Progressive Politics Research and Commentary by Janette Rainwater
 
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    Minus Button which collapses the expandable menu How Milosevic Became the New "Hitler"
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  Minus Button which collapses the expandable menu You're in Charge: A Guide to Becoming Your Own Therapist
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How Milosevic Became the “New Hitler”

The demonization of Milosevic and the Serbian people beginning in the early ‘90s was partially accomplished by the efforts of Ruder Finn Global Public Affairs, a Washington-based public affairs firm, to accomplish this spin for their clients— the Republic of Croatia, the Republic of Bosnia-Herzegovina and the Albanian opposition that hoped to win independence for Kosovo.

The usual CIA propaganda tricks of endlessly repeated lies, faked pictures, and orchestrated demonstrations were used. “Speed is vital,” James Harff, Ruder Finn’s director, explained on French TV in April 1993, “it is the first assertion that counts. All [subsequent] denials are entirely ineffective.”

He further boasted of having “managed to put Jewish opinion on our side. This was a sensitive matter,” he added, “as the dossier was dangerous . . .the Croatian and Bosnian past was marked by real and cruel anti-Semitism. Tens of thousands of Jews perished in Croatian camps [during the Ustasha rule, 1941-1945], so there was every reason for intellectuals and Jewish organizations to be hostile toward the Croats and the Bosnians. Our challenge was to reverse this attitude and we succeeded masterfully.

“At the beginning of July 1992, New York Newsday came out with the article on Serb camps We jumped at the opportunity immediately. We outwitted three big Jewish organizations— the B’nai Brith Anti-Defamation League, the American Jewish Committee and the American Jewish Congress. In August, we suggested that they publish an advertisement in the New York Times and organize demonstrations outside the United Nations.

“That was a tremendous coup. When the Jewish organizations entered the game on the side of the [Muslim] Bosnians, we could promptly equate the Serbs with the Nazis in the public mind. Nobody understood what was happening in Yugoslavia. The great majority of Americans were probably asking themselves in which African country Bosnia was situated.

“By a single move we were able to present a simple story of good guys and bad guys which would hereafter play itself. We won by targeting the Jewish audience. Almost immediately there was a clear change of language in the press, with the use of words with high emotional content such as ethnic cleansing, concentration camps, etc. which evoke images of Nazi Germany and the gas chambers of Auschwitz. No one could go against it without being accused of revisionism.”

The interviewer commented, “But between 2 and 5 August 1992, when you did this, you had no proof that what you said was true. All you had were two Newsday articles.”

“Our work is not to verify information . . ..” Harff answered. “Our work is to accelerate the circulation of information favorable to us, to aim at judiciously chosen targets. We did not confirm the existence of death camps in Bosnia; we just made it widely known that Newsday affirmed it. . . . We had a job to do and we did it. We are not paid to moralize.”

[NATO in the Balkans, New York: International Action Center, 1998, pp 54-56, 188-189, .213-214.]

 

This site was last changed November 28, 2001. It was created on March 20, 1997.

© Janette Rainwater 1997-2001

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