Home > srebrenica massacre > MORAL EQUIVALISM IS FLAWED


July 24, 2006

Photo: Bosniak civilians in Serb-run Trnopolje Concentration CampFair and balanced observation of events does not mean one should exercise moral equivalism (relativism) or moral absolutism. I dismiss both methods of reasoning as flawed and subscribe myself to – what I call – moral perspectivism.

My definition of moral perspectivism is: “Method of reasoning in which things are put into perspecive while both sides of the story are analyzed and given proper attention.”

Photo: Bosniak civilians in Serb-run Concentration Camp TrnopoljeBosnia-Herzegovina has been suffering for a long time as a result of both moral equivalism and moral absolutism. Well before and well into the Bosnian war, Serbian media exercised moral absolutism by portraying Serbs as “endangered” people of Yugoslavia whose interests could only be protected by the creation of “Greater Serbia”. During and after the war, Serbian media switched to moral equivalism equating Serbian crimes of genocidal proportions with individual war crimes committed by the troops of Army of Bosnia-Herzegovina.

The United Nations condemned “moral equivalency” with respect to the international conflict that took place in Bosnia-Herzegovina during 1992-95:

The Serbs repeatedly exaggerated the extent of the raids out of Srebrenica as a pretext for the prosecution of a central war aim: to create geographically contiguous and ethnically pure territory along the Drina, while freeing their troops to fight in other parts of the country. The extent to which this pretext was accepted at face value by international actors and observers reflected the prism of “moral equivalency” through which the conflict in Bosnia was viewed by too many for too long. [source]

Photo: Bosniak civilians in Serb-run Manjaca Concentration CampVenezuela’s former ambassador to the United Nations Diego Enrique Arria, recently said: “The Srebrenica massacre “is the greatest cover up in the history of the United Nations.” [read here].

Ambassador Arria testified at the International Tribunal that the international community “did not move its little finger” to protect the Muslims in the enclave and “did not make it possible for them to defend themselves”. There was a tendency in the Security Council, he said, to “morally equate the victims and the aggressor”, thus avoiding the need to take action to prevent the humanitarian disaster.

Even some people who acknowledge Srebrenica genocide tend to fall into trap of moral equivalism. One example is Shaina whom I consider a friend of this blog.

In the following arguments I will demonstrate how moral relativism selectively distorts fairness in which supposed two sides of the story become – what I call – only “bits and pieces” of factual elements. In Shaina’s article There was a Genocide in Srebrenica: Part III, she wrote:

It must be understood that all sides in the war committed war crimes, and that people of all ethnicities suffered greatly (and still continue to suffer) as a result of the war.

Actually, this is only half of the story and typical example of moral equivalism. Here you could see typical error in judgement that people make (and I am not blaming her). Serb civilians did suffer, however, their suffering cannot be equated with the suffering of Bosniaks who were subjected to genocide. Basicly, the story goes that everybody committed war crimes, and everybody suffered, so be it – end of story. Well, not quite. What Shaina fails to mention is that not even one Bosnian Serb controlled city was under the siege by forces loyal to the Government of Bosnia-Herzegovina. In other words, Serbian civilians did not starve in enclaves without exits, they were not hunted down and slaughtered by thousands in one day, they were not subjected to planned and organized ethnic cleansing campaigns of genocidal proportions (however, Serbian media did pressure Serb civilians to leave cities under the control of Army of Bosnia-Herzegovina. Even after the Dayton Peace Agreement was signed, Serb civilians moved out of suburbs of Sarajevo voluntarily.) Not even one Serbian Church was destroyed in the cities who stayed under Bosnian-government control from beginning to the end of the Bosnian war (however, some Serb Churches were damaged. For example, Serb Churches of Sarajevo were damaged as a result of Serbian bombardment of the city). On contrast, not even one Muslim Mosque survived in places under Serbian control. Shaina continues her exercise of moral relativism by saying:

Bosnian Serb civilians were without a doubt, victims of war crimes & murder in the Srebrenica area.

