“If Jovic were simply a scholar expressing his private opinion, it would not matter that his work rehabilitates Milosevic and the JNA. It would not matter that he praises a propaganda pamphlet with no academic value, that supports Croatia’s territorial dismemberment and denies the Srebrenica genocide. Jovic has the right, as a scholar, to express his views freely. But he is the Croatian president’s chief analyst and special coordinator. It is dangerous to both Croatia and Bosnia-Hercegovina for someone holding such views, and with such poor analytical judgement and grasp of reality, to occupy the position that he does.”
Dr. Marko Attila Hoare responded to Dejan Jovic’s article in the Croatian newspaper Vecernji List in which he tried to defend his controversial statements regarding the role of Serbian nationalism in breakup of Yugoslavia and the subsequent aggression on its neighbors. Here is the full response by Dr. Hoare:
Dejan Jovic’s attack on me, published in Vecernji list on 21 January, contains numerous falsehoods. For example, he accuses me: ‘Da bi opravdali rat u Iraku, koristili su metaforu Hitlera (za Saddama Husseina)’. Yet I have never used the Hitler metaphor to describe Saddam Hussein, and in June 2013 I described the Iraq war in the pages of the Guardian as a ‘misguided adventure’. He claims ‘ljudi poput Hoarea zagovaraju daljnje intervencije kao rješenje novih problema: u Siriji, pa možda poslije u Iranu, pa tko zna gdje preksutra.’ In fact, I explicitly condemned the idea of a US or Israeli attack on Iran on my blog back in April 2012. Jovic claims: ‘Doduše, isti oni koji napadaju mene, već su i mnoge druge, uključujući Washington Times, The Guardian i neke ugledne druge pojedince i medije proglasili ”poricateljima genocida”.’ But I have never accused either the Washington Times or the Guardian of genocide denial, and I doubt whether Jovic’s other critics have either. Jovic links me to the politics of the Henry Jackson Society. Yet I resigned from that organisation at the start of 2012, and have explicitly and strongly condemned its politics repeatedly since. Jovic’s string of ad hominem falsehoods directed against me appear to be his way of distracting attention from the matter at hand: his uncritical endorsement of David Gibbs’s Great Serb propaganda tract (First Do No Harm: Humanitarian Intervention and the Destruction of Yugoslavia, Vanderbilt University Press, Nashville, 2009), which denies the Srebrenica genocide. Jovic claims: ‘Kad kritizira moj prikaz Gibbsove knjige, Hoare ”zaboravlja” da mu je Gibbs osobno odgovorio na teze o ”poricanju genocida” – i u potpunosti ih je opovrgao.’ But this is untrue. In his book (p. 281), Gibbs says of Srebrenica: ‘Certainly, the murder of eight thousand people is a grave crime, but to call it “genocide” needlessly exaggerates the scale of the crime’ (p. 281). Furthermore, Gibbs claims the massacre was provoked by the Bosniak victims: ‘The origin of the Srebrenica massacre lay in a series of Muslim attacks that began in the spring of 1995… Such actions invited Serb reprisals, and this dynamic contributed to the fall of the safe area’ (p. 160). As for Jovic’s claim that Gibbs ‘totally refuted’
my accusation of genocide denial: this is also untrue; Gibbs was completely unable to defend himself from the charge. Readers can view my refutation of him and see for themselves: http://greatersurbiton.wordpress.com/2010/12/24/first-check-their-sources-on-david-n-gibbs-and-shoddy-scholarship/ .
