What Really Happened in Bosnia

One massacre was exaggerated. Another went unreported. The reason for the double standard is shameful.

It was genocide. Charles Krauthammer called it “the largest ethnic cleansing of the entire Balkan wars.” A March 1999 New York Times article agreed with him.

“Investigators with the war-crimes tribunal in the Hague have concluded that this campaign was carried out with brutality, wanton murder and indiscriminate shelling of civilians,” Krauthammer wrote (Time, April 5, 1999).

Is this the dreaded Srebrenica “massacre,” commonly referred to in the media as the “worst atrocity in Europe since the Second World War,” perpetrated by the “evil” Serbs led by Ratko Mladic, who has now been arrested to be brought to justice?

No. This genocide was carried out by the Croats—the “good guys”—and thus, it was encouraged and praised by the West.

The Krajina Massacre

The massacre Krauthammer was describing occurred in the region of Krajina in Croatia. Croatian troops forced an estimated 200,000 Serbs to flee (National Post, March 13, 2004).

“A war that begins with civilian areas being shelled at 5 a.m. when women and children are asleep in their beds and ends with a massive exodus of more than 100,000 people is surely tantamount to ethnic cleansing,” said UN spokesman Chris Gunness.

According to Robert Fisk, writing in the Independent, the European Union’s confidential assessment from Krajina in 1995 stated the following: “Evidence of atrocities; an average of six corpses per day, continues to emerge … the corpses; some fresh, some decomposed, are mainly of old men. Many have been shot in the back of the head or had throats slit, others have been mutilated. Isolated pockets of elderly civilians report people recently gone missing or detained …. Endless Croat invitations for Serbs to return, guarantees of citizens’ rights and property rights, etc., have gushed forth from all levels …. However, Serbian homes and lands … continue to be torched and looted.

“Contrary to official statements blaming it on fleeing Serbs and uncontrollable elements, the crimes have been perpetrated by the HV Croatian Army, the CR Croatian police and CR civilians. There have been no observed attempts to stop it, and the indications point to a scorched-earth policy.”

Two senior Canadian military officers present in Croatia at the time testified that the Croatians attacked indiscriminately and targeted civilians.

One of these officers, Maj. Gen. Andrew Leslie, estimated that around 500 civilians had been murdered. “In the hospital itself, there were bodies stacked in the corridors,” he said. “There were bodies in almost every hospital bed. And there were bodies lying in the foyer, the reception area and some of the corridors” (National Post, Dec. 9, 2005).

Yugoslav envoy Vladimir Pavicevic claimed that 15,000 Serbs were dead in Krajina, and that this total included slain refugees and soldiers who had already surrendered (Deutsche Presse-Agentur, Aug. 14, 1995). The International Committee of the Red Cross reported that 10,000 to 15,000 refugees were still missing over three weeks after the initial attack (Sun Herald, Aug. 27, 1995).

Why is Srebrenica everywhere, yet Krajina barely gets a mention? On April 15, Croatian Gen. Ante Gotovina was found guilty of war crimes and crimes against humanity by the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (icty) for what he did in Krajina. It was hardly mentioned in the press. When Ratko Mladic was captured on May 26, it was all over the papers.

The double standard on display here is a monumental story—when you understand who, ultimately, was really behind it.

Manipulating the Media

Serbia’s earliest defeat came in the PR war. Early on, Serbia’s enemies engaged Ruder Finn, an American public relations firm, to get their message out. James Harff, director of Ruder Finn’s Global Public Affairs section, boasted about his success against Serbia.

“Nobody understood what was going on in (former) Yugoslavia,” he said in an October 1993 interview with French journalist Jacques Merlino. “The great majority of Americans were probably asking themselves in which African country Bosnia was situated.”

Ruder Finn took advantage of this ignorance. Its first goal was to persuade the Jews to oppose the Serbs—not an easy task. “The Croatian and Bosnian past was marked by a real and cruel anti-Semitism,” said Harff. “Tens of thousands of Jews perished in Croatian camps. So there was every reason for intellectuals and Jewish organizations to be hostile towards the Croats and Bosnians.”

Harff used a couple of reports in the New York Newsday about Serbian concentration camps to persuade Jewish groups to demonstrate against the Serbs. “This was a tremendous coup,” said Harff. “When the Jewish organizations entered the game on the side of the Bosnians, we could promptly equate the Serbs with the Nazis in the public mind.”

He continued: “By a single move, we were able to present a simple story of good guys and bad guys which would hereafter play itself. We won by targeting Jewish audience, the right target. Almost immediately there was a clear change of language in the press, with the use of words with high emotional content, such as ‘ethnic cleansing,’ ‘concentration camps,’ etc., which evoked inmates of Nazi Germany and the gas chambers of Auschwitz. The emotional change was so powerful that nobody could go against it.”

Western reporting of the Balkan wars became spectacularly biased. Consider the statements at the bottom of the page, most of which are from people who were actually in the Balkans during the wars.

