The Oliver Kamm School of Falsification: Imperial Truth-Enforcement, British Branch

An important and perhaps growing feature of official and strong-interest-group propaganda is the resort to personal attacks and flak to keep dissidents at bay and inconvenient thoughts out of sight and mind.  This has been notable over many years in the case of pro-Israel propaganda, where we can observe a positive correlation between upward spikes in Israeli killings and dispossession actions (and in the world’s negative reactions to these, as in the case of Operation Cast Lead, Israel’s brutal, late December 2008 attack on the Gaza Palestinians), and the increase in pro-Israeli activist, lobby, and political agents’ cries of “anti-Semitism,” along with other efforts to halt criticisms of Israel, and to punish those who do not know when to heel.

The same is true of many other forms of interest-group propaganda, including the vast array designed to protect imperial actions and the imperial state.  We were very conscious of this when studying the Western dismantlement of Yugoslavia,1 where the Western media quickly fell into line and treated with aggressive condemnation any departures from the accepted truth and de facto party-line.2  The media-truth-squads were joined in this and reinforced by a loosely-knit Bosnian Genocide Lobby, sponsored partly by Western governments and partly by wealthy private interests such as George Soros, and validated by the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, combining the ICTY’s indictments and judgments with NGOs, journals, and websites that continuously watch for and react against “genocide deniers.”3

In the view of the Bosnia Genocide Lobby, one of the leading violators has been Diana Johnstone, a Paris-based journalist whose 2002 book Fools’ Crusade: Yugoslavia, NATO, and Western Delusions4 offered an early and powerful critical challenge to the establishment narrative on Yugoslavia, essentially reversing the structure of villainy and victimization, although with vastly more depth and balance than the standard Western tomes on the subject (e.g., by Silber and Little, Misha Glenny, Roy Gutman, Noel Malcolm, Ed Vulliamy, David Rieff, and Tim Judah5).  This was intolerable in the West, for reasons rooted in the deeply prejudicial, uncritical, one-sided moral engagements of a whole decade of journalists, intellectuals, and artists whose work facilitated the dismantling of Yugoslavia; for them, Johnstone has been a bête noire, her work either ignored or vilified, but never confronted and debated.  Her identification as “one who questions” was enough to transform her into a symbol of apologetics for NATO’s 1990s war target, the Serbs.

“A Common Narrative”?

This was dramatically illustrated in Sweden during the summer and fall of 2003.  After Bjorn Eklund, a reporter for the supposedly left-wing Swedish magazine Ordfront, published a friendly interview with Johnstone as well as an excerpt from Fools’ Crusade in the magazine’s July/August issue, Ordfront was assailed for committing this transgression in Dagens Nyheter, the leading Swedish newspaper.  “Ordfront denies genocide in the Balkans,” stated the headline of the first attack in Dagens Nyheter (November 3).  Its author, Maciej Zaremba, wrote: “It has been possible to read such articles for years on the web sites of Serb fascists. . . .  Ordfront must be aware that . . . the article was a gross offence to all the victims of massacres and rapes in the Balkans, comparable in its impact on the survivors with denial of the Nazi Holocaust.”6

Although Zaremba’s attack was outlandish in its vitriol and lack of substance, it did reflect the post-Olof Palme decline of Swedish social democracy and the quick swallowing of the NATO party-line on Yugoslavia by the Swedish government and establishment.7  In a remarkable follow-up to this attack, the chief editor of Ordfront, Leif Ericsson, without ever discussing the issues with Johnstone and displaying no evidence of having looked at her book, published a groveling retraction in Dagens Nyheter (“I Was Wrong,” November 258).  Ericsson, in fact, was completely ignorant on the issues and facts at stake, but accepted the establishment narrative as the unassailable truth, and rushed to apologize to the Swedish establishment for having allowed Johnstone’s alternative view into his magazine.

There followed an internal power struggle at Ordfront, in the course of which Bjorn Eklund, the reporter who had interviewed Johnstone, first was fired, then rehired, and then eased out with a monetary settlement, and with Ordfront suffering a loss of credibility and membership from which it has never recovered (its membership in 2009 was one-third of its 2003 level, though the decline has had multiple causes).  There was also some slight debate on the issues at Ordfront in late 2003 and early 2004, but this was abruptly closed when it became evident that Ericsson could not sustain a single charge against Johnstone based on fact, that in his short critique of Johnstone he himself had committed a series of errors and misrepresentations, and that he practiced Soviet-style party-line argumentation by invoking what he called a “common narrative.”  According to Ericsson: “The memory of the war in former Yugoslavia remains like an open wound, which can only be healed if we develop a common narrative about it.  In that narrative, perpetrators must be called perpetrators, victims called victims, and assailants must get their punishment, victims their redress.”9  In publishing Johnstone in its July/August 2003 issue, Ordfront had deviated from this “common narrative,” and thereby committed a grave historical error.  Such was Ericsson’s argument, cowering beneath a reactionary Swedish establishment eager to be misled by Maciej Zaremba.

The political struggle reached out beyond Sweden, partly because the editor of the book publishing arm of Ordfront, a supporter of the Ericsson line, suggested that supporting Johnstone might cause a defection of foreign writers who had done business with him in the past, out of their fear of association with a publisher of Johnstone’s work.  This led quickly to an open letter of support for Johnstone by six foreign writers, which described her Fools’ Crusade as “an outstanding work, dissenting from the mainstream view but doing so by an appeal to fact and reason, in a great tradition.”  The letter also stated that “there are more fundamental issues at stake, namely freedom of expression and the right to express dissenting views. . . . We wish to make it clear that, only to the extent that Ordfront‘s publishing house associates itself with such unprincipled behavior would we be inclined to terminate our relationship with the organization.”  The six Ordfront authors who signed this letter were Arundhati Roy, John Pilger, Noam Chomsky, Michael Albert, Tariq Ali, and David Barsamian.10

The Guardian‘s Mock Interview with Noam Chomsky

That was Sweden in 2003-2004, where the party-line on the former Yugoslavia, already well established, was undergoing reinforcement, with all deviations from it disciplined and punished.  But Johnstone as a symbol of “revisionism” (i.e., unacceptable dissent on questions of history) and “genocide denial” reappeared in Great Britain in late 2005, in the conflict surrounding the published version of an interview with Noam Chomsky by The Guardian.  The magazines Prospect in the U.K. and Foreign Policy in the States had co-sponsored a readers-poll “to discover who our readers think are the world’s leading public intellectuals,” and offered a list of 100 nominees from which to choose.11  When this poll was first announced, Prospect‘s David Herman wrote that one “great story behind this list is the decline of the left,” and attributed to the late Edward Said the belief that the “great tradition of the oppositional intellectual was coming to — had come to? — an end.”12  When the poll results were published one month later, Chomsky had “won by a mile,” receiving close to one quarter of the first-place votes, and nearly double the votes of the second-place finisher, Umberto Eco.  Now, David Herman wrote that the “overwhelming victory for Noam Chomsky suggests that we still yearn for [the oppositional intellectual],” a “major thinker or writer who speaks out on the great public issues of his time, opposing his government on questions of conscience rather than the fine print of policy.”13 

Some two weeks after the release of these poll results, The Guardian published Emma Brockes’s interview with Chomsky under the sarcastic title, “The Greatest Intellectual?”14  Immediately below this title, by way of introducing the interview, the following sentences appeared:

Q: Do you regret supporting those who say the Srebrenica massacre was exaggerated?
A: My only regret is that I didn’t do it strongly enough.

We can only speculate why The Guardian and Emma Brockes used her Halloween Day 2005 interview with Chomsky to zero in on incidents related to the breakup of Yugoslavia and not, say, Chomsky’s views on language, or the U.S.-led imperial system, Britain’s role within it, and the U.S.-U.K. invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq, or the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, or the threats posed by the nuclear-weapons states to international peace and security, or dozens of other areas of interest to people concerned with human rights.  But one clue was provided by the fact that Brockes misspelled Diana Johnstone’s first name as “Diane.”  As Ed Vulliamy, Brockes’s colleague at The Guardian-Observer and a veteran reporter on the former Yugoslavia, had in the past published an attack on Johnstone that misspelled her name the exact same way,15 it was apparent that Brockes had approached the interview in the tradition of her colleague, who had been proud of his biases as a “journalist of attachment” during those wars,16 and is fanatically wedded to the establishment narrative.  Either Brockes and/or her editors had worked from this 14-month-old text by Vulliamy before preparing the final draft of the interview as it appeared on October 31, 2005, or Vulliamy himself even played a hand in preparing this draft.  Either way, no one at The Guardian caught the misspelling prior to publication.

More important, nowhere in the published text of the Brockes interview did the question as rendered at its outset turn up.  However, Chomsky’s answer did, but in response to a completely different question about Diana Johnstone, namely: Did Chomsky regret signing the open letter to Ordfront over its decision not to publish a Swedish translation of Johnstone’s Fools’ Crusade?  “No,” Brockes reported Chomsky as responding “indignantly.”  “It is outstanding.  My only regret is that I didn’t do it strongly enough.  It may be wrong; but it is very careful and outstanding work.”