Jovic first tries to deny that Gibbs engages in genocide denial, then tries to justify Gibbs’s genocide denial. He argues that ‘u akademskoj zajednici, i to ne ovoj našoj, post-jugoslavenskoj, nego široj – nema suglasnosti o tome je li u ratovima u bivšoj Jugoslaviji počinjen genocid ili nije’. But none of the people he cites, in support of the view that there was no genocide, is an expert on the former Yugoslavia. Jovic then claims ‘sudovi su presudili da u Bosni i Hercegovini nije bilo genocida (osim u Srebrenici)’. But this is untrue: the ICTY has not ruled that there was no genocide in Bosnia-Hercegovina apart from in Srebrenica. Both Karadzic and Mladic are currently being tried for genocide in municipalities across Bosnia-Hercegovina – not only in Srebrenica. Karadzic’s acquittal by the ICTY Trials Chamber for one count of genocide (in municipalities outside of Srebrenica) was recently reversed by the ICTY Appeals Chamber. Furthermore, in 1997, a German court convicted Nikola Jorgic, a Bosnian Serb, for genocide in the north Bosnian region of Doboj in 1992, and this ruling was upheld by the European Court of Human Rights. Finally, Jovic claims that genocide is something invented by warmongers to justify military intervention, whereas people who deny genocide are really just trying to protect peace: ‘”Genocid” i ”Hitler” su uvijek tu kad treba pokrenuti novi rat – oni su ”idealno” objašnjenje razloga zašto se kreće u još jedan. Razlika između Gibbsa i Hoarea je, dakle, u tome što jedan smatra da se ratovi ne vode iz altruizma i ne rješavaju probleme, a drugi drži da su liberalne intervencije potrebne i nužne, i da u njima nema ništa sporno čak i kad dovode do velikog broja žrtava. Jedan je zagovornik mira, drugi rata.’ The reality is somewhat different: both Jovic and Gibbs seek to minimise the guilt of the Serbian aggressor for the 1990s war, and to shift as much blame as possible onto the Croatian and Bosnian victims of the aggression. The agenda of people like Jovic and Gibbs is to ensure that the real warmongers – tyrants like Slobodan Milosevic and Bashar al-Assad – should be free to wage their wars without fear of Western military intervention, or even of serious condemnation from the Western media. Following his review of Gibbs’s book in Politicka misao, Jovic has now for the second time, in his reply to me and to the Bosnian organisations who criticised him, praised this book in glowing terms, while refusing to make any substantial criticisms of it. Yet Gibbs’s book is a Great Serbian propaganda pamphlet of no scholarly value. Gibbs has no expertise on the subject of the former Yugoslavia; he does not even read Bosnian/Croatian/Serbian; and his arguments are based on the distortion and manipulation of source material. He minimises the guilt and crimes of the regimes of Milosevic and Karadzic and of the JNA; exaggerates the guilt and crimes of the Croatians and Bosnians; and seeks to blame the West for the break-up of Yugoslavia and war.
1) Gibbs writes ‘And we will see later in the chapter that the post-Yugoslav state of Croatia, which became independent in 1991, had important historical links with Pavelic’s puppet state.’ (p. 48). Discussing World War II, Gibbs mentions Ustasha genocide and collaboration, as well as the collaboration of Bosnian Muslims and Albanians, but fails to mention the crimes or collaboration of the Chetniks, or of Serbia’s Nedic regime.
2) Gibbs claims Tudjman ‘recommended’ genocidal violence against the Jews (p. 67)
3) Gibbs claims Croatia and Slovenia were not experiencing any oppression at Serb hands prior to declaring independence, so had no legitimate grounds for seceding: ‘In fact, there was no serious evidence of Serb oppression in Slovenia or Croatia prior to the secessionist actions. The main reasons for seceding, as we saw in the previous chapter, were economic in nature. The JNA’s initial use of force in Slovenia was quite mild’ (p. 97). Thus, he disregards the Serbian economic sanctions against Slovenia; the JNA’s disarming of the Slovenian and Croatian territorial defence; the Serb rebellion in Croatia; the ‘Log Revolution’; the JNA’s intervention in support of the Serb rebels; and the massacre of Croatian policemen at Borovo Selo. 4) Gibbs blames the war in Croatia on the Croatian side: ‘The Croatian war had its origins with the nationalist forces that were unleashed during the election campaign of 1990, when Franjo Tudjman’s HDZ party came to power.’ (p. 87)
5) Gibbs claims Germany engineered Croatia’s independence and the war in 1991: ‘We will see that Germany began encouraging Croatian nationalists and preparing them for independence months before the war began. Based on this new information, I argue that German officials did not simply respond to the war; they helped initiate it.’ (p. 77)
And again: ‘Germany played a key role in encouraging Slovenia and Croatia to secede, and surreptitiously assured them of external support for the secession efforts. Once the republics actually seceded, the European Community (backed by the United States) condemned the JNA’s efforts to block secession.’ (p. 105)
Gibbs’s anti-German conspiracy theory – which Jovic particularly praises – is based on biased, unserious and manipulated sources; he does not have even a single piece of real evidence to demonstrate that Germany encouraged Croatia to secede from Yugoslavia. I have exposed Gibbs’s anti-German falsifications in detail: http://greatersurbiton.wordpress.com/2011/01/24/first-check-their-sources-3-the-myth-that-germany-encouraged-croatia-to-secede-from-yugoslavia/ .
