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Deniers of Serbia's War Crimes
 

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Last modified May 18, 2017

It is no surprise that the regime of Slobodan Milosevic and its propagandists sought to deny or justify its war crimes against the peoples of Kosovo and Bosnia. It is shameful, however, that various Western commentators who claim to be progressives have repeated these lies and justifications - even after most of them have been disproved. In this absurd spectacle they rationalize the destruction of villages and populations thought to harbor “terrorists” – the very actions that the movements against the wars in Vietnam and Iraq have so vigorously opposed.

In this section we examine the misrepresentations of some of these commentators.


If falsehood had, like truth, but one face only, we should be upon better terms; for we should then take for certain the contrary to what the liar says: but the reverse of truth has a hundred thousand forms, and a field indefinite, without bound or limit.
    Michel de Montaigne, Of Liars, 1574

On trial beside Mladic in The Hague is a disturbing case of infectious idiocy and denial which the left can no longer ignore If people who claim to care about justice and humanity cannot resist what looks to me like blatant genocide denial, we find ourselves in a very dark place.
   By George Monbiot, The Guardian (UK), May 21, 2012
There seems to be a kind of leftist monsterphilia around. The same people who embraced Slobodan Milošević, Hosni Mubarak and Moammar Qaddafi now embrace Bashar al-Assad, again loudly protesting against American imperialist designs against this public benefactor.
   By
Uri Avnery, Bloody Spring, August 11, 2012

From the Spanish Civil War to Syria: Parceling Out Truth Subverts Justice George Orwell understood that ignoring obvious horrors for expediency’s sake is a roadblock to justice. Ian Williams was told that The Nation had a line, so we could not write anything about intervention in Kosovo that was not outright condemnation. It would “aid imperialism” to say that Slobodan Milošević built his power on unleashing genocidal impulses.
   By Ian Williams, June 12, 2013

Denial, by Tony Taylor, Melbourne University Press, 2008. The Pathology of Historical Denial. This interesting book seeks to explain why deniers do what they do and seeks a deeper, functional basis for this strange and enduring phenomenon.
 


Speech by war-crimes denier Michael Parenti
cancelled by U.S. peace group, May 2012
A campaign by progressives, Bosniak survivors, and Muslims
convinced the group to withdraw a speaking invitation to Parenti.
 

 

Contents


A Town Betrayed (Norwegian film)

Ali, Tariq

Alternative Press Review

Blum, William

Bodansky, Yossef

Bogdanich, George

Chomsky, Noam

Clark, Neil

Clark, Ramsey

Cohn, Marjorie

Cupurdija, Milos
(forged Robert Baer interview)

Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting
 


Gibbs, David

Handke, Peter

Herman, Edward S.

Johnstone, Diana

Karganovic, Stephen

Media Lens

Parenti, Michael

Pilger, John

Project Censored

Proyect, Louis

Schindler, John R.

Seymour, Richard "Lenin"

"Srebrenica Historical Project"
 


van der Pijl, Kees

Andy Wilcoxson

Woodward, Susan

Workers World Party/ International Action Center/ ANSWER

Multiple characters, including
David Chandler
Michel Chossudovsky
Peter Gowan
Philip Hammond

Tom Hayden

Kate Hudson

Arianna Huffington

Mick Hume
Jared Israel
Nebojsa Malic
Michael Moore

David Peterson

Harold Pinter
Justin Raimondo


Srebrenica deniers:

Antiwar.com     James Bissett     General Lewis MacKenzie

As well as some of those above

 


More on BOSNIA
- Trnopolje and Srebrenica

 


 


Diana Johnstone
:

Raçak - Mutation of a Massacre This review of a Diana Johnstone article shows that she uncritically repeats Serbian government propaganda on Racak, and that her work is characterized by missing evidence, a paucity of sources, the spreading of untruths, and conspiracy theories. By Peter Wuttke, November 18, 1999 (Newly translated from the original German, March 2002.)

Johnstone's Fools Crusade is reviewed by Richard Caplan in International Affairs, Vol. 79, Issue 2, June 18, 2003.

