19 August 2008

Why was Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili so stupid to start this war?

This is the question being asked.

The answers range from 'Saakashvili was mad to go and bomb a town in the middle of the night' (I mean just check out these videos on YouTube to see whether Saakashvili is a nutter or not - looks pretty serious whatever his problem is...

to 'Saakashvili and Russia were both set up' by a neo-con plot to put McCain in the White House.

This is all part of the 'New Great Game', the battle to control Caspian Sea hydro-carbon resources and its outlets to the West - controlled by the West, or as Ambassador M K Bhadrakumar, a career diplomat in the Indian Foreign Service (his assignments included the Soviet Union, South Korea, Sri Lanka, Germany, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Uzbekistan, Kuwait and Turkey) puts it over at the Asia Times: "The geopolitics of energy lies at the core of the conflict in the Caucasus". The geopolitics of energy is otherwise also called: petro-politics.

Published in 1997, Brzezinski's 'The Grand Chessboard' helps to understand the mindset of American ruling elites. One only has to go to Chapter 5, suitably entitled 'The Eurasian Balkans' to read "In Europe, the word 'Balkans' conjures up images of ethnic conflicts and great-power regional rivalries. Eurasia, too has its 'Balkans', but the Eurasian Balkans are much larger, more populated, even more religiously and ethnically heterogeneous."

Bzezinski explains that while the Eurasian Balkans are "truly reminiscent of the older, more familiar Balkans of southeastern Europe...they tempt and invite the intrusion of more powerful neighbours, each of whom is determined to oppose the region's domination by another."

Brzezinski describes it as "a potential geopolitical prize" (see Peter Fainton's blog for an excellent description of Geopolitics and the Heartland Theory and Oil - The New “Great Game),.

However, Brzezinski goes much further stating: "But the Eurasian Balkans are infinitely more important as a potential economic prize: an enormous concentration of natural gas and oil reserves is located in the region, in addition to important minerals, including gold.""

There is even a subheading in Chapter 5 "The Ethnic Cauldron", so elite planners in the US are very aware of the ethnic problems in the region.

There is another interesting view that deserves to be included in the mix of reasons (incidents are caused when various different elements all come into play at the same time): this was an attempt at 'ethnic cleansing'.

I first came across this theory in the Media Lens Forum, from a piece posted by the Editors forwarded "to us on August 11 by Ed Herman who had received it from Noam Chomsky with this brief note attached: "Attaching an interesting piece, from someone I don't know, but seems sensible." "

Sergey Alekseyev, the author of the piece writes: "Saakashvili's central goal is not to win - it is to drive as many Ossetians out of South Ossetia as possible (and kill some in the process). The nighttime first-strike usage of area-attack Grad systems against Tskhinvali, the quick withdrawal of Georgian troops once Russia entered the conflict, the almost instant Saakashvili request for ceasefire after their attack, are very clear indications for that. There are only about 70000 or so Ossetians actually left in South Ossetia after the repressions of the '91 war led to massive refuge streams into North Ossetia. With 30000 of them having fled the same direction already now, more sure to follow if the fighting continues, and the capital in ruins, Saakashvili can be fairly certain that South Ossetia as an ethnic province will simply cease to exist - thus solving all Georgian problems with it. It is just plain and simple ethnic cleansing. Soon, there will simply be no point for Russia to defend this foreign territory - when no Russian citizens will even live there anymore...the whole conflict undoubtedly serves as a good measuring stick for the Pentagon planners behind Saakashvili for the ability of the Russian military to respond to such events...Another potential goal of his may be to counter his recent drop in inner-Georgian popularity and the weak results and poll falsification accusations for the 2008 election, which is not so different from the old US strategy of inciting external conflicts to distract from deficiencies in inner politics. "

Must be Russian, I hear you mutter.

