Two former senior UN officials, and a group of journalists and academic researchers, on July 12, 2005, cast serious doubt on what they said were “highly inflated casualty figures and a misleading portrayal of events by governments, non-governmental organizations and major news organizations” with regard to the 1995 capture of Srebrenica, in Bosnia, by Bosnian Serb forces.
The Srebrenica Research Group, joined by former UN officials Philip Corwin and Carlos Martins Branco, released conclusions from their 200-page report “Srebrenica and the Politics of War Crimes” which said that US policy undermined UN and European brokered peace settlements, which could have ended the war in 1992 or 1993, in order to pursue a military solution which inevitably endangered safe zones. By facilitating shipments of illegal weapons to Muslim forces, the US helped turn safe zones into staging areas for conflict and tripwires for NATO intervention.
Global Research, July 28, 2005
Following three years of research as a group and many more as individuals, the Srebrenica Research Group reports the following conclusions:
Both the scale of the casualties at Srebrenica and the context of events have been misrepresented in official reports from governmental and non-governmental organizations as well as news organizations. Senior UN military and civilian officials, NATO intelligence officers and independent intelligence analysts dispute the official portrayal of the capture of Srebrenica by the International Criminal Tribunal on Yugoslavia, (ICTY) as a unique atrocity in the Bosnian conflict. The contention that as many as 8,000 Muslims were killed has no basis in available evidence and is essentially a political construct.
The 8,000 figure was first provided by the Red Cross, based on their crude estimate that the Bosnian Serb Army (BSA) had captured 3,000 men and that 5,000 were reported “missing.” It is well established that thousands of those “missing” had reached Tuzla or were killed in the fighting, but in an amazing transformation displaying the eagerness to find the Bosnian Serbs evil and the Muslims victims, the “reaching safety/killed-in-action” basis of being missing was ignored and the missing were taken as executed! This misleading conclusion was helped along by the Red Cross’s reference to the 5,000 as having “simply disappeared,” and its failure to correct this politically biased usage despite its own recognition that “several thousand” refugees had reached Central Bosnia. It was also helped along by the Bosnian Muslim leadership’s refusal to disclose the names and numbers of those reaching safety, but there was a remarkable readiness in Western governments not only to ignore those reaching safety, but also to disregard deaths in fighting and to take dead bodies as proving executions. The will to believe here was limitless: reporter David Rohde saw a bone sticking up in a grave site near Srebrenica, which he just knew by instinct was a remnant of an execution and serious evidence of a “massacre.” It was standard media practice to move from an asserted and unproven claim of thousands missing, or a report of the uncovering of bodies in a grave site, to the conclusion that the claim of 8,000 executed was thereby demonstrated.
With 8,000 executed and thousands killed in the fighting, there should have been huge grave sites and satellite evidence of both executions, burials, and any body removals. But the body searches in the Srebrenica vicinity were painfully disappointing, with only some two thousand bodies found in searches through 2001, including bodies killed in action and possibly Serb bodies, some pre-dating July 1995. The sparseness of these findings led to claims of body removal and reburial, but this was unconvincing as the Bosnian Serbs were under intense military pressure after July 1995. This was the period when NATO was bombing Serb positions and Croat/Muslim armies were driving towards Banja Luka. The BSA was on the defensive and was extremely short of equipment and resources, including gasoline. To have mounted an operation of the magnitude required to exhume, transport and rebury thousands of corpses would have been far beyond the BSA’s capacity at that time. Furthermore, in carrying out such a program they could hardly hope to escape observation from OSCE personnel, local civilians, and satellite observations.
On August 10, 1995, Madeleine Albright showed some satellite photos at a closed session of the Security Council, as part of a denunciation of the Bosnian Serbs, including one photo showing people–allegedly Bosnian Muslims near Srebrenica–assembled in a stadium, and one allegedly taken shortly thereafter showing a nearby field with “disturbed” soil. These photos have never been publicly released, but even if they are genuine they don’t prove either executions or burials. Furthermore, although the ICTY speaks of “an organized and comprehensive effort” to hide bodies, and David Rohde claimed a “huge Serb effort to hide bodies,” neither Albright nor anyone else has ever shown a satellite photo of people actually being executed, buried, or dug up for reburial, or of trucks conveying thousands of bodies elsewhere. This failure to provide evidence occurred despite Albright’s warning the Serbs that “We will be watching,” and with satellites at that time, making at least eight passes per day and geostationary drones able to hover and take finely detailed pictures in position over Bosnia during the summer of 1995. The mainstream media have found this failure to confirm of no interest.
