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Srebrenica Historical Project: Srebrenica Geopolitical Games

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Stephen Karganovic
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As we approach another Srebrenica anniversary this year, on July 11 at the Memorial Center in the east Bosnian community of PotoÄ arithe annual spectacle will again take place. It will be graced by the presence of individuals who claim to be political leaders in the region and the part of the world under the domination of the West. Their speeches, which as a rule are uninspired and barely distinguishable from each other, this year again will be filled with the usual banalities.

Before anything else, Srebrenica should be placed in its proper context. As with most unspontaneous events, operations carried out to achieve a special political effect, Srebrenica also was conceived as a multilayered project. According to Prof. Edward Herman, an American scholar who invested a huge amount of time and effort in Srebrenica, far from being simply an example of Balkan-style mutual mayhem, Srebrenica is "the triumph of propaganda at the end of the twentieth century." An implication of that interesting assessment is that the triumph in question and the event to which it refers would not have occurred but for the involvement of the forces which direct and control the global propaganda apparatus, and whose political agenda that apparatus serves. Those forces are most emphatically not the patsy actors from Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Herman's observation can be supplemented with the sobering confession of Jean-Claude Antonetti, a Hague Yugoslavia Tribunal (ICTY) judge who was on the appellate chamber in the Srebrenica-related Tolimir case: "If relatives of the dead asked me who ordered the killing of their loved one, and why, I would not know what to tell them."

That was not a casual remark the judge Antonetti made in an informal conversation. He stated that in his separate opinion in the appellate judgment in the trial of Bosnian Serb Army General Zdravko Tolimir, after reviewing all the evidence. These words, and his insightful analysis of the entire case, are located on the website of the Hague Tribunal.

This statement is an amazing admission of factual impotence when account is taken that the Hague Tribunal has been in existence for more than two decades, that it has been intensely collecting evidence about Srebrenica for most of that period, and that it has adjudged over a dozen defendants guilty of alleged complicity in Srebrenica crimes, imposing severe sentences, including several life imprisonment terms.

Perhaps it is not yet time for a definitive summation of the Srebrenica affair, but at a twenty-five-year distance from the event in July 1995 at least two fundamental conclusions can be suggested. With the passage of time, the likelihood of their being debunked diminishes steadily.

The first of these conclusions that the official Srebrenica narrative for the most part successfully accomplished its main propaganda task, and that in some measure it will continue to yield significant political benefits for some time yet. But viewed from a long-range perspective, which can be much shorter than sub specie aeternitatis, Srebrenica narrative's impact will be ephemeral. That does not mean that it has lost the potential to keep inflicting notable moral, political, and even material, damage to Serbian interests, or that its utility as an imperialist battle cry, disguising the real motives behind campaigns of pillage and destruction, has diminished. However, cracks have appeared, and they are widening and, as the consequence of critical scholarship , the narrative's foundations are shaken. What I would call the "Srebrenica exhaustion syndrome" has also taken its toll. The ennui is turning into repugnance toward the aggressive and decreasingly persuasive Srebrenica genocide promotional campaign, with its objective to impose on world public opinion threadbare mantras of "8,000 men and boys" and "genocide" of planetary proportions.

The second conclusion which may safely be drawn is that the official Srebrenica narrative has failed to achieve the main strategic objective of the multilayered psychological and intelligence operation the Serbian people as a whole remain unimpressed by its message. While in other areas the campaign to remold the Serbian mind has had its share of successes, the critical mass of Serbs remains impervious to the libelous accusation of "Srebrenica genocide." They steadfastly resist the imputation of guilt for a crime that as research into the background of Srebrenica events demonstrates with increasing clarity the Serbian people and their institutions, by any reasonable standard, have had nothing to do with. One of the principal psychological objectives of the Srebrenica operation was not to get on board Angelina Jolie , but to demoralize the Serbs and break their will. Viewed from that angle, the mission was not accomplished and with the passage of time the accomplishment of this objective is becoming decreasingly probable.

The reasons for the collapse of the official narrative are primarily of an empirical nature. Under critical analysis, it turned out that not a single one of the popular memes concerning Srebrenica is sustainable. During the armed breakout in July 1995 of the Bosnian Army's 28thDivision that was illegally stationed in Srebrenica while the enclave was alleged to be a "demilitarized" civilian safe heaven, there were several times more legitimate combat casualties than executed prisoners. Total losses from all causes, combat, execution, etc. were significantly under the propagandistically sacralized figure of 8,000. (The World Health Organization recorded 34,341 Srebrenica refugees in Tuzla as of July 29, 1995, and the UN reported a higher total of 35,632 refugees on August 4, 1995, as more of them streamed in from various directions. Since on July 11, 1995, when it fell to Serbian forces, Srebrenica enclave had about 40,000 inhabitants, that makes 8,000 executions a mathematical impossibility.) Furthermore, a careful analysis of the forensic evidence collected by experts for the prosecution at the Hague Tribunal, who had exclusive access to mass graves where exhumations were conducted, revealed the presence of a total of 1,920 individuals in mass burial sites for which more or less proper autopsy reports are available. That was far below the projected figure of 8,000. About 70% of the 3,568 available autopsy reports (where one report does not equal one body, hence fewer bodies than reports) show patterns of injury from a variety of other causes, inconsistent with execution.

