Friday, December 24, 2004

Decline of Creativity

A good friend commented to me today:

"It's beginning to dawn on me that the problem with most TV may not be want of talent; it may be that the talent is not what is wanted."

Writers that flourished on certain shows under the creative leadership of talented producers often languish in other shows when managed by network suits, who for all their business sense display an appalling lack of creativity. Thanks to its obsolete business model - selling advertising based on viewer estimates compiled by a vastly outdated system - network TV is going the opposite of the Web: trying to be all things to all people. The result is predictably bland, formulaic and focus-grouped to death.

I won't even go into how so-called "reality" shows dealt an additional blow to scripted television, both good and bad; that sort of base voyerism is barely short of the Roman circenses. In fact, I'll go out on a limb and say the only reason we haven't seen actual gladiator games yet is that animal "rights" groups would protest the cruelty of feeding lions with idiots.

Books aren't much better. Most popular fiction is painfully formulaic. Science fiction and especially fantasy are even worse. Though I've seen plenty of gems, often their authors fall prey to assembly-line writing and start churning out neverending series that falter midway through. Even my favorite recent subgenre, alternate history, often suffers from second-order counterfactuals (i.e. despite a major fork in the road, events unfold just as they have in our timeline, only the actors are different. Please!).

I've thought J.K. Rowling a breath of fresh air (though I've dismissed the Pottermania for a couple of years, till I finally got persuaded to read the books; I finished the four then available in a week!), but The Order of the Phoenix filled me with dread that she, too, has succumbed to success-induced cluelessness.

Maybe this is all just a reflection of the cultural decline of the West; perhaps it is time for a last-ditch effort to preserve civilization? Appreciating creativity and shunning mediocrity would certainly be a good start.

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

It Has Happened Here

As predicted, the U.S. Congress approved the "intelligence reform" bill in whose innards was hidden a provision mandating a de facto national ID card.

Representative Ron Paul (R-TX), a defender of liberty if there ever was one, tried to caution his colleagues:
“Those who believe a police state can’t happen here are poor students of history. Every government, democratic or not, is capable of tyranny. We must understand this if we hope to remain a free people.”
Obviously, they did not listen.

Back in the thirties, Sinclair Lewis wrote a cautionary tale of fascism conquering America, titled It Can't Happen Here. He envisioned a genuine demagogue rising up from the heartland to win the Democratic nomination and plunge the country into a totalitarian nightmare.

He could not have known that FDR, always the White Hat in alternative 1930s histories, would go on to create what amounted to the American variety of fascism, and bequeath to the country a legacy of growing and ever-more-powerful government (see here).

So in a way, "it" has happened here, long before Bush the Lesser or the PATRIOT Act.


I won't make any apologies for the uneven frequency of posts here. Creative thought is a process that doesn't conform to schedules; I post whenever I have something I want to share, and when I have the time and inclination to put it in words.

Sometimes, however, there are technical reasons, and those I feel deserve an explanation, expecially when expected.

So, updates may be really scarce in the next couple of weeks, as I'll be traveling over the Christmas holidays, and may not have reliable 'net access.

The earliest I can promise new entries here is the second week of January, 2005.

So, Merry Christmas, happy New Year, and keep freedom alive...

Thursday, December 16, 2004

Death Tolls, Part 4

It was only a matter of time before the findings of Dr. Ewa Tabeau and Jacub Bijak, demographers tasked with establishing a death toll in Bosnia for the ICTY, would become public once the Norwegian media broke the year-long silence and mentioned the existence of their work.

News of this report exploded the commonly accepted, but mythical, notion that 250,000 "Bosnians" died in the 1992-95 fighting, although that figure - along with 200,000 - is still used in many wire reports. In the past couple of weeks, the assertion has morphed somewhat into a claim that 200,000 have died in all the Balkans wars of the 1990s, but even that is still an unsupported claim.

The premier Serbian newsweekly, NIN, has a story this week on the Tabeau-Bijak report, based on information provided by Dr. Tabeau herself. (Even though I occasionally write for NIN, I had absolutely nothing to do with this article - though I wish I had). The article mentions the specific numbers, the methodology used by the demographers, and some of the other claims presented so far. If I have time in the next couple of days, I''ll try and translate it and post it here.

Something that NIN notes at the end, however, stuck with me. They say that most researchers, including dr. Tabeau, feel the need to preface their findings with a statement that they "do not wish to minimize the suffering of the victims." But how can establishing real numbers and debunking false atrocity stories in any way change the suffering of individuals who've experienced the real thing? It can't. What it can do is demolish the collective image of suffering, created and cultivated for political purposes.

The death toll of 250,000 "Bosnians" was invented as a propaganda tool in the first place, a number to appeal to Western public opinion so it would clamor for a military intervention in Bosnia (which was a policy of the Izetbegovic junta). Claims of "aggression" and "genocide" served the same purpose. Propagandists who cooked up these numbers and allegations never really cared for the actual victims; quite the contrary, lies have exploited their suffering, victimizing them all over again.