There have been a great many bodies gathered at Tuzla, some 7,500 or more, from all across Bosnia, many in poor condition or parts only, their collection and handling incompatible with professional forensic standards, their provenance unclear and link to the July 1995 events in Srebrenica unproven and often unlikely, and the manner of their death usually uncertain. Interestingly, although the Serbs were regularly accused of trying to hide bodies, there has never been any suggestion that the Bosnian Muslims, long in charge of the body search, might shift bodies around and otherwise manipulate evidence, despite their substantial record of dissembling. A systematic attempt to use DNA to trace connections to Srebrenica is underway, but entails many problems, apart from that of the integrity of the material studied and process of investigation, and will not resolve the question of differentiating executions from deaths in combat. There are also lists of missing, but these lists are badly flawed, with duplications, individuals listed who had died before July 1995, who fled to avoid Bosnian Muslim Army service, or who registered to vote in 1997, and they include individuals who died in battle or reached safety or were captured and assumed a new existence elsewhere.
The 8,000 figure is also incompatible with the basic arithmetic of Srebrenica numbers before and after July 1995. Displaced persons from Srebrenica–that is, massacre survivors– registered with the World Health Organization and Bosnian government in early August 1995, totalled 35,632. Muslim men who reached Muslim lines “without their families being informed” totalled at least 3,000, and some 2,000 were killed in the fighting. That gives us 37,632 survivors plus the 2,000 combat deaths, which would require the pre-war population of Srebrenica to have been 48,000 if 8,000 were executed, whereas the population before July was more like 37-40,000 (Tribunal judge Patricia Wald gave 37,000 as her estimate). The numbers don’t add up.
There were witnesses to killings at Srebrenica, or those who claimed to be witnesses. There were not many of these, and some had a political axe to grind or were otherwise not credible, but several were believable and were very likely describing real and ugly events. But the available evidence indicates hundreds of executions, not 8,000 or anything close to it. The only direct participant witness claim that ran to a thousand was that of Drazen Erdemovic, an ethnic Croat associated with a mercenary group of killers whose members were paid 12 kilos of gold for their Bosnian service (according to Erdemovic himself) and ended up working in the Congo on behalf of French intelligence. His testimony was accepted despite its vagueness and inconsistencies, lack of corroboration, and his suffering from mental problems sufficient to disqualify him from trial–but not from testifying before the Tribunal, free of cross-examination. within two weeks of this disqualification from trial. This and other witness evidence suffered from serious abuse of the plea-bargaining process whereby witnesses could receive mitigating sentences if they cooperated sufficiently with the prosecution.
It is also noteworthy how many relatively impartial observers in or near Srebrenica in July 1995 didn’t see any evidence of massacres, including the members of the Dutch forces present in the “safe area” and people like Hubert Wieland, the chief UN investigator of human rights abuses, who could find no eyewitnesses to atrocities after five days of interviewing among the 20,000 Srebrenica survivors gathered at the Tuzla airport refugee camp. Carlos Martins Branco, former UN Deputy Director of UNMO (UN Monitors) in Bosnia, who debriefed UN monitors assigned to Srebrenica, writes that casualty estimates of 8,000 have been “used and manipulated for propaganda purposes…there is little doubt that at least 2,000 Bosnian Muslims died in fighting the better trained and better commanded BSA “ in three years of fierce fighting. This is roughly the number of bodies (2,028) which were exhumed by the International Criminal Tribunal on Yugoslavia (ICTY) in the region by the year 2001. Many of these deaths occurred before the fall of Srebrenica, according to Branco.
The events of Srebrenica and claims of a major massacre were extremely helpful to the Clinton administration, the Bosnian Muslim leadership, and Croatian authorities. Clinton was under political pressure in 1995 both from the media and from Bob Dole to take more forceful action in favour of the Bosnian Muslims, and his administration was eager to find a justification for more aggressive policies. Clinton officials rushed to the Srebrenica scene to confirm and publicize the claims of a massacre, just as William Walker did later at Racak in January 1999. By inflating the casualties following the capture of Srebrenica, US officials also diverted attention from larger-scale, US-supported Croatian attacks on Serb populated UN Protected Areas (UNPAs) in Western Slavonia (“Operation Flash”) and the Krajina region (“Operation Storm”) in May and August of 1995. Having undermined a UN-European Community agreement that would have prevented the outbreak of war (the March 1992 Lisbon agreement) and two other negotiated settlements (the Vance-Owen and the Owen-Stoltenberg agreements) which would have ended the fighting in 1993, US State Department hardliners were committed to imposing a military solution, that prolonged the war till 1995.