Diana Johnstone's Fools Crusade is rebutted at Proving Genocide in Bosnia, by Alan Kocevic, July 8, 2005.

Johnstone's article "Srebrenica Revisited," is reviewed by Eric Gordy, October 13, 2005.

Johnstone's writings are reviewed in The Left Revisionists, by Marko Hoare, November 2003

Johnstone's Fools Crusade is reviewed by Kirk Johnson, 2006. Several installments, linked from the cited page.

Josh Mason, a former editor at In These Times, explains in an online PEN forum (April 8, 1999) that the magazine stopped using Diana Johnstone's articles on the former Yugoslavia because they didn't meet the publication's journalistic standards:

We felt we couldn't publish her stuff not only because she was insisting that there was no Serb role in the slaughter of Muslims in Bosnia after the facts were long in, but because her friendship with Milosevic's wife Mirjana Markovic, going back to her time as student in Yugoslavia in the '60s, colored her writing to the point of dishonesty. For instance, in a piece on the Serbian opposition, she presented Ms. Markovic's party as Serbia's main democratic opposition.

  Markovic's Yugoslav Left party was actually allied with Milosevic's ruling Socialist Party of Serbia, and she was held as intellectual mastermind of her husband's "Greater Serbia" ideology.

 Johnstone on European fascists: Johnstone describes the 2nd-generation French neo-fascist Marine Le Pen as "basically on the Left." Johnstone is one confused person.
 

The Left Revisionists An extensive review of a broad array of those on the Left who downplay the violence and suffering involved in the wars in the former Yugoslavia and shift the blame to the Western alliance. Among those discussed are Noam Chomsky, Edward Herman, Michael Parenti, Michel Chossudovsky, Diana Johnstone, Mick Hume, John Pilger, Harold Pinter, and Jared Israel. By Marko Hoare, November 2003

Nothing Is Left A review of several books covering the former Yugoslavia, by authors Philip Hammond, Edward Herman, Michael Parenti, Diana Johnstone, Noam Chomsky, Michael Moore, and Kate Hudson. By Marko Hoare, Bosnia Report, October-December 2003

The Kosovo Verification Mission at Racak A summary of the events surrounding the Racak massacre and its investigation. Concisely refutes some of the inaccurate statements of Diana Johnstone, Philip Hammond, Edward Herman, and David Peterson. By Alex J. Bellamy, 2002

Srebrenica and the London Bombings: The ‘Anti-War’ Link This article examines what unites the left-wing and right-wing deniers of Serbia's war crimes. Includes discussion of Edward Herman, Justin Raimondo, Nebojsa Malic, Neil Clark, Tariq Ali, and others. By Marko Hoare, July 23, 2005

Mediating Denial Martin Shaw reviews Philip Hammond and Edward S. Herman's anthology Degraded Capability: The Media and the Kosovo Crisis. Shaw analyzes distortions by Diana Johnstone, John Pilger, Mick Hume, David Chandler, Peter Gowan, and others. Degraded Capability is an insult to the victims of the Yugoslav wars and those in the media as well as the International Tribunal who have tried to address the victims' claims for justice. June 2000

You can't negotiate with a war criminal But a circus tent of NATO opponents, from Tom Hayden to Arianna Huffington, won't face reality. By Ian Williams, Salon.com, May 27, 1999

High octane, narrow gauge A discussion about the Kosovo crisis was held by the London Review of Books and New Left Review on April 19, 1999. Participant Amanda Sebestyen made the following observations about the conversation:  A very narrow band of concerns was addressed: mainly the global machinations of NATO, followed by argumentative re-runs of Yugoslav history. Few addressed the present, and of these a disturbingly large proportion attempted to deny that the Kosovars were suffering mass murder. Several who spoke with most assurance against intervention had no previous record of concern for the people of the region. A wider consensus of good taste was used to disqualify the notion that the Milosevic regime might possibly be ‘fascist’ or committing ‘genocide’. Strangely, these prohibitions reinforced the effect of spending an evening in the 1930s, where many of a Leninist persuasion could still apparently find national socialism preferable to capitalism. Among the participants were Tariq Ali and Peter Gowan.

