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The Death of Slobodan Milosevic


 

   Today, Saturday 11 March 2006, Slobodan Milosevic was found lifeless on his bed in his cell at the United Nations Detention Unit in Scheveningen.
   The guard immediately alerted the Detention Unit Officer in command and the Medical Officer. The latter confirmed that Slobodan Milosevic was dead.

I would have posted more….But….Right now, the nature of what's available from the English-language news sources to which we all have ready access in this Internet age is so predictably biased and, indeed, systematically distorted (e.g., Reuters quotes the French Foreign Minister Philippe Douste-Blazy to the effect that "Milosevic conceived and planned" everything), I'm afraid to touch it, without also putting on a pair of gloves before doing so.  Or a toxic waste disposal suit. 
Just to give you one example of what I mean: Milosevic's corpse can't be more than a few hours cold, and the American Senator, leading light of the Democratic Party, and ranking Minority Member of the Senate International Relations Committee, Joseph R. Biden of Delaware, already has taken to the American airwaves to recapitulate the statement he issued way back on June 28, 2001—the day when certain Belgrade officials shipped Milosevic to the same Scheveningen Detention Unit where he just died.
Said Biden then: "We are witnessing one of the most significant events in postwar European history, where a nation has voluntarily turned over to an international tribunal for trial one of the most dangerous and maniacal European leaders since Hitler."  Now.  Tack on the French Foreign Minister's line about Milosevic having "conceived and planned" everything, and we have a pretty good foretaste of tomorrow's headlines.
Over the next several days, be on the lookout for statesmen and commentators and above all professional victims whose point of view will be indistinguishable from that of the Office of the Prosecutor at the Tribunal where Milosevic just died.  Modern Hitler + Conceived and Planned Everything are the order of the day.  The purpose of such historical engineering and revisionism-before-the-fact—indeed, the most egregious reaches as far back as 1990-1991 and earlier—it's always best to stake-out one's claim to the record as early as possible—is, and always has been, to use the West's institutional machinery to impose an account of the breakup of Yugoslavia that hews to these revealed Truths. 
As Michael P. Scharf, an American professor of international law and, as Michael Mandel tell us in his invaluable book, How America Gets Away With Murder (Pluto Press, 2004, p. 117ff), a "self-described 'insider' who was actively involved in the formulation of US war crimes policy, and who had a big hand in drafting the law governing the tribunal," wrote in the months following the U.S.-led war over Kosovo in 1999 ("Indicted For War Crimes, Then What?" Washington Post, Oct. 3, 1999):
From the beginning, the Security Council's motives in creating the tribunal were questionable. During the negotiations to establish the court–talks in which I participated on behalf of the U.S. government–it became clear that several of the Security Council's permanent members considered the tribunal a potential impediment to a negotiated peace settlement. Russia, in particular, worked behind the scenes to try to ensure that the tribunal would be no more than a Potemkin court.

The United States's motives were also less than pure. America's chief Balkans negotiator at the time, Richard Holbrooke, has acknowledged that the tribunal was widely perceived within the government as little more than a public relations device and as a potentially useful policy tool. The thinking in Washington was that even if only low-level perpetrators in the Balkans were tried, the tribunal's existence and its indictments would deflect criticism that the major powers did not do enough to halt the bloodshed there. Indictments also would serve to isolate offending leaders diplomatically, strengthen the hand of their domestic rivals and fortify the international political will to employ economic sanctions or use force. Indeed, while the United States and Britain initially thought an indictment of Milosevic might interfere with the prospects of peace, it later became a useful tool in their efforts to demonize the Serbian leader and maintain public support for NATO's bombing campaign against Serbia, which was still underway when the indictment was handed down.

