Skip Navigation | Sheffield IMC | UK IMC | Editorial Guidelines | Mission Statement | About Us | Contact | Help | Support Us

UK Indymedia UK Indymedia Sheffield Indymedia Sheffield Indymedia

Boy, Do We Need A Hippocratic Oath For Journalists

David Peterson | 21.07.2011 20:52 | Analysis | History | Other Press | Sheffield | World

For the record: Around June 17 or 18, both Edward S. Herman and I each began submitting manuscripts to the Guardian of London, prompted by false and misleading claims that had been made by the British writer George Monbiot on June 14, in his weekly commentary for this prestigious newspaper. "Left and libertarian right cohabit in the weird world of the genocide belittlers," was the title the Guardian had given it. At Monbiot's own website, the title he had chosen was more direct: "Naming the Genocide Deniers" (June 13).

Over the next several days, Ed and I tried different editors at the Guardian, including editors with responsibility for its Comment & Debate section (i.e., in its print edition) as well as its online Comment Is Free section. As the latter exists online exclusively, and posts many manuscripts daily, it seemed particularly appropriate to submit our manuscripts to Comment Is Free. I also submitted mine to the Guardian's Response column editor -- as did Ed, eventually.

From roughly June 21 through July 5, the Guardian informed us that our draft-responses were under review.

Then on July 5, Joseph Harker, the Response column editor, sent Ed and me an email telling us that our draft-responses went "wider than George Monbiot's piece and his comments on your work in this area," and therefore the Guardian couldn't publish them in their current form. He also told us that although the Guardian has no problem with offering persons the chance to respond, the Guardian has to be satisfied that the responses facts are accurate, and that the "view expressed are a reasonable interpretation of the facts…." Harker proceeded to raise five objections to our draft-responses. But, he added, if we'd revise and resubmit them jointly as one response, at a length at or below a maximum of 550 words, he would consider our revised draft.

This we managed to do, coming in exactly at the 550-word limit -- and after some additional cuts by the Guardian, a 524-word single joint-response was posted to the Guardian's website (July 19) as well as printed in the next-day's newspaper (July 20).

Oh, yes. Lest I forget to mention it, our response ran under the appalling title: "We're not genocide deniers."

In what follows, I am reproducing-in-full Joseph Harker's July 5 email to Edward Herman and me. I do this not only for the sake of the record -- but more important, because I'd like readers of "We're not genocide deniers" to know that I myself replied via email to Harker and three of his colleagues with a point-by-point assessment of the alleged factual inaccuracies that precluded the Guardian from finding any space anywhere within even its strictly-online Comment Is Free section for our original separate responses to Monbiot.

Edward S. Herman, "Reply to George Monbiot on 'Genocide Belittling'," unpublished manuscript, June 17, 2011 (as posted to ZNet, July 19, 2011)

David Peterson, "George Monbiot and the anti-'Genocide Deniers' Brigade," unpublished manuscript, June 17, 2011 (as posted to ZNet, July 19, 2011)

David Peterson
Chicago, USA



From: "Joseph Harker"
To:, "Edward S, Herman"
Sent: Tuesday, July 5, 2011 4:04:24 AM
Subject: re: your reply to George Monbiot

Dear David and Edward,

Apologies for the delay. Your proposed submissions required consideration as they go wider than George Monbiot's piece and his comments on your work in this area.

Maybe first I should explain our editorial policy. There is no automatic right to reply. We do, though - unlike any other daily newspaper - offer the chance to respond, though we have to be satisfied that the contributions where they refer to facts are accurate, that the views expressed are a reasonable interpretation of the facts and that they address issues raised in the piece to which they are responding.

These standards are especially important to uphold on such sensitive and important issues as Rwanda and Srebrinica, which are often the subject of wide academic debate, investigation and often strongly held conflicting opinions.

With regard to your proposed submissions we note for example:-

1. The passage George Monbiot referred to concerning your version of the 8,000 deaths at Srebrenica says nothing about executions:

"But the situation is more complicated than the public relations specialists would have us believe. That there were killings of non-combatants in Srebrenica, as in all war zones, is a certainty. And those who perpetrated them deserve to be condemned and prosecuted. And whether it was three or 30 or 300 innocent civilians who were killed, it was a heinous crime. There can be no equivocation about that. At the same time, the facts presented in this volume make a very cogent argument that the figure of 8,000 killed, which is often bandied about in the international community, is an unsupportable exaggeration. The true figure may be closer to 800. The fact that the figure in question has been so distorted, however, suggests that the issue has been politicized. There is much more shock value in the death of 8,000 than in the death of 800."

2. Hadzihasanovic did not say that the men were killed in combat:, pages 9532 and

3. On the Sarajevo market shelling, ICTY examined the evidence and determined that it was the work of Serb forces:, paras 317-335

4. As for ICMP being “directly run by Bosnian Muslim officials”, the ICMP has two US and two European directors; only one of two deputy directors is a citizen of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

And where you say that “it will not allow its results to be revealed and tested by any counsel for the defendants":

In fact, the ICMP has testified in numerous cases and says it has recently "offered the defense in the case of Radovan Karadzic to make a representative selection of cases for review by the parties to that trial". The ICMP says it is legally bound not to divulge the genetic information of family members without their consent, and therefore seeks their consent before submitting such data to the parties in criminal prosecutions.

