“Jovic has the right, as a scholar, to express his views freely. But he is the Croatian president’s chief analyst and special coordinator. It is dangerous to both Croatia and Bosnia-Hercegovina for someone holding such views, and with such poor analytical judgement and grasp of reality, to occupy the position that he does.”
Originally posted on Greater Surbiton:
On 21 January, the Croatian journalists’ website autograf.hr published an article about me written by Dejan Jovic, chief analyst and special coordinator at the office of the president of Croatia, Ivo Josipovic. The Croatian newspaper Vecernji list republished Jovic’s article, then published my reply on 30 January, which is reproduced here with Croatian-language passages translated into English. My reply was also published in BCS translation by tacno.net.
Dejan Jovic’s attack on me, published by autograf.hr on 21 January, contains numerous falsehoods. For example, he accuses me: ‘To justify the war in Iraq, they employed the metaphor of Hitler (for Saddam Hussein)’. Yet I have never used the Hitler metaphor to describe Saddam Hussein, and in June 2013 I described the Iraq war in the pages of the Guardian as a ‘misguided adventure’. He claims ‘people like Hoare advocate further interventions as the solution to new problems: in Syria, maybe afterwards…
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Originally posted on Croatia, the War, and the Future:
Cardinal Aloysius Stepinac saved hundreds of Jews in war-torn Croatia but, amazingly, is still considered a war criminal by many. Sharyn McCowen talks to a Jewish academic who says the world has got it all wrong.
By Sharyn McCowen
14 March, 2014
A Jewish academic is working to clear the name of Blessed Aloysius Stepinac, a Croatian Catholic Church leader convicted of war crimes and collaboration with the enemy during World War II.
For 70 years, Cardinal Stepinac has often been portrayed as a Nazi collaborator who failed to protect Jewish families who sought his protection during the Holocaust.
But Dr Esther Gitman’s research, and subsequent book and documentary, paint a picture of a man who risked his life to protect Jews from certain death. That she is alive to do this work is thanks to the Croatians who helped her mother to flee Sarajevo for Israel. READ…
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Originally posted on Croatia, the War, and the Future:
It has been over two years since the release of Dr Esther Gitman’s book “When Courage Prevailed: The Rescue and Survival of Jews in the Independent State of Croatia 1941-1945” (see links to the book in the left margin of this blog website Home page).
Her research findings have confirmed that Croatia’s WWII Archbishop Aloysius (Alojzije) Stepinac was in fact a prolific and an utterly dedicated saviour of Jews during WWII days of the Holocaust and not the “Nazi collaborator” that the Yugoslav communist regime convicted him of after the war, serving him with a trial at which he had no right to a defense. It is in the latter context that Archbishop Aloysius Stepinac had been presented via the communist propaganda as a “symbol” of the Holocaust that occurred in Croatia. Despite that, the Catholic Church had not stood idle…
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I briefly noticed a #whatwomenneed campaign on St Valentine’s Day. While it seemed to be a worthy project which I am not intending to criticise, it did elicit a number of jocular reactions from me. To be honest, my first ‘answer’ to this ‘question’ was “a kick up the arse”. Because St Valentine’s Day shouldn’t be about women (even if you do buy into the whole romantic notion).
What happened to equality?
Why aren’t we also talking about what men need for St Valentine’s Day? Why are we saying that women need support when they first need to take some responsibility? Why are we talking about women needing more options when they have the most options they’ve ever had in the history of the world? And why is everything framed in terms of women? Yes, men need to take responsibility for fatherhood but they need to do this because it’s the right thing to do, not because it meets the needs of women. Men need to be involved in their children’s lives whether women need or want it or not.
And so it occurred to me that if women want to be treated as equals and with respect, perhaps they should abandon using euphemisms to compensate for their inadequacies. I keep coming across advertisements, memes, and other feminist propaganda telling me that women aren’t bossy and that it’s a derogatory term used to put down women and describe their “leadership skills”. This may be true on occasion, but more often I have seen women passing off their bossiness – a negative trait – as “leadership”, and this doesn’t help women; it just makes us sound like whiny little brats who want ‘recognition’ for skills we don’t have.
I recall one day many years ago when my leadership skills were recognised – by a man of all people! – and I was made acting bosun (on a tall ship) for the day. Another young woman came up to me and said she didn’t know why I’d been given the job as she thought she’d be just as good a bosun. She said: “I can give orders. I know how to boss people around.” And she did. Sixteen-year-old girls often are very bossy and she was no exception. But this girl, through no particular fault of her own, was exhibiting the very bossiness and immaturity that would prevent her from doing the job of bosun ‘like a boss’.
Soldiers seem to be especially adept at picking up on the difference between acting ‘like a boss’ and being ‘bossy’. An officer who waltzes in and expects ‘respect’ because he is an officer and knows how to give orders will not command much respect from his subordinates. One who shows genuine leadership, on the other hand, will inspire obedience and experience far less grumbling in the ranks. Why women seem to think we are entitled to be spared such justified grumbling comes down to feminism.
