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Heroic Croat General Fought US Intervention in Bosnia in 1993. Took His Life at the Hague to Keep on Fighting

Bosnian Croat general, Slobodan Praljak, took his life in a Hague courtroom with words of defiance: "General Praljak is not a war criminal and with contempt I discard your verdict"

If you want an example on how pervasive and successful imperial media narratives are look no further to RT's report on the Bosnian Croat general, Slobodan Praljak, drinking a vial of poison on camera at the "Hague tribunal".

Though the headline for the report now says "Convicted Bosnian Croat ex-general dies after drinking poison at Hague tribunal" initially, the headline, text and RT's video all spoke of a "Bosnian Croat war criminal" instead.

So even RT, which is supposed to be this big thorn in the Empire's side, is actually informed about much of the world by western regime media, and its first instinct on anything that is not immediately Russia-related is to copy-paste CNN.

Why would Slobodan Praljak be a "Bosnian Croat war criminal"? He was indeed "convicted", but by whom? The so-called International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia. That is a court established by a UN Security Council resolution. Trouble is the Security Council has no judicial authority. As such it can not delegate powers to a court it does not have itself. The truth is the ICTY is illegal under UN's own rules. 

But perhaps RT thought it was safe to presume Praljak was indeed a "war criminal" because he is a Croat? By reputation, the ICTY is an anti-Serb court, so if a Croat was convicted he must have been a bad character indeed? RT itself engages in this sort of ethnic accounting: 

Questions have been raised over the fairness of the international prosecution of crimes committed during the Balkan Wars. Of the 161 individuals indicted by the ICTY, the body created specifically to prosecute wartime crimes, 94 are ethnic Serbs, compared to 29 Croats, nine Albanians and nine Bosniaks.

Actually, this kind of accounting is worse than worthless. Surely if the question is fairness, what matters is not the ethnicity of those repressed by the ICTY but instead in what war they took part and on what side? 

94 convictions meted out to Serbs, and 29 to Croats sounds almost fair. After all wasn't there a war with Croats on one side, and Serbs on the other? And weren't Croats favored by the west in that one, while the Serbs were demonized? So if anything it sounds as if the ICTY is more balanced than the hysterical war-time imperial propaganda.

Except in reality, none of the 29 convicted Croats was repressed for crimes against Serbs. Every single Croat convicted by the ICTY, who did not have his sentence overturned was a Bosnian Croat convicted for his part in the Croat-Muslim war in Bosnia where the Bosnian Croats were the western-designated black hats, and the Bosnian Muslims the white hats.

If the convictions are not sorted by ethnicity, but by the sides they fought on in the four distinct conflicts that ICTY takes it upon itself to adjudicate, we see that in every single case the side backed by the empire was treated lightly, and the side marked by the empire for intervention was dealt with harshly.

According to my slightly outdated tally from 2013, for the 1991-95 Croat-Serb war in Croatia the ICTY condemned 4 men on the Serb side for a combined 75 years, no one from the Croatian side. For the Kosovo war of 1998-99 it condemned 6 men from the Serbian side to a combined 122 years in prison. 2 men from the Albanian side for a combined 19 years. For the 1992-1995 Bosnian war, it condemned 44 men to 665 years (and 2 life sentences) from the Serb side, 6 men from the Muslim-Croat side for a combined 50 years. And finally, for the 1993-94 Muslim-Croat war it condemned 17 men from the Bosnian Croat side to a combined 268 years, and 3 men from the Muslim side for a combined 8 years and a half. (Needless to say, no Americans were convicted for anything.)

Right away we can see that Bosnian Serbs and Bosnian Croats were treated the most harshly. Bosnian Croats actually accumulated more prison time than either Serbs from Serbia (for the Kosovo war) or Serbs from Croatia (for the 1991-95 war in Croatia). Moreover, Bosnian Croats actually accumulated more prison time than Croats from Croatia. 

So then were Bosnian Croats particularly vicious? Not exactly. At some 17 percent before the war, they were the smallest ethnic group in Bosnia, and the weakest side in the war. As a result of wartime expulsions and emigration (most refugees never returned permanently), their numbers have since dropped from 750,000 before the war to just 500,000. During the war, they could muster some 50,000 men which made their army several times smaller than that of the Bosnian Serbs, Bosnian Muslims, or Croats in Croatia.

