WEEKEND EDITION FEBRUARY 1-3, 2013 by DIANA JOHNSTONE, Paris
Opposing genocide has become a sort of cottage industry in the United States.
Everywhere, “genocide studies” are cropping up in universities. Five years ago, an unlikely “Genocide Prevention Task Force” was set up headed by former secretary of state Madeleine Albright and former defense secretary William Cohen, both veterans of the Clinton administration.
The Bible of the campaign is Samantha Power’s book, “A Problem from Hell”. Ms. Power’s thesis is that the U.S. Government, while well-intentioned, like all of us, is too slow to intervene to “stop genocide”. It is a suggestion that the U.S. government embraces, even to taking on Ms. Power as White House advisor.
Why has the U.S. Government so eagerly endorsed the crusade against “genocide”?
The reason is clear. Since the Holocaust has become the most omnipresent historical reference in Western societies, the concept of “genocide” is widely and easily accepted as the greatest evil to afflict the planet. It is felt to be worse than war.
Therein lies its immense value to the U.S. military-industrial complex, and to a foreign policy elite seeking an acceptable pretext for military intervention wherever they choose.
The obsession with “genocide” as the primary humanitarian issue in the world today relativizes war. It reverses the final judgment of the Nuremberg Trials that:
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.
Instead, war is transformed into a chivalrous action to rescue whole populations from “genocide”.
At the same time, national sovereignty, erected as the barrier to prevent strong nations from invading weaker ones, that is, to prevent aggression and “the scourge of war”, is derided as nothing but a protection for evil rulers (“dictators”) whose only ambition is to “massacre their own people”.
This ideological construct is the basis for the Western-sponsored doctrine, forced on a more or less reluctant United Nations, of “R2P”, the ambiguous shorthand for both the “right” and the “responsibility” to protect peoples from their own governments.
In practice this can give the dominant powers carte blanche to intervene militarily in weaker countries in order to support whatever armed rebellions they favor. Once this doctrine seems to be accepted, it can even serve as an incitement to opposition groups to provoke government repression in order to call for “protection”.
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