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Denial About Rwanda.

with 37 comments

I am indebted to Marko Attila Hoare for pointing me to the piece below by Adam Jones, and I freely admit that I rarely see eye to eye with Marko politically, but his work in shining a light on genocide denial is admirable and worthy of praise.

Marko’s new post covers genocide denial in the Balkans and Rwanda, and he points out the deniers’ techniques haven’t changed much over the years. Amongst them is how they will use an obscure source to dismiss a reputable one, mangle a source to change its meaning and intent, or link to a questionable piece of evidence to buttress their arguments. That is only for starters, deniers will use every disreputable method possible and do so consciously, which is why their actions must be vigorously opposed.

Adam Jones, a specialist in the field, takes apart The Politics of Genocide by Edward S. Herman and David Peterson:

“For Herman & Peterson to offer any evidence at all for their squalid inversion of reality, however, they need Davenport & Stam. There is almost nothing else in the scholarly literature that can be squeezed into their framework, even in denatured form. So in the process of bending Davenport & Stam to make them fit, they not only jettison their sources’ core conclusions and substitute their own; they toss out Davenport & Stam’s guiding assumptions as well! In preparing their statistical analysis of patterns of violence, Davenport & Stam divided Rwandan territory into zones that were government-controlled, RPF-controlled, and contested. Herman & Peterson aver that this is “problematic.” In fact, they allege, those whom Davenport & Stam deemed guilty of “the vast majority” of the killing were such a bumbling bunch that “it is frankly counterintuitive” to consider them “in control of anything” (p. 133). Really, it’s a wonder the poor dears could tie their shoes — let alone mobilize to massacre at least half a million Tutsis and oppositionist Hutus.

So now, “the vast majority” of the killing that Davenport & Stam specifically attributed to Hutu Power forces is thrown up for grabs. Herman & Peterson can seize upon Davenport & Stam’s finding that “when the RPF advanced, large-scale killings escalated. When the RPF stopped, large-scale killings largely decreased” to contend that this shows RPF forces were “the initiators and the main perpetrators of 1994’s mass blood-letting.” Davenport & Stam’s framing in fact fits with a picture of Hutu Power agents lashing out genocidally at Tusis, in spasms that correlate with RPF advances. There is a certain logic to that — panic and insecurity are frequently spurs to more frenzied killing — but there is no other evidence for it that I am aware of, and in any case Herman & Peterson’s “logic” is entirely different. They point out in their attack on me that in The Politics of Genocide, they do indeed note the incongruence between their arguments and Davenport & Stam’s findings. But they word it as follows: “Davenport and Stam fail to draw the most important conclusion from their superb work …” They don’t fail to draw the important conclusion; they draw the exactly opposite important conclusion. Davenport & Stam, apparently, are “superb” and credible authorities when their findings are convenient. When they are inconvenient, they must be ruled out as “problematic” or “fail[ing],” and replaced by rickety fabrications of Herman & Peterson’s own, mercifully unique devising.

It is perfectly legitimate, and important, to highlight these aspects of the Kagame regime, and to explore relatively understudied elements of the Rwandan genocide, its aftermath, and the wars and genocides in D.R. Congo. That inquiry is in fact well advanced, conducted by scholars with deep knowledge and an abiding understanding of Rwanda and the Great Lakes region. The long-overdue United Nations report leaked in August 2010, documenting in detail the Rwandan army’s role in genocidal atrocities against Hutus in Congo during the 1996 “clearing of the camps” and after, is clearly a watershed that no scholar or student of the region — and no analyst of Rwanda and the RPF — will be able to ignore.

It remains, nonetheless, malicious and profoundly illegitimate to deny the systematic genocidal killing of Tutsis in Rwanda, by diverse institutional agents of “Hutu Power,” from April to July 1994. Such brazen denialism is what Herman & Peterson have propounded, online and in The Politics of Genocide. In Herman’s case, this besmirches an often honorable career on the progressive left, though the decline was already well advanced — he has gained notoriety in recent years for efforts to obscure and deny the Srebrenica massacre in Bosnia, among other inexplicably reactionary campaigns.[5]”

Read Marko’s post on The bizarre world of genocide denial.

Update 1: Martin Shaw has also pointed out the inadequacies of The Politics of Genocide book and its endorsement by Noam Chomsky:

“All this is also welcome fuel for a determined group of Rwanda genocide-deniers. A new book by Edward S Herman and David Peterson focusing on the use of the term “genocide” in the media and academia – The Politics of Genocide (Monthly Review Press, 2010) – argues that the western establishment has “swallowed a propaganda line on Rwanda that turned perpetrator and victim upside-down” (p.51); the RPF not only killed Hutus, but were the “prime génocidaires” (p.54); there was “large-scale killing and ethnic cleansing of Hutus by the RPF long before the April-July 1994 period (p.53); this contributed to a result in which “the majority of victims were likely Hutu and not Tutsi” (quoted with approval, p.58).

Herman and Peterson state that “a number of observers as well as participants in the events of 1994 claim that the great majority of deaths were Hutu, with some estimates as high as two million” (p.58). But a check of the reference for this shocking statement finds no more than a letter from a former RPF military officer and personal communications from a former defence council before the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (n.127, p.132) – both participants rather than “observers”. That is enough for these authors to dismiss the idea of “800,000 or more largely Tutsi deaths” as RPF and western propaganda (see Adam Jones, “On Genocide Deniers – Challenging Herman and Peterson”, AllAfrica.com. 16 July 2010).”