But this point of view is backed up by Charles King, Ion Ratiu Professor of Romanian Studies and Professor of International Affairs in the Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University. He's also the author of several books on the former Soviet republics and Eastern Europe and has an op-ed in this morning's Christian Science Monitor regarding the conflict between Georgia and Russia. In an interview with Glen Greenwald over at Salon.com, Profesor King states

"Well, I think there is some doubt about who fired first, who moved first, and certainly what was in the mind of President Saakashvili, the president of Georgia, that would have pushed him towards some sort of all-out assault on South Ossetia, this secessionist province that was at the core of this dispute. Really, for the last six months or so, folks in the United States who have been watching this, and in Europe, who's been watching developments in Georgia, have been very worried that Georgia would seek some sort of military solution to the secessionist struggles that have been plaguing the country now for the better part of two decades. And what seems to have happened is that Georgia decided to move quickly and decisively, hoping I think that they would be able to take South Ossetia and that Russia would be unable or unwilling to respond.
Again, I think there was probably a degree of miscalculation and miscommunication in fact between Georgia and the United States.
Georgia for a long time, and in fact Georgians and the political elite and elsewhere have talked about an incident now 13 years ago, but 13 years ago actually this month in August, something called Operation Storm, when the Croatian military moved into a region of its own territory called the Krajina, to oust a local secessionist Serb entity. That military operation went forward with a green light from the United States after the Croatian army had in fact been trained and equipped by the United States military, succeeded.
Now, it lead to about, hundreds of thousands of Serbs being pushed out of the area, but it allowed Croatia to reassert control over its own territory, it lead directly to the agreement, the Dayton Accords on Bosnia, and I think the Georgians had become convinced that if they could do this kind of lightning strike, and succeed, they would create a situation on the ground that the Russians would have a very difficult time countering. In the end the Georgians did not succeed militarily and now we're seeing the result of that failure

I recommend reading or listening to whole interview.

As Prof. King points out when we look back at Operation Storm we can see that the Croatian Amy was "trained and equipped by the United States military". This is what has happened in Georgia too, with the Georgian Army having just finished military exercises with the US.

Silber & Little, who recount the establishment narrative of the break-up of Yugoslavia appointing blame entirely to the Serbs and whose book was sometimes used verbatim by the Milosevic prosecution at the ICTY, wrote:

"For international consumption, the Croatian government would make great play of appealing to the Krajina Serbs to stay in their homes and live as citizens of Croatia. But these appeals did little to mask the real ambitions of the Croatian government., which was to drive the Serbs out of Croatia altogether and resettle the land they had lived on for centuries with Croats from elsewhere. After the fall of Knin, Tudjman even said this publicly, calling for Croats from the diaspora to return...Croation troops outnumbered the Serb defenders by five to one. It was not only the numerical superiority that favoured the Croats. It was a military expertise that could only have been derived from their increasingly congenial relations with the United States...Colonel Leslie, of the UN garrison at Knin, recognised the strategy immediately the Croats moved in Bosnia: 'It was a textbook operation, though not a JNA textbook. Whoever wrote that plan of attack culd have gone to any NATO staff college in North America or Western Europe and scored an A-plus.' Western governments turned a blind eye to the shelling. The diplomatic acquiescence in the storming of western Slavonia in May had, in effect, given Croatia the green light to take Krajina by force...It was the first stage in what would become, during the next few days the biggest single forcible displacement of people in Europe since the Second World War. Colonel Leslie estimated...'Knn fell from 35,000-40,000 to around 500 or 600 in less than twenty-four hours.'...The Croatian media broadcast details of safe routes though which the Serbs could leave for Serb-held parts of Bosnia...there was little doubt in the minds of those on the receiving end of Croatian artillery that the attack had more than a military objective...The Croatian army began hitting the very road that the refugees, escorted in places by UN troops, were using to flee into neighboring Bosnia...But the Croats had re-armed with the help of the West. Retired US generals helped them plan their operation. NATO was on side too. In fact, during Operation Storm, on August 4, NATO warplanes bombarded Serb communications sytems, ostensibly because the Serb radar had locked on to NATO jets. NATO airpower, in effect, joined forces with the Croatian army in support of Operation Storm. Western politicians kept quiet....The Croatians embarked on an officially sanctioned campaign of burning and looting which damaged over 20,000 houses owned by Serbs. During the weeks that followed, well after the Croatian army was firmly in control of the territory, elderly Serbs were still being killed. "We are still finding the bodies dumped on the roadside each morning." one UN official said more than two months later. "Elderly Serbs who stayed behind during Operation Storm are still being killed every day." In February 1994, American envoys had offered Tudjman a straight choice: abandon your war against the Muslims of Bosnia, and we, the US, will back your plans to take Krajina...Zagreb and Washington signed a pact on military co-operation."
(Silber & Little, 'The Death of Yugoslavia', Penguin Books/BBC Books 1996, pp. 356-360)

