Sunday, February 12, 2006

A neo-con's knowledge of the Balkans

Question: What do you call a commentator on the Balkans who thinks that Branka is a man's name?
Answer: Oliver Kamm
http://oliverkamm.typepad.com/blog/
On reflection, it's exactly the sort of knowledge of the region you'd expect from a supporter of The Henry Jackson Society.

13 comments:

RobBBB said...
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Neil Clark said...

Someone whose knowledge of the Balkans is such that he thinks Branka is a man's name is not worth debating with.

Peter Nolan said...

Neil, you seem not to have considered the views of Brendan Simms on the Balkans, particularly in his book Unfinest Hour. Maybe if you believe that his grasp of facts is weak, you might bring this to the attention of his employers at Cambridge University?

Just a thought....

RobBBB said...
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Neil Clark said...

Rest assured, I have considered the views of Brendan Simms. I've crossed swords with him on the BBC World Service when the Milosevic trial started. You can look that one up in the BBC Archive and decide for yourself who came out best. Are you saying that because someone holds a position at Oxford or Cambridge university, he/she is infallible? Would you have said the same about Hugh 'The Hitler diaries are genuine' Trevor-Roper?

RobBBB said...
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Neil Clark said...

The Hugh Trevor-Roper example is entirely relevant. You are trying to maintain that because a Cambridge academic says one thing on the Balkans we all have to fall into line. But Oxbridge academics have been wrong in the past (like Simms was on the Balkans) and they will be wrong plenty of times in the future too.
And why, if you feel so strongly about Simms, can't you defend him in your own name? Are you afraid of revealing your true identity?

RobBBB said...
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Neil Clark said...

Here's a review of Simms' book from Amazon. It's not by me-but it really says it all. Anybody who claims that the British gave the 'green light' for the JNA to attack Slovenia -does not deserve to be taken seriously as a Balkans 'analyst'.
If you do want a serious, factually correct account of the Bosnian conflict-(as opposed to neo-conservative propaganda) read Diana Johnstone's A Fool's Crusade. After you've done that, come back to me and tell me why on earth should we respect Brendan Simms.



REVIEW OF 'THEIR UNFINEST HOUR' BY BRENDAN SIMMS
This book is incredibly biased and anti-Serb, and also anti-British. The author clearly has no understanding of what actually happened in Bosnia. He constructs ludicrous conspiracy theories to blame the Serbs for everything, and then on top of that blame Britain for everything he blames the Serbs for.
To give one example, he claims that Britain effectively gave the Yugoslav People's Army (JNA) a "green light" to attack Slovenia - ignoring the fact that even Warren Zimmerman, then US ambassador to Yugoslavia, admitted in his book that the JNA never waged war on Slovenia, and Slovenia in fact attacked it when it tried to resume control over Yugoslav border posts. That is an example of what it does throughout this book - accuse the Serb/Yugoslav side, with skant evidence (if any), of doing something evil, then accusing the British side, with skant evidence (if any), of being to blame for that alleged action. (There is also, incidently, no mention in this book of the fact, freely found in other Western books on the Yugoslav conflict, that the JNA was ordered to re-take the border points by the Prime Minister Ante Markovic - a Croatian - not the Serbs, and that the head of the military district that fought against the Slovenes was himself a Slovene. He insists on calling it Serb aggression...)
The author is also extremely philo-German and philo-American. When people in Britain objected to the fact that John Major caved in to German bullying, and accepted unilateral recognition of the secessionist republics of Slovenia and Croatia (and thus inevitably Bosnia), this is in his eyes British chauvinism, for example. Even though major figures such as Lord Carrington have said that German-forced recognition blocked progress towards peace in Croatia and sparked the war there, he calls objection amongst parts of the British population, media, parliament, and so on, nationalist and chauvinist. Likewise, objection to the fact that America kept on torpedoing European peace plans, and encouraging the Muslim side to continue fighting instead of compromising, is anti-Americanism embedded in the British establishment, not plain common sense.
The main problem with the book is the author's unbelievable bias in favour of the Bosnian Muslims, who, according to him, were innocent victims of a genocide by Serbian aggressors, rather than one side in a civil war. The real cause of the war was the illegal actions of the Muslim-Croatian coalition, not Serb aggression. On 14th October 1991 the Muslim and the Croatian deputies of the Bosnian parliament illegally reconvened it after the Serbs had gone home and passed a unilteral declaration of sovereignty and independence. The Serbs responded by declaring their intention to remain in Yugoslavia, which was their fundamental wish. The Muslim-Croat coalition continued on their path to independence, ignoring the fact that consent of all three peoples was required, eventually leading to war, as they refused to allow the Serbs the same right of self-determination they were proclaiming for themselves (and which according to the 1974 constitution all three peoples of Bosnia possessed).
If you want an example of shrill, ideologically-driven, conspiracy theorist nonsense, then maybe get this book, or Noel Malcolm's books. If you want a factual and more unbiased look at the events in the former Yugoslavia, though, I suggest you get Susan Woodward's "Balkan Tragedy".