By facilitating the illegal transfer of weapons to Bosnian Muslim forces and turning a blind eye toward the entry of foreign Mujahadeen fighters, the US turned supposed safe zones for civilians into staging areas for conflict and a tripwire for NATO intervention. Dr. Cees Wiebes who authored the chapter on military intelligence in the Dutch government report on Srebrenica, notes that the US Defense Intelligence Agency facilitated the transfer of illegal arms from Muslim countries to the Tuzla airport using black Hercules C-130 transport planes and arranged for gaps in air surveillance by AWACs which were supposed to guard against such illegal arms traffic. Along with these weapons came Mujahadeen fighters from both Iranian Shiite training camps and al-Qaeda, including two of the hijackers involved in the attacks on the World Trade Center and Khaled Sheik Mohammed who helped plan the attack. Al-Qaeda leader Osama Bin Ladin, himself, was issued a Bosnian passport by the Embassy of Bosnia and Herzegovina in Vienna in 1993, according to the Bosnian Muslim publication Dani. Bin-Ladin was observed on two occasions at the office of Bosnian President Alija Izetbegovic.
Both US and US–appointed ICTY officials acknowledged political considerations in issuing genocide indictments, which were announced prior to an investigation of events surrounding the capture of Srebrenica. On July 24, 1995 the UN’s chief investigator (for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights) Henry Wieland, who had spoken to scores of Muslims at the main refugee camp at Tuzla airfield told the London Daily Telegraph “we have not found anyone who saw with their own eyes an atrocity taking place.” Three days, later, however, the ICTY issued indictments charging Bosnian Serb leaders Radovan Karadzic and Ratko Mladic. In news accounts reports of July 27, ICTY Chief Judge Antonio Cassesse praised the indictments as “a good political result” and added that the indictment means that “these gentlemen [Mladic and Karadzic] will not be able to take part in peace negotiations.” The Boston Globe reported the same day: “The Clinton Administration has not obtained independent confirmation of atrocities [at Srebrenica],” but does not doubt that these occurred “I realized that the War Crimes Tribunal was a very valuable tool,” Richard Holbrooke told the BBC. “We used it to keep the two most wanted war criminals in Europe out of the Dayton process and we used it to justify everything that followed.”
Bosnian Muslim leaders had been struggling for several years to persuade the NATO powers to intervene more forcibly on their behalf, and there is strong evidence that they were prepared not only to lie but also to sacrifice their own citizens and soldiers to serve the end of inducing intervention. Bosnian Muslim officials have claimed that their leader, Alija Izetbegovic, told them that Clinton had advised him that U.S. intervention would only occur if the Serbs killed at least 5,000 at Srebrenica. The abandonment of Srebrenica by a military force much larger than that of the attackers, and a retreat that made that larger force vulnerable and caused it to suffer heavy casualties in fighting and vengeance executions, helped produce numbers that would meet the Clinton criterion, by hook or by crook. There is other evidence that the retreat from Srebrenica was not based on any military necessity but was strategic, with the personnel losses incurred considered a necessary sacrifice for a larger purpose. On July 9, 1995, two days before Bosnian Serbs had captured the nearly empty town of Srebrenica and before any serious fighting had taken place, President Izetbegovic was already calling President Clinton and other world leaders urging them to take action against “terrorism” and “genocide” by Bosnian Serb Forces. This was part of an ongoing pattern in which charges of mass rape, death camps, staged atrocities were used to manipulate public opinion in favour of military intervention.
Military sources confirm that the 5,500 strong Muslim military force in Srebrenica made no effort to defend Srebrenica against 200 Serbian troops supported by five tanks. Tim Ripley, a military analyst for Janes’ Defense publications notes that Muslim forces fled from Srebrenica to the surrounding hills before Serbs captured the nearly empty town. He writes that Dutch troops “saw Bosnian troops escaping from Srebrenica move past their observation points carrying brand new anti-tank weapons, still in their plastic wrappings. This, and other similar reports, made many UN officers and international journalists suspicious.” Former Deputy Director of UNMO (UN Monitors) Carlos Martins Branco who debriefed the UN monitors who served in Srebrenica, writes: “Muslim forces did not even try to take advantage of their heavy artillery, under control of the United Nations (UN) forces at a time in which they had every reason to do so … Military resistance would jeopardize the image of ‘victim’, which had been so carefully constructed, and which the Muslims considered vital to maintain.” Lt Col British Lt.-Col. Jim Baxter, assistant to UN Commander Rupert Smith, told Tim Ripley “They [the Bosnian government] knew what was happening in Srebrenica. I am certain they decided it was worth the sacrifice.”