The best service to the victims of war would be to stop lying, both to them and about them. Matter of fact, let's tear up the entire tapestry of deception that has covered the real Bosnian War - brutal and painful enough without the lies - and has made peace and coexistence there impossible. What Tabeau and Bijak found is not the end of the quest for truth in Bosnia. It is just the beginning.

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

Madness of Power

Vox Day says:
“I am not a libertarian because I am optimistic about human behavior, I am a libertarian because I am extremely pessimistic about it. I've seen far too many people go mad with tiny and insignificant bits of power over others to believe that anyone should be trusted with great amounts of it.”
Don't believe him? Watch The Return of the King, or better yet, read The Lord of the Rings yourself. If that doesn't demonstrate beyond any doubt that a desire for power drives everyone to evil, nothing Vox or any other libertarian (myself included) can say will probably register.

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

Legion of Merit Citation

"General Dragoljub Mihajlovic distinguished himself in an outstanding manner as Commander-in-Chief of the Yugoslavian Armed Forces and later as Minister Of War by organising and leading important resistance forces against the enemy which occupied Yugoslavia from December 1941 to December 1944. Through the undaunted efforts of his troops, many United States airmen were rescued and returned safely to friendly control. General Mihajlovic and his forces, although lacking adequate supplies, and fighting under extreme hardships, contributed materially to the Allied cause and were materially instrumental in obtaining a final Allied Victory."

- Legion of Merit award citation given by Harry S. Truman, President
The White House, March 29, 1948

(found at Balkans Repository Project)

Reuters and Hacker Wars

I sometimes wonder who generates Reuters' news stories, editors or zealous local cadres?

A story datelined Zagreb, December 13, talks about how Serbian hackers defaced a page of Croat ski champ Janica Kostelic, citing Croatian news portal (the same, incidentally, that's being sued for posting a homemade porn video of pop-singer Severina). But Reuters doesn't mention at all that this attack followed a Croatian hacker attack on a website of a Serbian TV network (see cached page here). According to the good Reuters-folk in Zagreb, Croatia, this was a completely unprovoked act of net-aggression...

Not that one hacker attack is justified by another, but knowing about the Croat hack does offer a tidbit of what is called "context," which some people apparently won't let get in the way of a good libel. And libel it is, surely - for Reuters mentions that among the "offensive" images on the Kostelic site was Draza Mihailovic, leader of Serbian royalists in WW2, which the agency labels a "fascist leader," whose chetniks fought "against anti-fascists."

Regardless of what Mihailovic and his troops may or may not have done, the allegation above is manifestly untrue. The chetniks started out as a resistance to German occupation, but eventually decided that the Communist partisans (which fought against the Nazis, but also to establish a Communist society) were a greater danger. The brutal Partisan-Chetnik war took place against a backdrop of Nazi occupation.
It's very much debatable how much either group contributed to the eventual withdrawal of Axis forces from the Balkans; after all, there were more important places for Nazis to be from 1944 onwards (when that retreat started), such as Normandy and the Russian front...

Since the Communists emerged victorious from that civil war (Mihailovic was captured and shot in 1946), it is only natural that they wrote the history of WW2, and presented their royalist arch-enemies in the blackest terms imaginable. Mihailovic's forces were certainly no saints, but they did save several hundred U.S. aviators shot down by Germans over Serbia, even as U.S. and British planes savagely bombed Serb civilians in Belgrade. For this, President Truman (an ardent anti-Communist) decorated Mihailovic with a Legion of Merit.

Last month, Serbian basketball player Milan Gurovic was denied entry into Croatia because he had Mihailovic's portrait tattooed on his arm. Serbian authorities did not elevate this to a diplomatic incident, but it caused widespread acrimony in Serbia: how dare Croatians - who were actually allied with Hitler in WW2 - call Mihailovic a "fascist"?

As you can see, there is a big backstory to the hacking incident, one which Reuters didn't see fit to mention. And so the Serbo-Croat hacker wars became Serb hacker aggression.

Kind of makes one wonder about Reuters' reports during the actual Balkans wars of the 1990s. Or at least it should.

Monday, December 13, 2004

Death Tolls, Part 3

When I posted the translation of the Norwegian article, about the ICTY researchers' report on death tolls in the Bosnian War, I was certainly hoping it would get noticed. Sure enough, it was. Although the legacy media, those fabricators and guardians of Official Truth, haven't deigned to actually mention this blog by name, or the actual numbers (which I credited fully to the Norwegian report), it seems there's already been an effort to discredit the information.

A Reuters report on Friday, posted here, quotes at length one Mirsad Tokaca, a "leading war crimes researcher" who is compiling a list of victims using a grant from the Norwegian government. If you look at the Norwegian article, you'll see that it, too, mentions Tokaca and his effort; only there, Tokaca is claiming he'll easily show at least 150,000 deaths in just two more months, even though it took him almost a year to work up to 80,000. (So, it takes 10 months to assemble 80,000 records, but only two to nearly double that? That's some sweeet efficiency at the margin!)