Foreign Policy magazine reported, “Despite steady reports of atrocities committed there by Croatian soldiers and paramilitary units against Serbs, which some Belgrade correspondents were later able to confirm, the stories that reached the world talked only of Serb abuses …. In a three-month study of news reports, Howard University Professor of International Relations Nikolaos Stavrou detected ‘a disturbing pattern in news coverage.’ He claimed most of the stories were based on ‘hearsay evidence,’ with few attempts to show the ‘other side’s perspectives.’ Ninety percent of the stories originated in Sarajevo, but only 5 percent in Belgrade. Stavrou’s analysis cited ethnic stereotyping, with Serbs referred to as primitive ‘remnants of the Ottoman Empire’ and Yugoslav Army officers described as ‘orthodox communist generals’ … while newspaper photographs neglected to show suffering or dead Serbs or destroyed Serb churches and villages” (emphasis added throughout).

Foreign Policy pointed out that news outlets published many photos they said showed victims of Serbian persecution. But the captions were wrong. In many cases, the victims themselves were Serbs.

It is little wonder, then, that the events that took place in Srebrenica have been horribly twisted by the media. Yes, the Serbs killed Bosnian Muslims whom they had taken prisoner. But the context in which this occurred is vital to understanding this event.

The Truth About Srebrenica

The story portrayed in the media is that Bosnian Serbian forces under Ratko Mladic and Radovan Karadzic invaded the UN “safe haven” of Sarajevo. Here they let the women, children and elderly escape before massacring all the men.

What is mentioned less often is that the Bosnian Muslims were using the UN “safe haven” as a base for attacks on Serbian civilians.

The UN admitted that Bosnian forces were violating the no-fly zone around Srebrenica and were smuggling weapons into the area (icty testimony by David Harland, civil affairs officer and political adviser to the unprofor commander in Bosnia and Herzegovina).

In charge of the Muslim forces in Srebrenica was Naser Oric. Here is how French Gen. Philippe Morillon, commander of the UN troops in Bosnia from 1992 to 1993, described him in his icty testimony: “Naser Oric engaged in attacks during Orthodox holidays and destroyed villages, massacring all the inhabitants. This created a degree of hatred that was quite extraordinary in the region ….”

In another part of his testimony, Morillon stated, “There were terrible massacres committed by the forces of Naser Oric in all the surrounding villages.”

He also stated: “I think you will find this in other testimony, not just mine. Naser Oric was a warlord who reigned by terror in his area and over the population itself. I think that he realized that those were the rules of this horrific war, that he could not allow himself to take prisoners. According to my recollection, he didn’t even look for an excuse. It was simply a statement: One can’t be bothered with prisoners.”

Naturally, Oric’s actions infuriated the Serbs. “They were in this hellish circle of revenge,” said Morillon. “It was more than revenge that animated them all. Not only the men. The women, the entire population was imbued with this. It wasn’t the sickness of fear that had infected the entire population of Bosnia-Herzegovina, the fear of being dominated, of being eliminated, it was pure hatred.”

It was this hatred and hunger for revenge that led to the Srebrenica massacre.

Continuing with his testimony, General Morillon stated that Oric pulled out of Srebrenica a week before it fell. “I said that Mladic had entered an ambush in Srebrenica, a trap, in fact. He expected to find resistance, but there was none. He didn’t expect the massacre to occur but he completely underestimated the amount of hatred that accrued. I don’t believe that he ordered the massacres, but I don’t know. That is my personal opinion.”

The Serbs finally reacted to Oric’s provocations: When they took Srebrenica far more easily than they thought they would, they took their revenge on the men they found there. But, unlike Oric, they let the women and children go.

When asked by the judge if what the Serbs did in Srebrenica was a natural reaction to what happened under Oric, Morillon answered: “Yes. Yes, Your Honor. I am convinced of that. This doesn’t mean to pardon or diminish the responsibility of the people who committed that crime, but I am convinced of that, yes.”

The full context presents a very different picture of Srebrenica. It was not a cold-hearted, Nazi-style final solution for Bosnian Muslims. Instead it was a crime of passion—still a crime, but one provoked by crimes on the other side.

Morillon still held Mladic responsible for what happened in Srebrenica because he didn’t follow through on international agreements made two years earlier. But there is a big difference between a military leader who doesn’t trust the other side enough to make peace and, say, an Adolf Eichmann.

“All the horrors of all the ages were brought together, and not only armies but whole populations were thrust into the midst of them,” wrote Winston Churchill after World War i. “The mighty educated states involved conceived—not without reason—that their very existence was at stake. Neither peoples nor rulers drew the line at any deed which they thought could help them to win. Germany, having let hell loose, kept well in the van of terror; but she was followed step by step by the desperate and ultimately avenging nations she had assailed. Every outrage against humanity or international law was repaid by reprisals—often of a greater scale and of longer duration.”

“When all was over, torture and cannibalism were the only two expedients that the civilized, scientific, Christian states had been able to deny themselves: and they were of doubtful utility,” concluded Churchill.

Does his description of World War i sound any different from what happened in Srebrenica? That doesn’t make it right, of course. But the real blame for Srebrenica lies with those who started the war.

Who Started the War?

Western media blame the “evil” Serbs for causing war by trying to grab as much territory as they could while Yugoslavia fell apart. The facts show a different picture.