Brockes pushed other incidents at Chomsky that were related to the breakup of Yugoslavia and how it was reported in Britain and the West, including the libel suit brought by Britain’s Independent Television News against the journal LM for publishing Thomas Deichmann’s “The Picture That Fooled the World” in 1997.17  Brockes wrote erroneously that Deichmann’s report was “proved” to be false in a British court of law.  In fact, LM and Deichmann didn’t fail to convince the jury that the ITN reporters and editors had misrepresented the images of Fikret Alic and the other Bosnian Muslim as standing behind a barbed-wire fence at Trnopolje on August 5, 1992.  (Even Justice Morland, who presided over this case in the British High Court, conceded that “Ian Williams and Penny Marshall and their TV teams were mistaken in thinking they were not enclosed by the old barbed wire fence. . . .”18)  But forced to defend themselves under Britain’s onerous libel law,19 LM and Deichmann failed to convince the jury that ITN had deliberately misrepresented the images of Fikret Alic.  This burden they could never overcome.

Brockes also repeatedly smeared Chomsky with misrepresentations and putdowns, the most notable being her assertion that in Chomsky’s view (quoting Brockes):

. . . during the Bosnian war the “massacre” at Srebrenica was probably overstated.  (Chomsky uses quotations marks to undermine things he disagrees with and, in print at least, it can come across less as academic than as witheringly teenage; like, Srebrenica was so not a massacre.)

That is, Brockes falsely (and foolishly) implied that Chomsky used quotation marks around the word massacre during his interview with her, making him “witheringly teenage” for using this tactic, with Chomsky having said or implied that the Srebrenica massacre was “probably overstated” — and with Brockes herself adding cutely, as if to paraphrase her witheringly teenage interviewee: “Srebrenica was so not a massacre.”  (After this mock interview was investigated by an External Ombudsman retained by the Scott Trust which publishes The Guardian-Observer, he reported that the tape recording of this phase of Brockes’s interview no longer could be checked: “The original interview was tape recorded but unfortunately the tape has been partially recorded over.  A transcript of sorts exists but the most contentious section of the interview was not available on tape.”  Incredibly, the External Ombudsman added: “No one seems to doubt that this was genuine.”20)

Other putdowns by Brockes were just nasty, such as her statement that “[Chomsky’s] critics regard him as an almost compulsive revisionist,” and that “it is assumed by his critics that he plugs the gaps in knowledge with ideology.”  But Brockes named only one critic: The U.S. writer, noted Israel and Iraq war apologist, and long-time Chomsky-hater Paul Berman.  “[O]f all the intellectuals on the Prospect list,” Brockes added, “it is Chomsky who is most often accused of miring a debate in intellectual spam.”  No citations were provided to support this allegation.

Besides misspelling her first name, Brockes also smeared Diana Johnstone: First, by implying that Chomsky’s (as well as anybody else’s) support for Johnstone was in itself reprehensible, but also by alleging that Johnstone “[took] issue with the official number of victims of the Srebrenica massacre.  (She said they were exaggerated.)”  This is a caricature of Johnstone’s analysis of that episode, where she never denies a massacre but puts the massacre into context.21  Yet, even this opens her up to over-simplified smears that rest on an assumption that the “official numbers” and standard narrative are unchallengeable by reasonable people.

Clearly, Brockes’s mock interview and defamation enterprise had been planned from within The Guardian‘s ranks, where it received crucial editorial help.  Her numerous errors and unsupported putdowns had been acceptable, but Chomsky was forced by The Guardian to remove the word “fabrications” from the letter he submitted in complaint.  (The word “distortions” was substituted.)  The interview was accompanied by eight photos, one which described Chomsky “in Laos en route to Hanoi to give a speech to the North Vietnamese,” one “Talking to journalist John Pilger” (who, as Chomsky has pointed out, “isn’t shown, but let’s give [The Guardian] the benefit of the doubt of assuming he is actually in the original”), and one “meeting Fidel Castro in Havana, in 2003.”  As Chomsky wrote, “Quite apart from the deceit in the captions, simply note how much effort and care it must have taken to contrive these images to frame the answer to the question on the front page [‘The Greatest Intellectual’?]”22  In a further defamation-assist, The Guardian then published Chomsky’s letter of rebuttal along with a letter by Kemal Pervanic, a “survivor of the Omarska concentration camp,” under the heading “Falling out over Srebrenica;” this pairing of letters creating the appearance of a contentious debate that never existed, but was wholly fabricated by The Guardian.  As Alexander Cockburn wrote at the time: “Chomsky’s enemies have often opted for these artful onslaughts in which he’s set up as somehow an apologist for monstrosity, instead of being properly identified as one of the most methodical and tireless dissectors and denouncers of monstrosity in our era.”23  For this line of critics, Chomsky has never been forgiven for rejecting the grand “humanitarian” self-image with which so many Western liberals and leftists have embraced the U.S.-led NATO wars of the past two decades.

The biases in Emma Brockes’s “The Greatest Intellectual?” were so blatant, and the protests sufficiently numerous and indignant, that The Guardian was compelled to apologize to Chomsky for publishing this mock interview, its Readers’ Editor Ian Mayes taking the extreme step of deleting the interview from The Guardian‘s website, over Chomsky’s objection.24

But Chomsky wasn’t the only person to object to this part of Mayes’s decision.  By early December, at least two groups of largely British writers drafted and signed open letters to The Guardian, one requesting that The Guardian publish a “correction of the correction and (in private, at least) an apology to Emma Brockes,” and the other calling upon it “to withdraw its ‘correction’ . . . [and] apologise to Emma Brockes for its unjust impugning of her professional reputation. . . .”25  Clearly overwhelmed by these demands and under great pressure not to draw a line under the matter once and for all, Mayes turned the matter over to an External Ombudsman, who in May 2006 largely supported Mayes’s original decision, though not his decision to delete the interview.26

The first of these letters had three signers, and ran for more than 4,700 words in length; the second had 24 signers, and was 971 words long.  Significantly, one signature appeared on both letters: Oliver Kamm’s. 

Oliver Kamm

It was not a coincidence that Kamm signed both of these letters: He knows the enemy when he sees him.  Invariably, the enemy is either a target of U.S., U.K., and Israeli aggression and ethnic cleansing, or a critic of these same practices.

The name Oliver Kamm first came to our attention during October 2005, the month when Prospect announced Chomsky as the winner of the world’s top “public intellectuals” poll, and published Kamm’s “Against Chomsky” in the same issue.27  Chomsky is an “idiot,” Kamm wrote (though he placed this remark in the mouth of the U.S. Judge Richard Posner), who, Kamm added, “deploys dubious arguments leavened with extravagant rhetoric,” and offers “judgments that have the veneer of scholarship and reason yet verge on the pathological.”

These charges were beyond funny, because as we quickly learned, Kamm himself traffics in all forms of the idiotic, the extravagant, and the pathological.  Shortly after Prospect published his “Against Chomsky,” Kamm rushed to the defense of Emma Brockes, lauding her “perceptive interview” with Chomsky, and reproducing close to 100 percent of its fabrications in his blog.  “I spoke to Ed Vulliamy at some length while the libel case against LM magazine was going on,” Kamm wrote; “he was most anxious to convince me (and he did) that the scurrilous accusations and harassment conducted by the magazine fully justified ITN’s legal action.”28  But other than defending itself against ITN’s libel suit, LM had engaged in no harassment whatsoever; indeed, it was ITN that reached into its deep corporate pockets to harass LM via the British High Court of Justice, driving LM to bankruptcy and closure.  Yet, for committed enemies of freedom of speech and of the media, LM‘s debunking of the British reporters’ misrepresentation of Fikret Alic as standing behind a barbed-wire fence amounted to “harassment” and called for punitive measures; and to this day, Kamm remains an advocate for Britain’s libel law, the threat of which he invokes to try to silence his adversaries in the U.K., the Media Lens group in particular.29 

From his early career with leading British and German money-changing houses and later as a financial speculator and founder of the British hedge-fund WMG Advisors LLP, through his life as an Internet Troll who scoured chat-rooms and webpages to prosecute his obsessive-compulsive vendettas, Kamm has managed to parlay his relentless services as an imperial hatchet-man to rise up the ranks of the British media.  He has blogged since 200330 and been a regular contributor to Rupert Murdoch’s Times of London from May 2004 on.  And since the summer of 2008, he has also been both a leader-writer and a blogger at The Times, from which his poison arrows continue to fly.

Shamelessly proclaiming himself a “leftist,” Kamm advocates Western military domination of the world and he will apologize for anything the West does in seeking that domination.  In his badly misnamed 2005 book Anti-Totalitarianism: The Left-Wing Case for a Neoconservative Foreign Policy, Kamm contends that the March 2003 U.S.-U.K. aggression against Iraq “was the most far-sighted and noble act of British foreign policy since the founding of Nato,” that “President Bush is a man the Left can and ought to work with,” and that the “[Left’s] finest ideals are now enshrined in US policy.”31  Kamm was a founding member of The Henry Jackson Society (whose 2005 Statement of Principles says it “Supports the maintenance of a strong military, by the United States, the countries of the European Union and other democratic powers, armed with expeditionary capabilities with a global reach, that can protect our homelands from strategic threats, forestall terrorist attacks, and prevent genocide or massive ethnic cleansing”32) as well as a signer of The Euston Manifesto in 2006 (“We must define ourselves against those for whom the entire progressive-democratic agenda has been subordinated to a blanket and simplistic ‘anti-imperialism’ and/or hostility to the current US administration”33).

