Once more into the breach: Chomsky and Bosnia

As we noted in November, Noam Chomsky appears to have utterly lost his moral compass in his advancing years, jumping on the Bosnia revisionism bandwagon and, in one unsavory incident, engaging in blatanly censorious behavior towards a writer who dared to challenge him. His legions of supporters seem incapable of grasping the irony of this recent episode: On Oct. 31, The Guardian ran an interview (“The Greatest Intellectual?”) in which writer Emma Brockes called him out over a letter he signed in defense of Diana Johnstone, whose claims in the Swedish left-wing journal Ordfront that the 1995 Srebrenica massacre was exaggerated had sparked a storm of (well-deserved) protest. Defending Johnstone on free speech grounds (that is, defending her right to publish) would be legitimate, even if an ill-chosen battle. But in the interview, Chomsky went further, praising her disingenuous and distorted claims as “very careful and outstanding work.”

From there, the story only gets worse—much worse.

Brockes (or her editors) did take a few unfortunate liberties—such as a prominent pull-quote presenting Chomsky’s words in support of Johnstone following a question he was never actually asked in the verbatim (“Q: Do you regret supporting those who say the Srebrenica massacre was exaggerated? A: My only regret is that I didn’t do it strongly enough”). Chomsky seized on this to protest the interview in a letter to The Guardian in which he stated: “Even when the words attributed to me have some resemblance to accuracy, I take no responsibility for them, because of the invented contexts in which they appear.” But the contexts were not “invented”—Johnstone explicitly and repeatedly asserts that the massacre was exaggerated, and routinely refers to the “Srebrenica massacre” in quotes (e.g. in her Ocotber 2005 piece in Counterpunch). Worse still, when his letter was published alongside one in support of Brockes by Kemal Pervanic, a survivor of the Omarska concentration camp, Chomsky shot off another letter protesting this juxtaposition as an attempt to (in The Guardian’s paraphrase) “undermine his position.” Chomsky’s supporters flooded The Guardian with e-mails and letters in defense of their hero.

The Guardian capitulated in the most pusillanimous manner. It ran a retraction, and pulled the interview from its website. Adding insult to injury, it also ran a response by Johnstone to Brockes’ interview—even after the interview itself was no longer available to online readers! This response distorted Brockes’ words to a far greater degree than Brockes (or her editors) had distored Chomsky’s. It was entitled “The Bosnian war was brutal, but it wasn’t a Holocaust.” Brockes had never called it a “Holocaust.”

In other words, Brockes was censored by Chomsky and his supporters far more effectively than Johnstone had been in the incident which prompted Chomsky to sign the letter in her defense! One doesn’t know whether to laugh or cry. (Ironically, Brockes’ original text is preserved for posterity—with Chomsky’s response—at Chomsky.info, “The Official Noam Chomsky Website,” after the pro-Chomsky letters campaign had resulted in it getting pulled from The Guardian’s website.)

An even more obvious irony that the Chomsky sycophants are oblivious to is how much their “logic” mirrors that of the imperialists they love to hate. As we pointed out on the Srebrenica ten-year anniversary last year, Chomsky’s longtime colleague and one-time co-author Edward Herman is also dedicating himself to “debunking” the massacre these days, and his revisionist screeds have been run on the supposedly “progressive” ZNet (which has also given the genocide-apologist Johnstone a homepage). Chomsky himself, in his essay “Lessons from Kosovo,” draws a distinction between “worthy victims” (e.g. Bosnians and Kosovars) and “unworthy victims” (e.g. Palestinians). Yet Chomsky and his followers have merely reversed this logic, rather than dispensing altogether with the hideous concept of “unworthy victims.” The suffering of the Bosnian Muslims is as invisible to them as that of the Palestinians and Iraqis is to the dominant propaganda machine that Chomsky has dedicated his life to dissecting.

Unfortunately, there seems to be practically no principled, single-standard thinking on these matters. Virtually no voices on the anti-war left have challenged Chomsky, Herman, Johnstone and their ilk.

The best critique of Johnstone’s vile genocide-denial is “The Left Revisionists” by Marko Attila Hoare of Cambridge University, on the Balkan Witness website. Dr. Hoare now takes on the Chomsky-Brockes controversy, in an essay entitled “The Guardian, Noam Chomsky and the Milosevic Lobby.” The essay delineates further censorious behavior by The Guardian: when Hoare and other scholars sent a letter to the paper outlining Chomsky’s distortions, it was eviscerated by the editors before publication. When they published the uncensored text on the website of the Balkans Investigative Reporting Network (BIRN), a letter in response their letter was sent in—which BIRN, demonstrating a greater committment to free speech than The Guardian, printed in its entirety. Dr. Hoare points out that many of the response letter’s signatories (Vera Vratusa, George Szamuely, Nebojsa Malic) are also signatories to the “Free Slobodan Milosevic!!!” petition at the website of the International Committee to Defend Slobodan Milosevic (ICDSM). Ed Herman’s work is also featured prominently on the ICDSM site.

The problem with all this is that Dr. Hoare’s new essay appears on the website of the ultra-interventionist Henry Jackson Society, which lists among its core principles: “that as the world’s most powerful democracies, the United States and the European Union – under British leadership – must shape the world more actively by intervention and example; that such leadership requires political will, a commitment to universal human rights and the maintenance of a strong military with global expeditionary reach…” The Society is named for the late longtime Washington state senator Henry “Scoop” Jackson, who, as his official biography puts it, was a “dogged supporter” of the war in Vietnam. Talk about worthy and unworthy victims!

The Society’s “Geo-Strategic Sections” include a link for the “Greater Middle East,” featuring essays on such worthy victims as the Ahwazi Arab minority of Iran and the Coptic Christians of Egypt. Significantly, it includes no link for Latin America—where countless ethnicities (Maya, Nasa, Quechua, Mapuche) are oppressed by the allies and proxies rather than the adversaries of US imperialism. The oppressed are entitled to take their allies where they can find them, but we hope that the Iranian Arabs and Egyptian Copts realize that, like the Bosnians and Kosovars before them, they are being used as ideological cannon fodder.

Predictably, Scoop Jackson was also a bitter opponent of restoration of land rights and other elementary reparations for the victims of the USA’s own direct internal ethnic cleansing, the Native Americans. The national weekly Indian Country Today, on its “Rating the Presidents” page, points out that Jackson was to the right of Richard Nixon on this question, remaining intransigent on Nixon’s proposals (prompted by the American Indian Movement’s 1969 protest occupation of Alcatraz Island) to return certain usurped lands to the reservations.

So the moral high ground on Bosnia is ceded to the most hubristic proponents of the new ultra-imperialism, who are utterly blind to the victims of “the world’s most powerful democracies” and their client states.

Boy, does all this ever make us feel lonely.

See our last posts on Noam Chomsky and the interminable Balkan mess.

  1. “Boy, does all this ever make
    “Boy, does all this ever make us feel lonely”

    Not a lot I can add to your excellent post Bill, except to say there are others of us out there feeling that same bizarre loneliness

    Keep up the great work

  2. Attila the Hoare
    It is no accident that Hoare is a member in good standing of the Scoop Jackson society. This Serb-bashing has a powerful rightwing tendency, as evidenced by Christopher Hitchens, Marc Cooper, Paul Berman and all the other “laptop bombardiers”. Once you posit Milosevic as the new Hitler and give either backhanded or upfront support to NATO, it is a slippery slope to defend the “liberation” of Iraq. Poor Bill Weinberg should spend less time castigating Chomsky and more time trying to figure out why Romas are being ethnically cleansed in Kosovo. Clean up your own nest first, Bill.

    1. Revisionism
      Once you posit Milosevic as the new Hitler and give either backhanded or upfront support to NATO…

      Where does Bill do either of those things in the above?

      …it is a slippery slope to defend the “liberation” of Iraq.

