Archive for the ‘George Monbiot’ Category

When it comes to "genocide," Guardian UK’s George Monbiot has pulled a Hitchens

May 22, 2012 7 comments
George Monbiot having a fit

There is just something about British left intellectuals.

Christopher Hitchens fell from grace when he allowed his atheism to become a tool for Western imperialism.

Now The Guardian UK’s George Monbiot has pulled a Hitchens by allowing his outrage of “genocide” to become a tool for Western imperialism.

It started last year with his tirade against writers David Peterson and Edward Herman over their book The Politics of Genocide. George just couldn’t believe they wrote what they did. By challenging the popular narrative of what happened in Rwanda and Srebrenica they were guilty of being “genocide deniers.” (See “George Monbiot and the Guardian on ‘Genocide Denial’ and ‘Revisionism’ ” for Peterson’s and Herman’s rebuttal)

Monbiot still buys the propaganda narrative put out by the West, and has been foaming at the mouth like a rabid dog ever since. His obsession has infected him like a virus, and now Monbiot has even published an email exchange he had with Noam Chomsky, who wrote the foreword for The Politics of Genocide. (Really bad form, George.) Monbiot tries and tries to get Chomsky to turn on Herman and Peterson, to which Noam says he will not because to do so “would be sheer cowardice.”

As someone who has read The Politics of Genocide (a few times), and who has checked the notes, I see nothing controversial. In fact, I highly recommend the book—especially the second edition because it has a new introduction with the compare and contrast of the conflicts in Libya and Sri Lanka.

I have also read The Srebrenica Massacre: Evidence, Context, Politics, the book on Srebrenica that Herman contributed to. Again, I don’t see what the fuss is about.

In regards to Srebrenica, Herman, Peterson and the others who contributed to The Srebrenica Massacre: Evidence, Context, Politics point out a few important facts.

In The Politics of Genocide, Herman and Peterson write that,

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), and an interest and passionate will-to-believe the worst of the thoroughly demonized Serbs.

This is why Herman, Peterson, et al. challenge the narrative. With such incomplete information it makes perfect sense to challenge the narrative that they were 8,000 Bosniaks who were the victims of “genocide” by Serb forces.

This is also quite possibly why Chomsky wrote to Monbiot that,

A second point raised in my letter to you (and in the article) is the vulgarization of the phrase “genocide,” so extreme as to amount to virtual Holocaust denial, and the reason why I rarely use the term. Take a concrete case: the murder of thousands of men and boys after women and children are allowed to flee if they can get away.

I’m referring to Fallujah, different from Srebrenica in many ways, among them that in the latter case the women and children were trucked out, and in the former case the destruction and slaughter was so extreme that current studies in medical journals estimate the scale of radiation-related deaths and diseases at beyond the level of Hiroshima. I would not however call it “genocide,” nor would you, and if the word were used, the more extreme apologists for western crimes, like Kamm, would go utterly berserk. Another of many illustrations of the two basic facts.

And of course, the information available on Rwanda is so overwhelming it’s astounding. There are just too many holes in the popular narrative which claims there was a genocide of Tutsi’s at the hands of “Hutu extremists” who planned the assassination of President Habyarimana and the violence that followed. Which is why I seriously doubt George Monbiot has read The Politics of Genocide, followed up with the notes, or anything. If he has, then I can only conclude that he is being intentionally dishonest.

Because had he read the Gersony report, he would have read about a “scene of systematic and sustained killing and persecution of civilian Hutu populations” by Kagame’s forces.

Had Monbiot read the U.S. State Department Memo to Secretary of State Warren Christopher he would know that “RPA and Tutsi civilian surrogates had killed 10,000 or more Hutu civilians per month, with the RPA accounting for 95% of the killing.”

George also could have read the affidavit of U.N investigator Michael Hourigan which notes that he found “considerable detail about information implicating President Kagame” in the assassination of former President Habyarimana. This was the event that kicked off the genocide, and which was quickly followed by a massive, organized RPF invasion within two hours.

This was confirmed by an FBI investigator, James Lyons.

And it also happens to compliment what UNAMIR official Col. Luc Marchal told the ICTR in his testimony to the court: “From my experience, my conclusion is that the RPF had one goal, seizing power by force and keeping it to themselves.” Marchal also stated that, “Not once, never have I sensed the desire to make concessions, to smooth rough edges, to reach a consensus.” He told the court that, “It was almost a daily struggle, and I received remarks because of the violations of the agreement,” and that, “All these elements led me to the conclusion that their goal was certainly not to concretize the peace process.”

As well as former ICTR prosecutor Carla del Ponte, who insisted on prosecuting Kagame and RPF officials for the assassination and their war crimes.

