ModernityBlog

“Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power.” Abraham Lincoln

Posts Tagged ‘Srebrenica massacre

Greater Surbiton And Douglas Murray.

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Greater Surbiton has a superb post on Douglas Murray:

“Murray has spoken in defence of the English Defence League, a fascist, Islamophobic organisation of street thugs, and of Robert Spencer, proprietor of the anti-Muslim hate-site ‘Jihadwatch‘ (see the video at the start of this post). With some nuance, arguably, but unambiguously enough to be described as a ‘ringing defence’ by Spencer, who writes ‘At a recent conference… devoted to attempting to smear many anti-jihad forces, including the English Defense League and our own Stop Islamization of America, as neofascists, the extraordinarily eloquent English writer Douglas Murray offers this ringing defense (of me also, for which I am grateful) and denunciation of the Left’s guilt-by-association tactics.’ Murray praises Spencer as a ‘brilliant scholar’. Yet Spencer is a promoter of Srebrenica genocide denial. The EDL has also promoted Murray’s defence of it on their website.”

George Monbiot On Genocide Belittlers.

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George Monbiot has written a fine piece in the Guardian, Left and libertarian right cohabit in the weird world of the genocide belittlers:

“But genocide denial is just as embarrassing to the left as it is to the libertarian right. Last week Edward Herman, an American professor of finance best known for co-authoring Manufacturing Consent with Noam Chomsky, published a new book called The Srebrenica Massacre. It claims that the 8,000 deaths at Srebrenica are “an unsupportable exaggeration. The true figure may be closer to 800.”

Like Karadzic, the book claims that the market massacres in Sarajevo were carried out by Bosnian Muslim provocateurs. It maintains that the Serb forces’ reburial of Bosnian corpses is “implausible and lack[s] any evidential support” (an astonishing statement in view of the ICMP’s findings). It insists that the witnesses to the killings are “not credible” and suggests that the Bosnian Muslim soldiers retreated from Srebrenica to ensure that more Bosnians were killed, in order to provoke US intervention.

These are not the first such claims that Herman has made. Last year, with David Peterson, he published a book called The Politics of Genocide. Mis-citing a tribunal judgment, he maintains that the Serb forces “incontestably had not killed any but ‘Bosnian Muslim men of military age’.” Worse still, he places the Rwandan genocide in inverted commas throughout the text and maintains that “the great majority of deaths were Hutu, with some estimates as high as two million”, and that the story of 800,000 “largely Tutsi deaths” caused by genocide “appears to have no basis in any facts”. It’s as straightforward an instance of revisionism as I’ve ever seen, comparable in this case only to the claims of the genocidaires themselves.

But here’s where it gets really weird. The cover carries the following endorsement by John Pilger. “In this brilliant exposé of great power’s lethal industry of lies, Edward Herman and David Peterson defend the right of us all to a truthful historical memory.” The foreword was written by Noam Chomsky. He doesn’t mention the specific claims the book makes, but the fact that he wrote it surely looks like an endorsement of the contents. The leftwing website Media Lens maintained that Herman and Peterson were “perfectly entitled” to talk down the numbers killed at Srebrenica. What makes this all the more remarkable is that Media Lens has waged a long and fierce campaign against Iraq Body Count for underestimating the number killed in that country.

Why is this happening? Both the LM network and Herman’s supporters oppose western intervention in the affairs of other nations. Herman rightly maintains that far more attention is paid to atrocities committed by US enemies than to those committed by the US and its allies. But both groups then take the unwarranted step of belittling the acts of genocide committed by opponents of the western powers.

The rest of us should stand up for the victims, whoever they are, and confront those trying to make them disappear.”

The original post with full references can be seen at Monbiot’s site.

Update 1: In a hole, stop digging, but Media Lens carry on:

“One initial thought. Monbiot writes:

‘The leftwing website Media Lens maintained that Herman and Peterson were “perfectly entitled” to talk down the numbers killed at Srebrenica.’

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2011/jun/13/left-and-libertarian-right

What does ‘talk down’ really mean here? Downplay? Underestimate? Deliberately underestimate? Dishonestly underestimate?