Of course, all of this adds up to unlimited war-making by the United States and its closest allies under multiple pretexts in theaters ranging from Iraq to the former Yugoslavia and Kosovo, to Afghanistan, back to Iraq again, Lebanon, Gaza, Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia, perhaps Iran, and beyond.  In short, Kamm, the Henry Jackson Society, the Euston signers, and Rupert Murdoch do indeed share in the rejection of a simplistic anti-imperialism, but they do so in favor of an even more simplistic, fundamentalist pro-imperialism under the guise of democratic benevolence and virtual service to a world community that oddly shows little appreciation of these good works.

Kamm as Attack-Dog

As noted, one feature of the Kamm pathology is the vendetta, and in pursuit of his vendettas, Kamm displays few constraints.  With Chomsky as his primary target, Kamm has sustained a remarkable barrage of attacks in many venues over many years, the name ‘Chomsky’ having been mentioned in Kamm’s blog a remarkable 1,887 times from its inception on August 24, 2003 through the end of December 2009.34  At one stage in his career, Kamm went so far as to post negative reviews to the website of at least 19 books by or about Chomsky, rating all 19 of them with one star, the lowest possible for a reader’s review of a book at  We believe that Kamm’s vendetta against Chomsky can be explained not only by the fact that Chomsky is a powerful critic of U.S. and U.K. imperial policies, and of Israeli atrocities and ethnic cleansing, but also because Chomsky believes that, to be meaningful, the world’s rules must apply to the greatest powers with as much force as they apply to the least, or else be rejected as masks behind which forms of coercion hide.  Surely this must grate on a man such as Kamm, who works from the opposite premise: That the U.S., U.K., and Israel are above the law, and must never be subjected to the same rules as they impose upon other states; as “democracies,” their actions are moral and always responses to somebody else’s misbehavior, and they are properly the global policemen and enforcers of law and order internationally.

But Chomsky is far from alone as a victim of Kamm’s vendettas.  In the case of the leftist British writer Neil Clark, who once published a critical review of Kamm’s book Anti-Totalitarianism in the Daily Telegraph (U.K.), not only did Kamm descend to his standard stream of accusations (e.g., Clark is a “pro-Milosevic blogger and female impersonator,” “an ignoramus and faker,” “a fabulist, a fantasist, a faker and a fabricator,” and so on36), but, according to Clark, Kamm also sent pseudonymous emails to Clark’s commissioning editors, pretending to be third parties calling the editors’ attention to the attacks on Clark in Kamm’s blogs, and repeatedly leaving defamatory comments on Clark’s Wikipedia entry, eventually forcing the Wikipedia editors to delete the entry, among other attack-dog tactics.37  A glance at a number of Clark’s writings online shows that Kamm seeks out websites where Clark’s writings appear, and then posts the same allegations against Clark over and over again, no matter how off-topic these allegations are.38  Incredibly, such recidivist stalking-behavior seems not to have tarnished Kamm’s reputation with The Times or other British publications.39 

As an attack dog, Kamm bends, misrepresents, and suppresses facts with abandon.  The “great under-reported news story about the Iraq war is that the predictions by anti-war activists of a refugee crisis were proved exactly wrong,” Kamm wrote in mid-2004.40  (This was after the Abu Ghraib revelations, about which Kamm had written that the “logic of Abu Ghraib isn’t the logic of the Iraq war. . . .  Our account is with the Iraqi people: It is their country we liberated, and it is their trust that a few depraved men and women, on the margins of a noble military expedition, have violated.”41)  Kamm continued: “The people of Iraq understood perfectly well that Coalition forces were targeting the Baathist regime and were at great pains to avoid civilian casualties.  Conversely, in Afghanistan an established refugee crisis was reversed by the overthrow of a brutal theocracy.”42  He has repeated these contentions about the beneficial impact of the U.S.-U.K. wars many times, including in The Guardian as the third anniversary of the Iraq war approached.43  But as the number of Afghan and Iraqi refugees and displaced persons continued to rise, becoming major international concerns by late 2005,44 Kamm addressed this problem the way any crass propagandist would: He dropped the matter, restricting his mentions of refugee crises to those that had once afflicted people fleeing Cambodia or Srebrenica or Rwanda or Kosovo or even Nazi Germany.  More than once Kamm has derided as “Wrong, wrong, wrong — and disgraceful” Britain’s Liberal Democrats for warning that a war on Iraq would cause a refugee crisis, and demanded that they “admit [they] got it wrong.”45  But Kamm won’t apply this rule to himself and admit that he got this wrong — he simply dropped the subject.  Such minimization and then denial of the suffering of literally millions of unworthy victims beneath the boots and bombs of the U.S., U.K., and NATO powers is standard for this imperial hatchet-man.

On Israel and Palestine, Kamm’s treatment of Israel and its unworthy victims follows the same pattern.  Thus, in speaking about Ariel Sharon and his (and Israel’s) policies, Kamm wrote that, with the Gaza withdrawal of August 2005, Sharon “is creating the conditions for peace” and the “conditions for dialogue.”46  But dialogue and peace never materialize between Israel and the Palestinians because, he contends, Palestinian “terrorism” has never been brought under control.  Kamm mentions the “assassination of successive leaders of Hamas” by the Israelis, acts that he sees not as terrorism but as positive accomplishments to advance dialogue and peace.  Terrorism, by the Good Guy-Bad Guy rule, applies only to Palestinians.

Kamm also mentions the “construction of a security barrier” down the length of the Israeli-occupied West Bank, but he views this not as “contrary to international law,” as the World Court determined,47 and not even as “a ‘wall’, as anti-Israel campaigners habitually term it,” but as “for most of its length a chain-linked wire fence that could be taken down within an afternoon.”  Although strong on genocide and “genocide denial,” Kamm never mentions the 1982 Sabra and Shatila massacre in Beirut, and Sharon’s role there — with between 800 and 3,000 Palestinian civilians slaughtered in cold blood, and declared an “act of genocide” by the UN General Assembly later that year.48  Kamm of course never quotes Sharon’s aide Dov Weisglass on the real meaning of what the Israelis used to call the “disengagement plan” for the Gaza: “It supplies the amount of formaldehyde that’s necessary so that there will not be a political process with the Palestinians. . . .  It legitimizes our contention that there is no negotiating with the Palestinians.”49  And he would never suggest that a political settlement was always incompatible with Israeli land-grabbing and ethnic cleansing.  “Israel has lived ‘without a solution’,” the former American Jewish Committee head Henry Siegman wrote recently, “not because of uncertainty or neglect but as a matter of deliberate policy, clandestinely driving settlement expansion to the point of irreversibility while pretending to search for “a Palestinian partner for peace.”50  But Kamm cannot admit this: As an apologist for Israeli state-terrorism and ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians, the Israelis are always just creating the conditions for “dialogue” and “peace.”  In short, Kamm’s work on Israel and Palestine is not analysis — it is straightforward pro-state-terrorism and pro-ethnic-cleansing propaganda.

When weapons of misrepresentation and suppression prove insufficiently sharp, Kamm resorts to lying outright.  Thus, in his attack on Chomsky in conjunction with Prospect’s 2005 world’s top “public intellectuals” poll, Kamm wrote that Chomsky “manipulates a self-mocking reference in the memoirs of the then U.S. ambassador to the UN, Daniel Patrick Moynihan, by running separate passages together as if they are sequential and attributing to Moynihan comments he did not make. . . .”51   Kamm was referring to Moynihan’s 1978 book A Dangerous Place, which Chomsky has cited many times since.  Here, for the record, is what Moynihan actually wrote in this book, followed by one prominent, early example of how Chomsky uses the same material.  According to Moynihan:

In February [1976] the deputy chairman of the provisional government forecast that the Indonesian forces would complete their takeover [of East Timor] in three to four weeks, and estimated that some sixty thousand persons had been killed since the outbreak of civil war [sic].  This would have been 10 percent of the population, almost the proportion of casualties experienced by the Soviet Union during the Second World War. . . .
. . .
China altogether backed Fretilin in [East] Timor, and lost.  In Spanish Sahara, Russia just as completely backed Algeria, and its front, known as Polisario, and lost.  In both instances the United States wished things to turn out as they did, and worked to bring this about.  The Department of State desired that the United Nations prove utterly ineffective in whatever measures it undertook.  This task was given to me, and I carried it forward with no inconsiderable success.52

In a 1980 essay titled “The United States and East Timor,” Chomsky wrote:

The United Nations has repeatedly condemned the Indonesian aggression and called for the exercise of the right of self-determination in East Timor, as have the nonaligned nations.  But the West has succeeded in blocking any significant measures.  The U.N. General Assembly met immediately after the [1975] invasion, but was unable to react in a meaningful way.  The reasons are explained by U.N. Ambassador Daniel P. Moynihan in his memoirs: “The United States wished things to turn out as they did, and worked to bring this about.  The Department of State desired that the United Nations prove utterly ineffective in whatever measures it undertook.  This task was given to me, and I carried it forward with no inconsiderable success.”53