Five years later, at the time Milosevic was scheduled (finally) to begin his defense, the master cynic returned to this theme ("Making A Spectacle of Himself," Michael P. Scharf, Washington Post, Aug. 29, 2004): 
In creating the Yugoslavia tribunal statute, the U.N. Security Council set three objectives: first, to educate the Serbian people, who were long misled by Milosevic's propaganda, about the acts of aggression, war crimes and crimes against humanity committed by his regime; second, to facilitate national reconciliation by pinning prime responsibility on Milosevic and other top leaders and disclosing the ways in which the Milosevic regime had induced ordinary Serbs to commit atrocities; and third, to promote political catharsis while enabling Serbia's newly elected leaders to distance themselves from the repressive policies of the past. [Trial Judge Richard] May's decision to allow Milosevic to represent himself has seriously undercut these aims.         
Confronted with material such as this, I'm afraid that we can but repeat the same response only so many times before turning blue in the face.  Either one reads a Michael Scharf and instinctively recoils from the shameless commitment to Big Lying.  Or one doesn't.  For every person who has recoiled over the past 15 years, a thousand have applauded.
With Milosevic's death, we lose the opportunity that his trial provided us to hijack the institutional machinery of the Tribunal in the faint hope of countering the historical-engineers and party-liners and cynics-without-peer who populate World-NATO like so many busy little bees.   
Decision on Assigned Counsel Request for Provisional Release (IT-02-54-T),  Judge Patrick Robinson, Presiding, ICTY, February 23, 2006 
"Slobodan Milosevic Found Dead in His Cell at the Detention Unit" (CC/MOW/1050ef), Press Release, ICTY, March 11, 2006
"Statement by the ICTY Prosecutor" (FH/OTP/1051e), Press Release, ICTY, March 11, 2006 
"Statement of the President of the Tribunal," Judge Fausto Pocar, ICTY, March 12, 2006
"Press Conference by the ICTY Prosecutor," Carla del Ponte, ICTY, March 12, 2006
"Preliminary Autopsy Results of Slobodan Milosevic" (AM/MOW/1052e), ICTY, March 12, 2006  
Provisional Findings Concerning the Death of S. Milosevic, H.J. Moraal, as released by the Public Prosecutor's Office, Paleis van Justitie, The Hague, February 17, 2006 ["so far, no traces of rifampicine were found."]
"Update from the President [Judge Fausto Pocar] on the Death of Slobodan Milosevic" (FP/MOW/1056), Press Release, ICTY, March 17, 2006

"Milosevic dies in jail: UN Tribunal," Nicola Leske, Reuters, March 11, 2006 


Political Cohesion in a Fragile Mosaic: The Yugoslav Experience, Lenard Cohen and Paul Warwick (Westview Press, 1983)
"Nesting Orientalisms: The Case of the Former Yugoslavia," Milica Bakic-Hayden, Slavic Review, Winter, 1995 (as posted to ZNet) 
Broken Bonds: Yugoslavia's Disintegration and Balkan Politics in Transition, Lenard J. Cohen (Westview Press, 2nd. Ed., 1995)
Balkan Tragedy: Chaos and Dissolution After the Cold War, Susan L. Woodward (Brookings Institution Press, 1995)
Socialist Unemployment: The Political Economy of Yugoslavia, 1945-1990, Susan L. Woodward (Princeton University Press, 1995)
Imagining the Balkans, Maria Todorova (Oxford University Press, 1997)
Inventing Ruritania: The Imperialism of the Imagination, Vesna Goldsworthy (Yale University Press, 1998)
The War in Bosnia – Herzegovina: Ethnic Conflict and International Intervention, Steven L. Burg and Paul S. Shoup (M.E. Sharpe, 1999)    
The New Military Humanism: Lessons from Kosovo, Noam Chomsky (Common Courage Press, 1999)
Blueprints for a House Divided: The Constitutional Logic of the Yugoslav Conflicts, Robert M. Hayden (University of Michigan Press, 1999)
Masters of the Universe: NATO's Balkan Crusade, Tariq Ali, Ed. (Verso, 2000)
Memorandum Submitted by Professor Ian Brownlie, Select Committee on Foreign Affairs, British House of Commons, May, 2000 
Supplementary Memorandum Submitted by Professor Ian Brownlie, Select Committee on Foreign Affairs, British House of Commons, May, 2000 
Bosnia: Faking Democracy After Dayton, David Chandler (Pluto Press, 2nd. Ed., 2000)
A New Generation Draws the Line: Kosovo, East Timor and the Standards of the West, Noam Chomsky (Verso, 2000)
To Kill A Nation: The Attack on Yugoslavia, Michael Parenti (Verso, 2001)
Fools’ Crusade: Yugoslavia, NATO, and Western Delusions, Diana Johnstone (Monthly Review Press, 2003)
Intelligence and the War in Bosnia 1992 – 1995, Cees Wiebes (Transaction Books, 2003) [Also see below]
How America Gets Away With Murder: Illegal Wars, Collateral Damage and Crimes Against Humanity, Michael Mandel (Pluto Press, 2004) 
The New York Times on the Yugoslavia Tribunal: A Study in Total Propaganda Service, Edward S. Herman and David Peterson, ColdType, 2004
Media Cleansing: Dirty Reporting—Journalism and Tragedy in Yugoslavia, Peter Brock (Graphics Management Books, 2005)
"The ICTY Calls It 'Genocide'," Michael Mandel, Srebrenica Research Group, 2005
The 'Butcher of the Balkans'?  The Crime of 'Joint Criminal Enterprise' and the Miloševi? Indictments at the International Criminal Tribunal at The Hague (Expert Witness Report prepared at the request of Slobodan Miloševi? and his legal team), David Chandler, University of Westminster, U.K., 2006
"Milosevic's Death in the Propaganda System," Edward S. Herman and David Peterson, ElectricPolitics.com, May 14, 2006