The correct argument would be that “some” Serb civilians were victims of war crimes and murder in the Srebrenica area, not all (as implied by the use of plural). We could easily change the wording of Shaina’s argument and apply it to the Holocaust, e.g.: “German civilians were without a doubt, victims of war crimes & murder in the area of occupied Germany.” Well, what does that mean? Does it mean that crimes against German civilians could be equated with the crimes against the victims of the Holocaust, including my grandfather. Over 100,000 Bosniak civilians perished in the Holocaust or about 8.1% of total Bosniak population residing in Bosnia-Herzegovina. Percentage-wise, Bosniak people were hit the hardest in the area. My grandmother still remember how Nazis summarily executed civilians in Muslim villages by hitting their heads with hammers (and other objects) and then throwing lifeless bodies into Sava river. Nazi collaborators, Serbian Chetniks, did the same by burning Bosniak villages and then killing civilians. Had she not survived Holocaust, I would not be alive today.

With respect to the alleged Serb civilian casualties around Srebrenica, let me quote conclusions made by internationaly funded Research & Documentation Center (RDC) in Sarajevo, which is comprised of Bosniak, Croat, Serb, and international investigators. In fact, the allegations that Serb casualties around Srebrenica, between April 1992 and December 1995 amount to over three thousand is an evident falsification of facts and an attempt to moraly equate victims of genocide with victims of individual war crimes:

Perhaps, the clearest illustration of gross exaggeration is that of Kravica, a Serb village near Bratunac attacked by the Bosnian Army on the morning of Orthodox Christmas, January 7, 1993. The allegations that the attack resulted in hundreds of civilian victims have been shown to be false. Insight into the original documentation of the Army of Republika Srpska (VRS) clearly shows that in fact military victims highly outnumber the civilian ones. The document entitled “Warpath of the Bratunac brigade”, puts the military victims at 35 killed and 36 wounded; the number of civilian victims of the attack is eleven. [Read full report]

Human Rights Watch agrees:

In fact, the Oric judgment confirms that there were Bosnian Serb military forces present in the village at the time of attack. In 1998, the wartime New York Times correspondent Chuck Sudetic wrote in his book on Srebrenica that, of forty-five Serbs who died in the Kravica attack, thirty-five were soldiers. Original Bosnian Serb army documents, according to the ICTY prosecutor and the Sarajevo-based Center for Research and Documentation of War Crimes, also indicate that thirty-five soldiers died. [source]

In fact, less than 2,000 Serb civilians died in all of Bosnia as concluded by RDC (data, as of Dec 15, 2005). Shaina’s next statement is offensively surprising and perfect example of moral equivalism:

To deny that the Srebrenica Commander, individual soldiers or at times individual civilians committed war crimes & atrocities and to deny the very real suffering of Bosnian Serbs in the Srebrenica area is a denial of an historic truth.

Let’s put things into perspective. First of all, the Srebrenica defence commander – Naser Oric – was acquitted of any direct involvement in alleged war crimes around Srebrenica. Although Naser Oric is not my type of hero, as I don’t have respect for military commanders who flee their cities under attack and leave their forces and civilians to fend for themselves, I still have admiration for his involvement in defending Srebrenica from well-armed Serbian military.

Secondly, some individual Bosniak soldiers did in fact commit crimes. Even though every life is precious – there is no perfect war. Even in Iraq, some individual American soldiers commited war crimes, but that does not mean that the American Army should be equated with extremist terrorists (suicide bombers and others) who are killing Muslim civilians in Iraq on a daily basis. Individual crimes are hard to prevent, however, what counts – among other things – is prevention of genocide, prevention of constant and intentional targetting of civilians, not blockading humanitarian convoys, not taking part in planned and organized killings of civilians, including state sponsored ethnic cleansing.

None of these evils can be attributed to the Bosnian-government soldiers on a larger scale, but they can be attributed to the genocidal forces of war crimes fugitives – Radovan Karadzic and Ratko Mladic. It is my belief that Shaina was not trying to equate Srebrenica defence forces with genocidal Serbian thugs who kept Srebrenica under the siege and even refused to let humanitarian convoys with food enter the city. But, Shaina’s arguments seem to “imply” that since Serb forces were bad, so were Bosnian. Of course, this is completely ridicolous argument, which I already explained why.

