Chomsky Kosovo Book Review

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Ray

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Mar 4, 2002, 1:28:09 PM3/4/02
to
Hi everyone,
I haven't posted a message to the group in awhile (midterms!), but
here's the latest:

There is a book review of Noam Chomsky's "The New Military Humanism:
Lessons from Kosovo," by the late Adrian Hastings, available at this
web site: [http://www.bosnia.org.uk/bosrep/report_format.cfm?articleid=802&reportid=151]

I have questions regarding the following criticisms by Hastings:

1) "The statement that the 宋iolent expulsion of hundreds of thousands
of Serbs from Krajina' is 疎cknowledged to be the most extreme single
case of ethnic cleansing in the horrendous wars of secession in
Yugoslavia' (p. 26) is certainly untrue. The ethnic cleansing of
Muslims in eastern Bosnia in and after April 1992 was far worse in
every way; furthermore, in the case of Krajina, the Croats there had
already been 粗thnically cleansed' by the Serbs. The latter were not
themselves 宋iolently expelled'; they fled en masse, many of them
before the Croats even attacked, in probably justified fear of what
would happen to them if they did not - a very different thing in the
circumstances from the ethnic cleansings throughout Bosnia in all
Serb-controlled areas."

Two questions here: 1)Is Hastings correct when he says that the
statement regarding the Krajina Serbs is untrue, and implicit in that,
2)Is it true that the Serbs were not expelled, but fled before the
Croat army even arrived? Is this thus not really the ethnic cleansing
we would define as a policy systematically expelling an ethnic group
from a specified area? The only sources of information I have on this
topic are a New York Times article dated 3/21/99 by Raymond Bonner
mentioning that the International Criminal Tribunal of Yugoslavia
(ICTY) found that the Croat army committed "ethnic cleansing," among
other crimes during their 1995 Operation Storm invasion, as well as an
indictment by the ICTY of a general for his role in this "expulsion"
in the words of the indictment. I don't have sources on Hastings's
comments.

2) "In regard to the question, why did NATO decide to act, Chomsky is
not convincing...Chomsky's attempted explanation in terms of Serbia
being 疎n annoyance, an unwelcome impediment to Washington's efforts
to complete its substantial take-over of Europe . . . as long as
Serbia is not incorporated within US-dominated domains, it makes sense
to punish it for failure to conform' (p. 137) strikes one as bizarre.
Why was this 訴mpediment' only discovered in 1999 and not in 1992 or
1995," when "for years Milosevic had remained NATO's chosen instrument
for maintaining peace of a sort in ex-Yugoslavia," and "remained so at
the Dayton accords in 1995"?

My questions: Is Chomsky's explanation for NATO action bizarre? If
not, then why _didn't_ NATO act against Serbia in 1992 or 1995, esp.
after "Vukovar in 1991, Sarajevo, Tuzla, Biha, and Srebrenica in the
following years" as Hastings asks? Hastings says "the decisive
underlying factor [for NATO intervention] was the war in Bosnia and
belated contrition in the West for its own appalling record in that
regard...It was the sense of guilt over the long agonies of the siege
of Sarajevo, together with the speedy ending of the war once the West
did intervene, which so powerfully fuelled the resolve to stop its
repetition." Is either Chomsky or Hastings (or both) asserting an
inaccurate reasoning for NATO intervention, or are they both plausible
explanations?

3) Chomsky "is wrong" to assert that "Britain [is] a mere poodle of
Washington...it is unquestionably the case that British foreign policy
changed significantly when Labour replaced the Conservatives. Up to
that point British policy, controlled by Hurd and Rifkind, had been
steadily anti-interventionist. If this had not been so, it is likely
that there would have been a military intervention in Bosnia, or at
least a raising of the arms embargo, long before the summer of 1995."

Question: What I quoted was Hastings reasoning for why Chomsky was
wrong to say that Britain was not acting on its own accord. Does
Hastings's reasoning contradict the idea that London was acting
subservient to Washington?

There are about two more criticisms in the review, which I will leave
out. Anyone interested can read the review cited at the top. I plan
on posting something similar to this on the ZNet ChomskyChat forum at
www.zmag.org, but I was wondering what you all think, especially
anyone from the former FRY. Thanks!

Sincerely,
Ray Amberg

Russil Wvong

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Mar 12, 2002, 3:49:43 PM3/12/02
to
Hi, Ray. Did you get any responses from the ChomskyChat forum?

