I will spare the readers of East Ethnia the details of the tedious controversy -- interestingly enough, a mostly German debate that seems to have very little resonance in Serbia itself -- surrounding Peter Handke's statements about Serbia, the genocide in Bosnia (and especially Srebrenica), and the role of late President Milosevic. An excellent resource for the whole thing is Caroline Fetscher's blog, which is required reading anyway. (Should you still thirst for yet more and read German, today's Neue Zürcher Zeitung carries a long interview with Handke.) I will equally refrain from commenting on Noam Chomsky's recent interview with the New Statesman.
[I cannot bring myself, however, to refrain from quoting the interview's highlight: "The worst crime was Srebrenica but, unfortunately for the International Tribunal, there was an intensive investigation by the Dutch government, which was primarily responsible - their troops were there - and what they concluded was that not only did Milosevic not order it, but he had no knowledge of it. And he was horrified when he heard about it." If anyone can figure out what he's talking about, please let me know.]
Rather, the point I'd like to make is this: how come two people who have been professionally working with words for several decades and who have received numerous awards for that work don't seem to be able of any unambiguous statement when it comes to the question of war crimes and genocide in former Yugoslavia? Of course, Chomsky is equally obfuscating on a range of other issues, and his extreme negligence -- some might say, willful manipulation -- when handling sources and quotes is legendary. Indeed, the fallout from Chomsky's infamous interview with the Guardian's Emma Brockes (centering on the use of quotation marks and similar), and Handke's current troubles after he spoke at Milosevic's funeral all seem to stem from the same spectacular inability to simply and clearly state what they are trying to say. Pretty remarkable for two guys who make a living dealing with words, don't you think?