5. On the issue of Rwanda, we noted these two reviews, which claim that your sources were misrepresented.

In addition, there is a weight of evidence of organised slaughter of Tutsis, which the international tribunal has confirmed in lengthy trials with masses of evidence.

Bearing all this in mind, I do not consider it would be appropriate to run your submissions in their current form in the Response column. However, I would be prepared to consider a Response column from you if you could provide a revised version which directly addressed George's comments and was within our editorial guidelines. This would be a maximum of 550 words.

Alternatively, if you wish to submit a shorter letter, on the same basis, this could be considered by our letters editor (



Response editor


Dear Joseph Harker et al.: Thanks for running Edward S. Herman's and my single joint-response to George Monbiot's June 14 commentary in The Guardian. (For the Monbiot, see "Left and libertarian right cohabit in the weird world of the genocide belittlers;" and for our joint response, "We're not genocide deniers," July 19.)
About the five objections that The Guardian raised to Edward Herman's and my original separate responses, which we submitted back on June 17 or thereabouts, I believe that only one of these objections is sound.
So permit me to respond to each one of them in turn.

1. In his June 14 commentary, George Monbiot wrote that "a new book called The Srebrenica Massacre…claims that the 8,000 deaths at Srebrenica are 'an unsupportable exaggeration. The true figure may be closer to 800'."
Yes, these 11 words do appear in The Srebrenica Massacre: Evidence, Context, Politics (Alphabet Soup, 2011), which is edited by Edward S. Herman.
But these 11 words as well as your own more complete quotation from the same passage are taken from page 8 of its Foreword, which was written by Phillip Corwin, at one time the UN Civilian Affairs Coordinator in Bosnia and Herzegovina. It would be a rare collection of articles on any topic in which all of the different contributors are collectively held to have asserted what any one contributor asserts individually.
Whereas Edward Herman's work on this specific topic (and mine as well) presents a critique of the so-called "Srebrenica massacre," meaning an assessment of the evidence that exists for the alleged execution of some 8,000 Bosnian Muslim male members of the Srebrenica "safe area" population some time after July 11, 1995, hence also an assessment of the standard interpretation of the evidence as constituting "genocide," the category of deaths and the category of executions are entirely different. My own personal hunch is that Corwin's "8,000 killed" should be read as 8,000 killed execution-style. Hence, what Corwin intended to state is that the facts presented in this volume make a very cogent argument that the figure of 8,000 executed is an unsupportable exaggeration. The true figure may be closer to 800.
With all of the killings in eastern Bosnia and Herzegovina from April 1992 through late 1995, and especially from April 1992 into early 1993, it is certainly possible for forensic anthropologists to produce thousands upon thousands of individual human remains from graves in this general area, as well as from surface remains. Nevertheless, the questions relevant to the notion of the Srebrenica massacre(s) as an historical event are:

(A) Was the person represented by the mortal remains a member of the Srebrenica "safe area" population at a time relevant to the "Srebrenica massacre," i.e., as of early July 1995?

(B) To which ethnic group in life did the persons represented by these mortal remains belong, i.e., Bosnian Muslim or Bosnian Serb?

(C) In which manner did these persons die, i.e., were they murdered in a criminally meaningful fashion, did they die in combat, did they die from natural causes, and so on?

But neither Monbiot nor anyone else can illustrate Herman's or my position accurately and fairly by quoting from a Foreword contributed to this collection by another gentleman. Instead, one ought to quote Edward Herman and me. So, to conclude this first point, let me quote from The Politics of Genocide (Monthly Review Press, 2010, pp. 47-48), which illustrates more accurately and fairly what we think:

Of course, the "Srebrenica massacre" of July 1995 has been cited heavily and repeated endlessly, and with the greatest indignation, to demonstrate that "genocide" actually had taken place in Bosnia. This was helped along by the fact that both the ICTY Trial Judgment and decision on Appeal in the case of the Bosnian Serb General Radislav Krstic argued that genocide could occur in one "small geographical area" (the town of Srebrenica), even one where the villainous party had taken the trouble to bus all the women, children, and the elderly men to safety—that is, incontestably had not killed any but "Bosnian Muslim men of military age."[90] As Michael Mandel observes, "Genocide was transformed in this judgment, not into mere ethnic cleansing but into the killing of potential fighters during a war for military advantage. . . .In the Krstic case, the concept of genocide, except as pure propaganda, lost all contact with the Holocaust—a program for the extermination of a whole people."[91] The case for eight thousand "men and boys" being executed at Srebrenica is extremely thin, resting in good part on the difficulty in separating executions from battle killings (of which there were many in the July 1995 Srebrenica actions), partly on highly contestable witness evidence (much under coercive plea bargaining[92]), and an interest and passionate will-to-believe the worst of the thoroughly demonized Serbs. A videotape of Bosnian Serbs killing six Bosnian Muslim men, far from Srebrenica and of dubious provenance, was read even by respectable Western analysts as serious evidence that eight thousand had been executed at Srebrenica.[93]

I believe this is perfectly reasonable and perfectly sound.

