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  • Imagology and Ideology of the "Humanitarian" NATO Interventions in Yugoslavia and Serbia
  • Svetozar Stojanović

1. Introduction

The brunt of my texts to date—both books and articles—have constituted a critical, theoretical, and intellectual response to watershed historical developments in the last century and now. I believe that the readers of this article may be interested in my analysis of and observations on important changes that have taken place on the international scene since 1989 and especially, in this context, the smashing up of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (SFRY) and the dismemberment of Serbia (by wrenching away Kosovo-Metohija).

Also, it should be noted that I not only observed the most important events, but took an active part in them variously as a critic of the regime of Slobodan Milošević; as a special advisor to his rival and Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (FRY) President Dobrica Cosić, whose term of office Slobodan Milošević, with the help of Vojislav Seselj, managed drastically to curtail (from 15 June to 31 May 1993); as one of the direct protagonists of the ouster of the Milošević regime on 5-6 October 2000; and finally, as a non-partisan actor and critical supporter of Serbia's 10 years of democratic transition that followed.

One of the greatest lessons of the past 20 years or so, in my opinion, is that the terribly negative image of Serbia and the Serbs as the initial, chief, and criminal destroyers of the Yugoslav state, as projected by the West, cannot be substantially altered by any kind of discursive arguments or refutations, however strongly grounded in fact. This is for at least three reasons:

  1. 1. Images have become incomparably more effective than texts, be they spoken, printed, or posted on the web;

  2. 2. Especially when created and promoted by the mightiest power in the world, the United States, with abundant help and support from its [End Page 239] own—and general Western—mass media, analysts, commentators, and lobbyists (lobbying either overtly or covertly, by hiding behind neutral persons and researchers);

  3. 3. The truth about the main protagonists of the destruction of Yugoslavia and truncation of Serbia, both domestic and Western, and the accuracy and fairness in apportioning accountability for it, hardly had a chance to win in light of the conclusions of leading US and EU circles that Serbia and the Serbs are steadfast allies of Russia (albeit itself greatly weakened after its secession from the Soviet Union, but also with the menacing potential of recovering as a great power).

2. Imagistic Turn and Imagistic World

Imagism should be defined as a set of attitudes, institutions, and practices through which images of reality are created and spread. Philosophers, social theoreticians, and intellectuals in general are still prone to overemphasize the role of ideas in the creation of images and even in the reduction of images to ideas. But these are times when the visual mass media are predominant. Visual creations, which, unlike ideas, are highly concrete and direct, permeate contemporary developed societies from business to politics. It is as if Word as the "divine" beginning has been replaced with image as the human beginning. It is not for nothing that the television network CNN claims a "picture's worth a thousand words."

The image-creation elite is now more influential than the idea-creation elite. Unlike the creators of ideas, many politicians have realized that they are living and working in the post-Gutenberg age. That is why they make lesser effort to create programs of ideas, and try harder to convey effective images.

It is extremely difficult, and sometimes even dangerous, to fight one's way through the image accomplie. Such an image of Serbs has often been spread as fait accompli. There are many individual and collective victims of the image accomplie in the world today.

I define imagology as a set of images that social groups use at the expense of truth, to justify their own actions and to discredit those of their rivals, opponents, and enemies. This critical concept is modeled after the definition of ideology as a set of ideas that social groups use at the expense of truth, to justify...


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pp. 239-253
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