January 30th 2007 04:55:31 PM
A lot of people are upset that I’m not answering every one of the 600 letters I got. Sorry, that’s not possible. But over the next couple days I will be answering certain repeated points that were made in some of the more civil letters. Here is the relevant part of one such letter, from Marija Valentic:
As interesting and confusing your article is about Croatia, I have two questions that I would like for you to answer. They are two simple questions, and if you cannot answer these easy history questions, then you need to do more research about Croatia, Serbia, Bosnia, Kosova, Germany, America, etc. The questions are as follows: Did the Croatians enter into Serbia, or did the Serbians enter into Croatia? Question 2 - Did the Croatians try to create one country called Greater Croatia, or did the Serbs try to create one country called Greater Serbia? How would you feel if someone came into our free country of America and try to create an entirely different country. All Americans would and should be upset, as were the Croatians. If you cannot answer these questions, then shame on you for making a very biast opinion and influencing other people.
I’m so glad you asked, Marija! Starting in 1990, the Krajina Serbs, who had been living in Krajina for close to 500 years, were facing a new Croatian constitution that would reduce Serb status and rights from a “national constituency” to a “national minority.” The Krajina Serbs were then denied autonomy within Croatia and then denied independence, while Croatia went on to declare independence. For some reason, those strange, strange Serbs decided it’s probably not a good idea to live with minority status under people who slaughtered them in WWII. To this day, Serbs in Croatia continue to face the real-world consequences of Tudjman’s constitution, such as losses of jobs and housing rights — in addition to violent attacks.
To an outside observer, it appears that people’s biggest beef with the Serbs closely resembles the beef that the world has with Israelis: that they refuse to happily drop dead. (Interestingly, I heard from many Croatian “critics” of Israel.)
As Boston Herald columnist Don Feder has pointed out: If independence is good for Slovenians, for Macedonians, for Croatians, for Bosniaks, and even for the Albanians of Kosovo, why not for the Krajina Serbs? The answer is…DRUM ROLL, DRUM ROLL, DRUM ROLL… The answer is always the same: THE SERBS LOSE. That’s the golden rule that has guided Balkans policy, from within and from without:
Q: What’s the temperature outside?
A: The Serbs lose.
Q: What time is it?
A: The Serbs lose.
Q: What’s your dog’s name?
A: The Serbs lose.
Writer Nebojsa Malic questions this golden rule in his 2005 piece “Empire’s Endgame”:
What sense does it make to insist on the inviolability of republic borders when Yugoslavia was falling apart — which meant insisting on the territorial integrity of Bosnia and Croatia while disenfranchising some 2 million Serbs therein — but arguing precisely the opposite when it comes to some 2 million Albanians in Kosovo and within the borders of Serbia? Indeed, what is the logic behind the eagerness of Serbs, Croats, Muslims, and Albanians to join the EU for the sake of belonging to something bigger, when 15 years ago, they had that something. It was called Yugoslavia.
Now, Marija, I’m even happier that you asked the second question — the one about whether it was Croatia that tried to create a country called Greater Croatia, or if it was Serbia that tried to create a country called Greater Serbia. Here is your answer, something that I was originally going to post as a self-contained blog by itself, called “Gee, I Could Have Sworn…”
Gee, I could have sworn that we were told Slobodan Milosevic was responsible for the Balkan wars — that he was part of a “joint criminal enterprise” that tried to form a “Greater Serbia.” Does anyone else remember this? I just could have sworn that was part of the indictment against him. But, in addition to countless other findings to the contrary, doesn’t this recent report from the Institute of War and Peace — a body as conformingly anti-Serb as anyone else — kind of put a wrinkle in that theory:
Speaking at the war crimes trial of six Bosnian Croat officials, former [U.S.] ambassador Peter Galbraith testified that his government pressured the authorities in Croatia to secure the dismissal of Slobodan Praljak, the military commander of Bosnian Croat forces, HVO, and Mate Boban, the then president of the wartime entity of Herceg-Bosna.
The six accused…were senior political and military figures in Herceg-Bosna. They are charged with war crimes and crimes against humanity [and] accused of being part of a “joint criminal enterprise to politically and militarily subjugate, permanently remove and ethnically cleanse Bosnian Muslims and other non-Croats” from parts of Bosnia that was claimed as part of Herceg-Bosna, and “to join these areas as part of a Greater Croatia”.
The indictments says [sic] that others involved in this joint criminal enterprise included the former president of Croatia Franjo Tudman, former Croatian defence minister Gojko Susak, and Mate Boban, who was president of Herceg-Bosna. All three are now deceased.
Earlier in his testimony, Galbraith claimed that during the conflict, Tudjman was just as much the president of the Herceg-Bosna entity as he was of the Republic of Croatia, and had ultimate control of both the HVO and Croatia’s regular army.
…The witness gave a fascinating insight into the mind of Tudjman and his obsession with creating what Galbraith termed “a great greater Croatia” by carving up and appending parts of neighbouring Bosnia.
Tudjman “believed BiH [Bosnia and Hercegovina] could not or should not continue as a sovereign independent state and that a substantial part of Bosnian territory should become territory of Croatia”, Galbraith said.
The Croatian leader never gave up on this obsession, he said, and kept trying to convert him to his way of thinking, despite being aware of the US position that everyone must accept “the borders of the [former Yugoslav] states as they had emerged in 1991”, the year the country imploded.
First to cross-examine Galbraith on his testimony was Praljak, who is conducting his own defence. The former theatre director…commended Galbraith on his “great eloquence”, before demanding to know what information he had that Praljak, as the former leader of the HVO, was “doing bad things”.
