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

Posts Tagged ‘Srebrenica Research Group

George Monbiot On Genocide Belittlers.

with 22 comments

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.’

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;

‘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;

‘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.’

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.]

Denial In The West.

with one comment

[I wanted to write this whilst it was fresh in my mind (I shall try to blog more in the coming week, promise).]

The thread below concerning Professor Gibbs has been a bit of an eye-opener for me, not least to see experts discussing the Balkans.

And I professed no expertise in that area, I followed things about 20 years ago, but not with the detail or intensity of many of my posters.

Still, as an antifascist, I can recognise denial when I see it (and I was probably remiss letting some posters contribute to that thread, my mistake), so when I read of Edward S. Herman and Srebrenica Research Group alarm bells started to ring in my head.

Initially, I wondered to what extent did Herman denied the genocide at Srebrenica? I assumed it was going to be difficult to find any incriminating statements from him, but I was wrong.

Herman despite years as an academic obviously isn’t too concerned with evidence.

Herman is published extensively by Znet and useful critiques of his views can be found at the Srebrenica Genocide blog:

It’s A Fact: 8,106 Killed In Srebrenica Genocide,
Srebrenica Massacre Faq’s: Facts Vs Srebrenica Genocide Denial,
Edward S. Herman – Genocide Denier Caught In Lies, Again
and Reply To Herman & Peterson.

There’s probably more that I missed, but it gives you a flavour of it all.

In other schools of genocide denial there are frequently many sleights of hand, misdirections and verbiage, which tend to hide or try to minimise the denier’s outright denial, to soften it, to make it more acceptable.

Not so with Herman, as I noticed in an article he penned for Znet in July 2005, The Politics of the Srebrenica Massacre* [I apologise to readers for linking to this material, but it is a necessity in this case.]

Readers can make their own minds up, but I think when Herman argues a “…third is that the evidence for a massacre, certainly of one in which 8,000 men and boys were executed, has always been problematic, to say the least…”, he is fairly and squarely in the territory of deniers.

Further Herman compounds it by:

“With 8,000 executed and thousands killed in the fighting there should have been huge grave sites and satellite evidence of both executions, burials, and any body removals. But the body searches in the Srebrenica vicinity were painfully disappointing, with only some two thousand bodies found in searches through 1999, including bodies killed in action and possibly Serb bodies, some pre-dating July 1995. The sparseness of these findings led to claims of body removal and reburial, but this was singularly unconvincing as the Bosnian Serbs were under intense military pressure after July 1995.”

All of this written in 2005, even then it was clear that nearly 8000 people were listed as missing by the International Commission on Missing Persons in June 2005:

“One month before the 10th anniversary of the fall of Srebrenica in 1995, the International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP) has completed identifications of more than 2,000 of the Srebrenica victims. There are altogether almost 7,800 persons listed on the ICMP database of the missing from Srebrenica, and, as family members continue to report missing relatives and donate blood samples for DNA identification, that number is slowly growing. Many of the missing have not yet been exhumed from mass graves that are still hidden around the country.”

Later, by 2010, the DNA evidence was irrefutable:

“By analyzing DNA profiles extracted from bone samples of exhumed mortal remains and matching them to the DNA profiles obtained from blood samples donated by relatives of the missing, the International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP) has revealed the identity of 6,481 persons missing from the July 1995 fall of Srebrenica. Of this, 775 DNA-identified victims will be buried on July 11th in the Potočari Memorial Center, Srebrenica.

The number of reported missing for whom ICMP has blood samples as well as the matching rate between DNA profiles extracted from these bone and blood samples leads ICMP to support an estimate of around 8,100 individuals missing from the fall of Srebrenica in July 1995.

In all of Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH), the ICMP has made a total of 13,124 accurate, DNA-led identifications of individuals since ICMP’s DNA system went online in November 2001. To make these DNA identifications, ICMP has collected 69,838 blood samples from relatives of the victims and has received from BiH institutions 32.295 bone samples taken from exhumed human mortal remains.

The most difficult case load in BiH is the identification of Srebrenica remains. As a result of attempts by perpetrators to conceal evidence of this major atrocity, many bodies were removed from their initial mass graves and reburied in other locations. As a consequence, body parts are found disarticulated in numerous primary and secondary mass grave sites. ICMP forensic anthropologists use DNA analysis as a tool in re-associating disarticulated parts of the same body. In one case, ICMP identified a Srebrenica victim whose body parts were found in four different mass graves two of which were 20 km from the other two locations.

So coming back to the original point. It didn’t occur to Herman, that perpetrators of genocide often lie and try to hide incriminating evidence of their crimes, even if that is blindingly obvious from past genocides, and bleeding obvious to anyone remotely thoughtful on this subject.

So if someone says Edward S. Herman has a point, you’ll know where they are coming from, Genocide Denial and all the baggage that comes with it.

Update 1: Bill Weinberg takes Herman and Znet to task in, Z magazine supports genocide.