Genocide, War Crimes and the West


Genocide, War Crimes and the West:
History and Complicity

Edited by Adam Jones

London: Zed Books, 2004

ISBN: 1-84277-191-4 (paperback) £16.95 / $25.00
ISBN: 1-84277-190-6 (hardcover) £49.95 / $75.00

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"This exceptionally well selected, brilliantly edited collection of writings
provides the most comprehensive treatment of Western responsibility for mass
atrocity yet published. The cumulative impact of the volume is a devastating
indictment of state terrorism as practised by the West, both historically, and
now after September 11 in the name of 'anti-terrorism.'"

- Richard Falk, Professor Emeritus, Princeton University

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In Harper's Magazine (February and March 2001), Christopher Hitchens presents a case for the indictment and prosecution of former U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger for alleged involvement in war crimes and human-rights violations in Vietnam, Chile, Greece, and other countries. Hitchens' articles and his book, The Trial of Henry Kissinger (Verso, 2001), have sparked considerable discussion and debate. They lead us to ask an important question: how extensive has been the involvement by western countries in genocide, war crimes, and other human-rights violations, whether directly committed by western states themselves or by other governments? (For the purposes of this volume, "the West" is defined as the industrialized liberal-democratic countries of Europe, North America, and Australasia.)

This edited volume explores these issues through "think-pieces" and a broad range of case studies. Among the core analytical issues to be considered are "the question of responsibility and obligation pertaining to genocide" (Peter Stoett); "the formal institutional responses to genocide and mass atrocity that have developed over the past ten years" (Ernesto Verdeja); the various "citizens' tribunals" created to draw attention to western war crimes (Arthur Klinghoffer); and the utility of Raphael Lemkin's original conception of "genocide" in analyzing crimes alleged against Henry Kissinger and others (Steven Jacobs).

Case studies are sampled across a broad geographical and historical range. Chapter contributions here include the legacy of African slavery and the current reparations movement; residential schools and genocide against native North Americans; Germany's abuses against the Herero in South-West Africa (present-day Namibia); Allied area bombing during World War Two; French atrocities in Algeria; U.S. crimes in Indochina, Congo/Zaire, Chile, Bangladesh, Central America, Iraq, Somalia, Liberia, and Yugoslavia; and the role of the West and the U.N. Security Council in the Rwandan holocaust of 1994. The case study section concludes with a provocative argument linking structural violence and oppressive economic systems to the core themes of the volume (Peter Prontzos).

For each case study, contributors were invited to address the following issues: the scale and character of the crimes allegedly committed; the nature of western involvement in these crimes; the advisability of mounting legal prosecutions or campaigns for reparations, and their prospects for success; the relevant legal instruments and institutions that could be employed; the individual actors who might be liable to prosecution for the crimes; and other possible means of redress. Though most contributors share a critical perspective on western involvement in genocide and war crimes, the tenor of the analyses and nature of the conclusions varies substantially.

The volume is edited by Adam Jones, Research Fellow in the Genocide Studies Program at Yale University, who also provides an introduction and a case study on the war against Afghanistan. Jones is the author of Beyond the Barricades: Nicaragua and the Struggle for the Sandinista Press, 1979-1991 (Ohio University Press, 2002), and editor of Gendercide and Genocide (Vanderbilt University Press, 2004). He has published articles on human rights and other themes in Review of International Studies, Ethnic and Racial Studies, Journal of Human Rights, Journal of Genocide Research, and other publications.

Genocide, War Crimes and the West is a landmark collection, addressing directly one of the key challenges and conundrums of human rights movements worldwide. It will be highly relevant to students and academics across a wide range of disciplines, including history, political science and international relations, comparative genocide studies, native studies, subaltern and post-colonial studies, and African and Latin American studies. It will also be of interest to activists and laypeople concerned with the "culture of impunity" surrounding the crimes of liberal-democratic countries.

"This book documents one of the darkest chapters in recent history. It tells the story of what the 'First World' -- the Western democracies, most prominently the United States -- have done mainly against countries and peoples in the South and in the former socialist world. It is a history of aggression, indiscriminate bombing, war crimes, and massacres since the 1970s, the story of Western complicity in genocide in the South and East, and worse, it is about genocide committed by these democracies themselves. This path-breaking book fills a huge void; it carefully accounts for serious crimes that others have shamefully avoided, omitted or denied."
- Christian P. Scherrer, Professor of Peace Studies
at the Hiroshima Peace Institute, Japan; author of Genocide and Crisis

"... The authors give voice to millions of victims from a wide range of conflicts and carefully account for serious atrocities (and crimes) that to a large extent have been shamefully omitted from the historical record, avoided in the literature, or denied. ... At its best this volume is a strong witness to the notion that moral reasoning is both prior to and a precondition to legal analysis and procedure. ... In times such as ours, with a constant and increasing focus on terrorism, this volume serves as an enlightening contribution as to why the West so often instigates widespread resentment and opposition throughout the world. As such it serves both as an important tool to understand our historical legacy and as a necessary corrective to the Western interventionist regime of the last decades."

