for the El Paso Herald-Post, has traveled to Bosnia and surroundingrnareas and written a number of informative, objectivernreports. He has also written two lengthy articles for magazinesrnspecializing in foreign affairs, detailing the anti-Serb bias of thernmedia, and he is currently writing a book on the civil war.rnMoreover, David Binder of the New York Times has written severalrnfactual reports that reflect favorably on the Serbs, onlv tornsee them suppressed by his own paper. Fortunately, some ofrnthe spiked articles have been published elsewhere. Several objectivernarticles have also found their wav into nonmainstreamrnmagazines, including Chronicles.rnSome British and French journalists have also issued unbiasedrnreports. At least one French correspondent, Jacques Merlino,rnhas written a book showing how the reality of the Yugoslavrnconflict is not being told truthfully. A British journalist notedrnparenthetically in May 1995 that if the Serbs “were openlyrnboasting about offensives under preparation, the massed ranksrnof the international media would be crying foul. But the responsernis muted when the Bosnian government trashes itsrnsolemn commitments to the international community.”rnMoreover, the media defame the Serbs for violating the socalledrnsafe havens, but fail to point out that the Muslims havernused these havens as staging areas for military attacks on thernSerbs. Additionally, the media, far from vilifying the Croatsrnwhen they destroyed the historic bridge at Mostar or condemningrnthe Muslims when they smashed the monument to NobelrnLaureate Ivo Andric at Visegrad, paid scant attention, hi Mayrn1995, when Croatia launched a massive assault against thernSerbs in the “U.N.-protected” area of Western Slavonia, the internationalrncommunity uttered a mild rebuke. Also in May,rnwhen the Bosnian Muslims broke the ceasefire (previously brokeredrnby former President Carter) and the Bosnian Serbs shotrnback, NATO launched air strikes against the Serbs. And lastrnAugust, when Croatian troops overran another “United Nationsrnprotected” zone (Krajina) and carried out the largest “ethnicrncleansing” of the whole Yugoslav conflict, there was no condemnationrnby the United States. To the utter disbelief ofrnAmericans of Serbian background, the Clinton administrationrnviewed it as an improved opportunity for peace. To this day,rnUnited Nations reports continue to be filed on the mass killingrnof Serbs who refused to flee and on the Croatians who destroyedrnand stole Serbian property (buildings, livestock, andrneven dogs).rnWhat has puzzled Americans of Serbian ancestry, but alsornmany other informed Americans, is that while President Clintonrnhas at different times referred to the conflict as a civil war,rnand has even said that the United States is not taking sides, concreternacts of his administration have consistently favored thernMuslims. The most vivid actions were American aircraft droppingrnbombs and launching Cruise Missiles against BosnianrnSerb targets in September 1995, leading one American officerrnto observe that the Americans had become the Muslim AirrnForce. And as indicated above, our assistance to the Croats hasrnbeen such that even Croatian cabinet ministers publicly tookrnpride in American help.rnTo an extent, Americans of Serbian background have seenrnsome support for their position by the admissions of formerrnSecretary of State James Baker and former French PresidentrnFrancois Mitterrand: that Western policies toward the Yugoslavrncrisis were not only in error but even contributed to the tragedy.rnBaker recalled that his original position was right, that thernUnited States should have taken up the question of recognizingrnsecessionist Yugoslav republics only after they had reached politicalrnsctdements. He has pointed out that the unilateral declarationsrnof secession by Slovenia and Croatia, and the use ofrnforce to accomplish them, was in violation of the Helsinki Accords,rnacts which precluded peaceful negotiations and consequentlyrnled to a vicious civil war. Be it noted that Baker is thernonly major American political leader involved in the Yugoslavrnpolicy to have made such an admission. There was also somernsatisfaction in President Jimmy Carter’s assertion that thernBosnian Serb side of the story had not been told in the Americanrnmedia. Similarly, in a newspaper interview in Septemberrn1994, Mitterrand revealed that he had originally opposed thernhasty recognition of the secessionist republics; he asserted thatrnhe could sec no justification for converting communist Tito’srnadministrative internal borders into international ones.rnIn the United States, however, hatred of the Serbs seems torncontinue undiminished. In fact, last year the United States discoveredrna new way to fight the Serbs—suspending the SocialrnSecurity checks of Americans currently living in Serbia or Montenegro.rnThe checks are to be held at the American Embassy inrnBelgrade until the sanctions are lifted, when many of these retireesrnmay be dead.rnMost Americans of Serbian descent accept what they seernwith a certain fatalism, and ascribe it to stupidity. At the samerntime, they are distraught because they arc unable to detect arnmore believable explanation. They wonder why TV anchorsrnand other journalists keep repeating the same misinformation,rneven when mistakes are pointed out to them. And they arernbothered by failures to make corrections or to offer apologies.rnMoreover, they see a certain irony in the sameness of the anti-rnSerb bashing, as if it were directed by a central propaganda office,rnreminiscent of Agitprop (office of agitation and propaganda)rnin communist states.rnThere is an awareness among these Americans that Europe’srngreat powers, including their supposed friend, Russia, “soldrnout” the Serbs. Thcv argue that what policymakers in the Westrnfail to understand is that, given this background, the Serbs arernreluctant to be anyone’s satellite. The Serbs may like certainrnforeign nations, but they do not want to be under the thumb ofrnany one of them. They want to deal with all countries openly,rnequally, and freely. They want to be the sole judges of what isrnright and proper for them, while respecting similar rights forrnothers.rnSome Americans of Serbian descent arc inclined to say,rn”Cry, beloved country, for the demonizing of your historicrnfriends and allies, and for the shame and pain that your actionsrnhave caused to their descendants in our midst,” but they are alsornheartened by South Africa’s Alan Paton, who saw that therndawn would come to dispel the darkness and end the bondagernof heartless cruelty and immoral injustice.rnIn the end, however, what these Americans, and especiallyrnthose who came as immigrants, have most in common is theirrnconcern about the moral image of America. They know thatrnthe Serbs never viewed the United States as cold and heartless,rnthe way that they looked upon Britain, Russia, and other greatrnpowers. Somehow Americans were different. They were a beaconrnof hope—of fairness and justice. But American policymakersrnhave recently tarnished this image, and Americans ofrnSerbian ancestry wonder why. Most important of all, they wonderrnwhether America’s tattered reputation can ever be repaired,rnthe wounds ever healed.rn26/CHRONICLESrnrnrn