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Foreign Correspondent
by international syndicated columnist & broadcaster Eric Margolis


Copyright: Eric S. Margolis, 2006

March 20, 2006

In an Oct, 1988 Toronto Sun column, I warned `party boss Milosevic, who raised the twin cries of `Greater Serbia’ and `crush the Albanians,’ was a dangerous demagogue seeking power by stirring up an ethnic/religious hatreds that would tear his unstable nation apart.

Few people outside East Europe took notice of Yugoslavia’s onrushing crisis. At Serbia’s Belgrade University, however, a special assembly was called to denounce me for daring to raise alarms about the man being hailed as `savior of the Serbs.’

Far from saving Serbs, Milosevic, who died under still mysterious circumstances last week in the UN prison at the Hague, would bring ruin and deep dishonor onto them.

Four years later, in 1992, Yugoslavia disintegrated. Milosevic held primary – though not sole - responsibility for destroying the delicate ethnic balance created by Tito. He sought to forge a Greater Serbia out of the wreckage of Yugoslavia.

Milosevic fanned violent ethnic and religious hatred against Muslims and Croats, igniting four wars and savage ethnic cleansing that killed 300,000 and left 3.4 million homeless.

Milosevic’s henchmen, notably Ratko Mladic, Radovan Karadzic, and gangster Arkan, committed Europe’s worst crimes against humanity since WW II.

Europe and the Muslim World did nothing while gangs of Serb thugs blew up mosques, burned villages, raped thousands of Muslim women and herded Muslim captives into concentration camps where they were tortured, sexually abused, and starved. Many British, French and some American conservatives quietly supported Milosevic’s anti-Muslim pogroms and thwarted international efforts to stop them.

The culmination of Serb’s ethnic terrorism came at Srebrencia, where they murdered 8,000 or more Muslims while cowardly Dutch UN troops watched. A former Canadian general turned apologist for Milosevic memorably described this monstrous crime as a Serb `over-reaction.’

Milosevic repeatedly urged his followers to `kill or send all the Turks (what he called Muslim Yugoslavs – even though they were ethnic Slavs or Albanians) – back to Turkey.’

Finally, when Milosevic’s soldiers drove 800,000 ethnic Albanians from their homes in Kosovo, the US, to its everlasting credit, took action to rescue Balkan Muslims and Catholics from genocide and ethnic terrorism.

Inside Serbia, Milosevic was `godfather’ of a sinister criminal regime run by gangsters and neo-fascist paramilitaries. At least two of his leading political opponents – Zoran Djinjic and Ivan Stambolic –were murdered by Milosevic’s men, and a third, Vuk Drascovic, narrowly escaped being killed. Gangsters tied to the Milosevic family were allowed to run the legal and illegal economy and used to silence political and human rights opponents.

Milosevic is now being blamed for all Serbia’s miseries and crimes. But many others in Serbia must share blame: the army and secret police leaders, paramilitary gangs, rabid nationalist, hatred-preaching elements of the Orthodox Church, and those ordinary Serbs who thrilled to the later-day Nazi racist-religious ideology preached by the demagogue they adoringly called `King Slobo.’

In the ugly wars ignited by Milosevic, Croats, Bosnian Muslims and Albanians also committed criminal acts. But the vast majority of the war’s victims – around 80% - were Bosnian Muslims and Albanians, and the world rightly heaped condemnation on Serbia.

Serbs, an intelligent, cultured European people justly renowned for their great courage in the wars of 1912-13, 1914, and 1939, ended up branded a nation of murderers and sadists. Milosevic’s four lost wars wrecked Serbia and left hundreds of thousands of Serbs refugees. Everything he touched turned to disaster.

I wish this clever, twisted demagogue had lived to the end of his trial and served life in a harsh prison for his crimes, an example to other despots seeking political power by whipping up race and religious hatreds.

Serb apologists still tell us Milosevic was misunderstood and Serbia an innocent victim of evil outsiders. Ignore them. Serbia was author of most of its own misfortunes. Too many credulous Serbs allowed `King Slobo’ to whip them into a frenzy of hatred, self-pity and self-delusion. They are now paying the heavy price.

Published at since 1995 with permission, as a courtesy and in appreciation.

To read previous columns by Mr. Margolis: Click here

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