2. You are quite right that in the passage Edward Herman quoted in his original response to The Guardian, taken from the April 6, 2001 testimony of the Bosnian Muslim Chief of the Supreme Command Staff General Enver Hadzihasanovic in the trial of the Bosnian Serb General Radislav Krstic, Herman wrongly inserted the word 'combat', which Hadzihasanovic did not himself use.

Here is how the relevant transcript reads -- the speaker is Hadzihasanovic:

-- Page 9532 --
13 So we continued collating the information, to the extent it was

14 possible, and on the 4th of August, 1995, or thereabouts, we managed to

15 establish the accurate number of the members of the 28th Division who

16 managed to get through. The number was 3.175. We also established that

17 the number of individuals who were killed in the column was between 8.300

18 and 9.722. At that time the information we received was not consistent,

19 but that was the approximate figure that we managed to establish. One can

20 claim for certainty that 2.628 members, both soldiers and commanding

21 officers, members of the 28th Division, were killed.

22 When the decision was made for a breakthrough, we lost all

23 connection with the column and the command of the division.

(The Prosecutor of the Tribunal Against Radislav Krstic (IT-98-33-T), Transcript April 6, 2001, p. 9532, lines 13-23.)

Although I myself do not believe that it is unfair to assume that the majority (and perhaps the overwhelming majority) of these 2,628 ABiH deaths occurred in combat and were due to combat-related events (e.g., from landmines), you are right about the fact that Hadzihasanovic did not himself say "combat."

In fact, elsewhere, Herman and I have written that where the "columns of some 12,000 to 15,000 Bosnian Muslim males [who] undertook to break-through from Srebrenica towards Tuzla" are concerned, "fierce fighting with Bosnian Serbs occurred often, with estimates of Bosnian Muslim deaths running from 1,000 to 3,000, with the Bosnian Muslim Chief of the Supreme Command Staff General Enver Hadzihasanovic testifying at the ICTY that he could 'claim for certainty that 2,628 members, both soldiers and commanding officers, members of the 28th Division, were killed' during this retreat, and the Bosnian Serbs admitting between 300 and 500 deaths on their side." (See "In Response to the Bosnia Genocide Lobby," MRZine, December 8, 2009.)

Here, the phrasing "'were killed' during this retreat" was an accurate description of Hadzihasanovic's testimony. That is how it should remain.

3. You call our attention to the November 30, 2006 Judgment on Appeal (para. 317-335) in the trial of the Bosnian Serb Major General Stanislav Galic, who lost his appeal and was sentenced to life imprisonment for his role as the commander of the Bosnian Serb Army around Sarajevo. You do this because in his original response to The Guardian, Edward Herman had written:

[Monbiot] is satirical at the notion that “the market massacres [in Sarajevo] were carried out by Bosnian Muslim provocateurs,” though there are numerous credible cites to this claim in The Srebrenica Massacre, and, “like Karadzic,” as Monbiot expresses it for me, UN officials and Lord David Owen were believers that the Muslims fired the shell that caused the bread queue massacre of February 5, 1994 (see Owen on the BBC1 Panorama TV broadcast of October 30, 1995; also, Owen, Balkan Odyssey, pp. 279-280).

There were at least three "marketplace massacres" in Sarajevo during the war: The original breadline massacre of May 27, 1992 (15 deaths?); the Markale marketplace massacre of February 5, 1994 (66 deaths); and the last marketplace massacre on August 28, 1995 (43 deaths). Both the trial chamber and the appellate chamber in the case of Stanislav Galic weighed-in on only the second of these: The February 5, 1994 Markale marketplace massacre.
In the trial, a majority (i.e., two-out-of-three judges) concluded that the "mortar shell which exploded at Markale market on 5 February 1994 was fired from SRK- [Sarajevo Romanija Corps] controlled territory." (Judge Alphons Orie et al., Judgment, Prosecutor v. Stanislav Galic (IT-98-29-T), December 5, 2003, "Conclusion on the Source of Fire," para. 464- 493; here para. 493.)
Later, the appellate chamber added that "The testimony and the allegations surrounding the Markale Market incident are extremely complicated, with a number of technical factors coming into play, experts providing different conclusions, and uncertainty as to the accuracy of the different findings" (para. 315). But the appellate chamber went on to conclude that, "As the Trial Chamber pointed out, a shell fired at 0+3 charges with a difference in altitude of at least 400 m and an angle of descent of 65 degrees would have traveled 3600 m, placing its origin well within SRK lines. Therefore, the Trial Chamber's conclusion that the shell was fired from behind SRK lines is not unreasonable and will not be overturned" (para. 333). (Judge Fausto Pocar et al., Judgment on Appeal, Prosecutor v. Stanislav Galic (IT-98-29-A), November 30, 2006, "Markale Market," para. 314- 335.)
Here we come face-to-face with a fundamental difference between The Guardian's approach as a news organization (mimicked by Monbiot) and Edward Herman's and mine when writing about the "marketplace massacres" specifically or the wars over the breakup of the former Yugoslavia more generally: Whereas at The Guardian, the assessments, reasoning, and conclusions of the ICTY appear to be accepted on an ex cathedra basis, we on the other hand rightly regard the ICTY as a political institution, delivering politicized jurisprudence and a politicized history of the wars. As we not so irrational as to accept anything on an ex cathedra basis, whether from the ICTY or anywhere else, we are as skeptical towards the judgments of its trial and appellate chambers as we are towards the expert witnesses called by the Prosecution and the entire institutional machinery of the ICTY overall, dating back to late 1992, when U.S. political figures first started calling for an ad hoc tribunal to serve exactly this purpose. (Edward Herman and I have written at length on this in the past. See, e.g., "The New York Times on the Yugoslavia Tribunal: A Study in Total Propaganda Service," ColdType, 2004; and "The Dismantling of Yugoslavia," Monthly Review, Vol. 59, No. 5, October, 2007, Sect. 4, "The ICTY in NATO's Service.")
And why should anyone accept the ICTY's work on an ex cathedra basis? With respect to the February 5, 1994 and the August 28, 1995 marketplace massacres in Sarajevo, we've relied on all kinds of non-ICTY sources, including the work of the Dutch expert in military intelligence Cees Wiebes, whose magisterial Intelligence and the War in Bosnia, 1992 – 1995 (London: Lit Verlag, 2003) is the single most important volume published on the topic. (Note that it was also published as Appendix II to the Netherlands Institute for War Documentation 2002 report, Srebrenica: A "safe" area.)
About the February 5, 1994 and the August 28, 1995 marketplace incidents in Sarajevo, Wiebes writes (pp. 68-69):

Another example of misleading information was probably the mortar attack on the Markale market in Sarajevo, which killed 68 civilians in February 1994. Eleven artillery specialists subsequently spent nine days studying the shell attack.[83] The official final assessment was that the attacks were executed by the VRS, but there were serious doubts about this within the Western intelligence community. Various staff of intelligence and security services from Canada, the UK, Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Belgium and the Netherlands established independently of each other that this was an act by the ABiH to show the Bosnian Serbs in a bad light.[84]

A similar suspicion arose when on 28 August 1995 a shell landed on a busy square in Sarajevo. As early as October 1995 journalist David Binder reported in the weekly The Nation that four UNPROFOR specialists (a Russian, a Canadian and two Americans) had arrived at the incontrovertible conclusion that it was an ABiH shell. American intelligence officers admitted that the ABiH had taken responsibility for this incident.[85] Sray, head of the intelligence section in Sarajevo, subsequently signalled in a publication that the ABiH was responsible for both shellings.[86] Even the most important British policy body in the field of intelligence, the Joint Intelligence Committee (JIC), came to the conclusion that the shelling of Sarajevo market was probably not the work of the VRS, but of the Bosnian Muslims.[87]

In a third incident that followed this pattern, the head of the UNMOs (UN Military Observers) in Sarajevo investigated the mortar attack on the water distribution point in Sarajevo, which was the trigger for the later air strikes by NATO, and in doing so demonstrated that the attack was executed by the ABiH itself. However, all the associated evidence was pushed aside by American officers.[88] Russian intelligence officers even told the author Ljiljana Bulatovic that the Bosnian General Rasim Delic had organized the attack.[89]

[83] David Binder, 'Bosnia's bombers', The Nation, Vol. 261, No. 10, 02/10/95.

[84] Confidential interviews (8), (9), (12), (21), (37), (44), (45), (47), (68) and (69).

[85] Confidential interview (54).

[86] John Sray, 'Selling the Bosnian Myth', in: Foreign Military Studies, Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, October 1995.

[87] Confidential interview (8).

[88] Confidential interview (44).

[89] Bulatovic, General Mladic, pp. 125-126, 129 and 131.

Wiebes' confidential interviews with military and intelligence personnel (see his notes, above) are invaluable to his project. On the other hand, I believe that in using the ICTY's trial and/or appellate chamber's judgments in the Galic case to counter Edward Herman's original response, The Guardian betrays the ex cathedra nature of its approach to these matters, as well as betrays its establishment biases.

4. You take issue with the assertion in Edward Herman's original response to The Guardian that claims the International Commission on Missing Persons is "directly run by Bosnian Muslim officials and it will not allow its results to be revealed and tested by any counsel for the defense."