Update 2: Returning to Marko’s comments on David.N Gibbs’ book:

Consequently, it has been with a certain inner groaning that I’ve become aware of the latest regurgitations of the old denialist narrative. One such regurgitation is David N. Gibbs, First Do No Harm: Humanitarian Intervention and the Destruction of Yugoslavia (Vanderbilt University Press, Nashville, 2009). To give a foretaste of what you can expect of this book, Gibbs has this to say about the Srebrenica massacre: ‘Certainly, the murder of eight thousand people is a grave crime, but to call it “genocide” needlessly exaggerates the scale of the crime.’ (p. 281).

Needless to say, Gibbs has no academic expertise on the former Yugoslavia or the Balkans and does not read Serbo-Croat. He hasn’t bothered to engage with the existing literature, but simply ignored all the existing works that undermine his thesis. He has not tackled the evidence presented by Daniele Conversi, myself and others, that the Milosevic regime and the Yugoslav People’s Army deliberately engineered the break-up of Yugoslavia; or the work of Michael Libal and Richard Caplan, exploding the myth that Germany encouraged Croatia to secede from Yugoslavia; or the work of Brendan Simms, demonstrating that Britain’s intervention in Bosnia actually shielded Karadzic’s Serb forces from hostile international intervention. Instead, Gibbs has cherry-picked a few odds and ends in order to present the same old revisionist story, only with a larger number of endnotes than the previous versions written by Diana Johnstone, Michael Parenti et al. Yet he must know very well that his book will not survive a critical review by a genuine specialist in the field, that it will be ignored by all serious scholars and that it will serve only to confirm the views of the small, dwindling minority already committed to the revisionist narrative.

37 Responses

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  1. Marko’s indignation of genocide ‘deniers’ might be easier to take seriously if he didn’t promote books by Armenian genocide deniers on his blog [1]. Furthermore David N. Gibbs is pretty well respected and his book has had good reviews, so to describe it as a “sorry little propaganda pamphlet” is not really applicable. I would also like to know what evidence Marko has that Gibbs has no “academic expertise on the former Yugoslavia or the Balkans”, he may not speak Serbo-Croat but neither do a lot of journalists and authors that have written books on the Balkans that Marko probably approves of.

    1. http://greatersurbiton.wordpress.com/2008/06/17/the-armenian-genocide-should-be-recognised-by-

    Asteri

    06/12/2010 at 22:15

  2. Asteri,

    You’re accusing Marko of arguing in bad faith, but you are not expressly dealing with any of his arguments.

    Please do so, and whilst you’re at it remember to read my comments policy.

    So I take it you approve of Gibbs book?

    Cutting to the chase, do you believe that there was a massacre at Srebrenica? And who would you blame for it?

    modernityblog

    06/12/2010 at 22:32

  3. My criticism of Marko here is that he applies different standards to others than to him self. The quote from Gibbs’s book is really not that damning, as its just stating the authors view that the number 8000 did not constitute genocide, this is not an invalid opinion, it may not be yours or Marko’s but it part of the wider valid point that words like genocide should not be thrown around lightly. Having said that, I do now think that the killings of Bosnian Muslims in the civil war did constitute genocide.

    “So I take it you approve of Gibbs book?”
    yes, however I don’t agree with everything he says or the conclusions he arrives at.

    Asteri

    06/12/2010 at 23:14

  4. “My criticism of Marko here is that he applies different standards to others than to him self. “

    I am afraid that you haven’t made a very good argument thus far, if that really is your point then you should expressly state your argument, your evidence and your conclusion, and not merely point to a large post of his, which doesn’t really say a lot.

    And you haven’t answered my previous point:

    Cutting to the chase, do you believe that there was a massacre at Srebrenica? And who would you blame for it?

    modernityblog

    07/12/2010 at 00:00

  5. Marko approvingly cites a book by Justin McCarthy an Armenian genocide denier who has been rewarded by the Turkish government and the Turkish-American lobby, and is on record for saying the people only think the Armenian genocide happened because they’ve heard it said often enough, which is exactly the argument that Holocaust deniers use. I’m not saying Marko agrees with that, he obviously doesn’t – but he does make a big deal of people using what he regards as discredited sources, along spreading propaganda. I would say McCarthy’s book is pretty unreliable and propagandistic.

    I was under the impression that I had answered the last point, but yes I do believe that Srebrenica happened and that Serb forces under Mladic committed it.

    Asteri

    07/12/2010 at 01:02

  6. You will have to make a better case than mere assertions.

    Please provide some evidence concerning your comments on Justin McCarthy, evidence, and preferably not Wiki, and show exactly where his contention on the death tolls (as as far as I can see that’s what Marko’s quoting) is factually wrong:

    “These acts of killing and explusion culminated in the Balkan Wars of 1912-13, when Serbia, Greece, Bulgaria and Montenegro finally destroyed the Ottoman Empire in Europe. According to Justin McCarthy (Death and Exile: The Ethnic Cleansing of Ottoman Muslims, 1821-1922, Darwin Press, Princeton, 1996, p. 164), the Balkan Wars resulted in the death of 27% of the Muslim population of the Ottoman territories conquered by the Christian Balkan states – 632,408 people. This is a figure comparable to death-toll of the Armenian genocide from 1915, which Bloxham estimates as claiming the lives of one million Armenians or 50% of the pre-war Armenian population of the Ottoman Empire, with another half million Armenians deported but surviving (Bloxham, p. 1).”