These are hard facts that must be taken into account and if acknowledged cannot be sidestepped. That is undoubtedly the reason why they are consistently ignored by the partisans of the official narrative.

The strategy for overcoming the insufficiency of traditional forensic evidence to prove 8,000 illegal deaths was by introducing DNA technology. As an attempt to bedazzle the uncouth masses with cutting edge science, that was also a flop. Thomas Parsons, science director at the hermetically closed ICMP laboratory in Tuzla, which does DNA matching for the Tribunal, and whose chairman since its founding in 1997 is always a State Department appointee, under cross examination at the Hague admitted that DNA sample matching cannot determine the time, place, and manner of death . That means that it is useless for the purpose for which the Prosecution of the Hague Tribunal has employed it, which is to smuggle identified missing persons into the evidence as "victims of genocide." It is therefore scarcely a surprise that the Prosecution, with the full support of the chamber, adamantly refused to allow defendants Karad... iÄ" and MladiÄ" a facility that is routine in every non-political criminal trial. That is to make possible independent expert verification of the DNA evidence being used against them. Instead, both the chamber and the prosecution have closed ranks behind the insistence that the results provided by the ICMP laboratory, the scientific branch office of the State Department in Tuzla , be taken at face value.

To this we may add a position which is literally without precedent, at least with regard to a matter which allegedly was transparently and irrefutably adjudicated by one of the most reputable judicial institutions of our time, i.e. that Srebrenica was "genocide." That is the resort to repression. The latest, but probably not the last example of this is the "Srebrenica genocide denial" law being considered by the Canadian parliament. Suppression of public debate and scholarly research about Srebrenica is being accomplished by criminal prohibitions which are often reinforced by the even more perfidious tools of "political correctness." The end result desired by the Srebrenica Lobby is nothing less than to silence everyone who critically questions the dogmatically received narrative about what happened in Srebrenica in July of 1995. That is in itself a spectacular confession that the entire construct rests on a foundation of sand and is highly unstable.

Last but not least, if we put aside the issue of how many prisoners were executed, a detail that, in the moral sense, least perturbs the "international community" and the local Srebrenica Lobby actors, and if we focus on the only politically significant part of the story, the allegation of genocide, that is where the Srebrenica Lobby is in deep trouble. In order to create the illusion that it is applying the only accepted standard of what constitutes genocide, the 1948 UN Convention, the Hague Tribunal has resorted to a trick. It appears as if the Tribunal in its Statute has adopted the language of the Convention and relies on it as the norm. But in fact, the Tribunal does not judge in accordance with the Convention as an integral act, which would include the travaux pre'paratoires, necessary to clarify the lawgiver's intent, but judges entirely in accordance with its own ad hoc Statute. The Hague Tribunal thus reserves for itself the right to improvise and arbitrarily interpret the evidence, in accordance with its own disposition and needs. That was the only way to reach the grotesque legal analysis which in the KrstiÄ" trial, at the end of which the Srebrenica propaganda narrative was loyally confirmed. The KrstiÄ" trial was the matrix for all subsequent corrupt Hague Tribunal Srebrenica proceedings.

In addition to fundamental but systematically falsified or ignored factual issues, that also returns to front and center the complex question of responsibility for what happened in Srebrenica. That means, in the first place, causal responsibility (in the traditional who dunnit? sense) but also the moral, political and other forms of liability for the massacre. That awkward but natural question is universally viewed as a Pandora's box, and all interested parties are keen to keep it forever shut. Because of the involvement of a wide spectrum of institutional factors, interests, and power centers, each with its own agenda and rationale (as in an Agatha Christie thriller), the posing of such an appropriate question cannot even remotely be contemplated. Inspector Poiro is posing it, of course, but his investigation is still in progress.

An encouraging outcome of the two and a half decade long unilateral and feverish quest for evidence of culpability that would finally confirm the preconceived scenario, or at least confer on it an appearance of credibility, is precisely the fact that no subterfuge has resulted in a compelling demonstration of Serbian guilt. (That does not mean that no Serbian hands were involved in the killing. The reference is to institutional responsibility, at any level.) The characteristic signature of false flag operations is the emission of deafening noise to misdirect the observer's attention and the ingenious planting of false leads which go nowhere. Srebrenica fits perfectly into just such a matrix.

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Stephen Karganovic is the president of the Srebrenica Historical Project.  He also writes for Strategic Culture Foundation.

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