It came to my attention yesterday that there is going to be a new propaganda movie made called 'The Filthy War'. It seems that its going to be about the battles around 'Vukovar', present-day Croatia, and the main villain's are going to be Arkan and his famous Tiger unit. Arkan is set to be played by Vinnie Jones! I expect that Vinnie will be asked to play the role of the merciless, sadistic, ethnic cleanser. Sounds like the role he's been waiting for all his life.
By complete coincidence I was watching an interview with Arkan on Thursday. It was one of the last interviews he gave before he died, and it was for an Australian TV channel so it's in English. It took place in Belgrade during NATO's assault on Yugoslavia in 1999. It's worth analysing the propaganda techniques employed. Australia is not even a member of NATO, yet it's media still produced this type of propaganda.
Arkan, even amongst Serbs, was always the subject of intense debate. I don't have enough information to either clear or condemn him, since I refuse to be 'educated' by my enemies. One thing is for sure though. Our enemies used the image they projected about him to demonize the Serbian nation, and to justify their own crimes (as can be seen in the interview). While it cannot be denied that in his early days he raised money as a bank-robber in various Western countries, it is also beyond question that he and his unit fought in some of the most intense battles of the 90's and showed immense bravery and sacrifice. Those battles are testament to the fact that there is no basis in the claims that he had no interest in anything but profiteering from the war. Ultimately no one but God will judge him.
Setting the scene
The female news reader begins by introducing Arkan with 'Arkan the Terrible' written on the screen behind her. She proceeds to refer to the Tiger's as a 'gang' as if they were no more than looters, when it is well documented that they were a volunteer unit which served under the operational control of the Yugoslav army. They were better motivated, and trained, and were often used as 'fire-fighters' and thrown into situations where the regular army was crumbling. For instance Arkan was awarded a medal by the Bosnian Serb President, Karadzic, for repelling the Muslim and Croat advance on Banja Luka and saving the most important Serb-held city in Bosnia.
The unbiased news reporter then goes on to state that there is an arrest warrant out for him in 'every single country on earth'. This translates to 'he's wanted by Interpol'. She makes it sound like every country on earth came to the same conclusion individually.
The unprejudiced expert
Then follows a character assassination of Arkan by someone with a dubious sounding name from the London Institute of International Affairs. I say dubious sounding because his name ends in 'ic' which is the most common ending for Serb and Croat names. I tried to research him, though the task was made more difficult by the fact that they did not put his name on the screen as they usually do when they introduce a commentator. I had to try various combinations of letters since my original guess at the spelling of his name was wrong (I thought it was Chris Sivic or Sivich). I wasn't helped by the fact that the reporter's awful pronunciation (if I was being paranoid I might speculate that it was purposeful) threw me way off the scent. Also he looked pretty old in the video so I figured he might have popped his clogs and that there wasn't much info on him any more. As luck would have it I eventually identified someone by the name of Chris Cvijic who I thought was most likely to be the same guy, though without a visual verification I couldn't be sure. This guy was obviously the type of expert acceptable to the establishment, having been to NATO sponsored conferences on the future of regions where not one country is a NATO member. It became even more likely that he was the one when I saw this foreign affairs memorandum submitted by him, where he parrots the official line about the success of NATO 'intervention' against Serb murderers, torturers, rapists, and ethnic cleansers. And then it all became crystal clear when I managed to find a photo which confirmed that he was the guy from the video. And it also confirmed beyond doubt that this guy was not an impartial commentator, but a native of Croatia! So much for impartiality. They try and big up his academic credentials, they have him climb up and down a library ladder, looking all distinguished and scholarly. But when it comes down to it, choosing someone with a vested interest or loyalty to one particular side to be an honest broker of the truth on wars in the former Yugoslavia is outrageous.
Establishing a sense of moral indignation
Then the Australian interviewer has the cheek (while NATO is bombing the civilian infrastructure of a sovereign nation which committed no aggression) to state that Arkan is guilty of 'heinous crimes which disgusted the civilized world'. So to cover up the ongoing crimes of the 'civilized world' he is trying to switch peoples attention to the alleged crimes of one man, and to maintain some kind of moral superiority.
Repetition of unproven claims no matter how outrageous We then go back to our impartial Chris Cvijic, for some more propaganda alleging that Arkan's men cut out pregnant women's bellies and raped women in the presence of their family. He then claims that they gouged people's eyes out and that this was very 'traditional'. He's right, it is traditional in the Balkans, but amongst the Croat Ustase and Bosnian Muslim's. After another clip of the actual interview with Arkan, Chris continues listing various crimes. Apart from he ran out of them after his first list. So he repeats the claims of rape and mutilation, and then to add something different he accuses the soldiers of raping women in front of family members 'very spectacularly'. What this is supposed to mean I'm not quite sure. And then even more bizarrely he claims they sometimes 'killed children, if this produces an effect'! If it produces an effect? When wouldn't it produce an effect? Then the interviewer continues with more shocking crimes about men's penises being cut off and put in their mouths. Remember all these sensational claims about past conflicts in Bosnia and Croatia are being listed in the midst of the current NATO war. He accuses Arkan of being responsible for crimes in Omarska (a supposed death camp). A good video about the Western media reporting of these supposed death camps is available here.
Misrepresentation of all opposing views
After a couple more scenes with Arkan, at 11min 13 (the video is only 11min59 long), we finally get to the issue of the NATO bombing. After calling the physical damage 'enormous' the reporter shows he is nothing more than an apologist for NATO crimes by mocking the Serbian side of the story. He states that Serbs claim that the masses of Albanian refugees are all lies made by Western propaganda. No Serb ever claimed this. What Serbs claim, and this can be totally verified, is that there was no mass exodus of Albanian's until NATO started bombing, so this cannot be a valid pretext for the bombing. One has to ask why people were displaced after the bombing was underway. In proportional terms even more Serbs fled their homes than Albanians. The displacement was therefore the logical result of civilians trying to flee a province being saturated with cluster bombs, cruise missiles, depleted uranium rounds, and of course the focus of fighting on the ground between the KLA and the Yugoslav army. I might add that it is logical that a good deal of the Albanians that died in the conflict, who were not members of the KLA, were not necessarily victims of war crimes either. If a large segment of the population supported the KLA’s violent struggle and were present in areas of engagement (since the KLA occupied many Albanian villages) between the KLA and the Yugoslav army then it is not surprising that there would be ‘collateral damage’ (a favourite phrase the US likes to use, yet it denies the use of it by its opponents). Rooting out armed insurgents from unarmed sympathisers is not something that can be done with surgical precision.