FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Demonizing the Serbs

by MARJALEENA REPO

 

The Yugoslavian government has just expelled some journalists from NATO countries from its territory. This is deplored by the media as censorship, but in some of us it has created a strange sense of relief: perhaps now there will be a ceasefire in the 10-year disinformation campaign about the Yugoslavian conflict in general and the Serbs in particular. Or at least the journalists (few actually deserve the name) have to declare that what they are talking about is unverified rumour and hearsay since they are nowhere near the scene. Up to this point they have been able to create the false impression that they have witnessed the events they report on.

The Western media’s relentless demonization of the Serbs of Yugoslavia has, however, produced a very predictable (and no doubt, wished-for) result: a truly genocidal assault on the Serbian people by Western military might, Canada to its eternal shame participating, breaking every relevant international covenant and treaty.

The pack-journalism over the last ten years has also succeeded in hoodwinking many Canadians into thinking that what is at stake is the good-riddance of a Serbian Hitler who has attempted a “final solution” of sorts on assorted ethnic groups in Yugoslavia. A lot of well- intentioned people are cheering the bombing of yet another pariah nation into the Stone Age. With the accumulated effects of mediarumour- mongering and willful disinformation, who can blame these folks for their barely controlled blood thirst? After all, because Hitler wasn’t stopped in time, millions perished in concentration camps, goes the heart-felt argument.

Yet the labelling of Yugoslavia’s Serb leaders as Hitlers and the Serbs themselves as brutal, subhuman monsters is a familiar trick from recent history. It has been perpetuated by the various hired hands, PR firms, who have worked overtime for the various ethnic groups pushing for secession which would utterly destroy the once well-functioning, multi- ethnic Yugoslavian federation and replace it with small nation-states which ethnically cleansed themselves (Croatia, for instance, expelled between 500,000 and a million Serbs from its territory.) The media has merely carried the message of these “hidden hands” of the Balkan conflict.

The world was shocked to find out that a PR firm, Hill and Knowlton, had manufactured the “incubator babies” incident in Kuwait which precipitated the Gulf War: Iraqi soldiers ripping Kuwaiti babies out of incubators in a genocidal fashion. Phony eywitnesses to this atrocity tearfully testified in front of U.S. politicians and the media, adding to public support for the subsequent bombing of Iraq and contributing hugely to the demonization of the Iraqis, leaders and citizens alike. Even Amnesty International was taken in by the falsehood, which was later exposed as such, but only after the military damage was done.

Yet the shock of being duped soon wore off and gullibility returned. In no time another American PR firm, Ruder Finn, working for the Croatian and Bosnian separatists, publicly bragged that it had been able to turn world opinion against the Serbs. In April 1993 on French television, James Harff, the director of Ruder Finn, described his proudest public relations effort as having “managed to put Jewish opinion on our [Croatian and Bosnian] side.” This was a “sensitive matter,” he added, as “the Croatian and Bosnian past was marked by real and cruel anti- semitism. Tens of thousands of Jews perished in Croatian camps… Our challenge was to reverse this attitude and we succeeded masterfully. At the beginning of July 1992, New York Newsday came out with the article on Serb camps. We jumped at the opportunity immediately. We outwitted three big Jewish organizations…. That was a tremendous coup. When the Jewish organizations entered the game on the side of the [Muslim] Bosnians we could promptly equate the Serbs with the Nazis in the public mind. Nobody understood what was happening in Yugoslavia…. By a single move, we were able to present a simple story of good guys and bad guys which would hereafter play itself. We won by targeting the Jewish audience. Almost immediately there was a clear change of language in the press, with the use of words with high emotional content such as ethnic cleansing, concentration camps, etc, which evoke images of Nazi Germany and the gas chambers of Auschwitz. ”

The PR firm was piling hoax upon hoax. The famous story of Serb concentration camps was built on a photo of a gaunt man surrounded by others, staring at the viewer from behind barbed wire; surely an image to chill one to the bones. It took years before a German journalist Thomas Deichman, in an article titled “The picture that fooled the world,” described how the famous photo was staged by its takers, British journalists, who were photographing the inhabitants from inside barbed wire which was protecting agricultural products and machinery from theft in a refugee and transit camp; the men stood outside of it; and at no time was there a barbed-wire fence surrounding the camp. But by that time the image had done its deed, terminally slamming the Serbs as genocidal mass murderers.

