The Media and War Against Yugoslavia
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US troops out of Europe!
The Media and War Against Yugoslavia
Imperialism and the Blakans
The Global Eruption of US Imperialism


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Editor & Webmaster
Leon Chame - 2008

Yugoslav Associates:
- Zoran Radojicic
- Dejan Vukelic
- George Orwell

Contributing Websites:
- Original Sorces
- Transnational (TFF)
- Fair sources


avgust 20, 2008

















The Media and the War against Yugoslavia

Propaganda plays a critical role in all wars. "Think of the press," the Nazi propaganda chief Joseph Goebbels once said, "as a great keyboard on which the government can play." But the scale, technological sophistication and impact of modern-day propaganda exceeds anything that could have been imagined even during the era of World War II. All the mind-numbing techniques employed by the advertising and entertainment industries find their consummate expression in the "marketing" of war for a mass audience. The effectiveness of the entire sordid enterprise depends upon the effective use of a single emotion-laden phrase that can be relied upon to disorient the public. In the 1998-99 bombing campaign against Iraq, that phrase was "weapons of mass destruction." To mobilize public opinion behind the attack on Yugoslavia, all the contradictions, complexities and ambiguities of the Balkans were dissolved into a single phrase that was repeated day after day: "ethnic cleansing."

The American and international public was bombarded with the same unrelenting message: The war is being waged to stop mass murder. The video clips of ethnic Albanian refugees streaming out of Kosovo were broadcast in a manner which left viewers entirely in the dark as to the historical and political context of what they were being shown. The fact that the loss of life in Kosovo had been relatively small, at least in comparison to communal conflicts occurring in other parts of the world, until after the bombing began was simply glossed over. As for the actual number of Kosovan Albanians killed directly by Serb military and paramilitary forces, the wild claims by US government and NATO spokesmen, which placed the figure at anywhere between 100,000 and 250,000, were entirely unsubstantiated and bore no relation to reality.

The comparisons routinely made between the conflict in Kosovo and the Holocaust were obscene. Those made between Serbia and Nazi Germany were simply absurd. When the World Court finally issued its politically-motivated indictment of Milosevic, the number of deaths for which he was held officially responsible was 391. No one would argue that Milosevic is a humanitarian, but there are people responsible for far more deaths than he, including America's own Henry Kissinger, who went on to win the Nobel Peace Price. The entire propaganda campaign seemed at times to be buckling beneath the weight of its own mendacity and inanity. Still, that there existed any reason for the war, other than the official humanitarian motives claimed by the Clinton administration, was never acknowledged in the American mass media even by those who, in the most timid terms, raised questions about the decision to bomb Yugoslavia.

The media made no effort whatsoever to examine the historical background of the conflict. Critical issues such as the relationship between the economic policies imposed upon Yugoslavia by the International Monetary Fund and the resurgence of communalist tensions were never discussed publicly. Nor was there any critical review of the disastrous contribution of German and American policies in the early 1990s—specifically, the recognition of Slovenian, Croatian and Bosnian independence—to the outbreak of civil war in the Balkans. That the Serbs had any legitimate reason to be dissatisfied with the political and economic consequences of the sudden dissolution of Yugoslavia—a state that had existed since 1918—was not even mooted. No explanation was offered by the United States and the Western European powers for the glaring contrast between their attitude toward the territorial claims and ethnic policies of Croatia, Slovenia and Bosnia on the one hand, and toward those of Serbia on the other. Why, for example, did the United States actively support in 1995 the "ethnic cleansing" by Croatia of 250,000 Serbs living in Krajina province? No answer was forthcoming.

As a general rule, the media suppressed all information that lent even the slightest legitimacy to the actions of the Serb government. The most notorious example of deliberate falsification was the media's treatment of the proceedings at Rambouillet. First, it referred continuously to the Serb's rejection of the Rambouillet agreement —though all those who were familiar with the proceedings understood that there had been neither negotiations nor an agreement at Rambouillet. What the Serbs rejected was a nonnegotiable ultimatum.

Even more dishonest, the American and Western European media withheld critical information that might have prejudiced public opinion against the attack on Yugoslavia.

The media simply did not report that the "agreement" included an annex that demanded that the Serbs accept the right of NATO forces to move at will not only through Kosovo but all portions of Yugoslavia. The significance of this clause was obvious: the United States deliberately confronted Milosevic with an ultimatum that it knew he could not possibly accept. Even after this information seeped out over the Internet, it was generally ignored in the mass media. Not until its edition of June 5, after the capitulation of Serbia, did the New York Times finally report and even quote the crucial codicil. It even acknowledged that the removal of this codicil from the terms proffered by Chernomyrdin and Ahtisaari was a critical factor in persuading Milosevic to agree to the withdrawal of Serbian troops from Kosovo.