In fact, last week we spelled out our position to Monbiot on Twitter:

‘We’re saying +everyone+ is entitled to debate facts. Who are we, or you, to say they are not? Do you possess Absolute Truth?’

Imagine how it would have looked for him, if he had honestly represented our position:

‘The leftwing website Media Lens maintained that Herman and Peterson were “perfectly entitled” to debate the numbers killed at Srebrenica.’

As Monbiot also knows (we sent him a link to what follows), this is also what we wrote in 2009:

‘It is certainly true that we have posted articles by Herman and Peterson discussing the massacre on our website. But it is simply false to suggest that they have argued that “the genocide at Srebrenica was all a hoax”. Herman and Peterson have written:

‘”The Srebrenica massacre took place in the month before Operation Storm, Croatia’s devastating attack and ethnic cleansing of some 250,000 Serbs from the Krajina, with over 1,000 civilians killed, including over 500 women and children…” (Edward Herman and David Peterson, ‘The Dismantling of Yugoslavia,’ Monthly Review, October 2007; http://www.monthlyreview.org/1007herman-peterson1.php)

‘Their very rational concern is to discuss the “asymmetry in how the Srebrenica massacre and Operation Storm have entered the Western canon”. (Ibid) Their interest, then, is in precisely +comparing+ how these two horrific massacres were treated by Western politics and media. Herman and Peterson have also written:

‘”There is a good case to be made that, while there were surely hundreds of executions, and possibly as many as a thousand or more, the 8,000 figure is a political construct and eminently challengeable.” (Herman and Peterson, ‘Milosevic’s Death in the Propaganda System,’ ZNet, May 14, 2006; http://www.zmag.org/znet/viewArticle/3884)

‘Herman and Peterson, then, are +not+ denying that mass killings took place at Srebrenica. They also do not accept the figure cited by Kamm and others, but that they are perfectly entitled to do. The point is that while critics are free to take issue with their facts, sources and arguments, it is nonsense to accuse them of sins that are the “moral equivalent of Holocaust denial”. And to associate us with Holocaust denial on the grounds that we publish their material is desperate indeed.’

http://www.medialens.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=585:dancing-on-a-mass-grave-oliver-kamm-of-the-times-smears-media-lens&catid=23:alerts-2009&Itemid=9

Notice that Monbiot has smeared us in a national newspaper on a subject we have never written about beyond the above explanation of why we posted, or linked to, articles by Herman and Peterson on the subject on our website. We have not ourselves ever written about the Srebrenica massacre other than to affirm that it took place. For this, according to Monbiot, we are guilty of the thought crime of ‘genocide denial’.”

[My emphasis.]

Chomsky’s Silence on Ratko Mladic And Srebrenica.

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Normally, you can’t shut up Noam Chomsky. He pops up in the media. An article here, a video clip there. Whatever else you say about him, he is indefatigable.

But surprisingly he’s been rather silent on the arrest of Ratko Mladic and Srebrenica, as far as I can tell.

Presumably, some time in the future he will inflict upon us some tortured piece, which exculpates Radovan Karadžić, Ratko Mladic and blames it all on the UN or ICTY. It is just a matter of time, and Chomsky is such a creature of habit.

James Bloodworth has written a good post on this very topic, ably summing up Chomsky’s method:

“The behaviour of Chomsky in this instance should be put into the context of the wider reaction of certain sections of the left to all Western intervention – no matter that intervention in this case happened altogether too late. The method of Chomsky and his acolytes is straightforward: select an action taken by the West – whether in Kosovo, Rwanda, or Libya (or in this case belatedly in Bosnia and Herzegovina) – invert the role of perpetrator and victim, before forming a conclusion which lays the blame for every atrocity at the door of Western intervention or a Western ally in the region. If this means denying or downplaying genocide committed by those opposed to Western forces, then so be it. “

Update 1: I should remind those genocide deniers, fans of Radovan Karadžić and Ratko Mladic that this blog has a zero tolerance for neo-fascists, their mates and deniers, so go away. Stop spamming my threads and if you can, slowly read my comment’s policy.

A Pompous Ass.

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Coming back after a few days away is refreshing, if only to see how others view matters.

I particularly appreciated Owen’s comment in this thread, as it seems to sum things up nicely:

“Owen 24/01/2011 at 15:25

What a pompous ass David Gibbs comes across as.