Clearly, Moynihan’s comments were not self-mocking, but in earnest: They expressed his pride in the role he played in rendering the United Nations “utterly ineffective in whatever measures it undertook” towards East Timor and the Spanish Sahara.  Although Moynihan recognized that 60,000 East Timorese had died in this invasion-occupation by early 1976, he expressed no remorse over this fact, but found it constructive to U.S. policy goals.  Kamm’s deliberately falsified account of Chomsky’s accurate — and morally revealing — assessment of Moynihan’s “success” was possible because Kamm declined to quote Chomsky’s own account of it — and the editors at Prospect didn’t bother to check or to call Kamm out on his lie.54
The same pattern is standard for Kamm’s work overall: First, push a pro-imperialist, pro-war agenda without scruple; and if this agenda unravels — smear whoever is responsible for pulling the thread.  In mid-December 2009, Murdoch’s Times of London published what it alleged was a “confidential” memo showing Iran to be developing a “neutron initiator” (or detonator) that “has no possible civilian or military use other than in a nuclear weapon,” and The Times posted on its website what it purported to be a “full translation” of the memo from Farsi to English.55  Before long, the British physicist Norman Dombey wrote that the memo should be read in relation to the “long Iranian interest in the physics of nuclear fusion,” and he added that it looked to him as if Iran was interested in “produc[ing] isotopes for use by other laboratories” and unrelated to nuclear weapons, contrary to The Time‘s hyped disinformation.56  Some days later, the U.S. investigative reporter Gareth Porter went further and took issue with the authenticity of the memo itself.  The memo is a “fabrication,” he wrote, citing former CIA officer Philip Giraldi, whose sources within U.S. intelligence “did not reveal all the reasons that led analysts to conclude that the [memo] had been fabricated by a foreign intelligence agency,” but who did tell Giraldi that “their suspicions of fraud were prompted in part by the source of the story” — Murdoch’s Times.  “All Murdoch-owned news media report on Iran with an aggressively pro-Israeli slant,” Porter added, echoing his sources.57  The fact that it was Murdoch’s Times of London that published the document was one reason to dismiss its credibility.

True to his role as an imperial attack-dog, Kamm immediately launched into a smear campaign against Porter and Giraldi and the rest of the “Lindberghian wing” of “isolationists,” dredging up a 1999 letter in the University of Chicago Magazine that had been co-authored by Giraldi,58 and then an excerpt from Porter’s May 1977 exchange with former U.S. Representative Stephen Solarz on the subject of Cambodia.59  Kamm’s use of the latter was particularly revealing, as in introducing Porter, Solarz mentioned “Professor Butz . . . who just published a book denying that 6 million Jews were killed by Hitler,” with Kamm himself inserting the parenthetical note that Butz was “a notorious Holocaust denier. . . .”60  Thus, because Giraldi and Porter helped to debunk a forgery about Iran’s “neutron initiator” that The Times had eagerly placed into circulation, Kamm smeared Giraldi as an anti-Semite over his 1999 letter, and smeared Porter as a Cambodian “Holocaust denier” and “propagandist for Pol Pot” over a book he co-wrote as far back as 1976, wholly unrelated to Iran in 2009-2010.  It takes a dedicated sleazebag to produce attacks like this.  Kamm produces them unhesitatingly.61

Kamm as an Apologist for Aggression

In Oliver Kamm’s world, everything follows the Rule of His Favorite Aggressors.  When the U.S., the U.K., NATO and/or Israel cause bloodbaths, commit grave human rights violations, and even commit the supreme international crime,62 Kamm refuses to recognize these as wrongs that carry any moral or legal weight, but defends or suppresses them instead.  The most obvious case was the U.S.-U.K.  invasion of Iraq in 2003, carried out in open violation of the UN Charter, and based on flagrant lies.  Kamm was and remains an enthusiastic supporter of this aggression.

Of course, the converse of his favorite-aggressors rule applies to official enemies of the U.S., the U.K., and/or Israel.  Thus Kamm refers to “Wilhelmine aggression” and “Nazi aggression,” “Communist aggression” (i.e., allegedly via its proxy in North Korea in 1950, though Kamm also calls this “direct totalitarian aggression”), “Soviet aggression,” “Argentine imperialist aggression,” “Saddam’s wars of aggression,” “Hezbollah’s aggression,” “Iran’s aggression” (i.e., by capturing 15 British sailors and marines in disputed territorial waters), the “recrudescence of Russian aggression” (i.e., allegedly against Georgia), and (variously) “Serb aggression,” “Milosevic’s xenophobic aggression,” the “genocidal aggression of Slobodan Milosevic,” and so on.

“Many civilian lives were lost in Iraq owing to a grotesquely underprepared military intervention,” Kamm wrote about the U.S.-U.K. conquest of Iraq.  “But the notion that this was aggression against a sovereign state with rights gets exactly wrong the balance of moral responsibility.”63  That is, Iraq possessed no “rights,” given that the United States had declared Iraq a mortal threat and was determined to attack it, and given Kamm’s premise that the UN Charter and international law do not apply to the world-class imperial states, who possess aggression-rights.  Thus in the Iraq case, the “balance of moral responsibility” does not fall upon the aggressors who invaded and destroyed a country, but upon Saddam, and the Iraqis in general, first for not having removed Saddam from power, and then for taking up arms against their liberators.  Note also the implied culpability of the anti-war movement which, Kamm feels, caused the poor Bush and Blair administrations to attack with insufficient forces!

A search for the word “aggression” in Kamm’s blog from August 24, 2003 through December 31, 2009 shows that, when Kamm himself used this word (or cited with approval someone else who did), roughly 48% of the time he was referring to ethnic Serbs in the former Yugoslavia.64  Even more striking was the complete absence of a single Kamm-use of “aggression” to describe any cross-border military action by the U.S., U.K., NATO, or Israel, either in his blog or any of his writings in print that we’ve surveyed.65  Both the Kaiser’s and Hitler’s Germany committed aggression, as did Italy and Japan; so did North Korea, acting as a proxy for the Soviet Union; so did the Soviet Union against Finland and Hungary (and elsewhere); so did Indonesia against East Timor, Argentina against the Falkland Islands (i.e., against Britain), Saddam’s Iraq against Iran, the Kurds, and Kuwait, Milosevic’s Serbs against the rest of Yugoslavia, Hezbollah against Israel, Iran against Britain, and Russia against Georgia.  But in Kamm’s world, the U.S., U.K., NATO, and Israel never aggress, period.  By patriotic definition, the “supreme international crime” is committed only by their enemies — in particular, by ethnic Serbs. 

Kamm as Genocide Denier and Genocide Facilitator

Oliver Kamm is fond of the word “genocide,” and the phrases “genocide denier” and “genocide denial.”  He repeatedly labels his targets “genocide deniers.”  But his use of these formulas is strictly polemical: Kamm means to smear, not to enlighten.

Furthermore, Kamm’s use is hypocritical.  Not only is Kamm a real genocide denier, but more important, he is a genocide facilitator.  His targets on supposed genocide denial almost never question the reality of cases of large-scale killings, as at Srebrenica, but they may question the estimated scale of the killings and the political and propaganda uses to which these killings are put by foreign powers and the news media, and they insist on historical context, all of which makes them “deniers” for Kamm.

Yet Kamm advocated in favor of the Iraq invasion-occupation (the “Anglo-American liberation of Iraq,” he has called it) even before his two favorite states launched this war, and he still supports it today, with its 7th anniversary approaching, a death-toll realistically estimated at a million persons or more,66 and several millions displaced or refugees.67  Remarkably, in Kamm’s only serious discussions of the death toll from the Iraq war (though he has conceded that “it appears to have been substantially higher than the war’s supporters generally expected”68), Kamm sharply criticized the Iraq Body Count organization’s work, widely believed to be on the low side, but rejected by Kamm as an “outfit that disguises its partisan political intent with a veneer of disinterested research,” producing “inflated totals.”69  (Kamm reported that at the time of his writing this, in mid-September 2003, IBC’s estimates ranged from a minimum of 6,122 civilian Iraqi deaths to a maximum of 7,840.)

Otherwise, Kamm steers clear of this awkward subject, which might undermine his message that the Iraq war was benevolent in intention and result, and the issue of Iraqi deaths never arises for him as a category of moral consideration.  Kamm has never once mentioned, let alone discussed, the two major mortality studies of Iraq published in the British medical journal The Lancet in 2004 and 2006, though he did once dismiss The Lancet as a “campaigning political magazine.”70  Given his enthusiastic support of this war, with its immense human losses and suffering, doesn’t Kamm’s silence about the Iraqi victims reveal him to be a war-crimes facilitator, a crimes-against-humanity facilitator, even a genocide facilitator?  And given Kamm’s evasiveness towards the vast number of Iraqi civilian deaths, doesn’t he qualify as a full-blown genocide denier?

Of course, Kamm would respond that whereas in Bosnia-Herzegovina, the Serbs perpetrated the real thing (recall his phrase “genocidal aggression”), the proper “moral distinctions” need to be drawn between “premeditated murder” (or what the Serbs did) and “unintended killing” on the part of the U.S. and U.K. coalition in Iraq, whose noble effort to bring freedom to Iraqis may have been carried out imperfectly.  But though every defender of atrocities draws “moral distinctions” like this, it is nothing more than silly propaganda, resting once again on the patriotic premise that his side is good and does good, and its targets are evil, and on the valid belief that the establishment, including the “liberal” media, will not question his fact-free assertions deriving from party-line truths.

