Why I decided to stop publishing comments

Communicating with the public is a part of the academic job (increasingly, a formal part, which our managers describe with the delightfully vulgar word “impact”). And from time to time I flatter myself that I might have something original to contribute or say — although if you look at my rate of posting, months go by at a time without that happening.

Probably most people would agree that a part of communication is dialogue. But what do we mean by dialogue? I tend to think it involves some way of taking a topic that is introduced and moving it forward, by raising questions, offering a different perspective, adding information to what has already been presented. That was at least the sort of thing I imagined might be promoted when I decided that this web site would be open to comments, but that the comments would be moderated and the moderation subject to explicit guidelines, which I wrote up as a “comments policy” (it is still around here on the site if you look). And why moderation? Well, mostly because the comments that you find on most free-for-all sites (I think YouTube is a popularly used example) are genuinely not worth reading, and also because in a previous incarnation of the blog I had a lot of unwanted experience with stalkers and the like.

You might say that it was foolish to imagine that idealised type of dialogue could appear anywhere in the online world. For the most part it did not appear here. And it was probably not reasonable to expect that it would, given that the topics covered at this site are frequent objects of controversy, close to the hearts of people who are poorly informed and righteously certain.

I am leaving up the comments that were received and approved when the site was taking comments. If you look through, you will find some sincere and interesting contributions and questions, and some moments of dialogue. But you will also find a lot of not especially interesting statements saying basically “I agree,” “I disagree” or “here is my pet theme that I will introduce into discussions on every topic from kittens to the proper rising temperature for yeast bread.” There’s some good reading in there, but mostly not reading worth putting time into.

Now, the comments you see are the ones that were approved because I looked at them and decided that they did not violate any of the standards that I put into the comments policy. But there are a lot more that you have not seen, because I deleted them. Here is what happens when you write something public about a controversial question: a whole lot of people who have previously standing passionate convictions on the question decide that they need to contribute something. But what they contribute is more often than not of a declarative character; the most frequent declaration is “fuck you.” What do you do when you get fifty “fuck yous”? Well, one approach might be simply to publish them on the ground that they are blessed with a certain representative quality. This is a fine option if you want the comments section to look like the Rosie Perez / Giancarlo Esposito scene in the film Night on Earth. It might also be possible to reply to them, but there is not really any variant of that sort of writing that appeals to me much. Or it is possible to delete them, which is what I generally did, figuring that they do not offer a meaningful and substantive contribution to dialogue and they are not material that many people care to read.

But here’s the thing: even deleting takes time, and I have a lot of other uses for my time. And there’s more: the low standard embodied by the “fuck yous” tends to lower the standard for everything surrounding them, so that some really pointless bits of text get through simply because I said, “Is it more eloquent than the person everyone avoids at bars? Check. Is it relatively of free of stomach turning racism/sexism/whatever? Check.” So some quantity of effort goes in, with a rate of return not even the IMF would envy.

There is probably also some reason to think a little bit about context. If the comments do not provide a wonderful reading experience, what happens if they are not there? In truth, probably nothing. The internet is enormous, and brimming with spots where people can agree, disagree, indulge their ideological or pottymouth instincts, you name it. So go for it. And as for dialogue, the people who have something to say generally know where to find me.  


A note to commenters and noncommenters…

…and to people who are in the second group but would like to be in the first.

Most of the time this is a blog that I maintain for the entertainment of myself and my friends. But then every once in a while a post goes up that lots of people see, and then it is time to remind people of the blog’s comments policy.

Comments on this site are moderated. If you would like to know why, just have a peek at a site where comments are not moderated or are “lightly” moderated, and the reason will be glaringly obvious.

The comments policy lists three types of comments that are welcome, and six types that are likely to be deleted. Usually when a topic that attracts political contention is involved, deleted comments are deleted for negative reasons #3 and #4. There are a few people who might want to take a look at the final sentence of the comments policy.

