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Reader asks: Why do you say that media attacks on Milosevic are in effect attacks on the Serbian people?”

Jared Israel replies.
[Posted 17 March 2006]

For Emperor’s Clothes articles on the causes of the breakup of Yugoslavia, go to


Dear Jared Israel,

Regarding your article, [“On the Demonization of the ‘Media Milosevic’” ]
only one thing is puzzling me.

You say:

“In the aftermath of the death of Milosevic, the media is rehashing all the old charges against him - which in effect means, against the Serbian people.”

Why does it “mean, in effect, on the Serbian people”?

This type of equation of a leader and ‘his’ people is a device usually used by demagogues and hate instigators, not by serious analyzers and journalists. Since I know you are the latter and not the former, I’m wondering why are you using it, and how do you explain the equation. Why would (admittedly, malicious and mostly untrue) attacks on Milosevic automatically be attacks on Serbs?

Thanks in advance
and best regards,
A reader in Amsterdam


Dear Reader,

Regarding the equation of Milosevic and the Serbs, I’m not the one doing it; I’m just the one reporting it. For 16 years, the media and officials of the NATO governments have:

A) Accused Milosevic of having appealed to ethnic racism and

B) Implied or stated outright that the Serbs enthusiastically embraced this supposed appeal.

As an example of an attack on Milosevic that implicitly attacked the Serbs, consider the following remarks made in 1999 by the UK’s then Foreign Secretary, the late Robin Cook. Speaking on 28 June, the Serbian national holiday of Vidovdan, Cook had this to say about the famous speech Milosevic had delivered in Kosovo exactly ten years earlier:

“Milosevic used this important anniversary not to give a message of hope and reform. Instead, he threatened force to deal with Yugoslavia’s internal political difficulties. Doing so thereby launched his personal agenda of power and ethnic hatred under the cloak of nationalism. All the peoples of the region have suffered grievously ever since.”

-- Speech can be read in full at UK government site,
Or use the condensed URL,  
Or our backup,

Why do Cook’s remarks constitute an implied attack on the Serbian people? Because in order for a speech full of “ethnic hatred” to have launched Milosevic’s personal power and led to the destruction of Yugoslavia, ethnic hatred had to have tremendously strong roots among the Serbs. When the Foreign Secretary of the UK claims a speech appeals to ethnic hatred, people tend to believe it. 

The truth is the speech made the exact opposite appeal.  In it, Milosevic expressed pride in Serbian tolerance.  For example:

“Serbia has never had only Serbs living in it. Today, more than in the past, members of other peoples and nationalities also live in it. This is not a disadvantage for Serbia. I am truly convinced that it is its advantage. The national composition of almost all countries in the world today, particularly developed ones, has also been changing in this direction. Citizens of different nationalities, religions and races have been living together more and more frequently and more and more successfully. Socialism in particular, being a progressive and just democratic society, should not allow people to be divided in the national and religious respect.”

And he warned against the dangers of nationalism:

“For as long as multinational communities have existed, their weak point has always been the relations between different nations. The threat that the question of one nation being endangered by the others can be posed one day and this can then start a wave of suspicions, accusations and intolerance, a wave that invariably grows and is difficult to stop has been hanging like a sword over their heads all the time. Internal and external enemies of such communities are aware of this and therefore they organize their activity against multinational societies mostly by fomenting national conflicts. At this moment, we in Yugoslavia are behaving as if we have never had such an experience and as if in our recent and distant past we have never experienced the worst tragedy of national conflicts that a society can experience and still survive.”

We have posted links to text files of the BBC and U.S. government translations of the speech, and to PDF files of the BBC translation.

Contrast Milosevic’s speech to Croatian president Franjo Tudjman’s speech after the Croatian army drove 250,000 Serbian civilians from their ancient homeland in the Krajina region of Yugoslavia.