At one point the Reuters reporter, one Nedim Dervisbegovic, launches his attack:
Asked about reports circulating on Serbian weblogs that his figures disproved the accepted fact that Muslims were by far the main victims, he said he was unaware of such a story but could deny it completely.

First of all, this isn't a "Serbian weblog." It's a libertarian weblog, run by an ethnic Serb. Indeed, my ethnic identity isn't on display anywhere on the blog; one would have to read my column to figure it out. So either Reuters people did the research, or they assumed this is a "Serbian weblog" simply because it dared question the dogma of Muslim victimhood. But either way, it's an ad hominem - because all I did was quote a Norwegian report about the two researchers working for the Hague Inquisition of all things.
But there's more:
About 70 percent of victims were Muslims, Tokaca said, rebutting internet rumours that his Investigation and Documentation Centre would show the toll was about the same on all three sides.

I haven't made any such claim, nor am I familiar with anyone who has. As a matter of fact, I've specifically quoted the figures presented in the Norwegian report, noting that the their apparent breakdown that corresponds to population share indicates a civil war:
"The researchers estimate the number of killed civilian Muslims and Croats to be around 38,000, while the number of killed civilian Serbs was about 16,700. Among military personnel, the researchers think close to 28,000 people were killed in the government army, mostly Bosnian Muslims. On the Serb side, 14,000 soldiers were killed, while a bit over 6,000 Bosnian Croat soldiers lost their lives because of actions of war."

The combined Muslim-Croat death toll here is 69.5%. This is hardly 70% of Muslims alone!
Additionally, as I've noted in a follow-up comment to the original post, any consideration of the the combined Muslim/Croat total must take into account that some of the victims come from the fierce Muslim-Croat and Muslim-Muslim fighting.

Let's look at the military totals now, because the numbers have been broken down by ethnicity (although again, there's no accounting for the extent of the Muslim-Croat and Muslim-Muslim fighting): Serb deaths are 16,000, which is 32% of the total (50,000). Croats fare somewhat better: 12%, at 6000. Which leaves the Muslims, at 28,000, at 56% of military casualties. So even if Tokaca added Muslims and Croats together, he'd only get a 68% total - and given that a portion thereof is mutually inflicted, it's hardly proper methodology.

There is one more consideration, which I've used to argue this was not a war of "aggression and genocide," as Muslims claim, but a civil war. The civilian deaths are roughly proportional to 1991 census figures, where Muslims were 44% of Bosnia's population, Croats 17%, and Serbs about 34%. Military deaths are obviouly a bit lopsided at the detriment of Muslims, but there are two things to consider: Izetbegovic's forces fought Serbs, Croats and other Muslims; and the quality of their military was generally poorer, due to a patronage system that rewarded loyalty to Izetbegovic over military skill.

To recap, then: I have claimed nothing that is not readily obvious from the Norwegian article; Tokaca's claims are not supported by those numbers, and he did not release his own; and Reuters, whether institutionally or on the intiative of its local reporter, misinterpreted the claims made here on account of the author's ethnicity - or worse yet, assumed the author's ethnicity based on the argument he was making.

Of course, there is another possibility: that there is a Serbian blogger out there who did make the claims Reuters and Tokaca are seeking to deny, and their denials have nothing to do with Gray Falcon. But that doesn't change the falsehood of their arguments one bit.

DeTocqueville and freedom of speech

On today, Ryan McMaken quotes de Tocqueville:
In America the majority raises formidable barriers around the liberty of opinion; within these barriers an author may write what he pleases, but woe to him if he goes beyond them. Not that he is in danger of an auto-da-fé, but he is exposed to continued obloquy and persecution. His political career is closed forever, since he has offended the only authority that is able to open it. Every sort of compensation, even that of celebrity, is refused to him. Before making public his opinions he thought he had sympathizers; now it seems to him that he has none any more since he has revealed himself to everyone; then those who blame him criticize loudly and those who think as he does keep quiet and move away without courage. He yields at length, overcome by the daily effort which he has to make, and subsides into silence, as if he felt remorse for having spoken the truth.

Well, not quite there yet myself - I did set up this blog, after all - but I have a pretty good ide what he's talking about...

Sunday, December 12, 2004

Not-so-sophisticated Lies

I don't suppose it's a very radical statement to say that the Empire is based in equal measure on force and lies. But what I think we're seeing now is that the force is so overwhelming, the challenges so few, that the lies don't have to be very sophisticated any more. Any sort of whopper - like the "Iraqi WMDs" - will do.

In an email from an acquaintance today, I happened upon this:

"Either the secret services [of the West] have become extremely incompetent, or - having convinced themselves that most of the world is breath-takingly naive - they've resorted to cheap circus tricks, such as the Yuschenko poisoning story, that are simply an insult to logic!"