There are countless other stories, all deliberately maligning the Serbs to further the ends of military intervention. These stories and photos of “genocide” and “ethnic cleansing” (a la Hitler) in a civil war, in which Serbs are guilty as sin and others are their innocent victims, are repeated ad nauseam by western reporters without the slightest evidence, and have provided the ground for the public’s (hopefully only temporary) acceptance of the illegal and brutal war against the sovereign nation of Yugoslavia.

They continue after NATO’s bombing began, unabated, with new absurdities such as the suggestion that the Serbs are really bombing themselves! Perhaps in the war crimes court there will soon be a place for journalists and PR firms who with their inflammatory reporting and fraudulent actions cause wars to begin.

MARJALEENA REPO is a free lance writer with a special interest injustice issues. She is also the national organizer of Citizens Concerned About Free Trade. She lives and works in Saskatoon and Toronto (Canada).She can be reached by e-mail: ccafttor@sympatico.ca

More articles by:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

January 23, 2017
Clancy Sigal
Who’s Up for This Long War?
Weekend Edition
January 20, 2017
Friday - Sunday
Paul Street
Divide and Rule: Class, Hate, and the 2016 Election
Andrew Levine
When Was America Great?
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: This Ain’t a Dream No More, It’s the Real Thing
Yoav Litvin
Making Israel Greater Again: Justice for Palestinians in the Age of Trump
Linda Pentz Gunter
Nuclear Fiddling While the Planet Burns
Ruth Fowler
Standing With Standing Rock: Of Pipelines and Protests
David Green
Why Trump Won: the 50 Percenters Have Spoken
Dave Lindorff
Imagining a Sanders Presidency Beginning on Jan. 20
Pete Dolack
Eight People Own as Much as Half the World
Roger Harris
Too Many People in the World: Names Named
Steve Horn
Under Tillerson, Exxon Maintained Ties with Saudi Arabia, Despite Dismal Human Rights Record
John Berger
The Nature of Mass Demonstrations
Stephen Zielinski
It’s the End of the World as We Know It
David Swanson
Six Things We Should Do Better As Everything Gets Worse
Alci Rengifo
Trump Rex: Ancient Rome’s Shadow Over the Oval Office
Brian Cloughley
What Money Can Buy: the Quiet British-Israeli Scandal
Mel Gurtov
Donald Trump’s Lies And Team Trump’s Headaches
Kent Paterson
Mexico’s Great Winter of Discontent
Norman Solomon
Trump, the Democrats and the Logan Act
David Macaray
Attention, Feminists
Yves Engler
Demanding More From Our Media
James A Haught
Religious Madness in Ulster
Dean Baker
The Economics of the Affordable Care Act
Patrick Bond
Tripping Up Trumpism Through Global Boycott Divestment Sanctions
Robert Fisk
How a Trump Presidency Could Have Been Avoided
Robert Fantina
Trump: What Changes and What Remains the Same
David Rosen
Globalization vs. Empire: Can Trump Contain the Growing Split?
Elliot Sperber
Dystopia
Dan Bacher
New CA Carbon Trading Legislation Answers Big Oil’s Call to Continue Business As Usual
Wayne Clark
A Reset Button for Political America
Chris Welzenbach
“The Death Ship:” An Allegory for Today’s World
Uri Avnery
Being There
Peter Lee
The Deep State and the Sex Tape: Martin Luther King, J. Edgar Hoover, and Thurgood Marshall
Patrick Hiller
Guns Against Grizzlies at Schools or Peace Education as Resistance?
Randy Shields
The Devil’s Real Estate Dictionary
Ron Jacobs
Singing the Body Electric Across Time
Ann Garrison
Fifty-five Years After Lumumba’s Assassination, Congolese See No Relief
Christopher Brauchli
Swing Low Alabama
Dr. Juan Gómez-Quiñones
La Realidad: the Realities of Anti-Mexicanism
Jon Hochschartner
The Five Least Animal-Friendly Senate Democrats
Pauline Murphy
Fighting Fascism: the Irish at the Battle of Cordoba
Susan Block
#GoBonobos in 2017: Happy Year of the Cock!
Louis Proyect
Is Our Future That of “Sense8” or “Mr. Robot”?
Charles R. Larson
Review: Robert Coover’s “Huck out West”
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail