Even with a good many news sources insisting otherwise, and intimations of malfeasance swirling about through the news media, the preponderance of opinion sat squarely with a trusted source. And when that trusted source is the most powerful country in the world, in fact the only remaining global powerhouse, who might see an underhanded agenda? The weak-minded, of course, the element whose conservative discipline bids them look more closely.
Having to do so, unfortunately, would betray those who sought additional facts and figures, as bigots, and who wants to be named a bigot? The very fact that stoutly determined Western forces were arrayed in full armour to protect a Muslim population from the vicious depredations of a larger Christian population set out to destroy them suffused us all with a sense of honourable neutrality; we ride to the aid of the victims.
Well, oops, and dear me. Why did we not read former Canadian Maj.-Gen.Lewis MacKenzie's notes on United Nations peacekeeping operations in Bosnia in 1992, and listen to James Bissett's opinion as former Canadian ambassador to Yugoslavia, Bulgaria and Albania from 1990 to 1992. Both men, after all, were first-hand witnesses to that horrible civil war. Most people knew that the then-prime minister, Brian Mulroney's wife Mila was Serbian-born. Awkward.
"General MacKenzie was probably the most outspoken United Nations official about the fact that the Muslims were shelling their own people in order to get international opinion on their side", said Peter Robinson, lead lawyer for former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic, visiting Ottawa to interview witnesses in preparation for the war crimes trial against Mr. Karadzic being carried out in the Hague.
"Essentially they created disasters or massacres and blamed them on the Serbs. Some of those (massacres) Karadzic is charged with committing himself." Well, what else would you expect Mr. Karadzic's lawyer to contend? He is, after all, defending the man accused of being responsible for "ethnic cleansing" where thousands of Bosnian Muslims died. Mr. Karadzic faces no fewer than 11 charges of genocide and crimes against humanity.
That would include the accusation that he was the driving force being the mass murder of 8,000 Muslim men in Srebrenica in eastern Bosnia, heartlessly ordering the shooting of civilians during the 43-month siege of Sarajevo by forces under his command. He is on trial at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia. He has taken the stand to deny responsibility for those atrocities.
He has pleaded not guilty to all charges. Insists that Muslim leaders ordered the shelling of their own people to bring pressure on the United States to intervene on their behalf. Maj.-Gen. MacKenzie has informed Mr. Robinson additionally that there is good reason to believe Serbian forces were not responsible for the market massacre that took place in Sarajevo when people were lined up for bread rations.
Ambassador Bissett claims there to have been "a lot of evidence to indicate that Muslim leaders killed their own people", and that he believed that Mr. Karadzic "did his damnedest to prevent the war". Mag.-Gen. MacKenzie, in fact, published a book, Peacekeeper: the Road to Sarajevo, in 1993, where he recounts a conversation with then-French president Francois Miterrand, that "the majority of the blame" for the violence "rests with the Serbs", but the Bosnian Muslims usually broke ceasefires first.
That "strong but circumstantial evidence" exists "that some really horrifying acts of cruelty attributed to the Serbs were actually orchestrated by the Muslims against their own people". Mr. Karadzic himself has a fascinating account of former U.S. Ambassador Warren Zimmermann encouraging Bosnian Muslim President Alija Izetbegovic to flout a peace agreement reached between the Bosnian Muslims, Serbs and Croats, in favour of a unilateral declaration of independence, with U.S. support.
The contention being that the U.S. was interested in demonstrating to the Muslim world its good will, in the wake of the 1991 Gulf War. But Bosnian Serbs would not submit to Muslim rule that would bring to Bosnia an Islamic fundamentalist state. Prior to the 1992 civil war Bosnian Muslims were welcoming battle-hardened mujahadeen who had fought the Russians in Afghanistan; Osama bin Laden among them, along with jihadists from Iran, and Saudi Arabia.
The United States, at that juncture in East European political history, chose to support Bosnian Muslims rather than democratic Serbia with its long history of fighting alongside the western allies against fascism. "They basically backed the wrong horse. We're paying the price for it now. We see some of the same people now in Afghanistan and Pakistan were in Bosnia".
Why does this all seem so familiar? Its echoes can be seen in NATO being bogged down in Afghanistan. It can be seen in the current U.S. administration slighting and abandoning Israel in favour of impressing Muslim and Arab states with its 'even-handed' approach to solving the Israeli-Palestinian dilemma by forcing Israel to make unrealistic sacrifices to appease Palestinians' grossly entitled demands.