Believing is easier than investigating.
-- Serbian proverb.
Most wars are absolutely stupid, but that is what happens when you let psychopaths with paper crowns run around loose on the streets. If you fall for war propaganda, you should be sentenced to wearing a dunce cap on all of your selfies for a year as little children, including the ones you gave life to, are allowed to point and laugh at you in public, and call you gullible without penalty.
Anyone who calls for war should be sentenced to cleaning toilets and looking after the homeless for a year. We would find these people jobs because they obviously have way too much free time on their hands and do not know what to do with themselves.
Anyone who advocates violence would get the same sentence -- except they would be forced to work twenty hours a day doing it. You have time to fantasize about hurting people -- then you have time to get a humbling that comes from hard work.
But people run away from reality -- even reality that is kind and more peaceful than their preset fantasies. They will think of any boneheaded argument to shut reality out, and do all they can to try to prove their fantasies are right, glorious, and good.
Wars break out because you have those who wish for their violent fantasies to become reality. It is a collective insanity with people hoping to annihilate everyone who opposes that fantasy. They will bomb, shoot, and slaughter, and become irrational with their hatred, and if it is a choice between finding peace by truth, or keeping the war going with lies, they will pick the lie.
Every single time, even throwing their family under the bus in the bargain.
"Yes; quaint and curious war is!/You shoot a fellow down/You'd treat if met where any bar is,/Or help to half-a-crown."
The poem The Man He Killed is an accurate one and hints at the unstable relationship people have with reality.
And I have seen otherwise perfectly peaceful people throw it all away for their misinterpretation of reality.
The civil war in the former Yugoslavia is a perfect example of watching a nation teetering on the edge of big cliff, and all the other nations shouting to it, "Jump! Jump! Jump!"
And that's what happened: they fell for it as they jumped off a cliff, killed themselves as the countries who shouted the loudest got all sorts of benefits from the war.
I learned a lot from watching it in the West: war was stupid and destructive, but it was also instructive in showing you who truly had humanity, and who were a little too gleeful in ignoring any impulse of it, but of all of the various factions drooling over body bags, journalists fared the worst, no matter how hard they tried to spin their bloodlust with a moral narrative.
Times have changed, but some people still cling on to those old narratives that have so many filters, that the picture painted in some egotistical blur that says nothing.
This article from The Independent is with regards to a book's excerpts and it is classic knee-slapping war propaganda on every imaginable level:
'My tears only fell 20 years after facing down the butcher of Bosnia'
Irish peacekeeper Colonel Colm Doyle seems to clearly enjoy the virtue-signalling, and the book suffers from the same rigid blinders as the legacy media had during that era, but it is instructive of how those blinders distort reality, and how people never learn.
Colonel Doyle conveniently leaves out how much the Western media were to blame for most of what happened over there, but they are not the only ones whose arrogant irresponsibility brought this slaughter to the region: uppity meddling nations gave instant independence to some regions with the promise of indivisibility (but knew it was wrong all along as they have repeatedly told their own discontent regions they could not expect the same perk), but not to others as well as allowing provinces to think they could shirk their financial responsibilities and get free American money if they declared independence all while letting foreign mercenaries get into the country and slaughter strangers with glee knowing full well they would get a free pass -- and many of those killers did go on to form terrorist groups in the Middle East after the war was over.
Every single one of those unforgivable sins are all on the West. Period. It was their choreographed ignorance that turned a simmering, but a controllable dilemma into an all-out war. The excerpts have a certain haughtiness to them, and the misinterpretations of Slavs are numerous here, and are cringeworthy to read.
Journalists -- who knew nothing about the history of the region, nor the culture, nor the language -- swooped in with their press releases and made up junk, pretending they were covering the war and not parroting drivel from little white tents. I was a teenager in Canada who figured that out, but I was not the only one. I let Western media outlets know they were cribbing from PR firms, too because those firms had to file with FARA, and anyone has access to those databases.
Those warring regions were inspired by Kuwait's success in using Hill and Knowlton -- and they actually got away with it. To this day. No reporter has been sent to The Hague for war crimes -- and there are plenty who have blood on their hands.
So the Serbs are correct in that regard, even if they wrong in others (and there were things that side didn't have right, and I know because I never took any one side's word as gospel truth. In fact, it would have been far easier for me if the war propaganda was true, but it wasn't, making it was a very ugly reality to face). They had been in denial and thought past alliances with the US during the Second World War would rescue them. Serbs had history, facts, and truth on their side -- and that is what places you in the the greatest of danger, especially when you live in a world where lies, narrative arrogance, and uninformed opinion are used as replacements.
How do I know?
Because I spent years researching the propaganda coverage the West puked out without any opposition back in the day when the press could slap around any ethnic group they wanted, and the group had no means to fight back, and didn't because they thought the facts would rescue them in a world that gets hypnotized by really trashy narratives.
The biggest lie of all was that journalists covering the war did any independent research, and FARA filings keep basic records of which of the warring sides hired which public relations firms.
Whatever the PR firms spewed in their press releases, that's what ended up being reported as the truth. No independent verification. I had even managed to get my hands on those releases and then square them with not only what media outlets reported, but also with independent information coming out from a variety of channels.
The kicker was the reports merely parroted the press releases, and had none of the information from those other channels. That was very interesting.
Just as it was interesting that PR firms over in those "war zones" set up white tents doling out information to reporters who then went on to pretend they risked their lives to find that junk. If we had the Internet back then, anyone with a smart phone could have recorded that farce and put it out on YouTube to much hilarity.
I had gone to some of the local media outlets to complain about the coverage, and what was on reporters's desk out in plain sight were those press releases.
That is also very instructive.