6) Gibbs condemns the European Community for recognising Croatia’s independence in its republican borders, and its failure to recognise the independence of the Krajina Serbs: ‘The European Community took the view that Croatia and other republics could not be divided. In effect, this meant the
following: Croatia had the right to secede from Yugoslavia but this same right would not be recognised for the Krajina Serbs, who wished to separate from Croatia. In the ensuing conflict in Krajina, the European Community supported the Croatian position and opposed that of the Serbs. At the Hague conference, Van den Broek, the Dutch foreign minister, affirmed that any changes in the republican borders “were not an option”. This anti-Serb bent was evident at many levels.’ (p. 96).
And again: ‘On the one hand, the Community accepted the right of Croatia to separate from Yugoslavia, or at least viewed such separation with leniency. On the other hand, the European Community condemned efforts by the Krajina Serbs to separate from Croatia. Why the double standard ?’ (p. 97)
7) Gibbs claims: ‘In addition, the Muslim/Croat alliance of 1990-1991 recreated a similar alliance that had existed during World War II, when the two groups were the main supporters of the pro-Nazi Ustasa state, and both participated in the massacres of the Serbs that occurred during this period.’ (p. 116)
8) Gibbs claims: ‘Operation Storm also generated a humanitarian disaster. The attack forced from 150,000 to 200,000 Serbs to flee, producing what was probably the largest single act of ethnic expulsion of the entire war.’ (p. 163)
9) Gibbs writes: ‘Another feature of the Balkan conflict was the tendency of the Western media needlessly to exaggerate the atrocities committed by Serb armies… Atrocities committed at Serb-run detention camps were presented in sensationalist fashion, for example, and they became “extermination camps” comparable to Auschwitz. President Izetbegovic himself encouraged these interpretations. Yet, in 2003, shortly before his death, Izetbegovic conceded that “there were no extermination camps” in Bosnia. He also conceded that his previous claims to the contrary had been deliberate misrepresentations, intended to outrage Western public opinion and thus trigger Western military intervention against the Serbs.’ (p. 216) In this way, Gibbs minimises the criminal nature of Serb concentration-camps like Omarska, Keraterm and Trnopolje.