When I first came to the States, almost 9 years ago, and saw some TV commercials, I understood why the Western propaganda has, on the whole, been more subtle, insidious and effective than Soviet, or Communist in general. The Reds could be pretty persuasive while fighting to get into power; there was a clear incentive for that. But once in power, and for a while, they had no reason to play nice. Most of their agitprop became rather crude and sloppy. That's how so many people knew they were being lied to. But - and here's the key point - they couldn't do much about it as long as the lies were backed by government force. Anyone who dissented would be crushed, sending a message to others that made up in fear what it lacked in elegance.

But American propaganda developed right alongside a commercial advertising industry, one that's operated for decades in a environment of brutal competition for consumers' business. I suspect American advertisers have done some of the most sophisticated research into human psychology in order to develop the most effective marketing techniques.

So why is Imperial propaganda so crude, so ham-fisted and offensively stupid? My theory is, for the same reason the Reds started slacking off once in charge. The Empire is now so powerful that almost no one dares resist it. There is no need for sophistication, when power alone can do the trick - or so the folks running the Empire seem to believe. They've put out some real whoppers out there, fully expecting the world to believe them. And a lot of folks do, really, perhaps unaware that lies of that caliber are even possible, or that their rulers would dare.

Some of the lies used to sell the intervention in Bosnia were extremely sophisticated: "death camps" and "rape camps," claims of "genocide," etc. By the time of the Kosovo intervention, mere four years later, the Empire's best was a rather sloppy "massacre" in Racak. And last year, we got perhaps the most brazen, dumbest lie yet, the "Iraqi WMDs."

In so many books and films both, any sort of nefarious conspiracy is ruined by the act of revealing the truth to "the People" (the near-godlike concept in the pseudoreligion known as Democracy, afflicting much of humanity right now). Life is no movie, though. So many lies - both Racak and the WMDs, for instance - have been exposed and debunked, yet they are widely believed still! "The People" either cannot grasp that their leaders are capable of lying to them, or simply don't care.

I'll let you figure out which is scarier.

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

What Tadic Really Said

Western media were quick to trumpet that during his state visit to Sarajevo, Serbian president Boris Tadic "apologized" to "Bosnians" for crimes Serbians committed during the 1992-95 war. Left unsaid - but assumed, as per years of propaganda - was that this "proved" Serbia's involvement in the war and the systematic nature of the alleged atrocities.

Here's the problem: Tadic actually said no such thing.

And here's another: even so, the assumption remained.

According to Beta, a Serbian news agency with Western funding (i.e. definitely mainstream), he apologized to all those "who were victims of crimes perpetrated by ethnic Serbs," but also said he expected apologies from all who perpetrated crimes against Serbs, Croats and Bosniaks [sic].

"The Serbian nation as a whole did not commit crimes. Individuals did. So it is impossible to accuse an entire nation. We all owe each other an apology," Tadic told the press. (Serbian original here)

According to Beta, he also said that there were atrocities on all sides in the region, and that he expected others to apologize for their crimes committed against Serbs, Croats and Bosniaks [sic], and that there should be no exceptions where crimes are concerned.

"The history of atrocities in this region is long. The International Court [sic] in The Hague isn't the only institution that has to foster reconciliation," said Tadic, and pointed out that politicians now have the responsibility to build a future in which the following generations would cooperate and foster peace and reconciliation.

While what Tadic says sounds entirely rational, politically it is the very definition of stupidity. First of all, he is not a head of state (yet), so he has no standing to visit Bosnia as one. Second, he has no standing to make an apology of any sort; he doesn't represent even the people of Serbia (unless one counts 27% of the entire electorate as unanimous endorsement), let alone the Serbs of Bosnia.

The Bosnian Muslims ("Bosniaks" mentioned above) blame Serbia for "aggression" against Bosnia; U.S. efforts to sideline the Bosnian Serb leadership and impose Serbian president Milosevic (yes, that Milosevic) as their chief negotiator at the Dayton talks were meant to provide substance for this claim. After all, if Milosevic had nothing to do with the Bosnian Serbs, as he claimed, how could he negotiate a peace deal on their behalf? The logic is obvious.

Now Tadic walks headlong into the same trap: by issuing an apology on behalf of all Serbs - i.e. both Bosnian Serbs and Serbia - he implicitly agrees Serbia was somehow complicit in the atrocities. Leaving aside the issue of whether this is actually true (I argue that it isn't, but that's another topic entirely), this is most definitely not how politics, or diplomacy, is done.

This man is either hopelessly naive, or really, really stupid. Or both.

Your Papers, Please

A source on Capitol Hill tells me that the U.S. Congress is about to pass a bill that would introduce a national ID card. Despite the reasoned arguments and pleas for sanity, Americans will soon hear the well-known totalitarian phrase, "Your papers, please," whenever accosted by an armed employee of the United State (the last "s" having been superficial since 1865). In fact, as the Nine Nazgul see it, they already have to.

Well, if this is how the Empire defines "freedom" at home, I really shouldn't be surprised at what it's doing in the Balkans, or the Middle East - or anywhere else, for that matter.

