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Expert in psychology of ethnic conflict changes is mind about Yugoslavia -
MEDIA MISREPRESENTATION OF MILOSEVIC'S WORDS: A REVIEW OF THE EVIDENCE
by Professor Francisco Gil-White
[posted February 9, 2002]
=======================================

Note from Emperor's Clothes: The following article was sent to us by Francisco Gil-White. He is an Assistant Professor of Psychology at the University of Pennsylvania and a Fellow at the Solomon Asch Center for Study of Ethnopolitical Conflict.

Professor Gil-White informs us that:

"I study and write about the psychology that makes racism and ethnic hatred possible, and which exacerbates ethnic conflicts when compared to other sorts of conflicts."

The following views are those of Professor Gil-White and not necessarily the University of Pennsylvania or the Solomon Asch Center.

-- Jared Israel

Media Misrepresentation of Milosevic's Words
by Francisco Gil-White
- Assistant Professor of Psychology at the University of Pennsylvania
Fellow at the Solomon Asch Center for Study of Ethnopolitical Conflict

A couple of months ago I chanced upon the Emperor's Clothes Website because of their coverage of 9-11.

I noticed their startling claim that we have been systematically lied to about Yugoslavia. Since their views entirely contradicted my own, I started systematically checking their references by obtaining the relevant original documents. I have yet to find a single claim in error.

This was particularly surprising regarding the famous speech that Slobodan Milosevic delivered at Kosovo Field in 1989 at the 600th anniversary of the Battle of Kosovo. According to what I had read, this was supposed to be an inflammatory ultranationalist diatribe in which memories of a famous defeat in Serbian history were manipulated by Milosevic to mobilize hatred against Muslims and Albanians.

Emperor's Clothes posted what they claimed was an official U.S. government translation of that speech (done by the National Technical Information Service, a dependency of the Commerce Department) at
http://emperors-clothes.com/milo/milosaid.html

The posted speech was certainly not hateful, as had been reported virtually everywhere.

But was I looking at the real speech?


Although I had failed so far to find Emperor’s Clothes in error, or, to be frank, even guilty of simple exaggeration, this speech worried me, for it completely contradicted what I was supposed to expect from Slobodan Milosevic and everything I had heard and read about this very speech in the media.

With some effort I managed to obtain, through my university library, a copy of the microfilm of the BBC's translation. I compared this text to the one posted at Emperors Clothes and they matched almost exactly except for very minor variations in wording due to the fact that they used different translators.

The speech is not devoid of a certain poetry in some passages and—amazingly, given the prejudices with which I came to it—it is explicitly tolerant.

This stunning revelation led me to read voraciously, trying to understand how academics and the media report what happened in Yugoslavia.

I have found an enormous amount of misinformation, and it is hard to dispel the impression that much of this is deliberate. This is quite important for my field because students of ethnic conflict, like myself, need to know what it is that we are supposed to explain. Our case data comes from historians and journalists who describe the ethnic conflicts for us. Until recently, I was assuming that those who wrote about Yugoslavia could at least be trusted to try to report things accurately.

I have changed my mind. What I now know suggests that the problem is not merely that reporters and academics are misinformed. I have observed that the same source will report the facts accurately and then, in another place, usually later, report them completely inaccurately. I have difficulty explaining this as a result of ignorance, or chance, or confusion. It appears to be a conscious effort to misinform. Furthermore, it appears that these inaccuracies are calculated to exploit the human tendency to essentialize racial, national, and ethnic groups, in order to solidify the prejudice that Serbs are virulent nationalists, which prejudice then stably frames the conflict in Yugoslavia in such a way that the interests of the powers which dismembered it might be served.

As an example of what is done, I have assembled excerpts from various sources regarding Milosevic’s famous speech at Gazimestan (the location is often referred to as Kosovo Polje or Kosovo Field) in 1989.

I have provided Emperor's Clothes with a pdf version of the microfilm of the BBC translation so that they may post it, allowing readers to compare the US government and the BBC versions for themselves. The BBC microfilm can be obtained from some university libraries. If you are an academic, you can get it at your library or through an inter-library loan, in the same way that I did.

[Note from Emperor's Clothes: You may read the pdf of the BBC translation at http://www.icdsm.com/milosevic/milosevic1.pdf http://www.icdsm.com/milosevic/milosevic2.pdf
and
http://www.icdsm.com/milosevic/milosevic3.pdf

To help you compare, U.S. government translation can be read at http://emperors-clothes.com/milo/milosaid.html
END Note from Emperor's Clothes]

What follows below is a compilation (certainly not complete) of misquotations, misrepresentations, misattributions, and mischaracterizations of Milosevic’s 1989 speech in the media and by academics along with some excerpts from the speech and my comments.

It is important to keep the following in mind: the 1989 speech at Kosovo Field is everybody’s favorite example of Milosevic indulging an ultra-nationalist rant. It is said over and over in the media that Milosevic used this speech to incite the Serbs to nationalistic hatred.

It should be obvious that incitement is a public behavior. If Milosevic was going to become an ultra-nationalist populist politician, then he had to make ultra-nationalist speeches, for one can hardly incite the masses in secret. It is thus noteworthy that this speech—supposedly the best example of Milosevic virulently inciting people—is explicitly tolerant, and that in order to suggest otherwise all sorts of fabrications that in fact appear nowhere in the speech have been necessary. If there was something better to quote or cite as evidence of Milosevic’s ultra-nationalistic demagoguery, surely the media would have used it long ago. Why fabricate if evidence is on hand?

Below are examples that reveal either willful misinformation or pathologically low journalistic standards in the media. Following that, in the second part of my analysis, I quote newspaper reports made on or immediately after June 28, 1989, the day Milosevic spoke. These accounts, published immediately after his speech, were accurate, and this demonstrates that the truth was easily available if someone had wanted to report it later on.

[The Excerpt from Balkan Report Starts Here]

Views on Vidovdan [St Vitus day - June 28th]

Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, or RFE/RL's Albanian-language broadcasters included in their 28 June programming reflections by several prominent individuals on Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic's speech at Gazimestan. He gave that address ten years ago to mark the 600th anniversary of the Battle of Kosovo Polje.

Azem Vllasi, who is a former ethnic Albanian SKJ chief in Kosova, was in the infamous Mitrovica prison on Vidovdan 1989: In effect the war against the Albanians in Kosova had started 1988. In Gazimestan, Milosevic announced that he would also launch a war against the other peoples of Yugoslavia. The Serbs had great hopes that they could turn the war that they lost 600 years ago into a victory. Milosevic misused the Serbian myth about Kosova to create victims and cause pain to peoples other than we Albanians, but after ten years he turned it into a great loss for the Serbs themselves."