I asked him three questions, not unreasonable questions, in order to try and determine the substance of his position in relation to Srebrenica.

But he doesn’t choose to clarify.

Nor does he choose to deal with the criticism of his observation that the origins of the genocidal massacre at Srebrenica lay in the raids conducted by the defenders of the besieged enclave and not in the Strategic Objectives of the Bosnian Serb Assembly.

A historian so picky and choosy that he reserves the favour of his disclosing his position to the followers of Louis Proyect is hardly demonstrating a determined commitment to the public justification of his opinions.

When it comes to defending his take on historical events in the public forum the tenured professor has a lesson or two to learn from Marko Hoare’s robust willingness to face the music.” [My emphasis.]

I should remind readers that Dr. Hoare has produced another wide ranging critique, First Check Their Sources 3: The myth that ‘Germany encouraged Croatia to secede from Yugoslavia’.

A Scholar Replies To David N. Gibbs.

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Dr. Marko Attila Hoare previously posted an initial reply to David N Gibbs on his blog, Greater Surbiton, as First Check Their Sources: On David N. Gibbs and ‘shoddy scholarship’.

One of the key parts was:

“…let us first make this clear: it is wholly untrue that Gibbs’s book has ‘presented an extended critique’ of my own publications. Anyone reading Gibbs’s book without examining carefully the endnotes would not even notice that I had been criticised at all: my name does not appear in the text itself, nor in the index. Gibbs has four trivial quibbles with me, buried in his endnotes. Gibbs does not, as he now claims, accuse me in his book of ‘shoddy scholarship’, and has made this accusation only in his subsequent reply to me.”

In a second reply, First Check Their Sources 2: The myth that ‘most of Bosnia was owned by the Serbs before the war’ Dr. Hoare deals with Gibbs’ questionable use of sources.

This explains it:

“Gibbs’s claim that ‘Serbs had always occupied most of Bosnia’s land area, owing to their demographic dominance in rural regions’ and that ‘the Serbs had always controlled most of the land in Bosnia – since they were disproportionately rural’ is therefore false. His deduction, based on this falsehood, that Western peace-plans that awarded over 40% of Bosnia to the Serb rebels were actually unfavourable to them, can therefore be exposed as an attempt to fabricate Serb victimhood at Western hands.”

I suspect that over time Professor Gibbs’ book will be liberally torn apart, for its doubtful use of sources, misrepresentation of data and speculative interpretations.

Professor Gibbs, Failure To Address The Issues.

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I finally got around to reading all of the 339+ comments on David Gibbs’ guest post and I must say I am disappointed.

I like academic discussions normally.

I appreciate clever people making intelligent points and I confess to being a fan of Engage, where some witty or informative exchanges are to be found. I had hoped that this guest post would be equally sharp and illuminating, sadly it is not.

Professor Gibbs seems to have made a conscious choice not to address the criticism of his work in any significant way.
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Apologies To Marko.

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I made a mistake by allowing David Gibbs a guest post.

At the time I thought he was a reasonable academic who deserved a right of reply, however, subsequently I have had time to reflect on my poor judgement.

I could excuse it away by saying I was rushed and I often tend to give people the benefit of the doubt in such matters. I could say I thought it would be informative to see these issues thrashed out, but that’s not good enough.

It was very poor timing, inconvenient for everyone except seemingly Professor Gibbs, and at the very least it should have been put off for another time.

In truth, I should have probably said “use someone else’s blog or create your own”. But that’s not good enough

So my sincere apologies to Marko Attila Hoare, who was stuck in Germany when this first came about, by the excessive snow and blocked airports. I can appreciate how difficult it was for him.

Dr. Hoare was rightly annoyed at matters, but made a conscious effort to put all that behind him and deal with Gibbs’ arguments.

I haven’t reviewed the thread with any real attention to detail, and will probably cover its contents in a future post.

Dr. Hoare deserved better, I am very sorry for the hassle and inconvenience that I caused him.

In the future, should Professor Gibbs want a “right of reply” then he can use the able services of his friend and fan, Louis Proyect or post in the comments boxes, like everyone else.

I won’t make the same mistake twice!

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