My first day back at work after my break. I had almost resolved not to write any more blog entries on this topic, and this one is old news anyway, but thanks to an email exchange with TK while I was away, I looked up his post to East Ethnia back in June which mentioned in passing the New Statesman interview with Noam Chomsky from earlier that month. This interview includes the surprising statement that:
The worst crime was Srebrenica but, unfortunately for the International Tribunal, there was an intensive investigation by the Dutch government, which was primarily responsible – their troops were there – and what they concluded was that not only did Milosevic not order it, but he had no knowledge of it. And he was horrified when he heard about it.TK, not surprisingly, is puzzled about what Chomsky could mean. I think I can help. The “intensive investigation by the Dutch government” must surely refer to the exhaustive report of the Dutch Institute for War Documentation, published in April 2002. What the report actually states (in part III, chapter 6, section 9) is the following:
It is also not known whether Milosevic had any knowledge of the continuing Bosnian-Serb offensive that resulted in the occupation of the enclave. After the fall of the enclave, Milosevic made no mention to that effect to the UN envoy Thorvald Stoltenberg – he was too much of a poker player to reveal anything. On the other hand, Milosevic did express himself clearly later, in 1996, when he dropped the question to a group of Bosnian-Serb entrepreneurs as to ‘what idiot’ had made the decision to attack Srebrenica while it hosted international troops when it was obvious that, in any event, the enclave would eventually have been bled dry or become depopulated. It is not clear to what extent that statement had been intended to clear his responsibility for those events.Obviously, Chomsky (being a top public intellectual) would not misquote from such a widely available document on such an important topic; there can be no doubt that he accurately cited the Dutch report to the New Statesman’s reporter, who then wilfully misquoted him in order to make him look like an apologist for Milosevic. I hope his supporters will bombard the New Statesman with emails to demand they either correct the interview, or withdraw it from their website.