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David Rohde, Srebrenica and the New Justice
by Jared Israel (24-7-00)

[Note: An Internet exchange between two Emperor's Clothes writers and a Serbian Physics professor, on one side, and Srebrenica media celebrity David Rohde, on the other, culminated in Rohde taking the argument to the New York Times. Rohde got his job at the Times by broadcasting Clinton et al's smear campaign against the Bosnian Serbs. Will we get to reply to Rohde in the Times? I don't know, but we're going to try. In the meantime, here are some thoughts on Rohde's Times article which, frankly, I found shocking. I suppose I shouldn't be shocked anymore.
- Jared Israel]

David Rohde's latest article is entitled "The Battle of Srebrenica is Now Over the Truth," and one wonders, "Is this black humor?" Because the man has made a career of lying about Srebrenica.

In the article, Rohde substitutes the manipulation of prejudicial language for facts and analysis. In so doing he defines himself: he is not a journalist; he is an ad man. True, he writes copy for the richest client in the world, the US Establishment, but it is advertising copy nonetheless and the outfit he works for is only the world's most influential ad agency, the N.Y. Times.

In the article, Rohde has two goals: First, to leave readers with the impression that the official Srebrenica massacre story has been proven beyond reasonable doubt; second, to discredit those who have used the Internet to ferret out and disseminate information about Srebrenica, causing many to doubt the official story.

Below we've reprinted an excerpt from Rohde's article.


Appeal to Prejudice

Rohde writes that the Srebrenica critics are "some American and European leftists." In fact we include people from all over the political spectrum. It is not political ideology that unites us but a distaste for lies, but if the leftist label is inaccurate it is handy; it allows readers to dismiss the critics as zealots who needn't be taken seriously.

Appeal to prejudice #1: Rohde asserts that our views "radiate out from Belgrade." This is silly stuff. Does Rohde view Belgrade as the hub of a powerful  political Empire? Has he confused it with Washington, London and Berlin? Speaking for myself, my source of information is the mainstream media, documents from The Hague Tribunal, and interviews with Yugoslav victims of NATO and its Yugoslav proxies.  

Appeal to prejudice #2: Rohde misrepresents our arguments, saying we support "Serb nationalist claims that Western governments and journalists exaggerated Serb war crimes." Aside from the pointless "Serb nationalist" bait -- who cares whether they're nationalists or dentists; the question is whether they are right or wrong -- we don't say that Rohde's claims are exaggerated; we say they are lies. We say that NATO has produced no evidence that troops under the control of the Bosnian Serbian government or the government of Serbia massacred 7-8000 Muslims at Srebrenica. We say that a person (or a people) should be viewed as innocent until proven guilty, that this business of declaring the Serbs guilty of a monstrous crime and then spending five years trying to fabricate evidence of guilt is nightmare justice. Meanwhile, we have done a little looking ourselves and find that there is real proof that Islamist terrorists (the 'Bosnian Muslim Army') used the UN safe haven in Srebrenica to launch raids on nearby villages, mutilating and killing many -- perhaps several thousand -- Serbian villagers. Here is the confession of the 'Muslim Army' commander, one Nasir Oric:

"[On the video tape I saw] burning houses, dead bodies, severed heads, and people fleeing. [Commander] Oric grinned throughout, admiring his handiwork. 'We ambushed them,' he said when a number of dead Serbs appeared on the screen.

"The next sequence of dead bodies had been done in by explosives: 'We launched those guys to the moon,' he boasted. When footage of a bullet-marked ghost town appeared without any visible bodies, Oric hastened to announce: 'We killed 114 Serbs there.' Later there were celebrations, with singers with wobbly voices chanting his praises." (Toronto Star, 16/7/95)
[My emphasis -- J.I.]
http://emperors-clothes.com/analysis/oric.htm

In waging war on civilians, not soldiers, Oric's 'troops' followed an old Muslim extremist tradition. During War II, their pro-Nazi forbears murdered Serbian, Roma and Jewish civilians using so-called "cold weapons," knives, hammers, axes. They liked to be photographed displaying trophies, especially the severed heads of their victims.

