Aryeh Neier Replies

Aryeh Neier Replies

Ordinarily, when a writer responds to a review, he discusses what is said in it. As Chomsky can’t be bothered, for those who missed what I wrote, I will summarize it in a few sentences.

I said that Chomsky dismisses the claim that NATO acted in Kosovo to protect human rights. The real purpose was to sustain NATO’s status, complete Washington’s takeover of Europe, and stimulate defense spending. Chomsky made a few valuable points, I said: an important element of the Rambouillet peace accord that intruded excessively on Yugoslav sovereignty was not reported in the West, NATO leaders contradicted themselves over whether they knew in advance that the bombing would lead to an intensification of Serb attacks on Kosovar Albanians, and the bypassing of the UN Security Council received insufficient attention. On the other hand, I criticized Chomsky for ad hominem attacks on those who disagree with him, such as his claim that Vaclav Havel flew to Washington to celebrate the 1989 murder of six Jesuit priests in El Salvador. Also, I said his book is dishonest because it argues that NATO’s intervention could not be justified by atrocities in Kosovo as only two thousand deaths and two hundred thousand to three hundred thousand forcible displacements took place there in the year prior to the bombing while much worse has taken place elsewhere. The dishonesty is in his failure to mention that NATO intervened because proponents saw Kosovo as the continuation of a decade-long war by Milosevic in which some two hundred thousand were killed and two million were forced to flee their country in Bosnia alone.

Instead of responding to my review, Chomsky conducts a debate with unidentified opponents who apparently used various words and phrases that he puts between quotation marks. For the record, “unanswered,” “reasonable judgment,” “new era,” “principles and values” and “enlightened states” (an oxymoron) are just a few of the terms that I did not use.

To the extent that Chomsky actually addresses what I said, it is when he writes: “He [Neier] offers one argument to justify the bombing: the atrocities that were the anticipated consequence might have occurred anyway, given Milosevic’s terrible record….” That is at least a near miss. What I actually wrote is that “Atrocities [in Bosnia] reached genocidal proportions”; that “NATO sat by for more than three years before interfering decisively in Bosnia”; and that “many persons in and out of government were determined not to allow a repetition in Kosovo.” Nevertheless, I did not argue for the bombing (I believe military intervention was justified, but not as conducted by NATO). Rather, I wrote, “Chomsky could have acknowledged the history in ex-Yugoslavia that inspired the advocates of humanitarian intervention and still argued against NATO’s bombing.” His failure to acknowledge the history was the basis for my charge of dishonesty. His f...