Intelligence and the War in Bosnia 1992 – 1995, Cees Wiebes (Transaction Books, 2003)

1. Document Information
2. The United Nations and Intelligence
3. The Western intelligence community and the war in Bosnia
4. Dutch intelligence and security services and the war in Bosnia
5. Secret arms supplies and other covert actions
- Sect. 3. Secret arms supplies to the ABiH: the Black Flights to Tuzla
- Sect. 5. The deployment of mercenaries, advisers and volunteers (includes a subsection titled "The Mujahedin in Bosnia")
6. The Signals Intelligence war of the Western intelligence services in and around Bosnia
7. The Signals Intelligence War of the Warring Factions
8. Imagery Intelligence in Bosnia
9. Was ‘Srebrenica’ an intelligence failure?
- Sect. 1. Introduction
- Sect. 2. An intelligence failure?
- Sect. 3. Strategic prior knowledge
- Sect. 4. The attack on Srebrenica
- Sect. 5. The intelligence situation of UNPROFOR
- Sect. 6. Did The Hague have prior knowledge?
- Sect. 7. The foreign intelligence services
- Sect. 8. Conclusions
10. Survey of archival records 

"A Premature Death," George Kenney, ElectricPolitics.com, March 11, 2006
"The Real Story: How Milosevic was more evil than you ever knew," Jan Oberg, Transnational Foundation for Peace and Future Research, March 12-13, 2006
"Slobodan Milosevic, 1941-2006: A Cursed, Blasted Statesman," Gilles d'Aymery, Swans, March 13, 2006
"War Crimes: Goose and Gander," Marjorie Cohn, Truthout, March 13, 2006
"Pages from the Liberals' War," Alexander Cockburn, CounterPunch, March 14, 2006
"Criminal Proceedings," John Laughland, The Guardian, March 14, 2006
"Invictus: Slobodan Milosevic, 1941 – 2006," Nebojsa Malic, AntiWar.com, March 15, 2006

"Scapegoat, R.I.P.," James Bissett, National Post, March 15, 2006
"A coffee, a smoke and a chat with Milosevic," John Laughland, The Spectator, March 18, 2006
"Disappearing Genocide: The Media and the Death of Slobodan Milosevic," David Edwards, Media Lens, March 20, 2006 (as posted to ZNet)
"Former NY Times Reporter: '93 Pulitzer Should Be Revoked," Sherrie Gossett, CNSNews.com, March 22, 2006