Further proof of US involvement in the ethnic cleansing of Croatia appears in Diana Johnstone's Fools Crusade in her account of the Gospic massacre of 1991 - ignored by Western media obviously - and which was "the first massacre carried out as a deliberate act of 'ethnic cleansing', designed to frighten the Serb population of Croata into fleeing":

"Agim Çeku, reportedly played a leading role in betraying the JNA garrison to the Croatian seperatists, this depriving local Serbs of protection...Çeku joined the new Croatian army and rose to high rank. In 1995, after undergoing training by "retired" US military officers on contract to the Zagreb Defense Ministry, Çeku helped command "Operation Storm" which emptied Krajina of its Serb population. Çeku gained a fearful reputation by leading particularly brutal massacres of Serbs in the Lika region."

The note here in the book quotes Christian Jennings of The Scotsman of 03 March 2001 "The Croats were trained for 'Operation Storm' by the Virginia-based Military Professionals Resources Incorporated (MPRI), described as an 'outfit of former US marines, helicopter pilots, and special forces teams', which went on to train first the Kosovo Albanan rebels and then their adversaries in the Macedonian army."

It should also be noted that during the break-up of the former Yugoslavia, the chronology was as follows:

July 1990 - First Slovenia and then Croatia declare the "sovereignty" of their republican laws over Yugoslav federal laws.

21 Deecember 1990 - Croatia adopts a new constitution granting itself the right to secede from Yugoslavia.

23 December 1990 Slovene independence referendum shows 95% support for independence.

January 1991 onward Yugoslavia repeatedly instructed by the US and EC that the use of force by the JNA (Yugoslav Federal Army) internally for any purpose was unnacceptable.

12 May 1991 Krajina Serbs hold referendum on whether to "remain part of Yugoslavia with...others who want to preserve Yugoslavia." 90% vote to "remain part of Yugoslavia"

25 June 1991 The republics of Slovenia and Croatia declare their independence from the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. Armed clashes begin in both republics.

27 June 1991 Krajina Serbs declare the existence of an independent republic of Serb Krajina.

(Source: The Dismantling of Yugoslavia (Glossary)by Edward S Herman & David Peterson October 2007 Monthly Review)

October 1991 Gospic massacre

So, to recap, we know that in Georgia, the political elite were talking about the 'Krajina solution' to South Ossetia. We know that Krajina was ethnically cleansed of Serbs from that area in a well-planned attack whose aim was ethnic cleansing, and the Croatian army was supplied and trained by the Americans and NATO, including the tactics.

We also know that the Georgian army has been trained and equipped by the US. We also know that it has been trained and equipped by the Israelis, the masters of ethnic cleansing. We know the Georgians launched an attack on South Ossetia.

The conclusions are obvious.

16 August 2008

Los tribunales de la ONU: pioneros pero muy caros

Se esperaba mucho mas de El Publico en un tema de este calado.

Es inadmisible que Isabel Coello se convierte en taquígafra de organizaciones pro-establecimiento como son el ICG y el Open Society Institute de Soros.

En primer lugar no ha cogido ningún testimonio que plantea otro punto de vista.

Segundo, los fuentes que ha consultado no son imparciales.