Monday, December 06, 2004

The Problem is Policy

Whether I agree with him or not (which is rarely, but it does happen), I've always considered Charley Reese wise. Here's his take on the Ukraine situation, short, sweet and to the point:
A second flaw in American imperialistic foreign policy is that we are, frankly, incompetent. Our government has designated as "pro-Western" some of the worst human beings ever to walk on this Earth. We have installed far more dictators than we have democrats, and every time the blowback has cost us. [...] Surely most Americans realize that the unusual amount of hostility toward us is not because the rest of the world consists of New England liberals. Even the Pentagon has finally come up with a study that says exactly what I, the rest of the world and even al-Qaida have been saying: The world hates our foreign policy, not us, and not because we are free or rich but because we are arrogantly attempting to dominate the world.

Thursday, December 02, 2004

Enough with "fascism," already

Today on, Paul Gottfried offers a helpful clarification on why it is wrong to use the term "fascist" for neocons, pointing out that this particular definition fits only a specific movement in a specific time context.

Current political labels are either completely meaningless, or woefully obsolete. Being "left" or "right" doesn't mean much any more, if it ever did mean anything but a dim memory of seating arrangements in the French Etates-General.

I would normally have no problem with using the term "neoconservative" (or better yet, "neocon") - which despite the whining is actually embraced by movement luminaries such as Irving Kristol - except that it creates confusion. The neocons aren't really "conservative," but rather seek to destroy old values so they can impose new, "better" ones.

The best description I've seen so far is Claes G. Ryn's term "neo-Jacobins." But it's still a reference to something from a past context.

Either way, "fascists" just doesn't work.

Wednesday, December 01, 2004

More about Bosnia deaths

In light of news that the Bosnia death toll has been fixed at much less than the oft-repeated 250,000, Stella Jatras e-mailed me a reminder that she had questioned the Official Truth back in 1996. Her article makes sense, unlike the Official Truth, but that's just the point: when it came to Bosnia, all logic flew out of the window, and reports carried only the vilest propaganda, the more outrageous the better.

I'm willing to bet money the "legacy media" (thanks to Vox Day for the phrase) continues to report the wrong, inflated, propaganda figure of 250,000 or more. Lying is a habit, and old habits die hard...

The Myth of 250,000 Muslim Deaths Continues by Stella L. Jatras, 9/23/96
The myth of 250,000 Muslim deaths in Bosnia continues. Unfortunately, the pundits obviously have not taken the time to do some simple arithmetic.
In January of 1993, UPI claimed 17,000 deaths on all sides in Bosnia. Also in January of 1993, Haris Siladjzic, Prime Minister of the Bosnian Islamic government claimed 18,000 Muslim deaths. On June 15th 1993, at the Human Rights convention in Vienna, Mr. Siladjzic claimed 200,000 Muslim deaths, an increase of 182,000 in five months! And this figure as accepted by the journalistic community without question. In the more than three years since then, the figure has increased to 250,000. If the figure 18,000 was correct in January 1993, then five months later the 200,000 figure would represent 180,000 additional Muslims killed or 36,000 per month or 1,200 victims per day.
Haris Siladjzic also said on CNN that when Tuzla was shelled, the 71 victims represented the single largest killing of Muslims in one day in the entire war. Therefore, if we take 42 months or 1,260 days of war and used the Tuzla figure of 71 as the maximum deaths per day, we come up with a total of 89,460.
George Kenney, a former State Department officer well versed in events in Bosnia, puts the casualty figure between 20,000 to 60,000 and David Binder, a highly respected foreign correspondent with 30 years of experience in the Balkans claimed in a recent World Affairs council speech in Orange County, California, that the combined totals of all humanitarian organizations can’t even come up with 70,000 victims. As an example, where are the lists of names of the 7,000 Srebrenica victims as claimed by the Bosnian government?
The extent to which many journalists are willing to accept one-sided propaganda in order to vilify the Serbs in this civil war is appalling. The numbers just don’t add up. This distortion of reality should raise questions in the minds of any ethnical journalist; instead, it is indicative of the media’s yellow journalism throughout this conflict.

Tuesday, November 30, 2004

Bosnia Death Toll Revealed!

At long last, the Big Lie can be laid to rest: the war in Bosnia did not result in "260,000 dead" or any such nonsense. Even though that figure is mentioned in just about every report mentioning Bosnia, and in recent months has been presented as a result of "most estimates," in truth it has always been a purely fictitious number, created for propaganda purposes in 1994.

Norwegian news agency NTB published a report on November 14 (original in Norwegian here), which challenges the 260,000 number using information by researchers of none other than the Hague Inqusition. These researchers claim the actual death toll is around 102,000, breaking down something like this:

"The researchers estimate the number of killed civilian Muslims and Croats to be around 38,000, while the number of killed civilian Serbs was about 16,700. Among military personnel, the researchers think close to 28,000 people were killed in the government army, mostly Bosnian Muslims. On the Serb side, 14,000 soldiers were killed, while a bit over 6,000 Bosnian Croat soldiers lost their lives because of actions of war."

