Milosevic’s Death in the Propaganda System

[Published in Z Magazine (May, 2006), in a slightly abridged version and without footnotes.]

The March 11 death of former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic in his prison cell in The Hague was greeted by Western political circles and media alike with an outpouring of venom that reflected the demon role assigned to him in the myth-making of the past 15 years.  Milosevic was a "monster," a "sociopath," and a "war criminal who wrecked southeastern Europe in the latter part of the 20th century," former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations and a chief architect of Clinton era policy toward the region, Richard Holbrooke, told the Cable News Network the very first morning.  "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."1  During this and the ten days following his death terms such as "Butcher of  the Balkans" and "Butcher of Belgrade" were used dozens and perhaps hundreds of times in the U.S. media alone (and widely used abroad as well).2

Milosevic was the demon inserted between the two rounds of demonization of Saddam Hussein (1990-1991 and 2002-2006). Thus, the "Butcher of  the Balkans" was elevated to the same pantheon of officially designated monsters as the Butcher of Baghdad, whereas other figures such as Ariel Sharon, whose 1982 invasion of Lebanon and the subsequent managed killings at Sabra and Shatila were cited by the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY, or Yugoslav Tribuna

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