10) Gibbs accuses the Bosnian armed forces of shelling their own civilians during the siege of Sarajevo, in order to blame it on the Serbs ‘: ‘In several cases, Bosnian forces themselves bombarded Sarajevo and blamed the resulting deaths on the Serbs.’ (p. 125) Furthermore: ‘In should also be noted that the [Bosnian] government restricted the right of Sarajevo residents to flee the city, effectively blocking the exit for many besieged civilians. This policy increased the potential for casualties and fit in nicely with the government’s public relations strategy. In the world’s media, the deaths from shelling and sniper fire were blamed exclusively on Serb forces, but in reality the Bosnian government bore some responsibility as well.’ (p. 126) 11) Gibbs claims the Serbs legitimately owned most of Bosnia: ‘: ‘It is clear that Serb forces were on the offensive during much of the war, and they conquered
large areas of Bosnia-Herzegovina. But the extent of Serb aggression was once again exaggerated. Newspaper articles repeatedly noted that Serbs controlled some 70 percent of Bosnia’s territory, despite the fact that they only constituted 31 percent of the total population… What such reports omitted was that Serbs had always occupied most of Bosnia’s land area, owing to their demographic dominance in rural regions.’ (p. 124)
12) Gibbs claims that it was the Muslims and Croats who caused the war to break out in Bosnia in 1992, whereas the Serbs wanted peace: ‘In March 1992, however, before full-scale war had begun, Serb leaders welcomed the Lisbon agreement and they endorsed it in the strongest terms. Radovan Karadzic, who represented the Serbs at Lisbon, called the agreement a “great day for Bosnia and Herzegovina.” And it should be recalled that it was the Muslims and the Croats, not the Serbs, who actually reneged. There is no evidence that the Serbs were bent on war at this point.’ (p. 111)
So, those are the theses of David Gibbs, which Jovic has now chosen to praise on two occasions. For Jovic to praise so highly Gibbs’s extreme anti-Croatian, anti-Bosnian and Great Serb propaganda tract is scandalous. Yet it is scarcely surprising, since in his own book about the break-up of Yugoslavia (Jugoslavija – država koja je odumrla: Uspon, kriza i pad Kardeljeve Jugoslavije (1974-1990), Prometej, Zagreb, 2003), Jovic already revealed that his sympathies in the 1990s were with Slobodan Milosevic and the JNA. Jovic praised Milosevic as a fighter for Yugoslav statehood and unity and defender of Tito’s legacy, regretted the failure of the JNA to crush Croatian rearmament in 1991, and absolved both Milosevic and the JNA as instigators of the war and perpetrators of the mass killing:
1) Poređenje Slobodana Miloševića i Vaclava Havela:
Jovic, str. 56: ‘Smjer protesta protiv režima, primjerice u Čehoslovačkoj i Srbiji, bilo je potpuno drukčiji, pa su Havel i Milošević postali antipodi u svemu. Dok je jedan vodio liberalno-demokratsku revoluciju protiv države, drugi je vodio antibirokratsku revoluciju protiv antidržavne ideologije i anarhije, za upsostavu države.’
2) Žaleći nesposobnost JNA za zaustavljanje hrvatskog naoružanja:
Jovic, str. 64: ‘Britanska je reakcija na separatizam u Sjevernoj Irskoj tipičan primjer liberalne (minimalne) države, koja se nije suzdržavala da zavede ratno stanje i upotrijebi teknove ne bi li građanski rat zaustavila prije nego što je počeo. Nasuprot tome, u državi u odumiranju, socijalističkoj Jugoslaviji, Jugoslavenska narodna armija pretvorila se u filmskoj snimatelja ilegalnog uvoza oružja na granici (s Mađarskom) koju je bilo dužna štititi uprova od takve vrste ilegalne aktivnosti.’
3) Milošević kao „jugoslovenski nacionalista“:
Jovic, str. 65n: ‘U svojoj prvoj fazi, Milošević vjerojatno bio jugoslavenski nacionalist, ali on nikada nije postao srpski nacionalist, kako ga danas mnogi nazivaju. Nikada, naime, nije htio da se formira srpska nacionalna država. Njegova je vezanost za Jugoslaviju, pa makar i do trenutka kad je Jugoslavija postala samo ime i ništa više, bila glavni razlog zbog kojeg je na kraju izgubio popularnost i izbore (2000).’
4) Četnici kao „snazan pro-jugoslovenski pokret otpora“:
Jovic, str. 141: ‘Onaj tko tvrdi da se Jugoslavija morala raspasti 1941. zbog etničkih tenzija, morao bi objasniti kako je onda bilo moguće das u odmah po okupaciji nastala dva snažna projugoslovenska pokreta otpora (Mihailovićev i Titov)’
5) Miloševićeva odanost Titovoj ostavštini:
Jovic, str. 156: ‘Rušeći četvrtu Jugoslaviju, Milosevic je odbacio Kardelja, ali ne i Tita.’