El 40% de los fondos del ICG proviene de paises occidentales como Australia, Austria, Bélgica, Canadá, República Cheka, Hollanda, Finlandia, Francia, Alemania, Irlanda, Japón, Luxemburgo, Nueva Zelanda, Taiwán, Dinamarka, Noruega, Suezia, Suiza, Reino Unido y los EEUU.

¿Realmente cree alguien que una organización que fuera crítica con las políticas occidentales seguiría recibiendo fondos? No seamos tan inocentes por favor.

El 43% de sus fondos provienen de fundaciones como Rockefeller, Ford, MacArthur, US Institute for Peace (establecido por Ronald Reagan), Carnegie, Sarlo Jewish Community Endowment Fund, Hewlett, etc.

Un total de 83%...

Y ¿quién dirige el ICG? ¿Gente non-gubernamental?

No. En la junta directiva encontraremos gente como:

Gareth Evans Presidente & CEO
ex-Minsitro de Exteriores de Australia;

Lord Patten
ex-Minstro bitánico y antiguo comisionado Relaciones Exteriores de la CE

Morton Abramowitz
antiguo Asistente al Secretario de Estado de EEUU

Fidel V. Ramos
ex-Presidente de Filipinas

Lord Robertson
antiguo Secretario General de la OTAN

Ernesto Zedillo
ex-Presidente de Mexico

George J. Mitchell
ex-U.S. Senate Majority Leader

etc., etc., etc.(Fuente: The International Crisis Group: Who Pays the Piper? Spinwatch)

Referente al Open Society de George Soros, éste fue instrumental en la transferencia de poder en Georgia que llevó a Saakashvili al poder, financiando a la TV opositor Rustavi2, el periodíco 24 Hours y el movimeineto de juventud georgiano Kmara, lo mismo que había hecho en Serbia tres años antes financiando otro movimiento estudiantil Otpor, que fue fundamental en el derrocamiento de Mlosevic.

Los lideres estudiantles georgianos reconocieron que habían copiado la revuelta serbia paso a paso. Activistas de Otpor organizaron cursillos de 3 días para mas de 1,000 estudiantes georgianos en como montar una revolución sin derramamiento de sangre.
(Fuente: 'Thinker, Faker, Spinner, Spy', William Dinnan y David Miller, p. 187)

Y hay mas. Hablemos de la TCPY ahora.

Un estudio de la magna carta de la ONU revela que no otorga ningún poder al Consejo de Seguridad para crear un tribunal criminal. La magna carta misma incluye los estatutos del Tribunal Internacional de Justicia. Fue denegado deliberadamente cualquier jurisdicción criminal.

Solo hay dos maneras de constituir un tribunal criminal:

La única manera que la ONU podría crear un tribunal criminal sería a través de una enmienda a la misma magna carta, un procedimiento bastante pesado y torpe nunca hasta este momento logrado.

Un estudio de derecho internacional revela que la única otra manera para crear un tribunal criminal internacional es través de un tratado multinacional, como en el caso del Tribunal Internacional Criminal.

Conclusión: el Consejo de Segurdiad, bajo la coacción de EEUU a través de su embajador a la ONU Madeline Albright, usurpó poder para crear un tribunal criminal.

Además, la Convención para la Prevención y la Sanción del Delito de Genocidio de 1948 requiere que autoridades 'nacionales 'procesen a gente sospechosa del crimen de genocidio.

El Consejo de Seguridad no tiene potestad para reformar una ley, y el hecho de que el TCPY no fue creado por ley infringe un principio fundamental del estado de derecho: Art. 14 del Pacto Internacional de Derechos Civiles y Políticos (ONU 1966) y Art. 6 de la Convención Europea de Derechos Humanos.

Ambos dicen que es un derecho fundamental que un acusado sea juzgado por un tribunal "establecido por la ley". Y no están hablando del ley del más fuerte...