- Journal of Military Ethics, 3:3 (2004)

Table of Contents

Part One: Overview

1. Adam Jones
Introduction: History and Complicity
(now available online)

2. Peter Stoett
Shades of Complicity: Towards a Typology of Transnational Crimes
against Humanity

Part Two: Genocide, War Crimes and the West

3. Jan-Bart Gewald
Imperial Germany and the Herero of Southern Africa:
Genocide and the Quest for Recompense

4. Ward Churchill
Genocide by Any Other Name:
North American Indian Residential Schools in Context

5. Eric Langenbacher
The Allies in World War Two: The Anglo-American Bombardment
of German Cities

6. Raphaëlle Branche
Torture and Other Violations of the Law
by the French Army during the Algerian War

7. Peter Dale Scott
Atrocity and Its Discontents:
U.S. Double-Mindedness about Massacre, from the Plains Wars
to Indonesia

8. S. Brian Willson
Bob Kerrey's Atrocity, the Crime of Vietnam,
and the Historic Pattern of U.S. Imperialism

9. Document 1
Jean-Paul Sartre
Inaugural Statement to the Russell Vietnam
War Crimes Tribunal (1966)

10. Mario I. Aguilar
Charles Horman et alia vs. Henry Kissinger:
U.S. Intervention in 1970s Chile and the Case for Prosecutions

11. Suhail Islam and Syed Hassan
The Wretched of the Nations: The West's Role in Human Rights Violations
in the Bangladesh War of Independence

12. Steven L. Jacobs
Indicting Henry Kissinger: The Response of Raphael Lemkin

13. Thomas Turner
Crimes of the West in Democratic Congo:
Reflections on Belgian Acceptance of "Moral Responsibility"
for the Death of Lumumba

14. Mohamed Diriye Abdullahi
In the Name of the Cold War: How the West Aided and Abetted
the Barre Dictatorship of Somalia

15. Linda R. Melvern
The Security Council:
Behind the Scenes in the Rwanda Genocide

16. Denis J. Halliday
U.S. Policy and Iraq: A Case of Genocide?

17. Documents 2 & 3
Ramsey Clark
(I) Criminal Complaint against the United States and Others for Crimes against the People of Iraq (1996)
(II) Letter to the Security Council (2001)

18. David Bruce Macdonald
The Fire in 1999? The United States, Nato,
and the Bombing of Yugoslavia

19. Peter G. Prontzos
Collateral Damage: The Human Cost of Structural Violence

Part Three: Truth and Restitution

20. Ernesto Verdeja
Institutional Responses to Genocide and Mass Atrocity

21. Arthur Jay Klinghoffer
International Citizens' Tribunals on Human Rights

22. Francis Njubi Nesbitt
Coming to Terms with the Past: The Case for a Truth
and Reparations Commission on Slavery, Segregation, and Colonialism

23. Document 4
The World Conference against Racism:
Declarations on the Transatlantic Slave Trade

Part Four: Closing Observations

24. Adam Jones
Afghanistan and Beyond

25. Breyten Breytenbach
Letter to America

"In the names of millions of forgotten victims, from Wounded Knee to My Lai,
a brilliant tribunal of scholars assail the himalayan hypocrisy of 'Western humanitarianism'."

- Mike Davis, author of Late Victorian Holocausts

"A revealing compendium of studies regarding the crimes against humanity
committed by "Western democracies." This book should give citizens a better sense of
those parts of our history that remain largely unexamined and untaught."

- Michael Parenti, author of The Terrorism Trap and
The Assassination of Julius Caesar: A People's History of Ancient Rome

"Genocide, War Crimes and the West is a serious scholarly book ... As an anthology for classroom use, the volume is likely to be useful for teachers wishing to start their students thinking about a variety of issues to do with the West's malevolent engagement in the rest of the world. Peppered with documents such as Sartre's 'Inaugural Statement to the Russell Vietnam War Crimes Tribunal' and Breyten Breytenbach's 'Letter to America,' the volume offers a multitude of voices on a complex issue."

- Patterns of Prejudice, 39: 2 (2005)

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