Here is Oric again:

"Nasir Oric's war trophies don't line the wall of his comfortable apartment. They're on videocassette tape: burned Serb houses and headless Serb men, bodies crumpled in a pathetic heap.

'"We had to use cold weapons that night,' Oric explains as scenes of dead men sliced by knives roll over his 21-inch Sony...Reclining on an overstuffed couch, clothed head to toe in camouflage fatigues, U.S. Army patch proudly displayed over his heart…commander Oric is the toughest guy in this town the Muslim [of Srebrenica], which the U.N. Security Council has declared a protected 'safe area.'" (Washington Post, 16/02/94)
[My emphasis--J.I.]

Notice, first of all, that the above articles were written during the period 1993-1995, when Srebrenica was a so-called UN safe haven. Since it was a UN safe haven, the Muslim extremist forces were supposed to be disarmed. And yet here is the very un-disarmed Oric, boasting about mass murder.

Notice, second of all, that the Bush and Clinton administrations strongly supported (and still support) the extremists in Sarajevo. The Western press calls the Sarajevo regime 'moderate Muslim,' which obscures political reality: this is a fanatical force, and their war against the Serbs has been jihad.

These soldiers are not Arabs. They are Bosnian Muslims, that is, Slavs whose ancestors converted to Islam during the reign of the Ottoman Empire.

Before the 1990s, people in Bosnia would have laughed at this sight, thinking these men were going to a costume ball. But nobody was laughing in 1995. The caption reads, "One of the Bosnian Army's Muslim brigades marches through Zenica in a demonstration of strength by 10,000 soldiers." Note, "one of." How does this jibe with the almost universal media take on what happened in Bosnia, according to which moderate Muslims, interested in fashioning a tolerant society, fought fanatical Serbs?  The picture appeared only once, as far as I can find, in the London Times, 11 December 1995. 

The correct word for the people the Serbs have fought in Bosnia is Islamist. The press shuns the term 'Islamist' because it has an unappealing ring, suggesting intolerance and an extreme goal, the creation of a purely Islamic state. Unfortunately for the media, Bosnian 'President' Alija Izetbegovic wrote a book. Republished in 1990 (as part of Izetbegovic's Presidential election campaign), it explains his views:

"...There can be no peace or coexistence between the "Islamic faith" and non-Islamic societies and political institutions. Islam clearly excludes the right and possibility of activity of any strange ideology on its own turf…and the state should be an expression …of the religion. ..." (Islamska Deklaracija, p. 22)

Izetbegovic's views were not those of most Bosnian Muslims. Thus in the 1990 elections he came in behind Fikret Abdic, a secular Muslim politician whose forces were militarily allied with the Bosnian Serbs during the fighting from 1992 to 1995. For more on Mr. Abdic, see http://emperors-clothes.com/docs/abdic.htm

And notice, third of all, that Commander Oric was not some sort of renegade. He and his killers were an official part of the Islamist regime's army. The Washington Post story has Oric wearing a US army patch over his heart.  Is that by way of recognition of all the support Uncle Sam has given the Islamists?

Note that, fourth of all, the Post writer expresses no horror concerning Oric's unbelievable crimes. Is that because the victims were Serbs?
 

Proof by Definition

Getting back to Mr. Rohde, he also attempts to dismiss the critics by labeling us "revisionists." This is a big word, which shows Rohde has been hitting the books. Here is the dictionary definition:

  • re·vi·sion·ist - re·vi·sion·ist (rī-vīzh¹e-nīst“) noun 1. One who advocates the revision of an accepted, usually long-standing view, theory, or doctrine, especially a revision of historical events and movements
  • Despite their control of the Western media, despite their control of NATO's armed forces, despite hiring an army of forensic experts and a full stable of War Crimes Tribunal employees -- despite all this, the US and European elite have yet to provide a shred of evidence that the Bosnian Serbs committed war crimes at Srebrenica. But Mr. Rohde finesses this problem: he names us revisionists. Since a revisionist is one who revises the accepted view of historical events, by so defining us Mr. Rohde 'proves' the Srebrenica charges are true. Moreover, 'revisionists' is a label applied to people who deny the Holocaust, or claim the Nazis killed a relatively small number of Jews.  So by calling us 'revisionists,' Rohde smears us by analogy. The only problem is, the Holocaust that David Irving denies did in fact happen. But the claim that Serbs perpetrated something like the Holocaust in Bosnia is an outrageous lie, which demonizes the Serbs and uses the Holocaust as a political weapon against the Serbs who, ironically, were one of the main victims of Nazi atrocities. Nice trick.

