Genocide, War Crimes and the West

Adam Jones

History and Complicity

Note: This is the introduction to the forthcoming volume Genocide, War Crimes and the West: History and Complicity, edited by Adam Jones, to be published by Zed Books in June 2004. For more information, including a full table of contents and how to preorder the book at a special discount from the publisher, see the volume's Web page on this site. This introduction can be freely cited and quoted according to normal scholarly practice, with the proviso that its forthcoming publication is noted.

In April 2001, convicted mass murderer Timothy McVeigh -- about to die in the first U.S. federal execution in nearly four decades -- sent a letter to a Fox News correspondent seeking "to explain ... why I bombed the Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City," killing 168 people. He referred to his terrorist action as "a retaliatory strike" and "counterattack" for the FBI attack against the Branch Davidians at Waco, Texas. But McVeigh then took a surprising analytical leap, turning to "identifiable pattern[s] of conduct" by the U.S. government in the international sphere:
borrowing a page from U.S. foreign policy, I decided to send a message to a government that was becoming increasingly hostile, by bombing a government building and the government employees within that building who represent that government. Bombing the Murrah Federal Building was morally and strategically equivalent to the U.S. hitting a government building in Serbia, Iraq, or other nations. ... Based on observations of the policies of my own government, I viewed this action as an acceptable option. From this perspective, what occurred in Oklahoma City was no different than what Americans rain on the heads of others all the time, and subsequently, my mindset was and is one of clinical detachment.(1)

There is no reason, of course, to question depictions of McVeigh as a murderous thug. His letter nonetheless raised some pertinent questions. Why was McVeigh's murderous thuggery and "free-lance fanaticism" (Morrow, 2001) viewed as egregious and indefensible, indeed meriting the death penalty, while wholesale thuggery by his government tends to be seen as politics as usual? And was McVeigh's "mindset ... of clinical detachment" any worse than the criminality and amorality that had turned the United States into the world's leading "rogue state"? (See Huntington, 1999; Blum, 2000.)(2)

Around the time McVeigh's letter was released, one long-buried, state-sponsored crime was making global headlines. Bob Kerrey, a former U.S. senator and Democratic presidential candidate who later headed the New School University in New York, acknowledged that on 25 February 1969 he had led a commando unit of Navy Seals in an attack on the South Vietnamese coastal village of Thanh Phong. The Seals' primary task was "kidnap or assassination missions, looking to eliminate Vietcong leaders from among the local population" (Vistica, 2001). Accounts differed as to what happened when the team arrived in the hamlet. According to Kerrey, the Seals came across a "hooch" (house) that had not appeared in intelligence reports. "We've got some men here, we have to take care of them," Kerrey said he was told by members of his team. That meant collective killing: "Standard operating procedure was to dispose of the people we made contact with. Kill the people we made contact with, or we have to abort the mission." Kerrey said he took no part in these initial killings. The team moved on to another cluster of dwellings where, according to Kerrey, it came under fire, which was returned. Twelve hundred rounds of U.S. ammunition later, Kerrey said he made a terrible discovery. In the "hooches," "I was expecting to find Vietcong soldiers with weapons, dead. Instead I found women and children."

Other testimony, though, suggested an even more grisly, and a systematic, slaughter of civilians. Kerrey's Navy Seal comrade, Gerhard Klann, claimed that Kerrey had been fully aware that the unit's eventual victims were civilian women and children, and had given the order anyway to mow them down in cold blood. "Klann says that Kerrey gave the order and the team, standing between 6 and 10 feet away, started shooting -- raking the group with automatic-weapons fire for about 30 seconds. They heard moans, Klann says, and began firing again, for another 30 seconds. There was one final cry, from a baby." In response, Kerrey claimed that even if Klann's account were true, the actions were defensible. "Under the unwritten rules of Vietnam, we would have been justified [in killing civilians even] had we not been fired upon. You were authorized to kill if you thought that it would be better. ... We were instructed not to take prisoners" (Vistica, 2001).

The U.S. media and public response to Kerrey's confession was striking: "many Americans seem[ed] quicker to sympathize with the former war hero [Kerrey] and to lament the 'horror of war' rather than focus on the real issues of crime and justice" (Goldhagen and Power, 2001). Time magazine emphasized not the victims of the U.S. attack, but the "private agonies" and "aching experience" of "physically and psychically scarred veterans like Kerrey," for whom "the war is never quite over" (McGeary and Tumulty, 2001).