Since nobody else has responded here, I'll take a shot at it.

thought...@hotmail.com (Ray) wrote:
> There is a book review of Noam Chomsky's "The New Military Humanism:
> Lessons from Kosovo," by the late Adrian Hastings, available at this
> web site: [http://www.bosnia.org.uk/bosrep/report_format.cfm?articleid=802&reportid=151]
>
> I have questions regarding the following criticisms by Hastings:
>

> 1) "The statement that the ‘violent expulsion of hundreds of thousands
> of Serbs from Krajina' is ‘acknowledged to be the most extreme single


> case of ethnic cleansing in the horrendous wars of secession in
> Yugoslavia' (p. 26) is certainly untrue. The ethnic cleansing of
> Muslims in eastern Bosnia in and after April 1992 was far worse in
> every way; furthermore, in the case of Krajina, the Croats there had

> already been ‘ethnically cleansed' by the Serbs. The latter were not
> themselves ‘violently expelled'; they fled en masse, many of them


> before the Croats even attacked, in probably justified fear of what
> would happen to them if they did not - a very different thing in the
> circumstances from the ethnic cleansings throughout Bosnia in all
> Serb-controlled areas."
>
> Two questions here: 1)Is Hastings correct when he says that the
> statement regarding the Krajina Serbs is untrue,

I'm afraid so. The earlier ethnic cleansing that took place in Bosnia
resembled mass murder rather than just expulsion; something like
200,000 civilians died, mostly Bosnian Muslims.

I did a search on the New York Review of Books and found a series of
articles by Mark Danner (written in 1997). It makes for extremely
gruesome reading. For anyone reading this who doesn't have a strong
stomach, you may want to stop reading here.

Though guards at Omarska and other camps shot many prisoners, this
was by no means the preferred method. If Auschwitz's killing tended
to be mechanized and bureaucratized, Omarska's was emotional and
personal, for it depended on the simple, intimate act of beating.
"They beat us with clubs, bats, hoses, rifle butts," one survivor
told a Helsinki Watch interviewer. "Their favorite was a thick
rubber hose with metal on both ends." They beat us, said another,
"with braided cable wires" and with pipes "filled with lead."

Next to the automatic rifle, next even to the knife (which was
freely used at Omarska), the club or the pipe is exhausting,
time-consuming, inefficient. Yet the guards made it productive.
A female prisoner identified only as "J" told Helsinki Watch
investigators:

We saw corpses piled one on top of another…. The bodies
eventually were gathered with a forklift and put onto
trucks—usually two large trucks and a third, smaller truck.
The trucks first would unload containers of food, and then
the bodies would be loaded [on]…. This happened almost every
day—sometimes there [were]…twenty or thirty—but usually
there were more. Most of the deaths occurred as a result of
beatings.[5]

One survivor interviewed by United Nations investigators estimated
that "on many occasions, twenty to forty prisoners were killed at
night by 'knife, hammer, and burning.' He stated that he had
witnessed the killing of one prisoner by seven guards who poured
petrol on him, set him on fire, and struck him upon the head with
a hammer." All prisoners were beaten, but according to the UN
investigators, guards in all the camps meted out especially savage
treatment "to intellectuals, politicians, police, and the wealthy."[6]
When four guards summoned the president of the local Croatian
Democratic Union, Silvije Saric, along with Professor Puskar from
nearby Prijedor, for "interrogation," the female prisoner testified,

I heard beating and yelling…. At times it sounded as if wood were
being shattered, but those were bones that were being broken.

…When they opened the door …, they started yelling at us,
"Ustasa slut, see what we do to them!" …I saw two piles of blood
and flesh in the corner. The two men were so horribly beaten that
they no longer had the form of human beings.[7]

Apart from obvious differences in scale and ambition, it is the
Serbs' reliance on this laborious kind of murder that most strikingly
distinguishes the workings of their camps from those of the German
death factories. ...

At Omarska ... the out-and-out passion with which a guard
administered beatings and devised tortures could greatly bolster
his prestige. Acts of flamboyant violence, publicly performed, made
of some men celebrities of sadism. In his memoir The Tenth Circle
of Hell, Rezak Hukanovic—a Muslim who was a journalist in Prijedor
before he was taken to Omarska—describes how guards responded when
a prisoner rejected the order to strip and stood immobile amid the
cowering naked inmates:

The guard…fired several shots in the air. The man stood stubbornly
in place without making the slightest movement. While bluish smoke
still rose from the rifle barrel, the guard struck the clothed man
in the middle of the head with the rifle butt, once and then again,
until the man fell. Then the guard…moved his hand to his belt.
A knife flashed in his hand, a long army knife.