Reprinted from Balkan Report, 2 July 1999, Volume 3, Number 26 (Translated by Fabian Schmidt, notes by Patrick Moore)

http://www.rferl.org/balkan-report/1999/07/26-020799.html

[The Excerpt from Balkan Report Ends Here]

COMMENT: Slobodan Milosevic did not say that. But here is something that he did say:

[The Excerpt from Milosevic's 1989 Speech Starts Here]

Equal and harmonious relations among Yugoslav peoples are a necessary condition for the existence of Yugoslavia and for it to find its way out of the crisis and, in particular, they are a necessary condition for its economic and social prosperity. In this respect Yugoslavia does not stand out from the social milieu of the contemporary, particularly the developed, world. This world is more and more marked by national tolerance, national cooperation, and even national equality. The modern economic and technological, as well as political and cultural development, has guided various peoples toward each other, has made them interdependent and increasingly has made them equal as well [medjusobno ravnopravni]. Equal and united people can above all become a part of the civilization toward which mankind is moving. If we cannot be at the head of the column leading to such a civilization, there is certainly no need for us to be at is tail.

[The Excerpt from Milosevic's 1989 Speech Ends Here]

* * *

[The Excerpt from Vladimir Zerjavic Starts Here]

"...when the 600th Anniversary of the Kosovo Battle with the Turks was held at Gazimestan in 1989, Slobodan Milosevic stated that he will "unite all Serbs into one state, either with institutional or non-institutional measures, even with weapons if necessary", what was done in 1991."

Written by Vladimir Zerjavic, retiree of UN
Zagreb, July 1997, revised in December 1997.

http://www.hr/darko/etf/bul.html

[The Excerpt from Vladimir Zerjavic Ends Here]

COMMENT: Mr. Zerjavic (a Croat) puts actual quotation marks around words that never appear in the text of Milosevic’s speech. That is bold. As bold, perhaps, as the claims by the same Mr. Zerjavic, in his book Population Losses of Yugoslavia in the World War II, to the effect that the number of Yugoslavs (especially Serbs) who lost their lives in the Ustashe (Croatian Nazi) death camps has been wildly exaggerated.

* * *

[The Excerpt from London Independent Starts Here]

June 1989

On the stump at Kosovo Polje

Serbia's leader sets out his agenda at a rally of more than a million Serbs at the Battle of Kosovo 600th anniversary celebrations,
as he openly threatens force to hold the six-republic federation together.

-- From an alleged chronology of events in "Milosevic on Trial: Fall of a Pariah"; Newspaper Publishing PLC, Independent on Sunday (London); July 1, 2001, Sunday, SECTION: FOREIGN NEWS; Pg. 21

[The Excerpt from London Independent Ends Here]

COMMENT: No such threat appears in the text of the speech. This allusion to an "open threat" sounds like the Independent is probably using Dr. Vladimir Zerjavic as source. They certainly have not seen the text of the speech.

* * *

[The Excerpt from Irish Times Starts Here]

It was at Kosovo Polje in 1389 that Serbs fought their most historic battle, losing to a Turkish army and later enduring 500 years of Ottoman rule. From here they fled again nearly three centuries later, led by their Orthodox patriarch, after a failed rebellion. And here, 10 years ago this month, the Yugoslav President, Mr Slobodan Milosevic, made his name telling a crowd of 500,000 Serbs, "Serbia will never abandon Kosovo".

from "Serbs make ragged retreat from their historic cradle"; The Irish Times; June 16, 1999, CITY EDITION; SECTION: WORLD NEWS; CRISIS IN THE BALKANS; Pg. 13

[The Excerpt from Irish Times Ends Here]

COMMENT: The Irish Times does not borrow the quote from Dr. Vladimir Zerjavic, but they do borrow the boldness. They have put quotation marks around a phrase that appears nowhere in the text.

* * *

[The Excerpt from Croatian Student Online Starts Here]

The now infamous speech by Milosevic at Gazimestan in Kosovo in 1989 was aimed at this very mentality - at the superiority complex, and the feelings of cultural insecurity which are common among lower and middle-class Serbs. It also created an "us versus them" atmosphere - the "them" factor seen as almost a non-entity. This sociopolitical dualism did hold some truth, although another way of looking at it is as racist fatalism in a late 20th century context. But, in itself, it was only a component of Greater Serbianism. And that imperialistic and aggressive heresy is, after all, the reason why Croats and Bosnians die while the Serbs make up excuses and lie to the world.

- - from The Croatian Student Online
"Causes of Serbian Aggression" by Branko Mletic
posted at:
http://www.algonet.se/~bevanda/aggression3.htm

[The Excerpt from Croatian Student Online Ends Here]

COMMENT: Notice how casually the Croatian Student evokes "the superiority complex, and the feelings of cultural insecurity which are common among lower and middle-class Serbs." This reads like an ethnic slur, although Serbs have been so thoroughly demonized in the media that most readers will hardly notice it, or else will consider it a probably just appraisal.

Below is another excerpt from Milosevic’s speech. How does one create an "us versus them" atmosphere with these words? (They do seem ineptly chosen for this purpose):

[The Excerpt from Milosevic's 1989 Speech Starts Here]

…unity in Serbia will bring prosperity to the Serbian people in Serbia and each one of its citizens, irrespective of his national or religious affiliation.

(…)

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. 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.

(…)

The only differences one can and should allow in socialism are between hard working people and idlers and between honest people and dishonest people. Therefore, all people in Serbia who live from their own work, honestly, respecting other people and other nations, are in their own republic.

[The Excerpt from Milosevic's 1989 Speech Ends Here]

* * *

[The Excerpt from Balkans Paces Starts Here]

For the first time a documentary (produced in Montenegro 2 weeks ago) about war crimes committed in the name of Greater Serbia was shown on the Serbian TV - "Called From Gazimestan" - a reference to the 'historic' speech of Slobodan Milosevic at the location where Serbs lost to Ottoman Turks in 1389 - when he outlined the plan to conquer Yugoslavia.

