Monbiot nails the genocide deniers

June 15, 2011 at 8:38 am (apologists and collaborators, Champagne Charlie, crime, genocide, Guardian, Human rights, serbia, stalinism, terror, thuggery, truth)

George Monbiot had an important article in yesterday’s Graun: important, not so much because of what it said (which is not new), but because of who was saying it and where he was saying it. Monbiot is a respected figure in what can broadly be described as Chomskyite/ Gallowayite/Grauniad  (CGG) circles. He’s not a Trot or any kind of Marxist, which (regretably) adds to his credibility in such circles. He was even a supporter of ‘Respect’ for a while, before seeing through Galloway.

So when Monbiot makes a pronouncement, particlarly on a subject close to the collective heart of the CGG crowd, it carries weight. When he challenges one of their shibboleths (as he did a while back over nuclear energy), it gets them thinking in the way that a piece, however well argued, from a source (like us at Shiraz) they don’t like, wouldn’t. Now I’m not for a moment arguing that all the CGG crowd are consistent genocide deniers. Denial of the Rwanadan genocide of up to a million Tutsis by Hutu forces is relatively rare, at least amongst apparently sane people. Not so, though, denial (or semi-denial) of the Bosnian genocide and, in particular, the 1995 massacre at Srebrenica where reliable research suggests over 8,000 Muslim men and boys were murdered by Serb sorces; denial of this intended genocide (and actual mass-murder) is commonplace on sections of the CGG “left”, in part because of the fact that the Stalinists, the SWP and the anti-war movement at the time deliberately played down the criminality of the Serb leadership and/or tried to shift the blame onto the ‘West.’ But even  more important is the fact that Noam Chomsky – a revered figure in CGG circles – has effectively endorsed this revisionism.

So Monbiot’s article taking the big stick to Chomsky and his co-thinkers Edward Herman, David Peterson, John Pilger and the Media Lens crowd, is to be welcomed. The earlier part of the article concentrates on Monbiot’s old betes noir, the Living Marxism/ LM/ Spiked Online axis , but they are much less influential on the left, being widely recognised as a bunch of right ring ‘libertarian’ loons. So it’s the attack on Chomsky and his chums that is most important here, and Monbiot does a first class demolition job:

…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
. 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 complete article, fully referenced, can be read here

The same article, as published by the Graun / CIF is here, and worth looking at if only for some of the hysterical comments that follow. 

An even better article: Michael Deibert says Chomsky, Tariq Ali, Arundhati Roy and other revisionists should apologise.


  1. maxdunbar said,

    Astonishing that Spiked/RCP crowd continue to get work in serious newspapers and the BBC. This was an excellent Monbiot piece.

    Also, check the Spiked archives:

    ‘A flaming disgrace! Parliament’s ban on witch-burning reflects a suspicion of anyone who holds strong beliefs’

  2. johng said,

    Deibert “Though this was a paraphrase rather than a literal quotation, the fact of the matter was that it did seem to accurately sum up the state of affairs”

    That’s an odd sentence when you read it over.

    • sackcloth and ashes said,

      It isn’t if you actually read what Chomsky actually has to say about Yugoslavia:

      ‘NC: Incidentally the same happened in the earlier phase of the Balkan wars. It was awful, and so on and so forth. However, but if you look at the coverage, for example there was one famous incident which has completely reshaped the Western opinion and that was the photograph of the thin man behind the barb-wire.

      DM: A fraudulent photograph, as it turned out.