Lord Peter Carrington, former chairman of the peace conference on Yugoslavia, stated that the actions of the U.S., Germany and certain other European governments “made it sure there was going to be a conflict” in the region.

The European Community (precursor to the EU) was almost unanimous in agreeing that the best way to avoid a war in Yugoslavia was for it to remain one nation. Member states voted 11 to 1 in 1991 to support a resolution stating that “the best way of achieving stability in the Balkans was for Yugoslavia to remain united, albeit in a revised, looser federal form.”

The one ended up overruling the 11.

Here’s how T.W. “Bill” Carr, associate publisher of Defense and Foreign Affairs’ Strategic Policy, described what happened: “Germany, despite its current problems, remains the strongest economy in Europe. During the Maastricht negotiations, a reunited Germany used that power to further what appeared to be its historical strategic objective to control the territories of Croatia, Slovenia and Dalmatia, with their access to the Adriatic and Mediterranean.

“During protracted negotiations, Germany wore down the other EC members and eventually, at 0400 hours on the morning of the debate, the 11:1 vote to hold Yugoslavia united turned into a unanimous vote to recognize Croatia as an independent state on the grounds that the right to self-determination overruled all other criteria.”

“In order to maintain its own unity, the EC sacrificed the unity of Yugoslavia, and with it, the stability of the Balkans,” Carr wrote.

This was more than merely the EC trying to preserve unity. In reality, it was a stunning example of Germany bullying its own way and forcing the rest of Europe to fall in step.

“Germany had won round one,” Carr continued. “Shortly after, Germany won round two when Bosnia-Herzegovina was also recognized, despite EC negotiator Lord Carrington’s advice that such a step would result in a civil war.”

America, too, allowed itself to be led by Germany into pushing Yugoslavia into civil war.

But Germany wasn’t alone. Carr wrote, “The German/Croatian axis and expansionist Islam are the key players in the region, along with the very real interest and role played by the Vatican and the Croatian Catholic Church.”

These forces conspired to cause a war in Yugoslavia so Germany could regain its influence in the Balkans.

Here’s how Karadzic made his case in a recent interview for Politics First: “The Germans wanted to take revenge on Yugoslavia for its involvement in World Wars i and ii on the side of the anti-German coalition; to support their allies in Slovenia and Croatia as well as the Bosnian Muslims; and to secure strategic access for themselves through Slovenia and Croatia to the Adriatic Sea, as it had a preference for a group of small countries in the European Union instead of a big one” (May 2011).

That is the reality behind the wildly uneven treatment the Croats and Serbs received from the rest of the world. It had its genesis in the German-Vatican plot to smash Yugoslavia to pieces, particularly to eliminate the Serbian threat that created problems in the previous world wars!

The Germans aggressively backed Serbia’s enemies. In 1996, the German tv program Monitor unearthed evidence of German intelligence agents smuggling weapons to the Bosnian Muslims. Operating under the guise of neutral EU monitors, Germany smuggled arms to Serbia’s enemies. Other monitors confirmed that German EU monitors made these shipments through Croatia and Bosnia.

On Feb. 27, 1997, Monitor reported that the mig-21 airplanes used by the Croatian Air Force “demonstrably came from Germany, were given a complete overhaul in the former Soviet Union and delivered to Croatia via Hungary.” The program also stated, “Combat helicopters, tanks, artillery—many of the weapons that decided the outcome of the war—had been delivered with the help of the bnd [Germany’s Federal Intelligence Service], according to information of the American Defense Intelligence Service (dia). This is also confirmed by the internationally acknowledged military expert Paul Beaver.”

The Aug. 11-25, 1995, issue of Intelligence Digest stated that German pilots trained the Croatian Air Force.

The February 1997 Monitor program also stated, “Without the German intelligence service, the smuggling could not have been accomplished.” The allegations caused an uproar in the German parliament, but as Britain’s Telegraph reported, “For many German politicians, however, the nub of the problem may not be the bnd’s operations at all—rather that it appears to have been caught out” (April 20, 1997).

Crucially, German and U.S. help won the Croats the media war. Little Croatia and Bosnia could not have won over the entire Western media without help. Sanctions placed on Yugoslavia meant it was unable to hire Western PR firms. Serbia’s enemies were able to get their message out unopposed.

“The media,” Karadzic stated, “did more damage to us than nato bombs.”

Just the Beginning

As horrific as the events in the Balkans were, they are just the start of an even bigger, far worse conflict. As Trumpet editor in chief Gerald Flurry writes in his booklet The Rising Beast—Germany’s Conquest of the Balkans, “Yugoslavia is in fact the first victim of World War iii.”

“The first blow of World War iii has already been struck,” he writes. “That is because this same nation—Germany—will continue this aggressive war spirit until the whole world is dragged into a nuclear World War iii! So says history and Bible prophecy.”

War means events like the Krajina ethnic cleansing, and Srebrenica. As Churchill described, war means man unleashes all the destructive forces he has available. Today, man has more destructive power at his fingertips than ever before.

The truth is that Bosnia is already a victim of World War iii.