RobBBB said...
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Neil Clark said...

Who's stopping you from posting other reviews of the book on your own blog?! As I print plenty of 'pseudoanonymous' comments which disagree with me (including yours), am I not entitled to print one which I agree with as well?!
Come on, Dacre's Ghost-you can't have it both ways.

1srpkinja said...

Oliver Kamm never asked my permission to publish my letter to the Guardian on his blog. Mr. Kamm slates anyone who does not agree 100% with him and that is a pity. Martin Bell decided that the war in Bosnia was a turning point in his life and that he had to report the events subjectively. Whichever way you turn it, it is not the job of a war correspondent to give us his personal opinion of events. His job was to tell the truth which he singularly failed. Mr. Kamm has been supplied by myself and my friends with much material which will back up my views, however I see no such concrete evidence coming from him. Brute force seems to be his approach.

I will find out, it may take some time, but I will find out the exact location of the wounding of Mr. Bell. The photograph I have at my disposal does not give much away but I remember vividly the TV footage of the moment when Bell was wounded by schrapnel. It was in the vicinity of the Holiday Inn and it could have been on the terrace of the hotel. While it is true that the hotel does not have balconies the ground floor could easily have been the location.

I am not a native of Serbia, I was born in Sarajevo. You do not have to be born in Serbia to be a Serb, but Mr. Kamm does not know this. Also, I am a woman and anyone who claims he knows so much more about my country than I should at least know the basic rule of masculine and feminine names in Serbo/Croat.

I suggest he starts with his pole vaulting training while the cold showers will help with his hysteria no end.

1srpkinja said...

Oliver Kamm never asked my permission to publish my letter to the Guardian on his blog. Mr. Kamm slates anyone who does not agree 100% with him and that is a pity. Martin Bell decided that the war in Bosnia was a turning point in his life and that he had to report the events subjectively. Whichever way you turn it, it is not the job of a war correspondent to give us his personal opinion of events. His job was to tell the truth which he singularly failed. Mr. Kamm has been supplied by myself and my friends with much material which will back up my views, however I see no such concrete evidence coming from him. Brute force seems to be his approach.

I will find out, it may take some time, but I will find out the exact location of the wounding of Mr. Bell. The photograph I have at my disposal does not give much away but I remember vividly the TV footage of the moment when Bell was wounded by schrapnel. It was in the vicinity of the Holiday Inn and it could have been on the terrace of the hotel. While it is true that the hotel does not have balconies the ground floor could easily have been the location.

I am not a native of Serbia, I was born in Sarajevo. You do not have to be born in Serbia to be a Serb, but Mr. Kamm does not know this. Also, I am a woman and anyone who claims he knows so much more about my country than I should at least know the basic rule of masculine and feminine names in Serbo/Croat.

I suggest he starts with his pole vaulting training while the cold showers will help with his hysteria no end.