The 24th Anniversary of the Srebrenica Massacre

On July 11, 1995 Srebrenica fell to the Bosnian Serbs led by Ratko Mladic. In the days and weeks prior to the Serbs taking the city, approximately 8,000 Bosnian Muslim men and boys were systematically killed, including those trying to flee the city and into and through the woods and forests to reach safety from the Srebrenican Massacre. Muslims fleeing the city sought refuge with the UN Peacekeeping contingent from Holland. Rather than protect them, the Dutch turned them over to Mladic’s forces. The men and boys were separated and massacred, while the women and girls were distributed by Mladic’s forces throughout the region.

The Srebrinican Massacre was the worst mass killing in Europe since the end of World War II and the Holocaust. The remains of many, if not most of the victims of the massacre were never found, identified, and or returned. Over a thousand Bosnian Muslims are still considered missing. Today, on the 24th anniversary, they were able to return the remains of 33 newly identified sets of remains.

More remains are found every year.

Unfortunately, in 2019, many of the Bosnian Serb officials, especially those aligned with Russia, continue to deny the massacre and the larger genocide it was a part of. Instead they continue to push the same dangerous, racist, exclusionary, and eliminationist rhetoric that their predecessors used in the 1990s.

Although the mass killings were branded genocide by international courts, Serbian and Bosnia Serb officials refuse to use the term. They did not send official delegations to the commemoration on Thursday.

Nenad Popovic, an openly pro-Russian minister in Serbia’s government, said in a statement that “there was no genocide in Srebrenica and Serbs will never accept to be stamped as genocidal people.”

He said Serbia should rethink its goal of becoming a European Union member because of such claims.

Open thread.

Lights For Liberty: July 12 “A Vigil to End Human Detention Camps”

Yesterday I made a comment about wanting to participate in some type of physical action in regards to the detention camps. A friend directed me to this:

There is a group meeting at the Aurora, CO ICE facility. I’ve signed up.

Here’s the website for the national organization.  Lights for Liberty. org

Let me know if there are any other events/protests/interventions you know of.

Open thread

Dulce Et Decorum Est

I spent Memorial Day on holiday with the extended family, touristing around Chania, the old Venetian stronghold on the western side of Crete* — which meant that the holiday mostly passed me by until reading Adam’s post.

As it happens, though, my book for the day was Pat Barker’s Regeneration, the first of a trilogy.  The work uses the historical encounter between anthropologist and psychologist William Rivers and the poet-officer Siegfried Sassoon to explore (among much else) the impact of realizing that a war limned in the language and cant of glory or duty or courage is, instead, a meaningless meat grinder.

It’s very good…I’d heard of it for years but it took a stop at the Tank Museum in Dorset, with a discount paperback in the gift shop and a sun-and-sand vacation in prospect to get me to read it. I’m sorry to have waited so long, though given how much the Battle of Crete still comes up in local historical memory, maybe I got to it in just the right time and place.

But all this meandering ambles to this point (I do have one!): I’ve never served. I do not presume to speak for or at those who have.  I try to think and feel like a citizen who must give consent to the government that orders others to fight for the polity as a whole.  My minimum responsibility is to try to understand what war costs before giving even tacit assent to conflicts entered into notionally on my behalf.

So, over the last six decades, my sense of war began as one of XY kid fascination — with my dad’s and my uncles’ service, and with all the minutiae of World War II naval warfare in an obsession that lasted to a couple of years past puberty — and opposition to the Vietnam War picked up as local and family culture growing up in Berkeley.

But then came the books. In my teens I began to read books on war that weren’t straightforward military history or kids’ versions of Jane’s Fighting Ships and its ilk. There were two that had a decisive impact on my thinking about war: Robert Graves’s Goodbye to all That and Sassoon’s George Sherston trilogy, Memoirs of a Fox-Hunting ManMemoirs of an Infantry Officer; and Sherston’s Progress.  Graves’s book was memoir; Sassoon fig-leafed with a pseudonym, but his is similarly an account of a pre-war life spent as an unspeakable in pursuit of the inedible, transformed by what came after August 1914.  Both, appear in Barker’s novel, where she made  good use of the way Sassoon in particular tried to express the daily intolerable, and, more awfully, the mundane inhumanity of the war in ways even the most complete home-front hero could grasp.

He and Graves failed in that, of course; the war drumming about Iran from men and a political party that won’t for a moment put themselves or their own kids at risk is only the latest case in point. For me, though those books had a profound impact on my 16 or 17 year old brain.  I can’t claim to be a complete pacifist; wars always represent failures to achieve ends by other means, but when such failures occur…

But the message I drew from the “Great War” remembrances, and then later from works like Herr’s Dispatches; and still later, O’Brien’s The Things They Carried, read pretty recently to keep company with my son’s high school reading list; and novels like Catch 22, which even at 17 I realized wasn’t actually a comedy, hilarious as it was, and so on…is that asking folks to fight for any reason but the most utterly compelling is the ur-war crime.  That’s how I see it still.

All of which is prelude to the question for all of y’all.  “Favorite” isn’t quite the right word, but perhaps this will do:  what is the book that makes war most real to you?  What work or works of literature or remembrance or history has moved you or altered views or simply made a difference to you? What would you have me read to understand how you think and feel and reason morally around violence and conflict?

And with that: over to the Jackalteriat!

*Dirty job and all that, but someone’s got to do it.°

°Well, in fact, no one has to do it.  But I’m happy enough to volunteer.

Image: John Singer Sergent, Gassed, 1919.

Columbine: 20 years

It never gets easier. It’s difficult to realize these beautiful children might now have children of their own. Maybe one of them would have run for office or become the scientist who solved climate change.

It was awful when it happened, so close to home. What I didn’t realize was it was going to keep happening….


The Coup Will Be Televised

This just in:

President Trump will support a sweeping budget and border compromise and declare a national emergency at the same time, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said Thursday.

McConnell has already signaled he’ll support Trump’s move.

Until its members prove otherwise, the Republican Party is all-in on government by executive fiat, better known as a dictatorship. We appear to be at gut-check time for American democracy.

I’m sure I and/or other FPers will be posting more as events advance. I can say for my part I’ve never feared more for our polity.

PS:  Alternate image:

Image: The Downfall of the Dictators is Assured British propaganda poster betw. 1939 and 1945.

Alternate image: Painting of the USS Dictator — a monitor at war with America’s home-grown traitors in 1864 and 1865