    Or are you saying that because of his view on the Armenian genocide that his figure work above is wrong?

    modernityblog

    07/12/2010 at 01:33

  7. Many thanks for the kind words, Mod; though I’m a bit surprised to learn you rarely see eye to eye with me politically; I tend to agree with what you write much more than I disagree, and consider your political views eminently sensible.

    Asteri is a self-confessed Greek nationalist who turns up regularly at the blog of the Serb-nationalist-extremist Nebojsa Malic – a denier of the Srebrenica genocide who supported the Serbian Radical Party (the Serbian version of the BNP) in past Serbian elections, and who sympathises with the Nazi-collaborationist Serb Chetniks of World War II. Asteri never criticises his friend Malic’s nationalist extremism or genocide denial. Yet he will regularly heckle me or Daniel of Srebrenica Genocide Blog. Asteri is a shameless little hypocrite; the last person with any right to accuse others of double standards.

    Justin McCarthy is indeed a denier of the Armenian genocide, and I would never cite him as an authority on that subject; nor would I defend him from accusations of Armenian genocide denial, as Asteri defends Gibbs. But however objectionable his views on the Armenian genocide, McCarthy is a serious professional historian of Ottoman history and author of an excellent study of the ethnic cleansing of Ottoman Muslims during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries – a process of ethnic cleansing that people like Asteri like to pretend never happened.

    McCarthy’s excellent work on these largely forgotten crimes is not invalidated by his objectionable views on the Armenian genocide. Donald Bloxham, in ‘The Great Game of Genocide: Imperialism, Nationalism and the Destruction of the Ottoman Armenians’ criticises McCarthy’s treatment of the Armenians, but has this to say about his work on the Ottoman Muslims: ‘McCarthy’s work has something to offer in drawing attention to the oft-unheeded history of Muslim suffering and embattlement that shaped the mindset of the perpetrators of 1915. It also shows that vicious ethnic nationalism was by no means the sole preserve of the CUP and its successors.’ (p. 210)

    I consider the view of a leading authority on the Armenian genocide like Bloxham to be worth more than the view of an anonymous troll like Asteri.

    Marko Attila Hoare

    07/12/2010 at 14:56

  8. ‘I would also like to know what evidence Marko has that Gibbs has no “academic expertise on the former Yugoslavia or the Balkans”,’

    Does he speak any of the former Yugoslav languages ? Has he done fieldwork in the Balkans ? Or conducted original research on the topic, beyond regurgitating English-language sources ? What academic publications does he have relating to the Balkans ?

    If Asteri believes Gibbs has any academic expertise on the former Yugoslavia or the Balkans, he is welcome to provide evidence to prove me wrong. Otherwise, he might as well ask me to provide evidence that Santa Claus doesn’t exist.

    Marko Attila Hoare

    07/12/2010 at 15:06

  9. ‘The quote from Gibbs’s book is really not that damning, as its just stating the authors view that the number 8000 did not constitute genocide, this is not an invalid opinion, it may not be yours or Marko’s but it part of the wider valid point that words like genocide should not be thrown around lightly.’

    The term ‘genocide’ is not being ‘thrown around lightly’; two different international courts – the International Court of Justice and the UN’s International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia – have concluded that genocide occurred at Srebrenica. So has the War Crimes Chamber of Bosnia-Hercegovina, which is a mixed international and domestic court.

    Anyone who denies that genocide took place at Srebrenica, in the face of the solid and overwhelming opinion of the international courts, does not have a ‘valid point’, but is trying to minimise the crime.

    Marko Attila Hoare

    07/12/2010 at 15:18

  10. Uh sigh….. a bit of guilt by association eh Marko? by regularly you mean about three times over about 2 years.

    “Asteri is a self-confessed Greek nationalist”
    well at least you managed to hit the target here as I actually am a nationalist.

    “Does he speak any of the former Yugoslav languages ? Has he done fieldwork in the Balkans ? Or conducted original research on the topic, beyond regurgitating English-language sources ? What academic publications does he have relating to the Balkans ?”

    Your missing the point of the book, its not an in-depth study and detailed scholarly history of the former Yugoslavia or claims to be, its a critique of western intervention and ‘humanitarianism’. I grant you, by not using primary Yugoslav sources puts the book as a disadvantage, however Gibbs uses western sources because the west was crucially involved, hence great deal of material to examine. The case against Gibbs seems to be “because he doesn’t agree with the doctrine supported by me and my friends its not worth the paper its printed on”.

    “If Asteri believes Gibbs has any academic expertise on the former Yugoslavia or the Balkans, he is welcome to provide evidence to prove me wrong.”

    He may have taken classes in Serbo-Croat, he may have relevent contacts that can translate sources for him, we don’t know, maybe maybe not. Unless you followed him around the whole time while he was writing it how can you know? Anyway your not the audience, its a critical overview meant for those who dont speak the language gaining an easy understanding of intervention from a western perspective.

    Asteri

    07/12/2010 at 17:37

  11. Asteri,

    I think Marko has answered you with great clarity, but even you acknowledge the obvious:

    “…its a critique of western intervention and ‘humanitarianism’. I grant you, by not using primary Yugoslav sources puts the book as a disadvantage, however Gibbs uses western sources because the west was crucially involved, hence great deal of material to examine. …”

    Which basically admits that the book is selective, and can’t be any otherwise as it primarily uses just Western sources.

    Not a prime recommendation, when the book is by an academic.

    modernityblog

    07/12/2010 at 17:49

  12. “Justin McCarthy is indeed a denier of the Armenian genocide, and I would never cite him as an authority on that subject; nor would I defend him from accusations of Armenian genocide denial”

    I’m glad to hear it.

