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Apology and Correction By: Serge Trifkovic
FrontPageMagazine.com | Wednesday, January 15, 2003


Correction of Statements Made On This Site About Serge Trifkovic:

Frontpage regrets characterizations of Serge Trifkovic, author of Sword of Islam, that were made in an article by Stephen Schwartz (CAIR's Axis of Evil) to the effect that Trifkovic, is an Islamophobe, is associated with Pravda or Antiwar.com, and "was the main advocate in the West for the regime of Slobodan Milosevic." Serge Trifkovic is not associated with either Pravda or Antiwar.com. He was not a supporter of Slobodan Milsoevic. He is not an Islamophobe nor would Frontpage have given extensive space to a summary of his book if he were. Frontpage regrets any pain or injury this may have caused to Mr. Trifkovic.-- David Horowitz)

Reply to Stephen Schwartz by Serge Trifkovic:

It is troubling and disappointing that Frontpagemagazine (FPM) has allowed Stephen Schwartz to slander me. Had the diatribe been launched privately I would never have stooped to replying, directly or otherwise, to this deeply troubled man. Since FPM has seen it fit to provide the vehicle, however, I have no choice but to react.

To be called "the noted Islamophobe" is not only an invitation to a fatwa, it is doubly sinister coming as it does from a convert to Mohammedanism.

Schwartz writes that "Trifkovic is much more closely identified [with] the Russian 'red-brown' (Communazi) newspaper Pravda." This comes as a genuine surprise to me. What foreign websites carry my articles is beyond my control, but since I have never written anything for "Pravda" or spoken to anyone associated with it, this slanderous little aside only reinforces the way in which Mr. Schwartz has not allowed mere facts to stand in the way of his creativity. 

Schwartz  accuses me of being in league with Slobodan Milosevic's apologists at Antiwar.com - although the site's only mention of my name in this context came in the form of a scathing personal attack by one of its former columnists: "Kostunica's American worshippers, including Fleming and his Chronicles colleague Srdja Trifkovic continue to indulge themselves in their puerile fantasies." (George Szamuely, Antiwar.com, September 29, 2000)

But it is the claim that I was "the main public advocate in the West for the regime of Slobodan Milosevic" that is as unfunny as it is untrue. It is also hurtful to me personally in view of the many risks I have taken with my long and well documented position vis-a-vis Mr. Milosevic. Let us therefore leave rhetoric aside and look at a small segment of verbatim quotes from my extensive record of articles and interviews on the subject of the former Serbian president, starting 13 years ago and continuing until our time:

"Slobodan Milosevic is cynically exploiting the nationalist awakening to perpetuate Communist rule and his own power in the eastern half of Yugoslavia." U.S. News & World Report, June 18, 1990

"Communist leader Slobodan Milosevic needs outside enemies to halt the erosion of his popularity... Yugoslavia could be well on its way to becoming the Lebanon of Europe." U.S. News & World Report, November 12, 1990

"Demagogue and populist." The Yugoslav Crisis and the United States. Stanford: Hoover Institution, 1991

"Trifkovic said he [was] critical of the authoritarian rule of Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic and has called for his removal from office and democratic reforms." The Plain Dealer (Cleveland), Sunday, September 6, 1992, p. 6-B

"[Trusting] Milosevic is like giving a bloodbank to Count Drakula." The Times (London), Thursday, November 23, 1995, p. 16

"Milosevic has used his newly-fangled international legitimacy [after Dayton] to stifle even further all political opposition and to reassert state control." The Phoenix Gazette, Tuesday, March 19, 1996, p. B5

"Milosevic is afraid of having Mladic and Karadzic delivered to The Hague not because of the possibility of a Serb backlash in Serbia itself, but because those two know quite a lot about Milosevic's own role in the early days of the Yugoslav war, in '91 and '92." BBC World Service TV, "Newsdesk" (live) 10:25GMT, Wednesday, 29 May 1996

"For Mr. Milosevic, the very existence of any alternative to his own power is not legitimate. Even the current façade of multi-party system he allowed only under pressure, treating it as something odious and temporary." The Phoenix Gazette, Wednesday, December 18, 1996, p. B4

"The sanctions had proved an absolute boon to Milosevic. He could blame them for the abysmal economic situation in the country, which was in fact due to the structural defects of an inefficient socialist economy - an economy he was unwilling to reform... Milosevic could observe with calm equanimity the exodus of about a quarter of a million predominantly young and well-educated urban Serbs. Those who had provided the backbone of political opposition to his government were emigrating, and he was staying." Chronicles, June 1997