Galbraith simply answered, “You were the commander of the HVO.” He then went on to list a catalogue of abuses for which the HVO was allegedly responsible, including the obstruction of humanitarian convoys into Bosnia, the shelling of the east Mostar, the killing of large numbers of Muslim civilians, and the detention of others in inhumane conditions.
“Rapes took place in HVO camps, and you were in charge of this,” he concluded.
What?! You mean the Serbs weren’t the only ones involved in rapes and “concentration camps” (Note the word “detention” camps is used when talking about non-Serb Balkan players.) As for Milosevic’s alleged dream of a “Greater Serbia,” here’s where that conversation ended at the Milosevic trial, during the testimony of defense witness Vojislav Seselj:
Hague transcript, Aug. 25, 2005 —
WITNESS: …the concept of Greater Serbia can by no means be identified with any sort of practice of persecuting Catholic, Muslim, or any other population. In all the proclamations of the freedom-loving Serbian movement, the Serbian Radical Party, and all other parties I’ve led, we keep appealing for the unification of Protestant, Catholic, Orthodox, Muslim, and all other Serbs. That cannot be linked with the concept of Greater Serbia. Persecution is not in line with the concept of Greater Serbia, but you won’t let me say it. That’s why we insist on including Catholics, Protestants, Muslims into our party and giving them high positions. We are opposing the Vatican policy that appeals to Catholics to declare themselves as Catholics, non-Serbs…
[ICTY’s COUNSEL TO THE DEFENSE STEVEN KAY reads back to prosecutor Geoffrey Nice an opening statement by the prosecution]: “The army, the evidence will be, was no better, it having committed itself to the accused’s programme. Officers being instilled with the ideology of brotherhood and unity totally abandoned everything in favour of a Greater Serbia. They shared the arrogance, did the army, of the civilian leaders and saw no reason to confer.” It did seem that the thrust of the Prosecution case was that there had been a plan by this accused for a Greater Serbia, and there has been cross-examination to that effect…So if concessions are going to be made on the issue, they must be made clearly and frankly and transparently.
JUDGE [PATRICK] ROBINSON: I am fully in agreement with you, Mr. Kay, and I’m going to ask Mr. Nice now if his position is different, then say so…Because I had the clear impression that this was an essential foundation of the Prosecution’s case.
MR. NICE: Your Honour, I’m very sorry about that…Now, I have always made it plain…that the words “Greater Serbia” come from others and not from the accused. What we allege against the accused is that he cleaved to — for his own purposes maybe — a plan to have all Serbs living in one state. That creates a de facto Greater Serbia because the western boundaries, Virovitica-Karlobag line are all the same. But are we saying that he is a proponent personally of an historical Greater Serbia concept? We haven’t said that…
JUDGE ROBINSON: But you’re not saying it was one of the basic foundations that one of the basic ideas prompting the joint criminal enterprise?
MR. NICE: The concept that all Serbs should live in one state is different from the concept of a Greater Serbia as you’ve just heard from this witness…It’s different…Maybe with his being put in the driving seat of movements of others that did espouse Greater Serbia he pursued policies that may have had a similar effect. But have we ever said that that was his driving force, the historical concept of a Greater Serbia; no, we haven’t…
As some ICTY observers have concluded, the decision to add the Bosnia and Croatia indictments to the trial once the prosecution came up empty-handed in the Kosovo indictment was made because of a perception that Milosevic provoked all three conflicts as part of a conspiracy to create a “Greater Serbia.”
A “joint criminal enterprise” was just one of many charges against Milosevic that fell through during the course of the trial that no one covered. A week later, when Seselj testified that Milosevic couldn’t exceed his authority as Serbia’s — and not Yugoslavia’s — president and therefore his acts of omission had to do with the limits of his office, Judge Robinson said that the charges of torture and forced deportation by the Yugoslav National Army had no basis if neither Serbia nor Milosevic controlled the army. Indeed, with his role limited to merely advising and strategizing with the Bosnian Serbs, Milosevic in 1993 convinced the Bosnian Serbs to not attack Srebrenica, enabling the UN to set up a “safe haven” and heading off that offensive by two years.
(Safe haven is in quotes because, as UN General Philippe Morillon testified, he failed to demilitarize it and so the Bosnian Muslims used it as a launching pad for attacks on Serb civilians and soldiers.)
By the beginning of 2006, the court found itself still nowhere close to a conviction, yet acquittal wasn’t an option, since the worldwide riots that would result from such an outcome would make the Mohammad cartoon riots look like a pep rally. Less than three months later, Milosevic himself solved the court’s quandary by dying, after the court denied him further medical treatment.
Meanwhile, Greater Albania chugs along full steam as Kosovo is set to get independence this year, with U.S. support fully behind it.
January 29th 2007 02:33:08 PM
In case you didn’t catch it under “What’s New,” our third episode of “The America Show” is viewable on YouTube.
January 29th 2007 04:46:09 AM
For some reason, several Croatian people have sent me this Jerusalem Post article. Are they saying, “Look — we haven’t been Nazis since 2000!”? –
“Jewish foundation holds Holocaust seminar in Croatia”
A US-based Jewish foundation held a Holocaust seminar for Croatian teachers, Thursday, to help them present the era effectively to their pupils. Stories of Anne Frank, Oscar Schindler and Croats who saved Jews during World War II were retold in the seminar, organized by the New York-based Jewish Foundation of the Righteous.
The initiative is another sign that Croatia has become ready to face its World War II past, when it was a Nazi puppet state that persecuted hundreds of thousands of Serbs, Jews, Gypsies and anti-fascist Croats.