Update: Eh, I’ve just decided to turn comments off for future posts. The quality of the material is generally low, and dealing with it takes time.


Notes on a really lousy memorial service

kišobranSo by now you all know the story of young Aleksandar Vučić’s first visit to Potočari. He made a few silent gestures, got kissed by a couple of mothers, and pinned a symbolic flower on his jacket. Then some people yelled at him and threw some stuff and he ran away, taking the dignity of the 136 murder victims whose remains were to be interred that day, and the grace of the people who tolerated his presence, with him.

I already told you I thought it was bad idea for him to go there without a legitimate purpose and with nothing to say. It was easy to predict that his visit would be a fiasco, but it took a unique combination of forces to turn it into an utter disaster. What were some of those forces?

  • He came to a place where he knew there was good reason he would not be welcome. His visit came right after an unseemly fight with the majority of the members of the UN Security Council that ended with a veto  (also the only vote against) by Russia. Pravda celebrated the veto with the headline “Russia saves Serbia from execution,” and stalwart Serbian President Tomislav Nikolić revealed the extent to which he continued to identify the perpetrators by calling the veto “a great day for Serbia.” So for the guy who claimed the strategic evasion of responsibility a victory (Vučić thought the resolution was an effort to “trample” Serbia), and whose threat (check the date)  to murder one hundred Muslims for every dead Serb has been forgotten by nobody, to come by as a compromise and emptyhanded was at the least an empty gesture, and at most a provocation. The Mothers of Srebrenica (NB: this is a well organized, influential and very vocal group) welcomed him with grace nonetheless, sharing comforting words and a boutonniere. Listen, take it from an experienced person: Balkan mothers are tough, and one does not mess with them.
  • He thought his presence would be enough. Vučić was offered, but did not take, the opportunity to speak. The statements that he made were vague and empty – his reflexive verb form in his comment for the book of remembrance that he signed retreated to the image of “a terrible crime […] that happened” – a nameless crime committed, apparently, by nobody. To make the visit more meaningful than platitudes about “the hand of reconciliation,” he needed to say something substantive and meaningful. Since he did not, angry members of the public were free to hold a banner quoting back to him his 1995 threats about “a hundred Muslims.”  Lesson: to do reconciliation, you need to show up, but actual reconciliation requires actual listening, actual recognition, actual engagement. This way, he appeared to believe his government’s line that the best path to reconciliation is sustained silence.
  • Security fell down on the job. This point is so obvious it is not worth dwelling on.
  • The organizers made the event not just into a political event, but a bad one. You might ask why Vučić was there (lots of people did). Let’s ask some more questions. This was a funeral and memorial service. Why were any politicians there? Did Bill Clinton and Madeleine Albright need to be there, a week after the published account of them blocking efforts to protect the victims? Did Theodor Meron need to be there scanning the landscape for people to acquit? Did Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović need to come to be bizarrely described as “the Queen of the Balkans”? Did Borut Pahor need to be there to remind people of the continued existence of the least interesting country in the Balkans? These are instrumentalising appearances by public figures who see an opportunity for self-promotion in the suffering of others. Their presence puts the victims in the backstage, and makes the point that they cannot both be commemorated and have their integrity respected at the same time. If this is the case, it is hard to see in what way Vučić’s presence does not sadly fit.
  • The families of the 136 victims who were interred were treated disgracefully. The people who were getting a burial after 20 years (here is a list of their names – we are talking about human beings) were identified after years of investigation, during all of which time their families knew nothing. The families did not come, as Florian Bieber pointed out, to be retrospectively ethnified or religified. They did not come to be pushed into obscurity by a cartel of politicians and hooligans. And they certainly did not come to watch a gaggle of idiots throw rocks and bottles at a cipher. Munira Subašić offered the best summary: “this was not an attack on Vučić, it was an attack on our dignity.”