Thirdly, Oric’s attacks on Serbian military bases around Srebrenica were more justified than Serbian attacks on Srebrenica, because Oric’s raids were conducted to collect food and medical supplies (as already stated in the United Nations’ conclusions), while Serbian attacks had to do with wilful bombardments of civilians and completion of planned and well-organized genocide. Individual cases where civilians died as a result of Oric’s raids are also not acceptable. Whether these civilian casualties were collateral damage or victims of wilful killings is debatable, however the fact that some Serb civilians died around Srebrenica cannot be denied (but must be put into perspective).

By further reading her article, one can notice that Shaina quickly switches from moral relativism to moral perspectivism and automatically her arguments automatically become more fair and more balanced than before, as witnessed in the following quote:

Unlike the Srebrenica justifiers, I will never excuse or justify war crimes committed against civilians. For the sake of Bosnia and for the sake of justice, all war crimes must be fully acknowledged and condemned; and all war criminals need to be brought to justice. The Srebrenica genocide deniers do not do this. While they have ignored the evidence of a calculated ethnic cleansing campaign against the Bosniaks; they have over exaggerated Bosniak war crimes in order to justify what happened in 1995. Furthermore, they continue to ignore Bosnian Serb war crimes occurring at the same time. This exposes their extreme hypocrisy.

Photo: Bosniak civilians in Serb-run Omarska Concentration CampBill Weinberg of World War 4 Report has been a long time supporter of human rights. In his article, Why Does Z Magazine Support Genocide (which I republished here), he argued against Srebrenica genocide revisionism.

Shortly after, his opinion was attacked by Ed Herman (also known as Edward Herman) who reduced himself to denying genocide that took place in Srebrenica.

(here you can read rebuttal to Ed Herman’s claims).

In his response to Herman’s make-believe stories, Bill Weinberg said:

Now isn’t this interesting. Herman protests that just because he rejects the “standard narrative” on Srebrenica doesn’t mean he supports genocide (denial is a form of support, as we all understand vis-a-vis Holocaust revisionism), yet he assumes that because I do accept the overwhelming evidence in support of the Srebrenica massacre, this means that I am engaging in “apologetics for war.” It means nothing of the sort. I opposed US military intervention in the Balkans. But that opposition cannot be predicated on genocide denial or bogus moral equivalism or (worse) simply flipping reality on its head and portraying the Serbs as the victims and Bosnian Muslims as the aggressors.

I never claimed the Bosnian Muslim leadership were paragons of virtue who never told a lie. But I find it amusing that Herman is convinced by the names and addresses of Serb victims supplied by the Belgrade ambassador, but not those of the 7,800 men documented as missing from Srebrenica by the ICMP [International Commission on Missing Persons] (which Herman sarcastically calls “Bosnian Muslim truth-tellers” despite the fact that they aren’t Bosnian Muslims)…. The post-Yugoslav wars have been full of ghastly atrocities. Srebrenica was one which clearly crossed the line to genocide. I have never heard leftists contest that the 1981 El Mozote massacre in El Salvador (1,000 dead, by high estimates) or even the 1997 Acteal massacre in Chiapas (45 dead) were acts of genocide. But 8,000 dead at Srebrenica is dismissed as imperialist propaganda. We excoriated the Reagan administration for denying the massacre at El Mozote, but now engage in precisely the same behavior vis-a-vis Srebrenica. So much for moral consistency. (Bill Weinberg Suports Truth, Thank you – July 24, 2005)

Shortly, I would also like to quote Dr. Marko Attila’s opinion. In his article, The Left Revisionists, Dr Attila correctly observed:

There is a term for this attitude: moral relativism. In its far-left variety there are two sides to its coin. Combined with this all-trumping moralism in the left-revisionist mind-set, like the opposite pole of a magnet, is a cold-blooded immoralism, according to which the left-winger is absolutely unmoved by the crimes of the Revolution performed for the greater good. More striking even than the defence or denial of crimes against humanity carried out by the left revisionists is their sheer lack of any positive vision for the future or political raison d’etre whatsoever.