In the early 1990’s, when Croatia was run by nationalist President Franjo Tudjman, authorities often tried to justify crimes committed by its pro-Nazis and school textbooks often omitted or distorted some wartime events.
The pro-Western governments that took power after Tudjman’s death in 1999 have openly condemned Nazism and fascism. New textbooks were printed and teachers are encouraged to devote additional time to teaching about it, beyond mandatory lessons on the subject.
The issue, however, remains sensitive, and some Croats still play down the wartime crimes.
Helena Strugar, one of about 25 teachers at the seminar, acknowledged the treatment of the World War II in schools changed significantly since 2000.
A good first step toward acknowledging that there has been a problem.
January 28th 2007 01:36:12 PM
When George W. Bush became president, I wrote a joke that goes:
All my Democratic female friends are freaking out that Bush got elected, saying “Ohmygod, what’s going to happen to healthcare, what’s going to happen to women’s rights, to abortion rights?! I’m moving to Canada; they’ve got nationalized medicine over there. I’m going to Canada…” So I told them, “Go ahead. Go to Canada. You can get an abortion over there. But the waiting list is nine months.”
Sure enough, it’s no joke — at least in England (though we’ll be hearing about other countries soon enough). From the BBC on Monday:
Women are having to wait up to seven weeks for an abortion, more than twice the maximum three week wait set by the government, the BBC has learned…One west London GP told the BBC’s World At One programme some of his patients had to wait until they were 15 weeks pregnant before having an abortion.
January 26th 2007 01:21:29 PM
An entertainment industry newsletter I receive reports that Muslim Girl Magazine debuts this month.
The bi-monthly lifestyle magazine is targeted to American Muslim girls 14-18 yrs old and aims to challenge the stereotypes of Muslim girls in the US and will feature teen girls that are proud of both being an American and a Muslim…
According to a study of US Muslim teen girls commissioned by the magazine, this group is not too different from the average US teen girl in terms of what they like (e.g. TV, internet, shopping, videogames, the phone etc). With that said, there are some differences — for example, Muslim girls report they get their news from Al Jazeera, socialize at IslamiCity and among the things they do outside of school is study the Qur’an…
Good. It’s important to challenge the stereotypes that people have of Muslim girls. Because here I was thinking that they watch Al Jazeera, hang out at IslamiCity and study the Koran in their spare time.
(Meanwhile, it’s nice that we’re creating a world within a world for them, which will breed the same problematic mentalities that afflict the countries they left.)
January 26th 2007 01:18:27 PM
A letter from a Canadian-Serb e-mail friend named Svetlana Novko, who runs the Byzantine Art blog and from whom I borrowed the term “Undead” in reference to the Croatian Nazis. It gives some background, helps explain the Croatian outrage that such an article as mine could be printed, and offers a glimpse into a world we thought was as much a relic as its gas chambers, but which in actuality still coexists with the modern era, and with America’s blessings.
Well, I really don’t want to sound paranoid, but I’m honestly starting to think that kind of pathology [Ustasha sympathies] is so prevalent among the Croats, that not having the Ustasha outlook and beliefs is an exception. It’s as if it comes naturally to them.
My father-in-law is a Croat who lives in Belgrade for forty years now; but he’s originally from Varazdin, a Croatian city in the heart of Zagorje, what Croats consider their “heartland” and he still remembers that the entire city except his and one other family was Ustasha before WWII started. The entire city — every single family and everyone from the policemen to the judges, to school teachers!
My father was horrified when he went to Zagreb with my mother to her business meeting, in the sixties, during Tito — “brotherhood and unity” and all that — and on a city bus an old man who stood next to him started talking to him, thinking he’s also a Croat, about the area they were passing through, how filthy and stinky it is, because “the Gypsy-Serbs live here”, adding it should all be “purged again”.
This wasn’t uncommon — it is exactly the same as Austrians in Vienna will often say the Jewish parts of town are filthy. Our Jewish friend from Belgrade told us his own mother was mistaken for a non-Jew [in Vienna] and told by a building neighbor he hopes no Jews move into their building, because they are “so filthy — we don’t want any Jews here.” The poor woman didn’t dare say a word, while my father almost started a war right then and there . This is how it is. It is not cured.
(An aside: Interestingly, I did hear from a Croatian-Austrian who introduced himself with: “I am one of 99% Austrians who love and support Croatia and their people,” and found it telling that “Croatia is at least 5 more years ahead of Serbia for joining EU.” …Uh, precisely one reason that the article had to be written.)
Brani [husband] and I were in Belgrade until 1995 and I remember how shocked and mortified we all were to watch the overnight coat-turning in Croatia, the moment Tudjman came to power: it was like going back in time and watching the rise of fascism all over again. At some point during the war in Croatia, Milan Panic, a successful businessman and an expat from the U.S., was given the lead in Serbia and he made a total mess of things. Without understanding what is really going on or knowing the background of any of it, he thought we should all just hug and kiss and be friends again, so he agreed to “exchange” prisoners of war with Croatia and went to the ‘border’ handing over Croats who had cut off Serbian ears and gouged out Serbian eyes, in exchange for Serbian pickpockets and petty thieves that Croats gathered around their prisons .
It was a major scandal and I think Panic was forced to step down after that idiocy. But anyway, I watched the exchange of prisoners at an open road on the Croatian border on TV and remember how the top official from the Croat side — I think it was Mate Boban or someone like that — kept saying: “Welcome home, Ustashas, welcome to your Croatian Fatherland! Don’t be embarrassed, you are Ustashas, you may say you are Ustashas here, and you should be proud of it!” — in front of cameras, in front of reporters, he kept going on and saying these things as if it’s really an honor to be an Ustasha.
