Book by Andy Wilcoxson and review written by Amarynth for the Saker Blog

Does one review a book of this nature on its meticulous scholarship and factual depictions of events?

Because the book is factual and the scholarship is meticulous.

Or does one review a book of this nature on the extreme political justifications used to instigate what amounts to four wars, depending on how you count?

Or even when you see the arcane legal trickery to present the political machine as ‘good’ in order to hide the crimes of which it is complicit?

Or does one review a book of this nature on the reality of the wars that it describes and the quality of the writing? Because those are both true, it describes the Yugoslavian wars before the region was split into pieces and it describes the results. The quality of writing is engaging, excellent, the pace is good and the information is accessible.

Or does one review based on the NATO strategy and projection of force in two bombing barrages. One can talk about their weapons, the targets and their consistency in hitting their acquired targets, (even the Chinese embassy which was excused as an oops), and civilians and military killed without distinguishing between the one or the other.

Or does one review this book based on the times when your stomach clenches in sheer horror at the accurate descriptions of the barbarities and butcheries done one against the other and without wanting to, your tears fall when you remember that there once was a nation called Yugoslavia, and even if you are not from the area, you can relate to the loss of home, from your own different experience.

The book is written factually, and not to elicit heightened states of emotion. Yet, that is exactly what it does. It enrages the sense of justice even though it is factual and sometimes even dryly factual. We all know the saying The Fog of War. Here we see what happens underneath that fog and we again have to come to a conclusion that war is a terribly beastly condition where both the aggressor and the defender are forced into actions that will not and must not enter human thought in normal circumstances and the false circumstances of war must not happen.  On reading, you realize: war thus corrupts everyone, aggressor and defender alike, and is indeed a joint criminal enterprise that becomes a stark and malicious reality.

Chapter 5, Srebrenica: The Ugly Truth describes this perfectly.

On top of that, one has some President somewhere that wants to create a peace legacy for himself by bombing the defender ‘straight into peace and security’ until everything lies in ruins. First, it was a bombing campaign in Bosnia and Herzegovina in 1995. Then, because not sufficient peace and security was bombed in presumably, a second major combat operation followed during March 24, 1999 to June 10, 1999.

Yes, reading this book affected me emotionally to the extent that I had to put it down from time to time. But, it is not written to be a tearjerker. And that is why you should read it, as it fulfills all the purposes of what a book of this nature should be.

The author is a ‘motherhood and apple pie’ American. He has no Serbian or Balkan roots, and his motivation consequently is not tribal. As a high school student during the 1990s he witnessed the attribution of full-spectrum guilt for the horrors of the conflict in the Balkans exclusively to one of the contending sides. Initially that piqued his curiosity. Then, listening to the Milosovich trial during lonely night-shifts, it propelled him into deconstructing the narrative of the wars in the Balkans because he became enraged. Whilst reading, I also became enraged.

The continuous background thread throughout, is the trial of Slobodan Milosovic told from real evidence and consistently and clearly documented. Then the interweaving stories of the wars slowly begin to make sense in terms of what happened, the sequence of events.  These events can never make sense in terms of moral and ethical standards.

From Slovenia – 1991. Croatia – 1991-1995, Bosnia and Herzegovina – 1992-1995, the evidence on Srebrenica, Kosovo – 1998-1999 and culminating in the trial of Slobodan Milosovich, the story is one of incomprehensible violence where the innocent had done absolutely nothing to their attackers and cannot understand why and how someone can hate them so much when they didn’t even personally know their attacker/s, and vice versa. Then the universe becomes inverted!  In the mind of the attacking force, he becomes the innocent victim and you are the evil attacker and he can justify every single attack, every action, by blaming you.  Humanity is suspended and upended.

After all that, tribunals are dragged together with no rhyme or legal reason, and at the end of that, the victimizers in the tribunals start accusing one another as the collective guilt overcomes them as well.

A short quote and it does not matter which side it came from:

Q. When you were drinking that day, could you say what it was you were drinking?

A. Rakija brandy.

Q. Where did you get that?

A. Neighbors, the locals, brought that to us. We drank for courage, to be able to sustain looking at the blood and the bodies, and the brains of the people.

Q. During the course of that day, did you hear anybody mention a number of how many bodies were in the dom?

A. I heard somebody on the road saying that there were 550, but we ourselves did not count.

It is in this book that you will read that peacekeeping forces in one instance, were held for four hours, waiting for ‘orders’, while they heard and listened to the terrible sounds of a village being massacred, men, women, children, animals, and where water wells were salted or stuffed with dead animals, so that that any remaining inhabitant that may escape the carnage is not able to return.

When the trial of Slobodan Milosevic started its first prosecutorial phase, he expressed the following toward the American people. He said, “By deceiving their public through a systematic manufacturing of lies, their government and their media have abolished democracy for their own people precisely to the extent to which they have withdrawn the people’s right to truthful information. You can have the best possible mechanism for democracy, but if you feed it with lies, it cannot produce results that are humane, honest, and progressive.”

Today we see that he was right. If there was a silver lining, Milosovic effectively used the accusatory phase of his trial to set the record straight on ten years of Balkan war history. He died just as the defense phase of the trial started and the book outlines, but does not question the rather strange circumstances of his death. By then, he had decimated the prosecutorial accusations. It was during this phase and boring and long nightshifts, that the author started bringing the evidence together in the book.

Ten years after his death, the trial chamber that tried former Bosnian-Serb president Radovan Karadzic unanimously concluded that Slobodan Milosevic was not part of a “joint criminal enterprise” targeting Muslims and Croats during the Bosnian war. And it is fitting that the book ends with a chapter on the propaganda techniques that journalists and political leaders use to justify and incite war. They hide their warmongering behind a facade of humanitarian concern and smear anyone who opposes them.

It is cold comfort that Slobodan Milosevic returned to Serbia as a hero, but in death.

It is clear that I am not a war analyst, neither am I a weapons analyst, but I am a human, and can recognize the evil that men do. Read this book. Take it slowly and take it in. The game playing of falling empire and its NATO lapdog again becomes clear in stark horror.



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