Greater Surbiton

The perfect is the enemy of the good

Is the Socialist Workers Party about to join the War on Terror ?

Picture: British imperialist general Sir Michael Rose, described by the SWP’s Richard ‘Lenin’ Seymour as ‘certainly no sympathiser with the Bosnian Serb forces’, carrying out imperialist intervention against his sworn enemy, the leader of the Bosnian Serb anti-imperialist resistance, General Ratko Mladic.

The internal politics of the Socialist Workers Party (SWP), spearhead of British opposition to imperialism and Zionism, may be thrown into turmoil by revelations made on Friday by leading SWP blogger Richard ‘Lenin’ Seymour. In a comment on his blog Lenin’s Tomb, Seymour challenged the prevailing SWP wisdom that it is Western imperialism that is attacking and oppressing the Muslim world, and that the Left should be supporting the Muslims. According to Seymour’s iconoclastic claims, it is actually the other way round.

Citing a former senior official of Western imperialism (Philip Corwin, former UN chief political officer in Sarajevo), Seymour argued that Serb shelling of Sarajevo civilians and hospitals during the war in Bosnia was all deliberately provoked by the Muslims in the first place, furthermore that the Muslims were oppressing the Western imperialist forces: ‘Philip Corwin’s memoir recalls that BiH provocations weren’t just intended to draw Serb fire. They were also aimed at coercing UNPROFOR. Thus UNPROFOR troops were repeatedly shelled by BiH [Bosnian army] forces, more or less each morning. And UNPROFOR’s attitude, given that its role was to be co-belligerents with the US and the local clients, was to refuse to mention these in its situation reports or even protest too vigorously.’

With this radical challenge to prevailing SWP orthodoxy, Seymour claimed: 1) that the imperialist forces were the victims and the Muslims were the oppressors; 2) that all accusations made by Western imperialist officials against Muslims should be assumed to be true; 3) that the Bosnian army was shelling the UN forces every day, because they were allies against the Serbs; 4) that the UN was on the side of the Muslims against the Serbs, so never mentioned the fact that it was being oppressed by the Muslims – except in the published memoirs of its leading officials, available for purchase at; and 5) that this UN-Muslim conflict renders UN officials the most objective judges of Muslim wrongdoing. 

Seymour goes on to argue that the popular belief that Sarajevo in the 1990s was shelled and besieged for three and a half years by Serb forces was a myth cooked up by the Western imperialist media, and that it was actually the Muslims who were shelling and massacring themselves in order to blame it on the Serbs. To prove this, he cites the testimony of the Western imperialists, who were engaged in a campaign to demonise the Serbs and who are therefore best placed to testify that the Muslims were really to blame for everything. Responding to a critic who argued that the Markale massacre of Sarajevo civilians in 1994 was the work of a Serb shell, Seymour cut him down: ‘your sense of who was responsible is curiously at odds with the views of UNPROFOR, which accused the Bosnian government forces of “firing to provoke the Serbs, and of using hospitals and public buildings as cover for such fire”.’ These imperialist accusations against the Muslims support the view, argues Seymour, that the Muslims were clients of the imperialists and that the two were working hand-in-glove againt the anti-imperialist Serbs. 

In addition to Corwin, Seymour cites a second Western imperialist official, British UN commander Sir Michael Rose (pictured above) in support of his argument that the Markale massacre was carried out by the Muslims: ‘UN experts had determined, according to General Sir Michael Rose (no Tory as far as I am aware, and certainly no sympathiser with the Bosnian Serb forces), that the shot came from the Bosniak side. UNPROFOR itself openly declared that the Bosnian forces repeatedly engaged in “false flag” operations to provoke Serbian attacks on civilian buildings.’

Picture: Dutch UNPROFOR troops carrying out imperialist intervention against Mladic and his Serb anti-imperialist forces at Srebrenica, July 1995. Thanks to Western imperialism’s support for the Muslims against the Serbs, the ‘safe area’ of Srebrenica was successfully defended from Serb anti-imperialist assault, and eight thousand Muslim men and boys were not massacred, left-wing sources say.

Sir Michael was unavailable for comment. However, he is known as a leading scholarly expert on Islamic culture and civilisation. In his published memoirs, Fighting for Peace, Rose argued that Bosnian Muslim leader Alija Izetbegovic was probably incapable of appreciating Mozart because he was a Muslim. Having attended a performance of Mozart’s Requiem in besieged Sarajevo alongside Izetbegovic, Rose wrote, ‘I wondered if he understood the Christian sentiment behind the words and the music’. Despite this demonstrated sympathy for Muslims and Islam, it is notable that Rose agrees with Seymour on the nefarious character of the Izetbegovic regime; Rose writes that Izetbegovic’s ‘talk of creating a multi-religious, multi-cultural State in Bosnia was a disguise for the extension of his own political power and the furtherance of Islam.’

Seymour’s allegations are likely to prove controversial among SWP members, who have spent the past several years supporting the jihad of Hamas, Hezbollah and the Iraqi insurgents against Western imperialism, under banners such as ‘We are all Hezbollah now’, and were thus under the impression that radical Islamists were the good guys and Western imperialists the bad guys. SWP supporters have also tended to argue that while it is acceptable to support anti-Semitic Muslim groups such as Hamas and Hezbollah out of principled opposition to Zionism, it is unacceptable to support anti-Semitic Croats such as the late Croatian President Franjo Tudjman because Tudjman and the Croats are reactionary nationalists, and socialists are not supposed to take sides in disputes between reactionary nationalists. Yet this SWP attitude, too, may change in light of Tudjman’s consistent opposition to Izetbegovic, multiethnic Bosnia and the Bosnian Muslims – an opposition that closely mirrors that of Seymour, Rose and UNPROFOR. Tudjman also shared the anti-imperialist left’s opposition to Israel, which he described as a ‘Judeo-Nazi hijack state’, to the imperialist war-crimes tribunal in the Hague, and to US imperialism in general, even taking steps to rehabilitate the World War II Ustasha fascist ‘Independent State of Croatia’, which declared war against the US in 1941.

As one left-wing opponent of imperialism and Zionism said yesterday, ‘We are all Ustashas now’.

Greater Surbiton News Service

Update: In response to this post, Seymour has accused me of being a ‘demented stalker’. For the record, I have posted about him fewer times than he has posted about me. Before I had ever written a word about him, he was libelling me on his blog. Five days ago, he launched an open thread on his blog so that his weird anonymous cronies could post defamatory comments about me and my family. So the question of who is a ‘demented stalker’ is probably not one that Richard should be raising. My advice to Richard is: if you can’t take it, then don’t dish it out. And as for which one of us needs, as he puts it, to ‘get a fucking life’… 🙂

Monday, 8 September 2008 - Posted by | Anti-Semitism, Balkans, Bosnia, Croatia, Former Yugoslavia, Genocide, Islam, Israel, Jews, Red-Brown Alliance, Serbia, SWP, The Left

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