Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Noam Chomsky

In 9/11's aftermath, Dr. Noam Chomsky has been cited frequently by the opponents of the war on terror to lend their -- frankly embarrassing -- complaints some intellectual weight.

Dr. Chomsky has been articulate and vicious in his critiques of America. In many ways, he is a more learned and American version of Arundhati Roy.

It is instructive, therefore, for some of Dr. Chomsky's -- particularly Muslim -- supporters to learn of the nature of ideas he has endorsed in relation to the recently deceased Slobodan Milosevic's genocide of Muslims in the Balkans.

Here is David Aaronovitch in the Times of London:

Recently, after a published interview with the antiwar intellectual Noam Chomsky, The Guardian erased the article from its website and apologized to Professor Chomsky for the interviewer's suggestion that either he, or Diana Johnstone, an author whose work he praised, had denied that the Srebrenica massacre had taken place.

This correction was entirely wrong. In the sense that the world understood there to have been an act amounting to genocide at Srebrenica -- ie, an act that we would have been justified in attempting to prevent by force -- Johnstone certainly, and Chomsky implicitly, had most certainly denied the massacre. In Johnstone's book, Fools' Crusade, and elsewhere she had argued that the numbers of deaths had been exaggerated, that many supposed victims were in fact still alive somewhere, that Srebrenica had actually been an armed camp, that the Bosnians had deliberately let it be overrun hoping for a anti-Serb propaganda coup, that there had been some regrettable "revenge" killings, as can happen in wartime. Anything and everything, indeed, except the truth -- which was that 7,000-8,000 Muslim men were killed by the Bosnian Serb forces precisely because they were Muslim men. Johnstone argued this, and Chomsky commended Johnstone. But why?

Most charitably we may understand this by thinking that Chomsky sees the road from Srebrenica to Iraq just as I do. If Bosnia was the betrayal through inaction and appeasement, Srebrenica the consequence and Kosovo the determination not to let it happen again, then the line runs clear.

(Hat tip: Andrew Sullivan)

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