Amidst the conservative bluster and liberal commiseration, a few commentators and organizations did call for a thorough investigation of Kerrey's alleged crimes, and the backdrop of U.S.-sponsored atrocities -- perhaps genocide -- against which they occurred. For Human Rights Watch, Kerrey's revelations suggested that U.S. military units "may have directly violated the Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949 and resulted in 'grave breaches' of that Convention, or war crimes." The organization called for U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld "to initiate without delay a full and independent investigation to establish whether during the Vietnam War certain U.S. military policies, orders and practices ... constituted or led directly to the commission of war crimes by U.S. forces" (Human Rights Watch, 2001). Bruce Shapiro, writing in Salon (Shapiro, 2001), called for the establishment of a South African-style "truth commission" to investigate U.S. war crimes in Vietnam. "Suppressed atrocity," Shapiro wrote, "haunts not just its victims and shadows not just its perpetrators, but distorts the political life of entire societies."

The broader debate over Vietnam, after a decade or more of jingoistic posturing, re-crystallized around the figure of former U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger (see the chapters in this volume by Mario Aguilar, Steven Jacobs, and Suhail Islam and Syed Hassan). Kissinger, and the administrations he served, were directly or indirectly responsible for some of the bloodiest crimes of the post-World War II era. They included the sustained U.S. bombing campaigns against peasant societies in Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos; the Indonesian invasion of East Timor in December 1975, which rapidly assumed genocidal dimensions; and the West Pakistani assault on what was shortly to become independent Bangladesh, in 1970-71, a more gigantic slaughter still. On a smaller scale, but at a cost of thousands more lives, Kissinger encouraged, aided, and abetted the military coup that overthrew the democratically-elected government of Salvador Allende in Chile in 1973.

Kissinger has retained a considerable cachet within the United States, as evidenced by his appointment to head the commission struck to investigate the events of 11 September 2001 (Kissinger accepted but subsequently withdrew, citing possible conflicts of interest with). A growing number of voices, however, have called for him to play a very different role: that of prisoner in the dock. The case for arraigning Kissinger for war crimes and crimes against humanity was made most prominently, and pithily, by the British journalist Christopher Hitchens, whose two-part series for Harper's magazine was subsequently published as a slender book, The Trial of Henry Kissinger (Hitchens, 2001a, b). In the present work, three authors take diverse approaches to the Kissinger case, and consider its implications for the volume's central themes.

The United States was not the only Western country to play host to such controversies as a new century began.

In France, Paul Aussaresses, a former general in the Algerian war (1954-62), brazenly acknowledged that during the war, "he and his 'death squad' tortured and killed 24 prisoners with the full knowledge and backing of the French government." That government, said Aussaresses, "was regularly informed about, and tolerated the use of, torture, summary executions and forced displacements of people" (Agence France-Presse, 2001; see Raphaëlle Branche's chapter in this volume). Aussaresses was unrepentant about his involvement in the crimes. French President Jacques Chirac, who served in the army in Algeria, declared himself "horrified" by the revelations; Chirac called for the general to be stripped of his Legion of Honour and face military sanctions. Observers noted that the general's account, "and [his] insistence that he is unrepentant, have reopened deep wounds from the most painful chapter of France's colonial past and revived a divisive debate over whether those responsible should or can be brought to trial" (Agence France-Presse, 2001).

In the end, Aussaresses was put on trial -- but for "complicity in justifying war crimes," not for the crimes themselves, which were covered by a 1962 amnesty. In January 2002, Aussaresses was found guilty, and fined $6,500 -- "a sentence so trivial that it served only to underline the fact that his deeds were exempt from punishment, and that France had little interest in revisiting the past" (Shatz, 2002). Nonetheless, the public reexamination of a past grown stale was surely preferable to a blanket of silence -- not least for those who had been on the receiving end, or their survivors, as Mariner notes:

Without a doubt, relatives of the thousands of suspects who were "disappeared" during Algeria's independence conflict must take some satisfaction in seeing a French court formally condemn the French army's abusive practices, even if, from their perspective, the judgment is more than forty years late. The court's official acknowledgment that the abuses committed by the French in Algeria were war crimes and, as such, unjustifiable in any circumstances, marks an important step forward. Although much has been written about the systematic use of torture during the war, France has never apologized for its army's conduct, nor have French officials shown much interest in sanctioning an official reexamination of the period (Mariner, 2002).

In Belgium, government authorities and intellectuals finally began to reckon with the country's often tawdry, sometimes genocidal colonial past. The empire's "heart of darkness" was in Congo, where independence in 1960 was followed by the murder of the country's leading nationalist figure, Patrice Lumumba. In February 2002 the Belgian government, which had "steadfastly denied any involvement until new evidence collected by a parliamentary commission confirmed the direct role of Belgian agents in carrying out and covering up the murder," admitted its participation in Lumumba's assassination, and formally apologized (Riding, 2002; see Thomas Turner's chapter in this volume).

