President of the Serbian American Alliance of New York, and the Treasurer of the St. Simeon's Serbian Orthodox Church in Las Vegas, Nevada.

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