We are all liable to make errors of judgment if we rely on the flawed principles of moral relativism or moral absolutism , because neither of these methods of reasoning is capable of allowing us to see the full picture. They are simply tools that have been used by various apologists who have tried to describe events or opinions in an apparently more ‘even-handed’ way, shifting the balance of credit from from one side of the account to the other by allowing benefit of doubt, making both sides seem equally culpable for what was done.

Disclaimer: My critique of few Shaina’s arguments should in no way be construed as an attack on her opinion. In fact, the only reason I used her arguments was to compare moral relativism with moral perspectivism. Her activism and condemnation of Srebrenica genocide denial is both appreciated and valuable.

  1. Owen
    July 29, 2006 at 8:43 am

    Once again I don’t think that went through at the first time of asking, so I’m sending it again (Can you knock out this bit, please!)

    Dan, I have to disagree strongly with your assessment. Shaina’s language does not imply any moral equivalence.

    She makes an absolutely necessary acknowledgment that some Bosnian Serbs suffered war crimes, which I don’t think anyone can deny. The absence of an article in front of “Bosnian Serb civilians” allows a slight degree of ambiguity but I read it simply as an indication of undetermined quantity and the “some” that you see as being missing I see as being implicit.

    What Shaina says certainly shouldn’t be read as a generalised assertion about the whole group that included those victims. Shaina is simply making it clear that she does not deny the individual suffering that was experienced by some of the Bosnian Serbs.

    As her headline says, War Crimes Did Occur. That acknowledgment is a necessary preliminary to her argument about genocide. She is dealing with the accusation that she knows is likely to be levied against her by the genocide deniers, that she’s partial and ignores crimes against Serbs. She’s also establishing a baseline for objective assessment. Once that’s out of the way she can proceed with developing her main argument, that even though crimes were perpetrated against Bosnian Serbs they do not provide any mitigation of the crime of genocide at Srebrenica.

    In her appraisal of events at Srebrenica Shaina’s doing no more than the Bassiouni Commission did at a more general level, when it confirmed that grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions and other violations of international humanitarian were committed by all sides, but that the largest number were clearly perpetrated by Serb combatants and the largest number of victims was from BiH. She puts the facts into the balance first, then she says to which side, and by how much, the scales are tipped.

    I completely understand and support your unwillingness to allow any suspicion of moral equivalence. But at the same time if you deny equal weight to the suffering of any victim you deny the basis of universal principles and conventions, and you also run the risk of compromising your objectivity in the eyes of the uncommitted, who aren’t familiar with the facts and form their judgments on the basis of the perceived objectivity of the arguments they hear.

    Allowing Shaina to be objective is absolutely not the same as condoning the moral relativism which you’re right to condemn so forcefully.

  2. Srebrenica Massacre
    July 29, 2006 at 6:04 pm

    I do not want to make a big deal out of this. Both, you and Shaina are in “Special Thanks to…” section of this blog. I have respect for both of you and consider you friends, not the enemy. In fact, overal quality of Shaina’s article was very good and I am proud of her devotion to the topic. She even surprised me with the details of many excellent facts, such as the fact that Serb villages were used as military outposts to attack Srebrenica.

    If you have read the full article, you would have easily noticed that I wrote the disclaimer at the end of the article, quote:

    “My critique of few Shaina’s arguments should in no way be construed as an attack on her opinion. In fact, the only reason I used her arguments was to compare moral relativism with moral perspectivism. Her activism and condemnation of Srebrenica genocide denial is both appreciated and valuable.”