      Well, if we must use the problematic idea of a “slippery slope”, how about the morally corrupting effects of re-writing victims out of history just to serve some ideological agenda? How exactly does that help Roma in Kosovo today?

      1. Cleansing the Roma
        What a disingenuous reply. The point is that the leftist fans of the KLA like yourself and Michael Karadjis *never* write about Albanian or Bosnian Muslim atrocities against other ethnic groups. That is why your attacks on Edward Herman and Noam Chomsky are so obviously hypocritical.

        1. That’s a lie
          I wrote:


          The bombing ended in June [1999], when Milosevic acceded to NATO troops for Kosova… The KLA was ostensibly disbanded, but violent reprisals against Kosovar Serbs were widespread.


          And by the way, let’s not forget the Serb refugees who have been forced to flee Kosova since its “liberation.” By the end of summer 1999, Kosova’s Serb population had been reduced by two-thirds to 70,000 amid reprisals by Albanians (under NATO’s nose).

          I find it hilarious that the same folks who cheer on the Iraqi “resistance”, which has engaged in its own acts of ethnic cleasing against Iraq’s Roma, suddenly develop a touching concern with the Roma of Kosova.

          1. Apology
            I misspoke when I described you as a cheerleader for the KLA. After taking a look at the archives, it appears that you were a cheerleader for the miserable Izetbegovic in Bosnia who you falsely described as building “a multi-ethnic coalition government.”

            1. I’m amazed
              And at least slightly impressed that you are capable of apologizing. Maybe there’s a glimmer of hope for you after all. I would not exactly describe myself as an Izetbegovic “cheerleader”, but it is a fact that he presided over a multi-ethnic government. He had Serbs and Croats in his cabinet and parliament, a fact neatly forgotten by Chetnik revisionists and their pseudo-left mouthpieces. (See Phil Edwards, “A Socialist Perspective on the Former Yugoslavia,” one principled leftist who doesn’t have his head down an Orwellian Memory Hole.) Tell me, do you ever use adjectives like “miserable” to describe Milosevic and Karadzic? If you are so vigilant to the threat of Islamic extremism, does your outrage extend to the mini-Taliban states the Iraqi “resistance” is creating in the areas they have “liberated”?

              Oy, I should have known better than to end with a question…

              1. That’s a double lie
                Not that that surprises me coming from Louis Proyect on the Balkans, par for the course actually (but I’m also impressed by his apology and wonder if I’ll get one).

                I “NEVER” talk about crimes against Serbs by the KLA or others? In your dreams. But I can say very confidently that you definitely have *never* condemned any crimes by the semi-fascist Milosevic-Seselj-Karadzic regime(s) against Albanians or Bosnian Muslims, and of course you are simply too cool to condemn the crimes against Croats, who are a really uncool people to a certain lefty set – including the massive ethnic cleansing of a quarter of a million Croats to create the ‘Republika Serb Krajina’ cut out of a chunk of Croatia, a part of which suffered massive reverse ethnic cleansing by Milosevic’s partner/rival/protege Tudjman of the Serb population 4 years later when Tudjman retook Krajina, a reverse ethnic cleansing which I *condemn* as much as the initial one, as you know because I continually did duting our marxmail discussion long ago, but the difference is that you *never* condemn the initial massive ethnic cleansing.

                As for my condemnations of pogroms and terror against Serbs in post-war Kosova, it occurs in just about anything I’ve written about the topic, here’s a few you can cruise through:

                Dilemmas in Kosova: Benign peacekeeping or destructive occupation?
                (first appeared in the journal ‘Development’ September 2005 so it is publicly displayed http://www.palgrave-journals.com/development/development_48-3.pdf)

                Six Years of Imperialist Occupation of Kosova
                A View from the Left

                KOSOVA: Independence needed to end violence

                And as for what I think of Tudjman:

                Croatian Voters Bury Tudjman’s Legacy
                http://mihalisk.blogspot.com/2005/08/croatian-voters-bury-tudjmans-legacy_13.html (Green Left March 1 2000, broken link)

              2. Liberal line on Izetbegovic
                As imperialism’s interests began to overlap with those of the secessionists in Yugoslavia, the bourgeois media would begin to prettify the Muslims and demonize the Serbs. But early on, there was some honest reporting:

                The Independent (London)November 17, 1990, Saturday
                By MARCUS TANNER

                A crescent moon rises in Bosnia; Serbs threaten civil war if Muslims join forces with Croats, writes Marcus Tanner in Sarajevo

                PICTURESQUE mosques cluttering the Bosnian capital, Sarajevo, are suddenly plastered with the green flags and crescent moons of the Muslim Party of Democratic Action. Militant Muslims committed to winning greater independence from Yugoslavia are poised to make big gains in Sunday’s first multi-party elections since the Second World War for the parliament and presidency of the Yugoslav republic of Bosnia-Herzegovina.

                Teenagers draped in green flags march through the narrow lanes of the oriental bazaar. Thousands of supporters – including women in white veils and boys sporting the traditional fez – gave a hero’s welcome to the Bosnian Muslim party leader, Alija Izetbegovic, at the party’s final pre-election rally on Wednesday in a Sarajevo stadium.

                Never since the Ottoman empire’s collapse and Bosnia’s absorption into Yugoslavia was pride in Islamic identity so clearly on display.

                “Last autumn I feared Bosnia would never survive,” said Mr Izetbegovic. “Now I know Bosnia is saved. We have already won.”

                Bosnian Muslims, the descendants of Slavs who converted to Islam under the Ottoman empire, make up 40 per cent of Bosnia’s population of 4.5 million. Secularised during 45 years of communist rule, their lifestyle differs little from that of the Serbs or Croats.

                Mr Izetbegovic scorns Serbian accusations that he will force women into veils and link Bosnia with a chain of Islamic states stretching from Sarajevo to the Middle East. But his party has harnessed many Bosnians’ suppressed pride in the religious and cultural heritage of the Ottoman empire, and their growing fears of Serbian nationalism.

                “Muslims are the biggest nation in Bosnia, and Bosnia is their only homeland,” said Mr Izetbegovic. “Serbs and Croats have other homelands.”

                1. This is pretty funny
                  No outrage over 8,000 dead at Srebrenica, waves of forced expulsions and deportations, mass rape and concentration camps. But a few mosques get draped with green flags—woah! That’s a different story!

                  And, once again, if you are so vigilant to the threat of Islamic extremism, where is your oppobrium for the Iraqi “insurgents,” who really are forcing women into veils?

                  You guys are so transparent.

                2. Proyect terrified of green flags and crecent moons
                  Louis Proyect wrote:

                  “As imperialism’s interests began to overlap with those of the secessionists in Yugoslavia, the bourgeois media would begin to prettify the Muslims and demonize the Serbs. But early on, there was some honest reporting:

                  “A crescent moon rises in Bosnia; Serbs threaten civil war if Muslims join forces with Croats, writes Marcus Tanner in Sarajevo

                  “PICTURESQUE mosques cluttering the Bosnian capital, Sarajevo, are suddenly plastered with the green flags and crescent moons of the Muslim Party of Democratic Action.”

                  Yes, this honest reporting shows that the Bosnian Muslims are Muslims, they worship in mosques, the colour of their party is green etc. Isn’t that terrible. No wonder the Serbian equivalents of the Ku Klux Klan that you are an apologist for just had to do something about it, like dynamite 1400 mosques in Bosnia, turn a lot of them into parking lots, expel a million or so Muslims from areas they deemed should be a racist “Serb republic” and only the presence of a non-Serb majority prevented it, bomb and destroy medieval-era museums choc-a-bloc full of centuries-old Islamic manuscripts and artifacts to cement the cultural genocide. But Proyect of course is opposed to Islamphobia, except when it suits him. What a disgrace.

                  1. Karadjis, you deleted the fin
                    Karadjis, you deleted the final sentence of the Independent article I forwarded: “Muslims are the biggest nation in Bosnia, and Bosnia is their only homeland,” said Mr Izetbegovic. “Serbs and Croats have other homelands.”