Kamm’s party-line truths must also evade or suppress the awkward fact that whereas the establishment estimate of civilian deaths from the civil wars in Bosnia-Herzegovina is roughly 40,000 on all sides,71 in Iraq it runs to a million for the “sanctions of mass destruction” era (1990-2003), and another million during the invasion-occupation (2003-).  But in the case of Bosnia-Herzegovina, much of the killing was allocable to Serbs, whereas in Iraq it was the United States and Britain that were responsible for the vastly larger killings.  In Kamm’s world, therefore, the first is genocide, the second unintended deaths — that is, both “genocide” and “genocide denial” follow the flag for Kamm, and both are entirely unrelated to the intentions of the killers or the scale of actual deaths.

Kamm and Nukes

As a genocide denier and facilitator, it is hardly surprising that Kamm defends the nuclear bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, given that his favorite aggressor carried it out; the 200,000-plus immediate civilian deaths don’t faze him one bit.  “Our side did terrible things to avoid a more terrible outcome,” he has written.  “[A]bjuring the bomb would have caused greater suffering still.”72  There is perhaps no better illustration of Kamm’s depravity that he can treat the U.S. nuking of Hiroshima and Nagasaki as moral and humanitarian acts.

Kamm is similarly enthusiastic about the role of nuclear weapons in our day, and the importance of ensuring their possession by his favorite aggressors for decades to come.  Imagine, he asks, that Argentina had possessed nukes in 1982 when it captured the Falklands: “Would the British government still have sent a task force to retake the islands?”  Now imagine not only that Argentina possessed nukes, but that Britain hadn’t: “it would have been inconceivable for any British Government to seek to recapture the Falklands.”73  The notion that Argentina’s possession of nukes might have deterred Britain’s aggression against it pains Kamm, because Britain is good and enjoys aggression-rights, whereas Argentina ought to lack even the capacity for self-defense.

Hence, “It’s no time to ban the bomb” in Kamm’s world, and Kamm supports both Britain’s and the United States’ modernization of their nuclear “deterrent,” as well as Israel’s preservation of its outlaw nukes.  Asked by an interviewer on BBC Four how he reconciles his support for Britain’s Trident nuclear-weapons system, while rejecting the right of countries like Iran and North Korea to develop nuclear weapons, Kamm replied: “We are a civilized state.  Iran and North Korea are not.”74  (Kamm fails to mention that Iran was a civilized state just 30 years ago under the Shah, a U.S.-imposed dictator, and only ceased to be one, in the U.S.-U.K.-Kamm view, when he was deposed by a popular revolt and Iran ceased being a Western client.)

It is, however, always the right time to counter the proliferation of nuclear weapons to target-states.  Iran’s “insistence on access to the full [nuclear] fuel cycle is provocative,” Kamm writes.  “Such a capability would be difficult to distinguish from one designed to produce nuclear weapons”75 — exactly as is case with the dual civilian-and-military nuclear programs run by the United States and Britain for the past seven decades.  But this also ignores the fact that as a signatory to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, Iran, no less than Britain and the United States, possesses the “inalienable right . . . to develop research, production and use of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes without discrimination. . .” (a right that the UN Security Council seeks to nullify76), while they, as nuclear-weapon states, are obligated to “pursue negotiations in good faith on effective measures relating to cessation of the nuclear arms race at an early date and to nuclear disarmament, and on a treaty on general and complete disarmament under strict and effective international control.”77  Indeed, in its advisory opinion of 1996, the World Court rejected the legality of both the threat and use of nuclear weapons, and accepted the view that “fulfilling the [disarmament] obligation expressed in [the NPT] . . . remains without any doubt an objective of vital importance to the whole of the international community today.”78  Thus we see Kamm’s contempt for international law once again, as disarmament would interfere with his favorite aggressors’ right to monopolize the nuclear means of violence, and the advantages that accrue to any state that does.  The monumental threat that nukes pose to human survival is of no concern to him.

Concluding Note: The Rupert Murdoch-Oliver Kamm Marriage

“It is futile to bemoan the Western democracies’ ‘readiness to use force in international relations’ when implementation of the civilized norms of international law requires the willingness of those same states to use force against aggressors,” Oliver Kamm writes in his book, “and, more particularly, against states that harbour and support terrorists who seek the destruction of Western civilization.”79

Such vulgar prescriptions for the violent lawlessness of the United States and its allies turn up everywhere in Kamm’s work, as does the stock-legitimation to which he resorts — the idea that the “democracies” (Kamm’s side) defend Civilization against the barbarians (whoever Kamm’s side attacks, whatever the pretext).  For Kamm, the great Western powers are by ideological assumption good and above the law, which they enforce on their targets, who are bad (though they may have shifted from good to bad at the drop of geopolitical convenience, as with Al Qaeda some time after the Soviet withdrawal from Afghanistan in 1989, or Saddam Hussein on the morning of Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait in 1990).  Yet, Kamm manages everything so that whatever his favorite powers or their clients do, the law does not apply to them; the U.S., U.K., NATO and Israel can threaten, sanction, subvert, terrorize, torture, bomb, kill, aggress, occupy, displace, and ethnically cleanse on truly massive scales, with Kamm ignoring, rationalizing, or even applauding their actions.

When the British television playwright Dennis Potter was dying of pancreatic cancer in 1994, he told the BBC’s interviewer Melvyn Bragg that he had given the name “Rupert” to his soon-to-be-lethal tumor, after NewsCorp’s Rupert Murdoch.  “There is no one more responsible for the pollution of what was already a fairly polluted press,” Potter observed.  “And the pollution is an important part of the cynicism and misperception of our own realities.”80

Oliver Kamm’s is the story of how a right-wing Internet Troll was able to use his wealth, his connections, and his fanatic defense of his favorite killers to gain acceptance at one of Murdoch’s polluted media properties in the U.K.  This is a perfect marriage: The super-polluter of the press (Potter’s “Rupert”) embracing the little polluter (our very own “Oliver”), whose maniacal (“Left”!) neo-conservatism and unbridled smears of authentic leftists and opponents of imperialism add what he can to an already mountainous heap of lies and propaganda.


1  See Edward S. Herman and David Peterson, “The Dismantling of Yugoslavia,” Monthly Review, October 2007.

2  For an account of how the former State Department Yugoslavia desk officer George Kenney was subjected to “harangues” for his early “defect[ion] from pack journalism,” see Peter Brock, Media Cleansing: Dirty Reporting.  Journalism and Tragedy in Yugoslavia (Los Angeles: GM Books, 2005), pp. 81-84; Brock’s book is filled with similar stories.  Also see Brock’s early warning about the establishment of party-line journalism on the former Yugoslavia, leading to what former New York Times reporter David Binder later called “crimes of journalism,” to the detriment of objective reporting, in Brock’s “Dateline Yugoslavia: The Partisan Press,” Foreign Policy, No. 93, Winter 1993-1994.

3  For analysis of the structure, sponsorship, and products of one major U.S. human rights organization as it has pertained to the dismantling of Yugoslavia over three decades, see Edward S. Herman, David Peterson, and George Szamuely, “Human Rights Watch in Service to the War Party,” Electric Politics, February 26, 2007.

4  Diana Johnstone, Fools’ Crusade: Yugoslavia, NATO and Western Delusions (New York: Monthly Review Press, 2002).

5  See Laura Silber and Allan Little, Yugoslavia: Death of a Nation, Rev. Ed. (New York: Penguin Books, 1997); Misha Glenny, The Fall of Yugoslavia, Rev. Ed. (New York: Penguin Books, 1996); Roy Gutman, A Witness to Genocide: The 1993 Pulitzer Prize-winning Dispatches on the “Ethnic Cleansing” of Bosnia (New York: Macmillan Publishing Company, 1993); Ed Vulliamy, Seasons in Hell: Understanding Bosnia’s Wars (New York: St. Martins Press, 1994); David Rieff, Slaughterhouse: Bosnia and the Failure of the West (New York: Touchstone, 1996); Noel Malcolm, Bosnia: A Short History, Rev. Ed. (New York: New York University Press, 1996); and Tim Judah, The Serbs: History, Myth and the Destruction of Yugoslavia, 2nd. Ed. (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1997).

6  See “Attack of the Zarembites,” in Al Burke, All Quieted on the Word Front, August 8, 2004, pp. 1-9; here p. 3.

7  See Burke, passim.  Also see Edward S. Herman, “A Critical  U.S. Perspective on the Ordfront Controversy,” ZNet, February 10, 2004.

8  In Burke, pp. 64-66.

9  In Burke, pp. 71-73.

19  In Burke, p. 31.

11  See “The Prospect/FP Top 100 Public Intellectuals,” Foreign Policy (Web Exclusive), September 2005.

12  David Herman, “Thinking Globally,” Prospect, October 2005.

13  David Herman, “Global Public Intellectuals Poll,” Prospect, November 2005.

14  Emma Brockes, “The Greatest Intellectual?” The Guardian, October 31, 2005 (as now posted to the Chomsky.Info website).