Peo Coello formula una pregunta muy pertinente:

"Una de las cuestiones relevantes para evaluar estos tribunales es analizar si han impartido justicia a todas las partes de un conflicto, tal y como exige su mandato, o han sido un nuevo Nuremberg, es decir, un ejercicio de "justicia de los vencedores"."

Pero ella no persigue la respuesta. Parece contenta dejar que conteste Heikelina Verrijn de la publicación Tribuna de Justicia Internacional sin comentario alguno:

"todos los grupos étnicos implicados en las guerras que destruyeron la antigua Yugoslavia han sido tocados por la acción del tribunal"

Correcto. Todos los grupos étnicos pero no todas las partes al conflicto. Pero, ¿que pasa con la OTAN?

El TCPY se negó rotundamente a entretener cualquier reclamo para investigar y procesar a la OTAN por sus crimenes.

Recuerda que la intervención de la OTAN en la antigua Yugoslavia, tanto en Bosnia come en Kosovo fue hecho sin permiso del Consejo de Seguridad de la ONU ni había una 'amenaza iminente' para justificar su ataque. Por consecuencia el ataque de la OTAN fue una agresión, que según el Tribunal de Nuremberg, es el 'crimen supremo y sólo difiere de los otros crímenes de guerra por el hecho de que los contiene todos'.

Y otra cosa. El TCPY estaba financiado por la OTAN. ¿Realmente alguien cree que es un tribunal imparcial y justo?

15 August 2008

The Guardian - in good faith?

As a Briton living in Spain I was somewhat astonished to read in the Guardian on Sunday a holier than thou piece accusing the Spanish of racism (yet again). This time the 'culprits' are the Spanish basketball team at the Beijing Olympics.

The Guardian article starts: "Spain's Basketball Federation has published a good luck advert for their men's team, the world champions, in which they stand pulling at the sides of their eyes in a slit-eyed gesture."

The Guardian "staff", who don't even have the courage to sign with their own names, then accuse the Spanish of being "irresponsible" and that the picture"could be interpreted so as to lead to accusations of racism." Possible, but only by a racist.

Of course, this leads us to question, exactly what the purpose of this article was. One reason could be to put the Chinese public against the Spanish basketball team who play the US tomorrow, and are serious challengers for the Olympic gold medal.

Sid Lowe, one of the Guardian's football journalists, who actually lives in Spain and should know better, then took up the torch on Monday:

"The advert features two large photographs, one of the men's basketball team, above, and one of the women's team. Both squads pose in full Olympic kit on a basketball court decorated with a picture of a Chinese dragon. Every single player appears pulling back the skin on either side of their eyes. The advert carries the symbol of the sport's governing body.

No one involved in the advert appears to have considered it inappropriate nor contemplated the manner in which it could be interpreted in China and elsewhere. No offence was intended by the advert, but whether the Chinese see it that way is a different matter"

I say should know better because, as a sports reporter for the Guardian living in Spain, he should have been aware, as the NYT was aware, that "Spain basketball has been sponsored by and wearing uniforms made by the Chinese company Li-Ning since 2002 and just signed an agreement to continue doing so through 2012. "

They quoted Calderón, the Spanish player in the Toronto Raptors as saying "“Whoever wants to interpret something different is totally confused.”
“It turns out that in the photo shoot for the submission of our team, one of our sponsors asked us to make, as a ‘wink’ to our participation in Beijing, an expression of Eastern eyes — we felt it was something appropriate and that it would always be interpreted as an affectionate gesture,” Calderon says. “However, some European media have not looked on it well,” laments the linchpin of the national team.
Calderon denies any racist tinge in the gesture and expressed his “great respect for the East and its people.” The Extremaduran highlighted his great personal relationship with several Chinese friends by his team in the NBA, Toronto Raptors, and recalled that the sports brand Li Ning China outfits the Spanish team as one of its sponsors

And, as the Spanish daily El País published yesterday, the Chinese Embassy in Madrid also said they didn't consider it offensive and were sure that no one in China would have been offended by the advert either: "ese gesto no lo entendemos como una ofensa".