He bent down, grabbing hold of the poor guy's hair…. Another
guard joined in, continuously cursing. He, too, had a flashing
knife in his hand…. The guards [used] them to tear away the
man's clothes. After only a few seconds, they stood up, their own
clothes covered with blood….

…The poor man stood up a little, or rather tried to, letting out
excruciating screams. He was covered with blood. One guard
took a water hose from a nearby hydrant and directed a strong
jet at [him]. A mixture of blood and water flowed down his…gaunt,
naked body as he bent down repeatedly, like a wounded Cyclops…;
his cries were of someone driven to insanity by pain. And then
Djemo and everyone else saw clearly what had happened: the guards
had cut off the man's sexual organ and half of his behind.

Hukanovic's memoir (in which he writes about himself in the third
person as Djemo) and the testimony of other former prisoners overflow
with such horror. Reading them, one feels enervated, and also
bewildered: What accounts for such unquenchable blood-lust? This is
a large subject, to which I shall return; but part of the answer may
have to do with the elaborate ideology that stands behind Serb
objectives in the war. In order to achieve a "Greater Serbia," which
will at last bring together all Serbs in one land, they feel they
must "cleanse" what is "their" land of outsiders. Founding—or rather
reestablishing—"Greater Serbia" is critical not only because it
satisfies an ancient historical claim but because Serbs must *protect
themselves from the "genocide" others even now are planning for them*.

In this thinking, such genocide has already begun—in Croatia, in
Kosovo, in Bosnia itself: anywhere Serbs live but lack political
dominance. As many writers, including Michael Sells and, especially,
Tim Judah, point out, such ideas of vulnerability and betrayal can be
traced far back in Serbia's past, and President Slobodan Milosevic,
with his control of state radio and television, exploited them
brilliantly, building popular hatred by instilling in Serbs a
visceral fear and paranoia.

Administering a beating is a deeply personal affirmation of power:
with your own hands you seize your enemy—supposedly a mortally
threatening enemy, now rendered passive and powerless—and slowly,
methodically reduce him from human to nonhuman. Each night at
Omarska and other camps guards called prisoners out by name and
enacted this atrocity. Some of their enemies they beat to death, dumping
their corpses on the tarmac for the forklift driver to find the
next morning. Others they beat until the victim still barely clung
to life; if he did not die, the guards would wait a week or so and
beat him again.

For the Serbs it was a repeated exercise in triumph, in satisfying and
vanquishing an accumulated paranoia. As Hukanovic makes clear in his
account of the first time his name was called out, this torture is
exceedingly, undeniably intimate—not simply because force is
administered by hand but also because it comes very often from
someone you know:

"In front of me," the [bearded, red-faced] guard ordered,
pointing to the White House…. He ranted and raved, cursing and
occasionally pounding Djemo on the back with his truncheon….

…The next second, something heavy was let loose from above,
from the sky, and knocked Djemo over the head. He fell.

…Half conscious, sensing that he had to fight to survive,
he wiped the blood from his eyes and forehead and raised his head.
He saw four creatures, completely drunk, like a pack of starving
wolves, with clubs in their hands and unadorned hatred in their
eyes. Among them was the frenzied leader, Zoran Zigic, the
infamous Ziga…. He was said to have killed over two hundred
people, including many children, in the "cleansing" operations
around Prijedor…. Scrawny and long-legged, with a big black
scar on his face, Ziga seemed like an ancient devil come to
visit a time as cruel as his own….

"Now then, let me show you how Ziga does it," he said, ordering
Djemo to kneel down in the corner by the radiator, "on all fours,
just like a dog." The maniac grinned. Djemo knelt down and
leaned forward on his hands, feeling humiliated and as helpless
as a newborn….

Ziga began hitting Hukanovic on his back and head with a club that
had a metal ball on the end. Hukanovic curled up trying to protect
his head. Zigic kept hitting him, steadily, methodically, cursing
all the while.

The drops of blood on the tiles under Djemo's head [became]
denser and denser until they formed a thick, dark red puddle.
Ziga kept at it; he stopped only every now and then…to fan
himself, waving his shirt tail in front of his contorted face.

At some point a man in fatigues appeared…. It was Saponja,
a member of the famous Bosna-montaza soccer club from Prijedor;
Djemo had once known him quite well…. "Well, well, my old pal
Djemo. While I was fighting…, you were pouring down the cold
ones in Prijedor." He kicked Djemo right in the face with
his combat boot. Then he kicked him again in the chest, so
badly that Djemo felt like his ribs had been shattered…Ziga
laughed like a maniac…and started hitting Djemo again
with his weird club….