"An incorrigible communist and blunderer."
The Philadelphia Inquirer, Saturday, September 6, 1997

"Milosevic... manipulates these crises to preserve his power. With each new surrender he is temporarily converted by the West from the Beast of the Balkans into the Necessary Partner. This outcome would be awful for Serbia. The nation should lose its tyrant, not its borders." The Times (London), Thursday, March 18, 1999

"Albright and Milosevic manipulate each other and deserve each other... He had always been a recycled Communist apparatchik who manipulated the thetoric of nationalism in order to extend his shelf life. And his behaviour had always been personally functional, but systematically, from the viewpoint of Serb interests, dysfunctional. That's why Serbs are in such a dire predicament right now."
CNN, Friday, March 26, 1999.

"Milosevic [is] a misshapen tyrant who will not flap his wings as long as he can feed on the evr-shrinking innards of Inner Serbia." The Philadelphia Inquirer, Monday, November 22, 1999, p. A15

"Serbia, thanks to Milosevic, acquired the image of the last bastion of communism in Europe." Testimony to the Canadian House of Commons, February 17, 2000

"Milosevic in Serbia and President Franjo Tudjman in Croatia were both busy establishing a quasi-dictatorial post-communist regime, and they needed vulgar nationalism - for a time - to outbid the most vulgar nationalists." The Oxford Companion to Politics of the World. Oxford University Press, 2001, p. 80

"Something has snapped in the minds of many Serbs. They can now visualize Serbia after Milosevic. They can visualize Serbia without sanctions and without the shame that he has brought upon his people. . . And once they lose their respect, they will loss fear. And once they lose fear, they may end up lynching him." CNN Headline News, live, Saturday, September 30, 2000, 6:10 p.m. Eastern

"Like some crazed anti-Midas, in his 13 years of chaotically autocratic rule Milosevic destroyed everything he touched... [He] cared not a hoot for his people's interests or dignity, and turned his country into a corrupt, mafia-infested basket case. Milosevic's arrogance and low cunning were matched only by his utter inability to devise a coherent strategy of anything - including his own political survival. . . It will take Serbia decades to recover from this awful man." Chronicles Online, April 14, 2001

The list goes on, but this small sample should suffice. Of course I opposed the misguided NATO intervention in the Balkans, and the systematic misrepresentation of the wars of Yugoslav succession by the likes of Schwartz. In doing so I was in good company on both Left and Right, and on both sides of the Atlantic-but that is a different story.

Reply to Trifkovic by Stephen Schwartz:

Fatawa -- the correct plural in Arabic -- are merely religious opinions.  Fatawa of individual condemnation are seldom levelled against non-Muslims.  Salman Rushdie and Khalid Duran, against whom fatawa urging violence were issued, are both born Muslims. The so-called fatawa of Osama bin Laden do not count, because bin Laden has no standing to issue fatawa. The fatawa of other extremists urging violence are opinions directed against nations or communities, not against individuals as such. I am much more likely to be the object of a condemnatory fatwa than Trifkovic. However, it is a little strange to imagine that a comment by me would elicit a violent reaction to him, when the attacks on him by CAIR, and his service to Radovan Karadzic, have not done so.

I mention Karadzic because Srdja Trifkovic has conveniently left out of his self-defense the fact that according to his own biography, he was a political consultant for two members of the Milosevic regime  who served its aggression in the Balkans. These are Radovan Karadzic and Biljana Plavsic. 

Trifkovic may cite all the comments he wants about Milosevic, but I would remind him that many witnesses were present when I debated him at Stanford a decade ago. In that debate, he defended the Milosevic regime, while I criticized it.

Final word -- Serge Trifkovic:

In regard to our Stanford debate: I repeated, more or less, the key points from my Hoover paper, which is available to the curious. My presentation was above all a defense of the Serbs' right to self-determination, and not a "defense of Milosevic."

I have met Karadzic during my many trips to the Balkans but I never "worked" for him. Yes, I was Plavsic's consultant during her brief presidency (1998), when she was persona gratissima in Washington, where I accompanied her during her visit in May of that year. She was certainly not a "member of the Milosevic regime" -- quite the contrary, she was his determined foe, which made it possible for me to help her, and made her attractive in the eyes of the U.S. Administration.


Serge Trifkovic received his PhD from the University of Southampton in England and pursued postdoctoral research at the Hoover Institution at Stanford. His past journalistic outlets have included the BBC World Service, the Voice of America, CNN International, MSNBC, U.S. News & World Report, The Washington Times, the Philadelphia Inquirer, The Times of London, and the Cleveland Plain Dealer. He is foreign affairs editor of Chronicles.


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