Uniquely, of all the sides in the Yugoslav war, they never held the upper hand. From start to finish of the 1993-1994 Muslim-Croat war they were always on the defensive, and always losing land. There were five subsequent Bosnian Muslim offensives in Central Bosnia, each of which succeeded in chipping away more territory (albeit at a considerable cost). There is no such example of an offensive that nets significant gains by the numerically inferior Bosnian Croats. 

The simple truth is that of all the sides in Bosnia, the Croats, owing to their military weakness, had the least opportunity to engage in war crimes. While the single biggest (and by far the most publicized) massacre of the Muslim-Croat war was carried out by Bosnian Croats, Muslim massacres against them were more numerous. Where Bosnian Croats expelled some 50,000 Muslims, these, in turn, expelled over 150,000 Croats. 

Though western media and the ICTY (helped by locals yearning for intervention on their side) painted a picture of the war in Bosnia as one between white hats defending against war crimes and black hats pursuing war crime as ideology, the simple truth is that the sides did not differ in the way they made war. What they differed in was opportunity.

Thus for example, while there is no doubt that Bosnian Serb war goal in Bosnia was more just (less imperialistic) than the war goal of the Bosnian Muslim side (Bosnian Serbs did not oppose an independent Bosnian Muslim state of some size, the reverse was not true), there is also no doubt that Bosnian Muslims expelled and killed fewer Bosnian Serb civilians than the other way around. Not because they were any less prone to commit such acts, but simply because they were on the back foot militarily to the much better-armed Serbs during most of the war.

Situation in mid-1993, the height of the Muslim-Croat war: tiny embattled Croat enclaves (blue) in a sea of green (only two of those enclaves would survive the year)

In this context, the western diplomatic, military and propaganda support for the Bosnian Muslims against the militarily weaker Bosnian Croats is especially instructive. By 1993 the Bosnian Muslims were seen as the main victims of the demonic Serbs and therefore they could now do no wrong. Right or wrong, they were America's team now.

Thus, as subsequent Bosnian Muslim offensives against Croats — spearheaded by weapons and Arab jihadis brought in by the US — unfolded, and thousands of Croats from Central Bosnia were streaming into Herzegovina as refugees, or finding themselves cut off in tiny and ever-shrinking enclaves surrounded by enemies on all sides, western media attention focused firmly on Mostar in Herzegovina — the one and only place where Croats marginally held the upper hand instead.

The reality is that US-Islamist intervention in Bosnia first cut its teeth in the offensives against Croats of Central Bosnia. 1993 offered a relative lull in fighting for the Bosnian Serbs. Having inherited the arsenals of the former federal army, the Serbs quickly established control over nearly all areas they sought in the first nine months of the war, and were now content to sit at bay. At the same time, however, even with US help, the Bosnian Muslim army was still nowhere strong enough to try and push back the Serbs (as it would turn out it would never become capable of that).

However, the much weaker Bosnian Croats, who had helped resist the Serb tide but who likewise were not willing to accept a unitary Muslim-dominated Bosnia, were another matter. With little luck, they could be broken. Of course, that couldn't be the story in the media. That needed to be something else. And so it was. While Croat villages of Central Bosnia burned, courtesy in part of US backing, the story on CNN, endlessly repeated, was instead of hate-filled Croat war criminals blowing up an architecturally significant bridge in Mostar. (Built by Catholic serfs and used to resupply Bosnian Muslim fighters. Even the ICTY later ruled the bridge was a legitimate military target, but by then the media hysteria over its destruction had long served its purpose.)

Slobodan Praljak, like other Bosnian Croats, was someone who found himself fighting a US-backed enemy. His conviction by the ICTY means nothing. To understand that, you can look into how the ICTY combines European and Common Law traditions to eliminate the checks and balances of either, makes up rules on the spot, and invents new crimes ("joint criminal enterprise") that no one has ever been tried for before and require no direct proof for a conviction. Or you can merely understand that Praljak was unlucky enough to be a commander in a side that found itself on the wrong end of US intervention in Bosnia.

To his credit he resisted to the end, and took his life in an act of protest against the empire. War criminal? How about a hero.

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