(A) About the first of these two claims: According to the Financial Times, the ICMP's "staff…are 93 per cent Bosnian [Muslim]" (Christian Jennings, "Forensics: DNA fills gaps of history," December 11, 2007) -- though I admit that I can't tell you what the ethnic breakdown of the ICMP's "staff" is as of this date in July, 2011.
What is more, I believe that Jonathan Rooper's assessment of the ICMP's Bosnia-related work as described by Rooper in The Srebrenica Massacre collection is largely sound ("The Numbers Game," p. 122):

Beyond serving this high-publicity role, the ICMP also assumed the partisan functions of the Sarajevo Muslims’ old wartime Commission for Missing Persons, with the addition of an international supervisory board and a few international forensic scientists and technicians to foster an air of independence, integrity, and professionalism. Nevertheless, the ICMP’s chief purpose was, and to this day remains, the discovery, exhumation, and positive identification of Bosnian Muslim victims of the war, and of Srebrenica “safe area” victims specifically.[63] Scrutiny of published information suggests that it was the ICMP, during 1997 - 1998, that defined and publicized the cover-up hypothesis, mainly through briefings given to journalists whenever the location of a mass grave was announced.[64] Some three years after the Dayton accords, with only 400 or so bodies recovered, some kind of explanation for the lack of progress was needed. The convenience of the cover-up or exhumation-and-reburial theory was that it bought time and enabled the ICTY and ICMP to greatly extend the catchment area for the officially-designated “Srebrenica-related” graves. The whole concept of “primary,” “secondary,” and “tertiary” mass graves thus gave investigators the rationale they needed to make the ultimate body-count the function of an open-ended, potentially limitless search process, and to increase the body-count from the “Srebrenica Massacre” to whichever total they desire.

[63] Indeed, the ICMP’s actual purpose as positively identifying Bosnian Muslim victims of the war can be seen by the fact that in 2005, the ICMP began returning its responsibilities to the Missing Persons Institute of Bosnia - Herzegovina, a new state-level institution that operates under the Council of Ministers of Bosnia - Herzegovina. See “Missing Persons Institute of Bosnia-Herzegovina Excavates Key Mass Grave Sites in Herzegovina,” ICMP, June 24, 2009, .

(B) As for the second-half of your objection: You take issue with Edward Herman's claim that the ICMP "will not allow its results to be revealed and tested by any counsel for the defense," and you counter that, "In fact, the ICMP has testified in numerous cases and says it has recently 'offered the defense in the case of Radovan Karadzic to make a representative selection of cases for review by the parties to that trial'. The ICMP says it is legally bound not to divulge the genetic information of family members without their consent, and therefore seeks their consent before submitting such data to the parties in criminal prosecutions."
This doesn't begin to capture the extent to which the actual work of the ICMP remains inscrutable, with the ICTY's trial and appellate chambers, its prosecution and defense counsels, and the news media expected once again to accept the ICMP's purported determinations on an ex cathedra basis. It is true that, for example, the trial chamber in the case of Radovan Karadzic on March 19, 2010 ordered Karadzic's defense to "immediately complete his selection of 300 cases for further DNA analysis and provide the details of his selection to the ICMP, who will, upon obtaining the necessary consents, be in a position to supply the relevant data from the family database, including both positive and negative results obtained from within a single family group." (See Judge O-Gon Kwon et al., Order on Selection of Cases for DNA Analysis, Prosecutor v. Radovan Karadzic (IT-95-5/18-T), p. 4.) But 300 cases represents only five percent of the total number of Srebrenica-related identifications that the ICMP claims to have completed as of July 2011, and without literally studying all of the ICMP's Srebrenica-related cases, who could possibly select five percent of its cases in a competent and fair manner? As the ICMP is now approaching the tenth anniversary of its adoption of a DNA testing-procedure by which the ICMP claims to have identified "15,955 people who were missing from the conflicts [in the former Yugoslavia] and whose mortal remains were found in hidden graves" ("About ICMP," para. 3), the fact that this work remains shielded by an alleged overriding concern for the "confidentiality" of the surviving family members strains credulity well past the breaking-point.
How about trying to use The Guardian's - Observer's world-class journalistic resources to acquire a copy of the most recent Srebrenica-related written evidence turned-over to the trial chamber in the Srebrenica-related case of the Judgment to Prosecutor v. Vujadin Popovic et al. (IT-05-88-T)? I am aware, for example, of a document referred to as "2009 ICMP List of Deceased," which is dated February 1, 2008, is signed by ICMP Chairman of the Steering Committee on Forensic Sciences Thomas Parsons, forms part of the written evidence that the ICMP produced on behalf of the prosecution in this trial, carries the exhibit number P04494 -- and is listed as "confidential," along with every other piece of written evidence the ICMP reports to the ICTY. See if you guys can openly acquire copies of the ICMP's most current set of written evidence produced for whichever the most recent Srebrenica-related trial there is. --

And if you do, send a copy of the complete package to me.
I'll bet you can't.

Of course, you might have someone within the ICMP or the ICTY's Prosecution or ICTY spokesperson Nerma Jelacic unofficially leak what the Prosecution wants The Guardian to publish. But, to release its written evidence openly? Not a chance. And it's not the "genetic information of family members" that the ICMP is shielding. Instead, I'll bet that the ICMP is shielding the overall lack of reliability of its some 6,500 claims of positive identifications relative to Srebrenica, and the lack of validation studies for the totality of the procedures employed by the ICMP's Tuzla-based laboratory when generating these positive identifications.
The point is, as claimed in Edward Herman's original response to The Guardian, the ICMP's work remains inscrutable. The trial and appellate chambers, the defense, the prosecution, and the world's news media are asked to accept the ICMP's reported results on faith -- that is, on the authority of the ICMP. That's not good enough.