To the best of my knowledge, this article is not available on the Web in English. I received the translation today from a reliable source, who credited it to Kristian Kahrs. All emphasis is mine.

102,000 killed in Bosnia
Published on Nov. 14, 2004
By Kjell Arild Nilsen, NTB (Norwegian News Agency)

The number of people killed in the war in Bosnia-Herzegovina was around 102,000, according to research done by the International Criminal Tribunalfor the former Yugoslavia (ICTY). This is half of earlier estimates.

The most common and most widely used number of killed persons in the Bosnia war has been around 200,000. But research shows that this number is too high.

Researchers at the court estimate the correct number to be a bit over 102,000.
This number deviates somewhat from a documentation project going on in Bosnia, and project leader Mirsad Tokaca concludes that the number of killed was between 130,000 and 150,000.


The research project is conducted by the two population experts Ewa Tabeau and Jacub Bijak, who works for the ICTY prosecution.
The results were presented at a conference for population experts, demographists, in Norway one year ago, but they have not been publicly known.

NTB has recently gained access to the material presented at the conference, and for the first time they published scientific calculations of how many civilians were killed in the terrible war in Bosnia-Herzegovina from 1992 to 1995.

Civilians and military

102,622 civilians and military personnel were killed, Tabeau and Bijak conclude. 55,261 civilians and 47,360 soldiers were killed, including Bosnian Muslims, Bosnian Serbs and Bosnian Croats.

The researchers estimate the number of killed civilian Muslims and Croats tobe around 38,000, while the number of killed civilian Serbians was about 16,700.
Among military personnel, the researchers think close to 28,000 people were killed in the government army, mostly Bosnian Muslims.

On the Serbian side, 14,000 soldiers were killed, while a bit over 6,000 Bosnian Croatian soldiers lost their lives because of actions of war.

Higher number

"The project of the Sarajevo Research and Documentation Center also has a goal to document every single person killed in the war," tells project leader Tokaca.
He is not surprised about the numbers of the Hague researchers, but he thinks his own project will conclude with higher numbers.

"In October we had over 84,000 documented names of killed persons, and by the end of the year I think we will have around 100,000," he says.

The project ends this spring, and Tokaca's rough estimate is that they willend up with a number between 130,000 and 150,000.

"I don't like to make premature estimates. But it will be over 100,000, and surely under 200,000. Our list only includes persons killed as an action of war, not those who died of indirect reasons of war," says Tokaca who cannot give enough praise to the support of the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Conservative estimates

Researchers Tabeau [and] Bijak have taken a clear reservation that the number could be higher than previously concluded.

Because the researchers work for the prosecution at the ICTY, the numbers have to be so certain that they can be used as documentation in the court.
Numbers for persons dying during the war because of lack of food, low temperatures, lack of medicines and other endeavors in the war inflicted on the civilian population are not included.

The researches are also careful to note that new documentation could influence the final result.

Wrong numbers

The most commonly used number for killed persons in the war in Bosnia-Herzegovina has been 200,000, and this number has been repeated ininternational media since 1994.

The number originates from Cherif Bassouni, who was the leader of UN's expert commission investigating war crimes in the former Yugoslavia, finishing their work in 1994.

Tabeau and Bijak conclude that this number is too high, and it was not based on an examination of the cause of death in every single case, rather a summary statistics based on numbers of killed and missing received by the commission in their work and added together.The researchers also reject other numbers presented, ranging from 25,000 to 329,000.

Norway's contribution has been essential to conclude the research.

The demographic unit at the office of the prosecution was established in 1998, and the two researchers said their positions would not be possible to fund without generous contributions from Norway's government.

Sunday, November 28, 2004

Secession in Ukraine?

Maybe The Answer, But Not The Issue

Looking at the electoral map of Ukraine, Lew Rockwell ponders whether secession might be one way out of the current crisis. Though I don't know much about Ukraine's history, I know enough to realize the "blue" regions are overwhelmingly Orthodox and Russian, while the "yellow" regions are Catholic (outright or Eastern-rite) and anti-Russian. Indeed, some territories - the Donbas and Crimea, for instance - were Russian lands given to Ukraine by Communists.

Where I disagree with Lew, and strongly, is his admiration for Eric Margolis, whose work is colored by a strong Slavophobia. For all his protestations of Imperial invasions in the Middle East, Margolis has been a hard-line warmonger regarding the Balkans. Seems like he's never seen a war on Orthodox Christians he didn't like, just as he's never seen a war on Muslims he didn't oppose. Why not oppose them all, Eric?

I've written before about the tremendous benefits of peaceful separation between conflicting communities. If people of Western Ukraine want to become the latest EU snack, who has the right to stop them? If the Russophile Eastern Ukrainians refuse to serve the Brussels-Washington Empire, why should they? By what mystical margin does the will of one group become the only legitimate view? Democracy is obviously nonsense.

Unfortunately, secession isn't at issue here. Western Ukrainians are being used as stooges of the Empire, to take over the entire country. The orange-clad, Soros-sponsored followers of Viktor Yushchenko don't want to secede, but rather to force their pro-Russian compatriots to submit to their rule.