Djemo received another, even stronger kick to the face. He
clutched himself in pain, bent a little to one side, and
collapsed, his head sinking into the now-sizable pool of blood
beneath him. Ziga grabbed him by the hair…and looked into Djemo's
completely disfigured face: "Get up, you scum…."

Then Ziga and the other guards forced Djemo to smear his bloody face
in a filthy puddle of water.

…"The boys have been eating strawberries and got themselves
a little red," said Ziga, laughing like a madman…. Another
prisoner, Slavko Ecimovic,…was kneeling, all curled up, by the
radiator. When he lifted his head, where his face should have
been was nothing but the bloody, spongy tissue under the skin
that had just been ripped off.

Instead of eyes, two hollow sockets were filled with black,
coagulated blood. "You'll all end up like this, you and your
families," Ziga said. "We killed his father and mother. And
his wife. We'll get his kids. And yours, we'll kill you all."
And with a wide swing of his leg, he kicked Djemo right in
the face….

[http://www.nybooks.com/articles/989, subscribers only]

I was wondering if these atrocity stories might be exaggerated. But
as Orwell says, the worst thing about atrocities, the most terrible
thing, is that they happen.

If you want to learn more, I'm not sure what to recommend, but perhaps
David Rieff's "Slaughterhouse." (I haven't read it yet, but I've read
other stuff written by Rieff.)

> and implicit in that,
> 2)Is it true that the Serbs were not expelled, but fled before the
> Croat army even arrived? Is this thus not really the ethnic cleansing
> we would define as a policy systematically expelling an ethnic group
> from a specified area?

I'd say that Krajina was definitely ethnic cleansing as well, even
if many Serbs fled before the Croat army arrived. Not all fled
(e.g. Knin was shelled). Bonner's article says that "at least
150 Serb civilians were summarily executed, and many hundreds
disappeared."
[http://www.balkanpeace.org/cib/cro/cro01.html]

> 2) "In regard to the question, why did NATO decide to act, Chomsky is
> not convincing...Chomsky's attempted explanation in terms of Serbia

> being ‘an annoyance, an unwelcome impediment to Washington's efforts


> to complete its substantial take-over of Europe . . . as long as
> Serbia is not incorporated within US-dominated domains, it makes sense

> to punish it for failure to conform' (p. 137) strikes one as bizarre. ..."


>
> My questions: Is Chomsky's explanation for NATO action bizarre?

Yes.

> Hastings says "the decisive
> underlying factor [for NATO intervention] was the war in Bosnia and
> belated contrition in the West for its own appalling record in that
> regard...It was the sense of guilt over the long agonies of the siege
> of Sarajevo, together with the speedy ending of the war once the West
> did intervene, which so powerfully fuelled the resolve to stop its
> repetition." Is either Chomsky or Hastings (or both) asserting an
> inaccurate reasoning for NATO intervention, or are they both plausible
> explanations?

From what I've read, I'd say that Hastings' description is pretty accurate.
The West had a lot to feel guilty about.

> 3) Chomsky "is wrong" to assert that "Britain [is] a mere poodle of
> Washington...it is unquestionably the case that British foreign policy
> changed significantly when Labour replaced the Conservatives. Up to
> that point British policy, controlled by Hurd and Rifkind, had been
> steadily anti-interventionist. If this had not been so, it is likely
> that there would have been a military intervention in Bosnia, or at
> least a raising of the arms embargo, long before the summer of 1995."
>
> Question: What I quoted was Hastings reasoning for why Chomsky was
> wrong to say that Britain was not acting on its own accord. Does
> Hastings's reasoning contradict the idea that London was acting
> subservient to Washington?

Yes. Individual personalities played a large role in the West's
response to Bosnia (or lack of response), in the US as well as in
the UK.

Russil Wvong
Vancouver, Canada
www.geocities.com/rwvong

Ray

unread,
Mar 13, 2002, 1:15:58 AM3/13/02
to
Hi Russil,
Yes, Chomsky did respond (twice actually - one on the ZNet forum and
one to a friend of mine who forwarded it to him.) I don't have the
response to the friend on me right now, but I'll paraphrase what I
remember him saying. What he says is for the most part the same in
both of them anyway. Anyway, he seemed a little irritated about
responding to it, saying "I have already commented several times on
the practice of lifting material from websites and asking for response
to it. That's a great technique for immobilizing those who write and
act in ways that offend the faithful...I would again urge those who
find these sites worthwhile to take the trouble to think through
charges and claims sufficiently at least to present them in their own
words." His response made me feel bad for what I'd done, so I
apologized for not presenting it in my own words and for doing
anything that might have been "immobilizing" :(. Anyway I'll post the
response in a follow-up to my first message.

