Monday, August 14, 2006

"Fools' Crusade" Chapter One [7]


In the universe Johnstone lives in, the rise of nationalist politics in Yugoslavia started with the rise of Franjo Tudjman and the HDZ in Croatia. Zagreb, not Belgrade, was the culprit. Johnstone begins her drumbeat of innuendo and ominous conspiracy-mongering (Nazis! Well-financed emigres! The Vatican!) in this section, early in Chapter One. Just to illustrate her remarkably skewed and disproportionate perspective, Dobrica Cosic merits exactly one mention in this book, on page 227!

It is no secret that Tudjman was a nationalist and a bully; his contribution to the events in Yugoslavia from 1989 until his death was to be reckless, belligerent, foolish, and cynical by turns. The tactics and rhetoric of the HDZ were intolerant and provocative in the extreme. Had the political leadership in Zagreb during that time been less jingoistic and possessed of even a modest quantity of moderating empathy, it is possible that the Krajina Serbs might have been less conducive to the music of Serbian nationalism coming from Belgrade. But in Johnstone's telling, the well-documented rise of the SDS and the radicalization of the Serb community in and around Knin simply didn't happen. The Serbs were simply reacting to events dictated by Zagreb.

Her use of sources and information in this section is quite telling, as we shall see.


Shaina said...

Glad to see you back, I hope you had great vacation.

If you have time, I would love to see you devote an entire post to Johnstone's sources and "research" that she used.

I don't think too many people realize just what a sloppy piece of scholarship Johnstone presents; and how much she relies on very biased sources as facts.

Kirk Johnson said...

Thanks! It's good, as always, to hear from you. Your work on your blog has been outstanding lately.

You know, I was just thinking that I need to do exactly what you are suggesting here. It's been a busy week since I got back (yes, we had a great vacation by the way!), but in the limited time I've had to look over Johnstone's book since then, I've realized that the FULL story of her dishonesty can't be told without looking at where she gets her information.

In this particular section of Chapter One, for example, she makes extensive use of "Yugoslavia: Death of a Nation" by Silber and Little. The ways she selectively chooses--and distorts--quotes from this widely-available book are quite telling. Tonight I'm going to do some writing after work (my son's soccer has kept me busy so far this week--not an unpleasant reason to miss writing, I admit), and this is exactly what I'm planning on writing about.

I've realized I need to have some of the sources she uses at hand while reading her book; you cannot trust the woman to be honest and balanced in her use of information. I have acquired--also through interlibrary loan--a coupy of "Balkan Tragedy" by Woodward, which Johnstone uses rather extensively. I haven't had time to read much of it, but it might be worth some extended attention. Woodward is not a genocide denier like Johnstone, but her perspective is questionable. The fact that she went to Yugoslavia to work with Yasushi Akashi should trigger alarm bells right off.