The FEB (Spanish Basketball Federation) is now looking at taking legal action against the Guardian and Sid Lowe, and quite rightly too, as they consider that the only meaning of the gesture is one of "affection, friendliness and recognition" ("el único significado de dicho gesto es de cariño, simpatía y reconocimiento, que es lo que siente esta federación por el pueblo chino y su país.")

This is once again another gesture of British double standards, intending to foist onto others their puritanical and hypocritical morals, considering the deep racism at all levels of British society.

Sid Lowe is quite happy taking money from Spanish television (he is a football commentator for the Spansh TV La Sexta) while sticking the knife in the back of Spanish sport. One hopes they will send him packing.

08 August 2008

Oliver Kamm: distortion à la carte

Oliver Kamm is at it again, peddling distortions to try and discredit someone. If its not Chomsky, its Pilger, and if its not Chomsky or Pilger its Media Lens.

The fact of the matter is that Kamm is now Murdoch's pet Fox Terrier (the expression is normally rottweiller but Kamm's just too small both physically and intellectually to be a rottweiller).

On 06 August 2008 he published this critique of Pilger's article in the Guardian.

This is my reply to Kamm:

"Oliver Kamm states:

"So far, and so predictably cavalier with the fruits of historians' inquiries; but Pilger then goes one better. He writes: "The day after Hiroshima was obliterated, President Truman voiced his satisfaction with the 'overwhelming success' of 'the experiment'."

Here is the text of Truman's statement on the use of the A-bomb at Hiroshima. Truman does not say what Pilger attributes to him. And Pilger has been called on this one before. In 1983, he made a television documentary purporting to expose official deceptions about nuclear weapons. The film was called The Truth Game; you can watch it here. His first words in the programme are: "On 7 August 1945, President Truman announced the atomic bombing of Hiroshima with these words. ' The experiment,' he said, 'has been an overwhelming success.'"

If you have access to a good library (as I'm not aware that the article is online), I recommend looking up a masterly evisceration of the numerous errors of fact and interpretation in Pilger's film, published in New Society, 24 March 1983, under the title "Games with the Truth". The authors are Lawrence Freedman, Professor of War Studies at King's College, London; and the journalist William Shawcross. Freedman and Shawcross note, of Pilger's "quotation" from Truman: "Truman's announcement of the destruction of Hiroshima was released on 6 August 1945. It does not contain the words Pilger cites."

A quarter of a century later, Pilger is still peddling an ahistorical and insupportable thesis by means of a quotation that he knows to be spurious. Think about that. Few are likely to mistake Pilger as an authority on twentieth-century history; but there are still some who regard him as a voice of integrity and a teller of uncomfortable truths. He is in fact, and knowingly, a retailer of ideologically congenial falsehoods."

Literally Kamm is almost right in that obviously Truman did not say the words Pilger quotes in that particular statement. But then Pilger never said he did!

However, if Kamm had done his homework he would have found that Truman did actually utter the words Pilger claims!

Pilger never says that Truman uttered these words in the officisal statement. That was Kamm's supposition and his 'mistake'.

Greg Mitchell, editor of 'Editor & Publisher' in the US, would no doubt be pleased to put Kamm on the right track, as he reported on 06 August 2008 that the quote actually comes from "a wire service report filed by a journalist traveling with the president on the Atlantic, returning from Europe."

He also states: "Approved by military censors, it went beyond, but not far beyond, the measured tone of the president's official statement. It depicted Truman, his voice "tense with excitement," personally informing his shipmates about the atomic attack. "The experiment," he announced, "has been an overwhelming success."...The sailors were said to be "uproarious" over the news. "I guess I'll get home sooner now," was a typical response. Nowhere in the story, however, was there a strong sense of Truman's reaction. Missing from this account was his exultant remark when the news of the bombing first reached the ship: "This is the greatest thing in history!"

