In September, The New York Times ran a piece on Europe’s failure to arrest the Serbian general Ratko Mladic, “Europe’s most wanted war-crimes suspect.” For sheer vicious anti-Serb prejudice, the key words in the story say it all: “mass murder,” “massacre of 8,000 Muslims,” “wartime horrors,” “killing of 3,500 children, men and boys who were led to killing fields,” “war crimes,” “genocide,” “massacre.”
American governments have spread so many lies about Serbia that it’s little wonder the truth is not even a thought, much less devoutly to be wished for. Serbia never had its say and it was the truth that was raped, not Croatian or Muslim women.
When the scales first fell from my eyes, I thought it was all about the failure to present the Serbian side during the carnage accompanying Yugoslavia’s breakup. I wondered why the Croat and Muslim side was the only one presented, ultimately becoming the basis of U.S. government policy. If the Croat side was “right,” why was the Serb side “wrong?” But there appeared to be no Serb side at all – no Serbian say – not even one to inveigh against. Then, after the wars, I thought it was all about fabrication, falsity and fraudulence in the oddly glossy presentation of the newly formed Serbian government of “pro-west democratic reformer” Prime Minister Zoran Djindjic. Now it’s years later and I’ve learned a lot.
Some of the truths:
The most ethnically cleansed country in the world is Croatia, which was falsely portrayed as the luckless victim of the inhuman Serbs. The fact is that Croatia got rid of almost all the Serbs who lived in Croatia – over 700,000 of them. On the Serbian “Trail of Tears” that few in the United States know about, hundreds of thousands of Serbs were expelled from Croatia. The “Trail of Tears” was not only planned and carried out with the approval of the Clinton administration, but a retired American army officer coordinated it.
The Serbs allegedly raped forty thousand Muslim women. This was a barefaced lie. “Where,” someone asked, “are the children from these heinous acts? I would like to adopt some.” Good question. No answer.
Zoran Djindjic, the assassinated Serbian prime minister with the Mafia connection, was a criminal who succeeded another criminal, Slobodan Milosevic. But Djindjic, in addition to being a more polished and cultured criminal than Milosevic, was 100 percent in cahoots with Washington, as Milosevic was not, and was thus given the green light to do anything he wanted. Washington conferred on him the distinguished label of “pro-western reformer,” which has the same cachet in Washington nowadays as “anti-communist” had in the days of the Cold War. The current Serb president is likewise referred to approvingly by the West as pro-Western.
Prime Minister Djindjic “sold” Slobodan Milosevic to The Hague Court for $5 million American dollars. Right under then-President Vojislav Kostunica’s outraged nose.
When Djindjic, the willing accomplice of the West, became Serbian prime minister in January 2001, he insisted that there was no Mafia in Serbia. But one day, shortly after Kostunica became president, Djindjic called Kostunica into his office. “I want you to meet someone special.” Djindjic said. The “someone special” was a notorious Mafia drug dealer who had given Djindjic the go ahead to organize elections and overthrow Milosevic.
Why was it that none of this “got out” to the public? I recently learned that the Serbian community in the United States had indeed tried to hire a public relations firm to get out their story. But none was willing to accept them as clients. Finally, Powell Tate, a Washington public relations firm, agreed to represent the Serbian group and took $50,000 down on a $250,000 yearly retainer fee. But the next week, Powell Tate returned the money and said it could not represent the Serbs. By all accounts, the Serbian group was up against the powerful firm of Ruder Finn, which was putting a murderous anti-Serb spin on the story on behalf of their Croatian, Bosnian and Muslim clients. The public relations juggernaut that laid the propaganda foundation for the bombing and killing in Serbia portrayed the complex Yugoslavian situation in scandalously simple terms of good guys and bad guys. The use of highly charged words straight out of World War II, like “genocide”, “ethnic cleansing”, “mass murder” and “concentration camps”, deliberately evoked images of Nazi Germany and the gas chambers of the death camps. The public relations campaign consciously attempted to make people come to the wrong conclusion. Of course that’s what public relations firms often do. But it isn’t what governments are supposed to do. If people do not notice the dishonesty, subtle use of highly charged buzzwords, lack of verifiable evidence, misleading images, and wild allegations that can’t be disproved, it is probably a good public relations campaign. But the devices that make for a good public relations campaign convert to vices when governments practice them. The policy of the United States government towards Serbia is knowingly based on the fictions and misrepresentations of the Ruder Finn public relations company. That’s why Serbia – and now Iraq and Afghanistan – is, for America, the story of fraying moral values at the highest government levels.