Newmedia on Sat, 10 Apr 1999 19:21:41 +0200 (CEST)

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<nettime> Spin Cycle: Death of a Nation


Last night the Discovery Channel (the U.S. cable eco-channel, mostly showing 
copulating jungle creatures) went commercial-free and broadcast (twice) a 
3-hr. documentrary called "Yugoslavia: Death of a Nation."  Produced by BBC 
and Discovery and largely narratted by CNN's Christiane Amanpour, the show 
purported to "explain" the context for the present catastrophe.  Of course, 
it didn't but it's spin was nonetheless very curious.

Apparently a re-mix of an older and longer 5 hour "series" (offered for sale 
a the close), the show repeatedly cut from Amanpour to a male voice who 
"explained" that all this was inevitable since these people have been 
fighting each other for "generations stretching back into antiquity" and 
whose voice-over accompanied all of the newer footage showing Kosovo refugees.

Highlights (from the standpoint of "we aren't hearing that any more"):

-- "Ethic purity" and "Ethnic cleansing" were clocked as originating in the 
Albanian efforts to push Serbs out of Kosovo.  This in turn lead to the 1989 
-- At the first real peace-talks a major "up-yours" seems to have occured 
when Lord Carrington switched the language of the pre-arranged agreement to 
allow all "republics" to leave Yugoslavia -- therefore ending Yugoslavia.  In 
the interview, he ducks and says Milosevic's objections "didn't make sense."
-- Milosevic is clearly the only person who is trying to hold together 
Yugoslavia at all.  The West is consistently trying to divide and conquer.  
This is highlighted when Milosevic has to put the Montenegran leader under a 
bright light and he confesses that he has stabbed Serbia in the back by being 
given a massive "aid-offer" (really a bribe) by the Italians to vote for the 
Carrington plan.
-- the first "official" support for ethnic cleansing came from the West in 
their efforts to partition Bosnia.  The whole Dayton agreement revolves 
around forcing people to leave their homes.  Furthermore, the practice of 
burning villages so that people couldn't come back, appeared to originate 
with the Croatians as they pushed Serbs out.
-- the U.N. comes off as hopelessly out-of-control, making promises on the 
ground that they had no thought to fulfill and generally double-dealing.  The 
U.S. main-man in all this, Holbrook, also comes off as a real macho who is 
seriously insulted that he (and therefore the U.S.) would have to be 
negotiating at all -- as opposed to dictating --to this tiny two-bit 
nation-state.  He seems to want to "kick some ass."

There is no discussion of the difference between a multi-ethnic nation-state 
and a ethnicly pure nation, of course -- except the lead-in where it is 
announced that "nationalism" is destroying a "nation."  All that is clear, if 
after three hours of back-and-forth anything can be clear, is that the 
multi-ethnic nation-state of Yugoslavia was always in the cross-hairs of the 
West.  Europeans wanted to get rid of Tito's nation-state.

The idea of a sovereign multi-ethnic nation-state has been under attack for 
many years.  The European powers appeared very clearly in this piece to be 
leading this attack (by supporting the purity-seeking Croats and now 
Albanians) and Milosevic appeared to be the only real figure who was trying 
hold the Yugoslav nation-state together.

What a different spin!


Mark Stahlman

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