And I have yet to see Monbiot deal with any of this, or the Davenport-Stam work that shows the majority of deaths were Hutu. This is something Monbiot often refers to. But rather than address Christian Davenport’s study “Rwandan Political Violence in Space and Time,” which is the basis of Herman’s and Peterson’s comment, he just shoots the messengers. In their piece “What Really Happened in Rwanda?” Davenport and Stam write that,

According to the census, there were approximately 600,000 Tutsi in the country in 1991; according to the survival organization Ibuka, about 300,000 survived the 1994 slaughter. This suggested that out of the 800,000 to 1 million believed to have been killed then, more than half were Hutu. The finding was significant; it suggested that the majority of the victims of 1994 were of the same ethnicity as the government in power.

They also noted that,

Perhaps the most shocking result of our combination of information on troop locations involved the invasion itself: The killings in the zone controlled by the FAR seemed to escalate as the RPF moved into the country and acquired more territory. When the RPF advanced, large-scale killings escalated. When the RPF stopped, large-scale killings largely decreased. The data revealed in our maps was consistent with FAR claims that it would have stopped much of the killing if the RPF had simply called a halt to its invasion. This conclusion runs counter to the Kagame administration’s claims that the RPF continued its invasion to bring a halt to the killings.

In the summer of 1994, the RPF killings were so widespread and devastating that UN peacekeepers were blocking refugees from returning, citing the RPF killings and their fear for their safety.

Going back to the Gersony report, we know that the RPF carried out “large-scale indiscriminate killings of men, women, children, including the sick and the elderly,” and they did so with tactics like,

Local residents, including entire families, were called to community meetings, invited to receive information about “peace,” “security,” or “food distribution” issues. Once a crowd had assembled, it was assaulted through sudden sustained gunfire; or locked in buildings into which hand-grenades were thrown; systematically killed with manual instruments; or killed in large numbers other means.

What readers have got to understand is that the RPF were an official arm of the Ugandan military, and consisted largely of Rwandan exiles that were a part of the National Resistance Army, which was led by now Ugandan Dictator Yoweri Museveni. The NRA was an armed militia whose goal was to seize power. After they successfully did so in Uganda in the mid-1980s, the RPF was created to carry out the same plan in Rwanda. And on October 1, 1990 the RPF invaded Rwanda from Uganda. And for nearly four years the RPF conducted a plan to destabilize and overthrow the government, which came to a crescendo on April 6, 1994 when the RPF assassinated President Habyarimana, and carried out massive military offensive.

And this pattern, which occurred in Uganda, and repeated in Rwanda, was again carried out in Democratic Republic of Congo when Uganda and Rwanda invaded, overthrew the government and began butchering people. According to the UN Mapping report, which describes “The systematic attacks, in particular killings and massacres perpetrated against members of the Hutu ethnic group”:

These attacks resulted in a very large number of victims, probably tens of thousands of members of the Hutu ethnic group, all nationalities combined. In the vast majority of cases reported, it was not a question of people killed unintentionally in the course of combat, but people targeted primarily by AFDL/APR/FAB forces and executed in their hundreds, often with edged weapons. The majority of the victims were children, women, elderly people and the sick, who posed no threat to the attacking forces. Numerous serious attacks on the physical or pyschological integrity of members of the group were also committed, with a very high number of Hutus shot, raped, burnt or beaten. Very large numbers of victims were forced to flee and travel long distances to escape their pursuers, who were trying to kill them. The hunt lasted for months, resulting in the deaths of an unknown number of people subjected to cruel, inhuman and degrading living conditions, without access to food or medication. On several occasions, the humanitarian aid intended for them was deliberately blocked …

Now, considering all of the above, and how the ICTR has yet to uncover a plan to commit genocide in Rwanda, or how not one RPF official has been prosecuted for well-documented crimes (del Ponte was actually fired for her insistence in prosecuting the RPF) there is a considerable basis for Herman and Peterson to challenge the official narrative on the genocide that occurred in Rwanda.

And nearly all of the above is mentioned in The Politics of Genocide, which, again, leads me to conclude that either George Monbiot didn’t read the material, or he is being intentionally dishonest in his smear campaign, which now not only includes Herman and Peterson, but Noam Chomsky as well. var _gaq = _gaq || []; _gaq.push([‘_setAccount’, ‘UA-32113110-1’]); _gaq.push([‘_trackPageview’]); (function() { var ga = document.createElement(‘script’); ga.type = ‘text/javascript’; ga.async = true; ga.src = (‘https:’ == document.location.protocol ? ‘https://ssl’ : ‘http://www’) + ‘’; var s = document.getElementsByTagName(‘script’)[0]; s.parentNode.insertBefore(ga, s); })();