Edward S. Herman

Edward S. Herman


* Longtime collaborator with Noam Chomsky
* Accused Israel of engaging in “large-scale ethnic cleansing” of Palestinian Arabs
* Died on November 11, 2017

Edward Herman was professor emeritus of finance at the University of Pennsylvania, a sometime writing partner of Noam Chomksy, and a far-left political commentator.

Along with Chomsky, Herman has a long record of manufacturing apologetics for communist atrocities. In June 1977, Herman and Chomsky wrote an article for The Nation, in which they charged the “establishment press” with fabricating “tales of Communist atrocities” and thus imperiling “future crusades for freedom.” They absolved the Khmer Rouge of wrongdoing, sneering at the “unreliability of refugee reports,” and chided journalists for suggesting that Pol Pot’s party could play no “constructive” role in Cambodia.

Not until his 1988 collaboration with Chomsky, Manufacturing Consent, did Herman grudgingly allow that “Cambodia had fallen to the Communists and useful lessons could be drawn by attention to their victims,” a statement the authors qualified by reposing the blame onto the “U.S. bombing before the Communist takeover.” The authors further cautioned against excessive attention to Pol Pot’s victims, and even lamented the “chronic focus on the plight of Soviet dissidents, [and] on enemy killings in Cambodia,” which they insisted were used to “justify a huge arms buildup and a more aggressive foreign policy, and divert attention from the upward redistribution of income that was the heart of [President Ronald] Reagan’s domestic economic program.”

In the 1990s, Herman shifted his sympathies to a new dictator: Serbian strongman Slobodan Milosevic. Not content merely to oppose the NATO bombing campaign against Serbia, Herman moved on to portraying the Milosevic regime as the victim of “a war of aggression and vengeance by imperialist bullies.” In mounting his defense of Milosevic, Herman was not above likening NATO’s military efforts against Serb forces to the terrorism tactics of al-Qaeda.

In an essay for the 2000 book Degraded Capability: The Media and the Kosovo Crisis, Herman and co-author David Peterson condemned CNN journalists for accepting the premise that NATO forces were carrying out a humanitarian mission; for reporting (accurately) that Serbs were committing genocide; and thereby becoming “salespersons and promoters of the NATO war.” Dusting off his strained defense of Khmer Rouge terror, Herman assured his readers that NATO’s “humanitarian bombing created more pain and ethnic cleansing than existed prior to the supposedly humane action.”

In 1995, Herman founded the Srebrenica Research Group to cast doubt on the Srebrenica massacre, the 1995 slaughter of some 8,000 Bosnian males by Serbian paramilitary forces. Comprising far-left journalists and several Belgrade-based Milosevic loyalists, the group purported to unearth the “actual facts” about the massacre. Factual proof of the massacre included forensic evidence as well as a list of names of dead and missing compiled by an investigative committee in Bosnia-Herzegovina. Nonetheless, the group’s findings coincided with Herman’s fervent claims that the massacre had been a fabrication of the imperialist West. These claims were summarized in a July 2005 article for ZNet titled “The Politics of the Srebrenica Massacre.”

Though Herman denied demonstrable Serbian responsibility for ethnic cleansing, he did not hesitate to condemn Israel as a “racist” state that habitually engaged in “large-scale ethnic cleansing,” as he wrote in a 2001 article for the radical Z-Magazine. Likening Israel to Nazi Germany, Herman asserted that “Israel has used torture on a systematic basis against Palestinians for decades”; and that “Israel can invade other countries freely, bomb them at will, and kill civilians there with a free hand without penalty.” Herman even wrote that “Jews” have traded on their status as Holocaust victims in order to give Israel “a free ride as an ethnic cleanser.” Previously, in a May 1994 article, Herman had accused Israel of “racial discrimination and apartheid” and “great brutality in a system of ethnic cleansing and associated expropriation and robbery.”

In August 2002, Herman and Anthony Arnove together drafted a letter addressed to UN Secretary General Kofi Annan and the Representatives of the UN Member States. Citing the “declared intention of the United States to commit aggression against Iraq,” the letter demanded that “the Secretary General and members of the United Nations … speak out, oppose, and attempt to stop” America’s “flagrant aggression.”

Herman died on November 11, 2017.

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