Letter to Monthly Review
On Herman & Peterson's "Dismantling of Yugoslavia"
By Roger Lippman and Peter Lippman
does its readers a disservice in presenting
Edward Herman and
David Peterson's skewed
version of the Yugoslav conflicts
("The Dismantling of Yugoslavia," October 2007 issue). The Serbian wars of
genocide (attempted and partially accomplished) against other Yugoslav ethnic
deserve a more
nuanced analysis. At the very least, the MR issue could have presented a range
of Left perspectives.
Instead, the magazine discredits itself with its endorsement of two
indefatigable propagandists who fantasize about Western plots to
undermine Yugoslavia while downplaying the Serbian war crimes that have been
broadly recognized and condemned in the world community. For example, on the
tenth anniversary of the Srebrenica massacre of about 8000 Bosnian Muslims by
Serbian forces, Herman and Peterson's "Srebrenica Research Group" called a
conference at the UN not to offer support for the survivors, but rather
the essential facts of the massacre.
In the 1990s wars of Yugoslav dissolution, Serbia attacked its neighbors and
even its own people using methods evocative of US aggression elsewhere. The
reach of the Serbian war machine was less vast than the American war machine's,
and thus the authors defend the Serbs against the Americans. But let us not be
asked, as Herman and Peterson do, to take sides with one criminal organization
against the other.
Their writing is most notable for its failure even to consider the victims. It
is shameful that Herman and Peterson side with the Serbian war criminals, not
only against U.S. power, but against the Albanians, Bosniaks, and other victims
of Serbia's wars. Many of Serbia's victims - those who survived, that is - are
to be found as refugees throughout the U.S. Have the authors ever consulted
Their arguments, and their specious arithmetic, have been refuted head-on by
reputable scholars, eye-witnesses, and
agencies, and by the preponderance of evidence. For a documentary history of the
Kosovo war and some aspects of the Bosnia war, along with numerous, and
varied, progressive perspectives, see our website
Balkan Witness. In particular, see
our compilation of critiques
of Edward Herman, which we recommend to readers as an antidote to Monthly
Review's one-sided presentation that does not even admit the existence of a
legitimate alternative, progressive perspective on the Yugoslav wars.
We do not endorse NATO's claim to have acted from humanitarian motivations.
Rather, we perceive NATO as acting in its own interests to stop Milosevic's
disruption of Western prospects for business as usual. That the entire Albanian
population of Kosovo was rescued, and the genocide in Bosnia (though well into
the process) was stopped, albeit by Western intervention, cannot justifiably be
viewed by genuine progressives as a bad thing.