By the way, I sent him a snail-mail about the U.S. attack on
Nicaragua, mentioning also your criticism of his Kennan quote. I
still haven't received a letter back, but I'll let you know if I do.
Talk to you later!

Sincerely,
Ray Amberg

Ray

unread,
Mar 13, 2002, 1:37:27 AM3/13/02
to
Reply from NC,

>A. "The statement that the 'violent expulsion of hundreds of
thousands
>of Serbs from Krajina' is 'acknowledged to be the most extreme single


>case of ethnic cleansing in the horrendous wars of secession in
>Yugoslavia' (p. 26) is certainly untrue. The ethnic cleansing of
>Muslims in eastern Bosnia in and after April 1992 was far worse in
>every way; furthermore, in the case of Krajina, the Croats there had

>already been 'ethnically cleansed' by the Serbs. The latter were not
>themselves 'violently expelled'; they fled en masse, many of them


>before the Croats even attacked, in probably justified fear of what
>would happen to them if they did not - a very different thing in the
>circumstances from the ethnic cleansings throughout Bosnia in all
>Serb-controlled areas."
>
>Two questions here:
>1)Is Hastings correct when he says that the statement regarding the

>Krajina Serbs is untrue?

The way for you to check this is to look at the obvious sources. E.g.,
the NY Times report by Ray Bonner at the time of Operation Storm, Aug.
13, 1995. If you take the trouble to do so, you will discover that in
the first paragraph he cites a relief official who describes this is
the
largest single movement of refugees in Europe since the Russian
invasion of Hungary in 1956; and you'll find also that Bonner's
estimate of the scale of the expulsions was significantly
underestimated, perhaps by almost a factor of two. If you take the
next step and look at standard scholarly sources, you will find, for
example, that the US-Croatian actions that "cleansed" the Serbs of
Krajina and subjected the remnants to "systematic abuse and murder"
was "on a scale that might raise the question of genocide" (Burg and
Shoup, The War in Bosnia-Herzegovina). I'm unaware of any serious
challenge to the observation of Hammond and Herman that the US-backed
operations "caused the largest single refugee crisis of the Yugoslav
wars" prior to the Kosovo expulsions after the NATO bombing in 1999
(The Media and the Kosovo Crisis). If you take the trouble to look at
what I've written about it, which might be a relevant procedure in
this context, you'll also find reference to the observation of the
veteran NY Times Balkan correspondent David Binder that the crime
elicited "almost total lack of interest in the U.S. press and the U.S.
Congress," presumably because of the crucial US role, which reached as
far as direct military participation according to Binder, citing US
military journals. That's quite standard, and is the reason why we
have little information about the details of what happened, in
contrast to enemy crimes, investigated with laser-like intensity. As
for the claim that the Serbs "fled," that is the last resort of every
apologist for ethnic cleansing and other atrocities, as you can easily
verify.

[I'm paraphrasing a part of his other letter. He also answers the
"flee" issue by asking rhetorically "Why didn't the Serbs flee before
Operation Storm?" He also says to take notice of how Hastings doesn't
really contest his statement about Krajina, but instead says something
about the Muslim ethnic cleansing to be "far worse in every way."
Chomsky then says something about how "worse" can be measured in
different dimensions, and that what Hastings says does not contradict
his statement.]

>B. "In regard to the question, why did NATO decide to act, Chomsky is


>not convincing...Chomsky's attempted explanation in terms of Serbia

>being 'an annoyance, an unwelcome impediment to Washington's efforts


to
>complete its substantial take-over of Europe . . . as long as Serbia
is
>not incorporated within US-dominated domains, it makes sense to
punish
>it for failure to conform' (p. 137) strikes one as bizarre. Why was

>this 'impediment' only discovered in 1999 and not in 1992 or 1995,"


>when "for years Milosevic had remained NATO's chosen instrument for
>maintaining peace of a sort in ex-Yugoslavia," and "remained so at
the
>Dayton accords in 1995"?

As you can easily check, I did not "explain" the NATO bombing of
Serbia on the grounds that Serbia was "an annoyance"; rather, I
described the
overcoming of the "annoyance" as a "side benefit" of the attack --
rather different from an "explanation" for it. As for the phrase he
disputes, it is a virtual truism. There are, of course, questions as
to why NATO decided on war in early 1999, instead of continuing to
denounce the KLA as a "terrorist" organization that was carrying out
cross-border atrocities in an effort to elicit a disproportionate
Serbian response, as it was doing through 1998. But that is a totally
different matter.