…Just a few [weeks] ago, [Croatian president Stjepan] Mesic opened the new Jasenovac “memorial” (ENTIRELY whitewashed!) and was holding nice speeches, saying all the right and proper things, only to be slapped with, immediately after, his own speech held to the Croat Diaspora in Australia [10 years ago], where he was telling them that Croats have no reason to apologize to anyone, because they are the winners; that they keep being told to “kneel at Jasenovac,” but they have no reason to do that, since they have “won twice” in WWII: on April 10, 1941 when the Axis recognized their ’state’ (when Hitler gave them ‘independence’), and the second time at the end of WWII, when they sat down at the winners’ table.
Commenting on this speech (that earned him ovations) a few days later when he realized he would have to say something, Mesic said he was “flirting with the Ustasha sentiments” and telling the crowd what it wanted to hear. So, who’s to say he’s not flirting with the European liberals now, telling them what they want to hear and sucking up to them in order for Croatia to enter the EU?!
I honestly don’t believe one word of their “democracy” rhetoric. It’s the nice phrases and complete passages some of them have learned by heart and keep regurgitating when they feel it’s necessary to score a point or pile some more shit on Serbs — just like they were learning the communist lingo before. But as soon as the war broke out and they realized they didn’t have to fake it any longer, they went back to telling each other it’s an honor to be an Ustasha. After 50 years of communism, they turn fascist again. Well, what are they — schizophrenic?!
I think that the core of their nation never stopped clinging to the Hitler/Pavelic [WW2 Croatian leader] type of “state-purity” as THE ideal. They were never forced to face that chapter of their past, they were collectively exonerated of all guilt and shame once Tito was allowed to form Yugoslavia. Mesic is right: Monstrously fascist Croatia did get to sit at the winners’ table as if nothing ever happened, as if they were Hitler’s victims too, along with the rest.
They were never punished, never felt ashamed, never paid for any of it. Not only that, they were rewarded again for purging Croatia of Serbs in the 90s and given another [Independent State of Croatia]. Croats have no reason to change anything (maybe adjust a little bit now, before the EU takes them in). Their views and deeds have only brought them good so far. Why change a winning policy?
In a follow-up letter, Svetlana had more Austria experiences to tell me about:
When Brani and I went to Vienna as tourists, we witnessed a dark-skinned cab driver (I think he was a Gypsy), well dressed and obviously not a bum or a beggar, trying to stop dozens of his colleagues to break down a large bill, so he can charge his customer waiting in the back of his car — and nobody would even look at him! It was as if he was entirely invisible. We also noticed how entirely accommodating and pleasant Austrians were to whomever they perceive as “their own”.
When we were checking out of our hotel, the owner popped up to confirm we were Serbs (she had our passports with her), and we looked at each other thinking, “Here we go, now we’ll have to explain why we raped and killed everybody in the former Yugoslavia. We just said “Yes,” bracing for an attack, but she started to shower us with praises for being sooooo “clean”, soooo nice etc… One of the receptionists, seeing how surprised we were, explained they had a lot of Yugoslavia Muslims staying there and the groups of men ruined their rooms, some were even cleaning the mud from their boots with the drapes. But being that the German and Austrian media were soooo anti-Serb (and still are), I think the owner had simply formed a horrible opinion of Serbs to begin with and was grateful we didn’t rape and kill anyone in her hotel. At the same time, being told over and over that “poor Yugoslav Muslims” are being exposed to “genocide” by the ugly Serbs, she didn’t expect them to behave like pigs in her clean and safe little hotel.
Can you imagine a Serb telling someone “We don’t want any Jews in our building”?! That would be absurd! Not because Serbs necessarily love everyone, but because Serbia is so diverse, we actually don’t stop to note the “differences” among us. In any building, they already have Jews and Croats and Albanians and Gypsies and Muslims, and they don’t even know who’s who. I went to school with just about everyone and had no idea who’s what until going to university.
Of all the bad things one can say about Serbs, one thing no one can deny is that Serbs are extremely egalitarian as a nation — to their own detriment, as it turns out. This is part of the reason why the accusations of “genocide” and “ethnic cleansing” are so incomprehensible and hurtful to us: Most of us are genuinely insulted by such outlandish charges. Why would we want to “purify” Croatia and Bosnia and Kosovo of Croats, Muslims and Albanian Muslims, when we have no such thing anywhere in Serbia, and we never had it? I played as a child with Hungarians, Romanians, Croats, Jews, Armenians and who knows who else. We were all an entirely carefree bunch and no Serbian parents gave a rat’s ass of who’s who there! I studied with Greeks, people from Africa and every ethnicity from the region; my parents gave their bedroom to a Yugoslav Hungarian girl (from Vojvodina, at the north of Serbia) who could barely speak Serbian, because my father got somehow acquainted with her father, heard his daughter wants to study in Belgrade but they had no money to rent her a room, so I had to teach her Serbian, put up with her moods and translate parts of her medical books into less difficult words she could understand. And all of a sudden, Serbs are Nazis everywhere and can’t stand anyone else around them! Give me a break!