Tariq Ali, editor of the anthology Masters of the Universe? NATO’s Balkan Crusade. Reviewed by Ian Williams, in More Agitprop than reasoned argument. Bosnia Report, July-September 2000.

Alternative Press Review: Counter-Spin as Useful Idiocy The author, borrowing Lenin’s phrase, takes on the “useful idiots” on the Left, including those who deny the existence of Serbian killing camps in Bosnia or even the massacre at Srebrenica. His prime target in this article is the Alternative Press Review's apologetics for Slobodan Milosevic. By David Watson, Fifth Estate, Fall 2002.

William Blum Denies Serbian Atrocities in Kosovo In his book Rogue State,  Blum, a member of the International Committee to Defend Slobodan Milosevic, repeats a theme common among uninformed commentators and Serbian apologists: that Serbian atrocities against Kosovo Albanians began only after the NATO intervention. This article offers extensive documentary refutation of Blum's position. By Roger Lippman, July 3, 2002.

Blum's section on Eastern Europe in his book Killing Hope reads more like a series of hastily-penned notes than historical narrative. The book inadvertently exemplifies its central tenet - blind ideological adherence is as seductive as it is dangerous. The author's view of U.S. foreign policy is so deeply entrenched that it keeps the author from recognizing the complexity of the post-Cold War period. Reviewed by Julie Muravska, London School of Economics, January 21, 2015

Yossef Bodansky The guiding principle for Bodansky seems to be hostility to Islam and Muslims everywhere. Click here for an overview.

George Bogdanich "Yugoslavia: The Avoidable War" This propaganda film paints the '90s genocide as a misunderstanding caused by poor public relations, and bases its key conclusions on interviews with a collection of crackpots and racists. Reviewed by Joshua Tanzer, Offoffoff.com, March 2002.

Neil Clark: Monty Python and the Balkan Islamofascist division A review of Clark's shoddy activities in support of Milosevic. Clark's claim that the late Bosnian President Alija Izetbegovic was a supporter of the SS in Bosnia during World War II is demolished in this article. By Marko Hoare, November 22, 2007
NEW
Milosevic "Exonerated"? War-Crime Deniers Feed Receptive Audience Milosevic was not a party to the Karadzic trial referred to here. One is left with the impression, by Clark's article in RT (Russia Today), that this denier of war crimes excels only in the mendacious art of clutching at straws, or, in this case, at a single straw. By Gordana Knezevic, August 9, 2016

Ramsey Clark: The war criminal's best friend By Ian Williams, Salon, June 21, 1999
Ramsey Clark regards Milosevic favorably, and comparable to Saddam Hussein:
"History will prove Milosevic was right." (March 17, 2006)

Marjorie Cohn minimizes the crimes of Milosevic and misrepresents Yugoslav history. Response by Roger Lippman March 17, 2006

Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting: FAIR Misrepresents the Racak Massacre In claiming that there is “new evidence casting doubt on claims that the bodies were civilian victims of a massacre,” Fairness and Accuracy In Reporting endorses a biased and error-filled article on Racak. FAIR misrepresents the position of Dr. Helena Ranta, the forensic pathologist who investigated the Racak massacre. FAIR's article is at odds with substantial previous (and subsequent) credible documentation on the Racak incident. By Roger Lippman, April 30, 2001

David Gibbs Gibbs seems determined to blame anyone but the Serbian aggressors for the Kosovo Albanian plight. In the conclusion of an excerpt from his book, published in Tikkun, Gibbs claims that the NATO intervention "served mainly to increase the scale of atrocities." But he neglects to notice that it also rescued a population of two million from Serbia's intended expulsion or annihilation.
Response
by Roger Lippman, August 28, 2009.
Review by Josip Glaurdic, International Affairs, March 2010: Gibbs supports dubious claims with spurious, distorted, or already discredited evidence -- or with no evidence at all. He repeatedly claims to be setting the historical record straight, but does so only in order to create a smokescreen for his distortions. Surely it is possible to write a book with a leftist critique of the West's policies in the Balkans without such glaring omissions and distortions. Unfortunately, such a book still has to be written.

