To the Editor:
Martin Peretz' August 7th TRB column is rife with inaccuracies and misconceptions. In his second paragraph, he could for example note that both Popper and Berlin have told us that the great bloodshed of this century occurred not because of nationalism, but because coercive utopians chose to suppress "national sentiment".
Mr. Peretz also wrongly suggests, in his third paragraph, that political leaders are "carried aloft in Orthodox services as a religious icon", and in his sixth that Orthodoxy is the "Eastern rite". On the latter point, he might note that Orthodoxy, Vaticanism and Anglicanism all have both Byzantine and Latin Rites. He might also refer, in his final paragraph, to Bill Gertz' articles in the Washington Times (18th May and 2nd June, '94, for example, as well as 13th May 94 Reuter) that show that Iran has sent a lot more than mullahs to Bosnia. He might also note, in his fifth paragraph, that Tsarist Russia always treated other faiths respectfully, and that 140 million Orthodox perished under communism, especially under Stalin's ruthless dictatorship. Nor does he note that the Tsarist conquest of Turkic central Asia was primarily in response to the hostility exhibited by these Asian invaders of the steppes, whose "dreams" were the dreams of Genghis Khan. (That Bosnian muslims "abide women in their clergy" is something I have only seen from Mr. Peretz article and, given his other errors, I seriously doubt its accurateness).
During the heyday of Reagan, it was argued by geometric-progression-ignoring demagogues, seeking to make "it" Reagan's deficit, that if one keeps throwing spaghetti on the wall, some of it will stick. Well, this is how the term "Serb aggression" has stuck, while the record fails to support such a single-minded and simplistic conclusion. Meanwhile, data supportive of the Serbs, such as the reference to Quadaffy building Bosnian mosques, is merely dismissed without justification, while pro-Muslim data (even their supposed consumption of beer and pork) is hardly subjected to the same scrutiny.
When muslims violated UN rules, including the commission of horrific civilian atrocities of their own, and the UN called for airstrikes against them, Clinton told us it would be unacceptable to punish the muslims. Never mind that the Bosnian and Croatian oil-funded PR budgets exceed the "culturally" embargoed Serb budget by several orders of magnitude and that the term "cultural embargo" is the ultimate Orwellian restriction on free speech.
Meanwhile, the "western" left wants to punish the Russians and Serbs for allowing their beloved communism to fail, while at the same time make amends for their own former pro-communism by demagogically labeling modern Byzantines as communists. Likewise, the Germans and Vaticans want to keep Serbia isolated, lest more of their past be dragged out the way Mr. Waldheim's career was destroyed. And Italy and Germany are quick to explore for oil off the Dalmatian coast. Although Mr. Peretz's overly simplistic "good-guy, bad-guy" model would fall to shreds were he to incorporate these and other pesky truths into his larger understanding of the Yugoslavian civil war, he nevertheless has a responsibility as a journalist to present a more balanced, if not more accurate, account of the conflict than he has.
Very truly yours,Vasos Panagiotopoulos,