As for the attack itself, there have been commenters who have tried to interpret it as a sign of failed reconciliation, or as an expression of outrage directed at Vučić. These kinds of observations require assuming that the bottle-throwing rulja were in some way spontaneous or representative. Eyewitness accounts (no links, sorry, I’m getting them by mail) suggest something else, that it was a small group of people organized and strategically placed with the purpose of creating a disruption. As for their representativeness and sincerity, you tell me who shouts “God is great” while throwing things and chasing a person away at a funeral. There is really no dilemma here: if you are opposed to violence, that includes violence against Vučić. But I’ll leave the summary of it to my colleague Srđan Puhalo:

Screen Shot 2015-07-12 at 17.32.02

Vučić himself responded in a statement after the incident with characteristic measured cluelessness, observing (correctly!) that “there are idiots everywhere.” Not so the other high ranking officials, who accurately noticed the opportunity to relive their abandoned Chetnicity. Duke Tomislav Nikolić took the opportunity to wave around a carefully coddled 1992-vintage grievance and to claims that the incident “clearly shows what some Bošnjak political and religious leaders think of Serbs as a people.” Foreign minister Ivica Dačić called the incident “an attack on the whole Serbian people.” Defence minister Bratislav Teleprompter called it “an assassination attempt.” And Vulin, well, never mind, Vulin is special. Meanwhile Politika was partying like it was 1999, or 1993, like Vojko and Savle had risen from their graves and electricity was on the hajj. The following day they ran two columns by Lazanski. Good times for the undead.

The followup was also dominated by the question of who carried out the attack? Of course the question has an obvious answer: an assemblage of violent fuckwits. But two theories got some media publicity. The first, and most widely dispersed, theory was first advanced by Vučić himself, that it was “a group of football fans from Serbia.” This was later elaborated a bit by labour minister Rasim Ljajić, who suggested that they may have been Novi Pazar fans. Not to be outdone in anything (except, perhaps, by Informer), Kurir set in motion a rumour that it was members of an elite Bosnian military unit specially trained in the deployment of shoes and water bottles. Like all media blame theories these ones represent, of course, attempts to draw out and control the narrative, while feeding fear of imaginary ethnic opponents. The contradiction here is that the more well organised the attack, and the more specific the identification of the organisers, the weaker the effort of people like Nikolić and Dačić (did I mention Milorad Dodik and Željka Cvijanović? What would be the point?) to blame an entire national group.

So what follows from this ugly and lamentable series of events? As Lily Lynch has kindly pointed out, Vučić has shown many times before how semitalented he is at stealing the show, transforming stories that matter to humans into travesties of egomaniacal publicity. Remember that time he jetted off to Feketić to interfere with the work of actual rescue crews so that he could pose for photos in which he would appear to be saving a child?

Well, now he has what he wanted: the attention of the media. How about using it for something worthwhile? His “hand of reconciliation” is not going to impress anybody as long as it is empty. And he has some things that he can put into it. Here are three:

  • He can tell the truth, which he knows. It is time for a responsible public official to make the necessary public address that lays out the facts, gives an account of the crime, and details the way that it crosses borders. The party in power likes Russia? Kruschev offers a model to follow. Jasmin Mujanović rightly observed that this Security Council veto was going to come at a high price. Part of that price is going to be ending official denial. No interest of Serbia is served by lying to its citizens.
  • He can come clean on command, intelligence and supply. The genocide in Srebrenica was committed with transportation that came from Serbia, arms that came from Serbia, officers who whose salaries were paid by Serbia, and so on, from intelligence to political cover. Many of the documents that demonstrate this were withheld from ICTY and ICJ, as Serbia claimed the right to protect “state secrets.” If the interest of the state now is not the same as the interest of the state in 1995, it is time to publish those documents.
  • He can clear up the coverup. One of the main reasons that there are still missing persons is that victims of mass killings were moved and reburied in order to hide the evidence. The people who moved the bodies know where they moved them from and where they moved them to – and so do the intelligence services that Vučić controls. If politicians are serious about reconciliation, then they know that it cannot be achieved without resolution of facts. Some of the facts that investigators are looking for are known, but not by them.