-- From Balkans Paces

http://www.igc.org/balkans/conclusion-slobo.html

[The Excerpt from Balkans Paces Ends Here]

COMMENT: No such "plan" was "outlined". Note that the writer speaks of "the plan" not "a plan" thus suggesting that the existence of said plan is common knowledge…

* * *

 

[The Excerpt from OPPRESSION Starts Here]

The culmination of this fanaticism was reached when the 'Nero' of the Balkans, Milosevic - then still a communist leader - delivered a certain speech in Gazimestan on the 600th memorial of the Serbian-Ottoman War of Kosovo in 1989. Milosevic, who in this speech also opened the way to the genocide in Bosnia-Herzegowina, for the first time used slogans like, "Serbia is a whole and Kosovo is an inseperable part of Serbia; We rather give our lives than deliver Kosovo; This territory is a fortress of Christian Europe against Islam", demonstrating thereby clearly the extent of the abominable Serbian nationalism.

from Oppression.org (1999)

http://www.oppression.org/europe/kosovo_in_the_circle_of_fire.html

[The Excerpt from OPPRESSION Ends Here]

COMMENT: Oppression.org gets high marks for boldness. Others merely put quotation marks around a fabricated sentence. They have put quotations around an entirely fabricated paragraph.

* * *

[The Excerpt from The Economist Starts Here]

But it is primitive nationalism, egged on by the self-deluding myth of Serbs as perennial victims, that has become both Mr Milosevic’s rescuer (when communism collapsed with the Soviet Union) and his nemesis. It was a stirringly virulent nationalist speech he made in Kosovo, in 1989, harking back to the Serb Prince Lazar’s suicidally brave battle against the Turks a mere six centuries ago, that saved his leadership when the Serbian old guard looked in danger of ejection. Now he may have become a victim of his own propaganda.

-- From The Economist, " What next for Slobodan Milosevic?" June 5, 1999

[The Excerpt from The Economist Ends Here]

COMMENT: The passages from Milosevic’s speech quoted above already make it clear that this was not a "stirringly virulent nationalist speech." The Economist would have you believe that Milosevic was literally foaming at the mouth, and wanted to use the memories of Prince Lazar and the defeat at Kosovo Polje as a catalyst for arousing ultra-nationalistic feelings. This is how Milosevic actually introduced his remarks about that historical event:

[The Excerpt from Milosevic's 1989 Speech Starts Here]

Today, it is difficult to say what is the historical truth about the Battle of Kosovo and what is legend. Today this is no longer important. Oppressed by pain and filled with hope, the people used to remember and to forget, as, after all, all people in the world do, and it was ashamed of treachery and glorified heroism. Therefore it is difficult to say today whether the Battle of Kosovo was a defeat or a victory for the Serbian people, whether thanks to it we fell into slavery or we survived in this slavery. The answers to those questions will be constantly sought by science and the people. What has been certain through all the centuries until our time today is that disharmony struck Kosovo 600 years ago. If we lost the battle, then this was not only the result of social superiority and the armed advantage of the Ottoman Empire but also of the tragic disunity in the leadership of the Serbian state at that time. In that distant 1389, the Ottoman Empire was not only stronger than that of the Serbs but it was also more fortunate than the Serbian kingdom.

[The Excerpt from Milosevic's 1989 Speech Ends Here]

COMMENT: Is this a virulent nationalist speaking? Milosevic sounds positively professorial. He sounds like an academic, showing a grandfatherly understanding for the human frailties that lead people to conveniently forget things in order to make legends out of history in a romantic and nationalistic manner. And he is talking about the famous battle at Kosovo Polje, in the very place where that battle was fought. The truth of what happened, he says, is for scientists to establish! Is this a nationalist using a myth of the people to rouse their passions? Does he sound ‘injured’ and ‘insecure’?

TIME Magazine had a similar slant:

[The Excerpt from TIME Magzaine Starts Here]

It was St. Vitus' Day, a date steeped in Serbian history, myth and eerie coincidence: on June 28, 1389, Ottoman invaders defeated the Serbs at the battle of Kosovo; 525 years later, a young Serbian nationalist assassinated Austro-Hungarian Archduke Franz Ferdinand, lighting the fuse for World War I. And it was on St. Vitus' Day, 1989, that Milosevic whipped a million Serbs into a nationalist frenzy in the speech that capped his ascent to power.

Time International, July 9, 2001 v158 i1 p18+

[The Excerpt from TIME Magzaine Ends Here]

And so did the New York Times:

[The Excerpt from NEW YORK TIMES Starts Here]

In 1989 the Serbian strongman, Slobodan Milosevic, swooped down in a helicopter onto the field where 600 years earlier the Turks had defeated the Serbs at the Battle of Kosovo. In a fervent speech before a million Serbs, he galvanized the nationalist passions that two years later fueled the Balkan conflict.

The New York Times, July 28, 1996, Sunday, Late Edition - Final,  Section 1; Page 10; Column 1; Foreign Desk,  1384 words,  Serbs in Pragmatic Pullout from Albanian Region,  By JANE PERLEZ,  PRISTINA, Serbia, July 22

[The Excerpt from NEW YORK TIMES Ends Here]

And the Washington Post:

[The Excerpt from WASHINGTON POST Starts Here]

A military band and a dozen chanting monks from the Serbian Orthodox Church struggled unsuccessfully this morning to lift the dour mood hanging over a small crowd of Serbs marking the 609th anniversary of the Battle of Kosovo here at the most revered site in Serbia's nationalist mythology.

(…)

Nine years ago today, Milosevic's fiery speech here to a million angry Serbs was a rallying cry for nationalism and boosted his popularity enough to make him the country's uncontested leader.

The Washington Post, June 29, 1998, Monday, Final Edition,  A SECTION; Pg. A10,  354 words,  Bitter Serbs Blame Leader for Risking Beloved Kosovo,  R. Jeffrey Smith, Washington Post Foreign Service,  KOSOVO POLJE, Yugoslavia, June 28

[The Excerpt from WASHINGTON POST Ends Here]

But does Milosevic sound like his purpose is "whipping a million Serbs into a nationalist frenzy" with his remembrance of the events of 1389? Is this a "fervent speech" meant to "galvanize the nationalist passions"? Is it a "rallying cry for nationalism"?

The following excerpt is relatively long but it is worth reading because of the juxtaposition of Milosevic with Tudjman and Izetbegovic. (If you wish to skip forward to the Comment on T.W. Carr's article, click here.)

[The Excerpt from T.W. CARR'S ARTICLE Starts Here]

Three leaders emerged within the collapsing Federal Socialist Republic of Yugoslavia. Each used the emotive appeal of patriotism (nationalism), history and religious heritage in their bid for political control of one of the three nation "nation states", Orthodox Christian Serbia, Roman Catholic Christian Croatia and Islamic Bosnia-Herzegovina.

