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Impartiality and responsibility

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Dear 'Loncar',

Allow me to disagree with you to a large extent. "Let's say Milosevic is a counterpart of Hiter." What about Tudjman? What about Izetbegovic? Whether or not these guys were right or wrong, good or evil, in what they did, makes very little difference to the status of Milosevic in terms of whether he is a war criminal, whether he is responsible for genocide, and whether or not he was, in the long term, a positive influence on Serbia. Because that's what this is about, Serbia as an independent nation, its internal politics, and what would be the most positive and constructive government for Serbia at this time. Unfortunately, in your letter you deal very little with who Milosevic was and what he may or may not have done, preferring only to compare him with similarly evil men in the same region in the vain hope that he will come out of the comparison in a positive light. But this isn't about Croatia and Bosnia any more, and it isn't about America or the European Union, it's about Serbia.

I'm very wary as a Westerner of making any comment on the specifics of Serbian politics, aware as I am that any hint of Western interference in your internal affairs is invariably inflammatory to Serbs who are naturally sensitive to external meddling in your internal affairs. This is why it has saddened me to see Javier Solana come out so openly on behalf of the EU on the side of the pro-reform, pro-Europe agenda as opposed to respecting the democratically expressed wish of the Serbian people. It is probably true to say, in fact, that the perception of outside intervention and the perceived weakness of the last government in the face of this, played a large part in the result of the recent parliamentary elections.

B92, on the other hand, has every right, as an independent media organisation, to have an opinion on domestic political affairs, being as it is a Serbian news organisation. They have a duty to objectivity, and to report facts as they see them, but they also, I am sure, feel a strong responsibility to their country. If they see their country on a slippery slope, it is their responsibility to stand up and say so. It is a highly irresponsible media which simply goes with the flow even when they know it is wrong, in order to remain in favour with the current political leaders.

One last point regarding American behaviour - I don't know exactly what position B92 holds with regard to the bombing campaign of 1999, but I can hardly believe that they were entirely in favour of it - I have never met a Serb who was. But, again, just because the Americans were wrong, doesn't make Milosevic right - any more than it makes Saddam right, in this most recent example of American cack-handedness. And regarding Serbian victims of war crimes - what do you expect B92 to do? These victims exist, everybody knows that, and the state should doubtless do more to help those who came to Serbia as refugees in the 1990s. But Serbia's responsibility now is to face up to the fact that it, too, committed war crimes, to send those indicted to the Hague, and to hope that Croatia and Bosnia follow Serbia's, up to now, good example. I can think of at least one speech in Croatia where the President or Prime Minister (I forget which) used Serbia's example to try and shame his own people into consenting to cooperate with the tribunal. One can only hope that it happens - it will only be through the uncovering of the truth about the last 13 years that the former Yugoslavia as a whole will be able to move on properly.

Yours,
Tom Bowker, 6.11.2004.

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Dear Veran,

Allow me to disagree with you to the large extent:

You said that comparison of Serbia with the German post wars history comes to mind. Says who? Comparing the times from 80/60 years ago in a totally different setting is mixing apples and oranges. Of course, there is similarities in everything we all do, but to equate Hitler with Serb politician is a mind boggling exercise. Let say Miloshevic is a counterpart of Hitler? What about Tudjman? Is he a counterpart of Stalin, or maybe he could be considered a father of modern Croatian nation??? And what about Izet? Is he a Goebels/Gering, or is he another father of another proud (Bosnian) nation? When we are making comparisons that 'come to mind', how about Thachi? Is he a liberator of his people or a terrorist leader, as the US ambassador Golbreight (sp?) characterized him just about one year before the bombing of Serbia? How about Clinton and Albraight? Are they humanitarian bombers-peace makers? They cut the electricity and water to 2 million people Belgrade in the name of "liberating" Kosovo? Remember the Clinton's speech before the bombing, that the war is not against Serbian people? Look at Kosovo these days. Is that what you call - a "multiethnic" democratic country, that Clinton promised four years ago? There is no more Miloshevic, what is the problem now? Kosovo got this enormous military base in the middle ... prostitution, drugs, the rest is monoethnic with 2/3 of pre war Serb population "ethnically cleansed"?
I happened to be the one who had experienced Miloshevic solitary confinement prison. That does not make me become blind for the truth. And the truth is not as white and black as you and your B92 see it. The good and evil are deeply intertwined in the last Balkans' wars. If I were defending Miloshevic, I would open the defense with the phone call that Clinton had placed to S.M. in Karadjordjevo (as recorded by the Croatian secret services), where Bil starts as follows: "It's so nice to speak with you again...". This was occurring only about a year before the bombing. Imagine the prize of the US is talking in such a chatty manner with the Hitler-Butcher of Balkans and what else the PR machine was calling him in the pre-bombing hype!

Of course, the official American line is that everything that we Americans do is white-good, and everything that our opponents do is bad-black. What is funny, the black and white people are not fixed in time, they could easily switch sides. Sadam was a good guy, when he was fighting Iranians, who are really bad ones. Then he became another Hitler too. S.M. was our peace maker, then he also became Hitler #2. Arafat did the double switch - from a terrorist to a Nobel prize for Peace winner, White House frequent visitor, to back to terrorist again.

All the above leads to the same conclusion - I am convinced that B92 editorial policies under your leadership are dead - wrong. They too much reflect the official Western foreign policy lines, as far as the Hague goes. The bombing of Serbia, was dead wrong act. It was a stupid way of dealing with the Balkans' bloodshed. The west will admit that one day. In the meanwhile, they cannot admit it and be liable for the 60 billion dollars destruction of the country. You do not help the cause of democracy, by avoiding to mention this NATO's blunder and dealing only with Serbian war crimes, as if it occurred in vacuum, where NATO, Muslims, Albanians, Croats ... did not have any roles except - the victims.

As long as you and the West keep pushing that same one-sided approach, an average Serb will rebel any way they know how. You may think that the Serbs are too stupid to fall for the ultra nationalist lines, and do not buy prolonged justifying of the Clinton-Albright "humanitarian" bombing of Serbia, but I do not think so.

Loncar, 28.12.2003.

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