Let’s put it this way: getting a rock in his head got Vučić a lot of good will. We can have different opinions about whether he deserved this good will or not. But we could have consensus on whether he used it for anything helpful.


More full text: There are few who dare to commemorate

mjesto-zlocinaThese interviews by e-mail produce archival treasures, n’est-ce pas? I answered some questions this week for Le Monde (you can only read the article if you are a subscriber, lo siento), but the source can offer you more: all of the text, including the parts the editors decided not to use. And as Sam Elliott says, “in English too.”

How did the discourses over guilt (of some) and (broader) responsibility for the massacre of Srebrenica evolve in Serbia this 20 last years? Which political events or social conditions were particularly decisive in this process? (Numerous testimonies and evidences have been produced. In this context, is denial still present,and to what extent? Which are the alternative positions?)

In July 1995, when the mass killings happened, they were not covered in media. In regional media the story was about control of the city changing hands. International media started publishing items about it later in the year on the basis of reports of large numbers of missing people. Jean Rene Ruez began investigating primary and secondary burial sites and execution sites in March 1996. So in the earliest period denial was fairly easy to do because so little was known. But this was no longer the case by the end of 1996. Still, before the first court verdicts, the main effort was to deny the facts.

You could see basic factual denial in the first RS report on Srebrenica in 2002. There you saw the basic strategies of factual denial: presenting civilian victims as combat fatalities (later, as prisoners of war), reducing their number, inflating the number of victims from surrounding villages. But the response to that report was to form a real commission, that produced its report in 2004. Their results were pretty close to what other investigations confirmed as the facts.

After that the pure denial position became more marginal, and it definitely became more marginal after the publicity that followed the broadcast of the “Scorpions” film in 2005. But what you could see developing was a changed set of strategies. One was to affirm the facts as much as possible, but to try to deny that they had any connection with military forces or the state, or to try to deny that they had the character of genocide. The other was to develop the tactic of competitive commemoration, like you can see with the constantly expanding memorial in Bratunac, where there is an effort to bring in victims from other places and other wars to try to bring the number close to parity with the number of Srebrenica victims.

These newer strategies have effects of that are similar to denial, but they are not simple denial of facts. What is disputed in them is contexts and interpretations. I have looked at them in my research as signs that the discourse of denial has some creative and responsive elements. It may not look like it at the moment it happens, but for officials to say “it’s a big crime but not a genocide” is after all meaningfully different from saying “it’s all untrue.”

The question may be whether the change represents progress. From a certain point of view it can, if you conceive of recognition as a process that takes time and think of changes in denial discourse as steps along the way. But there is another shift that still has to be made, and you could see it in the events around the Security Council resolution on Srebrenica. When the Serbian government calls an urgent session to generate a response to the resolution, and when president Nikolić calls the Russian veto “a great day for Serbia,” this means that people (at least the people in power) are still identifying themselves with the perpetrators. I think that the public is way ahead of the politicians on this, but this does not mean that the politicians will necessarily catch up any time soon.

Some civil society movements opposing the war were already present during the wars. I met several people from NGOs who were quite pessimistic about the future and about the future generation as well. Would you say that facing the past is a growing trend or remain the activity of a fringe minority in Serbia? What about eventual changes brought about by a generational change?

There are a couple of problems with the way that discourses about the past have been developing. One of main ones is that it is perceived by a lot of people as a project imposed from outside and carried by a small, relatively closed group of elites. Another is that there is a lot of fear of potential consequences – this is what you can see in the constant invocation of the nonsense formulation that one or another group “will be declared to be a genocidal nation.” A lot of these difficulties are compounded by the fact that political, cultural, religious and educational institutions have not been constructive participants. Basically the politicians were happy to hand the difficult work over to the Tribunal, and the other institutions were mostly happy to continue occupying the populist positions that had been profitable for them during the Milošević regime.