                    Are you so afraid of the truth that you would resort to this ploy?

                    1. More red herrings from Proyect
                      Louis Proyect wrote:
                      “Karadjis, you deleted the final sentence of the Independent article I forwarded: “Muslims are the biggest nation in Bosnia, and Bosnia is their only homeland,” said Mr Izetbegovic. “Serbs and Croats have other homelands.” Are you so afraid of the truth that you would resort to this ploy?”

                      Actually the whole article you sent looked so innocuous from beginning to end I had no idea which particular sentence had most drawn your ire, so I just quoited the first couple of sentnces of the article, as is common in such discussions. Anyway,thanks for filling me in. Izetbegovic said that which you quote above? Like wow! What am I supposed to make of the meaning of this quote out of context in some fairly typical bourgeois news report, where bits and piecs of green flags, mosques and crescent moons are thrown together with this statement. I suppose if you are a pretty hard line Islamophobe, which you are regarding the Balkans if nowhere else, then this staement could maybe conceivably be strewn to mean that therefore “we Muslims will therefore throw you Serbs and Croats out of our country.” However, for anyone else, ie, people whjo actually ahve a head on their shoulders, there would be no particular reason at all to draw this conclusion from Izetbegovic’s relatively innoucuous statement which basiocally just records a rise of rather moderate national feeling among the Bosniaks, which was hardly surprising in 1990 after several years of the ultra-chauvinist rampage led by your KKK-like friends Milosevic/Draskovic/Seselj/Karadzic etc, a chauvinist rampage with a distinctly extreme anti-Muslim falvour as they apealed to wetsern imperialism to support their new Crusade to complete the rout of the Ottoman Empire, and a rampage taking place in the *dominant* nation within the federation.

                      I suggest my meaning rather than yours is more borne out by history givent hat izetbegovic set up a multi-ethnic government and multi-ethnic army both including and led by Serbs and Croats, even the Bosnian general who led the defence of Sarajevo against your Chetnik friends for 3.5 years was an ethnic Serb, but you don’t care about that, for you ‘Serb’ = ‘Chetnik’, except for you that is a good thing, as opposed to soem others who also make this equation and see it as bad. And further that the actual ethnic cleansing and genocide was carried out not by Izetbegovic but by your mates who after all had openly proclaimed it as their goal long before they began it, not in the ridiculously ambiguous and innoucuouys way that you imply Izetbegovic was proclaiming it, but far more clearly, like for example when your mate the Chetnik Karadzic (Mr. “the Communists destroyed the Serb nation” himself) in late 1990 told the Bosnian parliament, in which his fascistic party had one third of the seats, that if independence (ie for the current multi-ethnic Bosnia in which hism own party was in government “representing” Serbs) went ahead, the Muslims would “disappear from the face of the earth”.

                      So now that you have my comments on the particular sentence that got you so worked up in that article you sent, perhaps you could answer the rest of mjy last post, ie, given that Izetbegovic had made such a devastating comment, is that why you believe that the Serbian equivalents of the KKK which you are an apologist for simply had to do something about this problem, such as by dynamiting 1400 mosques, turning them into parking lots and denying they ever existed, destroying centuries old museums of medieval Muslim culture, expelling about a million Muslims from 70 percent of Bosnia which they deemd should be a racist “Serb republic” despite the fact of the non-Serb population that just happened to live there, not to mention various death and torture camps, besieging cities daily for years etc etc? I guess from your last “reply” that the answer is “yes”

                      I don’t visit someone else’s blog to argue with you, but given your unprovoked slander against me a few days ago on this blog, when I had not said anything to or about you, you’ll get it back as you deserve. While arguing with you for a solid month on marxmail once upon a time, just don’t forget that it was not me that ended the discussion. You actually write well on quite a number of other topics Louis, you ought to stick to things you actually know something about and keep out of Balkan genocide-denial which after all you only picked up from your then-mate Jared Israel.

                3. RE: “Serbs and Croats have other homelands.”
                  That was quite some find by Louis Proyect (“Liberal line on Izetbegovic,” Thu, 02/09/2006 – 11:59). I mean Proyect’s reproduction of Marcus Tanner’s “A crescent moon rises in Bosnia” (The Independent, Nov. 17, 1990). He deserves to be congratulated. Not ridiculed.

                  Especially relevant was the quote that Tanner took from the then-Bosnian Muslim party leader and eventual President of the independent state of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Alija Izetbegovic. Let’s repeat it here—along with the three concluding paragraphs in Tanner’s original that were missing from the version of it that Proyect himself reproduced:

                  ”Muslims are the biggest nation in Bosnia, and Bosnia is their only homeland,” said Mr Izetbegovic. ”Serbs and Croats have other homelands.”

                  Sidestepping the controversial Slovene demand for Yugoslavia to become a loose ”confederation”, Mr Izetbegovic is calling for the scant powers enjoyed by Yugoslavia’s federal government to be reduced to ”the absolute minimum” and for the six republics to set up their own defence forces.

                  The prospect of the Muslims’ green flag flying over Sarajevo sends shivers through Bosnia’s 30 per cent Serbian minority, awakening fears of Christian Serbia being encircled by Muslims. Radovan Karadzic, leader of Bosnia’s Serbian minority, threatens civil war if Bosnian Muslims and the 20 per cent Croatian minority combine to form an anti-Serbian coalition government.

                  With Serbia’s support, Mr Karadzic has set up a ”Serbian national council” in the predominantly Serbian town of Banja Luka, which he contends will take control of Serbian areas in Bosnia in the event of a crisis.

                  This certainly was the heart of the crisis in the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia throughout its entire history. If the SFRY fails, then how to determine who is a majority and who a minority? Whose rights and powers ought to have the right to trump whose? How to protect minority groups, once you figure out how to define them? And the like.

                  And this crisis was no more orchestrated or directed by Belgrade (as the capital of the Republic of Serbia, but also the capital of the SFRY), than it was by Banja Luka, by Sarajevo, by Ljubljana, or by Zagreb.

                  This was the stuff of a civil war. When foreign powers at various dates and in various combinations recognized first a newly independent Slovenia and Croatia (Germany on Dec. 23, 1991; the European Community on Jan. 15, 1992; and the U.S. on April 7), and ultimately extended this recognition to Bosnia and Herzegovina, (the E.C. on April 6; the U.S. on April 7), without any of the issues then at stake between the contesting parties having been resolved, thus making good for all intents and purposes what had been decided in the infamous phrase of the Badinter Commission that the SFRY was “in the process of dissolution” (December, 1991), external powers had effectively decided these contests in a certain way, and drove the wars for the next several years.

                  But the wars over the breakup of Yugoslavia always were constitutional in the sense just touched on, however inadequately. If the leadership of a republic within the SFRY could declare the republic’s independence from the SFRY, then why can’t the leadership of a nation declare their independence from the newly independent republic? As well as reject inclusion within the new state tied to the territory of the old republic? And why couldn’t a nation maintain its citizenship within the old SFRY, if its members chose to do so?

                  1. More disingenuous apologias
                    Your double standards reek to the skies. Outrage over mosques getting draped with green flags, but none about them getting blown up. Outrage over Croatian and Bosnian secession but none over Milosevic’s suspension of Kosova’s autonomy, the first blow against the federal system from which all the rest flowed. You reject the logic of Croatia or Bosnia declaring independence without first clearing up the “issues at stake,” but defend the right of the “Serb Republic” to do the same. And, of course, the question is posed as a simple right to remain in Yugoslavia—with no acknowledgement of the forced expulsions, mass detainments, systematic rape, massacres, sieges and annexation of 70% of Bosnia’s territory (by a “government” claiming to represent 30% of its people).

                    For the record, I never supported Tudjman or any other ethnic nationalists. I supported the forces in each republic that sought pluralism and co-existence in defiance of their leaders.

                    Conspiracy theorists always love to wave the “gotcha” document. But in this case it is even more transparent than usual.