6) Miloševićeva želja da vrati „jedinstvo Jugoslavije“:
Jovic, str. 400: ‘Njegov je program sada, po prvi put, izgleao jasno I onima na najnižoj ljestvici društvene hierarhije, a on ga je provodio odlučno: najprije jedinstvo srpske Partije, potom jedinstvo Srbije, pa jugoslavenske Partije, pa Jugoslavije. Taj program imao četiri faze – Milošević je sada završio prvu; u trećoj će biti zaustavljen, a u četvrtoj poražen.’
7) Miloševićeva želja za obuzdanjem srpskog nacionalizma:
Jovic, str. 471: ‘S malo pokazane benevolentnosti prema samom Miloševiću i Kučanu moglo bi se reći da je bar dio njihove motivacije moguće objasniti pokušajem da se vlast zadrži kako bi se spriječilo “prave nacionaliste” (one oko Nove revije ili ljude kako što je u tom trnutku bio Vuk Drašković) da prevladaju u Sloveniji i Srbiji. Oni su morali, kako David Owen kasnije kaže za Miloševića, “jahati na tigru nacionalizma ako nisu htjeli a ih taj tigar proguta” (1995: 129). Izgledali su moćno, svemoćno; ali u stvarnosti su obojica bili uplašeni da bi silazak Saveza komunista s političke scene mogao dovesti samo do goreg nacionalizma. Prihvaćali su nacionalizam kako bi ga sprijećili.’
8) „Dobre vjere“ JNA kako bi se spriječio etnički konflikt u Hrvatskoj:
Jovic, str. 485: ‘Kad je hrvatska vlada pokušala spriječiti to preuzimanje, Jugoslavenska se narodna armija ispriječila između nje i Srba, možda i u dobroj vjeri da zaustavi direktan etnički sukob u Hrvatskoj.’
9) Milošević „istinski iznenađen“ raspadom Jugoslavije i ratom:
Jovic, str. 491-492: ‘Izvori koji su bili na raspolaganju autora ove knjige ne daju dovoljno razloga za zaključak das u članovi jugoslavenske političke elite u ovom razdoblju (uključujići, dakle, i Slobodana Miloševića i Milana Kučana) namjeravali razbiti Jugoslaviju. Mnogi su od njih, kao i većina Jugoslavena, većina analitičara iz svijeta i zemlja, i međunarodna politička zajednica u cjelini, bili istinski iznenađeni raspadom, a još više ratom koji se nakon njega dogodio.’
10) Rat u Jugoslaviji kao izraz „slabe, neefikasne države“ i „privatnog nasilja“:
Jovic, str. 492-493: ‘Nasilje koje je na ruševinama Jugoslavije, u bezdržavnom prostoru, nastalo u devetdesetim godinama prošlog stoljeća, naime, ima isti uzrok kao i sam raspad: ono ju bilo izraz slabih, neefikasnih država koje nisu bile u stanju svladati privatne vojske, privatne osvete, privatne “zakone” i privatno nasilje. Ratovi koji su se vodili na tim ruševinama bili su u velikoj mjeri privatne osvete u kokuma su susjedi vraćali neko imaginarno milo za drago svojim susjedima.’
Jovic is right about one thing: the criticisms being made against him are political, not academic in motivation. If Jovic were simply a scholar expressing his private opinion, it would not matter that his work rehabilitates Milosevic and the JNA. It would not matter that he praises a propaganda pamphlet with no academic value, that supports Croatia’s territorial dismemberment and denies the Srebrenica genocide. Jovic has the right, as a scholar, to express his views freely. But he is the Croatian president’s chief analyst and special coordinator. It is dangerous to both Croatia and Bosnia-Hercegovina for someone holding such views, and with such poor analytical judgement and grasp of reality, to occupy the position that he does.
Author: Marko Hoare