Women may be just as capable of being good leaders as men, but we won’t be if we cling to arrogant feminist notions that we are innately superior to men. Motherhood certainly equips mothers with unique skills, but women need to recognise that the authority of a parent over a child is very different to that of a supervisor over her employees. If you treat your workers like children, don’t expect maturity, initiative, and independence. I was trained as a project manager. IBM very kindly flew in instructors – some of them women – from George Washington University in the United States so that we could have the same training as our US counterparts. There were more men than women on these courses but this had nothing to do with discrimination. The unfortunate fact (for the social engineers) was that even though IBM did everything humanly possible to advance women in the workplace there simply weren’t as many women suited to the job. I would add that the less successful project managers had poor leadership skills (despite us all being sent on a course called ‘leadership skills’) and that they were mostly women. Why? There were a variety of reasons, but there was one single common denominator: micro-management. I see it everywhere I go. Women tend to micro-manage more than men, and when someone keeps needlessly telling you what to do (when you’re a highly-educated mature professional on a six-figure salary) that comes across as being bossy. And it is bossy. It’s hard to respect someone who interferes with you doing your own job (for which you are qualified and she is not), who doesn’t trust you enough to leave you alone to do your work for a few hours or days, and who wants you to waste your time ticking off her boxes so that she can feel like she’s doing something. If us women want to be treated as equals, we need to learn to do our jobs better instead of demanding that poor management be praised as a ‘different style’ of leadership.
This isn’t to say women don’t possess unique abilities. We are not identical to men and shouldn’t want to be. I don’t know many men who’ve sat on a desk wearing a short skirt and knee-high lace-up boots and cajoled a programmer into working back late to fix a problem. And I don’t know any men who can breastfeed a baby in a sling while cooking dinner and supervising the homework of several other children. There are, likewise, many brilliant women leaders and entrepreneurs. But they didn’t get where they are by being bossy and calling it leadership… and they they didn’t get there by telling themselves they were entitled to a job because they were women. They got there the same way most men did: through hard work, learning from mistakes, and sheer persistence.
So, the question at the end of all this is: do we want equality or do we want revenge? If women think they’re superior to men (and I certainly don’t which is why I’ve switched to the third person), then they’re no better than the misogynists who denied women the vote. But we need to maintain a sense of humour. We should be able to make jokes about the differences between the sexes. The only problem is that at the moment it seems that a joke about men being hopeless at something is quite all right, whereas a joke about women being hopeless at anything is interpreted as belittling or denigrating. Perhaps this is an essential difference between the sexes, but if women are so thin-skinned that we can’t handle the thought of men being better than us at something it does call into question whether we really are equipped to do the same jobs as men. All the men I know have no qualms about recognising that women are better than men at certain things, such as remaining calm and patient with multiple toddlers. Why can’t women recognise that men are better at some things too, such as construction and fire-fighting?
For those of you who are still reading, here is a challenge. Watch these excellent short films at My Beautiful Woman. (Start with #3 if you’re short on time.) Imagine how these women would have acted differently if they were western feminist women. Imagine their Facebook and gofundme campaigns, the endless affirmation of their ‘choices’ and ‘sacrifices’, and how each would have had their ‘feelings’ and ‘emotions’ dissected in public view and their lives made into ‘success stories’. And ask yourselves what makes these women truly beautiful.
For those of us who don’t speak Bosnian, the news reports coming out of Bosnia are confusing. If they are anything like the news reports I read and watched while on the ground during the 1990s conflict, they’ll also be highly inaccurate. (It’s incredibly bizarre to watch a news report that you know is a load of bollocks because you’re right there and the reporter is not.) Thanks to the internet, we now have far greater access to trustworthy information, but the volume is often overwhelming. I don’t claim to have been following this as intently as I’d like – following anything intently other than my thirteen-month-old intrepid explorer is pretty much impossible! – but I would like to offer a few links and thoughts.
Firstly, some blog posts by people on the ground that make for interesting reading:
And some news reports and analysis:
The World Brief coverage on Bosnia is from approx. 1:30 to 17:00. It features discussion with Ambassador Muhamed Sacirbey that is well worth listening to. He and Pavlovic (a Sarajevo correspondent) make some important points about how when Bosnians are freed from the constraints of a corrupt system they work hard and are the bulwark of a healthy society. This says a lot about the problems Bosnia is facing and how the Bosnian people have been let down by the post-war authorities and infrastructure. It also features some footage of police and demonstrators shaking hands and embracing, an important balance to the media hype. This sort of camaraderie, along with the voluntary clean-up of damage by ordinary citizens, underscores the basic good will that exists. If these demonstrations end in violence it will be particularly unfortunate.