>My questions:
>How would you respond to this criticism? Why _didn't_ NATO act
against =


>Serbia in 1992 or 1995, esp. after "Vukovar in 1991, Sarajevo, Tuzla,
>Biha, and Srebrenica in the following years" as Hastings asks?
Hastings
>says "the decisive underlying factor [for NATO intervention] was the
>war in Bosnia and belated contrition in the West for its own
appalling
>record in that regard...It was the sense of guilt over the long
agonies
>of the siege of Sarajevo, together with the speedy ending of the war
>once the West did intervene, which so powerfully fuelled the resolve
to
>stop its repetition."

At this point, the argument descends to what can only be called
"depravity." I do not use the term lightly. How would we respond to
some
apologist for Saddam Hussein who praises him for offering a large
monetary gift to victims of Israeli atrocities during the Intifada,
explaining his benevolence on grounds of "belated contrition" for his
"appalling" failure to protect Palestinians in earlier years, e.g.,
during the US-backed Israeli invasion of Lebanon, which left perhaps
20,000 dead? We know exactly how to evaluate the claim of the Saddam
apologist. We ask what else Saddam was doing at the same time, or
before, to demonstrate his profound humanitarianism in some case from
which he does not directly benefit. The logic is the same in this
case, and a more than sufficient answer is given in the book under
review, in a chapter entitled "assessing humanitarian intent." A look
at a book of mine shortly after, "A New Generation Draws the Line,"
carries the record of US-British crimes well past the end of the war
in Kosovo. It is understandable that Western intellectuals should
prefer not to look at the crimes for which they share responsibility,
and to prate about the high moral values of their leaders. But not
very pretty.

Independently of this far more than sufficient response, we may also
ask
how the British, the most hawkish element of the alliance, viewed the
matter when they allegedly suffered from this "belated contrition"
(while happily supporting even worse crimes right at the same time as
they had been doing for many years, and continuing afterwards, as
reviewed in the books just mentioned). On Jan. 18, 1999, Foreign
Secretary Robin Cook informed the House of Commons that the KLA had
been responsible for more breaches of the cease-fire and more deaths
than the Yugoslav Security Forces; note that this was after the Racak
massacre, the atrocity that allegedly led to the "belated contrition,"
though we know that this was false for reasons discussed in the book
of mine under review and elaborated on the basis of much more
documentation in the later one. British Defence Minister Lord
Robertson, later NATO Secretary-General, concurred. Citing his claim,
I wrote that it was difficult to believe, given merely the array of
force, but that it did provide some evidence about British
perceptions. We have rich documentation from the State Department,
NATO, OSCE, KVM Monitors, and other Western sources that shows that
nothing substantial changed until the withdrawal of the monitors (over
Serbian objections) in preparation for the bombing two days later.
"Belated contrition" indeed.

>C. Chomsky "is wrong" to assert that "Britain [is] a mere poodle of


>Washington...it is unquestionably the case that British foreign
policy
>changed significantly when Labour replaced the Conservatives. Up to
>that point British policy, controlled by Hurd and Rifkind, had been
>steadily anti-interventionist. If this had not been so, it is likely
>that there would have been a military intervention in Bosnia, or at
>least a raising of the arms embargo, long before the summer of 1995."
>

>Question: Does Hastings's reasoning here contradict the idea that


>London was acting subservient to Washington?

Note that the phrase "mere poodle" is Hastings's, not mine [Ray: my
quotation mistake]. As for the facts, by the mid-1940s, British
foreign officers were lamenting the fact that Britain would have to be
a "junior partner" of the US in global management. 40 years ago, a
senior US statesman (apparently Dean Acheson) described Britain (in
secret) as "our lieutenant (the fashionable word is partner)." The
record conforms. Only the purposely self-deluded attend to the
fashionable word. One could argue that Labour has been even more loyal
than the Conservatives -- even the Financial Times has described Blair
as Washington's Ambassador. That's a different question, however.

Russil Wvong

unread,
Mar 13, 2002, 4:04:49 AM3/13/02
to
russi...@yahoo.com (Russil Wvong) wrote:
> thought...@hotmail.com (Ray) wrote:
> > There is a book review of Noam Chomsky's "The New Military Humanism:
> > Lessons from Kosovo," by the late Adrian Hastings ...

>
> If you want to learn more, I'm not sure what to recommend, but perhaps
> David Rieff's "Slaughterhouse." (I haven't read it yet, but I've read
> other stuff written by Rieff.)