Muslim leaders from Srebrenica claim that the town was deliberately “sacrificed” by the Presidency of the Bosnia and the Military High Command in order to encourage NATO intervention. In their testimony before the Hague Tribunal, Bosnian Muslim Generals Halilovic and Hadzihasanovic testified that General Staff of the Bosnian Army abruptly removed 18 top officers of the 28th division in Srebrenica. This was done even as the high command was ordering sabotage operations against Bosnian Serbs. One of these was a militarily meaningless attack on a strategically unimportant nearby Serb village of Visnica. The final operation was an attack on Bosnian Serb Army units on the road south of Srebrenica, just days before the Serbs captured the nearly undefended town.
Ibran Mustafic, the head of the Muslim SDA party in Srebrenica, who had clashed with local Bosnian Muslim military commander Naser Oric, and was badly wounded in two assassination attempts, told Slobodna Bosna: “The scenario for the betrayal of Srebrenica was consciously prepared. Unfortunately the Bosnian presidency and the Army command were involved in this business … Had I received orders to attack the Serb army from the demilitarized zone, I would have rejected to carry out that order without thinking and would have asked the person who had issued that order to bring his family to Srebrenica so that I can give him a gun let him stage attacks from the demilitarized zone. I knew that such shameful, calculated moves were leading my people to catastrophe. The order came from Sarajevo”
In his book Warriors for Peace, Bernard Kouchner, former head of Doctors Without Borders, states that on his death bed, Bosnia’s wartime president, Alija Izetbegovic, acknowledged to both Kouchner and former UN envoy Richard Holbrooke that he had exaggerated claims of atrocities by Serbian forces to encourage NATO intervention against the Serbs. Specifically he mentions wartime POW camps that all three factions in the Bosnian civil war utilized, but which his government claimed in 1992 were really “death camps,” a charge which was widely publicized by reporters such as Newsday’s Roy Gutman (who shared a Pulitzer prize for this story) and ABC anchor Peter Jennings. Izetbegovic admitted to Kouchner and Holbrooke that “There were no extermination camps, whatever the horror of those places. I thought my revelations [sic] would precipitate bombing [against Serbs].”
Croatian authorities were also delighted with the claims of a Srebrenica massacre, as this deflected attention from their prior devastating ethnic cleansing of Serbs in Western Slavonia (almost entirely ignored by the Western media), and it provided a cover for their already planned removal of several hundred thousand Serbs from the Krajina area in Croatia. In “Operation Flash,” carried out in Western Slavonia in May 1995, the Croatians did not provide safe passage for a huge column of Serb refugees, which included many women and children. “Many Serbs perished in heavy Croatian tank, artillery and aerial bombardments …as they tried to flee southward toward the Sava River bridge into Bosnia,” wrote New York Times reporter Roger Cohen, who noted that “the estimate of 450 Serbian dead, given by Gojko Susak, the Croatian Defense Minister appears to be conservative.” The follow up massive ethnic cleansing operation by Croatia in Krajina was carried out with U.S. approval and logistical support within a month of the Srebrenica events, and it may well have involved the killing of more Serb civilians than Bosnian Muslim civilians killed in the Srebrenica area in July: most of the Bosnian Muslim victims were fighters, not civilians, as the Bosnian Serbs bused the Srebrenica women and children to safety; here as in Western Slavonia the Croatians made no such provision and many women, children and old people were slaughtered in Krajina. The ruthlessness of the Croats was impressive: “UN troops watched horrified as Croat soldiers dragged the bodies of dead Serbs along the road outside the UN compound and then pumped them full of rounds from the AK-47s. They then crushed the bullet-ridden bodies under the tracks of a tank.” But this was hardly noticed in the wake of the indignation and propaganda generated around Srebrenica, with the aid of the mainstream media, whose co-belligerency role in the Balkan wars was already well-entrenched.
The International Criminal Tribunal for Yugoslavia (ICTY) and UN also had an important role to play in the consolidation of the standard Srebrenica massacre narrative. From its inception the ICTY served as an arm of the NATO powers, who created it, funded it, served as its police arm and main information source, and expected and got responsive service from the organization. The ICTY focused intensively on Srebrenica and provided important and nominally independent corroboration of the massacre claims along with citable “judicial” claims of planned “genocide.” Although the death toll in Operations “Flash” and “Storm” is believed to be in the thousands, in contrast with its treatment of Srebrenica, but in keeping with its role as a political instrument of NATO, no genocide indictments were issued by the ICTY for these ethnic cleansing operations and massacres.