The one point I’d add to these discussions (particularly for the benefit of those who aren’t old enough to remember the war or who aren’t familiar with this part of Europe) is that while the lack of ethnic tension has been justly celebrated, it would be foolhardy and unjust to use this as an excuse to eliminate distinctions of nationality. As Sacirbey points out in his interview, the war was portrayed incorrectly as an ethnic war when the real issue was secession from the then Yugoslav Federation. I would add that the victims of the war were primarily those who objected to being subsumed into Yugoslavia and losing their identity as Croatians, Bosnians, and so forth. The Serbian war of aggression that used genocide and ethnic cleansing was done in the name of Yugoslavia, with the assistance of the Yugoslav National Army, and with the aim of subduing sovereign republics under the umbrella of Yugoslavia. This attempt to perpetuate Communism and its repression of national identity was the root of the war that lasted from 1991 to 1995, and any attempt now to extinguish national identity in Bosnia would be equally wrong and highly dangerous. This is just my opinion, of course, and I could be wrong, but there is no denying that the attempt to artificially unite ‘southern slavs’ as ‘Yugoslavs’ was a disaster. (And, no, just to be clear, I am not suggesting Bosnia should be partitioned – Dayton already did that most unjustly – only that the ethnic identity of Bosnians must be respected.) In short, all attempts by the media or other parties to cast this unrest as ‘ethnic’ should be resisted. The problems Bosnia is facing may be a legacy of the war, but they are not a continuation of the war. And this unrest is as much a legacy of Communism as it is of the war.
So much more could be said on this topic, but for now I’ll leave that to those who are in a better position to comment than me (in the links above).
Translated documents relating to the Bosnian protests may be found here. (h/t Satko Mujagic)
An excellent piece on the media distortion by Paulina Janusz.
And from Sarajevo Culture Bureau an opinion piece that adds some depth.
It’s not often you get the opportunity to do something practical to oppose genocide and ethnic cleansing. I’m very fortunate in that I have seen war firsthand, lived in a refugee camp, distributed humanitarian aid, and assisted in resettling refugees in both Australia and the United States. Many people are touched by the stories I’ve passed on and say they wish there was something they could do to help. Well, there is….
‘Pretty Village’ is a film made by a survivor of the Omarska concentration camp. It documents the testimonies of a number of people who are in the unique position of being able to bear witness to genocide because they were there. It is finished, but it needs just a little help to be put into cinema ‘print’, etc.. So, PLEASE make a pledge and be a part of this wonderful project. Strike a blow in the ‘good fight’. Send a message to the Serbs who continue to deny this crime (amongst others) that WE WILL NOT FORGET.
So, give up a few coffees or chocolate bars this week. You can pledge as little as 1 pound, so there are no excuses. Think of those who perished and how much better you’ll feel if you can say “I was a part of that project. I helped to ensure that the victims weren’t swept under the carpet.”
Tomorrow, the 9th of January, the Bosnian Serb Republic or Republika Srpska – the half of Bosnia that was awarded to the Serb aggressors in the Bosnian conflict – celebrates its foundation. It was twenty-two years ago that the Republika srpskog naroda Bosne i Hercegovine (Republic of the Serb People of Bosnia and Herzegovina) was proclaimed to be part of ‘Yugoslavia’.
But there is nothing to celebrate.
Apologists for the murder and destruction carried out in Bosnia revel in the false legitimacy accorded to Republika Srpksa by the Dayton peace agreement. They take advantage of its de facto status to demand recognition and respect.
I do not, however, have any respect for genocide denial. I do not recognise a political entity that was founded with the intent of annexing parts of Bosnia to create an ethnically pure Greater Serbia.
Some Serbs disingenuously argue that Republika Srpska cannot have been founded on genocide because it was proclaimed prior to the beginning of the war. This is akin to someone arguing that the Third Reich wasn’t founded on genocide because its inception was before the Nazis herded millions of Jews (and others) into concentration camps and exterminated them. Many Serbs also note that there is no evidence for genocide. This is, of course, complete poppycock and ranks amongst the most ludicrous of conspiracy theories.
The victims of the Srebrenica genocide, for example, have been painstakingly individually identified using DNA. The same processes continue to be used even now, so many years later, as more victims are unearthed in places such as Tomasica (pictured above). I shouldn’t have to even mention this evidence. Tomasica is recent news, not some event of generations ago. Our recognition of the genocide that occurred in Bosnia should be as commonplace as the recognition of the Holocaust or Shoah last century.
The reality, of course, is not as it should be. Tomorrow’s anniversary recognises a political entity that was not only founded on genocide but which continues to this day to deny the genocide even happened. So, tomorrow, please join me in remembering the victims of Republika Srpska. Stand in solidarity with the families of those who perished. There will be no genuine peace or justice in Bosnia while genocide denial is not only countenanced but propagated by those in leadership roles.
This is my ‘postcard’ to the world. What message will you send? Tomorrow, will you celebrate or will you mourn?
Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord….