ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

In response: Western officials culpable in Yugoslavia's horrors

I agree with University of Wisconsin-Superior professor Khalil Dokhanchi that it is indeed very sad and tragic what happened in the former Yugoslavia in both the 1940s and 1990s. Most certainly, "awareness" is "needed to bring genocide to an end,...

I agree with University of Wisconsin-Superior professor Khalil Dokhanchi that it is indeed very sad and tragic what happened in the former Yugoslavia in both the 1940s and 1990s. Most certainly, "awareness" is "needed to bring genocide to an end," as the headline of Dokhanchi's July 15 commentary pointed out.

But it should not be overlooked that elected officials from western countries were culpable for so much of the horrific happenings in the former Yugoslavia -- elected officials in the U.S. among them.

The Clinton administration has much to account for in the Balkans. There isn't enough space here to expound in great detail, but suffice it to say that, as the Centre for Research on Globalization and others have pointed out, quoting congressional documents, "The Clinton administration -- under advice from the National Security Council headed by Anthony Lake -- 'helped turn Bosnia into a militant Islamic base,' leading to the recruitment through the so-called 'Militant Islamic Network' of thousands of Mujahedin from the Muslim world."

Some of those recruits ended up in Guantanamo; many remain in Bosnia. (This all is set out in greater detail in John Schindler's book, "Unholy Terror: Bosnia, Al-Qa'ida, and the Rise of Global Jihad.")

One more very relevant fact: Too many don't know that during the bloody civil wars of the 1990s, some of the parties involved enlisted U.S. public relations firms for the sole purpose of spreading disinformation about events in the former Yugoslavia.

ADVERTISEMENT

Canada's Major General Lewis MacKenzie said in his memoirs, "Even though we were not diplomats, all of us in uniform were certain that the fighting would break out all around us as soon as the recognition [was] announced." As many of us know by now, the tragic series of events led off with a premature recognition of Slovenia, Croatia and, then, Bosnia-Herzegovina, as separate, independent states with no pre-conditions or concerns for the rights of all citizens, and especially knowing the unresolved issues of World War II. Those unresolved issues led directly to the turmoil 50 years hence. Thus, the flames of World War II were never fully extinguished and were reignited with further bloodshed in the 1990s.

Only those who know history can understand and fully appreciate the full meaning of that.

I concur totally with Dokhanchi that "we must honor the memory of all victims of genocide and work collectively to ensure there are no more victims of genocide." At the same time, we must care about and not be satisfied with less than the whole truth. Nothing but the whole truth about events in the former Yugoslavia should suffice.

Elizabeth Milanovich of Edmonton, Canada, is a frequent visitor to Bosnia, where her parents were born in the early 20th century. She's an online reader of the News Tribune.

What To Read Next