SLOBODAN MILOSEVIC

On June 28, 1989, Serbian leader Slobodan Milosevic marked the 600th anniversary of the Battle of Kosovo against the "Ottoman Islamist Empire" at Gazimestan by addressing more than one million Serbs, recounting the heroism of the Serbian nation and their Christian Orthodox faith in resisting the spread of Islam into Europe. He reassured his audience, that the Autonomous Province of Kosovo would remain an integral part of Serbia and Yugoslavia, despite the then current and often violent, problems of separatism demanded by the Muslim Albanian majority living in Kosovo.

In the Serbian presidential election of November 12, 1989, Mr. Milosevic won 65.3 percent of the vote, his nearest rival, Mr. Vuk Draskovic, polled only 16.4 of the votes cast.

ALIJA IZETBEGOVIC

At the same time, Alija Izetbegovic, who had been released early from jail in 1988 (serving only six years of a 14 year sentence for pro-Islamic anti-state activities), visited Islamic fundamentalist states in the Middle East, returning to Bosnia-Herzegovina to found the SDA (Muslim Party of Democratic Action). His 1970 manifesto, "Islamic Declaration", advocating the spread of radical pan-Islamism-politicised Islam-throughout the world, by force if necessary, was reissued in Sarajevo at this time. His Islamic Declaration is imbued with intolerance towards Western religion, culture and economic systems. This is also the theme projected in his book, Islam between East and West, first published in the US in 1984, and in Serbo-Croat in 1988, shortly after he was released from prison in the former Yugoslavia. In his writings he states that Islam cannot co-exist with other religions in the same nation other than a short-term expediency measure. In the longer term, as and when Muslims become strong enough in any country, then they must seize power and form a truly Islamic state.

In the multy-party elections held in Bosnia-Herzegovina on November 18, 1990, the population voted almost exclusively along communal lines. The Muslim Democratic Action Party secured 86 seats, the Serbian Democratic Party 72, and the Croatian Democratic Union (ie: union with Croatia) Party 44 seats. As the leader of the largest political party, Mr. Izetbegovic, became the first President of Bosnia- Herzegovina, albeit for just one year, for under the new constitution of B-H, the presidency was to revolve each year between the three parties, each of which represented one ethnic community.

Under constitutional law, in January 1992, Mr. Izetbegovic should have handed over the Presidency to Mr. Radovan Karadzic, the Serbian Democratic leader. He failed to honor the constitution and being true to his writings, he seized power, acting undemocratically and illegally. Therefore, at no time since January 1992 should Mr. Izetbegovic have been acknowledged by the international community as the legal President of B-H.

FRANJO TUDJMAN

Towards the end of World War II, while still a young man, Franjo Tudjman took the pragmatic option and joined the communist Partisans. He had probably realized that Germany could not win the war and that Tito and his Partisans would gain control of Yugoslavia, with the full support of both Soviets and the British Prime Minister Sir Winston Churchill.

Some time after the end of World War II, Tudjman joined the communist Yugoslav Army as a regular officer and rose to the rank of Major-General during the early part of President Tito´s period in office.

During the late 1960´s and in 1979, ultra right fascism began to re-surface in Croatia, showing the same World War II fascist face of nationalism and the requirement that a nation state must be racially pure. This was the first attempt anywhere in Europe to resurrect German National Socialism following the fall of the Third Reich in 1944. Hitler created Croatia when his forces over-ran Yugoslavia in 1941, installing as Fuher, Ante Pavelic, leader of the fascist Croatian Ustashi movement. Pavelic had spent the previous 10 years in exile in Italy as head of a Croatian terrorist group, shielded by the Vatican and the Italian Fascist party.

Mr. Tudjman was deeply involved in the attempted revival of fascism, allowing his national socialism ethos to come to the fore with the publication of his treatise, The Wastelands. In it he attempted to re-write major sections of the history of World War II, downplaying the Holocaust, and with it , the more than one-million Jews, Serbs and Gypsies murdered by the Croatian ultra-nationalist Ustashi, which included priests of the Holy Roman Church, at the Croatian Ustashi concentration camp of Jasenovac and other locations within Yugoslavia.

For his nationalistic, anti-state activities at this time, Mr. Tudjman went to jail for three years. After being released from jail, Mr. Tudjman went politically low key for a few years, but re-emerged on the scene when President Tito died in 1980, gradually building a power base among the Croatian right wing and creating the HDZ Party.

In the multy-party elections held in Croatia in May 1990, Mr. Tudjman´s HDZ Party won control of the Sabor (Croatian Parliament) and Mr. Tudjman became President of Croatia when it was still part of the Yugoslav Federation.

from "A CAREFUL COINCIDENCE OF NATIONAL POLICIES?"

by T.W. Carr (Ass. Publisher, Defense & Foreign Affairs Publications. London)

http://www.aikor.de/InterTribunal/doku/twcarr1.htm

[The Excerpt from T.W. CARR'S ARTICLE Ends Here]

COMMENT: Contrary to Carr’s claim, Milosevic did not speak about the status of Kosovo in the 1989 speech.

It is known from other sources, of course, that he certainly did not want Kosovo to be split from Yugoslavia (for good reasons having to do with the security of Serbs, Roma, Slavic Muslims, Jews, Albanians and everyone else in Kosovo and his conviction that Kosovo was legitimately part of the country he was after all helping lead. How many leaders want their countries broken up?) But that does not mean that in this speech he said, "that the Autonomous Province of Kosovo would remain an integral part of Serbia and Yugoslavia, despite the then current and often violent, problems of separatism demanded by the Muslim Albanian majority living in Kosovo." So this is false.

Moreover, Milosevic never referred to the Ottoman Empire as "Islamist." On the contrary, Milosevic’s remarks on the Ottoman Empire showed no real animosity. He even acknowledged certain strengths:

"In that distant 1389, the Ottoman Empire was not only stronger than that of the Serbs but it was also more fortunate than the Serbian kingdom." (Milosevic, Speech at Kosovo Field)

More importantly, however, notice that Carr pairs the three leaders, Milosevic, Izetbegovic, and Tudjman, and prefaces his remarks by saying all three rose to prominence by manipulating nationalism. But does Milosevic belong in this company? Whereas a good and effortless case can be made for Izetbegovic and Tudjman being ultra-nationalists (see above), all we get as evidence for Milosevic’s "ultra-nationalism" is a false allusion to a declaration he never made in the Kosovo Polje speech about the fact that he did not want Serbia to be partitioned, which in itself would not even be evidence of intolerant ultra-nationalism anyway. Moreover, the speech Carr refers us to is the antithesis of an ultra-nationalistic speech. Is this the worst one can say about Milosevic?