    “McCarthy’s work has something to offer in drawing attention to the oft-unheeded history of Muslim suffering and embattlement that shaped the mindset of the perpetrators of 1915”

    Bloxham gives a nuanced and not unreasonable analysis of McCarthy, but imagine if Gibbs, Johnstone, Parenti et al said that the centuries of exploitation, sexual slavery and mass kidnapping of children shaped the minds of the Bosnian Serbs to kill Muslims? it wouldn’t go down well. I have some disagreements with Bloxham “Muslim” is being used so as not to use the real term Turk, that the Balkan Christians killed Turks after independence was pretty much unavoidable given the history of repression they had suffered. Just as the majority population of Zanzibar turned on the Arab and Indian population that had repressed them and the Congolese turned on the Belgians, the Greeks and Bulgarians turned of the Turks. The killings are being taken out of historical context, how do they explain the Xios genocide or the Hamadin massacres in the 1894-96 if the Balkan wars of 1912-13 were the provocation? Another thing is that the Turkish population was much high and their power far greater than the Armenians and Greeks who were and are still, small countries with small populations, the Turkish population there was comparitavly small compared to the Armenian, Greek, Kurdish and Assyrian population in Turkey, McCarthy never mentions this, and presents them as if they were on equal footing.

    I’m interested by the idea that the Balkan Christian’s “destroyed the Ottoman Empire in Europe” you say this as if the national liberation of long opressed people and expulsion of foreign occupiers in their land was a bad thing, did the independence of India destroy the British Empire in Asia?

    Asteri

    07/12/2010 at 18:24

  13. ‘Uh sigh….. a bit of guilt by association eh Marko? by regularly you mean about three times over about 2 years.’

    You never once called him to account for his genocide denial, his support for far-right parties, his hardline nationalism or his total unwillingness to write about Serb wrongdoing. Yet you are very ready to have a go at the people who actually condemned the genocide and opposed the Serb aggression, such as myself and Daniel of SGB. Which shows whose side you are on.

    ‘Your missing the point of the book, its not an in-depth study and detailed scholarly history of the former Yugoslavia or claims to be, its a critique of western intervention and ‘humanitarianism’. I grant you, by not using primary Yugoslav sources puts the book as a disadvantage’

    In other words, it is a political polemic, not a work of serious scholarship, written by someone who doesn’t have access to many of the most important sources. I call that a ‘propaganda pamphlet’; you’re welcome to come up with some euphemism if you like.

    ‘The case against Gibbs seems to be “because he doesn’t agree with the doctrine supported by me and my friends its not worth the paper its printed on”.’

    No; the case against him (so far) is that he denies the Srebrenica genocide and suppresses the history of Serb mass-killing of Bosniaks in East Bosnia in 1992, and that he hasn’t bothered to examine the Serbo-Croat sources or to acknowledge or address the existing literature that explodes his thesis.

    ‘He may have taken classes in Serbo-Croat, he may have relevent contacts that can translate sources for him, we don’t know, maybe maybe not. Unless you followed him around the whole time while he was writing it how can you know?’

    Oh, so nobody can tell if someone is an expert on something or not, unless they’ve been ‘following them around the whole time while they were writing’ ? That’s about the most ridiculous argument I’ve ever heard. Maybe you think he might be a brilliant brain surgeon or nuclear physicist as well, or possibly a world-class athlete ?

    If he had made any effort to read the Serbo-Croat sources, there would be some evidence of that in his bibliography or his book; as there isn’t, we can assume he hasn’t.

    ‘Anyway your not the audience, its a critical overview meant for those who dont speak the language gaining an easy understanding of intervention from a western perspective.’

    Yes, that’s one way of putting it. ‘Easy’ being the operative word.

    Marko Attila Hoare

    07/12/2010 at 18:28

  14. @marko you defend the actions of oric as ‘military actions’, as though he were some brave defender of village people.In reality Oric and his henchmen burnt down hundreds of Serb villages and murdered Serbian people in the most brutal way.
    What happened in Yugoslavia was a complex tripartite conflict,in which attrocities were committed on all sides against each other, Yet only the Serbs were demonised, Who cares about the ethnic cleansing of the Serbian people? who cares of their mass graves?.Not the west and thats for sure.The media exclusively showed pictures from serbian prison camps, they didint show the pictures of the other prison camps that the UN had identified,nine in bosnia,six were croation,2 serbian and one muslim, ‘violations of the geneva convention on human rights occured in all of them,’ but the non serb camps were not the subject of your ‘pullitzer prize’ winning mickey mouse jouranalist were they?.The demonisation and the dehumanistaion of the Serbian people constitutes racisim, pure and simple, and that kangaroo court you were a part of is just a sham with anti Serb bias impossible to mask.

    smtx01

    07/12/2010 at 18:52

  15. Asteri, in reference to your last post; thank you – now at least you’ve initiated a discussion worth having.

    It is entirely true that the centuries of Ottoman rule over the Serbs shaped the Serb national identity; and the historical memory of oppression by the Ottomans and of genocide by the Ustashas influenced the form of contemporary Serb nationalism, as well as the form that the Serb genocide of Muslims in Bosnia in the 1990s took. Equally, the long history of Christian ethnic cleansing of Ottoman Muslims influenced the character of Turkish nationalism in the 1900s and 1910s, and the form taken by the Armenian genocide. But this does not excuse or justify either genocide; nor was either genocide the inevitable or natural outcome of the former oppression or former crimes.