The UN is less thoroughly integrated into NATO-power demands than the ICTY, but it is highly responsive, and in the Srebrenica case, it came through just as the United States and its main allies desired. Under pressure from the US, the UN employed a double standard for reporting alleged abuses by Serb forces as compared with comparable abuses by Croatian Muslim forces. Between May of 1992 and April of 1993, scarcely a day went by without massacres and scorched earth attacks by Muslim warlord Naser Oric on towns and villages such as Sikirici, Konjevic Polje, Glogova, Zalazje, Fakovici, Kaludra, Loznica, Fakovici, Brezani, Krnica, Zagoni, Orlice, Jezhtica, Bijlaca, Crni Vhr, Milici, Kamenica, Bjelovac, Kravica, Skelani and Zabokvica. “Naser Oric was a warlord who reigned by terror in this area and over the population itself,” General Phillippe Morillon testified at the Hague Tribunal. “He could not allow himself to take prisoners. According to my recollection, he didn’t even look for an excuse.” Oric’s forces are responsible for 1,200-1,500 deaths in the Srebrenica area.
Yet, despite extensive evidence of Oric’s direct participation in such atrocities in a report submitted to the UN by the Yugoslav State Commission on War Crimes, the US State Department, the UN and major news organizations were largely silent on these crimes. UN Security Council resolutions to condemn abuses by Muslim forces or Croatian forces were routinely thwarted by threatened veto from Madeleine Albright. The report on Oric was submitted to the UN Commission of Experts on War Crimes, whose chairman Cherif Bassiouni was appointed by Ambassador Albright, but Oric was not even mentioned in the final report of the Commission. When the ICTY finally got around to indicting Nasir Oric on March 28, 2003, very possibly to create the image of judicial balance, he was charged with killing only seven Serbs who were tortured and beaten to death after capture, and with the “wanton destruction” of nearby villages. Although he bragged to Western reporters of slaughtering Serb civilians, the ICTY reportedly “found no evidence that there were civilian casualties in the attacks on Serb villages in his theatre of operations.”
Former NATO Deputy Commander Charles Boyd, who was in charge of intelligence assessments, wrote in Foreign Affairs that the Croatian attack on the UN Protected Serb-inhabited area of Western Bosnia, which preceded the capture of Srebrenica “appears to differ from Serbian actions around the UN safe areas of Srebrenica and Zepa only in the degree of Western hand-wringing and CNN footage the latter have elicited. Ethnic cleansing evokes condemnation only when it is committed by Serbs, not against them.”
Another anomaly also showing the sacred, untouchable, and politicized character of the Srebrenica massacre in Western ideology has been the ready designation of the killings as a case of “genocide.” The Tribunal played an important role here, with hard-to-match gullibility, unrestrained psychologizing, problematic legal reasoning, and the ready acceptance of trial testimony by prosecution witnesses who committed perjury as part of plea bargains (most notably, Drazen Erdemovic and Momir Nikolic). The term genocide, once reserved for the most horrific crime, the planned extermination of a particular group, was manipulated by the ICTY to justify indictments that preceded any serious investigation of events related to the capture of Srebrenica.
On gullibility, one Tribunal judge accepted as fact the witness claim that Serb soldiers had forced an old Muslim man to eat the liver of his grandson; and the judges repeatedly stated as an established fact that 7-8,000 Muslim men had been executed, while simultaneously acknowledging that the evidence only “suggested” that “a majority” of the 7-8,000 missing had not been killed in combat, which yields a number substantially lower than 7-8,000. The Tribunal dealt with the awkward problem of the genocide-intent Serbs bussing Bosnian Muslim women and children to safety by arguing that they did this for public relations reasons, but as Michael Mandel points out, failing to do some criminal act despite your desire is called “not committing a crime.” The Tribunal never asked why the genocidal Serbs failed to surround the town before its capture to prevent thousands of males from escaping to safety, or why the Bosnian Muslim soldiers were willing to leave their women and children as well as many wounded comrades to the mercies of the Serbs; and they failed to confront the fact that 10,000 mainly Muslim residents of Zvornik sought refuge from the civil war in Serbia itself, as prosecution witness Borisav Jovic testified.