    Naser Oric is guilty of failing to prevent murders of five Serbs and the mistreatment of another ten Serbs. Any attempt to deny this fact is denial of historic truth. However, one must put things into perspective. Under the command of Ratko Mladic, over 8,100 Bosniaks were summarily executed. There is no comparison between Bosniak and Serb suffering, because what Srebrenica Bosniaks went through was suffering of genocidal proportions. What Serbs around Srebrenica went through were acts of individual war crimes. The Serbs around Srebrenica never demilitarized and they used villages around Srebrenica to bombard Bosniak civilians and block convoys of humanitarian aid entering Srebrenica. The fact that Serb villages around Srebrenica were military bases from which Serbs launched attacks against Srebrenica were overlooked in the media, and I thank to Shaina for pointing that out. Both the United Nations Tribunal and Human Rights Watch agree:

    The ultra-nationalist Serbian Radical Party launched an aggressive campaign to prove that Muslims had committed crimes against thousands of Serbs in the area. The campaign was intended to diminish the significance of the July 1995 crime, and many in Serbia were willing to accept that version of history. But as the Oric judgment makes clear, the facts do not support the equivalence thesis. Take the events in the village of Kravica, on the Serb Orthodox Christmas on January 7, 1993, for example. The alleged killing of scores of Serbs and destruction of their houses in the village is frequently cited in Serbia as the key example of the heinous crimes committed by the Muslim forces around Srebrenica. In fact, the Oric judgment confirms that there were Bosnian Serb military forces present in the village at the time of attack. In 1998, the wartime New York Times correspondent Chuck Sudetic wrote in his book on Srebrenica that, of forty-five Serbs who died in the Kravica attack, thirty-five were soldiers. Original Bosnian Serb army documents, according to the ICTY prosecutor and the Sarajevo-based Center for Research and Documentation of War Crimes, also indicate that thirty-five soldiers died. The critics also invoke unreliable statistics. A spokesman for the ruling Democratic Party of Serbia in the wake of the Oric judgment, for example, claimed that “we have documents showing that 3,260 people were found dead around Srebrenica from 1992-1995.”
    source: http://hrw.org/english/docs/2006/07/12/serbia13761.htm

    I agree that crimes against Serbs should not be ignored, however – these crimes don’t even come close to what Serbs did to Bosniaks. As Shaina correctly pointed, quote:

    “The genocide justifiers have consistently ignored the strong VRS military presence in some Bosnian Serb villages. For example, the village of Fakovici was used as a military outpost through which Bosnian Serb forces launched massive attacks on Bosniak civilians. Secondly, the Oric judgment found the presence of military presence in several villages that the Bosniak forces launched an offensive on. Including the presence of sophisticated weapons such as tanks, anti aircraft, rocket launchers etc. Therefore, putting the offensive actions against those specific villages where there was a VRS presence in much different light than the one purported by the genocide deniers.”


  3. Owen
    July 29, 2006 at 11:31 pm

    I of course agree with you that as long as the suffering of individuals is not overlooked, the most pressing concern now is to ensure that those who were not victims but were perpetrators are held to account and secure justice for the massive number of their victims.

  4. Kirk Johnson
    July 29, 2006 at 11:37 pm

    It’s important that the distinction between genocide and war crimes in general be understood; what Shaina was doing was pointing out that there were war crimes committed by the Bosnian Army against Serb civilians around Srebrenica. She strongly rejects the idea that these isolated war crimes in any way explain or mitigate the act of genocide committed at Srebrenica. We need to be careful with our language–you are correct to say so. However, you are guilty of sliping into a little bit of reverse equivilence when you say: “There is no comparison between Bosniak and Serb suffering, because what Srebrenica Bosniaks went through was suffering of genocidal proportions.”

    You run the risk of reducing the discussion of genocide in Bosnia to a base-line acocunting of quantified suffering. The difference between the individual war crimes committed by the troops under Oric versus the widespread, centrally-planned, and premeditated massacre at Srebrenia was qualitative as well as quantitative.

  5. Shaina
    July 30, 2006 at 4:03 am

    I’m not sure if the post went through-here I try again for a second time.


    (very long post ahead)

    Before I read this response, I have responded to you on my own blog.
    However, Owen has managed to explain my position much more eloquently than I did.