A few years ago [on a visit from Canada to Serbia,] I undertook the special task of thoroughly questioning my [Croatian] father-in-law if he had suffered any mistreatment in Belgrade during all the war years or afterwards. Although Marijan has been living in Serbia for decades, he still has a very thick accent and speaks in a specific, unmistakable Croat dialect: as soon as he opens his mouth, you just know he’s a Croat, and my father-in-law likes to talk to everyone. He said he didn’t even receive an anonymous phone threat, or a call where someone would just breathe in his ear, let alone a punctured car tire or an assault of any kind. Not a single incident during the war with Croatia, during the expulsion of Serbs from Krajina in Croatia, during the Bosnian war or at any time after! To everything I asked, he just kept saying: No! and Never!, surprised I was so persistent, and concluded that “Canadians have been brainwashing” us .
[My father-in-law] even stopped talking with his own brother, the one who stayed in Croatia, over Tudjman and the whole Ustasha resurrection during the nineties, because his brother also started hating Serbs and Jews with a passion before Milosevic even came to power; such was the furor and overnight coat-turning in Croatia that they really went entirely mad… again.
When we visited right after the 1999 bombardment, Brani took our camera shots to develop and ended up in a new Belgrade photo shop a Croat opened. He told Brani he moved his family to Belgrade a few years earlier from Zagreb, because “they have ALL GONE MAD, they’re all fascists, I don’t want my children growing up among such people.”
And, interestingly enough, all those “democrats” that formed their banana republics on the territory of former Yugoslavia, like Slovenians and Croats, have somehow ended up with entirely ethnically pure states (Bosnian Muslims have tried to do the same with their “minority” Serbs, but failed). Meanwhile, the
“genocidal” Serbs are the only ones who have preserved ethnic, cultural and religious diversity and have the most multicultural and multi-ethnic country on the entire Balkan Peninsula. And the only one with over 1.5 million refugees from all the regions of former Yugoslavia, of all ethnicities and faiths. Go figure!
January 25th 2007 04:03:43 PM
From a U.S. Air Force pilot who bombed Serbia twice:
Please continue to write and raise awareness about the awful PR handling going on in the Balkans. I was involved in 1995 and 1999 with the USAF against Serbia, both times, and thought I was doing the right thing.
Imagine my shock after meeting and marrying my wife, who is from Vukovar, and is 1/2 Serb, 1/2 Croat.
We shudder now to see that the UN, NATO, & the US are backing Kosovo independence, there is little left of Serbia, no telling what will happen if they go through with it, the Serbs never leave quietly. What next, Voivodinja? Can the EU make land grabs like the Albanians?
I’ve visited Croatia and Serbia 3 times since 2001, from Vukovar, to Negotin, to Rovinja, with a Simon Winchester and Richard West books to keep me company. It is so hard to understand how a place and people could rise and fall [s]o quickly and terribly.
God save the Balkans!
See you at the next War,
From Michael, in Slovenia:
Dear Mrs. Gorin
I read your article “When will world confront the undead of Croatian” in a Baltimore Sun. Even if I not agree with all statements in the article you were stated, generally you made a point. It is not well known that during the WW2 Independent State of Croatia (NDH) known as quisling fascistic state, occupied a small part of Slovenia (northern neighbor state), a 42 square kilometers from small town Bregana till Brezice and banished Slovenians into the Concentration Camp Jasenovac.
I like to advise you that today the Croatian government denied constitutional rights of Slovenian minority as constitutional nation and their parliament deleted Slovenian minority from the Preamble of the new Croatian Constitution. They even rename language of the Slovenians living in the Croatia from Slovene language to a “Kajkavic” Croatian dialect.
I want to say that your article from yesterday (16 jan) about: When will world confront the undead of Croatia? was very good and interesting. I have worked for two years in the Balkans with the Nato forces 1997-1999, and I know what you are talking about!
Best Regards from Sweden
My name is Helena [M] and I live in Sarajevo. I don’t know if that is of any relevance, but I am Bosnian — not a Serb, Croat or Moslem — just a Bosnian.
I received your article through a friend and as much as I trust the subjects like this should not be addressed in such brief forms as this article is, I have to admit that to my knowledge of history what you have written is largely true.
There is one thing though that deeply concerned me and it is this:
“The Serbs weren’t angels, but they are the only Balkans players to have admitted as much and actively done something about it. The media, our policymakers and our filmmakers still refuse to take the messier but more accurate view of the Balkans. For it is the more daunting task, one that could force the realization that the Serbs weren’t just fighting their enemies; they were fighting ours.”
When have the Serbs admitted anything and what has been actively done about it? And is it really so simple to believe that the Serbs started the war only because they saw the Independent State of Croatia raising form the ashes, and that their only intention was to help mankind by fighting revived fascism?
There are so many layers to the Balkans story, and if guilt could be sliced it would be impossible to decide who was to take the largest part, but I guess we could easily agree that the international community has an awful lot to do with all of it — they threw the hook and we (meaning all of the nations here) were only too happy to grab it….
Please note that the paragraph she cites from the article does not attribute motivation of any kind to the Serbs in why they were fighting whom they were fighting. It did not say that this was a selfless act for “mankind,” as Helena puts it. It simply stated a fact: Even if Serbs were mostly just averse to living under the rule of those who killed their parents and grandparents and knew it could happen again, the fact is that there is a large crossover between their enemies and the enemies of the civilized world in general. Let’s face it: the Serbs were the canary in the mine shaft.
As for her saying that the Serbs haven’t admitted to or done anything in recognition of their crimes, this is simple and blatant dishonesty. Aside from the daily self-flagellation that Serbs engage in — including claiming the existence of mass graves in Kosovo that even the U.N. reproached Belgrade for inventing — the previously cited Amnesty reports show that the Serbs have been the most proactive in prosecuting Serbs. That’s in addition to the Serbs that the Bosnians, Croats and Hague have been prosecuting.