"The War Lovers," John Pilger, New Statesman, March 27, 2006 (as posted to the Information Clearing House)
"The Demonization and Death of Slobodan Milosevic," Louis Proyect, Swans, March 27, 2006
Open Letter To Democracy Now! Milosevic's Trial and Death,” Dimitri Oram, Swans, May 22, 2006

"The Trial of Slobodan Milosevic VI," ZNet, February 11, 2006
"The Death of Slobodan Milosevic," ZNet, March 11, 2006 

 

 

 

 


Postscript (March 12): The cadre-forming efforts by the backers of the Balkan Investigative Reporting Network and the Institute for War and Peace Reporting continue to reap valuable dividends.  Look whom The Observer (London) just selected to impose a doctrinally correct narrative upon the death of Slobodan Milosevic: BIRN's Nerma Jelacic! 

"Even in death, Milosevic wins again," Nerma Jelacic, The Observer, March 12, 2006 

(No deviationists, revisionists, or Srebrenica-genocide-deniers need apply.  Sorry.)
 

Postscript (March 14, 2006): After somewhere on the order of 49 months-worth of trial chamber arguments and testimony, 340 witnesses (though no less than 298 of these were witnesses for the prosecution), and 49,191 pages of transcripts (though the defense's case didn't begin until page 32,157), here is where Presiding Judge Patrick Robinson left matters in Case No. IT-02-54 earlier this morning before the grandiloquently named International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (see Transcript, March 14, 2006):

 

Page 49191
1 Tuesday, 14 March 2006
2 [Open session]
3 — Upon commencing at 9.03 a.m.
4 JUDGE ROBINSON: The Chamber has been advised of the death of the
5 accused, Slobodan Milosevic. We express our regret at his passing. We
6 also regret that his untimely death has deprived not only him but indeed
7 all interested parties of a judgement upon the allegations in the
8 indictment. His death terminates these proceedings.
9 We express our thanks to all those who participated in these long
10 and difficult proceedings over the past four years and who contributed to
11 the Chamber's consideration of the many issues that arose during the
12 trial. In this regard, I mention the Prosecutor and her team, counsel
13 assigned to the accused, the amici curiae, the legal associates of
14 Mr. Milosevic, the pro se liaison officers, the Registry officials, the
15 Victims and Witnesses Section, the interpreters, the translators, the
16 court reporters, and the technical support staff.
17 The Chamber also wishes to express its gratitude to the many
18 Prosecution and Defence witnesses who gave evidence in this case.
19 An order will be issued shortly terminating the proceedings.
20 The hearing is adjourned.
21 — Whereupon the hearing adjourned at 9.06 a.m.
22
23
24
25

The Trial of Slobodan Milosevic: Kosovo, Croatia, and Bosnia-Herzegovina (IT-02-54), International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia
Transcripts (IT-02-54)    

And so it goes. 

 

Postscript (March 17): According to the Provisional Findings Concerning the Death of S. Milosevic:

A toxicological examination was carried out after the autopsy, resulting in the following provisional findings:

- so far, no indications of poisoning have been found;
- a number of medicines prescribed for Mr. Milosevic were found in the body material, but not in toxic concentration;
- so far, no traces of rifampicine were found.

 


In light of repeated allegations circulated by media that should know better than to permit themselves to serve as conduits for high-level disinformation (e.g., the front-page report in last Tuesday's New York Times, Expert Suggests Milosevic Died In a Drug Ploy”), the very last element of the toxicological results is extremely important.  Throughout, a major allegation had been that Slobodan Milosevic was using the powerful antibiotic drug rifampicin to render his ICTY-prescribed medications ineffective.  The only question having been, Which from among Milosevic aides had been smuggling the rifampicin into his detainment quarters at the Scheveningen Unit in his bid to escape justice before the ICTY?

So much for the allegation that Milosevic inadvertently took his own life.  (I am sure the retractions will be forthcoming.) 