There is no pretending.
But watching the tripe was absolutely fascinating, and though I have spoken of it before, two of my favourite bad propaganda stories were melodramatic yarns that were contradicted by their own footage: one British reporter spoke about a group of Bosnian Muslim "orphans": except they were there holding hands with their own mothers, and their fathers were not actually dead, they were still alive and were soldiers fighting. When I wrote to point out that not even those parents were actually claiming that their children were "orphans" and he was just being manipulative, he wrote back insisting they were orphans, even though both parents were alive.
It was pure garbage. Worse, it was pure propaganda not instigated by a side with a vested interest. It was bigoted reporting.
Another time there was a melodramatic television report on a nursing home with (purportedly Bosnian Muslim residents) that had gone on how it was without electricity, heat, or food -- the problem was you had footage of very relaxed people sitting around with light from lamps, all looking well-fed, wearing regular clothes, no cloud of condensation coming from their mouths...and succulent and thriving plants in the background. If it were as "freezing cold" as the reporter claimed, frostbite would have gotten all of those plants. The residents seemed bored, and as in the previous case, I am certain none of those residents were spinning any yarns. The reporter played an old gambit of filming something, finding nothing, and then risked it by overtly lying because those old folks didn't speak English and had no idea what the little propagandist was pulling. It was hardly the only case.
There were a lot more of those pathetically obvious propaganda stories getting churned out to the point I wondered if there was some sort of contest among journalists as to who could spew out the most pathetically obvious anti-Serb story and get away with it. The longer the war rage, the more nonsensical and irrational the stories became (it became obvious to others over time to the point when I said to friends and family that I was going to journalism school, I'd get quizzical faces with people blurting out, "You mean, there are schools for journalists?" or "Journalists go to school?"). I used to sit there and watch the news, recording it, taking notes, and then look to verify everything, seriously wondering just how stupid did journalists think people were.
Obviously, there was a lot of stupid going around because people were buying it. When people who fancied themselves as being both "informed" and "compassionate" would bring up one of those stories to tell me how horrible those Suuuurbs were, I would laugh, point out the blaring inconsistencies, and then ask them to account for it. The blanched faces and dancing eyes let me know they were feeling as stupid and gullible as they should have been feeling.
But they never bothered getting truly informed, or were compassionate enough to do something about standing up to a well-paid smear campaign. It was all an act, and a very poor one to boot.
And now we have a little book that has an antiquated mindset that ignores reality. There is talk of "witnessing", but what is actually presented is second-hand information, which is of interesting. If you are supposed to be haunted by what you saw, then why suddenly bring up second-hand information that someone told you.
What was done to verify this information? Nothing. You do not go on say so. I worked as a journalist and I cannot count the number of times someone told me of extraordinary things that they witnessed, but when I went to do basic double-checking, I discovered it was either an exaggeration, or just a flat-out lie. And that's during peacetime. When I heard about the things coming out of a war-torn country -- it was even worse than that -- and I am talking abut every single warring faction. If there was Google Maps back then, I am sure I would have had a field day finding more inconsistencies with stories that hinged on the audience not knowing about the geography of a given area.
Even as a teenager, I knew you have to dig to verify, and this definitely comes from the perspective that "witnessing" in this case means credulously believing every accusation. Everything was taken as gospel back then, and that is the problem that slowly choked journalism to death: blindly appealing to authority or to another who confirmed our various theories.
I found this passage interesting:
The final occasion that I confronted Karadzic was in a hotel in Brussels on August 16, 1992 where we had been having negotiations with the parties to the conflict over two days. I was walking through the lobby when I saw a Sunday paper in the hotel shop. Its front page picture was of an emaciated and skeletal prisoner standing behind a barbed wire fence in a place called Trnopolje - one of many Serb detention camps in Bosnia.
This was the first published photo which showed the horrors of Bosnia.
What the author fails to mention is that piece of information is that photograph didn't prove what it was proclaimed to have as the wires are placed in such a way that those "prisoners" were, in fact, on the outside. It was a German journalist who noticed an inconsistency with the photograph, and his research proved that it wasn't what Western media assumed was true. I had interviewed that journalist years ago for an article I had written about war propaganda (and was spiked because the editor got spooked when a threatening fax with the letterhead of a powerful law firm that represented a former president got sent to them, even though there was nothing slanderous or wrong in the story I wrote, and I used most of the information from that piece elsewhere).
I find very curious this book is coming out now during a time where NATO has been starting to size up Serbs again and prattling about having "unfinished business" with them. The books has a lot of appeals to authority and name-dropping, making the assumption that we are supposed to be impressed with minionism.
What convenient timing. Many nations got all sorts of perks to their coffers during that odious and needless war that could have been averted if all sides had been told they had to pay their debts together or separated, no Benjamins were going to be sunk in a black hole, and boundaries were going to be on the table, and I can see those wretched old grifters casing the joint once again, hoping to morally masturbate in public as a misdirectionand perhaps get a fancy paper crown and well-paying position playing the same wicked games.
But it is not the same world. The spell of the old patriarchal scripts has been broken.
And when the old stories get whipped out again -- they become fodder for verification, and unlike the bad old days, the inconsistencies can be published to an audience of billions.
But let's not forget a biggie: journalism is dead. The only ones who are trying to resurrect it are people who want to issue decrees and force narratives on the masses, who are having too much power and fun with their own ideas.
Most of all, who have people like me who are never lulled into thinking that facts and truth alone are enough: you must be aware of the rigs on the boards and the games played, and then bypass them all when the timing is just right.
Peacefully, of course. With levity and true morals -- not crocodile tears or fake emotions as some propagandists are always inclined to do...