Wednesday Book: Tell the Truth, but Don't Expect Anyone to Listen ; the New Military Humanism: Lessons from Kosovo by Noam Chomsky (Pluto Press, Pounds 9.99)

By Fisk, Robert | The Independent (London, England), December 15, 1999 | Go to article overview
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Wednesday Book: Tell the Truth, but Don't Expect Anyone to Listen ; the New Military Humanism: Lessons from Kosovo by Noam Chomsky (Pluto Press, Pounds 9.99)


Fisk, Robert, The Independent (London, England)


THANK GOD for Noam Chomsky. In a West ever more saturated by "safe" reporting, by dog-like support for governments who embark on "moral" wars, he is a unique figure: brave, intelligent and independent. Little wonder that no newspaper in America will give him a regular column. His latest book proves why. Ruthless in his analysis of Nato's lies, relentless in his emphasis on the parallels between Kosovo, Central America and Turkey, he believes that this year's bombardment of Serbia undermines what is left of international law.

How many times, for example, did we see on television any serious investigation into the CV of William Walker, the US diplomat leading the OSCE team to Racak after the January massacre of 45 Albanian civilians? Racak was widely regarded as one cause of the Nato bombardment. "I do not hesitate to describe the crime as a massacre, a crime against humanity," Walker told his largely uncritical audience of journalists.

As Chomsky points out, Walker was American ambassador to El Salvador, "where he administered the US support that allowed the government to carry out extreme state terror, peaking, in November 1989, in an outburst of violence that included the murder of six leading Salvadoran dissident intellectuals, Jesuit priests, along with their housekeeper and her daughter". Walker later advised James Baker, the Secretary of State, not to jeopardise the US relationship with El Salvador by investigating "past deaths, however heinous".

Why didn't we hear this background information when Walker was beating the drums of war? Or why didn't we ask ourselves why the Turks couldn't show a little "humanism" towards the Kurds they had driven from their homes? Or why America felt so willing to support "humanitarian" intervention in Kosovo when it spent so much time in 1979 condemning Vietnam's intervention in Cambodia?

As the Kosovo war began, Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel was invited to visit the huge refugee camps in Macedonia and lectured at the White House on "the Perils of Indifference". Yet, as Chomsky again reminds us, Wiesel resigned the chair of a 1982 conference on genocide for fear that any discussion of Turkey's ferocious 1915 genocide against the Armenians might anger Turkey - a principal American (and now Israeli) ally.

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Wednesday Book: Tell the Truth, but Don't Expect Anyone to Listen ; the New Military Humanism: Lessons from Kosovo by Noam Chomsky (Pluto Press, Pounds 9.99)
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