    Equally, war crimes or ethnic cleansing carried out in the course of a national liberation struggle are still war crimes or ethnic cleansing. The mass killing of Ottoman Muslims by Serbs, Greeks and Bulgarians in the course of their struggles for national liberation might have been in some sense a ‘response’ to their prior long experience of oppression by the Ottomans, but this does not justify or excuse it. Any more than the Serbian aggression against Croatia in 1991 justified the Croatian crimes carried out against Serb civilians during Operation Storm. Or the Greek aggression against Turkey in the 1920s justified the mass slaughter of Greek civilians by Kemal Ataturk’s Turkish nationalists. Or the Tutsi oppression of Hutu in pre-independence Rwanda justified subsequent Hutu massacres of Tutsi culminating in the Rwandan genocide.

    Even if they did involve massive atrocities against Ottoman Muslims, the Serbian and Greek uprisings against the Ottomans in the 1800s, 1810s and 1820s were nevertheless legitimate struggles for national liberation.

    By contrast, the Greek, Serbian, Bulgarian and Montenegrin attack on the Ottoman Empire in 1912-1913 was a naked act of aggression and territorial conquest, involving the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Ottoman Muslims who – as McCarthy points out – comprised the majority population of Ottoman Europe at the time and for whom this certainly wasn’t national liberation. Nor was it national liberation for the Albanians and ethnic Macedonians, whose lands were dismembered by the victors and who simply exchanged an old imperial master for new ones.

    Marko Attila Hoare

    07/12/2010 at 19:10

  16. “You never once called him to account for his genocide denial, his support for far-right parties, his hardline nationalism or his total unwillingness to write about Serb wrongdoing. Yet you are very ready to have a go at the people who actually condemned the genocide and opposed the Serb aggression, such as myself and Daniel of SGB. Which shows whose side you are on.”

    If I had he would of deleted them. Its you who believes in partisan side taking, maybe I commented if I agreed with him on a certain issue but I don’t often read his blog.

    “Oh, so nobody can tell if someone is an expert on something or not, unless they’ve been ‘following them around the whole time while they were writing’ ? That’s about the most ridiculous argument I’ve ever heard. Maybe you think he might be a brilliant brain surgeon or nuclear physicist as well, or possibly a world-class athlete ?”

    Going to extremes again, its hardly an impossibility that he may have had relevant contacts. I’ll say it again, its not a in-depth history of the former Yugoslavia or the war, it is a critical analysis of the ‘west’ of NATO, of the western media and of western intervention, since all of the above involved the west and took in Washington, London, Paris etc., so he has access to the relevant sources. Yugoslav sources about what was being planned in Washington would not be of much value in the book.

    I don’t actually remember saying anywhere that I thought Gibbs book was a must read for anyone who wants to understand Yugoslavia.

    Asteri

    07/12/2010 at 19:12

  17. “By contrast, the Greek, Serbian, Bulgarian and Montenegrin attack on the Ottoman Empire in 1912-1913 was a naked act of aggression and territorial conquest, involving the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Ottoman Muslims who – as McCarthy points out – comprised the majority population of Ottoman Europe at the time and for whom this certainly wasn’t national liberation. Nor was it national liberation for the Albanians and ethnic Macedonians, whose lands were dismembered by the victors and who simply exchanged an old imperial master for new ones”

    Well the land belonged to the Greeks and the Slavs before the Turks usurped it, ethnic maps of this time don’t show Turks as a majority in ‘Ottoman Europe’ though it depends on who drew them, the only consistently Turkish area seems to be western Thraki, western Macedonia and part of eastern Rumelia. Greece needed to unite with occupied northern Greece as there was no way It could remain surrounded by Turkey the way it was, sadly there were many injustices done, Greece should have been allowed to incorporate Northern Epiros, while the territory of FYROM should have been partitioned between Bulgaria and Albania and Kosovo between Serbia and Albania, had that happened we may have avoided the unpleasantness of the 1990’s.

    Asteri

    07/12/2010 at 19:37

  18. ‘Well the land belonged to the Greeks and the Slavs before the Turks usurped it’

    The Ottoman Muslims who inhabited Ottoman Europe before the Balkan Wars were mostly descended from people who had been there before the Ottomans arrived, and who then converted to Islam. The country was theirs as much as it was anyone’s; they weren’t consulted when the land was partitioned between the Balkan Christian states in 1912-1913.

    You know very well that there was no ‘occupied northern Greece’ before 1912; that’s a complete fabrication.

    ‘ethnic maps of this time don’t show Turks as a majority in ‘Ottoman Europe’ though it depends on who drew them’

    We’re not just talking about ethnic Turks, but about Ottoman Muslims in general – including Albanians and Greek- and Slavic-speaking Muslims. For them, conquest by the Christian Balkan states in 1912-1913 was no liberation.

    In the part of Ottoman Macedonia occupied by Greece in the Balkans wars, non-Greeks outnumbered Greeks in 1912, so the conquest was scarcely an act of liberation.

    But you are clearly sorry that your country’s imperialism wasn’t even more successful, and that it didn’t succeed in annexing even more foreign territory.

    Marko Attila Hoare

    07/12/2010 at 20:31

  19. “The Ottoman Muslims who inhabited Ottoman Europe before the Balkan Wars were mostly descended from people who had been there before the Ottomans arrived, and who then converted to Islam. The country was theirs as much as it was anyone’s; they weren’t consulted when the land was partitioned between the Balkan Christian states in 1912-1913.”