15  See Ed Vulliamy, “We Must Fight for Memory of Bosnia’s Camps,” IWPR Balkan Crisis Report, August 28, 2004 (as posted to the website of the Centre for Southeast European Studies).  As Vulliamy had written: “Revisionism over the carnage in Bosnia is rampant and persistent. . . .  Last year, [Ordfront] carried an interview with the author Diane Johnstone, about her book Fools’ Crusade, which expresses doubts over the number of victims of the Srebrenica massacre; the authenticity of the Racak massacre in Kosovo; the use of systematic rape in the war in Bosnia; and the true figure of Bosnian war dead (the official estimate is more than 200,000 — Johnstone claims 50,000).  And just as before, members of the chattering classes, unbelievably, have hailed this poison as ‘outstanding work’, in a letter signed by, among others, Noam Chomsky, Arundhati Roy, Tariq Ali, John Pilger, et. al” (emphasis added).  Also see Diana Johnstone, “Kulturkrieg in Journalism: Using Emotion to Silence Analysis,” CounterPunch, November 14, 2005. 

16  For more on Ed Vulliamy as a “journalist of attachment,” see Philip Hammond, “Moral Combat: Advocacy Journalists and the New Humanitarianism,” in David Chandler, Ed., Rethinking Human Rights: Critical Approaches to International Politics (London and New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2002), pp. 176-195, which includes several examples from Vulliamy’s work.  Also see Edward S. Herman and David Peterson, “Open Letter to Amnesty International’s London and Belfast Offices, on the Occasion of Noam Chomsky’s Belfast Festival Lecture, October 30, 2009,” MRZine, November 22, 2009.

17  See Thomas Deichmann, “The Picture That Fooled the World,” LM97, February 1997; and the earlier Press Release, LM, January 25, 1997.  Also see Thomas Deichmann, “‘Exactly As It Happened’?” LM100, May 1997.

18  In David Campbell, “Atrocity, Memory, Photography: Imaging the Concentration Camps of Bosnia— the Case of ITN versus Living Marxism, Part 1,” Journal of Human Rights, March, 2002, p. 21.

19  On Britain’s libel law, see Jo Glanville et al., Free Speech Is Not For Sale, A Report by the English PEN and Index on Censorship, Libel Reform Coalition, November 10, 2009.  As the authors make clear, under Britain’s libel law, the “defendant carries the burden of proof,” and “is asked to prove the truth of their statement,” which is “always presumed [to be] false” until proven otherwise.  The effect of such an onerous condition is that Britain’s “libel law has been used to protect the rich and powerful from criticism and has come to be associated with money rather than justice. The high costs involved and the scale of potential damages have chilled free speech.”

20  See John Willis, “External Ombudsman Report,” May 8, 2006 (as published by The Guardian on May 25, 2006), para. 17.

21  See Johnstone, Fools’ Crusade, “Srebrenica,” pp. 109-118. 

22  Noam Chomsky, “Chomsky Answers Guardian,” ZNet, November 13, 2005.

23  Alexander Cockburn, “Storm Over Brockes’ Fakery,” CounterPunch, November 5/6, 2005.  Also see “Smearing Chomsky: The Guardian in the Gutter,” Media Lens, November 4, 2005; and “Smearing Chomsky: The Guardian Backs Down,” Media Lens, November 21, 2005.

24  See Ian Mayes, “Corrections and Clarifications: The Guardian and Noam Chomsky,” The Guardian, November 17, 2005.

25  See Oliver Kamm, “Chomsky, The Guardian and Bosnia,” December 1, 2005 (as posted to Oliver Kamm’s Blog, March 20, 2006); and see Marko Attila Hoare et al., “Protest to the Guardian Over ‘Correction’ to Noam Chomsky Interview,” Balkan Investigative Reporting Network, December 8, 2005.

26  See Ian Mayes, “Open Door: The readers’ Editor on . . . a Complaint about a Controversial Correction,” The Guardian, December 12, 2005; “Readers’ Editor Right to Publish Apology, External Review Finds,” The Guardian (unsigned), May 25, 2006; and Willis, “External Ombudsman Report.”

27  Oliver Kamm, “Against Chomsky,” Prospect, November 2005.  This was the second-half of “For and Against Chomsky,” the first-half of which (“For Chomsky”) was written by Robin Blackburn.

28  Oliver Kamm, “‘LM Was Probably Correct’ — Chomsky,” October 31, 2005.

29  See Oliver Kamm, “Retreat of the Srebrenica Deniers,” The Times Online, December 10, 2009.  In Kamm’s words: “If you publish libellous remarks online, as Media Lens have done, you clearly can’t claim a defence of ‘innocent dissemination’ of comments that have already been determined in a court of law to be libellous, let alone a defence of justification or fair comment. . . . I’m a near-absolutist on free speech — I oppose laws that criminalise Holocaust denial, for example — but I believe libel laws are a necessary part of a civilised society.  They provide restitution against speech that falsely damages a person’s reputation.  LM magazine presumably believed that its very obscurity provided it with protection to say what it liked.  When it libelled honest journalists who had conscientiously exposed war crimes, it found that it couldn’t.  That libel suit by ITN was justified: it established truth, in the interests of the victims of those crimes and not only the journalists who’d been libelled.” — A more robust statement of opposition to freedom of speech and of the media would be hard to find.  Kamm is as much an “absolutist” on free speech as he is on international law and human rights: It all depends on whom the speaker is — Kamm or Kamm’s enemies?

30  Note that in working with Oliver Kamm’s blog, we are drawing from both the independent blog that he maintained from August 23, 2003 through August 13, 2008 (OK – Blog One), and the blog that he has had at The Times Online from August 21, 2008 on (TO – Blog Two).  Although the latter blog archives everything from the former blog, we will keep them separate here.

31  Oliver Kamm, Anti-Totalitarianism: The Left-Wing Case for a Neoconservative Foreign Policy (London: The Social Affairs Unit, 2005), p. 19, p. 106, and p. 123.  

32  See “Statement of Principles,” The Henry Jackson Society, March, 2005.  Also see “Signatories to the Statement of Principles”; and “International Patrons.”

33  See Norman Geras et al., The Euston Manifesto, May 25, 2006.  Also see “Signatories of The Euston Manifesto.”

34  As noted, the number 1,887 is based on searches of Oliver Kamm’s archived blogs (i.e., the blogs proper: OK – Blog One and TO – Blog Two) for mentions of the name ‘Chomsky’ from August 24, 2003 through the end of December 2009.  This total includes Kamm’s own use of the name, as well his quotes of anyone else’s use of the name.  But it excludes all uses of the name in the Comments sections of Kamm’s blogs.

35  See David Peterson, “Oliver Kamm,” ZNet, December 12, 2005, in particular the Update for December 21, about how Kamm at the time had used the website to post negative reviews of books by or about Noam Chomsky.  Although Kamm has since deleted many of these early contributions to, the pattern to his reviewing practice remains the same.  Of the 43 reviews Kamm had posted to as of early January 2010, seven dealt with Noam Chomsky, and Kamm rated all seven of them one star.  (See Page 1 and Page 2.)  Similarly, in a “Listmania” that Kamm also posted to under the title “Ten Notorious Works of Totalitarian Ideology,” two of the works listed by Kamm (alongside Hitler’s Mein Kampf!) were Edward S. Herman and Noam Chomsky’s Manufacturing Consent: The Political Economy of the Mass Media (New York: Pantheon Books, 2002), and Noam Chomsky’s Media Control: The Spectacular Achievements of Propaganda (New York: Seven Stories Press, 1997).

36  See Oliver Kamm, “Stuff,” December 12, 2007; “Pilger and His Public,” December 23, 2007; and “Not a Parody,” February 28, 2008.  Also see Kamm’s “Those (Unthreatening) Libel Threats,” November 15, 2007.

37 See Neil Clark, “Idealism Loses Its Way in Double Standards and Dishonesty,” Daily Telegraph, December 31, 2005, which also reviewed Douglas Murray’s book Neo-Conservatism: Why We Need It (London: Social Affairs Unit, 2005).  Also see Neil Clark, “The Poisonous Vendetta of Oliver Kamm,” May 16, 2007; Neil Clark, “Oliver Kamm and A Case of Criminal Harassment,” September 27, 2007; Neil Clark, “Stranger than Fiction: A Wikipedia Conspiracy,” December 16, 2007; and Neil Clark, “Green City Girl’s Suicidal Tendencies,” January 19, 2008.  Clark’s examples of Kamm’s use of pseudonyms (or “sock-puppets“) to carry out his vendettas via the Internet, including efforts to ensure that certain Wikipedia entries advance those causes, and more important, “for untrue and libellous comments about [Clark] to be posted on any websites [Clark’s] work appears,” and the “sending of malicious, pseudonymous emails to [Clark’s] commissioning editors, urging them to drop [Clark] as a columnist,” are hallmarks of an Internet predator.

38  See, e.g., the comments that appear below Neil Clark’s “The Puffing President,” New Statesman, January 22, 2009, specifically those by “Martin Miller” and “Oliver Kamm.”  Sticking to Kamm’s name alone, we find him alleging that in Clark’s December 31, 2005 review of Kamm’s book (“Idealism Loses Its Way in Double Standards and Dishonesty”), Clark used a “Srebrenica-denial organization” for one of his sources, and this he “did not represent accurately in answer to a direct question from his editor, . . . clearly relevant information in assessing his reliability as a commentator on public affairs” (27 January 2009 at 11:32).  As this particular commentary by Clark dealt with the smoking habit of the U.S. President Barack Obama, once again we find in such behavior by Kamm the hallmark of an Internet predator.