Gibbs is ably scrutinized by Marko Hoare in a series of essays:
The bizarre world of genocide denial December 6, 2010
First Check Their Sources: On David N. Gibbs and ‘shoddy scholarship’ December 24, 2010
First Check Their Sources 2: The myth that ‘most of Bosnia was owned by the Serbs before the war’ January 5, 2011
First Check Their Sources 3: The myth that ‘Germany encouraged Croatia to secede from Yugoslavia’ January 24, 2011
David Gibbs's Bogus Complaint April 12, 2014

See also Debating Genocide Deniers by Daniel Toljaga, January 9, 2011

Peter Handke A prominent defender of Slobodan Milosevic, the Austrian writer spoke at Milosevic's funeral in Belgrade, in March 2006. The Apologist, commentary by Michael McDonald, The American Scholar, Spring 2007.
Handke's transformation from one of the German language's most celebrated writers and an idol of the '68 generation into a full-blown apologist for Serbian war crimes has taken a good 10 years but is now officially complete. Blind to the Truth, By Tobias K. Vogel, Transitions Online, July 20, 2005

Stephen Karganovic ("Srebrenica Historical Project") This war-crimes denier was funded by the Republika Srpska, until he was caught embezzling government funds and cheating the government out of taxes owed.
Bosnian Serbs Probe Srebrenica Lobbyist's Alleged Fraud Balkan Insight, April 8, 2016

The wages of genocide denial by Michael Dobbs, July 5, 2012
Earlier in life, Karganovic had appointed himself honorary consul from the nation of Tonga.

Media Lens misuses sources to argue that British media were "filled with hundreds of claims of genocide in Kosovo." The article goes on to give a distorted version of the background of the Kosovo war. Response by Roger Lippman April 3, 2006
On Media Lens, lying and the Balkans by Daniel Simpson, December 23, 2009

Michael Parenti:
Parenti was U.S. chairperson of the International Committee to Defend Slobodan Milosevic.
Parenti's book To Kill a Nation
is discussed in Nothing Is Left, by Marko Hoare, Bosnia Report, October-December 2003.
The same book is
reviewed by Kirk Johnson, beginning June 2007. Twelve installments, linked from sidebar on the cited page.
A campaign by progressives, Bosniak survivors, and Muslims convinced a US peace organization to withdraw a speaking invitation to Parenti. May 2012

John Pilger:
'
Random Brutality' and the Denial of Genocide
John Pilger erects a smokescreen of abuse and distortion, but fails to defend his contemptible excuse that Serbian atrocities in Kosovo were products of 'random brutality' rather than genocidal planning. By Martin Shaw, November 22, 1999.
John Pilger and the Tasmanian Genocide:
Pilger falsely claims that no mass graves of Albanian victims of Milosevic’s regime have ever been found. By Marko Hoare, December 14, 2007
Corbyn's woeful record on defence This article discusses Pilger's false claim in 2016 that the Hague tribunal exonerated Milosevic of genocide. By Oliver Kamm, Prospect, May 16, 2017

Project Censored: Dubious Sources: How Project Censored Joined the Whitewash of Serb Atrocities Their coverage of Kosovo and Bosnia lacks historical perspective and relies on biased, discredited sources. By David Walls, May 2, 2000 (Revised for publication in New Politics, Summer 2002)
Project Censored Whitewash Debate Walls' article
elicited commentary from Bogdan Denitch and critical responses from Peter Phillips, Diana Johnstone, and Edward S. Herman & David Peterson. Each critical response is followed with a reply from Walls. New Politics, Winter 2003