      NC: You remember. The thin men behind the barb-wire so that was Auschwitz and ‘we can’t have Auschwitz again.’ The intellectuals went crazy and the French were posturing on television and the usual antics. Well, you know, it was investigated and carefully investigated. In fact it was investigated by the leading Western specialist on the topic, Philip Knightly, who is a highly respected media analyst and his specialty is photo journalism, probably the most famous Western and most respected Western analyst in this. He did a detailed analysis of it. And he determined that it was probably the reporters who were behind the barb-wire, and the place was ugly, but it was a refugee camp, I mean, people could leave if they wanted and, near the thin man was a fat man and so on, well and there was one tiny newspaper in England, probably three people, called LM which ran a critique of this, and the British (who haven’t a slightest concept of freedom of speech, that is a total fraud)…a major corporation, ITN, a big media corporation had publicized this, so the corporation sued the tiny newspaper for lible. Now the British lible (sic) laws were absolutely atrocious. The person accused has to prove that the, what he’s reporting is not done in malice and he can’t prove that. So and in fact when you have a huge corporation with batteries of lawyers and so on, carrying out a suit against the three people in the office, who probably don’t have the pocket-money, it’s obvious what is going to happen. Especially under these grotesque lible laws’.

      So Chomsky is basically repeating the lie that concentration camps like Omarska weren’t actually concentration camps after all.

      How would you describe that, Mr Game?

      Incidentally, have you found that reference that ‘proves’ that Orwell was an anti-Semite, or have you given up trying to substantiate that smear?

  3. sackcloth and ashes said,

    Oh, I almost forgot this:

    ‘NC: In the year prior to the bombing, according to Western sources about two thousand people were killed, the killings were distributed, a lot of them were coming in fact according to British government, which was the most hawkish element of the Alliance, up until January 1999 a majority of killings came from the KLA guerillas who were coming in as they said, you know, to try to incite a harsh Serbian response, which they got, in order to appeal to Western humanitarians to bomb’.

    This is the report Chomsky cites:

    It also states that ‘the Kosovo Albanian population … were suffering greater atrocities than the Serb population’, and also that ‘KLA attacks were mostly focussed on Serb policemen, while Serb action often focussed on unarmed civilians’. There is nothing to substantiate Chomsky’s claim that the House of Commons report (1) identified the KLA as the principal killers in Kosovo and (2) specifically that they were deliberately inciting what NC cutely calls ‘a harsh Serbian response’ in order to provoke NATO intervention.

    I can see why John Game has a thing for Chomsky. Not only does he share his cynicism, his amorality, and his willingness to act as an apologist for despots and butchers provided they can be described as ‘anti-imperialists’; he also shares Noam’s somewhat fast and loose way of dealing with source material.

  4. johng said,

    sack cloth you are such a strange and twisted individual. who was trying to ‘prove’ anything? I assumed you were familiar with George Orwell’s writings. I was obviously wrong. I’ve always found some of those passages a bit distasteful. Other things about Orwell I find very appealing. You on the other hand seem almost a caricature of what he would have thought of as the totalitarian intellectual. Your main concern is to ensure that anyone who disagrees with you is prevented from taking part in discussion. Its unclear to me that, aside from that, you have any genuine interests in anything. At least I’ve never seen any indication that you do.

  5. Oscar stil wundering why he fuckking bothers said,

    i want Gameboy and Sashcloth and Bashes to kill each other in hand to hand combat using pick-axes as occasional weapon interludes intruments. and shit.

  6. sackcloth and ashes said,

    ‘I assumed you were familiar with George Orwell’s writings’

    I am, and I can see now way that they can be described as ‘anti-Semitic’. I’m still waiting for a specific quote to justify your assertion, let alone a specific reference to the ‘passages’ in his essays you find ‘a bit distasteful’.

  7. sackcloth and ashes said,

    ‘You on the other hand seem almost a caricature of what he would have thought of as the totalitarian intellectual. Your main concern is to ensure that anyone who disagrees with you is prevented from taking part in discussion’.

    Aw, diddums. John Game gets asked to actually substantiate his case, and he goes into a strop and accuses people of trying to silence him. Bless. I wonder how a shrinking violet like you would cope with a viva, but then I realise you’re never going to do one.

  8. sackcloth and ashes said,

    ‘Its unclear to me that, aside from that, you have any genuine interests in anything. At least I’ve never seen any indication that you do’.

    My interests include doing my bit to highlight the sophistries of intellectual charlatans like Chomsky, and pseudo-leftists like yourself.

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