Herman : "Genocide", Milosevic and Nato

"Milosevic was not indicted along with Mladic and Karadzic in 1995 for the
ethnic cleansing in Bosnia in prior years, so the belated attempt in The
Hague in 2002 to make him responsible for those killings suggests that UN
war crimes tribunal chief prosecutor, Carla Del Ponte did this because she
saw that the killings in Kosovo fell far short of anything she could pass
off as "genocide." "

"There is now substantial literature that makes a strong case that the
Tribunal is not only a crudely political arm of NATO, but that it is a
"rogue court." As a political arm, it regularly cleared the ground for NATO
military actions and since that victory the Tribunal has worked hard to
prove that the NATO war was just. "

Stacy Sullivan on Milosevic and Genocide

By Edward S. Herman | May 28, 2004

Liberals and much of the left have been badly bamboozled on recent Yugoslav
history and the role of the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former
Yugoslavia, with former Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic having been
hyper-demonized and the history of the Balkans rewritten to fit what Lenard
Cohen calls the "paradise lost/loathsome leaders" paradigm. But numerous
serious scholars have rejected this history and regard the U.S. and other
NATO powers as heavily responsible for the disasters since 1990. Lord David
Owen's Balkan Odyssey, and his testimony before the Tribunal, make it very
clear that Milosevic was eager for a settlement of the Bosnian wars well
before the Dayton agreement in 1995, and that he regularly had major
conflicts of interest with the Bosnian Serbs. It is clear from O! wens, as
well as from other experts that the U.S. government played a key role in
the failure of the 1991 Vance plan, the 1992 Cutileiro plan, and the
1993-94 Vance-Owen and Owen Stoltenberg plans, as the Clinton
administration armed the Bosnian Muslims, and later the KLA in Kosovo,
while encouraging them both to hope (and work) for U.S.-NATO military
intervention on their behalf.

Milosevic was not indicted along with Mladic and Karadzic in 1995 for the
ethnic cleansing in Bosnia in prior years, so the belated attempt in The
Hague in 2002 to make him responsible for those killings suggests that UN
war crimes tribunal chief prosecutor, Carla Del Ponte did this because she
saw that the killings in Kosovo fell far short of anything she could pass
off as "genocide." Even establishment spokespersons like retired U.S. Air
Force General Charles Boyd and UN official Cedric Thornberry have stressed
that the Bosnian killings in the years 1991-1995 were by no means confined
to those by Bosnian Serbs: the Croatians and Bosnian Muslims, the latter
supplemented by thousands of imported mujahideen, slaughtered many
thousands of their ethnic enemies in the area. But the Tribunal, organized,
funded, and essentially controlled by the U.S. and Britain, was only
interested in pursuing NATO targets, and t! hese were almost exclusively

There is now substantial literature that makes a strong case that the
Tribunal is not only a crudely political arm of NATO, but that it is a
"rogue court." As a political arm, it regularly cleared the ground for NATO
military actions and since that victory the Tribunal has worked hard to
prove that the NATO war was just.

The Milosevic trial is the main vehicle for proving NATO's virtue, though
it has been a major flop in proving its case and maintaining an image of
fairness and justice. The latter problem was nicely illustrated in the
Tribunal's recent privileged treatment of the U.S. government and Wesley
Clark. Thus, the U.S. government was given the right to demand a closed
session of the court and to redact testimony; Clark was allowed to
communicate with outsiders and obtain and insert into the record a truth
testimonial from Bill Clinton, in straightforward violation of Judge May's
trial rules. Readers of the New York Times (or In These Times and The
Nation) will also never know that with William Walker on the stand, Judge
May's deference to the "Ambassador" was laughable: during direct
examination by the prosecutors there was not one interruption, while during
Milosevic's cross-examination he interrupted 70 times, and wouldn't allow
him to ask Walker, the man who grieved so over deaths at Racak, about his
earlier crude apologetics for the killing of the six Jesuit leaders and
others in El Salvador.