According to The New York Times, "the motivation for the crime was to avoid losing control over Congo's resources." Decades earlier, a similar preoccupation with the vast territory -- 75 times larger than Belgium itself -- had prompted Belgian King Leopold to seize Congo as his personal property, turning it into the grotesquely misnamed "Congo Free State." Between 1885 and 1908, millions of Congolese males were conscripted into forced labour, and driven deep into the jungle to gather rubber for export. The "rubber terror" inflicted a staggering death toll on the labourers, and their protracted -- or permanent -- separation from wives and families exacerbated the demographic holocaust. Adam Hochschild's 1997 book King Leopold's Ghost exposed for a global public the astonishing scale and savagery of the killing; he estimated the overall toll (direct deaths plus demographic decline owing to the lowered birth rate) as approaching ten million Congolese (Hochschild, 1997).

In response to the furor that Hochschild's work generated in Belgium, the Royal Museum for Central Africa announced "the first far-reaching review of Belgium's colonial past." The initiative "raises the broader question of a country's continuing responsibility for unsavory [!] actions carried out in its name generations or even centuries earlier. These range from promotion of the slave trade and annexation of territories to colonial repression and ransacking of natural resources" (Riding, 2002). Stated museum director Guida Gryseels: "It is a reality which touches the deepest part of the Belgian soul. We really haven't coped with it, and the revelations came as a real shock. We were brought up knowing that we brought civilisation and good to Africa. [Allegations of brutality] weren't taught in schools" (quoted in Osborn, 2002).

Across the Channel in the United Kingdom, a penetrating reexamination of Britain's imperial role was also underway -- one facet of the movement for reparations for Western exploitation of slave labour (see Frank Njubi's chapter in this book). The issue came to a head at the United Nations conference on racism in Durban in 2001, at which British representatives fought against declaring slavery a "crime against humanity" (McGreal, 2001).(3) Activists increasingly targeted municipal authorities, building on the success achieved in December 1999, when the municipal council of Liverpool, a city that had boomed during the slaving era, made "an unreserved apology for the city's involvement in the slave trade," acknowledging the "untold misery" and its legacy for "Black people in Liverpool today" (Nelson, 2002).

"Democrisy" and the dissident strand

"The standard of justice," wrote Thucydides more than two thousand years ago, "depends on the equality of power to compel and that in fact the strong do what they have the power to do and the weak accept what they have to accept" (cited in Bass, 2000, frontispiece). A profusion of modern-day examples in international politics reminds us that Thucydides's observation has legs. But today it also seems to require revision. The strong are sometimes constrained from doing what they have the power to do -- or at least from doing it as and when they wish to do it. The end of settler colonialism and transoceanic slavery as "acceptable" international conduct provide two examples. The U.S. non-invasion of Central American countries in the 1980s, contrasted with an earlier uninhibited reliance on sending in the Marines, offers another.

Meanwhile, the "weak" -- the majority of the world's population and the governments that claim to represent them -- have in recent decades shown less willingness to "accept what they have to accept" -- at least, without protracted and voluble struggle.(4) Among other things, they have virtually eliminated (formal) colonialism from the face of the earth -- an epochal and under-recognized achievement, even though the vanquished beast appears to be making a comeback with the expected U.S. occupation and administration of Iraq (Hartung et al., 2002; Sanger and Schmitt, 2002).(5) Conceptions and institutions of international justice; national and international human rights movements; campaigns for truth and restitution -- all these are now well-established features of international relations and domestic politics. Henry Kissinger, for one, could hardly disagree, despite his avowed preference for Thucydidean realpolitik. The very factors that constrain Kissinger's foreign travel itinerary are those that, more and more, may be constraining the actions of the powerful around the world.

So this book forms part of a wider contemporary trend, in which the actions and atrocities of the powerful are under examination and public criticism as never before in history. But why the focus on crimes, or alleged crimes, of Western states? After all, they are hardly unique in their adherence to Thucydides's maxim. Genocide, war crimes, and crimes against humanity blight societies throughout the underdeveloped world, and domestic leaders and elites must often shoulder a large or dominant portion of the blame.