That's aggression. No libertarian can support that.

Friday, November 26, 2004


In today's Guardian, Ian Traynor has an analysis that flat-out admits that the Empire used elections to subvert Serbia, Belarus, Georgia, and now Ukraine. The UK paper may have opposes George W. Bush, but it just loves the postmodern State and the Atlantic Empire. However slimy the Brit government is - I mean, Tony Blair really sets the standard for sleaziness - and however muzzled their press, they still manage to get to the truth more often than their American colleagues, who just march in lockstep. Remarkable.

Anyway, here's some highlights from Traynor's piece, with my occasional comments:
"the campaign is an American creation, a sophisticated and brilliantly conceived exercise in western branding and mass marketing that, in four countries in four years, has been used to try to salvage rigged elections and topple unsavoury regimes."

Notice the spin here, implying the elections are always "rigged" and the Empire merely "salvages" them from "unsavouries"!

"...the campaign was first used in Europe in Belgrade in 2000 to beat Slobodan Milosevic at the ballot box. Richard Miles, the US ambassador in Belgrade, played a key role. And by last year, as US ambassador in Tbilisi, he repeated the trick in Georgia, coaching Mikhail Saakashvili in how to bring down Eduard Shevardnadze."

[...] "...the experience gained in Serbia, Georgia and Belarus has been invaluable in plotting to beat the regime of Leonid Kuchma in Kiev. The operation – engineering democracy through the ballot box and civil disobedience – is now so slick that the methods have matured into a template for winning other people’s elections." [emphasis mine]

[...] "The Democratic party’s National Democratic Institute, the Republican party’s International Republican Institute, the US state department and USAid are the main agencies involved in these grassroots campaigns as well as the Freedom House NGO and billionaire George Soros’s open society institute." [Here he follows the money: future victims, take note!]

"The usually fractious oppositions have to be united behind a single candidate if there is to be any chance of unseating the regime. That leader is selected on pragmatic and objective grounds, even if he or she is anti-American. In Serbia, US pollsters Penn, Schoen and Berland Associates discovered that the assassinated pro-western opposition leader, Zoran Djindjic, was reviled at home and had no chance of beating Milosevic fairly in an election. He was persuaded to take a back seat to the anti-western Vojislav Kostunica..."

Reviled is the right word; deplored is another good one. That his death was used as a pretext to impose martial law, create political capital for his party, and put in charge a cabal of far less competent but even more unsavory types, leads me to suspect his own associates offed ol' Zoran. The whole cui bono? thing, you know. But back to Traynor.

"Officially, the US government spent $41m (£21.7m) organising and funding the year-long operation to get rid of Milosevic from October 1999. In Ukraine, the figure is said to be around $14m."

Consider there were "suitcases full of cash" coming into Serbia, in the words of the Washington Post, and you'll realize these figures are much too low.

"Freedom House and the Democratic party’s NDI helped fund and organise the 'largest civil regional election monitoring effort' in Ukraine, involving more than 1,000 trained observers. They also organised exit polls. [...] The exit polls are seen as critical because they seize the initiative in the propaganda battle with the regime, invariably appearing first, receiving wide media coverage and putting the onus on the authorities to respond."

First Strike propaganda doctrine, so often used in the Balkans wars: any claim, however outrageous, is believable if it comes first. Any denial, no matter how truthful or believable, will be discounted because of perceptions already created by the first strike. Oh, and this also shows that exit polls favoring the pro-Imperial challenger were fabricated, of course.

"If the events in Kiev vindicate the US in its strategies for helping other people win elections and take power from anti-democratic regimes, it is certain to try to repeat the exercise elsewhere in the post-Soviet world. The places to watch are Moldova and the authoritarian countries of central Asia."

Of course, if the US loses in Kiev, like it did in Minsk in 2001, it will try again. But such a defeat would be a big victory for liberty.

Monday, November 22, 2004

Arbour, then and now

In today’s Washington Post, columnist Jackson Diehl cautiously criticizes the US military’s all-out assault on Fallujah, not because it killed people and broke things, but because it made the US look bad on TV. Well, he is an interventionist.

Diehl describes the footage of a Marine shooting a wounded Iraqi as a “spectacle,” and argues that an “understandable enough” response for Americans is “rage at the vicious anti-Americanism that drives the popular media of the Middle East, and at the milder variety that informs [UN Human Rights Commissioner Louise] Arbour, a Canadian, and many of her European counterparts.”

Here’s the funny part. Diehl, or any of his colleagues in the mainstream punditocracy, wasn't bothered by Louise Arbour in the least back in 1999, when she was the chief prosecutor of the kangaroo court known as the ICTY.

As such, she had issued an indictment against Yugoslav president Slobodan Milosevic in the midst of NATO’s aggression against his country. The indictment came after several very embarrassing “mistakes” by NATO bombers, and made Louise an instant hero in NATOland. For her dedicated service to the Imperial cause, she was later rewarded by a position on Canada’s supreme court, and eventually her present UN post.