                    This “debate” (if we may so flatter it) has gone on long enough, and I think it is about to be cut off. Do I have a responsibility to allow my blog to serve as a platform for this noise endlessly? Peterson has his own blog, which I have not attempted to co-opt as a forum for my own positions.

  3. It seems you assign quite a l
    It seems you assign quite a lot of responsibility to Chomsky for “engaging in blatanly censorious behavior” but give a rather short explanation of how he does so. I’m not defending his comments, since I have not had occasion to follow the development, but it does seems a stretch to classify a retraction by the Guardian, however heineous, as censorship by Chomsky or his supporters. He may have taken a reprehensible position, he may have written letters contradicting earlier statements, but neither of those equates to censorship. In all honesty it is the weakness of the Guardian that is where you should be laying responsbility, or at least be laying more blame on Chomsky’s ‘synchophants’ than him.

    I would find this article more interesting if you would have stuck to dissecting Chomsky’s loss of a moral compass based on his letters and articles than a thin argument for censorship. Just my two cents, very enlightening article.

    1. How about…
      removing Brockes’ interview from their website? Especially while keeping Johnstone’s response to her interview online—adding insult to injury. Does that count as censorship on The Guardian’s part?

      As for Chomsky and his followers—well, he protests in his letter that he supports Brockes’ right to publish, but it is pretty transparent. It was thanks to pressure from Chomsky and his minions that her interview was removed. Has Chomsky protested this removal? If so, I haven’t heard about it.

      I reiterate: Chomsky and his supporters did to Brockes exactly what they protested others doing to Diana Johnstone. If the campaign against Johnstone constituted censorship, how does the Chomskyista campaign against Brockes fail to?

      1. You are a Smear Artist
        You say Chomsky censored Brockes more effectively than Johnstone has ever been. This is absurd. Chomsky never demanded Guardian to pull out Brockes’ Disingenous Piece. If Chomsky censored her, There is no point He should have let it appear on his own site. He has even said that Brockes’ piece should be left on Guardian Website.
        You smear Diana Johnstone a couple of times, Now you are calling her work as disingenuous and distorted. You have called her Vile and Genocide Apologist. But have you read her work? Or do you just know by just looking at her book? If you are honest, You would read her book and then Criticize her, argue where she has gone wrong. You would not indulge in smear attacks like this.
        Such decency can never be expected by you, no wonder.
        You don’t know much about Yugoslav Wars. Accept it. Whatever you know ,You learned it from Mainstream Intellectuals. And you call Yourself an Anarchist. You are just a confused man who is misguiding others.
        Just because Herman and Johnstone call Srebrenica Massacre as Exaggerated, It doesn’t mean They are apologists for Serbian Crimes. It is absurd. It is Nonsense. Suppose Someone says Hitler killed 12 million Jews, and I say No, Only about 6 Million Jews were killed It doesn’t make me an Apologist of Nazi Terror. But by Following your logic It would make me so.
        You seem to be a fan of Marko Attila Hoare and his nonsense. You have linked a couple of times his essay “Left Revisionists”. In that essay , He compares Chomsky to Holocaust Deniers. It tells a lot about you that you praise Hoare’s Nonsense.
        You say Johnstone says “The Bosnian war was brutal, but it wasn’t a Holocaust”. Ofcourse it was not a Holocaust. She wrote it because People are still being misled (by people like you) about the True Nature of Conflict. You still seem to believe it was a Holocaust. It’s Pathetic.
        When Ed Herman Challenged you about your post “Chomsky jumps on Bosnia Revisionist Bandwagon” you never responded to him. Did you? Except calling him Stalinist etc.

        1. You are a name-caller
          When Chomsky signed that letter in defense of Johnstone, was anybody explictly calling for her work to be censored by Ordfront? No, even Johnstone and her odious supporters don’t say that. Yet Johnstone griped that the well-earned torrent of outrage was an attempt to “heel” Ordfront, and Chomsky signed a letter on her behalf. The analogy is perfect. You just have one standard for Johnstone and another for Brockes.

          I have read enough of Johnstone’s “journalism” to know that (unless I get a paid assignment to review it) I should spare myself the angst of reading her book. I do get tired of having to make the same points over and over. I already wrote:

          [I]f Johnstone has never “denied the fact of the massacre,” she has stayed out of the outright-denial camp only through the most narrow and slippery use of (if you will) deniability. Her recent spewings on the ever-dependable CounterPunch make all the same bogus arguments we have seen here: that the victims somehow deserved it because of Naser Oric’s abuses, that the Bosnian leadership sold Srebrenica and allowed the massacre to happen to win world sympathy for the Muslim cause, that the numbers of the dead were inflated, et cetera. And, of course, she always puts “massacre” in quotes.

          While I have never been to the Balkans (you have a travel budget for me?), I believe I know plenty about the Yugoslav wars, having immersed myself in them as a radio journalist throughout the ’90s, and having co-authored an historical primer on the conflict as a resource for journalists and activists. My radio work on the conflict was overwhelmingly geared towards loaning a voice to the activists in all the former Yugoslav republics who opposed the ultra-nationalism of Milosevic and Tudjman alike—precisely the voices which were overlooked by the corporate media and “mainstream intellectuals.”

          I also, by the way, know the proper use of the upper case in standard English, something which you Manifestly Do Not.

          I am a critic, not a fan, of Marko Attila Hoare. You seem to have some reading comprehension problems.

          I answered Herman at great length, and never callled him a Stalinist. You, however, called me a “smear artist.”

  4. The Guardian, Noam Chomsky and the Milosevic Lobby
    Dr. Marko Attila Hoare is one of the most respected intelectuals in the field of Srebrenica Genocide today. He is trully an expert in his field. His latest article “The Guardian, Noam Chomsky and the Milosevic Lobby” is another counterattack against Srebrenica Genocide deniers and revisionists. WE thank Dr. Attila Hoare for his continued support in condeming Srebrenica genocide denial.


    Srebrenica Genocide Blog

    1. Noted…
      I already linked to that in my original post. But it is important to point out that Dr. Hoare and his Henry Jackson Society have got serious problems of their own. I repeat: the oppressed are entitled to take their allies where they can find them, but the Bosnian Muslims should beware of being used as ideological cannon fodder by Anglo-American imperialsim…

  5. In the interests of fairness
    It has been pointed out to me that in a Nov. 13 “Open Letter to The Guardian” (published on ZNet, tho apparently not in The Guardian), Chomsky protests certain other Brockes distortions, the most serious of which is her charge that Chomsky always puts quotation marks around “Srebrenica massacre.” This is certainly Johnstone’s favorite trick, so perhaps Brockes was confusing the two. A serious error, which is a shame—it delegitimizes Brockes’ point, and her point is an important one.