    Like the Serbs in Croatia and Bosnia weren’t consulted or accommodated for with Croatian and Bosnian independence or the Germans in South Tirol or the Hungarians in Slovakia or the Irish in northern Ireland of the Serbs in Kosovo or the Croats in Istria in 1918 etc. these things tend to keep happening.

    “We’re not just talking about ethnic Turks, but about Ottoman Muslims in general – including Albanians and Greek- and Slavic-speaking Muslims. For them, conquest by the Christian Balkan states in 1912-1913 was no liberation.”

    It depends if you regard Islam as an ethnic group, I don’t they were just Greeks or Bulgarians, I’m an atheist I’m not interested in religious identity. Before WWII countries in the Balkans became independent in stages, for Greece in was 1821, 1864, 1881, 1912 1944, and 1948, where is the cut off point? are you saying Greece should of remained in the borders that were recognised in 1830? If we set a limit at say after the first stage, a large part of Romania would be under Hungarian control, Slovenia would be part of Austria and Bangladesh would be part of Pakistan. You know that after 1923 the Balkan Muslims were willingly taken in by Turkey and used to repopulate areas that had been ethnically cleansed.

    “You know very well that there was no ‘occupied northern Greece’ before 1912; that’s a complete fabrication”

    No, when I say northern Greece i’m talking about Epiros and Macedonia, these are regions with their own Greek dialects, names, and culture, they were absolutly Greek as South west Prussia was really occupied Poland. At that time the ruler of Greece used the title King of the Hellenes, meaning every place populated by Greeks should be part of Greece.

    “But you are clearly sorry that your country’s imperialism wasn’t even more successful, and that it didn’t succeed in annexing even more foreign territory.”

    I’ll take “imperialism” to mean unification and “foreign” to mean occupied, as I said before countries unify in stages, the destruction of the Megali idea was a tragic calamity, if Greece had been able to take Smyrna, Cyprus, Thrace and North Epiros there would have been no Greek genocide and no invasion of Cyprus.

    Asteri

    07/12/2010 at 21:29

  20. ‘Like the Serbs in Croatia and Bosnia weren’t consulted or accommodated for with Croatian and Bosnian independence’

    They were consulted; referenda on independence were held in both countries in which ethnic Serbs along with other Croatian and Bosnian citizens were allowed to vote. The Serbs in Croatia and Bosnia were citizens of those republics, whereas the Ottoman Muslims in the part of Macedonia occupied by Greece in 1912 were not Greek citizens. So your parallel doesn’t stand.

    ‘It depends if you regard Islam as an ethnic group, I don’t they were just Greeks or Bulgarians, I’m an atheist I’m not interested in religious identity.’

    Unfortunately, official Greece didn’t share your view, and expelled most of its Greek-speaking Muslims from Macedonia, Crete etc. to Turkey in the 1920s as part of the population exchange with the Turks. So again – not much of a liberation.

    ‘are you saying Greece should of remained in the borders that were recognised in 1830?’

    No, but any annexation of further territories should have been carried out only on the basis of the will of the population of those territories. Which was the case with Crete, but not with Greek-occupied Macedonia.

    ‘No, when I say northern Greece i’m talking about Epiros and Macedonia, these are regions with their own Greek dialects, names, and culture, they were absolutly Greek’

    No they weren’t.

    ‘the destruction of the Megali idea was a tragic calamity, if Greece had been able to take Smyrna, Cyprus, Thrace and North Epiros there would have been no Greek genocide and no invasion of Cyprus.’

    You’re completely crazy.

    Marko Attila Hoare

    07/12/2010 at 22:11

  21. “They were consulted; referenda on independence were held in both countries in which ethnic Serbs along with other Croatian and Bosnian citizens were allowed to vote. The Serbs in Croatia and Bosnia were citizens of those republics, whereas the Ottoman Muslims in the part of Macedonia occupied by Greece in 1912 were not Greek citizens. So your parallel doesn’t stand.”

    Well theres the flaw in referendums had they voted the vote would still not gone their way, leaving all options closed, given the regime in Zagreb its not supprising they optted to grab what they could. The obvious problem is that Croation citizenship is not something they wanted and they would loose the Yugoslav citizenship which they wanted to keep as soon as Croatia sesseded.

    “No they weren’t.”

    Er.. yes, Greek Macedonia (Pella) is my home, we speak the Macedonian dialect, and have our distinct Macedonian culture, sure we have Slavic Greek people but we always co-existed until and still do, despite the FYROMadonian government trying to stir up trouble.

    “No, but any annexation of further territories should have been carried out only on the basis of the will of the population of those territories. Which was the case with Crete, but not with Greek-occupied Macedonia”

    By Macedonia you mean the Ottoman province of Skopje, as you know Ottoman regions where not the basis of forming states, Macedonia was just a geographical name, and its exact location has moved about quite a bit as well. If there had been referendums over territory it would have probably resulted in violence anyway or it would have fragmented the region into various enclaves that would have been taken over eventually. Crete was different as it was an island you couldn’t do it in a large region.

    “You’re completely crazy.”

    Not quite, if the status of Cyprus had been put to a vote it would have united with Greece but the UK would not allow it, and now look what we have.

    Asteri

    07/12/2010 at 23:30

  22. ‘Well theres the flaw in referendums had they voted the vote would still not gone their way, leaving all options closed, given the regime in Zagreb its not supprising they optted to grab what they could. The obvious problem is that Croation citizenship is not something they wanted and they would loose the Yugoslav citizenship which they wanted to keep as soon as Croatia sesseded.’

