Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Serbs Slap Genocide Charges On Croatia

Public hearing at the ICJ.
Serbia has filed genocide charges against neighboring Croatia, in a move likely to plunge bilateral ties between the two former Yugoslav republics to new lows and upset the already shaky stability of the Balkans.  Serbia said it was left with no choice but to file the papers at the International Court of Justice at The Hague after Croatia refused to drop a similar case against the Serbs. 

Here's how Serbian Foreign Minister Vuk Jeremic spelled out the reasoning for his country's decision.

"We had no choice," Jeremic said. "We are aware that we are now entering a new phase in relations with Croatia, but we still want to cooperate with that country in the process of European integration, just as we want peace and stability in the western Balkans."

Serbia and Croatia have tried to put the past behind them as they strive for what elites there and a good chunk of the populace feel is the promised land: the European Union.

To impress the bureaucrats in Brussels Belgrade and Zagreb have held their nose to the collective stench given off by the bloody breakup of Yugoslavia.

As with all Balkans, things are never black and white. 

The standard narrative in the West is Slobodan Milosevic and his henchmen connived and plotted to create a "Greater Serbia" at the expense of all the other peoples of the former Yugoslavia, from the Slovenes, Macedonians, so-called Bosniaks, Kosovar Albanians and Croatians.

The most current-event challenged has heard about Srebrenica, what newspapers around the world have told them over and over again was the worst mass murder to take place within Europe since World War Two.  

Serbs say this narrative focusing on evil acts carried out by their side has led to them being demonized.  Serbs also wonder why when they were the victims the West just seemed to shrug.

Media critic, Edward S. Herman, has argued, and I agree, a Balkan "partyline" in most Western media metastasized. 

Here also a party line that conformed to the political aims of the governing elite gradually emerged and eventually hardened into unchallengeable truth. In a broad sketch of the official line—also the standard media version-- there was a bad man, a Communist holdover and dictator, who used nationalist appeals to mobilize his people, who were "willing executioners." (2)  This bad man strove for a "Greater Serbia"  and in the process committed major crimes of  ethnic cleansing and genocide that were initiated and mainly carried out by him and his forces. The West, led by the United States, belatedly entered this fray, eventually bombing the bad man's proxy forces in Bosnia, forcing the Dayton Agreement on him, but with the West still eventually compelled to war against him to protect the Kosovo Albanians. The West organized a Tribunal in 1993 to deal with his and others' crimes, and that Tribunal, though hampered by sluggish cooperation from the West and more serious obstruction by the Serbs, has done yeoman service in the cause of justice and reconciliation. 

Cedric Thornberry, a U.N. official with long experience in Bosnia, wrote in 1996 that the consensus evolving "in parts of the international liberal media" that the Serbs were "the only villains...did not correspond to the perceptions of successive senior U.N personnel in touch with daily events throughout the area."

The Serb case at The Hague will rehash some of that historical record that the Serbs say has been forgotten. 

In particular, Serbs wonder where all the outrage was when Croatia recaptured parts of Croatia from Serbs in 1995.

It was called "Operation Storm," and it led to one of the largest exodus of civilians since World War Two.  Haven't heard about it?  Well check out this video.

Also conveniently consigned to the memory hole is the American role in Operation Storm. The private U.S. 'security firm' Military Professional Resources Incorporated, MPRI, 'trained' Croat forces for the operation.  

Private contractors allow Washington to do things it would rather not be directly linked to.  That's not the Pentagon.  Plausible deniability can be exercised.  

As this piece illustrates, MPRI, is one of the 'best.'

MPRI, formerly known as Military Professionals Resources Inc., may provide the best example of how skilled retired soldiers cash in on their military training. Its roster includes Gen. Carl E. Vuono, the former Army chief of staff who led the gulf war and the Panama invasion; Gen. Crosbie E. Saint, the former commander of the United States Army in Europe; and Gen. Ron Griffith, the former Army vice chief of staff. There are also dozens of retired top-ranked generals, an admiral and more than 10,000 former military personnel, including elite special forces, on call and ready for assignment. "We can have 20 qualified people on the Serbian border within 24 hours," said Lt. Gen. Harry E. Soyster, the company's spokesman and a former director of the Defense Intelligence Agency. "The Army can't do that. But contractors can."

MPRI was integral in establishing a U.S. military presence in the Balkans, as this piece from Antiwar.com explains.

Nevertheless, before MPRI began working with the Croatian government, it first took on a contract in 1994 code named the Drina River Mission to send 45 border monitors to Serbia in order to enforce the economic blockade against the Bosnian and Krajina Serbs. MPRI's involvement in monitoring Serbia's border in 1994 became critical to American strategic planning in the Balkans because this organization enabled Washington to indirectly introduce an American military presence into the region.

MPRI, and other U.S. agencies were essential in the Croat military campaign, according to the Antiwar piece.

According to the former head of Croatian counterintelligence, Markica Redic, "the Pentagon undertook complete supervision during the Storm action." Moreover, Miro Tudman, son of the late Croatian President and head of Croatia's equivalent of the CIA, has argued that during Operation Storm "all our (electronic) intelligence in Croatia went online in real time to the National Security Agency in Washington" and "we had a de facto partnership." At the very least, American involvement in Operation Storm raises the issue of war crime indictments against members of MPRI, the Pentagon, CIA, and the NSA.
The Serb case could bring all these uncomfortable facts out in the open.  Bet on Washington and Brussels to do all they can to stop that from happening.

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