VITAL SIGNSrnMEDIArnThe Media War inrnthe Balkansrnby Russell GordonrnMembers of the international pressrncorps, particularly photojournalists,rnoften define themselves as “objectivernobservers,” not participants or instrumentsrnin a conflict, just witnesses.rnBut as the events in the Balkans havernshown, this has not always been the case.rnFor five years the West has beenrnbombarded with images of brutality inrnthe Balkans, most of it attributed to onernside, the Serbs. By focusing on particularrnevents or interpretations of them, therncommon conclusion is that the Serbsrnwere indeed the culprits. U.N. Secretary-rnGeneral Boutros Boutros-Ghalirn(quoted by Peter Brock, Foreign Policy,rnWinter 1994), hinted at the problemrnwhen he said, “Today, the media do notrnsimply report the news. [The media] hasrnbecome part of the events it covers. . . .rnPublic emotion becomes so intense . . .rnthe problem may become simplified andrnexaggerated.”rnUnderstanding the conflict in the formerrnYugoslavia and the role that foreignrnpowers and the media played requires arndeeper understanding of the complexrnregional history and recent events thanrnthat portrayed in the mass media.rnDuring the late 1980’s, the United Statesrndiplomatically maneuvered for thernbreakup of Yugoslavia. Croatia secededrnin 1991 and persecuted ethnic Serbs.rnWhen ethnic Serbs further seceded andrnwere assisted by the Yugoslav military,rnonly the Serbs were labeled as “aggressors”rnfor “attacking Croatia,” not Croatiarnfor seceding or the United States andrnGermany for assisting in the U.N.-memberrnnation’s demise. Subsequently, onlyrnthe Serbs were isolated from the worid byrnsanctions and embargoes, which includedrnembargoing information. Across thernborder in Bosnia, Islamic fundamentalistrnA Bosnian Serb soldier leaves his familyrnfor the front.rnFamily mourns Serb soldier killed inrnBattle ofVukovar, East Slavonia.rnBishop Lavrentije ofSobac performs holy liturgy at St. Lazar’s Chetnik Church, nearrnBosnian border.rnleader Alija Izetbegovic pushed for independence.rnThe Bosnian Serbs refused,rnfearing Muslim domination after “^OOrnyears of brutal Ottoman rule and therngenocide of Serbs supporting the Alliesrnduring Wodd War II.rnIn 1992, the EU sponsored peace talksrnwith the leaders of Bosnia’s three mainrnethnic groups to avert a looming civilrnwar. An agreement was reached: the Cutilheirornplan would cantonize Bosnia intornethnic majority areas under a confederation,rnmuch like Switzerland. WhenrnIzetbegovic returned to Sarajevo, thernAmerican Ambassador to Yugoslavia,rnWarren Zimmermann, reportedly toldrnhim to renege on the agreement. Izetbegovicrnquoted Zimmermann as saying,rn”Why sign it if you don’t like it?”rnIzetbegovic reneged. Civil war brokernout.rnMuch of the blame, therefore, lies notrnwith the Serbs but with Izetbegovic, whorngoaded by America’s regional agendarnrebelled against the international community.rnWhy is it that any traditionallyrnSerb areas (some 64 percent of Bosnia,rnand almost 40 percent of the populace)rnwere called “Serb-held,” “so-called,” orrn”self-styled Republic” and “rebel Serbs,”rnby a press that claims objectivity, butrnwhich legitimized the creation of anrnethnocentric regime of the most extremernelements of one plurality?rn42/CHRONICLESrnrnrn