    The Serbs in Croatia did not suddenly become part of Croatia and have Croatian citizenship thrust upon them in 1991. They had been citizens of the (People’s / Socialist) Republic of Croatia since the 1940s, which had been established in its present boundaries with the consent of Serb representatives, who had voted in favour of the foundation of that state in those borders (in the appropriate anti-fascist councils and constitutional assemblies held during the 1940s). Many Serbs did in fact vote for independence in 1991; the referendum was held for all Croatia’s citizens without distinction, and if enough of them had voted against, Croatia would not have become independent. But since the vote was held freely, those Croatian citizens who opposed independence had to accept the will of the majority – that is what democracy means; you can’t just revoke your citizenship and secede to a foreign state because the vote doesn’t go the way you wanted.

    This is not the same as the position of the Ottoman Muslims in Greek-occupied Macedonia in 1912, who were not citizens of Greece and whose land was not legally part of Greece, but was legally part of the Ottoman Empire, and who suddenly found themselves militarily occupied by Greece, which expelled them in their hundreds of thousands to Turkey in the 1920s. Unlike the Serbs in Croatia, they were never given the chance to vote on their inclusion in the Greek state.

    ‘sure we have Slavic Greek people’

    So Greek Macedonia isn’t actually ‘purely Greek’ after all. Even today, after decades of forced Hellenisation.

    You are right that there was no very neat solution to the question of Ottoman Macedonia in the 1910s. That does not alter the fact that Greece and the other Christian Balkan states simply conquered and annexed a lot of territory that they had no legal claim to; that legally belonged to another state (the Ottoman Empire); and whose population for the most part did not want to be annexed by them.

    You can call that ‘liberation’ if you want to, but it’s not my definition of the word.

    Marko Attila Hoare

    08/12/2010 at 09:58

  23. “The Serbs in Croatia did not suddenly become part of Croatia and have Croatian citizenship thrust upon them in 1991. They had been citizens of the (People’s / Socialist) Republic of Croatia since the 1940s, which had been established in its present boundaries with the consent of Serb representatives, who had voted in favour of the foundation of that state in those borders (in the appropriate anti-fascist councils and constitutional assemblies held during the 1940s). Many Serbs did in fact vote for independence in 1991; the referendum was held for all Croatia’s citizens without distinction, and if enough of them had voted against, Croatia would not have become independent. But since the vote was held freely, those Croatian citizens who opposed independence had to accept the will of the majority – that is what democracy means; you can’t just revoke your citizenship and secede to a foreign state because the vote doesn’t go the way you wanted.”

    Your talking about technical legalities and fair behavier that doesnt actually mean much it that kind of situation. The serbs had already held referendums on local autonomy in 1990, originally there was not a movement for independence, but once Tudjman took over that changed. Over at SGB a while ago I talked about reading a book called End of Legacy, its by a Yugoslav author and makes an interesting read on late 1980’s-early 1990’s Yugoslavia before the break up.

    I’m an admirer of Tito, he was the kind of nationalist we can asspire to be. Sadlythough his constitutions was a disarster waiting to happen, the decision to restore the national states after WWII with their Austro-Hungarian boarders was a terrible mistake and contadictory policy for a nation supporting Yugoslavism.

    Asteri

    08/12/2010 at 12:36

  24. ‘The serbs had already held referendums on local autonomy in 1990’,

    It wasn’t ‘the Serbs’ who held referendums on local autonomy; it was a group of Serb extremists who had no democratic mandate to represent the majority of Croatian Serbs.

    Most Croatian Serbs voted for the Social Democratic Party of Croatia in the free elections of 1990s, and that party supported a sovereign Croatia.

    Marko Attila Hoare

    08/12/2010 at 13:46

  25. Sorry, that should be ‘free elections of 1990’

    Marko Attila Hoare

    08/12/2010 at 14:34

  26. How far has post-modernism charge that history is merely a form of literature with “ideas above its station” justified?

    It depends what you mean by extremists, the August 1990 unrecognised vote may not have been strictly kosher, but enough people took part in it and then in the state that followed to give it some legitimacy. It follows an all to familiar pattern, there was an election, the Serb supported moderate SDP lost and were replaced by HDZ, when two extremists with such irreconcilable positions for the future of the country meet the result’s not going to be to pretty. In reaction the Log revolution happened, originally not set on secessionist but to intimidate Zagreb into excepting its demands, the government refused – result war.

    Even though every republic elected a demagogue in 1990, its a bit of a cop out to claim the war was caused by a few bad apples who whipped the population up into extremism. Brotherhood and unity may have been all well and good in protected political and social environment, but as soon as it was liberated it was poisoned. If there had been a pre-Milosevic ethnic harmony in Yugoslavia as everybody seems to think, then why did people not vote for moderated pro-Yugoslav social democratic parties in 1990?

    In retrospect it was obvious what was going to happen, in 1988 I was in Split talking to a disgruntled Croat student who had been working in Germany, after moaning about Croatian funds being used to subsidise the states s to the south and the general uselessness of the government, he said something very interesting, along the lines of, “we Croats belong in the west with Italy and Germany, we had the renaissance and the enlightenment” , in a thinly disguised insult he told me “Athens, Belgrade and Sarajevo are in the orient, look at Split and Zagreb these are cities like Milan and Munich”! I replied that in those cities they had more produce in the shops and less blatant tourist scams.

    Asteri

    08/12/2010 at 16:05

  27. Ignore that completley random and misspelt question at the top, I wrote this reply on a already open word document and copy and pasted it and that along with it, ha.