I looked around some more and found that Mark Danner has a website
where his articles are posted.
[http://www.markdanner.net/fulllisting.htm]

In particular, the article I was quoting from is available at
[http://www.markdanner.net/wnyrgenocide.htm]

Russil Wvong

unread,
Mar 14, 2002, 8:08:36 PM3/14/02
to
thought...@hotmail.com (Ray) wrote:
> Yes, Chomsky did respond (twice actually - one on the ZNet forum and
> one to a friend of mine who forwarded it to him.) I don't have the
> response to the friend on me right now, but I'll paraphrase what I
> remember him saying. What he says is for the most part the same in
> both of them anyway.

Interesting. Thanks for posting this, Ray.

> Anyway, he seemed a little irritated about
> responding to it, saying "I have already commented several times on
> the practice of lifting material from websites and asking for response
> to it. That's a great technique for immobilizing those who write and
> act in ways that offend the faithful...I would again urge those who
> find these sites worthwhile to take the trouble to think through
> charges and claims sufficiently at least to present them in their own
> words." His response made me feel bad for what I'd done, so I
> apologized for not presenting it in my own words and for doing
> anything that might have been "immobilizing" :(.

I don't think you did anything wrong by asking -- if Chomsky and
Hastings disagree with each other, at least one of them must be wrong.
You certainly weren't asking questions in an accusing tone.

> By the way, I sent him a snail-mail about the U.S. attack on
> Nicaragua, mentioning also your criticism of his Kennan quote. I
> still haven't received a letter back, but I'll let you know if I do.

Looking forward to it. :-)

Russil Wvong

unread,
Mar 15, 2002, 3:18:00 PM3/15/02
to
thought...@hotmail.com (Ray) quotes Noam Chomsky:

> Ray wrote:
> >A. "The statement that the 'violent expulsion of hundreds of thousands
> >of Serbs from Krajina' is 'acknowledged to be the most extreme single
> >case of ethnic cleansing in the horrendous wars of secession in
> >Yugoslavia' (p. 26) is certainly untrue. The ethnic cleansing of
> >Muslims in eastern Bosnia in and after April 1992 was far worse in
> >every way; ...." [Adrian Hastings]

> >
> >Two questions here:
> >1)Is Hastings correct when he says that the statement regarding the
> >Krajina Serbs is untrue?
>
> The way for you to check this is to look at the obvious sources. E.g.,
> the NY Times report by Ray Bonner at the time of Operation Storm, Aug.
> 13, 1995. If you take the trouble to do so, you will discover that in
> the first paragraph he cites a relief official who describes this is the
> largest single movement of refugees in Europe since the Russian
> invasion of Hungary in 1956; and you'll find also that Bonner's
> estimate of the scale of the expulsions was significantly
> underestimated, perhaps by almost a factor of two. If you take the
> next step and look at standard scholarly sources, you will find, for
> example, that the US-Croatian actions that "cleansed" the Serbs of
> Krajina and subjected the remnants to "systematic abuse and murder"
> was "on a scale that might raise the question of genocide" (Burg and
> Shoup, The War in Bosnia-Herzegovina). I'm unaware of any serious
> challenge to the observation of Hammond and Herman that the US-backed
> operations "caused the largest single refugee crisis of the Yugoslav
> wars" prior to the Kosovo expulsions after the NATO bombing in 1999
> (The Media and the Kosovo Crisis). ...

I don't think Chomsky really answered your question, he just talks about
Krajina without talking about Bosnia. To me, it's clearly wrong to say
that the Croat attack on Krajina, terrible as it was -- at least
150 civilians were summarily executed, hundreds are still missing,
and at least 150,000 were expelled -- was more extreme than the
mass murder which took place earlier in Bosnia, in which at least
150,000 people were *killed*, and 2.7 million people became refugees.

Mark Danner:

... one can extract a rough standard operating procedure:

1. Concentration. Surround the area to be cleansed and after warning
the resident Serbs—often they are urged to leave or are at least
told to mark their houses with white flags—intimidate the target
population with artillery fire and arbitrary executions and then
bring them out into the streets.

2. Decapitation. Execute political leaders and those capable of
taking their places: lawyers, judges, public officials, writers,
professors.

3. Separation. Divide women, children, and old men from men of
"fighting age"—sixteen years to sixty years old.

4. Evacuation. Transport women, children, and old men to the border,
expelling them into a neighboring territory or country.