Addressing his country on radio, did Tudjman explain that Croatia’s enemy was an army, not a people? Did he remind Croats that the strength of Croatia was its minorities, of which the Serbs were the largest? Did he say that they must try to woo the Serbs to return because nationalism could destroy Yugoslavia?  Sure he did:

“And [applause] there can be no return to the past, to the times when they, the Serbs, were spreading cancer in the heart of Croatia, cancer which was destroying the Croatian national being and which did not allow the Croatian people to be the master in its own house and did not allow Croatia to lead an independent and sovereign life under this wide, blue sky and within the world community of sovereign nations.”

Just change ‘Serbs’ to ‘Jews’ and you might be listening to Adolf Hitler at Nuremberg.

The Western media falsely described Milosevic’s speech, and they almost entirely ignored Tudjman’s. Why?  Because if they had accurately reported what each leader said, it would have suggested to non-Yugoslavs the truth: that the fighting in Yugoslavia, which began when Slovenia and Croatia seceded, was rooted in Croatian, not Serbian, super-nationalism and racism. 

In attacking Milosevic, Robin Cook implicitly attacks the Serbs as a people.  Others made the attack explicit.  Here are some excerpts from an opinion piece in a New Zealand newspaper. This was written during the NATO bombing of Yugoslavia in 1999. The title is, “People of Serbia share blame”:

[Excerpt from Karl Du Fresne’s editorial starts here]

Not one of the Yugoslav ethnic groups has emerged from the purges and bloodletting of the past few years with an unblemished record. But the Serbs seem to reach deepest into the dark recesses of human malevolence, tapping evil impulses that most civilised societies learned centuries ago to suppress.


I am fed up with the Serbians’ whining apologists -- some of them right here in New Zealand -- who tell us that not all Serbs support Milosevic, and that innocent Serbs are being punished along with the guilty.

These same people who profess not to support Milosevic are nonetheless strangely silent about Serbia’s inhuman treatment of the Kosovo Albanians, which Milosevic orchestrated. By refusing to condemn the Serbian Army’s butchery and brutality they are, in effect, tacitly condoning it. [My emphasis
– Jared Israel]

People of Serbia share blame, The Nelson Mail (New Zealand), April 24, 1999, Saturday, FEATURES; OPINION;, Pg. 7, 866 words, Du Fresne Karl

[Excerpt from Karl Du Fresne’s editorial ends here]

Note that Mr. Du Fresne speaks of  “the Serbians’ whining apologists.”  The term “whining” is a trademark word used by antisemites. From Hitler to David Duke and Pat Buchanan,  Jews and their defenders are always referred to as “whining.”  Why does Serbophobia always sound like antisemitism?  Could it be they share common Nazi roots?

That aside, Mr. Du Fresne neglects to mention that Serbs who didn’t support Milosevic politically might nevertheless have refused “to condemn the Serbian Army’s butchery and brutality” because the Yugoslav (not Serbian) Army did not engage in “butchery and brutality.” Regarding this, TENC has published a book responding to The Hague Tribunal’s indictment of Serbian leaders concerning Kosovo. It is written by two Yugoslav generals, and describes Yugoslav Army and Serbian police actions against the secessionists in Kosovo, with documents related to Rules of Engagement, and so on.  You can read it at

Regarding Milosevic,  I am in the process of writing a piece which will more thoroughly document my views, but let me briefly state that in contrast to what I once believed, I now feel that Milosevic consistently sabotaged the struggle to resist the massive, NATO-inspired attack on the Serbs. He did this in a direct, organizational way. (For example he pressured the Serbs in the Krajina region to give up their guns and trust the UN to defend them against the neo-fascists who had taken over Croatia.)  And he did it by publicly and loudly accusing Serbian leaders who wanted to resist the NATO-supported attack of being war mongers, thus helping the western media to smear the Serbs. For example, the media could say that even Milosevic, that (supposed) extreme nationalist, considered the Bosnian Serb leader, Radovan Karadzic, a war monger. More on this issue later.

I hope what I’ve written explains why I argue that, when the media attacks Milosevic, they are, in effect, attacking the Serbs.  I say that because, in fact, that has been the intended – and real – effect.

Best regards,
Jared Israel
Editor, Emperor’s Clothes


Footnotes and Further reading

1) For Emperor’s Clothes articles on the causes of the breakup of Yugoslavia, go to

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