Thursday, June 12, 2008

When is "Never Again" Actually Going to Happen?

This is a piece that I wrote a while ago. I am also including several comments that were left to show the progression of my argument.

After the millions of Jews killed in the Holocaust, the world community famously said, “Never again.” But, then Australia separated 20,000 to 25,000 Aboriginal children from their families in an attempt to wipe them out.

Then Guatemala happened and 200,000 people were killed because they were Indians.
Then Bangladesh happened, where approximately 1.5 million people were killed because the Bengalis wanted to be liberated.
Then there was Burundi, twice, where the ethnic minority, the Hutu were slaughtered by the Tutsi resulting altogether in as many as 700,000 deaths.
Then there was Equatorial Guinea, where the Bubi minority lost 80,000 humans.
Then there was Cambodia, where approximately 1.7 million Cambodians were killed in four years by the Khmer Rouge.
Then East Timor occurred almost 102,800 people died by the hands of the Indonesians.
Then there were the Sabra and Shatila massacres carried out by the Lebanese, killing an estimated 3,500 Palestinians.
Then Ethiopia occurred, killing up to 500,000 people in two years, including 150,000 university students, intellectuals, and politicians.
Then there was Iraq, where more than 200,000 people were killed because they were Kurdish, the ethnic minority.
Then there was Tibet, where more than one million Tibetans were killed as a display of China's rule over Tibet.
Then there was Brazil, where 33 Tikuna were slaughtered in an attempt to destroy them completely, for their land.
Then there was the Democratic Republic of the Congo where more than 5.4 million have died. Then there was South Africa, where 1,700 Boers have been killed.
And let us not forget Bosnia and Herzegovina where almost 110,000 were killed.
Nor should we forget the 100 days in Rwanda where 937,000 Tutsi and Hutu were slaughtered, mostly by machetes, by the Hutus. It should also be noted that almost 1 billion people have been displaced due to these genocides.

But, for some reason, we ignore the first Genocide of the 21st century, Darfur. A place where more than two million lives have been lost and more than 4 million people have been displaced since 1983. Over 400,000 of these deaths and 2 million of these displacements have occurred since 2003. We ignore them, just like we ignored the 15 genocides since the Holocaust; just like we said we wouldn't.

Darfur is a unique opportunity for the world community to come together to show that they will not condone genocide in this new century and that genocide will be punished severely. Moreover, it is an opportunity for the world community to show Africa that it is not the forgotten continent that it seems like at times. But instead, the world makes promises to provide diplomats and peace keepers and helicopters and armored vehicles and logistical support and food for those displaced and support for those hunted by their government to show that someone cares. Darfur can stop, we just need to show that we care. That when we say NEVER AGAIN, we mean it. That the promises of the Western World are real and will be kept, that they are not just empty words.

There is so much we can do, and so much we should do...the question is, why aren't we?


Daniel Metzger wrote:

A much better question is, when are we going to say "never again" to the State? “Conservatives” claim they "love Jesus," but let's face it, they love the State more. Otherwise, we wouldn’t have the war in Iraq. “Liberals” claim to love liberty? But is it liberty they love when they call for government intervention into, as well as regulation and taxation of every area of our lives? No, I think liberals love the State more than they love liberty. How can liberals condemn the conservatives for the Iraq War if they seek to send troops into Darfur, a war where those fighting today have no idea why they are even fighting… because they are sometimes the third generation of combatant. How can conservatives condemn liberals for wanting taxation, regulation, and nanny-statism when the State has grown more quickly under Bush than Clinton? I am not excusing Clinton, because grew the State much faster than Bush the First, who grew it faster..., ect, ad nauseam.

All of the wars and conflicts here were perpetuated by the power of some State. Each began with a few individuals who realized they could not kill or steal or seize power nearly as efficiently as they could using the awesome, almighty power of the State. There was no way killing of this scale could be accomplished without State sanctioning. It doesn’t happen. If I go and kill 15 people with a machete, I’m a murderer and deserve to be executed. But if I can get the government to help me, God help us all, because they can help me eradicate 1,500,000 people like you. It’s sick, but it could not happen with out the power of the State.