Finally, I must observe that Carr is arguing that the US and Germany are carving zones of interest in Europe and that this is the central reason for the troubles in Yugoslavia.

In other words, he is not sympathetic to the official propaganda about the causes of the wars in Yugoslavia.

Yet even he seems blithely to assume that Milosevic is a virulent nationalist, even though he provides no evidence. (Izetbegovic and Tudjman, both US allies, certainly do sound like bad guys, on the other hand). The propaganda against Milosevic has been so successful that even a critic like Carr believes it, though he can only give us one short paragraph to support his belief, and that paragraph refers to a consummately tolerant speech.

Is this the worst one can say about Milosevic?

* * *

[The Excerpt from International Crisis Group Article Starts Here]

On this date in 1948, Tito’s Yugoslavia was expelled at Stalin’s behest from the Communist Information Bureau (Cominform). It was also on this day in 1989 that Slobodan Milosevic addressed up to one million Serbs at Gazimestan in Kosovo to commemorate the sixhundredth anniversary of the Kosovo Battle. That speech contained the first open threat of violent conflict by a Socialist Yugoslav leader: "Six centuries later, again, we are in battles and quarrels. They are not armed battles, although such things cannot be excluded".

BALKANS Briefing, Belgrade/Brussels, 6 July 2001

International Crisis Group

http://www.intl-crisis-group.org/projects/balkans/serbia/reports/A400345_06072001.pdf

[The Excerpt from International Crisis Group Article Ends Here]

COMMENT: This quote does appear in the speech. Any observer of Yugoslavia at this time knew that it was possible that armed battles could break out. Why should the observation of such an obvious fact be interpreted as a threat? One could just as well interpret it as a worry. Any state trying to contain irredentist terrorists may find itself in the position of having to deploy its army to protect its citizens—Milosevic was just stating the obvious. It is really necessary to omit any reference to any other part of the speech, and to ignore the facts of Yugoslavia at this time, for the quote—completely out of context—to appear as a threat. Even then it does not look very threatening (you have to be told that it is a threat, for otherwise how could you reliably infer it?). But it pays to see this quote in its minimal context: the paragraph in which it appears:

[The Excerpt from Milosevic's 1989 Speech Starts Here]

Six centuries later, now, we are being again engaged in battles and are facing battles. They are not armed battles, although such things cannot be excluded yet. However, regardless of what kind of battles they are, they cannot be won without resolve, bravery, and sacrifice, without the noble qualities that were present here in the field of Kosovo in the days past. Our chief battle now concerns implementing the economic, political, cultural, and general social prosperity, finding a quicker and more successful approach to a civilization in which people will live in the 21st century. For this battle, we certainly need heroism, of course of a somewhat different kind, but that courage without which nothing serious and great can be achieved remains unchanged and remains urgently necessary.

[The Excerpt from Milosevic's 1989 Speech Ends Here]

COMMENT: This minimal context is already quite informative. The "chief battle" has nothing to do with armed conflict. And it requires "heroism, of course of a somewhat different kind." If one further puts this paragraph into the larger context of the speech it is obvious that Milosevic is hardly making threats. For example, elsewhere in the speech Milosevic says:

[The Excerpt from Milosevic's 1989 Speech Starts Here]

For as long as multinational communities have existed, their weak point has always been the relations between different nations. The threat is 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. This threat has been hanging like a sword over our heads all the time. Internal and external enemies of multi-national 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.

[The Excerpt from Milosevic's 1989 Speech Ends Here]

COMMENT: Milosevic was warning that nationalism was being used by "internal and external enemies of multi-national communities" to destroy Yugoslavia. He was chiding his fellow Yugoslavs for failing to remember World War II and other catastrophes during which the Balkans "experienced the worst tragedy of national conflicts that a society can experience and still survive." Does this sound like a man whipping up the population to go to war against other ethnic groups?

* * *

[The Excerpt from LONDON TIMES Starts Here]

Vidovdan, the feast of St Vitus, is one of the most sacred in the Orthodox church, but it is also the day on which Mr Milosevic began his political career. Twelve years before, in a dusty and sweltering field at Kosovo Polje, he had whipped up Serb nationalism among a ferocious and frustrated crowd. "No one will ever beat you!" he had shouted, commemorating the defeat of the Serbs by the Turks at Kosovo Polje in 1389. Yesterday Mr Milosevic was a beaten man on suicide watch in Scheveningen prison in The Netherlands. Prison officials, who will interview the former Yugoslav President to check that he is not worried about being threatened by other inmates, are also believed to be paying particular attention to the threat he made earlier this year, to shoot himself rather than submit to international justice.

from "Milosevic on suicide watch in Dutch prison"; Times Newspapers Limited; The Times (London); June 30, 2001, Saturday

[The Excerpt from LONDON TIMES Ends Here]

COMMENT: This one comically gets it wrong. Milosevic probably never said, "No one will ever beat you!" He more likely said something like "No one will be allowed to beat you like that!" In any event, he did not say it at the commemoration of the battle at Kosovo Polje (the speech we have been discussing here). Those words were uttered at Kosovo Polje but two years earlier, in 1987. At that time, Milosevic met with Serbs and Montenegrins, mostly peasants, who had serious grievances: they said they were being mistreated by prejudiced Albanian authorities in Kosovo and violently harassed by radical Albanian terrorists. They wanted to speak directly with Milosevic but he was only meeting with a relatively small group in the hall.

[The Excerpt from SERPENT Starts Here]

When members of the throng outside the hall again tried to break through police lines and into the building, they were brutally clubbed and beaten back by the police (composed mainly of Albanian officers, but including some Serbs). Informed of what was taking place outside, Milosevic exited the building and approached the still highly volatile crowd. According to eyewitness reports at the time, the Serbian leader was visibly upset, physically shaken, and trembling. When a dialogue ensued between the demonstrators and Milosevic, they implored him to protect them from the police violence. Acting on a journalist’s suggestion, Milosevic re-entered the hall, and proceeded to a second floor window. From that vantage point he nervously addressed the frenzied demonstrators, and uttered his soon-to-be legendary remarks: "No one will be allowed to beat you! No one will be allowed to beat you!" Milosevic also invited the demonstrators to send a delegation into the hall to discuss their grievances.— Cohen, L. J. 2001. Serpent in the bosom: The rise and fall of Slobodan Milosevic. Boulder, Colorado: Westview.

