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This Time We Knew: Western Responses to Genocide in Bosnia

Thomas Cushman
Stjepan G. Meštrović
Copyright Date: 1996
Published by: NYU Press
Pages: 422
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    This Time We Knew
    Book Description:

    We didn't know. For half a century, Western politicians and intellectuals have so explained away their inaction in the face of genocide in World War II. In stark contrast, Western observers today face a daily barrage of information and images, from CNN, the Internet, and newspapers about the parties and individuals responsible for the current Balkan War and crimes against humanity. The stories, often accompanied by video or pictures of rape, torture, mass graves, and ethnic cleansing, available almost instantaneously, do not allow even the most uninterested viewer to ignore the grim reality of genocide. And yet, while information abounds, so do rationalizations for non-intervention in Balkan affairs - the threshold of real genocide has yet to be reached in Bosnia; all sides are equally guilty; Islamic fundamentalism in Bosnia is a threat to the West; it will only end when they all tire of killing each other - to name but a few. In This Time We Knew, Thomas Cushman and Stjepan G. Mestrovic have put together a collection of critical, reflective, essays that offer detailed sociological, political, and historical analyses of western responses to the war. This volume punctures once and for all common excuses for Western inaction. This Time We Knew further reveals the reasons why these rationalizations have persisted and led to the West's failure to intercede, in the face of incontrovertible evidence, in the most egregious crimes against humanity to occur in Europe since World War II.Contributors to the volume include Kai Erickson, Jean Baudrillard, Mark Almond, David Riesman, Daniel Kofman, Brendan Simms, Daniele Conversi, Brad Kagan Blitz, James J. Sadkovich, and Sheri Fink.

    eISBN: 978-0-8147-2370-8
    Subjects: Sociology

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. ONE Introduction
    (pp. 1-38)
    Thomas Cushman and Stjepan G. Meštrović

    In the summer of 1995, Bosnian Serb attacks on UN-declared safe areas of Srebrenica and žepa proceeded, as did previous onslaughts in Bosnia, under the watchful gaze of the West. In the ensuing violence, thousands of Muslims were driven from their homes or executed and buried in mass graves. In late November 1995, UN Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali reported that as many as 5,500 people are still unaccounted for in the wake of the Serbian attacks. At the time, no Western power intervened to stop the massacres. In the aftermath of the slaughter, however, the unexpected happened: Western powers seemingly decided...

  5. TWO The Complicity of Serbian Intellectuals in Genocide in the 1990s
    (pp. 39-64)
    Philip J. Cohen

    The war against Croatia and Bosnia-Herzegovina in the 1990s was planned by Serbian intellectuals and authorities long before the first Serbian attacks. In the fall of 1986, the Serbian Academy of Science and Art, representing Serbia's most prominent intellectuals, issued a memorandum demanding that the borders of Serbia be expanded.¹ The memorandum argued that the Serbs were the most mistreated and oppressed people in Yugoslavia, in spite of the fact that Serbs were the majority and in key positions in the Communist Party, the military, the police, diplomacy, finance and banking, and the legal and judicial systems. The 1986 memorandum...

  6. THREE Bosnia: The Lessons of History?
    (pp. 65-78)
    Brendan Simms

    Until comparatively recently, the idea that one could learn from history was axiomatic. “Histories,” Francis Bacon once wrote “make men wise.” But the closer we get to the present the more skepticism takes over. From Hegel’s familiar, almost cliched dictum, “The one thing one learns from history is that nobody ever learns anything from history,” it is but a short step to Alan Taylor’s pessimistic belief that all we learn from the mistakes of history is how to make new ones. In our day it is customary for historians to play safe, to insist that history may inform or edify...

  7. FOUR No Pity for Sarajevo; The West’s Serbianization; When the West Stands In for the Dead
    (pp. 79-89)
    Jean Baudrillard

    What was striking about “The Corridor for Free Speech” (the December 19, 1993, simultaneous broadcast between Strasbourg and Sarajevo, on the Arte channel) was the exceptional status and absolute superiority conferred by misery, distress, and total disillusion. It was this disillusion that enabled the citizens of Sarajevo to treat the “Europeans” with contempt, or at least with a sarcastic sense of freedom, in sharp contrast with the remorse and hypocritical regrets of their counterparts. They had no need for compassion, and pitied our own dejection. “I spit on Europe,” one of them said. One is in fact never more free...

  8. FIVE Israel and the War in Bosnia
    (pp. 90-127)
    Daniel Kofman

    Israel is neither the most important nor the guiltiest of the industrialized states with regard to the war in former Yugoslavia. Moreover, if any nation ever appeared to have a legitimate plea of extenuating circumstances, it would seem to be Israel. Beset by problems with its own peace process, shaken by unprecedented waves of terror unleashed in a seemingly mindless and fanatical response to its commitment to make far-reaching concessions—not excluding the creation of a Palestinian state, as its government ministers had increasingly hinted—and rent by internal division about how next to proceed, Israel would appear to be...

  9. SIX The Politics of Indifference at the United Nations and Genocide in Rwanda and Bosnia
    (pp. 128-162)
    Michael N. Barnett

    In April 1994 genocide erupted in Rwanda. By the time the carnage had run its course in this country of eight million, roughly five hundred thousand people fell victim to a premeditated genocidal campaign that was designed by Hutu extremists to cleanse the country of the minority Tutsis. The Security Council's initial response to the violence was not to expand the size and responsibilities of the UN operation but to call for its reduction. Only a month later did the Security Council deliver its proposed response to the genocide, and it was not until a UN-authorized French operation arrived in...