While I don’t remember Diehl’s opinions during the Kosovo war itself, he endorsed the Official Truth in a subsequent column discussing the war in Macedonia, in which he also fawned over Kosovo war’s principal criminal, Gen. Wesley Clark. So I don’t suppose he thought back then that Arbour or America’s European accomplices in NATO were “informed” by any sort of “anti-Americanism.”

But I guess the shoe is on the other foot now, and it fits.

Ukraine's key election 'rigged'

There they go again...

Every time the candidate favored by Washington and/or Brussels loses an election, it's declared "rigged" or "stolen." Every time they steal an election, it's a glorious "triumph of democracy."

I don't know enough to say whether Yushchenko or Yanukovich is the right man to lead Ukraine; that's up to Ukrainians, or at least it should be. But I do know that Yushchenko hired Serbian "revolutionaries" - young janissaries trained by the CIA to create marketing campaigns and orchestrate public demonstrations against incumbent governments in favor of Washington-sponsored challengers.

The Independent reported it on November 2. These are the same characters who engineered the "Rose revolution" in Georgia (Caucasus) last December. There is a clear pattern here, from Serbia in 2000, Belarus in 2001 (that one failed) to Georgia in 2003; now the people behind the supposedly idealistic "Serbian" activists (they actually loathe Serbs and their culture, and worship Modernity and the omnipotent welfate State) are trying to have their way with Ukraine. Lord forbid Ukrainians elect who they want, and not a "progressive reformer" or some such character, endorsed by the Empire.

Now, that doesn't automatically mean a candidate the EU and U.S. oppose is an angel; no politician is, by definition. But it makes me wonder what the Empire is so scared of...

Friday, November 19, 2004

Appropriate symbolism

A new design for the DOJ seal by Quiddity (courtesy of tex at the blog):


The motto is taken from Ovid, and means: "The result justifies the deed."
Or, in the more familiar iteration: "The end justifies the means."
If ever there was a slogan that would adequately describe the Imperial government, this is one.

"Why we fight"

I'm not talking about Frank Capra's WW2 propaganda films here, but about Justin Raimondo's brilliant editorial on today, worth quoting at length:
American imperialism is bad for America. It undermines our republican (small-'r') institutions, it renders the effort to roll back Big Government futile, and it corrupts our character as a people. It also kills those it is supposed to be "liberating" – a moral conundrum that none of the advocates of America's "benevolent hegemony" acknowledge, let alone have an answer to.
War has a degenerative effect on republican institutions, and fatally undermines the rule of law and constitutional government, for the simple reason that war is lawlessness. While we all pretend that there are "rules of war," and every nation swears to abide by the Geneva Conventions, everybody knows that this is balderdash pure and simple. If you want to see the "rules of war" in operation, take a look at that video of a U.S. Marine blasting the head off a wounded insurgent in a Fallujah mosque. That is the true face of war, which is why no American television station has dared show the full unedited footage.
War centralizes political authority and economic power, investing all power in the state – and assigning obedience, rather than freedom, to the top rank in the social hierarchy of values. This, for libertarians, is the crux of the matter.
All States are necessarily aggressive, first and foremost against their own citizen-subjects. They exist by plundering producers and redistributing the loot to their precinct captains and supporters. The State is perpetually at war with those it robs and regulates. An apparatus especially designed to maintain a monopoly of violence in a given geographical area, it is the perfect war-fighting machine.
Aside from the question of whether such an institution is a necessary evil, or should be altogether abolished, all libertarians must agree that the power of the State should be severely limited – and not only within its own borders but also beyond.
The quest for empire is, in itself, a form of corruption: it is the rot that eats away at the tree of liberty, invisibly hollowing it out and depriving it of its essence. Let us tend our own garden, and leave others in peace to tend theirs.

Thursday, November 18, 2004

And so it begins...

It was about time I got on this whole blogging bandwagon, I guess. For the 18 months, I've been posting on the blog - and I intend to continue doing so, mind you - in addition to my regular weekly column there. Not only is it a great way to post up-to-date comments on developing stories, but it's also fun.

So I figured, might as well expand the offering, and blog some more about news and commentary from and about the Balkans - specifically, the former Yugoslavia - that doesn't necessarily deal with opposition to Imperial warfare.

(NB: Listen very carefully: I shall define Empire only once.)

I don't think I've seen a blog anywhere about taxation in Bosnia, or ethnic relations in Croatia, or the occupation of Kosovo, or the slow death of Macedonia; and that's a shame, because these are interesting topics. To me, anyway.

I took the title for the blog from the book by Dame Rebecca West, published between the world wars. It's no easy reading, but considering the subject, it cannot be.

What this blog aims to be is a voice in the wilderness against the post-modernist nihilism, statism and tyranny that - in addition to outside intervention - plagues my former homeland. Thanks to a century of "progress," the kind, noble people Dame Rebecca described have all but vanished. If by anything I do I can bring some of them back, I promise to try.