[The Excerpt from SERPENT Ends Here]

Milosevic said, "No one will be allowed to beat you!"

Is this nationalistic incitement?

Or is he reassuring a nervous crowd that their civil rights will be respected? After all, he is an official with responsibilities to citizens who were being beaten by police before his eyes.

But in the London Times article the context of the peasant Serbs getting beaten is no longer evident. The utterance has been transformed into, "No one will ever beat you" which has an eternal, mythical overtone, and which therefore fits well with the new and excellent location that the Times has found for this utterance: the speech to commemorate the battle of Kosovo Polje.

Two different events have been fused into one, and Serbian mythology has been joined to an injured cry, providing a total impression of a syndrome of victimization that lashes out as a reborn and vicious nationalism. "No one will be allowed to beat you" is supposed to mean, "We will beat them."

I want to emphasize that Cohen’s book, which I quoted above, is an attempted indictment of Milosevic. If Cohen’s description has a bias it is to suggest that Milosevic is a virulent nationalist. For example, although we have Albanian policemen beating peasant Serbs brutally, this is not described as ethnic animosity (the remark that some of these policemen are Serbs seems to have been inserted in order to dispel any such impression). But Milosevic’s attempt to reassure a crowd whose rights are being trampled right in front of his eyes—that is nationalism, as Cohen goes on to explain in what remains of the chapter.

Everybody else has done the same. The 1987 events are supposed to mark a turning point on Milosevic’s road to becoming a virulent nationalist (Cohen calls it "the epiphanal moment").

However, notice that despite these attempts, it is difficult not to see Milosevic’s behavior as perfectly natural, indeed laudable.

Why not reassure a crowd of your constituents, who are being bludgeoned by policemen, that this will not be allowed to happen? What else should he have morally done? By what stretch of the imagination is this utterance transformed into a nationalistic call to arms? Well, it helps to omit the context in which the utterance was made, and it also helps to insert it into a speech commemorating the defeat of the Serbs at Kosovo Polje, as the Times has done.

* * *

[The Excerpt from NEWSDAY Starts Here]

Picture this: Milosevic (pronounced mee-LOH-sheh-vitch) was sent to Kosovo Polje, the small village near the sacred site of the Serbs defeat by the Turks in 1389. His orders were to speak to disgruntled Serbian and Montenegrin activists who claimed they were being badly mistreated by the majority ethnic Albanians who lived there.

Serbs: A Frightened Minority

While Milosevic was speaking in the town's cultural center, a huge crowd of angry Serbs gathered outside the building, chanting in support of the party activists inside. They were attacked by local police, most of them Albanians, who began beating the Serbs with their clubs.

Breaking off his meeting, Milosevic hurried out onto a balcony.
With national television cameras recording everything, he invoked the memory of the 1389 Battle of Kosovo at the nearby Field of Blackbirds.

"No one should dare to beat you!" Milosevic shouted, and the crowd went into a frenzy, beginning to chant, "Slo-bo! Slo-bo! Slo-bo!" The Serbian masses had found a hero, and Milosevic had found a nickname.

"With a skill which he had never displayed before, Milosevic made an eloquent extempore speech in defense of the sacred rights of the Serbs," wrote Noel Malcolm in his recent book, "Kosovo: A Short History." "From that day, his nature as a politician changed; it was as if a powerful new drug had entered his veins."

from "Student Briefing Page On The News"; Newsday, Inc.; Newsday (New York, NY); April 16, 1999, Friday, ALL EDITIONS; SECTION: NEWS; Page A48

[The Excerpt from NEWSDAY Ends Here]

COMMENT: Notice what has happened here. First, for Newsday, apparently, it is enough that Noel Malcolm said something. The same can probably also be said for The Times of London, which paper, as we saw above, parroted a similar line to the one we see here: utterances to the effect that "nobody will beat you" are supposed to allude to the defeat of the Serbs at Kosovo Polje in 1389.

This is a fusion of the events of 1987 and 1989 and, since this connection does not seem to appear prior to 1999 (which is the year Noel Malcolm’s book appeared), it is at least a reasonable guess that:

a) Malcolm is the originator of this confusion and

b) ever since, newspapers like The Times of London and Newsday have been fusing remarks that Milosevic made in two different years and in two very different contexts (neither of them even remotely damning).

This is worth a pause and a reflection.

Academics typically get their facts about what happened in a particular time and place from journalists. But here we have newspapers getting their facts from an academic. It would be fine for the newspaper to report the interpretation or theory of an academic, but isn’t the world turned upside down when a newspaper gets the basic facts of what happened from some bookish professor who wasn’t there?

The second observation is that what Milosevic actually said, "no one will be allowed to beat you!" has been changed to "no one should dare to beat you!" With this change the utterance dovetails nicely with Malcolm’s reference to Milosevic’s supposed lyricism concerning the "sacred rights of the Serbs". So not only is this fusing of the events of 1987 and 1989 apparently an innovation of Malcolm’s, it is one he seems to work hard at, modifying other facts as well, to give the fusion plausibility.

In any case, it should be obvious that it is quite a stretch of interpretation to say that one is invoking a moment in history by making assurances to peasant Serbs that no one should beat them, when those peasant Serbs are at that very moment being "attacked by local police, most of them Albanians." How about the hypothesis that rather than making "an eloquent extempore speech in defense of the sacred rights of the Serbs", Milosevic was saying that the Albanian policemen right below him should not be beating the peasant Serbs?

* * *

[The Excerpt from CIGAR Starts Here]

…in an emotionally charged speech at Gazimestan on June 28, 1989, on the sixth hundredth anniversary of the Battle of Kosovo, Milosevic had signaled his government’s intention to extend the nationalist agenda beyond Serbia’s borders. When coupled with active measures being undertaken in neighboring republics, his emphasis that the "Serbs have always liberated themselves and, when they had a chance, also helped others to liberate themselves" seemed to commit Serbia to a forcible redrawing of Yugoslavia’s long-established internal borders in pursuit of "liberating" the Serbs outside of Serbia…

Cigar, Norman 1995. Genocide in Bosnia. College Station, Texas: Texas A&M University Press. (p.34)

[The Excerpt from CIGAR Ends Here]

COMMENT: The quote from Milosevic's speech is accurate, but it is difficult to do justice to the distortions in this paragraph with the appropriate superlatives. Cigar is, in second-order Orwellian fashion, claiming that Milosevic’s speech is Orwellian. When Milosevic contrasts Serbs to "others", this means (according to Cigar) other Serbs! That is a very interesting code. And when Milosevic talks about liberation, he really means that Serbs should oppress non-Serbs.