For the allegations about the WMSDs—the Weapons of Milosevic's Self-Destruction.       

Provisional Findings Concerning the Death of S. Milosevic, H.J. Moraal, as released by the Public Prosecutor's Office, Paleis van Justitie, The Hague, February 17, 2006 
"Update from the President [Judge Fausto Pocar] on the Death of Slobodan Milosevic" (FP/MOW/1056), Press Release, ICTY, March 17, 2006

Expert Suggests Milosevic Died In a Drug Ploy,” Marlise Simons, New York Times, March 14, 2006
"Milosevic May Have Taken Harmful Drugs," Daniel Williams and Molly Moore, Washington Post, March 14, 2006 
"Drugs Could Have Been Sneaked In to Milosevic," Sebastian Rotella and Alissa J. Rubin, Los Angeles Times, March 15, 2006


Postscript (March 18): Here’s the full title of a page-one report in today's Los Angeles Times: "Obsession and Isolation in a Dictator's Last Days; Slobodan Milosevic feared he wouldn't live to refute his tribunal's version of history. Death came more quietly than for 225,000 others."

And here’s one from the New York Times (though here page A6): "The End of Greater Serbia."  The second paragraph tells us that "the Serbian-inhabited areas in Bosnia and Croatia are long separated from the government in Belgrade, after the deaths of close to 250,000 people in the Balkan wars of the 1990's."

And The Times (London): "Madly in love and power-mad, Serbia's modern-day Macbeths."  And here I had thought that only Marcus Tanner could stoop this low for  The Independent.  But I see that The Times's Adam LeBor was a co-author.  So this explains it all.

Geepers.  Even this morning’s Toronto Star: "'Red Witch' to skip funeral" (p. A1).

Of the many lessons to be drawn out of this whole process of rewriting the history of the present as fast as it happens, forgive me if I mention just two of them.

One is that, at least in the case at hand, anything goes.

And the other is that incorrigibility, but in particular when wedded to a well-crafted campaign of hatred, does have its rewards.

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
The 'Butcher of the Balkans'?  The Crime of 'Joint Criminal Enterprise' and the Miloševi? Indictments at the International Criminal Tribunal at The Hague (Expert Witness Report prepared at the request of Slobodan Miloševi? and his legal team), David Chandler, University of Westminster, U.K., 2006

 

 

 

Postscript (March 20): Take a quick look at how the UN News Center has been reporting recent events related to the former Yugoslavia.  For example:

"Genocide case against Serbia and Montenegro to be heard by UN court," UN News Center, February 27, 2006

"UN tribunal investigating death of accused genocide mastermind Slobodan Milosevic," UN News Center, March 12, 2006
"
Indicted genocide suspect Slobodan Milosevic died of heart attack – UN," UN News Center, March 12, 2006
"
UN tribunal considering release of Milosevic documents," UN News Center, March 15, 2006
"
Early toxicology findings show no evidence Milosevic was poisoned – UN," UN News Center, March 17, 2006

"Kosovo, Serbian delegations hold new status talks under UN chairmanship," UN News Center, March 17, 2006


The “accused genocide mastermind Slobodan Milosevic,” one headline reads; the “most notorious suspect to be indicted for crimes committed during the wars that engulfed the Balkans in the 1990s” (the UN News Center used this exact phrase at least twice); the “accused architect of genocide in the Balkans;” and, finally, we read that the “North Atlantic Treaty Alliance (NATO) drove out Yugoslav troops [from Kosovo] in 1999 amid grave rights abuses in ethnic fighting” (March 17)—but not that NATO waged a war of aggression over Kosovo in 1999, nor waged its war without Security Council approval!

 

And here I had thought that only the Bosnian-genocide enforcers and promoters who work for the Tribunal’s Office of the Prosecutor, The Guardian/Observer, The Independent, New York Times and Times of London; the Balkan Investigative Reporting Network, Bosnian Institute, Coalition for International Justice and Institute for War and Peace Reporting; the Office of the High Representative for Bosnia and Herzegovina and UN Interim Administration in Kosovo; and, last but not least, the Clinton, Blair, and Schroeder regimes (among other Truth regimes), rewrote the history of the present like this.