    1. Hi, y’all. I’m the one who…
      Hi, y’all. I’m the one who pointed the letter out to Bill. He admits to having not read it until now. What this says about the good faith with which he has studied Chomsky’s views on this can go without further underlining.
      Chomsky’s letter does not actually say the misplaced quotemarks were the “most serious” distortion, only that the sentence of which is is part is the centerpiece of Brockes’s shoddy little presentatiion.
      Bill would now have us all believe that Diana Johnstone is the one who has made a practice of putting “Srebrenica massacre” in quotes. I have found an instance of her doing this, at http://www.counterpunch.org/johnstone10122005.html:
      << From the the U.N. Secretary General's 1999 Report on Srebrenica, it emerges that the idea of a "Srebrenica massacre" was already in the air at a September 1993 meeting in Sarajevo between Bosnian Muslim president Alija Izetbegovic and members of his Muslim party from Srebrenica.>>
      It is clear that here the quotes, far from being some sort of “trick,” merely indicate the hypothetical character of a possible event as foreseen and maybe even planned by certain interested parties. Yes, “Srebrenica” is sometimes put in quotes by Johnstone to indcate the event, rather than the place, and that she questions some of the freight that has been attached to that event as a symbol. Johnstone often refers to the massacre itself with just that word and then always sans quotes. Why indeed would she use quotes, when she has never denied that thousands of people were killed there?
      When Brockes goes marching off to bag “the greatest intellectual,” it’s like she’s really attempting to prove that *all* intellectuals are full of it, with their obscure vocabularies and piddling little distinctions about which particular words one actually bracketed with quotes.
      (As I finish this, I am in receipt of a message from Weinberg citing this same CounterPunch page as proof of his assertion regarding the quotemarks. Anyone can–and most here no doubt already have–read for themselves.)
      Sandy McCroskey

      1. None are so blind…
        This is turning into a tiresome game of “gotcha,” which is a bit vulgar given the weight of the issues involved. But…

        Of the five references to “Srebrenica massacre” in Johnstone’s piece, three are in quotes. The word “massacre” in reference to killings of Muslims by Serbs is also put in quotes twice, and there is likewise a reference to “alleged massacres” in this context. References to massacres by the Bosnian Muslim forces get no such treatment—they are implicitly treated as fact. The double standard is crystal clear to those who are willing to see it. The entire thrust of the piece is to downplay the Srebrenica massacre. She writes that “less than 3,000 [bodies] have been exhumed.” The figure is actually over 5,000 (CNN, AP, July 11, 12, 2005). She writes that “Only a fraction have been identified.” 2,000 is a rather large “fraction” (ICMP, June, 2005), especially given that investigators have determined that Serb forces scattered the remains among several mass graves to hide the evidence (rather strange behavior if these were legitimate battlefield deaths). We are also treated to the same tired litany of bogus arguments. She claims the majority of the dead were retreating troops, merely a “tragic consequence of bitter civil war”, and that only a minority were prisoners “whose execution would be a clear war crime.” (Emphasis added.) We are told once again that the Muslim leadership sold Srebrenica to the Serbs to win international sympathy for their cause, and handed other such implicit attempts to clean up the facts of the massacre, or cast the blame for it on the victims themselves. (See above post—I am tired of having to repeat myself.) Leftists would dismiss this as the war propaganda and racist malarky it is if she were writing about Palestine or East Timor.

        The “intellectual” tradition Mr. McCroskey defends is ideally one of nuanced use of words and punctuation to acheive greater clarity. Johnstone’s writing, in contrast, serves precisely the opposite aim: greater obfuscation.

        1. Numbers
          The reference to “alleged massacres” is specific to the supposed evidence represented by satellite photos brandished by Madeleine Albright. Context is everything.

          In my count of quoted “Srebrenica massacre”s, I was relying on memory. There are indeed a couple other instances of quoted “Srebrenica massacre”–Weinberg is literally right in saying that the times the particular phrase is bracketed in quotes slightly outnumber the times in which it is not. Johnstone hypothesizes is that the killing was not as indiscriminate as alleged–thus perhaps, in the case of fleeing or fighting soldiers, falling short of the standard definition of “massacre.” But she does not consistently eschew use of this word in referring to this event, which no one denies left thousands of dead bodies.

          I find no obscurity in Johnstone’s position or trickery in her use of quotemarks.
          I have no position, myself, as yet, on what exactly happened at Srebrenica. I don’t for the life of me know how Weinberg can be so certain. Even a very strong pressentiment is different from 100 percent certainty.

          1) All instances of SREBRENICA MASSACRE:

          Last summer, almost the entire political spectrum in the Western world joined in a chorus of self-flagellation on the 10th anniversary of the Srebrenica massacre. >>
          ->NO QUOTES.

          From the the U.N. Secretary General’s 1999 Report on Srebrenica, it emerges that the idea of a “Srebrenica massacre” was already in the air at a September 1993 meeting in Sarajevo between Bosnian Muslim president Alija Izetbegovic and members of his Muslim party from Srebrenica.
          ->QUOTES because referring to hypothetical future event.

          Thus, many months before the July 1995 “Srebrenica massacre”, both Izetbegovic and Milosevic were aware of the possibility and of its potential impact-favorable to the Muslim cause, and disastrous for the Serbs.
          ->QUOTES! Okay, there was one more “Srebrenica massacre” than I remembered. However, this is still in the context of discussing the events supposedly foreseen or planned to draw in NATO involvement, although it actually refers to the real event. I think the quotes are simply a mistake here.

          The “Srebrenica massacre” is part of a dominant culture discourse that goes like this:
          ->QUOTES! Yes! But it wouldn’t make any sense to refer to the actual killings as “part of a discourse,” would it? She is, again, referring to the event as symbol.

          The office of the ICTY prosecutor has chosen to rely heavily on a single confessed participant in the Srebrenica massacre.
          ->NO QUOTES


          2) All other instances of “massacre” (by Johnstone herself in ref. to Srebrenica), with or without quotes:

          The Uses of a Massacre

          However, Muslim authorities never provided information about these men, preferring to let them be counted among the missing, that is, among the massacred. Another large, unspecified number of these men were ambushed and killed as they fled in scenes of terrible panic. This was, then, a “massacre”, such as occurs in war when fleeing troops are ambushed by superior forces.

          It can be noted that this was always an estimate, the sum of two separate groups, the smaller one of prisoners (whose execution would be a clear war crime) and the larger one of retreating troops (whose “massacre” as they fled would be the usual tragic consequence of bitter civil war).

          Aside from the journalistic inertia mentioned above, the retention of the unproven high figure of massacre victims in the case of Srebrenica is clearly the result of political will on the part of two governments:

          The title suggests that the film-makers have rescued from oblivion a tragically neglected event, when in fact, rarely in the history of warfare has a massacre been the focus of so much attention.

          But when all is said and done, it is an illusion to think that condemning perpetrators of a massacre in Bosnia will ensure that the next civil war somewhere in the world will be carried out in a more chivalrous manner.

          In this context, the Western lamentations that inflate the Srebrenic massacre into “the greatest mass genocide since Nazi times” are a diversion from the real existing genocide,


          3) All instances of “Srebrenica” with quotes:

          apacity for critical thinking should regard the lavish public breast-beating over “Srebrenica” (the quotation marks indicate the symbol rather than the actual event)

          with a certain skepticism. If mainstream media commentators and politicians are so extraordinarily moved by “Srebrenica”,

          as they showed changes in terrain which might indicate massacres, not the alleged massacres themselves), the U.S. used “Srebrenica” for two clear purposes:

          Exploitation of “Srebrenica” then helped set the stage for the Kosovo war of 1999:

          To use “Srebrenica” as an effective instrument in the restructuring of former Yugoslavia

          as well as at a hearing incriminating Karadzic and Mladic (in the absence of any legal defense) and at various trials whenever “Srebrenica” comes up.

          In all probability the film-makers, aspiring artists and “genocide experts” who consider “Srebrenica” suitable material for touching the emotions of the public believe that they are serving the interests of peace and humanity.

          The obsessive reference to “Srebrenica” has a negative effect far beyond the Balkans.

          The false interpretation of “Srebrenica” as part of an ongoing Serb project of “genocide” was used to incite the NATO war against Yugoslavia,


          4) Interesting border cases of Srebrenica without quotes.

          [subhed:] Srebrenica As Myth
          No quotes around Srebrenica, but this means, in other words, Srebrenica as “Srebrenica.”

          The political exploitation of Srebrenica
          –I guess the quote-logic here is, It is a real place, and the massacre was a real event. But political exploitation turns it into “Srebrenica.” Not using the quotes here may be inconsistent, but it’s a tough call.

          Sandy McCroskey

          1. Propaganda
            As I have now stated repeatedly:

            [I]f Johnstone has never “denied the fact of the massacre,” she has stayed out of the outright-denial camp only through the most narrow and slippery use of (if you will) deniability.

            Can you imagine putting “Holocaust” in quotes routinely, or using a headline like “Auschwitz as Myth,” when refering to the Nazi genocide’s use to Zionist propagandists?

