Saturday, February 24, 2007

"Fools' Crusade" Chapter Four [8]



This is tiring. The worst thing about conspiracy theorists is that they just won't stop; they invest so much energy and time into constructing their alternate reality it's difficult to keep up. Johnstone's barrage of pointless detail and her carefully constructed edifice of selective facts isn't as imposing as she would like to believe it is, but it is maddeningly elusive. Like any conspiracy theorist, she keeps the reader distracted with peripheral issues and sinister-seeming quotes from disparate individuals while failing to address her own central argument--that Germany is primarily responsible for breaking up Yugoslavia and unleashing the wars that ravaged that now-defunct country.

I very much doubt that any person reading this blog is unfamiliar with the unfortunate consequences of Germany's rash decision to recognize Slovenia and Croatia (the European Community's ridiculously narrow window of opportunity to apply for recognition also played a big part, but since Hitler didn't rule the EC Johnstone isn't interested in this angle--it doesn't have the same pizazz to blame bureaucrats in Brussels). I also doubt that anyone reading this blog is unaware of the political conditions in Yugoslavia at the moment of Germany's unilateral actions.

The myth of German responsibility for the war simply doesn't stand up to even the most cursory scrutiny; considering her general evasiveness and her tendency to rapidly skirt around incidents and facts rather than dwelling long enough to give her reader a chance to pause and reflect on the logical and factual inconsistencies in her arguments, it's rather surprising that she has chosen to devote an entire chapter to this ridiculous premise. Perhaps she hopes to overcome her audience with sheer volume. There might be some merit to this tactic: I'm finding myself growing increasingly unwilling to even engage her "ideas" by this point. For most of this book, she has been wrong-headed, factually inaccurate, and unwisely or immorally premised. But her analysis always seemed grounded in some warped view of reality. In this chapter, however, the connections she is trying to draw are not merely tenuous and ill-advised, they simply don't exist. She might as well claim that the Freemasons were behind the breakup of Yugoslavia; it would be plenty easy to marshal just as much evidence to support that theory.

Still, this chapter contains a few howlers worth commenting on.


After snidely describing the reunification of Germany as "a unilateral takeover of the German Democratic Republic in the East by the Federal Republic of Germany" (another Western plot against an innocent socialist victim, no doubt), Johnstone makes it clear that anyone who took German assurances that they would not be repeating "the aggressive policies of the Third Reich" were dupes. Note that she does not hedge her bets with something along the lines of a return to "traditional German militarism" or some other reference to expansionist and militaristic German tendencies dating to the Prussian state; she specifies the Third Reich. Her reference point is the Nazi period; the decision to set Hitler's foreign policy as the bar which post-1990 German policy in the Balkans will be judged is hers, not mine.

This is the same Diana Johnstone who considers comparisons between the horrors of Srebrenica to the Holocaust to be rash and driven by emotional hyperbole rather than a sober consideration of the facts. Can we expect her to apply this rigorous standard to evocations of Nazi aggression when discussing NATO actions in Yugoslavia?

We shall see in future sections. This one dwells, at some length, on reunification and the sinister implications of the rebirth of a united Germany in the heart of Europe. And in case there is any doubt that she blames Bonn rather than Belgrade for the carnage in Yugoslavia, there is this little gem:

"Although Germany's support to the breakaway republics dealt a fatal blow to the peaceful life together enjoyed by Yugoslavia's peoples,..."

She then implies that Germany took in Serb refuges only to transfer Nazi war guilt onto individual war criminals; she lists three specific cases tried in German courts by request of the ICTY, all of which she implies were not only questionable cases but which were typical of German harshness with individual Serbs, who could serve as scapegoats for Germany's Nazi past.

She closes this crass and intellectually bankrupt section with this howler:

"The exceptional readiness of German courts to condemn Serbs contrasts disturbingly with the absence of any proceedings against Wehrmacht officers who massacred thousands of hostages in occupied Serbia in 1941."

First, I should note that she has earlier pointed out that no German courts took responsibility for trying Nazi war criminals after World War II. The fact that the Allies dealt out victor's justice at Nuremberg and had no interest in allowing German courts that kind of jurisdiction--especially when complete de-Nazification was not yet accomlished--should be blindingly obvious, but this is Diana Johnstone we're talking about. And why the reader should be shocked that German courts wouldn't try officers for war crimes during the Nazi period is beyond me.

And that is the end of this section--four pages of screeching "The Nazis are back!"

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