Reader Nick called my attention to the following letter which appeared on Jan. 19th in The Economist, saying, “This is a rare event indeed, to come from an American academic.”

I can’t think of the right adjective to describe the pondering that the writer is responding to, because it is so blatantly base and racist, and openly hypocritical and callous in a stupid but predictable way. Is there an adjective for all that? I’m referring to “the uncertainly about whether this incident [Operation Storm] should be viewed as a case of ethnic cleansing or a consensual exit,” even though everyone now knows it was not.

Jan 19th 2013
The Balkan wars

SIR – When discussing Balkan scholarship in a recent article (“Writing the past”, January 5th), you mentioned the flight in 1995 of ethnic Serbs from the Krajina region of Croatia and noted the uncertainty about whether this incident should be viewed as a case of ethnic cleansing or a consensual exit. The facts strongly suggest that the Krajina Serbs were indeed ethnically cleansed.

The memoirs of Carl Bildt, the European Union’s mediator, describe how the Croatian armed forces engaged in extensive shelling of Serb civilian areas in Krajina, almost certainly with the intention of triggering a mass exodus. Many of the Serbs who remained after the shelling were killed or brutalised at close range by Croatian assault troops. Leaked transcripts from a meeting of Croatian officials in 1993 leave little doubt. Quoted in Harper’s, Franjo Tudjman (pictured), the Croatian president at the time, declared at the meeting that: “There is a growing understanding that Croatia must resolve the [Krajina] problem by war, contrary to international norms, meaning ethnically cleansing the Serbs from Croatia.”

In the larger picture of the Balkan wars there is no doubt that the Serbs were more often perpetrators of ethnic cleansing, rather than victims. But in Krajina at least, the record is clear that the Serb population was ethnically cleansed. Let us not whitewash this fact.

David Gibbs
Professor of history
University of Arizona

It’s good to know that there is at least one history professor out there who has paid enough attention to the Balkans to at least see a double standard. So I appreciate Professor Gibbs, but would also tell him that his premise — like that of other rare fair minds on this issue — is incorrect, as it was implanted in his brain by the MSM, which he has shown he is above. Hopefully, one day he’ll realize this and rise above the faulty premise as well. After all, once you know that Kosovo’s Albanians in fact were not “ethnically cleansed,” much less by Serbs, what does that leave us with in terms of the Serbs being the more frequents cleansers? In both Bosnia and Croatia there were several mutual “population shifts,” as the internationals termed the occurrences which they assisted in. (But only called it “cleansing” if the population was leaving a Serb region.)

Prof. Gibbs’ letter exemplifies a dynamic one runs into consistently, wherein people start with a false premise about the Balkan wars but recognize there are a lot of inconvenient “buts” which would seem to undermine the premise. And yet they continue to take the premise at face value, regardless of how infinitely outnumbered and outweighed it becomes by the “buts.” Because no one ever counts up the “buts” to realize that perhaps the “if” is wrong.

I think Ayn Rand said it more elegantly when she said that if you encounter a contradiction, go back to your original premise, because it’s probably wrong. Of course, it doesn’t help that the Balkans is full of contradictions. Which is why volume is important. And that’s what we have: there are too many contradictions to the official narrative for us to not reevaluate its premise. And because everyone is reluctant to do so, that premise still guides the West’s Balkans policy, to infinitely unbalanced and destructive ends.