From a counsel and foreign policy advisor to a U.S. Congressman:
Dear Ms. Gorin,
I appreciated your initial article regarding confronting Croatia’s undead, and your later response to the Croatian Embassy’s attache. As counsel and foreign policy advisor to a Congressman on the Hill, I did a lot of work in the Balkans — particularly with regard to terrorism and trying to change US policy toward that region. As you might expect, it was an unbelievable experience. It’s always nice to read a bit of truth. Thank you.
From Charles Alverson:
Dear Ms. Gorin:
I greatly admired your recent article about Croatia’s past — and not so past — involvement in murderous and anti-Democratic activities. I hope you got a lot of readership. If you have an emailing list, I would like to be on it.
I am an American retired journalist formerly with the Wall Street Journal and Rolling Stone. I’ve been living in Serbia for over 12 years and am especially interested in Kosovo…
Please note that Mr. Alverson is one of perhaps only four American journalists who have any interest in straightening out the farce that is Balkans “history,” and exposing the abomination that was and continues to be U.S. foreign policy in the Balkans. Four journalists, and that includes the entire blogosphere, which is shameful.
From Nathan Pearlstein, who works with Israpundit:
Peter Robert North and I have had similar hate mail directed against us — some of it bordering on death threats, surprise,surprise(NOT!)
Now you know why the Croatians allied themselves with the [Bosnian president Alija] Izetbegovic Islamo-fascists: to combine forces to more quickly slaughter the philo-semitic anti-fascist Serbs. Julia, you just kicked some real Ustasha Croatian Nazi ass!! We at IsraPundit are fully behind you.
Best wishes for all time,
Just a quote from a comment posted by Mr. Pearlstein on Israpundit, original emphasis included:
It is no surprise that Israel — despite enormous pressure from the US government of Clinton to cease and desist — was the only country in the world to help the Serbs with more than mere empty words: Israel “put its money where its mouth was” and sent weapons and humanitarian aid to the Serbs; by doing so she was proving in a very practical and deeply appreciated way, that Jews never forget who their true friends were during the Shoah: the Serbs of Yugoslavia.
And, of course, letters from some appreciative Serbs:
After reading your article in Baltimore sun I realised that there are still people that do understand what really happened in ex Jugoslavija…Maybe Croatia wouldn’t be where it is today were there more people willing to stand up for the truth, and not only mind their own existence. You are braver than myself and for that I salute you, there is an old saying here in the Dalmatia which says: He who tells the truth cannot be killed, for he will never be forgotten.
Thank you forever!
[Signature omitted by request]
Hi, My name is Ilija and i am a Serb born in Croatia, now residing in Florida and was one of the refugees in 1995 that you mentioned in your article. I am…very happy to see that not all of America thinks that we were the only killers in that war. Most of my family was killed in that war and my father has been missing since 1995. From ‘95 to ‘98 I was a refugee living in Kosovo with my mother and older sister. During that time I saw the truth of what the Western media tries to hide, i saw the true side of Albanians that are always portrayed as innocent victims. I would just like to show my appreciation of the effort and time you have taken to write this article, and Thank You.
Ilija in Florida
…I was born and living in Croatia until they forced me to go out simply because I was not “a clean Croat” they want. My mother is a Croat and my father was a Croatian Serb. They, Croatians didn’t like that. They robbed our house at the beginning of the war and chased us out of there. I live in the US now with my family and I feel so so blessed to be away from those fascists. God bless you for your work and give you enough courage to continue!
I was very suprised after reading your article, because there is not many American journalists, or even Americans, that blame Croatians or Muslims for any atrocities committed in that region. Being of a Serbian background and having lived through the war in Bosnia, I am all too familiar with the propaganda on Serbian soldiers, while Croats and Muslims appeared innocent victims. Though Serbs did kill, nobody was reporting on the ethnic cleansing done by Croats and Muslims. The whole world was against Serbs. And all Serbs wanted was Yugoslavia where Muslims, Croatians and Serbs would live together. And all Croatia and Bosnia wanted was independence. In ‘92, Croatians forced Serbs out of their homes in an operation called “Oluja” (the storm).
However, none of the Croatians living in Serbia were forced out of their homes, in fact, they are still living there. There are many Muslims and Croatians in Belgrade and they have lived there for many years. Even during the war in Bosnia and Croatia, nobody put any kind of pressure on them to leave Belgrade. So I just want to thank you from the bottom of my heart because there are individuals, like you, that don’t listen to everything American media says.
Thank you again,
I read your article in “Baltimore Sun” regarding ex-Yugoslavia and I just want to say FINALLY! Finally someone got brave enough to write the truth about Yugoslavian civil war in 1990’s. It was really about time, of course it’s about 15 years too late but nevertheless, I’ll take it
That’s all, I just needed to show you my support and say thank you!
My best regards,
January 24th 2007 09:49:21 AM
Ah, now we’re getting somewhere:
From a Vladimir Gronjak at email@example.com:
American bitch. All fighters against american intrest in world are fighters for freedom.
From Robert, at firstname.lastname@example.org:
Your are one uneductaed bitch Ms Gorin. Get off your Jewish Propaganda wagon and realise that the state of Croatia has always been one of unity and beleife in God. God is our saviour and as shown in history over battles and battles. Unfortunatly for the world Jasenovac was not used at full capacity.
From “Croatian Man,” whose subject was written in English but the rest of the email in Croatian. So here’s the English part:
Jewish bitch! im not fashist. im sorry 4 ww2 and inocent jewish people. please dont shit on croatian nation. sorry on bad english.
From “AverageCroatianLiberalCitizen”: “go back to cave. you are stupid bitch.”