    The entire purpose of my article was not to create a sense of moral equvalence between the two “sides”. In fact, perhaps ironically, my point was to do the complete opposite.

    The first point was to combat the assertion that the genocide was an act of “vengence” for Bosniak war crimes. I tried to do this by noting that Srebrenica was the key piece of land for Greater Serbia; and that even before any Bosniak counteroffensive/and/or/war crimes occurred; there was a massive ethnic cleansing campaign against the Bosniaks in Eastern Bosnia; and that the UN had equated ethnic cleansing with genocide (Essay II). This was to establish several key factors that are ignored by genocide revisionists:

    1. That Srebrenica was ALWAYS a target for Mladic; and that he tried to attack the enclave since 1992.

    2. In 1992, Bosniaks were already victims of a genocide, all over Bosnia, but with particular brutality in Eastern Bosnia. I also made in clear that it was only thanks to Naser Oric and co. that a massive ethnic cleansing campaign was stopped. And that while Oric is a *very* constroverstrial figure (even amongst Bosniaks who have supported him against the allegations in the Hague) it should be acknowledged that he saved thousands of Bosniak lives in 1992.

    The second point of the essays was to specifically combat the claim of moral equvalence between the sides; and to combat the claim frequently leveled by genocide revisionists; that the crimes committed by the 28th division were equvalent to the crimes committed by the VRS troops.

    I tried to do this by showing in essay III:

    1. The vast difference between war crimes & genocide.

    2. The fact that the forages/attacks on Bosnian Serb villages were searches for food-a direct result of Mladic trying to starve the civilian population within Srebrenica.

    3. The fact that any 28th division war crimes were re-active, and cannot be compared in terms of calculation, scope etc. to the genocide being perpetrated by the VRS.

    4. The horrific conditions within Srebrenica (where I have cited the entire Oric case-which I have actually read most of the transcripts for), the Oric judgment, and individual articles).

    5. The military superiority of the Bosnian Serbs.

    6. The fact that genocide revisionists have purposely over exaggerated 28th division crimes: ie-over exaggerated death toll, ignoring that most of the Bosnian Serb deceased were soldiers; ignoring attacks being committed out of Bosnian Serb villages.

    The lack of a qualifier “some” or “indvidual” before the term, Bosnian Serbs suffered war crimes; was implicit. I probably should have been more explicit and used a qualifier such as “indvidual” in front of the term “Bosnian Serb suffered war crimes.” But again, I felt that it was implied. Perhaps, I should have also have explicity stated that the suffering of the two communities, the Bosnian Serbs and Bosniaks, cannot be compared. But the reason I did not explicity state this, is because I felt this was also implied.
    This was perhaps an oversight on my part. But the fact that I mentioned that the Bosniaks were being starved, under siege, and faced a “holocaust”-direct quote from Dr. Simon Mardel which I have quoted in my essay, made that point redundant(I felt). It is obvious that trying to starve to death 40,000 civilians is a war crime in an entirely different league than the very worst war crime committed by any Bosniak troop or commander.

    Owen has explained my purpose in my headline “War crimes did occur” perfectly.

    1st: it is the truth war crimes did occur. The killing of just one civilian is a war crime; and I am sure you will agree, should always be condemned. (And of course there numerous crimes which do not rise to the level of killing, but which are still war crimes) Any individual who suffered from a war crime, has suffered horribly. Their families also suffer-and are most probably still suffering today. My point is that it is important to acknowledge the sufferings of indvidual Bosnian Serbs.