Among the other weaknesses in the Tribunal judges’ argument, it was genocide if you killed many males in a group in order to reduce the future population of that group, thereby making it unviable in that area. Of course, you might want to kill them to prevent their killing you in the future, but the court knows Serb psychology better–that couldn’t be the sole reason, there must have been a more sinister aim. The Tribunal reasoning holds forth the possibility that with only a little prosecution-friendly judicial psychologizing any case of killing enemy soldiers can be designated genocide.
There is also the problem of definition of the group. Were the Serbs trying to eliminate all the Muslims in Bosnia, or Muslims globally? Or just in Srebrenica? The judges suggested that pushing them out of the Srebrenica area was itself genocide, and they essentially equated genocide with ethnic cleansing. It is notable that the ICTY has never called the Croat ethnic cleansing of 250,000 Krajina Serbs “genocide” although in that case, many women and children were killed and the ethnic cleansing applied to a larger area and larger victim population than in Srebrenica. (On August 10, 1995, Madeleine Albright cried out to the Security Council that “as many as 13,000 men, women and children were driven from their homes” in Srebrenica.) Perhaps the ICTY had accepted Richard Holbrooke’s designation of the Krajina as a case of “involuntary expulsions.” The bias is blatant; the politicization of a purported judicial enterprise is extreme.
Media treatment of the Srebrenica and Krajina cases followed the same pattern and illustrates well how the media make some victims worthy and others unworthy in accord with a political agenda. With the Serbs their government’s target, and their government actively aiding the massive Croat ethnic cleansing program in Krajina, the media gave huge and indignant treatment to the first, with invidious language, calls for action, and little context. With Krajina, attention was slight and passing, indignation was absent, detailed reporting on the condition of the victims was minimal, descriptive language was neutral, and there was context offered that made the events understandable. The contrast is dramatic: the attack on Srebrenica “chilling,” “murderous,” “savagery,” “cold-blooded killing,” “genocidal,” “aggression,” and of course “ethnic cleansing.” With Krajina, the media used no such strong language–even ethnic cleansing was too much for them. The Croat assault was merely a big “upheaval” that is “softening up the enemy,” “a lightning offensive,” explained away as a “response to Srebrenica” and a result of Serb leaders “overplaying their hand.” The Washington Post even cited U.S. Ambassador to Croatia Peter Galbraith saying the “the Serb exodus was not ‘ethnic cleansing’.” The paper does not allow a challenge to that judgment. In fact, however, the Croat operations in Krajina left Croatia as the most ethnically purified of all the former components of the former Yugoslavia, although the NATO occupation of Kosovo has allowed an Albanian ethnic cleansing that is rivalling that of Croatia in ethnic purification.
Many journalists covering Srebrenica and the Bosnian war consistently accepted Bosnian and US government pronouncements as fact instead of independently verifying evidence. U.S. Army Lieutenant Colonel John Sray, on the scene in Bosnia, wrote in October 1995 on “Selling the Bosnian Myth: Buyer Beware,” that while “many journalists, who undeniably labour under dangerous and miserable conditions… have permitted themselves to become pawns of the propaganda structure….These correspondents frequently limit their time in Bosnia to short stays and fail to gain an appreciation for the true nuances at play in this war. Watching and reading their reports too often conveys the impression that they feel the pressure of competition for a voyeuristic audience against their pampered tabloid-like peers (such as those who covered the O.J. Simpson trial) and try to react accordingly. This segment of the media views its job security as dependent upon obtaining thirty seconds of good video footage accompanied with appropriate sound bites from Muslim officials or their populace. The result, obviously, becomes tawdry reporting that panders to the Bosniac point of view and results in misleading news reports.”
Obviously, this characterization does not describe all the coverage of the conflict or events around Srebrenica, but it describes the long-standing mainstream perspective and serves to remind us that ten years later, a highly skewed version of what happened at Srebrenica dominates public perceptions, and may influence decisions now being made about the fate of Kosovo and Bosnia.
An understanding of the events surrounding Srebrenica may also determine if the Serbs will continue to bear the brunt of the blame for the tragic conflict that occurred when the major powers — the EU, the United States and the UN — encouraged the breakup of Yugoslavia through diplomatic recognition of armed separatist states, despite the warning of UN Secretary-General Perez de Cuellar. Compounding this error, the US, the most important member state of the UN, then helped prolong the conflict by taking sides, instead of permitting the UN to act as an honest broker, its traditional role, which was repeatedly undermined during its mission in the former Yugoslavia.