But just a tiny little bit of history suggests a different hypothesis.

In World War I, the Serbs were the only Balkan people to side with the allies. This means they simultaneously fought for their independence against two empires (Ottoman and Austro-Hungarian), while the Croats, Muslims, Albanians, etc. fought on the side of the empires. The Serbs won, but instead of creating a ‘Greater Serbia’, as many a victor might have, they spearheaded the creation of a joint kingdom, and they even shared the name (the Kingdom of Serbia, Croatia, and Slovenia, which later got an even more inclusive name when it was renamed Yugoslavia – land of the Southern Slavs).

Thus, they had liberated these other peoples from the clutches of the empires, and did not create an empire themselves.

Contrast this with the treatment that Germany got from the victorious allies.

Then, in World War II, the Croats, Slovenes, Yugoslav Muslims, and the Albanians for the most part betrayed Yugoslavia and allied themselves with the invading Nazis. The Hungarians, Bulgarians, and Romanians also either allied themselves outright or reached an understanding with the Nazis. The Serbs were surrounded but fought the invaders anyway, and they were practically alone. Tito’s dogmatically tolerant partisans, who won the war in Yugoslavia, were mostly Serbs. Once again, the result was not a ‘Greater Serbia’, but a magnanimous recreation of Yugoslavia (and this, despite the fact that Serbs had suffered a Holocaust during the war very much like that of the Jews).

Could it be that when Milosevic said that the Serbs had always fought for their liberation, and that of others when possible, he was merely saying what he meant?

The examples of how this speech has been maligned could be multiplied. But we gain a valuable perspective by taking a look at how the speech was reported the very moment it happened:

[The Excerpt from BBC Starts Here]

Copyright 1989 The British Broadcasting Corporation  
BBC Summary of World Broadcasts

June 29, 1989, Thursday

SECTION: Part 2 Eastern Europe; 2. EASTERN EUROPE; EE/0495/ i; 

LENGTH: 249 words

HEADLINE: The anniversary of the Battle of Kosovo Polje

BODY:
The events in Kosovo to commemorate the 600th anniversary of the battle on 28th June were relayed live by Belgrade radio. At the Gracanica monastery over 100,000 people attended a liturgical service conducted by Patriarch German, head of the Serbian Orthodox Church, and at Gazimestan around 1,500,000 people gathered at a central ceremony in the presence of SFRY President Janez Drnovsek and Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic. The radio noted that more people were expected to arrive at Gazimestan.
Addressing the crowd, Milosevic said that whenever they were able to the Serbs had helped others to liberate themselves, and they had never used the advantage of their being a large nation against others or for themselves, Tanjug reported. He added that Yugoslavia was a multi-national community which could survive providing there was full equality for all the nations living in it. Speaking with reporters at the beginning of the Gazimestan celebrations, Kosovo LC President Rahman Morina said that no innocent people were being placed in isolation in Kosovo, and had isolation not been implemented much more severe measures would have been needed today, Tanjug reported. He also said that former ethnic Albanian leader Azem Vlasi would deserve everything that happened to him. Reporting on the security situation in Kosovo on the 28th, the agency noted that there were no major problems apart from those caused by the large number of vehicles travelling to the celebrations.

[The Excerpt from the BBC Ends Here]

COMMENT: It does not appear that the BBC reporter had the impression Milosevic's speech produced a nationalist incitement. On the contrary, the reporter has explicitly highlighted the tolerance of the speech.

The London Independent, which had reporters covering the speech, had a similar impression:

[The Excerpt from THE INDEPENDENT Starts Here]

ON the poppy-flecked Kosovo Polje, the Field of Blackbirds, looking out over a sea of a million people, Slobodan Milosevic yesterday assumed the mantle of a statesman and Yugoslavia's natural leader.

The climax of the two years of Serbian national awakening he has led - the 600th anniversary of the Battle of Kosovo Polje -
brought an unexpectedly conciliatory the Serbian President made not one aggressive reference to 'Albanian counter-revolutionaries' in Kosovo province. Instead, he talked of mutual tolerance, 'building a rich and democratic society' and ending the discord which had, he said, led to Serbia's defeat here by the Turks six centuries ago.

'There is no more appropriate place than this field of Kosovo to say that accord and harmony in Serbia are vital to the prosperity of the Serbs and of all other citizens living in Serbia, regardless of their nationality or religion,' he said. Mutual tolerance and co- operation were also sine qua non for Yugoslavia: 'Harmony and relations on the basis of equality among Yugoslavia's people are a precondition for its existence, for overcoming the crisis.' The cries of 'Slobo, Slobo' which greeted his arrival on the vast monument to the heroes of 1389 soon gave way to a numb silence. 'I think people were a little disappointed, it became very quiet after the beginning,' an educated-looking woman from Belgrade said. But most others, in a straw poll, insisted the occasion did not merit the raucous chanting characteristic of the heady protest rallies of last year. 'People were satisfied, after all it wasn't a protest rally,' said another pilgrim. Everyone seemed a little stunned.

The Independent, June 29 1989, Thursday,  Foreign News ; Pg. 10,  654 words,  Milosevic carries off the battle honours,  From EDWARD STEEN and MARCUS TANNER in Kosovo Polje

[The Excerpt from THE INDEPENDENT Ends Here]

COMMENT: The quotes from Milosevic are accurate.

This account, a day after the event, suggests that the speech was not "emotionally charged," as Cigar claims, and as a speech designed to whip up "a million Serbs into a nationalist frenzy"—as Time Magazine untruthfully alleges—might have been.

Neither was it a "ferocious and frustrated crowd," as the Times of London would have it, nor a "fervent speech …[that]… galvanized the nationalist passions" as The New York Times stated.

Finally, for good measure, it was not a "fiery speech…to a million angry Serbs [and] a rallying cry for nationalism," as the Washington Post reported.

From the story above we even learn that one observer thought people had been disappointed, although this impression is belied by the opinion of the locals who said this was not a protest rally.

Indeed, it didn’t sound like one, if one reads the speech. The framing of the events is that Milosevic was conciliatory.

How should we describe the fact that The Independent, which paper had reporters on the ground, and which had accurately reported this speech when it was given, later said that this was Milosevic setting his agenda "as he openly threatens force to hold the six-republic federation together" (see above)?

Scandalous?

Or perhaps we should show sympathy for the harried journalists at The Independent, who apparently cannot find the time to read their own paper!