From a Robert Kirincic:
…by the way,you like to write about the Croatians as people who gravitate towards war criminals (Ante Gotovina)…what about the many people who cheer for the war criminal Ariel Sharon. Not only is he cheered, he is/was the leader of Israel. When you point fingers, know that there are three pointing back at you…
So in the single historical case of Christian Lebanese killing Muslim Lebanese instead of the other way around, the Jew who didn’t even know this was happening is as guilty as the Croatian who ordered mass ethnic cleansing and had command control over tortures and killings.
A man named Ivica Fonti, apparently from Croatian Radio, directs me to this site, which shows photos of Serbian neo-Nazis. What’s funny is that the page is called “Worldwide Free General Ante Gotovina Campaign” (again, only Croatian war criminals are OK), and comments from Croats include:
Well well, I did not know Mesic once did had a brain that functioned, since those words are oh so true. But I do kneel. I kneel every day thanking God that I was born with Croatian blood.
The comment poster is referring to current Croatian president Stjepan Mesic who, as my article mentioned, was recently broadcast on national TV giving a speech 10 years ago, in which he referred to Croatians as winning in WW2 twice: first when Hitler gave them their own state, and then when they sat at the winners’ table with the Allies and other “victims” of the Germans. He also said there is no need to “kneel” at Jasenovac (that is, apologize for burning Serbs and Jews alive).
From Matej: how much money did the Serbs pay you to right that article??
From “Domagoj,” with a repeated request that I keep getting:
Come to visit Croatia (like many Americans do) and you’ll see that we are as fascists as other west european nations. You have offended many croatian citizens. Don’t believe to extremist serb propaganda.
Ah yes, my information comes from all that voluminous pro-Serbian propaganda that’s just everywhere you turn. So abundant is it, that the Serbs got themselves bombed in 1995 for a marketplace mortar attack orchestrated by Muslims, and again in 1999 for “genocide” and “ethnic cleansing” that didn’t even happen, as the late Daniel Pearl found out as early as late 1999. So effective is this Serb propaganda that as late as 1995, the Wall St. Journal published a letter by the Croatian Embassy that still referred to the Serbs — despite their saving more than 500 downed US airmen while the Croats were fighting for the Germans — as Nazi collaborators.
From “BB”, supposedly at email@example.com:
What I pile of shit you are allowing to be printed. Write about 40+ years of killing Palestinian children and explain it to us.
From Barbara Sostaric:
Do your research before you write. Speak to a true croatian before you start writing about them.
How do you know that Croats are fashists? By some statements of serbs in USA?Who gives you the right to attack a nation that was under serb autocracy for 55 years-remeber Tito? [Editor’s Note: Tito was half-Croat, half Slovenian.] I Invite u to come to Croatia and see that things are not the way u think.We are just people who wanted to have our own state which our grandfathers dreamed from the time of King Zvonimir.If u want facts about serbs just look on the internet and see what chetniks [Serbs] are like and u will see how cruel and vindictive they are.
From an Albanian, apparently, named Kurvo Glupa:
How could you say that about Kosovo you idiot. You don’t know what the Serbs did to us, cause you are probably serbian. Serbia [isn’t] anything now, and Kosovo will gain it independence and you can go fuck youself. Bitch
I just want to tell u that u dont [k]now a shit about situations on Balkan, u dont [k]now nothing about croatians history and what was the reasons that crotia was fighting on wrong side. If u want to see what is croatians people like, came to croatia! And croats wariors didnt wear svastika on their uniforms or helmets, that is the bigest lie that I ever heard. We were the victims of this war, u are blind and someone is giving u a false facts. Please, be more informated, because that what are u writing is not moral or etihcal.
About that “lie,” herewith a response in the form of a November letter in the UK Daily Telegraph, titled “Witness in Croatia” by retired Lt Col Ewen Southby-Tailyour, who served in the Balkans in the 1990s:
[W]hen in Croatia for the final months of my tour, I saw Croat soldiers wearing swastika armbands. Swastikas were also painted on crossroads and buildings; and not removed by the authorities.
The Republic of Serbian Krajina was indeed internationally recognised Croat territory, but the reasons for the Krajina Serb actions, while reprehensible, were understandable considering the provocations. I am no Serb apologist, but simply believe that blame for atrocities on both sides should be more correctly apportioned.
And from Chicago Tribune, April 1993:
Instead of road signs pointing the way north from the embattled enclave of Srebrenica, travelers see markers with the letter ‘U’ — a chilling symbol of Croatia’s pro-Nazi Ustasha movement in World War II. Troops operating chickpoints along the route for the Croatian Defense Organization in Bosnia, known as the HVO, also have taken to wearing Nazi swastikas and Iron Crosses.
Just a word about the repeated requests I’m getting to come to Croatia and get to know the people before writing about them (as well as to Kosovo, Bosnia, Montenegro and Slovenia so I can get a better sense of how good these people are and how bad the Serbs are). One person emailed me that if Croatia was as bad as I say, why would so many people from all over the world be flocking to it for a visit? I think a letter printed Saturday in the Baltimore Sun by Chris Deliso sums that up better than I can:
…Western media and governments have consistently failed to hold the Croats to the same level of accountability as the Serbs or other Balkan actors — perhaps because Croatia, unlike Serbia, has a beautiful Adriatic coastline that wealthy Western retirees have eagerly been buying in recent years.
After all, who would want to compromise the chance of seaside vacation idylls with unpleasant talk of concentration camp excesses…the kind of torture and mass murder that shocked even the Nazi German authorities?
January 23rd 2007 08:35:11 PM
You will pay for calling Croats fascists! Shame on you!