5. Liquidation. Execute "fighting age" men, dispose of bodies.

Too highly schematic to do justice to the Serbs' minute planning—for
each town, each village, each situation is different—these five steps
nonetheless comprise the elements of the program that worked for the
Serbs during 1991 to 1995, the main years of the Yugoslav wars. Serb
troops, both regular army and security forces, working closely
with their savage paramilitary protégés managed to "cleanse" more
than 70 percent of Bosnian territory during a mere six weeks in the
spring of 1992.

Percentages of Bosnians actually killed varied widely, partly
according to the strategic value of the target. In Brcko, for
example, which commands the critical and vulnerable "Posavina
Corridor" linking the two wings of Bosnian Serb territory,
Serb troops herded perhaps three thousand Bosnians into an
abandoned warehouse, tortured them, and put them to death.
[http://www.markdanner.net/wnyrendgame.htm]

At Srebenica alone, in July 1995, at least 7000 Bosnian Muslim men
were killed, despite the presence of UN peacekeepers:

That incomprehensible ambiguity shows the fecklessness into which
the UN mission had collapsed. "There was," as Holbrooke writes,
"no more energy left in the international system," and the result,
as the Dutch report puts it in typical bureaucratic language, was
that "in order to prevent excesses with regard to the transport, the
battalion commander decided to cooperate in the evacuation."

What these words mean is that as the great crowds of people carrying
their babies and their suitcases and their makeshift bundles pushed
forward in a great tide toward the buses, then passed between a
makeshift "cordon" of Dutch blue helmets—the soldiers who, on the
part of the "international community," had guaranteed the safety
of this "safe area"—Serb troops stepped forward to pull the Muslim
men roughly away. The women shouted, wept, reached out grasping hands
as they turned on the steps of the buses. It was no use. Their sons,
brothers, husbands were led off: many were quite old or disabled;
some were in their early teens, for most of Srebrenica's military-aged
men had already assembled in a great column fifteen thousand strong
and fled the enclave, hoping to fight their way through to Tuzla.16
Now the Serbs led off the men who had elected to remain, installing
them in selected houses to await "interrogation."
[http://www.markdanner.net/wnyrin.htm]

Srebenica is what pushed the West over the edge. Without UN
authorization, NATO launched airstrikes against the Bosnian Serbs
for two weeks in August and September, in conjunction with a major
Croat-Muslim offensive.
[http://www.markdanner.net/wnyroperation.htm]

> >How would you respond to this criticism? Why _didn't_ NATO act against

> >Serbia in 1992 or 1995, esp. after "Vukovar in 1991, Sarajevo, Tuzla,
> >Biha, and Srebrenica in the following years" as Hastings asks? Hastings
> >says "the decisive underlying factor [for NATO intervention] was the
> >war in Bosnia and belated contrition in the West for its own appalling
> >record in that regard...It was the sense of guilt over the long agonies
> >of the siege of Sarajevo, together with the speedy ending of the war
> >once the West did intervene, which so powerfully fuelled the resolve to
> >stop its repetition."
>
> At this point, the argument descends to what can only be called

> "depravity." I do not use the term lightly. ... It is understandable


> that Western intellectuals should prefer not to look at the crimes
> for which they share responsibility, and to prate about the high moral
> values of their leaders. But not very pretty.

This is a completely ad hominem attack on Hastings.

British journalist John Sweeney's response to a similar criticism
(quoted by Adam Jones):

On November 7, 1999, John Sweeney published an article in the
British Observer discussing the quandaries of atrocity reportage
in wartime. At the end of the piece, Sweeney described his
reaction to John Laughland's charges in the U.K. Spectator that
"those [of us] who covered the Kosovo war ... had flammed up the
numbers of Serb killings of Albanians because we were playing
NATO's tune, fiddling to the political resonance of our masters.

"My first reaction," Sweeney wrote, "was cold rage":

Laughland is, I understand, a teacher at the Sorbonne. While
he was sipping pastis not a few of us were standing on the
Albanian border watching some of 800,000 refugees limp past.
I met 15 men who said they were from a village called Little
Krushe [Velika Krusa] and were the survivors of a terrible
massacre. Eight months, countless pieces for The Observer and
two Channel 4 Dispatches later, I can affirm everything they
told me turned out to be true: 106 men and boys were
machine-gunned then set on fire in a hay barn. The bodies
have not been found. Some of the widows and orphans believe
their men are not dead. That they have no bodies to bury does
not mean their men are not dead. It is not NATO propaganda
to deduce that if 106 bodies have disappeared, they have to be
in a mass grave somewhere. One day -- down a mineshaft, on a
river bed, wherever -- we will find them. And we'll count them,
every last one.

[http://www.ideajournal.com/jones-kosovo.html]

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