A recent example of the kind of analysis that repeats the canards common to
the liberal "conventional wisdom" is FPIF's commentary by Stacy Sullivan,
of the Institute for War and Peace Reporting (IWPR), on "Milosevic and
Genocide: Has the Prosecution Made Its Case?"
IWPR is funded by the State Department, USAID, the National Endowment for
Democracy, the Open Society Institute, and half a dozen other Western
governments, and it has long served as a de facto propaganda arm of NATO.
Sullivan is most noted for her New Republic classic of hardline pro-war and
vengeance propaganda, "Milosevic's Willing Executioners" (May 9, 1999).
Sullivan's FPIF article is in the same mode, taking it as a given that the
Tribunal is an apolitical instrument of justice and that we have an honest
and not a show trial.

An Annotated Response to Sullivan

Her first sentence says that the prosecutors announced right off that they
would "prove" Milosevic guilty of genocide. She fails to mention that the
Bosnia charges were added belatedly, that Milosevic had not been charged
with them at the time of the actual killings, and that while Del Ponte said
she would "prove" this guilt she admittedly didn't yet have the evidence.
Indict, publicly and flamboyantly charge, and then look for the evidence,
has long been the Tribunal's modus operandi.

Sullivan's second sentence mentions that there were "300 witnesses," "some
high level insiders who have turned on their former master," "thousands of
pages of documents," etc. We are supposed to be impressed with this sheer
volume of smoke that must show a genocidal fire. She doesn't mention that
Canadian law professor Michael Mandel gave Del Ponte "thousands of pages"
of documents in April 1999 showing NATO war crimes, which of course Del
Ponte ignored, and that thousands of pages have been published and
innumerable witnesses could have been supplied as witnesses for the many
thousands of Serb victims in Bosnia. It is extremely easy to find
victimized people in civil wars who will testify to maltreatment if given
the opportunity and even paid for their trouble, and some and perhaps most
will even be telling the painful truth. But only a propagandist will
mention the 300 witnesses as if this alone is a serio! us consideration in
proving "genocide."

As regards the "high level insiders," in fact the prosecution came up with
few that were high level and fewer still who were cooperative. One of their
prime witnesses, Ratomir Tanic, appears to have been a conman, who was so
"inside" that he couldn't even describe the location of the president's
office. Genuine insiders like former Yugoslav president Zoran Lilic and
member of the Yugoslav presidency Borislav Jovic confirmed Milosevic on
almost all key points. Rade Markovic, the former head of Yugoslav security,
who had everything to gain from denouncing his old boss, also defended
Milosevic on all key points while renouncing a statement he claimed had
been extracted from him by threats and torture during a 17 month stint in
prison. Sullivan predictably doesn't mention that many "insiders" and
others were bribed and threatened with heavy sentences unless they
acquiesced to plea-bargains.

Sullivan claims that many legal experts are doubtful about a successful
genocide charge because the Tribunal "has set the bar for doing so
extremely high." They might have to prove that Milosevic "orchestrated the
breakup of Yugoslavia with the specific intent to destroy Bosnian Muslims
as a people...[with] unequivocal evidence of genocidal intent...calling for
the liquidation of all of the Bosnian Muslims..." The idea that Milosevic
wanted the breakup of Yugoslavia is ideology run wild and contradicts the
usual formula that he attacked Slovenia and Croatia in an attempt to
prevent their exit from Yugoslavia (for a summary of an alternative view of
the Balkan wars, see Edward S. Herman, "Diana Johnstone on the Balkan
as well as a recen! t piece by George Szamuely for FPIF, "The Yugoslavian

As there was a lot of back-and-forth ethnic cleansing and killing in
Bosnia, and the celebrated Srebrenica killings were comprised entirely of
military-aged men, many killed in fighting, and after the Bosnian Serbs had
admittedly separated out the women and children and moved them to safe
refuge, intent and plan (as well as the still elusive Milosevic control of
the Bosnian Serb forces) would seem rather essential to proving that
Milosevic was guilty of genocide in any sense. Besides, Del Ponte said she
was definitely going to "prove" genocide. What concept did she have in mind?

What constitutes genocide?

Sullivan doesn't have a clue on the level of Tribunal "bars" for charges of
genocide. These have proved to be wonderfully flexible, and her claim of a
too-high bar has no basis in any Tribunal actions but is rather a form of
pressure to get the bar low enough to assure the show trial's proper
result. In Bosnian Serb General Krstic's case, the Tribunal found Krstic
guilty of genocide by making it virtually the same thing as ethnic
cleansing, and extending the concept to killing only armed men in a single
small town!

