Matter of Opinion

From the outbreak of hostilities in Bosnia, in April 1992, both Western interventionists and Islamic militants have sought to portray the civil war in this former Yugoslav republic as a Manichean clash of good and evil. In the role of good were the "Bosnians," said in the West to be unarmed, peaceful, and committed to secular, multi-ethnic democracy and human rights. Islamic militants saw them as innocent victims of infidel aggression. In both cases, the role of evil incarnate was assigned to the Serbs.

World War II being the modern morality yardstick, it did not take long for the Western press to apply the analogy to Bosnia. Following the publication of the infamous staged images of "death camps" in northern Bosnia, Ruder Finn, a PR company working for the Sarajevo regime, suggested to the three big American Jewish organizations (including the ADL) to back the Muslims. As Ruder Finn executive James Harff explained in 1993, "When the Jewish organizations entered the game on the side of the Bosnians [sic], we could promptly equate the Serbs with the Nazis in the public mind."

Tough talk on Bosnia, driven by this media imagery, may have helped Bill Clinton outflank Bush the Elder on the right when it came to foreign policy in the 1992 election, but the U.S. was not yet ready to directly interfere in the Bosnian quagmire. It wasn’t till August 1995 that NATO officially inserted itself as a combatant in the Bosnian War.

Trump Card

As evidence slowly began to emerge over the years, much of the wartime propaganda has been discredited. That hasn’t stopped the reporters, politicians and celebrities who’ve built reputations on tall tales from Bosnia from keeping the myths alive. For a decade, almost every story about Bosnia reported the death toll of the war as 250,000. The Hague Inquisition’s own study, estimating the deaths at just over 100,000, was kept secret until late 2004. In October 2005, after a Muslim-headed commission arrived at the final number of just under 100,000, the mainstream media simply took up the new number and pretended it was never otherwise. Similarly, the stories about "systematic mass rape" inspired volumes of feminist writing, but no evidence for this claim ever actually appeared.

That left one last card in the propaganda deck: Srebrenica.

In July 1995, Bosnian Serb troops entered this town in eastern Bosnia, which for two years had been the base for a whole division of the Muslim army and its warlord, Naser Oric. Under a 1993 agreement, it was supposed to be a demilitarized, civilian area, and a small UN force was deployed as observers. Oric’s troops raided the surrounding Serb villages constantly, though, and retreated behind the UN whenever the Serbs would respond. But as a small Serb force approached the town in on July 11, 1995, they encountered almost no resistance. Most of the townsfolk had sought refuge in the UN camp in Potocari, while the troops retreated toward the Muslim territory in Tuzla.

Muslim propaganda and its Western enablers have since claimed that "up to 8,000 men and boys" were then seized and executed by the Serbs, and that this constituted the "worst massacre in Europe since WW2" and even "genocide." For years, "Srebrenica" was invoked to silence the critics of U.S. policy in the Balkans, and even to justify the NATO aggression against Serbia in 1999.

"Judicial Fact"

"Srebrenica genocide is not a matter of anybody’s opinion; it’s a judicial fact recognized first by the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia and subsequently by the International Court of Justice."

So proclaims the masthead of the "Srebrenica Genocide Blog," an activist site dedicated to promoting not just the official version of the events at Srebrenica, but also engaging in shameless propaganda trying to present the Serbs as accomplices in the Holocaust and even asserting a "joint experience of persecution" between the Muslims and the Jews.

However, as British commentator John Laughland pointed out recently, all of the Bosnian Muslims claims of genocide, filling hundreds of pages submitted to the ICJ since 1993, were rejected by the court in its March 2007 verdict. Only Srebrenica was accepted – and even then, only because the ICJ chose to accept two verdicts of the ICTY as a priori valid.

Asks Laughland:

"[W]hat is the evidence for the finding that genocide was committed at Srebrenica? I am not asking this question in the useful sense in which it has been asked (and answered) by investigators such as Jonathan Rooper. I am asking what evidence was submitted in court at the ICTY in support of this uniquely successful claim."

As it turns out, the ICTY’s entire case on Srebrenica rests on the testimony of one man. This crucial witness, Drazen Erdemovic, is the topic of a new book by one of the Hague observers. Germinal Civikov, a native of Bulgaria who has lived in The Hague since 1975, is a former editor for Deutsche Welle and author of a 2006 book about the Milosevic trial. In Srebrenica: Der Kronzeuge ("Srebrenica: The Crown Witness"), he takes a long, hard look at Erdemovic, with results Laughland describes as "devastating."

"Pathological Liar and Callous Murderer"

Erdemovic claimed that he was part of a unit that executed some 1,200 Muslim civilians in the course of one night. They were taken off the buses in groups of 10 and shot in a nearby field. Civikov did the math and came to the obvious conclusion: even if it took 10 minutes to kill each group, the executions would have taken 20 hours, not five. A group would have had to be shot every 2.5 minutes to maintain that pace, and that left no time for "arguments … between the executioners and the victims" or for the executioners to "drink and quarrel," as Erdemovic described. Yet he kept telling this story over and over to the ICTY, despite the fact that it was physically impossible.

Here is Laughland, in the Brussels Journal, reviewing the book:

"Civikov wades through years of evidence, spanning a decade, to show that in fact Erdemovic is a pathological liar, as well as a callous murderer. He was not a conscripted soldier who was forced to fight, but instead a mercenary who fought on all three sides in the Bosnian civil war. He was not forced, on pain of death, to commit the massacre, as he claimed in court. On the contrary, Civikov shows that his unit was on leave when the massacre was committed. He was not the victim of a later murder attempt to prevent him from testifying, as he also said in court, but instead a criminal and a thug who quarreled over money with his fellow murderers and who, by his own admission, is prone to blind fits of violence and anger. During his time in the other Bosnian armies (Croat and Muslim) he had evidently been an unscrupulous war profiteer who extracted money from people in return for their safe passage."

Having escaped from Bosnia in 1995, Erdemovic was arrested in Serbia. It was at this point this "pathological liar" and war profiteer contacted the ICTY and spun a story about Srebrenica. In return for his testimony, he received a laughably short sentence (five years!), and was given a new identity somewhere in the West.

Insult to Injury

So, the supposedly ironclad "truth" about the Srebrenica "genocide" appears to hinge on the testimony of a pathological liar seeking a better life, courtesy of the ICTY. That is the extent of the actual "evidence" presented before the Hague Inquisition. Nothing else – no order, no command, no schedule – has ever been produced. The fabled satellite photographs supposedly showing the original mass graves, which were then miraculously dug up and the bodies scattered? Nonexistent.

The very attempt to call what happened in Srebrenica "genocide" ought to be an insult to the documented, systematically exterminated victims of the Holocaust. And as the cases of Erdemovic and Nikolic show, just because something has been declared a "judicial fact" by the illegitimate ICTY, or even accepted as such by the legitimate ICJ, doesn’t make it true.

Author: Nebojsa Malic

Nebojsa Malic left his home in Bosnia after the Dayton Accords and currently resides in the United States. During the Bosnian War he had exposure to diplomatic and media affairs in Sarajevo. As a historian who specializes in international relations and the Balkans, Malic has written numerous essays on the Kosovo War, Bosnia, and Serbian politics. His exclusive column for debuted in November 2000.