    Asteri

    08/12/2010 at 16:11

  28. Hello Marko – Does your criticism of genocide deniers only apply to those who deny that Srebrenica 1995 was a genocide?

    I ask this because it seems to me there are many grey areas. For example, some may believe that it was genocide but that there was no genocide in 1992. Others may believe that there was genocide in eastern Bosnia in 1992, but not in western Bosnia. Also, whether Croats were victims of genocide in Croatia 1991 or Bosnia 1992 seems to me to be a legitimate question for debate.

    Rory Gallivan

    08/12/2010 at 16:36

  29. Rory,

    Please make an effort to read and understand my comments policy, https://modernityblog.wordpress.com/comments-policy/ just in case.

    modernityblog

    08/12/2010 at 16:46

  30. Hi Rory,

    Since the judicial verdict is divided over whether genocide occurred only in Srebrenica in 1995 or also in other places and at other times in Bosnia, there is scope for respectable debate and disagreement over the question. On the question of the actual Srebrenica massacre, given the unanimous verdict of the courts, there isn’t really any respectable or legitimate grounds for denying that it is genocide.

    However, as far as I’m concerned, a ‘genocide denier’ isn’t simply someone who uses a narrower and more restrictive definition of genocide, and who therefore does not define a particular instance of mass killing as genocide. A genocide denier seeks to deny or minimise the actual crime, or to deny or minimise the guilt of the perpetrators, or to shift the blame for the crime on to the victims themselves.

    Thus, a genocide denier denies the essence of the crime, not merely the definition.

    Marko Attila Hoare

    08/12/2010 at 16:56

  31. Thanks for your reply, Marko.

    Do you not think there are legitimate grounds for questioning court verdicts, even if they are unanimous? Many people question ICTY judgements such as the convictions of Rasim Delic and Tihomir Blaksic for example and, given the complexity of such cases, this seems reasonable.

    Would it not also be legitimate to take a considered, balanced view of the evidence about Srebrenica and conclude that it was a crime other than genocide?

    Rory Gallivan

    08/12/2010 at 19:01

  32. Of course court verdicts may legitimately be challenged; the question is, at what point do the verdicts become so overwhelming that people challenging them can legitimately be accused of being unwilling to face reality, and of having a disreputable agenda ? Two international courts – the International Court of Justice and the UN’s International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia – have concluded that genocide occurred at Srebrenica; so has the hybrid international and domestic court, the War Crimes Chamber of Bosnia-Hercegovina. Several individuals have been convicted of genocide-related charges on this basis.

    The people who deny that Srebrenica was a genocide, in the face of all those judicial conclusions that it was, are almost always people who have the political agenda of wanting to minimise the guilt of the Serb nationalists and shift the blame onto the Muslim victims.

    For the sake of comparison: in principle there are legitimate grounds for questioning court verdicts, but in practice, what sort of person questions the verdict that the Nazis tried at Nuremberg were guilty of war crimes and crimes against humanity ?

    Marko Attila Hoare

    08/12/2010 at 19:27

  33. I think people can only be accused of being unwilling to face reality and of having a disreputable agenda if they can be demonstrated to be willfully ignoring facts, manipulating evidence etc. I still think it is possible for someone to believe all the generally accepted facts about the Srebrenica massacre having appraised the evidence in a balanced way, yet still to arrive at the conclusion that it was not genocide.

    I agree that the people who are most noisy about Srebrenica not being a genocide tend to be propagandists uninterested in establishing the truth, but I suspect there are many, including scholars with a wide knowledge of the subject and no axe to grind, who question whether genocide is the right description of these crimes. They may be wrong, but so might those who argue that genocide occurred in other areas, such as Croatia. I don’t think it means that their views should be dismissed as beyond the pale.

    Rory Gallivan

    08/12/2010 at 22:05

  34. Rory Gallivan makes a good point, if we look at Ed Herman (i’ve not read anything by him so can’t claim know about his exact possition) he seems to think that Srebrenica was an over exaggerated but ultimately legitimate act of self defence. This view has been proven to be discredited, but then he is about 90. As for Johnstone she’s been judged unfairly, her views are wrong but accusations of genocide denial aren’t applicable especially as she rejects them. Her beliefs may be at worst insensitive and distasteful, but from the interviews i’ve seen with her she comes across as nice enough. Her book is a reasonably good polemic on the Yugoslav wars, and she shows a better knowledge of Balkan history that a lot of other leftist authors i’ve read, I think i’m right in thinking that her wrong estimated are about 6o thousand victims for the Bosnian war, which is closer to the recognised figure of 100 thousand than to the figure of 250 thousand being used at that time.

    Asteri

    08/12/2010 at 23:56

  35. […] by modernityblog| Leave a comment [Editor's note: In the interest of an informed debate on this topic I have granted Professor David N.Gibbs a guest post to respond to criticism of his work by Dr Marko […]

  36. […] note: In the interest of an informed debate on this topic I have granted Professor David N.Gibbs a guest post to respond to criticism of his work by Dr Marko […]

  37. Granted, Rusesbagina himself said Kagame’s army was equally at fault in this interview, but Keith Harmon Snow seems to be steering him in rather biased directions as well:
    http://www.allthingspass.com/uploads/html-191The%20Grinding%20Machine%20interview%20with%20Paul%20Rusesabagina%20FINAL.htm

    And note that Rusesbagina mainly talks ab0ut the RPF”s abuses after, not during the genocide(except for his view on the president’s assasination) while Keith’s trying to gode him into saying the tutsi were responsible for everything.

    Jenny

    21/12/2010 at 05:43


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