To His Death in Jail, Milosevic Exalted Image of Serb Suffering
My aim is to present the truth, and that takes time," the former Serbian president told the tribunal in The Hague, a prelude to painstaking circumlocutions that sought over more than four years to cast the author of Yugoslavia's destruction as a misunderstood man bent only on that country's defense.
In fact, the truth for Mr. Milosevic was always a commodity to be manipulated in the single-minded pursuit of power. Everyone — Croats reinvented as World War II fascists, Bosnian Muslims recast as marauding Ottoman Turks, multiplying Kosovo Albanians redrawn as agents of "demographic genocide" against the Serbs — was fit material for Mr. Milosevic's overriding myth of Serbian suffering.
That myth held a heady power over many years. As Communism collapsed in Europe and his own Yugoslavia in the late 1980's, Mr. Milosevic seized the potential of nationalism as what Miroslav Hroch, a Czech political theorist, has called "a substitute for factors of integration in a disintegrating society."
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