My point is simply this: Why are we calling for government intervention again? Is that institution that enables such genocide and acts of war to take place so benevolent that we can trust it to stop genocide? Shall we canonize Adolf Hitler? NO! Shall we call upon the United Nations, a body consisting almost entirely of dictatorships and democracies that have human rights violations so egregious that they should sanction themselves, to intervene in a human rights violation? Do we call upon the Klu Klux Klan to halt rascism? NO!

If someone wants to stop the genocide, they are more than welcome to donate their money, with which they are entitled to do anything they want, or they may get their passport, fly to Sudan, and try to negotiate peace amidst the flying bullets, but they may not petition the State to intervene in the problems of the State. It's not reasonable.

Jacob Henerey wrote:
Hey guys! Let's give the UN more money. They're GREAT at stopping wars and violence! In fact, I can't think of anybody better suited to the task than the UN. I mean, it's not like they've ever caused wars or anything, right?

Tomas Moreno wrote:
I think that one point that you are missing Metzger is that governments are the best way to do this because the people who do care generally do not have the large pockets that they need to end the problem, governments do. As you pointed out, many times atrocities cannot start without government support (But the LRA is a prime example of when that is untrue.) as such, they also are a great way of ending them because they are able to bring together many more people than NGOs and activist groups generally can.

Jacob, true the UN isn't perfect, but I would like for you to name one thing that is. Moreover, what is a better unilateral, multinational force that could take care of a large issue like genocide.

I also believe that since the UN passed Resolution 1769 saying that they would help, almost a year ago, they should do something.

Sean Cox-Marcellin wrote:
I think I must reluctantly agree with Mr. Moreno here. Although there are few flags for which "human rights violations" have not been committed, it would be a poor excuse for the collective States to do nothing in the face of abhorrant abuses.

Many States that have definitions of human rights come to violate them at some time, so it is true that a State cannot be trusted to follow its own laws. Further, when Stalin executed his purges, they violated no Soviet law, for Stalin was the law. No internal action stopped the Holocaust: it took the bloodiest war in mankind's history and the complete destruction of the State of Germany (although admittingly the ending of the Holocaust was not the goal, we should not refuse to consider the actions and extent empirically necessary to stop it).

Metzger suggests (I do hope this isn't strawman) that individuals try to stop such genocides -- but what truly can individuals do? Did not individuals resist the rounding up of the Jews, did not individuals protest the massacres in Tibet, are not people railing against the crisis in Darfur? And to what end? None!

The main problems with "Human Rights' violations" come simply with defining Human Rights and when they have been violated. One way to solve this is to allow each nation to define its peoples' rights, but this would allow nearly every genocide listed to occur again. Now if we as humans are to acknowledge that mass murder is unacceptable behavior we should move forward to offer a way for it to be stopped.

Just as governments arbitrate disputes of individuals within their borders and ensure the rights of its member indivuals, so should the United Nations, a body of States, protect not only the rights of the sovereign nations that compose it but also the people who compose the sovereign nations. A State is nothing if not for its people, and the United Nations final responsibility lies with the people that take shelter under its umbrella for umbrellas.

The United Nations, composed of the world nations, has the responsibility to define reasonable and applicable Rights for all People, and then protect these Rights by, if necessary, obliterating the deviant State. If a government can reprimand, fine, imprison (or execute, this is a little more controversial, however) individuals for harming or menacing others, the United Nations should have the power to do so unto States if it is to be at all effective.

At this point my brain has become exhausted as the caffeine has worn thin, so I must end my argument inconclusively, my apologies. Tommy feel free to addend a conclusion of your own design if you feel up to it. By the way, Tomas, spot any reductio ad Hitlerum?

Tomas Moreno wrote:
Sean, nicely stated. I don't see any reductio ad Hitlerum because you are arguing that what they did was bad and that what is done now is bad not because the Nazis did it but because of the underlying issues....moreover, they don't understand the monumentalness (excuse the fake word usage) of this occasion, you and i agree! (may be a sign of the apocalypse!)

Jacob Henerey wrote:

*On a serious note: I have a problem with a non-sovereign international body being able to intervene in the politics of a sovereign state. Sure, it may be for a "good cause" but when said precedent is set, what's to keep such body from intervening in other affairs of state. I view it as a threat to national sovereignty and liberty.

Sean Cox-Marcellin wrote:
Age-old issue: Who watchers the watchers?

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