            Can you imagine substituting “Jenin” or “Fallujah” for “Srebrenica” in the follwing line: In all probability the film-makers, aspiring artists and “genocide experts” who consider “Srebrenica” suitable material for touching the emotions of the public believe that they are serving the interests of peace and humanity.

            How about condescending remarks about the “obsessive reference to ‘Sabra and Shatila'” by those seeking to bring Ariel Sharon to justice?

            Such exercises are useful in exposing how perfectly the left has come to mirror its ostensible enemies.

            1. Circular argument?
              Auschwitz is established historical fact. I think that was happened at Srebrenica is certainly known by a number of people, somewhere out there, but it is not known by me. All I know at this point are the contending claims about what happened. Diana Johnstone seems to be arguing in good faith that the evidence suggests something different to her than it suggests to you. I am not convinced that your comparison is valid and not itself merely propagandistic.


              1. Willful ignorance
                Srebrenica is established historical fact too. It has been more extensively documented than all too many such massacres, so you have nobody to blame but yourself for your ignorance. If you can conclude that Johnstone is arguing in “good faith” after all the cheap rhetorical tricks that have been outlined here, we have little more to talk about.

          2. filesearch glitch
            A typo in “Srebrenica” kept this one from coming out in the list of references to “Srebrenica massacre” and it fell under just “massacre” instead.

            In this context, the Western lamentations that inflate the Srebrenic massacre into “the greatest mass genocide since Nazi times” are a diversion from the real existing genocide,

            Again, there are no quotemarks.

            1. Poor choice
              She may not use quotes, but this is a glaring example of her sleazy, manipulative style. Did anyone ever call Srebrenica “the greatest mass genocide since Nazi times”? After Cambodia and Rwanda? Absurd. What she is alluding to is the frequent reference to Srebrenica as “the greatest mass genocide since Nazi times in Europe.” Which it was. The propaganda you are defending is disingenuous as well as evil.

  6. You said Chomsky and his followers effectively censored
    (1) You said Chomsky and his followers effectively censored Brockes despite the fact that he said Brockes piece should remain in the Guardian Website. Chomsky never said It should be pulled out from Guardian Website. He only demanded a correction.
    you are not responding to that point. No apologies from you that you are wrong.

    (2) In your “ Chomsky jumps on Bosnia Revisionism Bandwagon

    1. Responses, for what it’s worth
      1.) Did those who protested Johnstone’s work in Ordfront explicitly call for its censorship? I doubt it. Yet Johnstone accused them of trying to bring Ordfront to “heel,” and Chomsky signed a letter defending her freedom to publish. You have one standard for Johnstone and another for Brockes. (How many times do I have to repeat myself?)

      2.) I provided citations and live links for my allegations about Johnstone. You fail to do the same for your contradictions of these claims. Johnstone is free to give us her own version of events.

      3.) I never “called” Herman anything. You are the one who throws insults around. I stand by my accusation that he apologizes for genocide. Sorry if you failed to understand my arguments—I think my writing was pretty clear.

      4.) You clearly do have reading comprehension problems—you see what you want to and ignore the rest. Yes, Hoare does a good job of repudiating the Bosnia revisionists. But the point of my orginal post in this item is the tragic irony that this task falls to a neo-interventionist who seems blind to the war crimes of US imperialism. Chomsky has obviously done a great deal of very worthwhile writing too. It doesn’t let him off the hook for loaning legitimacy to claptrap on Bosnia.

      5.) Why should I read Johnstone’s book when her “journalism” reveals her as a dishonest propagandist?

      6.) Manny Goldstein raises the possibility that Ramsey Clark is a government agent, given his consistent role of playing right into the hands of the official propaganda against the anti-war movement (we’re all suckers for Saddam and Milosevic, etc.). Ramsey Clark is the former federal attorney general, who oversaw the FBI’s COINTELPRO campaign against political dissidents in the ’60s. Those who called me a government agent didn’t even hedge their bets by posing it as a possibility, but made flat accusations. And, unlike Clark, I was never head of the US Justice Department. I’m just a writer.

      7.) You don’t know the difference between name-calling and analysis. Of all the examples you cite, “genocide-apologist” is the only one which can be considered an example of name-calling (albeit, an accurate one). The one point which I concede to you is the reference to Chomsky’s “advancing years.” That was south of the suspenders, I admit it. Mea culpa. But I make no apologies for the “lost his moral compass” line.

      8.) I have responded endlessly to the ugly and disingenuous arguments of my opponents on this issue.

      And good riddance to you, Mr. Hedge

      1. Since you seem determined to malign me repeatedly, Bill,
        and since your blog is read by various people I respect, I’m going to respond.

        Precisely what right do you have to assume that anyone who defends the Bosnians or Kosovars from a political standpoint other than your own is doing so from base motives ? Why is it that when I defend the Bosnians, Kosovars or Iranian Arabs then I’m using them as “ideological cannon-fodder

        1. Ah, vindication!
          There’s no vindication like getting it from both sides! So thanks, everybody! Being lambasted by you, Dr. Hoare, will make the neo-Chetniks around here fume in frustration that they cannot tar me with their neo-interventionist epithet. So keep the rotten tomatoes coming!

          It is not a question of “a political standpoint other than [my] own.” The Henry Jackson Society stands for imperialism “shap[ing] the world more actively by intervention” and the “maintenance of a strong military with global expeditionary reach.” This viewpoint isn’t just different from my own—it is antithetical to my most deeply-held principles.

          If the Jackson Society is not (consciously or un) using the Bosnians, Kosovars, Iranian Arabs, Egyptian Copts and the rest as “ideological cannon-fodder,” then what does explain their complete silence on the indigenous peoples and Afro-descendants of Colombia, or (for that matter) the Palestinians? The only references to Palestine on the group’s “Greater Middle East” page concern the lack of democracy in the Palestinian pseudo-state (e.g. Emanuele Ottolenghi’s “Hamas Without Veils,” Alpher & Jawad’s “One Year After Arafat“). The only brief reference to Israeli settler colonization, land theft, water theft, the Apartheid Wall—in short, the unavoidable context for Palestinian authoritarianism—comes in the Palestinian half of the Israeli-Palestinian tit-for-tat on the après-Arafat (Alpher & Jawad’s piece).

          You feel that Western military intervention “averted” a greater disaster in Bosnia and Kosova? I say it was part of the disaster! I will point out (again) that the US-brokered Dayton Accord rewarded Serb aggression. I will point out (again) that NATO intervention precipitated the worst of the violence in Kosova. “Operation Horseshoe” was launched in direct response to Operation Allied Force. Today (I must reiterate, it seems), Kosova is still occupied by foreign powers, divided into hostile enclaves, subject to periodic violent outbursts—and hasn’t acheived independence! Worse, the ethnic cleansing has continued right under NATO’s nose. Although numerically much smaller, the proportion of Serbs who have been forced to flee Kosova since Allied Force is about the same as that of Albanians who had been forced to flee before. I assume you saw the Feb. 8 New York Times story about how Kosova’s Roma, forced by Albanian attacks to take refuge in a Mitrovica industrial waste dump, are suffering from lead poisoning. Sounds pretty “disastrous” to me.

          On a related point, I certainly would not have opposed bombing the rail lines to Auschwitz, but I think it is very telling that it never happened!

          I don’t exactly think I’m “better” than Marshall Freeman Harris, but I note that he is a fellow at Freedom House—which also seems to be almost exclusively concerned with “freedom” under regimes hostile to Washington.

          I am not sectarian. As WW4 REPORT’s mission statement says, “We are fastidiously non-sectarian.” What “sect” do you perceive that I adhere to?