Assuming that this was a valid case of genocide, Sullivan alleges that an
"acquittal would have serious consequences for attempts to prosecute
genocide in the future." If it isn't a valid case of genocide it wouldn't
interfere with future efforts at all. However, if it is a corrupt case
brought by an alliance that actually carried out the "supreme crime" of
aggression in violation of the UN Charter in attacking Yugoslavia, using
the Tribunal first as a war-facilitating instrument and then as a means of
justifying the aggression, losing the case would be a plus for the
international rule of law. This is not likely to happen, given the fact
that the Tribunal is an arm of the NATO powers, although the case made by
the prosecution has been so weak that it is not inconceivable that
Milosevic might only be found guilty of "crimes against humanity."

Great Powers and Genocide

What might really interfere with efforts to pursue genocide would be if the
United States or another major power engaged in genocide or gave it
support, as there are no mechanisms to prevent or punish acts such as these
in the New World Order, and major powers are essentially exempt. Thus, the
"sanctions of mass destruction" imposed by the U.S. and Britain on Iraq
from 1991-2002 killed four or five times as many civilians as died from all
causes in the Balkans wars of the 1990s, and as Thomas Nagy and Joy Gordon
have shown, these deaths were brought about deliberately; and Suharto's and
his successors' operations in Indonesia and East Timor were big-time
genocidal, but under Western, and notably U.S. and British, protection. The
problem of this exemption does not occur to Sullivan.

Sullivan argues that "by far the most serious consequences of an acquittal
on genocide charges...would be for Bosnia's victims," ignoring the Croat
and Serbian victims, of which there were many thousands. (The largest
single ethnic cleansing during the Balkan wars was of Serbs driven out of
the Krajina in August 1995, by the Croats, with U.S. assistance; the
largest proportionate ethnic cleansing in those wars was of Serbs and other
minorities, including Roma, driven out of Kosovo by the KLA under NATO
auspices after June 1999.) But even in her own narrow terms of reference,
how concerned are Bosnian victims over this issue? How does Sullivan know
about the victims' feelings? A poll taken in Bosnia several years ago
indicated that no more than six percent of Bosnian Muslims, Serbs, or
Croats considered the bringing of war criminals to justice as important
(Charles Boyd, "Making Bosnia Work," Foreign Affairs, January ! 1998).

Furthermore, why would Bosnian victims need a successful "genocide" charge
and not be satisfied with guilt for "crimes against humanity?" However, if
the function of the trial is to prove the NATO war just, we must have
"genocide." Best, however, to pretend that it is concern over the victims
rather than NATO-establishment priorities that make the charge of genocide
so important.

Editor: John Gershman, Interhemispheric Resource Center (IRC)

(Ed Herman is an economist and media analyst. He has a regular "Fog Watch"
column in Z magazine. With Philip Hammond, he co-edited Degraded
Capability: the Media and the Kosovo Crisis (Pluto: 2000).)

Additional References

Thomas Nagy, "The Secret Behind the Sanctions: How the U.S. Intentionally
Destroyed Iraq's Water Supply," The Progressive, (September 2001)

Joy Gordon, "Economic Sanctions as Weapons of Mass Destruction," Harpers,
(November 2002)

Contact the IRC's webmaster with inquiries regarding the functionality of
this website.
Published by Foreign Policy In Focus (FPIF), a joint project of the
Interhemispheric Resource Center (IRC, online at www.irc-online.org) and
the Institute for Policy Studies (IPS, online at www.ips-dc.org). ©2004.
All rights reserved.

Recommended citation:
Edward S. Herman, "Stacy Sullivan on Milosevic and Genocide," (Silver City,
NM & Washington, DC: Foreign Policy In Focus, May 28, 2004).

Web location:

See also : Vanessa Stojilkovic & Michel Collon, The Damned of Kosovo, film,
78', 2002.
Available in PAL-Europe at michel.collon at skynet.be
Available in NTSC (USA, Canada...) at zoranstar at yahoo.com

See also : Michel Collon, Liars' Poker, New York, 2002
and Monopoly, Nato conquerring the world, New York, june 2004
available at : Milo Yelesiyevich