  10. SEVEN The West Side Story of the Collapse of Yugoslavia and the Wars in Slovenia, Croatia, and Bosnia-Herzegovina
    (pp. 163-186)
    Slaven Letica

    Warren Zimmermann’ article “he Last Ambassador: A Memoir of the Collapse of Yugoslavia,”published inForeign Affairs, is a remarkably interesting account written by a man with an undeniable literary talent.³ At the same time, it is an important historical document because it was not written by just any casual voyeur of Balkan postcommunist democratic revolutions and wars, such as a journalist or a scientist, but by one of the few foreign diplomats who had a hand in creating history, and had a real opportunity to change its course, because he was the last American ambassador to Yugoslavia, from 1989 to...

  11. EIGHT Serbia’s War Lobby: Diaspora Groups and Western Elites
    (pp. 187-243)
    Brad K. Blitz

    The current war in Bosnia-Herzegovina has been characterized by two main conflicts: an ideological battle between forces advocating the creation of an ethnically pure Serbian state and those calling for the restoration of a multiethnic country; and a struggle over material resources, notably heavy weaponry and food.¹ The two conflicts are closely connected. The deliberate physical deprivation brought on by a three-year siege and the inequitable distribution of aid has done much to advance the goal of ethnic purity and the elimination of specific populations.² Yet there is an additional link that is most relevant to a discussion of the...

  12. NINE Moral Relativism and Equidistance in British Attitudes to the War in the Former Yugoslavia
    (pp. 244-281)
    Daniele Conversi

    The causes of the war in the former Yugoslavia are multifarious, and have been discussed in detail by several authors. Most of these causes are internal and relate to the shape taken by postcommunist politics in Belgrade.¹ However, international factors that are not always encountered in other ethnonational conflicts have also played an important role in the breakup of Yugoslavia and subsequent developments in the region.

    Few countries, if any, had an interest in the fragmentation of Yugoslavia, and since the beginning international efforts were concerted in preserving its unity. Even Germany began pressing for recognition at a relatively late...

  13. TEN The Former Yugoslavia, the End of the Nuremberg Era, and the New Barbarism
    (pp. 282-303)
    James J. Sadkovich

    Although many have expressed their exasperation over the failure of the international community to act to end the carnage in the Balkans, few have seen the manner of Yugoslavia's dissolution and the response of the international community as indicators that an era characterized by the Nuremberg principles has given way to a barbaric age in international relations, in which the United Nations and other international and regional organizations act to contain and manage, not end or resolve, such phenomena as aggression and genocide in much the same way that American realtors redline decaying urban areas without addressing the causes of...

  14. ELEVEN War and Ethnic Identity in Eastern Europe: Does the Post-Yugoslav Crisis Portend Wider Chaos?
    (pp. 304-312)
    Liah Greenfeld

    A discussion of ethnicity in the post-Cold War world, as in any other time, must begin with the definition of the phenomenon. What we mean by ethnicity in the context of East European transformations, I think, is ethnic nationalism, that is, the type of nationalism distinguished by the manner in which it defines the nation, and by the nature of its criteria for national membership. The definition of the nation in ethnic nationalisms is collectivistic and authoritarian: the nation is defined in unitary terms, as a collective individual endowed with its own will, needs, and interests, which subsume the wills,...

  15. TWELVE The Anti-Genocide Movement on American College Campuses: A Growing Response to the Balkan War
    (pp. 313-349)
    Sheri Fink

    Violence directed against civilians in Bosnia-Herzegovina continued unabated for over three and a half years. The failure of two American presidential administrations to respond effectively when confronted with genocide in Bosnia-Herzegovina leads to a question: have dissenting voices been raised against American policy? To what extent?

    This chapter provides a case study of one community of dissent in American society—the campus-based Balkan anti-genocide movement. “Balkan anti-genocide” is an appropriate name, because, as will be shown, a recognition that genocide occurred in the Balkans and a need to take action to stop it and prevent it from recurring describe the...

  16. THIRTEEN Western Responses to the Current Balkan War
    (pp. 350-358)
    David Riesman

    The Irish historian from Cambridge, Brendan Simms, astutely notes in this volume that the British look at 1938 not as a lesson in avoiding appeasement but rather as a lesson in isolating combatants in an area in which British self-interest is involved. He argues further that the British have applied this “lesson” to the current Balkan War.

    Nevertheless I am puzzled why the French and the British remain so cruelly indifferent to Serbian aggression. Do they really fear German connections to Croatia, as the news media often suggest? That seems very farfetched indeed. Not only did the French impose a...

  17. APPENDIX 1 A Definition of Genocide
    (pp. 359-359)
  18. APPENDIX 2 Text of the United Nations Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide (U.N.G.C.) Resolution 260A (III), December 9, 1948
    (pp. 360-362)
  19. APPENDIX 3 Indictments by the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia
    (pp. 363-402)
  20. Contributors
    (pp. 403-404)
  21. Index
    (pp. 405-412)
  22. Back Matter
    (pp. 413-413)