          I may not have had much success in liberating Colombia. But at least I am not complicit in oppressing Colombia. The same US government you look to to protect the world from genocide is deeply complicit with something closely approaching it in Colombia. There are over a million internal displaced in Colombia now—more than there ever were from Kosova. Villages (including some I visited in 2003) have been “cleansed” as surely as those of Bosnia and Kosova were; massacres, disappearances and assassinations of peasants are routine. Sometimes these attacks are carried out by paramilitary forces closely linked to the official army; sometimes (as in the case of San José de Apartadó, one of the villages I visited) they are carried out directly by the army. This army is closely overseen by 800 US advisors, and receives more US aid than any on Earth after Israel and Egypt. The US has precisely the same degree of distance and deniability in the Colombia bloodshed that Milosevic had in Bosnia. Supporting “maintenance of a strong [US] military with global expeditionary reach” is a direct betrayal of the Colombian peasantry.

          As for Sen. Jackson, this “dogged defender” of the war in Vietnam was “far from perfect”? Your double standard is showing again…

          If you read my book Homage to Chiapas you will find that (to the chagrin of the Marxists) I call out Karl Marx as a supporter of not only gobal capitalism but of the 1848 US annexation of one-third of Mexico! Bakunin was not a Czarist, and he hardly exemplifies the contemporary anarchist position. The Spanish anarchists committed some unfortunate excesses in the ’30s, but I find your complaint slightly ironic given that the agents of US imperialism slaughtered priests in Central America 50 years later. I am no fan of Lenin or Trotsky, but the sailors killed at Kronstadt were also on the “radical left,” recall! Your claim that the “heroes of the radical left” have as much blood on their hands as those of the right and center can only be credible if you include Stalin—which I certainly do not.

          The European Social Democratic model is looking better and better (if only by comparison) as the world descends into neo-fascism of one variety or another (Islamist, Chetnik/pan-Slavist, “anti-terrorist”). It has little to do with the savage-capitalist, increasingly theocratic panopticon security state that prevails on my side of Atlantic. The “religious fundamentalism” that threatens freedom here in the US is that of Bush—to whom you would grant “a strong military with global expeditionary reach.” Gee, thanks a lot.

          As to the charge of Utopianism, I turn to the words of Albert Camus in his 1946 essay “Neither Victims Nor Executioners“: “To refuse to sanction murder is no more Utopian than the ‘realistic’ ideologies of our day.” If you want to cheer on US interventionism, go right ahead. And I will keep pointing out the contradictions in your position, and loaning solidarity to US imperialism’s victims—while also challenging those who delegitimize anti-imperialism by cheering on executioners other than US imperialism.

          Yes, its a lonely job. But somebody’s got to do it.

          1. I’m glad if I’ve vindicated you, Bill.
            If my attacks boost the ratings of an honourable but misguided ultra-leftist like yourself in the eyes of all the other ultra-leftists – many of whom are far from honourable – I’m happy to help. But it’s a bit much to feel pleased about ‘getting it from both sides’, as if we all feel so threatened by your dangerous radical principles that we’re compelled to attack you. You attacked me, remember ? I’m just defending myself. I can’t speak for other members of the Neoconservative-Zionist Conspiracy for Global Domination, but personally, I’m very pleased that you are exposing the crimes of the US and its allies; I hope you’ll continue to do so.

            You so-called ‘anti-imperialists’ constantly propagate the myth, that the West’s approach to a particular foreign crisis can either involve ‘intervention’ or ‘non-intervention’. In reality, there’s no such thing as ‘non-intervention’. To spell it out: faced with a brutal regime in a foreign country, a democratic state can choose to trade with it and maintain friendly relations; or it can break off relations and impose sanctions; or it can attempt ‘regime change’. But all three involve ‘intervention’. The real question is, what kind of intervention ? I’m sure I’ve done as much to you to expose the disastrous effect of Western intervention in Bosnia; and my friend and fellow HJS member Brendan Simms has written the best scholarly critique and condemnation of Britain’s intervention in Bosnia (‘Unfinest Hour: Britain and the Destruction of Bosnia’). Yet the criminal Anglo-Franco-American collusion in the Bosnian genocide was ultimately derailed by the principled opposition to it in the US, one that included conservatives, liberals and others. Had it not been for this opposition, it’s entirely possible that Milosevic would have won the war, Bosnia would have been formally dismembered, and Kosovo successfully emptied of Albanians. But your brand of ultra-leftist politics draws no distinction between the Clinton Administration, which colluded in genocide, and the Congressional opposition, which forced it to change. And that’s why I’m accusing you of being a sectarian.

            The currency of ‘anti-imperialism’ has become so devalued that it is now entirely worthless. If you’re going indiscriminately to condemn Western leaders no matter what they do, then what value is your condemnation ? Answer: very little. So the situation in Kosovo is far from perfect, but why not just ask the overwhelming majority of Kosovo’s population whether they’re glad NATO intervened, and respect their opinion ? Or if you’re so wise and the current Western policy is so terrible, how about spelling out how you’d make things better ? (that goes for any other so-called ‘anti-imperialist’ who’s reading this). Maybe you think you have the solution that would overnight make Albanian and Serb Kosovars live together in peace and multiethnic harmony, in lovely anarchist communes, organising workshops and smoking marijuana, and occasionally engaging in some light-hearted church-burning and nun-raping, but I suspect you wouldn’t find it so easy in practice (except perhaps the last bit).

            You have entirely failed to explain how supporting a military with a global expeditionary reach has anything to do with supporting the dispossession of Colombian peasants: your argument is a complete non-sequitur. I’m sure you know better than I do that your fellow peaceniks from the ranks of the isolationist Republican right, like Pat Buchanan, tend to have a pretty reactionary position on Latin America and are entirely in favour of neo-colonialism in the US’s ‘backyard’. But I see the point of the HJS and our fellow travellers as moving Western policy away from supporting the Somozas, Pinochets, Mubaraks, Fahds, etc. I would couple that with ending Western complicity in brutalities carried out by Colombia, Turkey, Israel and other Western allies. A strong military was needed to defeat Nazism, end the Holocaust, keep Stalin out of Western Europe and liberate Kosovo from Milosevic, and may be needed to defend democratic Taiwan from totalitarian China, for example, or to halt another Rwanda-style genocide. And Britain’s strong military was necessary to liberate the Falkland Islands from Argentine fascism, bringing down the Argentine junta and helping the spread of democracy in Latin America. The HJS will, I assure you, be posting more articles on Latin America once we’ve found a suitable Latin American specialist – we’re not Trotskyists; we don’t appoint random ignorant hacks to push the ‘line’ on areas they know nothing about.

            I notice that you’ve changed the text of your blog since yesterday; you’ve thought better about trying to deny anarchist crimes against priests during the Spanish Civil War. I glad – I’d have been very disillusioned to discover that Bill Weinberg was an atrocity denier. I’m also glad you’ve been outspoken about Marx’s dubious record on Latin America; perhaps you could point that out more frequently to the various Marxists who frequent your blog.

            As for me being supposedly ‘blind’ to the crimes of the Western powers and their allies, and supposedly ignoring Israel and Palestine, I refer you to the following links:





            So, how about a retraction of your unfounded allegations against me ?

            PS It should be ‘once more UNTO the breach’, not ‘once more INTO the breach’.

            1. Oy vey…
              Is this what you mean by an example of your courageous denunciation of the crimes of US imperialism?

              George W Bush has overthrown Saddam and the Taliban, helped prevent nuclear war between India and Pakistan, and is the first US president to acknowledge the necessity of democratising the Middle East… Bush is vilified for his unilateralism, but all this means is that he overthrew a fascist dictator without the approval of the so-called UN security council… Well, if the alternative to Bush’s unilateralism is a return to Clintonite multilateralism…then Bush is clearly preferable.

              Once again: Gee, thanks.

              Other of your letters aren’t so bad; I liked the one drawing a parallel between Sharon and Milosevic, a point we have made ourselves. But the apologia for the Iraq war is beyond the pale. The truly progressive forces in Iraq recognize that the country is caught between what they call “two poles of terrorism”—that of the Islamists and that of Bush. The conflation of illegal aggression with a campaign to “democratize” the Middle East makes Bush all the more dangerous.