    Having thus flailed his opponents with a variety of labels ("leftist", "Belgrade", "nationalists" and of course "revisionists") Mr. Rohde concludes with the following coup de grāce:

    "In the case of Srebrenica," says Rohde, "the slow pace of efforts to recover and count bodies has created an opening for denials of what occurred five years ago."

    Indeed.

    One might think that the failure to produce evidence that a crime has occurred should lead one to question the validity of the charge; but that is old fashioned. In the new system of Justice, NATO need only charge an individual or group with criminal guilt for guilt to be assured; the nonexistence of the crime does not mitigate the guilt of the accused, especially if said crime is heinous. Thus fictional murder is a good deal worse than fictional theft and fictional genocide is the worst crime of all, putting one in the category, 'similar to Hitler.'

    A lack of evidence of guilt, or the presence of evidence of innocence, is not a legal remedy for a criminal charge; it is simply an annoyance since it encourages in some people (such as writers at Emperor's Clothes) a psychological aberration: the denial of guilt.

    Here's the excerpt from Rohde, followed by further comments. A link to the entire article is provided at the end.

    "In that uncertain atmosphere, the bodies have become part of a broader propaganda battle, being waged across the former Yugoslavia, Europe and the United States. Aided by the Internet, a revisionist interpretation of the war has begun to radiate out from Belgrade; some American and European leftists, who a year ago took exception to NATO's bombing of Kosovo, are now backing Serb nationalist claims that Western governments and journalists exaggerated Serb war crimes not only in Kosovo but in Bosnia as well.

    "In the case of Srebrenica, the slow pace of efforts to recover and count bodies has created an opening for denials of what occurred five years ago. After Bosnian Muslims turned their heavy weapons over to United Nations peacekeepers in exchange for having Srebrenica declared a protected "safe area" in 1993, Dutch peacekeepers and United Nations commanders did little to protect the town when Bosnian Serb forces attacked in 1995." (N.Y. Times, "Week in Review," 9/7/2000)
     

    A Loaded Deck

    Aside from the attacks on us revisionists, Rohde's article is structured so that the casual reader will leave with a comfortable reaffirmation of Serbian guilt. He begins:

    "For two years, thousands of bodies packed in white plastic bags have been awaiting burial in central Bosnia."

    This sensationalist sentence sets the tone. In the next paragraph he informs us that "rats were allowed to feast on the bodies" (note, they didn't just gnaw on the cadavers, horrible enough; they feasted). Another paragraph refers to "7000 Muslim soldiers" who according to Rohde were definitely massacred. It is only later that we learn a) the very existence of a massacre is challenged by "revisionists" and b) "to date, 1,866 bodies [not thousands] have been recovered from mass graves, according to tribunal investigators." And Rohde never mentions that: "After five years we have found 160 mass graves, but we have no idea who the people are." (Mail on Sunday, 18/6/2000. My emphasis--J.I.)

    Five years of digging. Five years of Rohde slandering the Serbs. No idea who the bodies are. They could be massacred Muslims. They could be massacred Serbs. They could be dead Serbian soldiers, or dead terrorists. Or they could just be dead people. We all die.

    Five years. No evidence. And yet, the accusation is always presented in the media as a proven fact.

    ***

    The full text of Rohde's article can be read at www.nytimes.com/library/review/070900srebrenica-review.html

    For Emperor's Clothes articles on Srebrenica, including an exchange with David Rohde, go to
    http://emperors-clothes.com/analysis/list-s.htm

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