This means that everything that has been happening has been happening without leadership, or in spite of the obstructions imposed by leadership. But even under these conditions, you can see that activity is possible. People want to know the facts, and they want to be able to understand and recognise each other – politics cannot stop this from happening, it can only make the process slower. We tend to concentrate on irresponsible politicians, but if we look at events like the 7000 protests, the voluntary schools and seminars that are organised, the independent fact-finding activities, the artists exploring the taboos of memory, you begin to get a picture of a society that is pretty engaged. I think that over time people who are now young are going to want to know what has been withheld from them and get rid of the guilt that the older generation has imposed on them. But this a process that takes place slowly, with more failures than successes along the way.

When we listen to actual speeches of political leaders, it seems that almost everyone is supporting reconciliation. Yet diplomatic “incidents” happen regularly (I’m thinking for instance of the recent disputes over Naser Oric’s arrest and the resolutions’ dispute). Is the reconciliation seen by political leaders only as a conditionality element or are they genuinely concerned about it? In the same logic, is the refusal of these political leaders to call the massacre of Srebrenica a genocide, yet having strong words to condemn the killings (Tomislav Nikolic being “on his knees, asking for forgiveness for Serbia” in 2013 for instance) the translation of contradictory feelings/strategies?

There is no image that encapsulates the attitude of most of the political elite more effectively than the moment Nikolić said he was “on his knees.” The video is instantly available; you can see that he was sitting comfortably in a big armchair.

Reconciliation is a difficult problem even for people who are serious about it. It is a category that is not defined, and while we might be able to recognise when it has not happened there is no good way of determining that it has happened or how far it has gone. But maybe it is possible to suggest that reconciliation becomes possible at the moment when people are able to recognise one another as fellow humans, and to understand that the problems that different people face are similar and require approaches that are taken together. This may be one of the reasons why one of the first groups to concretely reconcile – to form joint groups and campaigns, and provide assistance to one another – have been associations of war veterans from opposing sides. They know that they all have similar needs, and they know that those needs are being neglected by different political leaderships in the same way. But even for them, to be prepared to do that, they had to be prepared to hear one another’s experiences, and to think of themselves as part of a group that was not just defined by ethnicity and opposition to one another.

As for the politicians, they are not serious about it. Part of the recent dispute over commemoration of Srebrenica has involved a lot of politicians claiming that mentioning or defining facts was a “threat to reconciliation.” The only possible conclusion is that they think that “reconciliation” is a synonym for “amnesia.” And going back to Nikolić, that it can be achieved by claiming to make gestures that they are not making. The politicians are going to be left behind by people who care.


Nothing but the whole (text about) truth

typewritersNo complaints on this article on debates over Srebrenica! It’s a detailed, thoughtful piece, quotes a range of people, and even plugs my little book (which is a wonderful book, everyone should buy it and possibly even read it, and if you want a 20% discount off the outrageous price, use the code P5P9). But I told the journalist a lot more than what she used — this is normal — and maybe some of it could be interesting and useful, and maybe also help to make sense of that first quotation, which I think comes across as a little bit overly dismissive. So here is the complete texts of the questions and answers.

  1. How important is it for all communities in Bosnia to agree on recognizing Srebrenica executions as genocide?

If you look at it from the legal point of view, “genocide” is an attribution that is based on establishing that certain types of crimes were committed “with an intent to destroy” a group “in whole or in part.” What this means is that the attribution of genocide is not a statement about the size or scale of a crime, or how horrible it is. A “crime against humanity,” for example, is also large and horrible. It is a conclusion about the state of mind of the people who committed the crime, in particular that the crime took place as part of a policy or a goal.

