By Diana Johnston
Diana Johnstone is the author of ‘Fools’ Crusade: Yugoslavia, NATO and Western Delusions’. She spoke to NLP on the wars in the former Yugoslavia, western involvement and the trial of Slobodan Milosevic.
First of all, I think these accusations are designed primarily to distract public attention from the main focus of my writing on Yugoslavia, and in particular my book, Fools’ Crusade: Yugoslavia, NATO and Western Delusions. That focus is political. As the title indicates, my book is not about Srebrenica. It is about the historical and political background, and the deception and self-deception involved in media coverage and Western policy-making that led to the illegal NATO war of aggression in 1999. The only reason I wrote about Srebrenica at all is that I could not very well avoid the subject, but I stated from the start I was not writing about what happened at Srebrenica (on which I claim no special knowledge) but about the political uses of it. I am not a war correspondent but a political analyst. The trouble is that some people do not welcome political analysis of the Balkan conflicts, and use Srebrenica to ban it. If mothers are weeping, how can anyone engage in such a heartless exercise as political analysis? Judging complex events solely on the basis of images and emotions, which are often deceptive, is infantile. But we are living in a period of infantile regression.
As for Srebrenica, certainly any execution of prisoners is a war crime and deserves punishment, even if the figure of 8,000 is certainly exaggerated, since it includes men who died in ambush while trying to escape, or even men who actually did escape. But whatever the number of victims, a single massacre of military-age men while sparing women and children cannot in my opinion be correctly described as "genocide" – unless the term "genocide" is redefined to fit the single case of Srebrenica. And this is precisely what was done by the International Criminal Tribunal on former Yugoslavia (ICTY) in The Hague. In order to convict General Radislav Krstic (who was not even present at the scene) of complicity in "genocide", the ICTY judges ruled in August 2001 that killing a large number of Muslim men from Srebrenica was "genocide" because of the "patriarchal" nature of their society. Women and children survivors were too insignificant in such a patriarchal society to matter! This preposterous verdict simply confirmed the obvious fact that ICTY is working for those who set it up, choose its judges and pay its expenses: that is, essentially, NATO. It is there to justify the NATO interpretation of the conflicts in former Yugoslavia, by putting the entire burden of blame on the Serbs. Unless an Orwellian future bans free historical inquiry, I am confident that my critical appraisal of ICTY will be justified by history.