Counting Bodies in Bosnia and Herzegovina

It turns out that, not just once, but at least twice over the past three months, in late December and then again in early March, the U.S. Department of State’s Review of European Security Issues has recognized that the “official death toll” from the wars in Bosnia and Herzegovina, ca. 1992 – 1995, is dramatically lower than had been almost universally accepted as recently as last fall: On the order of 100,000 people on all sides in the wars there, civilian, military, and paramilitaries included.

Notice, in particular, the rather frank admission in the second paragraph of the December 30 blurb: "As recently as November, U.S. officials marking the 10th anniversary of the end of the war said the death toll ranged between 200,000 and 300,000 – a range that has been widely cited by government officials and media accounts for a decade."

Indeed.  When the death of Slobodan Milosevic was announced in the early morning hours of March 11, the former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, and a chief architect of both the American policy with respect to the Dayton Accords of late 1995 and the American-led NATO-bloc aggression over the Serbian province of Kosovo in the spirng of 1999, Richard Holbrooke, began making the media rounds. (Including an op-ed in the March 14 Financial Times wherein Holbrooke wrote that Milosevic "started four wars (all of which he lost), causing 300,000 deaths….")

Whereupon Holbrooke continued to mouth the 300,000 figure—without anybody to challenge him. 

Thus, on Saturday, March 11, the U.S.-based Cable News Network (CNN) conducted an interview with Holbrooke, which CNN has since excerpted and re-run multiple times.  Particularly during the first weekend of Milosevic’s death, March 11-12. 

As CNN’s Betty Nguyen set the stage ("CNN Saturday Morning News," 11:00 AM EST, Transcript # 031105CN.V28):

NGUYEN: We wanted you to take us back. You helped create this Dayton Accord, which essentially ended the Balkan war.

Take us back to that time. You spent a lot of time there.

What was going on at the time and how did you create this? How did you help stop the violence, stop the killing, because over a qtr of a million people died in that?

HOLBROOKE: Well, Milosevic started four wars. He lost them all. The biggest of them all was the one in Bosnia, where over 300,000 people died, two-and-a-half million homeless. And we bombed him in August and September of 1995. We should have done this much earlier.

In a nutshell, here is the history of the American involvement in the dismemberment of Yugoslavia.  Lie about the nature and scope of the conflicts.  Stoke up mass hysteria about events on the ground—including sexed-up claims about Greater Serb Aggression; a sexed-up "joint criminal enterprise" involving ethnic Serbs and only ethnic Serbs; and a sexed-up genocide.  Stall.  And stall.  And stall some more.  Blocking every effort by other negotiators to bring an end to the fighting.  And in the end, bomb—then move in and take over behind the kind of multilateral facades that only a neocolonial regime has at its command.    


The 1992-1995 war in Bosnia-Herzegovina (BiH) was Europe’s deadliest conflict since World War II, but newly released official statistics show that fewer people died than were previously reported. The BiH Research and Documentation Center has identified 94,000 people — civilians and soldiers – who lost their lives in the war, the Defense Department’s Southeast European Times reported December 19.

The researchers presented their findings at a conference in Banja Luka, Bosnia, on December 16. Mirsad Tokac[a], the chief of the research center, specified that the figure refers to the number of victims whose identity is known, while the actual death toll probably exceeds 100,000. As recently as November, U.S. officials marking the 10th anniversary of the end of the war said the death toll ranged between 200,000 and 300,000 – a range that has been widely cited by government officials and media accounts for a decade. In 2005, the population of Bosnia was 4 million. (See related article.)

—- “Review of European Security Issues — A Look Ahead For 2006,” December 30, 2005
Thirteen years after it was first filed, Bosnia-Herzegovina’s case against Serbia-Montenegro for violation of the 1948 Genocide Convention will be heard publicly by the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in the Hague — the principal court of the United Nations for disputes between States — the U.N. News Service reported February 27. Public hearings began the day of the announcement. 

Numerous individuals already have been charged with crimes against humanity by the separate International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) in connection with violence committed during the breakup of Yugoslavia in the 1990s. A formal study by the government of Bosnia and Herzegovina concluded  in 2005 that 100,000 people were killed in the country’s 1992-1995 war for independence. Many were singled out based on their ethnicity.

The government of Bosnia-Herzegovina first filed its case in March 1993 against the state then known as the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, according to a press statement released by the ICJ. (See statement on the ICJ Web site.)

In July 1996 the court determined that it had jurisdiction to adjudicate on the dispute on the basis of Article IX, on State responsibility, of the Genocide Convention.

To be held at the ICJ’s seat in Hague, the hearings on the merits of the case are expected to last until May 9. 

For background on U.S. policy in the region, see Southeast Europe.

—- "Review of European Security Issues," March 3, 2006

Nice racket.  Don’t you think? 

War-related Deaths in the 1992–1995 Armed Conflicts in Bosnia and Herzegovina: A Critique of Previous Estimates and Recent Results,” Ewa Tabeau and Jakub Bijak, European Journal of Population, Volume 21, June, 2005, pp. 187-215
Population Losses in Bosnia and Herzegovina 92-95 Project, Research and Documentation Center, Sarajevo 

"The Bosnian Genocide Promoters," ZNet, February 15, 2006 
"Counting Bodies in Bosnia and Herzegovina," ZNet, March 25, 2006






Leave a comment