              As to your points:

              “Non-intervention” is generally a shorthand for “no military intervention.” Unlike many on the anti-war left, I opposed the arms embargo against the Bosnians, recognizing that as a form of intervention. (Although I recognized that arming the Bosnians would also be a form of intervention, and that imperialism supplies no aid without strings attached.) Also, unlike most on the left, I supported (at least) a boycott of Saddam’s oil. (Although such brutal and idiotic policies as banning aid for hospitals and potable water projects helped delegitimize the idea of any sanctions against Iraq.)

              Is the de facto dismemberment of Bosnia much better than its formal dismemberment would have been? And where is your outrage at Kosova being successfully emptied of Serbs (and Roma)?

              I’m not so sure Clinton changed course in the Balkans due to Congressional pressure; I think it had more to do with a need to reassert US power in Europe. In any case, I fail to see what this difference of perception has to do with me being a “sectarian.”

              As for popular Kosovar Albanian support for NATO, we’ve been through this before. It is entirely understandable, but incredibly sad—rather like Sunni support for the Islamists in Iraq, or Palestinian support for Hamas.

              I agree that the currency of anti-imperialism has been devalued—precisely by unthinking kneejerk support for thugs like Milosevic and Saddam of the kind which I am opposing here. But I am oppsosing it in an effort (however Quixotic) to redeem anti-imperialism. Because without it, the world is sunk (which strikes me each day as a more likely possibility).

              Your glib line about my supposed plans for a marijuana-smoking, nun-raping anarchist utopia in Kosova is really beneath contempt, and makes me question the wisdom of even continuing to engage you in dialogue. I worked damn hard in the ’90s to try to loan some meaningful solidarity to Milosevic’s (and Tudjman’s) victims. I put Serbian anti-war dissidents (from groups like Women in Black) on WBAI Radio. I organized a benefit at CBGB’s for draft resisters in Vojvodina. And I consistently, actively opposed the terrifying pro-Milosevic consensus on the left—including by providing a voice (both on WBAI and at public forums I organized) for Bosnians and Albanians who supported military intervention, even though I strongly disagreed with them. I did this in the interests of honest dialogue on a morally complex issue, and I am still taking abuse for it today. You have no right to question my credentials like this.

              If you have failed to understand my rather self-evident point about Colombia, that doesn’t mean I have failed to explain it. You, or at least the HJS, want to expand the reach of the same military power which is overseeing atrocities by proxy in Colombia. (And probably not always by proxy—there are credible reports of US troops directly participating in torture sessions: see last three paragraphs here.)

              Whatever justifications you may see for a strong US military to defend Taiwan against China or Kosova against Serbia, the simplistic equation can be reversed. Perhaps China’s People’s Liberation Army should have a “global expeditionary reach” to defend the Colombian peasantry from the US. That one doesn’t sound so good, does it? Yet the logic is identical to yours.

              You want me to listen to (“and respect”) the Albanians in Kosova who support US military intervention. I challenge you to listen to the peasants and indigenous peoples in Colombia who oppose it. Why are their voices, and their suffering, unreal to you?

              I’m sure the HJS has sufficient funds to seek out and hire a Latin America “expert.” I am all too familiar with Latin America’s invisibility to the neo-interventionists. PNAC has no Latin America section on their website either.

              Yes, I did a little refresher on the Spanish Civil War, and the anti-clerical violence was worse than I’d remembered. By the way, the agents of US imperialism are still slaughtering priests in Colombia. You have yet to demonstrate any outrage over this.

              So, sorry, but I don’t feel any of my allegations were “unfounded.” However, on the subject, I am still waiting for you to identify what “sect” you think I am associated with.

              1. Where’s your sense of humour, Bill ?
                Honestly, I would have thought it was obvious that my reference to nun-raping communes was tongue-in-cheek. Lighten up. I always credited anarchists with having a great sense of irony, eg our very own ‘Class War’, which used to be hilarious in the old days. Obviously, we should end our discussion here. Just a couple of points. Firstly, the HJS does not have the funds to ‘hire’ anybody – all our members work on an entirely voluntary, unpaid basis, and a lot of our organisers are unsalaried students. Secondly, you don’t have to be in a sect to be sectarian – you, Bill, simply refuse to acknowledge the vital contribution to saving Bosnia made by people from the centre and right of the political spectrum, and that makes you sectarian. And thirdly, there is a pretty vocal current of left-wing opinion in Britain that either a) felt the removal of Saddam Hussein was the lesser evil to keeping him in power and continuing to starve Iraq to death, or b) opposed the invasion, but feel that now that it’s happened, we have a duty to defend the Iraqi trade unionists, democrats, socialists and feminists from the jihadi fascists, and thus should not pull the troops out prematurely. See, for example, http://www.democratiya.com – Labour Friends of Iraq. That is the current I identify with.

                1. Holocaust humor, eh?
                  I have a sense of humor, even black humor, but the reference to raping nuns was pretty over the top—especially given that we are discussing Bosnia, for crissakes!

                  A few brief responses:

                  Actually, yes you do have to be in a sect to be sectarian. Perhaps the better word would be “dogmatic”—which I also deny, but is at least subjective and therefore arguable.

                  We disagree on exactly what constitutes “saving Bosnia,” but if I were as dogmatic as you seem to think why would I organize forums at which pro-intervention viewpoints were voiced—and not as strawmen to knock down, but because I felt my anti-war friends really needed to grapple with the arguments? You are being quite disingenuous. It is you who are condescendingly dismissive of the left.

                  The “continuing to starve Iraq to death” line supposes that the only alternative to invading would have been continuing the harsh sanctions, a false dichotomy. While you crow about the overthrow of a fascist dictator, nearly Saddam-scale human rights violations by the occupation forces and its torture state are escalating in Iraq. Sectarian violence has only increased since Saddam’s day, and elementary women’s rights have been dramatically rolled back (as argued by Yanar Mohammed of the Organization of Women’s Freedom in Iraq). The new Iraqi consitution imposes anti-woman sharia measures, which had no place in the Saddam-era legal code. Congratulations!

                  I agree strongly that “we have a duty to defend the Iraqi trade unionists, democrats, socialists and feminists from the jihadi fascists,” but we seem to strongly disagree about who “we” are. I have repeatedly warned against abuse of that inherently obfuscatory pronoun. The “we” that I mean are the natural allies of the Iraqi progressives—unionists, socialists and feminists in the West. The US troops in Iraq are doing nothing to protect trade unionists. On the contrary, they are raiding their offices, and a wave of assassinations and “disappearances” of labor activists is sweeping Iraq. The Iraqi Freedom Congress, the current I support in Iraq, seeks solidarity from the anti-war forces in the West, and calls for an immediate withdrawal of US troops. Gilbert Achcar argues persuasively in our recent interview that the US troop presence is paradoxically strengthening the Islamists. Most ironically (and obviously), the regime the US is protecting in Iraq is also largely controlled by Islamists! A Shiite theocracy versus a Sunni one. Again: gee, thanks!

                  By the way, this seems to be the link for Labour Friends of Iraq, not democratiya.com.

                  1. Kid gloves
                    Interesting to see how oleaginous Weinberg is with Hoare. That says more than all the anarchist hot air. In fact, at one point they were on the same page with respect to “precipitous” withdrawal from Iraq. I imagine that if the anarchist youth hadn’t smacked Weinberg around on their forums, he’d still be pushing this awful line.

                    1. “Oleaginous”?
                      So when I engage you or Peterson I’m not “oleaginous”? You have a double standard for everything don’t you? If I wavered in my opposition to the occupation of Iraq, it was due to the uncritical jihadi cheerleading of you and your cohorts, including said (poorly named) “anarchist youth.” If I was cured of this equivocation it is due to the heroic political resistance of Iraq’s secular left who vigorously oppose the terrorists you cheer on, like the Iraqi Freedom Congress.