5. In having rejected my original response to Monbiot's June 14 commentary, you cited two alleged rebuttals to The Politics of Genocide written by Gerald Caplan and by Adam Jones "which claim that [our] sources were misrepresented." And you yourself add: "[T]here is a weight of evidence of organized slaughter of Tutsis, which the international tribunal has confirmed in lengthy trials with masses of evidence."

First, I find it interesting that the two sources you've cited (Caplan and Jones) are the same two sources that Monbiot himself cited in his June 17 response to the Media Lens group, "Do As We Say, Not As We Do," wherein Monbiot offered Caplan's and Jones's attacks on The Politics of Genocide as "reviews by experts in the field, who are much better qualified to judge than any of us." (For the Monbiot, see "Do As We Say, Not As We Do," June 17, 2011.)
Second, it appears that at The Guardian, there is zero recognition that Edward Herman and I already had responded in turn to each of these two attacks. (Though in Jones's case, we responded to an earlier version of his attack than the one Monbiot and you cited; I myself had never seen this longer version of Jones's attack dated November 2010 until some time in early June 2011.)
For the record, therefore, after both Caplan's and Jones's attacks on The Politics of Genocide were published in Pambazuka News, Edward Herman and I responded with "Genocide Denial and Genocide Facilitation: Gerald Caplan and The Politics of Genocide" (MRZine, July 4, 2010) and "Adam Jones on Rwanda and Genocide: A Reply" (MRZine, August 14, 2010). (For a copy of our original work on Rwanda that Caplan and Jones were attacking, see "Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo in the Propaganda System," Monthly Review 62, No. 1, May, 2010.)
Third, the Canadian Gerald Caplan enjoys friendly ties to the Paul Kagame dictatorship in Rwanda. Thus as recently as July 4, a photograph of Caplan was published in the pages of The New Times, the Kagame dictatorship's Kigali-based house organ. As the Fourth of July in Rwanda is celebrated as Liberation Day to commemorate the date in 1994 when Kagame's RPF allegedly captured Kigali from the already-vanquished Hutu Army of Rwanda, Caplan appeared in the flesh-and-bone in Kigali to participate in a one-day conference at the Serena Hotel, "Rwandans' Seventeenth Liberation: Shaping our Destiny." The caption that accompanied this photograph in Kagame's New Times explained that it depicts "Dr. Gerry Caplan (L) chats with Ibrahim Gambari from UNAMID at the conference on Liberation as Gen. Patrick Nyamvumba (left) looks on." Inexplicably unnamed but hovering in the background between Caplan and Gambari in this photograph was Paul Kagame. (For a copy of the photograph, see here or here.)

Had, say, Peter Erlinder, the American defense attorney who has practiced before the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, and, like Edward Herman and me, a strong critic of the standard account of the "Rwandan genocide," turned-up at this Fourth of July conference alongside Gerald Caplan, Kagame would have had Erlinder arrested and thrown into jail for life.
In this contrast between an individual whose writings and advocacy on behalf of the Kagame dictatorship make him a welcome guest in Kigali, and individuals whose work make them persona non grata in the Kagame dictatorship's eyes, surely The Guardian recognizes that it belongs in the former camp.
Fourth and last, since Adam Jones's first attack on our work was published in Pambazuka News on July 15, 2010, it has been clear that Jones seriously and, in my hunch, deliberately misrepresents what we've actually written about Rwanda. Here I'll limit myself to one example: What Jones writes about the superb work of Christian Davenport and Allan Stam, and what Jones writes about how Edward Herman and I incorporate Davenport - Stam's work into our analysis, but only in a critical manner.
From his first intervention in July 2010, Jones has accused us of a "selective and mendacious" use of Davenport - Stam's work -- "highly problematic" work, in Jones's estimate.
Jones objects that we "not only jettison [Davenport - Stam's] core conclusion and substitute [our] own;" Jones also objects that we "toss out [Davenport - Stam's] guiding assumptions as well!"
In their 2004 analysis of the political violence that swept Rwanda in April, May, June, and July of 1994, Rwandan Political Violence in Space and Time, Davenport - Stam explained their guiding assumptions as follows (pp. 25 -26):

Territorial Jurisdictions. To address the issue of who is engaged in the killing, we draw upon the insights of previous scholars….These efforts are important for they explicitly focus on which actors have influence/control/jurisdiction over a particular geographic locale. This information is deemed important because through either direct action (commission) or inaction (omission), the actor with the greatest monopoly of coercion within a specific locale is generally held to be responsible for violent behavior in that locale….Drawing upon this work, we focus on the locale of military units affiliated with the combatants of the Rwandan conflict: the FAR and the RPF, using this information to establish battle-fronts (areas of direct engagement between units) as well as battle-zones (areas that fall under the control of specific sides to the conflict)....Our tripartite division is important for providing a first step at adjudicating between the diverse forms of violence identified above because different jurisdictions would likely be associated with different types of killing.