39  There is an unmistakable robotic cast to Oliver Kamm’s work.  This trait was noticed by others who had dealt with him in Internet chat rooms and in the comments sections of webpages, and who had observed up-close how he operates.  Based on Kamm’s robotic performances, someone developed the “The Kammbot,” a simple text-generating software preloaded with Oliver-Kammisms (including the name of Kamm’s No. One obsession: Noam Chomsky) that generates texts-on-the-nonce loosely in Kamm’s style.  Of course, the real Oliver Kamm’s robotic performances are more nuanced than those generated by “The Kammbot.”  For example, “The Kammbot” would be incapable of trolling Internet chat-rooms and obsessively-compulsively planting insidious remarks about individuals whom it hates and cannot let drop.  Nor could a mere robot, however sophisticated by today’s standards, have generated 19 negative reviews of books by or about Noam Chomsky and posted them at

40  Oliver Kamm, “Donkeys Led by Litigants,” June 9, 2004.

41  Oliver Kamm, “The Ideological Front,” May 12, 2004.

42  Kamm, “Donkeys Led by Litigants,” June 9, 2004.  

43 Oliver Kamm, “We Were Right to Invade Iraq,” The Guardian, March 14, 2006.

44  See 2008 Global Trends: Refugees, Asylum-seekers, Returnees, Internally Displaced and Stateless Persons, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, June 2009.  According to this report, Pakistan and Syria hosted the largest number of refugees at the end of 2008: Pakistan from the U.S.-U.K.-NATO war in Afghanistan, and Syria from the U.S.-U.K.-NATO war in Iraq.  “Afghan and Iraqi refugees account for almost half (45%) of all refugees under UNHCR’s responsibility worldwide” (p. 9).  By mid-2009, the number of internally-displaced persons in Pakistan approached 2 million (p. 19).  At the end of 2008, Iraq had 4.798 million persons of concern to the UNHCR (see Iraq), and Afghanistan 3.371 million (see Afghanistan).  No wonder Kamm now suppresses this matter entirely: He has been proven exactly wrong.

45  Oliver Kamm, “Spinning and Preening,” September 21, 2004.

46  Oliver Kamm, “Why Sharon’s Critics Are Clueless on Gaza,” The Times, August 9, 2005.

47  See Legal Consequences of the Construction of a Wall in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (Advisory Opinion), International Court of Justice, July 9, 2004, para. 162, and para. 163(3(A)).  The ICJ also ruled that “Israel is under an obligation to terminate its breaches of international law; it is under an obligation to cease forthwith the works of construction of the wall being built in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including in and around East Jerusalem, to dismantle forthwith the structure therein. . . .” (para. 163(3(B)).

48  See UN General Assembly Resolution 37/123 (A/RES/37/123), December 16, 1982, Section D, para. 2. 

49  In Ari Shavit, “The Big Freeze,” Haaretz, October 8, 2004.

50 Henry Siegman, “Imposing Middle East Peace,” The Nation, January 25, 2010. 

51  Kamm, “Against Chomsky,” the second-half of “For and Against Chomsky.”

52  Daniel Patrick Moynihan, with Suzanne Weaver, A Dangerous Place (Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1978), pp. 245-246, and p. 247.

53  Noam Chomsky, Towards A New Cold War: Essays on the Current Crisis and How We Got There (New York: Pantheon Books, 1982), p. 339.  Also see p. 340, p. 367, and n. 5, pp. 467-468.  As Chomsky continued in his 1980 essay (pp. 339-340):

Ambassador Moynihan was presumably aware of the nature of his success.  He cites a February 1976 estimate by the deputy chairman of the provisional government installed by Indonesian force “that some sixty thousand persons had been killed since the outbreak of civil war” — recall that two to three thousand had been killed during the civil war itself — “10 percent of the population, almost the proportion of casualties experienced by the Soviet Union during the Second World War.”  Thus, in effect, he is claiming credit for ‘success’ in helping to cause a massacre that he compares to the consequences of Nazi aggression, not to speak of the growing number of victims in the subsequent period.

Moynihan was much admired for the great courage that he displayed in the United Nations in confronting the mighty Third World enemies of the United States.  Somehow, his self-congratulation in this case escaped notice.

Ambassador Moynihan commented further that the Indonesian invasion must have been successful by March 1976, since “the subject disappeared from the press and from the United Nations after that time.”  It did virtually disappear from the press, through not from the United Nations, which has regularly condemned Indonesian aggression.  The curtain of silence drawn by the press in the United States and much of the West for four years hardly demonstrated the success of Indonesian arms, though it does stand as a remarkable testimonial to the effectiveness of Western propaganda systems.

54  In at least one of his blogs (see “‘An Intellectual Crook’,” September 9, 2004), Kamm does quote from Moynihan’s book, but Kamm repeats the standard U.S. and U.K. establishment misrepresentations of the period, and pretends that they show what an “intellectual crook” Chomsky is, rather than what an unremarkable anti-Chomsky polemicist is Kamm.  Hence, according to Kamm: “Moynihan is describing a period in the Cold War when the Soviet Union was making advances in the Third World both directly and by proxy, and US policy aimed single-mindedly at thwarting those ambitions.  The policy was right in principle; the means to effect it often weren’t, morally and strategically. . . .  But Chomsky’s claim that those means included wishing Indonesia to launch a bloody invasion of East Timor bears no resemblance to what Moynihan wrote.  In context, the phrase ‘the United States wished things to turn out as they did’ clearly refers to the failure of Soviet and Chinese clients in, respectively, Spanish Sahara and Timor.  Chomsky has taken it out of context in order to insinuate, utterly falsely, that Moynihan is boasting about the successful accomplishment of mass murder by proxy.”  Unless Kamm denies that the means used by Indonesia — with decisive U.S. and U.K. support — included the killing of roughly one-third of the indigenous population of East Timor, his reading of Moynihan makes no sense.

55  See Catherine Philp, “Secret Document Exposes Iran’s Nuclear Trigger,” The Times, December 14, 2009; and “Iran’s Secret Nuclear Trigger: Translation of Full Document,” The Times, December 14, 2009.  Also see Catherine Philp, “Discovery of UD3 Raises Fears over Iran’s Nuclear Intentions,” The Times, December 14, 2009; and Catherine Philp, “Leaked Memo Identifies Man at Head of Iran’s Nuclear Programme,” The Times, December 14, 2009.

56  Norman Dombey, “This Is No Smoking Gun, Nor Iranian Bomb: Nothing in the Published ‘Intelligence Documents’ Shows Iran Is Close to Having Nuclear Weapons,” The Guardian, December 22, 2009.

57 Gareth Porter, “U.S. Intelligence Found Iran Nuke Document Was Forged,” Inter Press Service, December 28, 2009; also see Gareth Porter, “New Revelations Tear Holes in Iran Nuclear Trigger Story,” Inter Press Service, January 5, 2010. 

58  Philip M. Giraldi and John K. Taylor, “Holocaust as Political Industry,” University of Chicago Magazine, October, 1999.  To reproduce the closing paragraph of this 617-world letter to the editor: “Perhaps what is truly unique about the Holocaust is the ability of its exploiters to preemptively silence their critics.  Surely within the University of Chicago community there must be many who recognize that the Holocaust industry has gone too far, that the Holocaust is far from being the central event of the century, and that its message of an exclusivity in suffering — serving to promote a Zionist agenda — is dubious at best.  But the open expression of such views might be unwise.  It is safer to remain silent.”

59  See the Stephen Solarz – Gareth Porter exchange, U.S. House of Representatives, May 3, 1977, pp. 32-39, specifically pp. 34-35.  “I hold no brief for what we did I Cambodia,” Solarz had stated shortly before (see p. 33), referring to the single largest sustained U.S. bombing war in history up to that time.  According to Taylor Owen and Ben Kiernan, “from October 4, 1965, to August 15, 1973, the United States dropped . . . 2,756,941 tons’ worth [of bombs] in 230,516 sorties on 113,716 sites. . . .  Civilian casualties in Cambodia drove and enraged populace into the arms of an insurgency that had enjoyed relatively little support until the bombing began, setting in motion the expansion of the Vietnam War deeper into Cambodia, a coup d’etat in 1970, the rapid rise of the Khmer Rouge, and ultimately the Cambodian genocide.”  (See Owen and Kiernan, “Bombs Over Cambodia,” The Walrus, October, 2006, pp. 62-63.)  With these facts in mind, Solarz’s statement takes on extra moral significance — but to Solarz’s everlasting shame, not Porter’s (p. 33):

I have no doubt that the dropping of 500,000 [sic] tons of bombs may have enraged them, but we dropped infinitely more tonnage on Vietnam and, whatever the situation may be there, I don’t know that they are systematically destroying their own people.

There are plenty of other countries that have suffered grievously in war which, when a new government came to power, didn’t embark on what has been going on in Cambodia.

So I think it is rather simplistic to suggest that the only explanation for this is that we dropped those bombs in the first place.

60 Oliver Kamm, “Iran’s Nuclear Deceit: the Apologists Respond,” The Times Online, December 29, 2009.  Also see Kamm’s “Utopian Folly, and Much Worse,” The Times Online, January 10, 2010.

