No sooner had I posted a little item over at East Ethnia talking about the curious fact that both Peter Handke and Noam Chomsky, people who professionally deal with words, manage to tie themselves in knots every time they actually use same, than Diana Johnstone rushed to Handke’s defense since he is so evidently incapable of making his case himself.
Let me cut straight to the heart of the matter.
After criticizing the natural tendency of “every community involved in a civil war to see itself as pure victims” and the West’s echoing of the “charge that the Muslims of Bosnia were the target of a deliberate project of ‘genocide,’ because this justifies their illegal 1999 bombing of Yugoslavia,” she goes on:
It would be more helpful to point out that wars lead to massacres, and that evacuating women and children to safety (as the Serb forces did when they captured Srebrenica) is not a usual feature of what most people understand by “genocide.” There have long been indications of Serb willingness to admit guilt for whatever really happened at Srebrenica, but only for what really happened, and in return for recognition that atrocities of the same sort were committed on all sides. If the desire for revenge (against earlier massacres of Serb villagers by Muslim forces based in Srebrenica) spurred the massacres at Srebrenica, revenge now also motivates the insistence of the Bosnian Muslim party on branding the Serbs as “genocidal.” Muslim leaders in Bosnia hope it will enable them to force Serbia to pay billions of dollars of reparations — a prospect which would be about as helpful in promoting peace as the reparations imposed on Germany after World War I, which led to the Nazi victory.
Srebrenica was a “massacre” (the quotation marks are mine, of course) and it cannot have been a genocide since the Serbs also expelled women and children. (That’s a line of argument Handke also uses, by the way.) Atrocities “of the same sort” were committed “on all sides.” Attempts by “the Bosnian Muslim party” to “brand” the Serbs as genocidal (perhaps this is a reference to the genocide lawsuit before the ICJ) is “revenge.” And finally, the Serbs’ trump card whenever the going gets tough, insisting on Serbian responsibility would lead to the emergence of fascism in Serbia. (I’ll admit that that’s my interpretation of the last sentence in the quoted paragraph, but I don’t think I’m reading too much into it. Just comforting to know that Johnstone agrees that the SRS are Nazis.)
At least nobody can accuse her of obfuscation.