On the one hand, this has been pretty well established as a matter of fact. The statements of RS political and military authorities establish that permanently changing the population, by violence if necessary, was an aim of the war. Courts have been less inclined to accept that the overall political, military and material support that Serbia provided to assist in this goal shows a genocidal intent. On the other hand, there is something illogical about the judicial record so far. It makes very little sense to say that in a violent project that had genocidal aims, and that took place over a period of three years, only one genocide was committed in only one place. This can change when the verdicts are in for Karadžić and Mladić, particularly considering the admission of the Tomašica lake evidence in the Mladić case, but there is a constraint, since the overall effect of the Tribunal’s findings in the Perišić and Stanišić-Simatović cases suggest that it is coalescing around the narrative that what happened was a legal war during which some crimes took place, as opposed to the narrative that the war was conducted in pursuit of illegal goals.

But in a way, all of this is immaterial, because only lawyers pay attention to the legal definition. The political debate over whether there was a genocide is not about these questions, but about what different parties perceive as being the consequences of an attribution of genocide. For people interested in human rights and the interests of the victims, it seems to be largely about recognition of the dignity of victims and of their status as noncombatants. For politicians representing Bošnjak „national“ parties, it is about an attribution that can be used to deploy political capital and make morally based claims. And for politicians representing Serbian „national“ parties, it is about fear of losing political capital, which is usually expressed in terms of the threat of being declared a „genocidal people“ (this is a label that exists only in political rhetoric and nowhere in law, so there is no way of being declared a „genocidal people“ and there are no consequences for being one).

What does this mean about communities agreeing? Probably it will be easier for people from different groups to agree about the facts of the case than about the meanings attributed to it. As inescapable as it is, the debate over whether the crime was a genocide or not seems to do more harm than good. If that question were set aside, and communities could concentrate on establishing facts, recognising and affirming victims, compensating people for suffering, and encouraging mutual understanding. But of course that will not and cannot happen.

  1. Comparing Srebrenica case to similar cases around the world, what do you estimate how long does it take for divided communities to reach an agreement on common truth about historical facts?

As a general rule it might be possible to say that there can be socially encompassing discussion of the facts once the point is reached that they do not matter anymore, that is, that nobody is any longer exercising political power whose career depends on what facts are established. This is at least a potential conclusion based on the experience of Germany after the Second World War. The Nuremburg trials (these after all took place under the auspices of a military tribunal formed by the victors in the war) were followed by two decades of silence – until a new generation took interest, and the ability to block their pursuit of their interest had become very weak. Once the process got started, however, it was very thorough. Germany is probably the best example anybody can point to of a society that has produced a reliable consensual account of its past, and where this process has made its way through every institution, and through education and culture.

The long time frame might look discouraging, but it may be the cost of trying to carry out memory work in a democratic society. The only faster means are authoritarian: revenge, imposed consensus, mythology. If you look at the continuing debates over Ustashas, Chetniks, and so on, it might be interpreted to mean that the effort to establish a Partisan narrative was at least partly unsuccessful: it did not involve public dialogue or recognition of victims, it left grievances and unanswered questions. When people started picking up the story later, they did it through the lens of caricatures and distortions.

If we look at what has happened in the Balkans since 2000, it might be possible to point to two more problems that will present obstacles to agreement. One is that people whose political power depended on violence during the war were not removed from power (some arrangements like Dayton guaranteed them a place in power). The other is that the largest part of the work in establishing facts has been done by people outside of the societies involved, especially through the Tribunal – a lot of people in the societies feel like they have been excluded from the discussion. If anyone listens to Tribunal proceedings in the region at all anymore, it probably happens that repeatedly hearing foreign lawyers making pronunciations like “Carra-ditch” does more to bring home the point that local people are alienated from the process than any of the evidence presented reveals facts about what happened.

  1. Do you think that it is possible for Bosnian Serbs and Muslims to share a common truth on Srebrenica? Why?

There is a very strong tendency to reduce perceptions of what people think to the things that people in high political positions say. I think that this is a terrible mistake, and that it is really necessary to go below that surface and pay attention to the conversations and interactions that people have privately, in their everyday lives. In this sense, I have been following discussions, for a long time, and it seems like there has really been a lot of change. Not all of it is visible in the way political institutions behave, but it’s there.