61  As Porter explained: “A columnist for The Times has acknowledged that the two-page Persian language document published by The Times last month was not a photocopy of the original document but an expurgated and retyped version of the original. . . .  [Oliver] Kamm wrote that the original document had ‘contained a lot of classified information’ and was not published ‘because of the danger that it would alert Iranian authorities to the source of the leak’.  In offering the explanation of the intelligence agency that leaked the document to The Times, Kamm was also damaging the credibility of the document.  A document that had been both edited and retyped could obviously have been doctored by adding material on a neutron initiator.  The reason for such editing could not have been to excise classified information’, because, if the document were genuine, the Iranian government would already have the information” (Porter, “New Revelations Tear Holes in Iran Nuclear Trigger Story,” Inter Press Service, January 5, 2010.  Also see Justin Raimondo, “The Kamm Scam: Fake ‘Journalist’ Defends a Forgery,”, January 4, 2010; and David Edwards and David Cromwell, “Nuclear Deceit — The Times and Iran,” Media Lens, January 14, 2010.)

62  The phrase “supreme international crime” derives from the Final Judgment of the International Military Tribunal for the Trial of German Major War Criminals (September 30, 1946), specifically “The Common Plan or Conspiracy and Aggressive War,” wherein we read: “The charges in the Indictment that the defendants planned and waged aggressive wars are charges of the utmost gravity.  War is essentially an evil thing.  Its consequences are not confined to the belligerent states alone, but affect the whole world.  To initiate a war of aggression, therefore, is not only an international crime; it is the supreme international crime differing only from other war crimes in that it contains within itself the accumulated evil of the whole” (emphasis added).

63  Oliver Kamm, “How the Left Turned to the Right,” The Times, May 23, 2009.

64  Between August 24, 2003 and December 31, 2009, the word “aggression” occurred in Oliver Kamm’s blog a total of 196 times.  But we are interested only in those cases where Kamm himself attributes “aggression” to some agent, or cites with approval another person who does.  Therefore, we deducted from this total the number of times “aggression” occurred in Kamm’s blog, but Kamm rejected its use (e.g., “To read [John] Pilger, you’d think the US and UK had launched unprovoked aggression against a civilian population [in Iraq]”), or Kamm did not use it to describe an actual act of aggression (e.g., “Soviet-German Non-Aggression Pact”).  There were approximately 36 cases such as this.  Hence, we are left with an approximate total of 160 times that Kamm himself attributed “aggression” to an agent.  In 77 (or 48%) of these 160, Kamm attributed “aggression” to ethnic Serbs.

65  Kamm’s print record was generated via the Factiva database using the following search parameters for all possible dates: rst=(twir or tnwp or promag or spectr or nsts or grdn or ob or ind or indos or t or st) and Oliver w/2 Kamm.  Even in print, Kamm’s obsession with what he calls (variously) “Serb aggression” and the “genocidal aggression of Slobodan Milosevic” stands out as his most frequent use of “aggression” to describe a conflict — in the case of the former Yugoslavia, a series of internal or civil wars.  But nowhere in Kamm’s world are there aggressions committed by the U.S., U.K., NATO or Israel.  As Kamm’s side of the great civilizational and ethno-religious divide is essentially good and does good things, neither the UN Charter nor international law apply to it — though they apply absolutely to the targeted side — and Kamm’s side is also exempted from the use of an invidious word like aggression, freely applied to Serbia or Iran.  Whereas Kamm charges ethnic Serbs with “aggression” (even “genocidal aggression”), he never brings the same charge against his favorite states, even when they send their militaries, cruise missiles, and robotic drones across international borders to attack peoples in sovereign countries.

66  For mortality estimates related to the U.S.-U.K. invasion and occupation of Iraq, see Les Roberts et al., “Mortality before and after the March 2003 Invasion of Iraq: Cluster Sample Survey,” The Lancet (online), October 29, 2004; Gilbert Burnham et al., “The Human Cost of the War in Iraq: A Mortality Study, 2002-2006,” The Lancet, October 21, 2006; and Munqith Daghir et al., “New Analysis ‘Confirms’ 1 Million + Iraqi Casualties,” Opinion Research Business, January 28, 2008.  For related documents, see the website maintained by the Center for International Studies at MIT, Iraq: The Human Cost.

67  For Iraqi refugees and displaced persons, we repeat that at the end of 2008, Iraq had 4.798 million persons of concern to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.  For a breakdown, see the statistical database maintained for Iraq by the UNHCR.

68  Oliver Kamm, “In Defense of the Iraq War,” October 26, 2006.  Also see Oliver Kamm, “We Were Right to Invade Iraq,” The Guardian, March 14, 2006.

69 See Oliver Kamm, “Pilger: Truth and Lies in the War on Terror,” September 13, 2003; and Oliver Kamm, “More Truth and Lies in the War on Terror,” September 19, 2003.  Notice that after 2003, Kamm never again refers to the Iraq Body Count organization by name.

70  Oliver Kamm, “Poppies and Remembrance,” November 10, 2007. 

71 See Patrick Ball et al., Bosnian Book of the Dead: Assessment of the Database, Research and Documentation Center, Sarajevo, June 2007, Table 23a, p. 30, and p. 40.  These researchers estimate 96,895 deaths in all for the period of the war in Bosnia-Herzegovina, of which 57,696 (59.6%) were military and 39,199 (40.5%) were civilian.

72  Oliver Kamm, “Terrible, But Not a Crime,” The Guardian, August 6, 2007.  Instead, see Abbas Edalat and Mehrnaz Shahabi, “Prospects of Armageddon,” The Guardian, August 7, 2007.  As these authors rightly objected, the “subtext” of Kamm’s defense of the nuking of Hiroshima and Nagasaki “is plain: The same camp whose vocal endorsement led to the present catastrophe in Iraq are now hawkishly gazing at Iran.  The same absurd and dangerous logic that defends the nuclear atrocities of 1945 can now be used to support the pre-emptive use of nuclear weapons against Iran — the threat of which in turn makes the idea of a conventional attack appear more palatable.”

73  Oliver Kamm, “It’s No Time to Ban the Bomb: Britain Still Needs Its Nuclear Deterrent,” The Times, June 22, 2005.

74  For a video of Oliver Kamm’s appearance on The Late Edition, BBC Four, see “We are civilised, honest,” as posted to YouTube, December 14, 2006.  Kamm and the show’s host discussed Britain’s submarine-based Trident nuclear-weapons system, and movements within Britain to replace it with a newer system or to phase it out altogether (i.e., a movement towards disarmament).  Kamm stated that “The costs of renewing Trident are known.  The costs of renouncing it are incalculable.  Then, beginning at the 1:12 minute-mark, this exchange occurred between the show’s host and Kamm (comment is unnecessary):

Interviewer: If they were allowed to have a program like this in Iran — and I suspect they don’t — there is every reason to suggest that they would be having a similar conversation to this, and that someone like you would be saying, in Iranian: “We should have this.  These other people have got them, and they’re dangerous.  I mean, they’ve proved their willing to attack.  Look at Iraq.  They’ve killed thousands.”  I mean, hasn’t this created a desire or at least an excuse for countries like Iran and North Korea to have a nuclear weapon?

Kamm: There are two factors to bear in mind, and the first one I think will appear impossibly unsophisticated, but it has the virtue of being accurate.  We are a civilized state.  Iran and North Korea are not.  It’s not just a matter of the way we conduct our own affairs.  Iran has conducted systematic nuclear deception, while being a signatory to the nuclear non-proliferation treaty.

Later, citing the “strategic threats we face from states that don’t operate by civilized norms,” Kamm added (3:40-): “North Korea is a nightmare totalitarian state.  Iran threatens annihilation to a member state of the United Nations, Israel.  It is led by a puppet-president who denies the historical fact the Holocaust.  These are threats.  We have to take them seriously.”

75  Oliver Kamm, “A Dangerous Fantasy: Indulging Iran’s Regime Will Only Heighten Its Penchant for Nuclear Duplicity and Terror,” The Guardian, December 4, 2007.

76  For some of the UN Security Council’s efforts to date at nullifying Iran’s rights as a party to the NPT, see S/RES/1696 (July 31, 2006), S/RES/1737 (December 23, 2006), S/RES/1747 (March 24, 2007), and S/RES/1803, March 3, 2008.  Also see Edward S. Herman and David Peterson, “The Iran Versus U.S.-NATO-Israeli Threats,” MRZine, October 19, 2009.

77  Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (INFCIRC/140), March, 1970, Article IV(1) and Article VI.

78  See Legality of the Threat or Use of Nuclear Weapons (Advisory Opinion), International Court of Justice, July 8, 1996, especially paras. 98-103; here para. 103.

79  Kamm, Anti-Totalitarianism, p. 116.

80  See Allison Pearson, “Under Our Skin to the Last,” The Independent, April 10, 1994.

Edward S. Herman is professor emeritus of finance at the Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania and has written extensively on economics, political economy, and the media. Among his books are Corporate Control, Corporate Power (Cambridge University Press, 1981), The Real Terror Network (South End Press, 1982), and, with Noam Chomsky, The Political Economy of Human Rights (South End Press, 1979), and Manufacturing Consent (Pantheon, 2002).  David Peterson is an independent journalist and researcher based in Chicago.

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