    Sheri Fink has written perhaps the definitive book on Srebrenica (at least in English) “War Hospital.” More than any other major book on Srebrenica: “Endgame” and “Blood & Vengance”, “War Hospital” shows the true horror of life under siege. And much more than “Endgame” or “Blood & Vengance” she has also shown some of the good qualities of divisive figures-like Naser Oric.
    In fact, her book was heavily cited by Oric’s defense team throughout his entire trial. Because much of the evidence regarding the horrific circumstances in Srebrenica, comes from her book.
    Her book talks about (as do other books on Srebrenica as well)that the civilians committed much of the destruction to Bosnian Serb villages, and that the regular Bosnian Army couldn’t stop the civilians (which is one of the reasons Oric was acquited for destruction of Serb villages; not because Serb villages were not attacked-but because the trial chamber found, it was impossible for anyone to control thousands of starving people.)
    One of the main doctors featured in “War Hospital”, Dr. Eric Dachy of MSF (Doctors Without Borders) and a very idealistic and respected humanitarian doctor; actually testified as a witness for Naser Oric. Dr. Dachy testified to the horrific conditions in Srebrenica; and the fact that Oric frequently visited the wounded in the hospital, and that he was always “very kind” to them.
    However, Fink, who more than any other book gives a detailed view of life under siege; and Fink whose book was cited by Oric’s defense team as evidence, also says unequivocally that some members of the Srebrenica forces committed atrocities and killings against some Bosnian-Serb villagers. It is important to acknowledge all of it.

    2nd: The second reason for my title “War Crimes Did occur” was exactly as Owen said. To establish my own credibility in assesing the events of 1992-1993. I can not be seen as credible and objective (and objectivity is completely different than equvalent) in assesing the events of 1992-1993, without first mentioning the fact that all sides committed war crimes.
    From that base line assertion, I was able to move on to the main arguments I made in essay III. Which were:

    1: Genocide revisionists have greatly embellished Bosniak war crimes to justify Srebrenica.

    2: The crimes committed by the VRS cannot compare to the crimes committed by the 28th division. I specifically mentioned the fact that the attacks on Bosnian Serb villages were a direct result of Mladic starving the people of Srebrenica to show this. Obviously, a crime committed as a result of trying to find food after being starved; cannot in any way be compared to a crime committed as a result of a massive ethnic cleansing campaign whose goal is to create an ethnically pure state.

    If I did not acknowledge that war crimes occured than I could not be seen as being honest or trustworthy when I go on to list the false arguments by the genocide revisionists.

    I enjoy reading your blog, and I hope you have enjoyed, and will continue to enjoy reading my blog. The reason I started posting here in the first place is that your blog was literarly the first blog/opinion site I have found that did not support a genocide denial/revisionist view of Srebrenica-which is rampant on the internet. You are doing important and worthwhile work by fighting genocide denial; and I really do appreciate that.

    The very purpose of my blog is to help keep Bosnia in forefront, and to keep combat arguments of moral equvalence that as the UN said (which I did quote in my article)”which for too long has dominanted how people have seen the war in Bosnia.” (paraphrase)


  6. Shaina
    July 30, 2006 at 5:28 am

    I’ve already made one response (and a long one at that), but there is a very good point that I didn’t make yet; and Kirk reminded me of it:

    The difference between communal and indvidual suffering.

    It is a point that I should have been more explicit with when I posted my original essay.

    At a communal level, Bosniak and Bosnian Serb the suffering/guilt of the communities cannot be compared. The Bosniaks were victims of a genocide; and while indvidual soldiers committed atrocities; it was nothing like the widespread genocidal plan. At a communal level, there was an aggressor and a victim side.

    However, that shouldn’t take away from the suffering of individual Bosnian Serbs on the personal level.

    That was the point of my essay. That we should acknowledge the communal suffering/guilt of the two groups; but also acknowledge the individual suffering of everyone, regardless of nationality, who lost someone in the war. I should have stated that directly, instead of assuming that it was implied.


  7. Owen
    July 30, 2006 at 11:56 pm

    Once again, methinks, the subtleties of article use in one language and of its absence in the other have a lot to answer for!

  8. Srebrenica Massacre
    July 31, 2006 at 2:02 am

    Hi guys, don’t make a big deal out of this. It’s just an analysis. And you know well my friends that Bosnian language does not use any articles that we find in English language, so if you guys notice that I screw up with the English articles (“a”, “an”, and “the”) please feel free to correct me.