I sent a similar comment to Kamm's blog, I ended the comment:

"Perhaps you'd care to withdraw the offending comments in your blog, and apologise to Mr Pilger for accusing him of "peddling an ahistorical and insupportable thesis by means of a quotation that he knows to be spurious" and of being "knowingly, a retailer of ideologically congenial falsehoods"?"

Of course, he could always surprise, but, in my opinion, Kamm doesn't have the moral integrity or courage to apologise when he's mistaken, if it is actually a mistake and not lying propaganda...



I've been doing a bit more research and have turned up more proof that Kamm is wrong.

1. Time Magazine dated December 31, 1945. Article entitled: 'The Bomb & the Man' (p. 3):

"Like many an average citizen, Harry Truman greeted the bomb with few immediate overtones of philosophic doubt. When it was dropped on Hiroshima, by his order, he was aboard the cruiser Augusta, returning from his first international conference at Potsdam. He rushed to the officers' wardroom, announced breathlessly: "Keep your seats, gentlemen. . . . We have just dropped a bomb on Japan which has more power than 20,000 tons of TNT. It was an overwhelming success." Applause and cheering broke out; the President hastened along to spread the word in the other messes. "

2. 'The Decision to Drop the Atomic Bomb', Author Dennis Wainstock (Associate Professor of History at Salem-Teikyo University in Salem, West Virginia) P.87 :
Google Books

3. The Argus (Melbourne, Australia) 08 August 1945 p. 1:

"Truman Excited at Bombs Success"

"From Our Own Correspondent in London

After hearing of the success of the atomic bomb mission over Japan, President Truman, on USS Augusta, entered the wardroom visibly excited. "Keep your seats, gentlemen. I have an announcement to make," he said.

Pausing only for a moment, the President added: "We have just dropped a bomb on Japan which has more power than 20,000 tons of TNT. It was an overwhelming success."

The President left quickly while the officers were still cheering to repeat the news in other messes throughout the ship."


UPDATE II - 09 August 2008 14,30 hrs

Here is Kamm's pathetic reply:

I should explain to my readers, who may well have worked it out for themselves, that David Sketchley is an indefatigable member of the Media Lens organisation. I have written about Media Lens from time to time owing to its practice of spamming journalists with email campaigns and then publishing their replies without their knowledge or permission. The passionate intensity of these email campaigns is, reliably, inversely related to the amount of political expertise invested in their formulation.

If you check the Media Lens site, you will enter a parallel universe in which the band of regulars assure each other of their own virtue and wisdom, condemn the Jews for their nefarious conspiracies (they don't even bother with the euphemism "Zionist"), and compare journalists (me in particular, for some reason) to excrement. The "media alerts" that guide the faithful invoke the research of such analysts as the 9/11 conspiracy crank Howard Zinn and - no joke, this - Neil Clark, a monoglot school teacher and Wikipedia editor from Botley whom Media Lens count a "Balkans specialist".

Mr Sketchley's distinctive contribution to this organisation is to promote the theory that the massacre of 8,000 Bosniak men and boys at Srebrenica is all a hoax. At one point, he couldn't stop himself from sending me angry emails from his home in Seville, and I endeavoured to answer courteously everything he sent my way; but evidently he has the bug again.

Mr Sketchley, now that my readers know what we're dealing with, let me answer your questions directly. You ask whether I would care to withdraw from my blog the disobliging references to John Pilger, and apologise to him. The answers are "no" and "no".

Almost every time I post on the Pacific War, some aggrieved commenter accuses me of being no expert on this subject, and I'm concerned to acknowledge the truth of that charge. I've never done a stroke of primary research into the subject, and don't read Japanese (or any non-European language). But I do know my way round the secondary literature, and the work of the leading historians in the field, several of whom have very kindly guided me through their own research.

