In case anyone missed it, here's an extract from today's Guardian interview with Noam Chomsky.
Chomsky discusses Srebrenica- and once again gives his support to the excellent Diana Johnstone. Chomsky is absolutely right to talk of the 'hysterical fanaticism' about Bosnia in western culture- and the Stalinist response directed towards all those who dared- and continue to dare to question the 'party line'.
For neo-conservatives, the cause of Bosnian separatism was an obsession and inflating the casualty figures not just of Srebrenica- but of the whole Yugoslav conflict, became a political necessity. All the deaths in the conflict were tragic- but the deliberate exaggeration of casualty figures to justify the bombing of Yugoslavia in 1999 was an act of true depravity.
Q: Do you regret supporting those who say the Srebrenica massacre was exaggerated?A (Chomsky): My only regret is that I didn't do it strongly enough
As some see it, one ill-judged choice of cause (by Chomsky) was the accusation made by Living Marxism magazine that during the Bosnian war, shots used by ITN of a Serb-run detention camp were faked. The magazine folded after ITN sued, but the controversy flared up again in 2003 when a journalist called Diane Johnstone made similar allegations in a Swedish magazine, Ordfront, taking issue with the official number of victims of the Srebrenica massacre. (She said they were exaggerated.) In the ensuing outcry, Chomsky lent his name to a letter praising Johnstone's "outstanding work". Does he regret signing it?
"No," he says indignantly. "It is outstanding. My only regret is that I didn't do it strongly enough. It may be wrong; but it is very careful and outstanding work."
How, I wonder, can journalism be wrong and still outstanding?
"Look," says Chomsky, "there was a hysterical fanaticism about Bosnia in western culture which was very much like a passionate religious conviction. It was like old-fashioned Stalinism: if you depart a couple of millimetres from the party line, you're a traitor, you're destroyed. It's totally irrational. And Diane Johnstone, whether you like it or not, has done serious, honest work. And in the case of Living Marxism, for a big corporation to put a small newspaper out of business because they think something they reported was false, is outrageous."
They didn't "think" it was false; it was proven to be so in a court of law.
But Chomsky insists that "LM was probably correct" and that, in any case, it is irrelevant. "It had nothing to do with whether LM or Diane Johnstone were right or wrong." It is a question, he says, of freedom of speech. "And if they were wrong, sure; but don't just scream well, if you say you're in favour of that you're in favour of putting Jews in gas chambers."