    War crimes did occur on both sides and we can all agree on that, but there is not comparison between genocide and individual war crimes and Shaina did not even attempt to equate these things. However, when one makes a claim that war crimes occured on all sides it is absolutely crucial to immediately remind readers that there is absolutely no comparison between genocide and individual war crimes in the Srebrenica area. This must be done immediately, because readers might decide not to read the whole article and they might succumb to moral relativism. It is just some arguments that I find troublesome, such as that both ethnicities suffered greatly in the Srebrenica area, which is totally not true. Around 400 Serbs died in Srebrenica area (Central Podrinje), around 300 of them were soldiers, not to mention that Bosnian Serbs did not live for years under the siege in Srebrenica or any other city in Bosnia-Herzegovina. Nobody blocked their humanitarian convoys.

    Anyways, don’t make a big deal out of this article. I know that whatever Shaina said, she meant well. And my article should in NO way be construed as an attack on her. What one should get out of my article is just a personal observation and analysis in which I attempted to add to her argumentation. Nothing more.

    I am proud of both Shaina and Owen and thank you for not denying Genocide. I am sick of people like Ed Herman, Jared Israel, Thomas Deichman and other lowlives who reduced themselves to Srebrenica genocide deniers. People like them are sick and I wish them – and other Srebrenica genocide deniers – to get cancer and die of terminal illness slowly in suffering and pain. Same wish is also extended to cowards such as Ratko Mladic and Radovan Karadzic and other garbages of this planet no matter what ethnicity they are.

    For Owen and Shaina, of course, I wish all the best. If this article is in any way offensive to Shaina – I will remove it, it’s that simple, please let me know. So, cheers.

  9. Shaina
    July 31, 2006 at 5:29 am

    Excellent article from the CSM.


    By the way, I also think it is important to remember that while revisionism/denial from far leftist sources (and of course not everyone on the far left denies what happened) is more prominant and vocal-there is also a strong sense of denial/revisionism amongst the far right as well.

    The ironic thing is, that the far left and far right, despite being ideological enemies, actually use much of the same reasoning, ad homonym arguments to support their claims. Both of them have used an overtly racist argument to support their position (of course, the far right seems much more pronounced with their racist arguments than the far left; who tempers it with the denounciation of “imperialism” and “capitalism” etc.)

    But, really when you get down to it-the arguments of the left and right when it comes to genocide revisionism are pretty similar (at least imo).

  10. Michael Karadjis
    August 16, 2006 at 3:30 pm

    Shaina please don’t confuse idiots like Herman with the “far left”. There were rather a lot of “far left” parties and organisations all over the world which had a most principled stand on the conflicts in former Yugoslavia right throughout. I would consider myself to be “far left”, depending on exactly what that means. Herman is more of an intellectual left media critic than someone who has ever been involved in actual left organising. I would dispute that his disgusting genocide revisionsim would make him more “to the left” than myself. Certainly, a significant part of the left had a much more principled satnce throughout the entire Bosnian war than the main right-wing and social-democratic parties in power in most western capitals, whose “support for the Bosnians” consisted of a criminal arms embargo, which many of us on the left demanded be lifted, and one plan after another to carry out the ethnic partition of Bosnia, ie, precisely a soft version of the Milosevic plan, and also what they implemented at Dayton. And since Daniel mentioned Jared Israel, well one look at his ’emperors’ clothes’ site will show he has nothing remotely to do with the left; he is actually a Likud extremist who opposes even giving a few crumbs to the Palestinians to call their “state”, he thinks that is already too much. As for Deutchman, his “Living Marxism” cult may have had a left-sounding name, but his entire organisation “saw the light” virtually overnight, and now are right-wing libertarians, gun lobbyists, top notch journalists for the ‘Economist’, military consultants for the “war on terror”, active advocates of nuclear energy etc – it is somewhat hard to believe that this is all coincidence.
    Just check out the Australian “far left” publication Green Left Weekly at http://www.greenleft.org.au and google ‘bosnia’ or ‘kosova’ or my name and you’ll see that the left is not largely made up of clowns like Herman and Parenti.
    Michael Karadjis

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