Contrary to what Jones writes, it is not Davenport - Stam's facts that fit "with a picture of Hutu Power agents lashing out genocidally at Tutsi, in spasms that correlate with RPF advances." Rather, it is Davenport - Stam's literal framing of their tripartite territorial "jurisdictions" as (a) the FAR's jurisdiction, (b) the RPF's jurisdiction, and (c) the confrontation-lines between these two, which fits "with a picture of Hutu Power agents lashing out genocidally at Tutsi, in spasms that correlate with RPF advances." The difference is categorical.

In other words, in contrast to what a large assortment of facts reveal (not the least of which was the fact of the RPF's clear military superiority over the FAR long before the start of April, 1994; and the fact that it was the RPF that shot-down the Rwandan president's jet upon its return to Kanombe airport on April 6, and then conquered Rwandan national territory within three months time), it is merely how Davenport - Stam defined these "jurisdictions" that analytically compels them to draw the conclusion of relative FAR and RPF responsibility for the killings that Herman and I reject, and because of which we criticize this conclusion, while remaining impressed by their work.

(Quick sidebar: On the matter of relative troop strengths, see Peter Erlinder, "The U.N. Security Council Tribunal for Rwanda: International Justice, or Juridically-Constructed 'Victor's Impunity'?" Journal of Social Justice, Vol. 4, No. 1, Fall 2010, pp. 131-214; esp. "RPF Military Superiority Established: January 1991 - February 1993," pp. 171-174. (For an online copy, click here.) As Erlinder puts it: "By the time of the RPF's [February] 1993 assault on Kigali the invading RPF had grown from the 3,000-4,000 Ugandan 'deserters' in late 1990, to a light infantry fighting force of at least 20,000 troops with unquestioned military superiority. By contrast, the defending FAR [Armed Forces of Rwanda] had the 6,000-7,000 'real' troops who had defeated the initial small RPF/Ugandan invasion in late 1990, augmented by some 25-30,000 recent recruits, which the U.N. commander of U.N. troops, U.N. General Dallaire, characterized as 'rabble'" (pp. 172-173).)

To oversimplify, try looking at our criticism of Davenport - Stam's work like this: When the Nazi military swept eastward and westward from 1939 on, what sense would it have made to begin one's analysis of the nature of and responsibility for the violence that followed by taking the extant map of Europe, ca. 1938, and a priori limiting the answers to these questions according to a jurisdictional notion that distinguished between territories originally controlled by (a) the governments of Poland, Yugoslavia, France, the Baltic countries, and the Soviet Union, (b) Nazi Germany and the other Axis Powers, and (c) the confrontation lines that developed between them from 1939 on?

Yet, in the far, far more opaque situation that existed inside Rwanda from April 6, 1994 on, this is essentially how Davenport - Stam's analysis proceeds, assigning far too much power and responsibility to the FAR, far too little power and responsibility to the RPF, and downplaying or ignoring their own most important findings about what really happened inside Rwanda.
Hence, I invite you to take a look at Rwandan Political Violence in Space and Time, pages 29-33, taking into account Figure 1, and taking proper note of the discussion that begins at the bottom of page 30 about the "issue of jurisdictional movement" (in the final paragraph on the page).

Therein, Davenport-Stam describe the month of April 1994. At least seven different times they report an RFP "surge." For example, "they [the RPF] surged forward from the North downward into the Northwest and middle-eastern part of the country" (p. 31); "the RFP again surged forward" (p. 31); "there was extensive killing immediately in front of the RPF near Kigali" (p. 31); "the RPF surged forward again" (p. 31); "activities increased within the zones under the control of the RPF" (p. 32); "the RPF surged forward again" (p. 32); "there was yet another surge of the RPF when they start to move below Kigali" (p. 32); and so on.

But then in contrast to what they are illustrating, Davenport-Stam note (p. 33, emphasis added):

[W]e see that either directly in line with RPF surges as well as FAR-RPF battles or those periods slightly after these events, killings within the zones controlled by the FAR increased dramatically. Thus, the Northeast surge [by the RPF] results in the FAR killings between the 6th and 8th; following extensive battle-deaths along the FAR-RPF front, the violence is escalated within the zone under control of the FAR; and, after Kigali is reached [by the RPF], the largest amount of violence is undertaken within the FAR’s jurisdiction…..In contrast, RPF-related violence appears to reach its highest point after the worst FAR-related violence, suggesting some form of retribution. There is also the likelihood of some effort being exerted toward pacification and consolidation as the violence moves toward Kigali.