I am consequently able to distinguish, as Mr Sketchley is not, between a "report" and a second-hand recycling of a hoary claim. Mr Sketchley's source has not "reported" any statement attributed to Truman, because he wasn't with President Truman at the time. He has cited, in an op-ed piece that does not bear the hallmarks of familiarity with the historical literature, a claim about President Truman that is noticeably short on verifiable detail. Who was this journalist, Mr Sketchley? What wire service? Why does Mitchell not provide these identifying details?

I ungraciously suspect Mitchell doesn't provide them because he doesn't know them, but is merely retailing a claim that he's picked up from a comrade. This is how ideologically congenial myths get propagated. I have tried to track this one down before, and find that it eludes the leading scholars of the Truman administration whereas it's common knowledge to Pilger, Media Lens and various disarmament groups (who have plainly picked it up from Pilger's original documentary). How fortunate that we have Media Lens to cut through this web of official deceit.

Posted by: Oliver Kamm August 08, 2008 at 01:55 PM

Oh dear. I hadn't anticipated, as I ought to have done, the ease with which a Media Lens supporter can be confused. I was not, Mr Sketchley, taking issue with Truman's appellation of the bombing as a "success" - given that there were huge questions about whether the bomb would detonate at all, and many sceptics, it would be amazing if he hadn't made such a comment. I was referring to Pilger's alleged quotation from Truman that "the experiment was an overwhelming success". That was what I quoted and it is, as far as I am able to tell, a spurious quotation. Truman and the administration did not regard the bombing as an experiment; they regarded it as a necessary act to stop the war and terrible bloodshed. Truman recoiled from the notion that he might have to drop a third bomb, and there is much biographical evidence that the A-bomb decision weighed on his mind for the rest of his life.

Your Googled source Dennis Wainstock is, by the way, not a reliable source: he's a far-right editorialist. I can understand that the distinction will not necessarily be clear to Media Lensers.


Posted by: Oliver Kamm August 08, 2008 at 02:06 PM



I sent Kamm's comments to Greg Mitchell who replied:

"Those quotes are recorded and footnoted in the fairly prominent — and reviewed on the front pages of book sections nearly everywhere -- book that I co-wrote with Robert Jay Lifton in 1995, “Hiroshima in America” (G.P. Putnam) They appear on page 23 of the book and the citations are not “some cliam picked up from a comrade” but rather The New York Times and Newsweek in August 1945. For the record, I started studying the atomic bombings 30 years ago, was editor of the national magazine Nuclear Times for four years, spent several weeks doing research in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, plus several weeks at the Truman Library, several months more at other research libraries, read thousands of articles published from 1945 to 1950, read dozens of books on this subject from authors with a variety of views, hundreds or thousands of magazines articles, examiend diaries and thousands of letters and diaries, interviewed many veterans of the war, consulted on leading films and museum exhibits, watched dozens of documentaries and, besides writing the book, have also penned hundreds of articles on this subject. GM " (E-mail to the author from Greg Mitchell received 8 August 2008 21:03)

Mitchell's book was reviewed by Publishers Weekly thus:

"President Truman was ambivalent about the decision to drop atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Yet, according to this unsettling study, Truman, influenced by army general Leslie Groves and Secretary of War Henry Stimson, went into denial and developed a sense of omnipotence that allowed him to deploy weapons that killed vast numbers of civilians. Eminent psychologist Lifton (whose National Book Award-winning Death in Life dealt with Hiroshima survivors) and former Nuclear Times editor Mitchell (The Campaign of the Century) draw on primary sources, including the diaries of Truman and other decision-makers, in an attempt to refute the widely held belief that the atomic bombings hastened WWII's end, thereby preventing an invasion of Japan and saving countless American lives. The authors demonstrate that the U.S. military and media for decades systematically suppressed on-site photographs, as well as American and Japanese documentary films, that showed the devastation produced by the bombs. They argue that the lasting, harmful impact of Hiroshima on American society includes a defense policy in thrall to nuclear weaponry, self-propelling arms buildups, patterns of psychic numbing and secrecy and denial of the health effects of radiation from bombs and from U.S. nuclear waste dumps. BOMC and History Book Club selections. "