First of all, pure denial used to be one of the dominant narratives, but now it is completely marginal, confined to some small groups of ideologists, extremists, and Dodiks. Even the new official discourse that “there was a crime, but it was a bit smaller, or it was not genocide, or there were other crimes too” is a step away from the way that conversations were highly polarised in the 1990s. Over the last two or three years I see a lot of gestures of reaching across from all “sides.” One of my favourite examples is this song by Frenkie (Adnan Hamidović). But every year there are more of these, in music, literature, film and theatre.

The fact that culture is leading the way makes for a very strong condemnation of political, religious and educational institutions. For a long time they have either been absent or have been active in a way that intensifies differences and tensions rather than helping to resolve them. This could change, but it will change more slowly than the ability of people living in the societies to communicate with and understand one another. It may just be my idiosyncratic experience, but for me it is hard to avoid the impression that people in the Balkans (other parts of the world too!) are basically decent and understanding. And that sometimes it can take a long while for their politicians to catch up with them.

As for sharing a common truth – it might not be necessary for people to do this. What we call “truth” is an assemblage of interpretations and contexts, and in history there are not too many of these. Rather than “truth,” it is probably more important to have a set of facts that are known, that are well established, and that everybody accepts. They might continue to mean different things to people living in different contexts, but this is not a problem if people respect one another’s experiences. We spend too much time comparing the world we live in to the perfect one in our imagination, when all we really need is a world that is decent enough.


Neither serious nor sorry, Alek goes to Potočari

ne boj se buke, to sto svira to su ruke
Ulice znaju bolje.

So Serbian prime minister Aleksandar Vučić won the „emptier gesture than Tadić“ category, and will be making his way to the commemoration of the twentieth anniversary of the Srebrenica genocide. What will happen there? A few pious words, penned by somebody else, may scamper their way across his livery lips. They will have been calculated to avoid mentioning the character of the event at which they will be spoken. Meanwhile, Alek will nervously sweat, hoping that none of the people present will remember who he is.

How did he get there? By making a deal: if the UK Foreign Office (which has no credibility on the issue of human rights – the occasional celebrity photo-op aside) proposes a Security Council resolution that does not use the word „genocide,“ then Russia (which has no credibility on the issue of reconciliation) will not veto it. In exchange, Vučić (who has no credibility on human decency), will make motions simulating respect for victims.

This gives him the opportunity to join a host of profound-looking people also engaged in a spell of greenwashing. The representatives of the international community will be there, taking a day to emulate respect for the victims of violence before they return to their day jobs enabling the people who profit from the conditions created by violence. Representatives of the US and UK will be there, fresh off a new set of reports about how they prevented peacekeepers from carrying out their obligation to protect victims. If we are lucky, Carl Bildt may pontificate, though as pontiffs go he is more Pius XII or Benedict XVI than Bergoglio.

All the while, from the usual positions the usual things will happen. Dodik will continue to call the recording of history a „conspiracy against Serbs.“ Tomislav Nikolić will continue to write letters to apolitical figures hoping to dilute the facts in a stew of „Armenians, Jews, Roma, Ethiopians, numerous Africans, indigenous Australians, indigenous Americans, the autochtonous peoples of South America, Russians, Belorussians, Ukrainians, Chinese, and unfortunately many others.“ In Bajina Bašta, a group of people will do something a whole lot like what a similar group of people did at the Belgrade Law Faculty ten years earlier. Trading a word in a resolution for a trip to the country won’t change that.

As the spectacle continues to draw attention, there will be a lot of things that people do not know. They will not know that the Serbian Parliament is being compelled to consider, by a group of its members, a resolution that says a good deal more than any of the resolutions proposed before the Security Council ever did. They will not know that 7000 people in Belgrade will be carrying out a massive show of solidarity. They will not know that people are refusing to be represented by the worst among them.