And what about the other, 1987, speech? This is how it was reported by the New York Times, immediately after it happened:

[The Excerpt from NEW YORK TIMES Starts Here]

The police clashed briefly today with a crowd of about 10,000 in the ethnically tense province of Kosovo, Yugoslav news organizations said.

The incident occurred when thousands gathered outside the Hall of Culture in the city of Kosovo Polje.

The Communist Party chief of Serbia, Slobodan Milosevic, was on hand to listen to complaints that minorities had been harassed by the ethnic Albanian majority in Kosovo, the Yugoslav television reported. Witnesses said about 300 delegates from the crowd of Serbs and Montenegrins were admitted to the hall to talk to Mr. Milosevic, but 10,000 to 15,000 people waiting outside also wanted to be at the talks.
 
Police Used Truncheons

The clash started at about 6:30 P.M., half an hour after Mr. Milosevic began to listen to the complaints, when police officers trying to control the crowd pushed people away from the entrance and across the street, witnesses said.

The national press agency, Tanyug, said ''a number of citizens threw stones at police.'' Witnesses said policemen used truncheons during the clash, which lasted about 10 minutes. [According to Reuters, Tanyug reported that several people were lightly injured.] Tanyug said Mr. Milosevic emerged at 7 P.M. and ''was greeted with applause, shouts and chanting.''
Witnesses quoted him as telling the crowd that the police had no right to use truncheons so indiscriminately.

The New York Times, April 25, 1987, Saturday, Late City Final Edition,  Section 1; Page 5, Column 1; Foreign Desk,  356 words,  YUGOSLAVIA POLICE AND 10,000 CLASH DURING A PROTEST OVER ETHNIC BIAS,  AP,  BELGRADE, Yugoslavia, April 24

[The Excerpt from NEW YORK TIMES Ends Here]

COMMENT: It is clear from how that speech was reported at the time that Milosevic had simply meant to reassure the assembled Serb peasants that the police certainly did not have the right to beat them like that. It was not a nationalistic call to arms nor was it supposed to have overtones to the battle of Kosovo Polje. Why should it? What was happening in front of his eyes was not metaphorical. Policemen were beating peasants.

FINAL REMARKS

This is how a myth is constructed: we hear the same story everywhere. The repetition of the story convinces us that the story has been confirmed. But, of course, repetition is hardly confirmation. If it were, every urban legend would be true. It is important to pause and reflect on what this means. If the media can lie so blatantly about what Milosevic had said in 1989, and if they do it consistently and across the board, something is wrong.

The question is: how wrong?

The US government obviously has an interest in demonizing the people it bombed. Although its own translation of the speech is a rebuke to how the speech has been portrayed, we should not expect the US government to criticize the misinformation. This is corrupt but understandable.

Explaining the behavior of the BBC, on the other hand, is not so easy. The BBC is not the US government. Its role is supposedly to give us the truth, as best it can. Moreover, the BBC is supposed to be in competition with other media outlets. Since the BBC translated the speech, they were in a position to lay bare that what was being written about the speech was misinformation. They have not done it, and this is a very serious sin of journalistic omission.

If only this was their biggest sin!

On April 1, 2001, the BBC wrote the following:

[The Excerpt from the BBC Starts Here]

In 1989, on the 600-year anniversary of the battle of Kosovo Polje, he [Milosevic] gathered a million Serbs at the site of the battle to tell them to prepare for a new struggle.

He then began to arm and support Serb separatists in Croatia and Bosnia. Other nationalists were coming to power throughout the republics of the old federation.

Yugoslavia's long nightmare of civil war was beginning.

("The downfall of Milosevic ", Sunday, 1 April, 2001, 07:17 GMT 08:17 UK;

http://news.bbc.co.uk/hi/english/world/europe/newsid_1204000/1204857.stm):

[The Excerpt from the BBC Ends Here]

The BBC here makes it seem as though Milosevic was indeed talking about preparing the Serbs for aggression against other people.

But the BBC translated the live relay of the speech!

They know Milosevic did no such thing in 1989 at Kosovo Polje. The BBC piece continues:

[The Excerpt from the BBC Starts Here]

Darker motives

Mr Milosevic was never really a nationalist, never a true believer. He skillfully exploited the myth of Kosovo Polje - where the Serbs refused to surrender even though that brought defeat and subjugation - but he was always a pragmatist.

(BBC, "The downfall of Milosevic "

[The Excerpt from the BBC Ends Here]

Again: the BBC translated the speech. They know that he spoke in skeptical and professorial tones about the famous battle at Kosovo Polje, rather than manipulating it for ultra-nationalist ends.

This is not an isolated instance. Here is the BBC again, in a different piece:

[The Excerpt from the BBC Starts Here]

Serbs to remember Historic battle

Religious ceremonies are being held today in Kosovo to commemorate the anniversary of a fourteenth century battle in which the Ottoman Turks crushed the Serbian army.

A BBC correspondent in Kosovo says most Serbs will mark the anniversary of the Battle of Kosovo Polje hesitantly, if at all.

He says some believe the security situation is still too fragile for any large gathering; others feel too threatened to risk travelling on the roads.

Ten years ago, more than one-million Serbs turned out to celebrate the battle's six-hundreth anniversary, when President Slobodan Milosevic vowed Serbia would never again lose control of Kosovo.

From the newsroom of the BBC World Service * Monday, June 28, 1999 Published at 09:21 GMT 10:21 UK * World: Europe http://news.bbc.co.uk/hi/english/world/europe/newsid_379000/379847.stm

[The Excerpt from the BBC Ends Here]

But…but…the BBC knows that what it is reporting here is not true. They translated the speech. Milosevic did not vow any such thing in 1989 at the Kosovo Polje commemoration. He may have vowed it elsewhere (and the vow in and of itself is perfectly consistent with his desire to keep Yugoslavia whole, and does not indict him of anything). But he certainly made no such vow in the 1989 speech.

Why is the BBC not reporting what it knows to be true?

Since this is possible, I am forced to wonder what else is possible. What can we believe about what has been written about Milosevic in particular, and Yugoslavia more generally? After all, the demonization of Milosevic, and the Serbs more generally, perfectly fits with the propaganda aims of the NATO powers that went to war against Yugoslavia, including the US and Britain. Here we have seen that the media establishment in these two countries has produced stories about Milosevic’s speech that are consistent with such a deliberate propaganda campaign.

-- Slobodan Milosevic's speech at Kosovo Field can be read at http://www.icdsm.com/milosevic/kosovo.htm

***

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