From “Dado”, email firstname.lastname@example.org:
Hey! what do you have against Croatians!? You don’t seem to know much about us or our history! Why don’t you look into facts before posting a faulse article like that! [Baltimore Sun]? I bet you have some Serbian or Jewish blood in you! Trying to teach other uneducated Americans such as yourself that Serbs are good and Croats bad, when the rest of educated world knows the truth!
From a dcesaric povratak, email email@example.com, subject “Dead Serbians”:
too bad your ancestors were not killed, stupid bitch.
You are a disgusting bitch who will rot in hell with Milosevic your savior. Stick to your Communist Russian heritage. You have no right to speak about Croatian people or anybody from that region, when in fact you are not even from there. You definitely are messing with the wrong people. You have degraded yourself to scum standard. Im sure you are a spitting image of your ugly pitbull.
From Felix Majer, an Argentinean of Croatian heritage, (possible descendent of Ustashas who fled to Argentina after WW2?), written entirely in Spanish. Here is just one sentence, the sentence that mentions his Croatian lineage:
Si esta interpretacion es cierta, Ud. ofende a mis antepasados en tal magnitud, que me reservo la opinion hasta su contestacion y aclaracion al respecto en un plazo logicamente breve. (Translation: If this interpretation [of the article] is correct, you offend my forebears to such a magnitude that I will reserve an opinion until your response and clarification…]
There are other emails from Croats in South America and I must admit that those are the most polite. But I can’t help but think about the fact that South America –and Argentina in particular — is the famously preferred Nazi retirement destination. Former Ustasha commander Ivo Rojnica, now in his 80s, is still hanging out there:
One of the directors of the Simon Wiesenthal Center Efraim Zuroff says that Belgrade is entitled to seek extradition of Ustasha commanders Ivo Rojnica and Milivoj Ašner, responsible for the deaths of hundreds of Serbs, Jews and Romas, in order for them to be put on trial in Serbia, since Croatia refuses to start the proceedings against them.
Rojnica and Ašner, now in their eighties, live in Argentina and Austria respectively without even attempting to hide. Zuroff says he has requested from the Croatian prosecution to start the extradition proceedings and the trial but with no results to date.
You were saying something about Croatia’s full cooperation in prosecuting war crimes, Mr. Babic?
If Croatia hasn’t even come to terms with its WW2 past, I suppose we should be impressed that it’s done anything at all with regard to the 1990s wars.
January 23rd 2007 03:24:40 AM
Here I begin posting some of the letters I’ve received over the past week.
From someone calling himself Ante Gotovina, the name of the Croatian former general indicted for the deaths of 150 Serbs and ethnic cleansing of 150,000 Serbs from the Krajina region during Operation Storm, email firstname.lastname@example.org:
You talk about Croatia as if we were some agressors in tha past war with serbia! Look at your country your president is the biggest war criminal in the world!! so WHO are you to talk about our heroes Gotovina and Glavas! Bush is ten times wors then Hitler! so go fuck yourselve!!!!!
A similar one, from someone calling himself Ante “Heroj” Gotovina. Most of this one was too vulgar to reprint, so I’ll just include the ending:
Let me leave you with this you jewish whore,we may have executed serbs during world war 2 but at least we didn’t kill jesus and aren’t responsible for most of the wars that have been going on since Israel became a nation. Why the hell don’t you return golan heights to the syrians? The west bank, jerusalem to the palestinians?
I hope you get run over by a bus and [WW2 Croatian leader] ante pavelic rapes you in hell.
Ante Ante Zivot Za Te!!! Bog i Hrvati!!! Za Dom Spremni!!!!
Another illuminating one, from someone calling himself by a similar name — Ante Je Heroj [Ante the Hero?], email Pusikurac@hotmail.com:
Your article titled “When will world confront the undead of Croatia?” is possibly one of the worst and most biased articles i have ever read. Were you by any chance dropped on the head as a child? Your pathetic atempt to label croatians criminals and fascists has failed miserably. I’d recommend you get some reliable sources and not some cetnik [Serb]ones before you write an article of such “Bullshit”. You are clearly a serb lover and have probably slept with many of them. That is why you are so quick to grab onto their balls and suck them dry. The only criminals are Radovan Karadzic and Ratko Mladic (ask your cetnik friends about them). Ante Gotovina and Branimir Glavas have been found guilty of nothing and yet you label them criminals.
Croatians are by no means fascists but yet you claim that we would love a hitler statue. You are a paranoid idiot…P.S: God Bless Ante Gotovina and Branimir Glavas. Also, fuck you for killing Jesus.
Below, just a reference point on Glavas:
Glavas Case Raises Concerns About Croatian Judiciary
The investigation followed claims by Krunoslav Fehir, a former member of a Croatian unit under Glavas’s command, that the general ordered gruesome extrajudicial executions of Serbs in Osijek.
Fehir alleged that Glavas ordered civilians to be imprisoned in his wartime headquarters, the National Defence Secretariat, where they were interrogated, tortured and finally killed. The alleged acts of torture included forcing acid from car batteries down their throats.
…The Zagreb District Court’s handling of the matter has been criticised as lax, and although this prosecution was generated locally, it has rung alarm bells among those worried about whether Croatia’s judiciary is ready to take over war crimes cases referred to it by the Hague tribunal, as part of the latter’s completion strategy.
Three months after the investigation into his case began, Glavas is still a free man, despite repeated requests from prosecutors to place him in custody. They have argued that there is sufficient evidence to suggest that the accused is impeding the investigation by intimidating witnesses into changing their testimony.
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