 

Silly me.

 

 

 

Postscript (March 23): A friend of mine just called this important, but otherwise invisible, report to my attention.—Don’t miss it:

"Former NY Times Reporter: '93 Pulitzer Should Be Revoked," Sherrie Gossett, CNSNews.com, March 22, 2006 

To reproduce a couple of paragraphs from near the bottom of the report:

During his recent appearance at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., [former NYTimes reporter David] Binder said it would take "at least a decade" before historians "clear out that wretched underbrush of lies and concoctions" from "despicable" politicians "like Richard Holbrooke," an international negotiator during the administration of former President Bill Clinton and "certainly the journalists" criticized in Brock's book. The rise of blogs and media watchdog groups offers a "corrective" for the public now, Binder contended.

"What we're talking about in terms of what I call crimes of journalism was only ten years ago," said Binder. "It wasn't so long ago that these, I think revolting things, were happening — revolting bias, revolting suppression of other sides of the story."

In his March 17 comments at the National Press Club, a press conference sponsored by Graphics Management Press, the publisher of Peter Brock’s 2005 book, Media Cleansing: Dirty Reporting—Journalism and Tragedy in Yugoslavia,  David Binder referred specifically to two American journalists who shared the 1993 Pulitzer Prize in the International Reporting category: Newsday's Roy Gutman, and the New York Times's John F. Burns.  Gutman for what the Pulitzer Board called  his "courageous and persistent reporting that disclosed atrocities and other human rights violations in Croatia and Bosnia-Herzegovina."  And Burns for his "courageous and thorough coverage of the destruction of Sarajevo and the barbarous killings in the war in Bosnia-Herzegovina."  (See "The Pulitzer Prize Winners 1993.")

Now.  It is worth emphasizing here that, aside from this single report by the Cybercast News Service (and if there were other Internet-based reports, I haven’t checked), Binder’s comments have not been reported anywhere by the English-language print media.  Certainly not by Binder’s former newspaper, the New York Times.  Nor any of the other major English-language print dailies.  Nor even any of the major wire-services (e.g., AFP, AP, DPA, Reuters). 

Nor for that matter has Peter Brock’s superb book on what surely counts as one of worst-reported major events of the 1990s (and beyond), the wars over the breakup of Yugoslavia, been reviewed by any of the same English-language media—print or wire.  Nor even so much as mentioned.  Anywhere.  (For Brock's treatment of both Gutman's and Burns's 1993 Pulitzers, see "'A Partial Story' And Half A Pulitzer," Ch. 7 of his book, pp. 85 – 116.  The work of these two gentlemen—and literally scores of others—deserves far more careful attention than I will give it here.  Let it suffice to say that, in the moral and intellectual framework that strangles thinking and reporting about the former Yugoslavia, even to this very day, the wildest of allegations were deemed newsworthy, if they conformed to the point of view and the narrative that subsequently became the Prosecutor's very own at the Tribunal: Bloodthirsty Serbs seeking to carve out their own ethnically pure Greater Serbia, and resorting to every Nazi-like tactic to do it.)     

What this little episode shows us, I believe, is the capacity of the media to ignore information that cannot be made to fit their pre-established and, indeed, where the former Yugoslavia is the issue, deeply institutionalized and systematically distorted frameworks for reporting about the world.  In the aftermath of Slobodan Milosevic’s March 11 death while on trial before the Tribunal for former Yugoslavia, there will be no deviation.     

"Former NY Times Reporter: '93 Pulitzer Should Be Revoked," Sherrie Gossett, CNSNews.com, March 22, 2006 
Media Cleansing: Dirty Reporting—Journalism and Tragedy in Yugoslavia, Peter Brock (Graphics Management Books, 2005)
"Good Versus Evil: How the Media Got It Wrong in Yugoslavia," Edward S. Herman, ColdType, 2006

 

 

 

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