Davenport-Stam identify the RPF "surges" as creating the theaters where killing invariably increases. Yet, incredibly, they remain analytically faithful to their "jurisdictional" framework, which in the concrete situation that existed after April 6, 1994, amounts to nothing more than the abstraction that the violence occurred within the jurisdiction of the FAR (or "the extremist Rwandan government"). Thus they back-off from what their findings really show, based on no real evidence of whom the agents of the killing were beyond the notion that most of Rwandan territory as of the start of April 1994 fell within the jurisdiction of the FAR. Even though the majority of killings took place in those theaters where the activities of the RPF surged, and even though the RPF was as noted above militarily superior to the FAR and rapidly conquered Rwandan national territory, Davenport - Stam write that the "majority of killings [took] place in the zone under government control (accounting for approximately 990,000 deaths)" (p. 37) -- the fatal flaw which prevents Davenport - Stam from drawing the kind of conclusions from their work which Herman and I draw, and for which Jones (et al.) attacks us.
Whose armed forces invaded Rwanda in October 1990, and occupied the northeast of the country for the next three-and-one-half years? At the start of April 1994, whose armed forces were militarily superior? Who shot-down the Hutu President Juvenal Habyarimana's jet on April 6, 1994, killing all on board (including the Hutu President of neighboring Burundi, Cyprien Ntaryamira) and triggering the massive violence of the next 100 days? Then whose armed forces seized state-power in Rwanda by early July, and was officially recognized by the United States as the legitimate government of Rwanda before the month ended?
So what if the vast majority of the Rwandan political violence (approximately 93% -- especially in the month of April 1994) took place in areas within quote-unquote "government jurisdiction," according to Davenport - Stam's guiding assumptions? Under what kind of model should we refer to the events of April through July 1994 as "government-initiated violence" (p. 37)?
None that I find intellectually, morally, or legally compelling. Yet, according to Adam Jones, we can't disagree with Davenport - Stam on this. Merely to show the flaw in their jurisdictional assumption is to "jettison [Davenport - Stam's] core conclusions and substitute [our] own," one that replaces their conclusions with "rickety fabrications of Herman & Peterson's own, mercifully unique devising."
Let me sign-off by pairing one sentence from Jones's November 2010 attack on us, with one sentence from George Monbiot's June 14, 2011 attack:

Jones: "Again, not a shred of evidence is offered to buttress an assertion that is more extreme, in its denialism and revisionism, than any statement I have heard or read, save from accused or convicted Rwandan génocidaires, their supporters, and occasionally their lawyers."

Monbiot: "It’s as straightforward an instance of revisionism as I’ve ever seen, comparable in this case only to the claims of the genocidaires themselves."

Memo to George Monbiot: When stealing from someone else's work, it's always smart to launder the stolen words a little more effectively.

-- David Peterson
Chicago, USA

David Peterson
- Homepage:


South Coast

Other UK IMCs
Bristol/South West
Northern Indymedia

Sheffield Topics

Animal Liberation
Climate Chaos
Energy Crisis
Free Spaces
Ocean Defence
Other Press
Public sector cuts
Social Struggles
Terror War
Workers' Movements

Sheffield [navigation.actions2016]

Sheffield [navigation.actions2015]

Sheffield [navigation.actions2014]

NATO 2014

Sheffield Actions 2013

G8 2013

Sheffield Actions 2012


Sheffield Actions 2011

2011 Census Resistance
August Riots
Dale Farm
J30 Strike
Occupy Everywhere

Sheffield Actions 2010

Flotilla to Gaza
Mayday 2010
Tar Sands

Sheffield Actions 2009

COP15 Climate Summit 2009
G20 London Summit
Indymedia Server Seizure
University Occupations for Gaza

Sheffield Actions 2008

2008 Days Of Action For Autonomous Spaces
Campaign against Carmel-Agrexco
Climate Camp 2008
G8 Japan 2008
Smash EDO
Stop Sequani Animal Testing
Stop the BNP's Red White and Blue festival

Sheffield Actions 2007

Climate Camp 2007
DSEi 2007
G8 Germany 2007
Mayday 2007
No Border Camp 2007

Sheffield Actions 2006

April 2006 No Borders Days of Action
Art and Activism Caravan 2006
Climate Camp 2006
French CPE uprising 2006
G8 Russia 2006
Lebanon War 2006
March 18 Anti War Protest
Mayday 2006
Oaxaca Uprising
Refugee Week 2006
Rossport Solidarity
Transnational Day of Action Against Migration Controls
WSF 2006

Sheffield Actions 2005

DSEi 2005
G8 2005
WTO Hong Kong 2005

Sheffield Actions 2004

European Social Forum
FBI Server Seizure
May Day 2004

Sheffield Actions 2003

Bush 2003
DSEi 2003
Evian G8
May Day 2003
No War F15
Saloniki Prisoner Support
Thessaloniki EU
WSIS 2003

Server Appeal Radio Page Video Page Indymedia Cinema Offline Newsheet

secure Encrypted Page

You are viewing this page using an encrypted connection. If you bookmark this page or send its address in an email you might want to use the un-encrypted address of this page.

If you recieved a warning about an untrusted root certificate please install the CAcert root certificate, for more information see the security page.


satellite tv


estrecho / madiaq
la plana
northern england
nottingham imc
united kingdom

Latin America
chile sur
cmi brasil
cmi sucre
puerto rico


South Asia

United States
hudson mohawk
kansas city
minneapolis/st. paul
new hampshire
new jersey
new mexico
new orleans
north carolina
north texas
rogue valley
saint louis
san diego
san francisco
san francisco bay area
santa barbara
santa cruz, ca
tampa bay
united states
western mass

West Asia


fbi/legal updates
mailing lists
process & imc docs