Kees van der Pijl Political economy and political reaction A reply to Kees van der Pijl, who fails to understand that Milosevic's seizure of power revoked the rights of national minorities and made the positions of Croatia and Slovenia untenable, leading to the breakup of the Yugoslav federation. By Martin Shaw, June 2003

Richard "Lenin" Seymour The Liberal Defence of Murder, a defense of the Milosevic regime and Serbian ethnic-cleansing. The book, and its sources, are dissected by Marko Hoare. February 18, 2009
Seymour supported Serbian territorial expansion By Marko Hoare, July 28, 2008

Andy Wilcoxson  NEW Milosevic "Exonerated"? War-Crime Deniers Feed Receptive Audience Milosevic was not a party to the Karadzic trial referred to here. But the tanks of his army attacked Sarajevo in April 1992, the beginning of his 1000-day siege of that city - a fact not mentioned in Wilcoxson's article in Counterpunch. By Gordana Knezevic, August 9, 2016

Susan Woodward Woodward’s book Balkan Tragedy shows how easy the passage is from identification with the centralized Yugoslav state and army to support for Serbian nationalism. Her apologies for the Serbian side contrast with her treatment of Croatia and Slovenia. Reviewed by Marko Attila Hoare, April 1996, Bosnia Report.

Workers World Party / International Action Center / ANSWER
See
Dubious Sources: How Project Censored Joined the Whitewash of Serb Atrocities (Search text for Workers World)
Also The Politics of the Anti-War Movement, and the Intractable Dilemma of International ANSWER By Bill Weinberg, World War 4 Report, December 1, 2005


Frozen in time, like prehistoric insects caught in an amber bubble of cold-war reflexes, the unreconstructed Left remains fixated on NATO and Western imperialist warmongers as the only threat facing humankind that they are prepared to resist.

Barely half a century after World War II, the living dead of the Left are no longer capable of recognizing either fascism or genocide as the enemy.

          Andras Riedlmayer, April 1, 1999

 


Sadly, the so-called radical movement is losing its sense of complexity, of history, of ambivalence, and ultimately its own humanity. Most ostensible oppositionist discourse on the Balkans, from the hard Marxist left to the independent socialist left to even many anarchists, has sunk to a duckspeak of conspiracy mongering and holocaust denial, or to the nostrums of diplomatic conflict-resolution, or to crass and aggressive apologetics for mass murderers.

Readers who think this characterization an exaggeration will have to judge for themselves. They can only do so by studying the matter in depth, since leftist magazines and internet sites are a cesspool of misinformation, where one can find myriad examples of holocaust denial from leftists and rightists - it is a kind of a red-brown front, in fact - that Serb concentration camps never existed, or that the Bosnians "bombed themselves" in Sarajevo, or that the mass execution of thousands of men after the fall of the Srebenica enclave was a "hoax." And some leftists are even circulating a petition to free poor old Slobodan Milosevic (while demanding the head of Pinochet).

One has to find this depressing in part because some of these people have had reasonable things to say about US support for dictatorships abroad, global capitalism, and other important related issues, and so they now function either to recruit the naturally skeptical into a counter-cult with its own authoritarian mystifications, or they simply discredit worthy opposition altogether through a kind of Gresham's law by which healthy ethical reasoning is driven out by paranoia and dogmatism. Any radical movement serious about changing life, whether or not it can do anything in the near future about the social crises it faces, must never allow itself to become a purveyor of lies.

As Theodor Adorno put it in Minima Moralia, "The almost insoluble task is to let neither the power of others, nor our own powerlessness, stupefy us." We have no choice but to demystify so-called demystification.

David Watson, in the Fifth Estate, winter 2002

 


Historical Background
   Documents
   Commentary   Non-violent Solutions

Reports from the Area of Conflict   Kosovo Albanians in Serbian Prisons

Post-War Kosovo   Post-War Bosnia

Post-War Serbia    On Serbian Nationalism

Kosovo Independence

Bosnia   Croatia   Macedonia

Special compilation: the Racak Massacre

The Milosevic War-Crimes Trial

War-crimes Deniers

Srebrenica Debate

 

 


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