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April 02, 2008

Down In The Mass Grave With A Calculator*

Christopher Hitchens is very, very angry at Hillary Clinton:

[W]hat had happened to the 1992 promise, four years earlier, that genocide in Bosnia would be opposed by a Clinton administration?...

Let me quote from Sally Bedell Smith's admirable book on the happy couple, For Love of Politics:

Taking the advice of Al Gore and National Security Advisor Tony Lake, Bill agreed to a proposal to bomb Serbian military positions while helping the Muslims acquire weapons to defend themselves—the fulfillment of a pledge he had made during the 1992 campaign. But instead of pushing European leaders, he directed Secretary of State Warren Christopher merely to consult with them...The key factor in Bill's policy reversal was Hillary...The United States took no further action in Bosnia, and the "ethnic cleansing" by the Serbs was to continue for four more years, resulting in the deaths of more than 250,000 people.

I can personally witness to the truth of this, too.

Whatever the truth of the Clintons' behavior, the actual number of people who died during the Bosnian War was about 100,000, or 40% of what Smith states.

I feel ill just bringing this up, but as the noted political writer Christopher Hitchens says:

It may be distasteful, even indecent, to argue over "body counts," whether the bodies are Armenian, Jewish, Cambodian, or...Timorese. But the count must be done, and done seriously, if later generations are not to doubt the whole slaughter on the basis of provable exaggerations or inventions.

On the other hand, it's not like Hillary Clinton can complain about Smith getting this wrong. Here's Clinton herself, in her speech justifying her 2002 Iraq vote:

We and our NATO allies did not depose Mr. Milosevic, who was responsible for more than a quarter of a million people being killed in the 1990s.

All those people in Bosnia were probably sad to first. But later I bet they felt it would all be worth it if their deaths could provide fodder for American polemicists to bludgeon each other with.

*The phrase "Down in the mass grave with a calculator" (c) Dennis Perrin.

—Jonathan Schwarz

Posted at April 2, 2008 10:47 AM

I wonder how big a grave they will find out back of Abu Grahib.

Posted by: Mike Meyer at April 2, 2008 11:09 AM

Those who are deceased are beyond all earthly cares - it is only those left behind who feel distress.

This is why thoroughness in population reduction operations is actually a kindness.

Posted by: mistah charley, ph.d. at April 2, 2008 11:15 AM

A bunch of dead swarthy people in Bosnia years ago? Thousands of dead swarthy people in Iraq today? Yeah, yeah. Read what's really on the minds of NYT readers:
"Wall Street-Bound Graduates Watch, Wait and
A Special Section--"Deal Book"--April 2, 2008, p.8

Feel the pain of our best and brightest.

Posted by: donescobar at April 2, 2008 01:51 PM

Look, for once, I agree, why not? Is a progressive essentially not a polemicist too given today's world situation?

Posted by: En Ming Hee at April 2, 2008 11:04 PM

Christopher Hitchens makes my flesh creep for reasons I'm not sure I entirely comprehend.

Posted by: Jack at April 3, 2008 11:41 AM