In my view, allegations of Western involvement in genocide and other crimes carry, and should carry, a special bite and resonance, especially for the Western citizens who will predominate as readers of this book. Such readers confront the phenomenon of democrisy, which I define as the stain of hypocrisy that attaches to regimes that are avowedly democratic in character -- that allow comparative freedom and immunity from naked state violence domestically -- but that initiate or participate in atrocious actions beyond their borders.(6) This contradiction between domestic and international practice is far less stark in reality, as indigenous inhabitants and minority groups within Western states can attest. But the disparity between democratic ideals, comparatively well-respected at home, and blatant depravity abroad, clearly forms a foundation for most contemporary critiques of the West's role in atrocity. Consider, for example, this passage from Edward S. Herman's 1982 study, The Real Terror Network:

It is difficult to avoid a sense of outrage not only at the realities of this real terror network but also at Western hypocrisy. An important element in that hypocrisy is the pretense of Western non-involvement [in terror]. Thus, while the killings and torture in the NSSs [National Security States] are sometimes mentioned in the news media -- as inexplicable background facts, like cosmic radiation, and for some reason not deserving indignation remotely proportional to the crimes in question -- the U.S. role in establishing and maintaining the NSSs in power is generally suppressed altogether. This pattern of hypocrisy, aversion of the eyes, and absence of indignation at extensive and serious crimes can be rationally explained only in terms of a structure of [domestic] interests. ... A systematic dichotomous treatment can be found across the board, whereby huge crimes by state terrorists within the U.S. sphere of influence are either suppressed or given brief and muted treatment, [while] abuses attributable to enemies are attended to repeatedly and with indignation and sarcasm (Herman, 1982, pp. 8, 16).

Implicit here is Herman's outrage at the despoliation of democracy implied by the state's criminal connivance. References to the "pattern of hypocrisy" (a specifically Western hypocrisy), to "pretense," media blackout, "absence of [public] indignation" -- all these criticisms would make little sense outside a context of democratic freedoms. I am reminded, too, of the "Letter to America" by South African writer Breyten Breytenbach, which closes this volume. For me it is one of the most thoughtful and impassioned denunciations of the U.S. global role issued after 11 September 2001. And anger at democrisy pervades it. Breytenbach demands to know in what way U.S. "priorities [are] any different from those of the defunct Soviet Union or other totalitarian regimes" - implying that they should be different, dramatically so -- and then confesses in a revealing way the "difficulty" he encounters in critiquing U.S. actions:

Why is it difficult? Because the United States is a complex entity despite the gung-ho slogans and simplistic posturing in moments of national hysteria. Your political system is resilient and well tested; it has always harbored counterforces; it allows quite effectively for alternation: for a swing-back of the pendulum whenever policies have strayed too far from middle-class interests -- with the result that you have a large middle ground of acceptable political practices. Why, through the role of elected representatives, the people who vote even have a rudimentary democratic control over public affairs! Except maybe in Florida. Better still -- your history has shown how powerful a moral catharsis expressed through popular resistance to injustice can sometimes be ... And all along there was no dearth of strong voices speaking firm convictions and enunciating sure ethical standards (Breytenbach, 2002).

"Where are [the strong voices] now?" Breytenbach asks plaintively. Again, it is not a question that could easily be directed to citizens of an authoritarian or dictatorial state. Breytenbach is acknowledging that plurality and possibility for change exist under democracy, even in the world's most imperial democratic state. That recognition both fuels and shapes his anger against the "cracker fundamentalists, desk warriors ... warmed up Dr. Strangeloves and oil-greedy conservative capitalists" who, in his view, have hijacked U.S. democracy since 9-11. But even the corrupted democracy allows polemics like Breytenbach's to appear, and in a non-trivial, relatively mainstream forum (his letter was originally published in The Nation). This is broadly true of countries where democrisy obtains. They allow a searchlight to be trained upon the state's actions; domestic critics, at least, rarely need to fear a visit from a death squad or professional torturer. As a result, citizens, too, are in danger of bolstering democrisy through their quiescence. Breytenbach implies that they -- we -- have a special capacity and thus a special obligation to speak out and to intervene.

Such interventions have been part of the "Western" tradition since long before a modern (or post-modern) phenomenon like democrisy could arise. Think of Bartolomé de las Casas's denunciations of Spanish depredations in the Americas, for example. But interventionism took a momentous step forward with the rise of mass democracy, education, urbanization, and communication in the West. These social upheavals spawned, as early as the 19th century, "a range of popular organizations and movements [that] sought to condemn war, to temper its severity when it occurred and, even more ambitiously, to create international dispute mechanisms that might obviate it entirely" (Reisman and Antoniou, 1994, p. xviii). Such mobilized opinion had a profound impact on legislation drafted to govern crimes of war (notably with the Geneva and Hague Conventions). It underpinned two of the most largescale and successful international social movements in history: the anti-slavery movement, and the later campaign against Belgian forced labour in Congo, led by the Irishman Roger Casement. Aroused publics and non-governmental organizations contributed seminally to key pieces of post-World War II legislation, such as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, both passed by the United Nations in 1948. And the interventions continue today, on a still greater scale, as chapter after chapter in this book makes clear.

The interventions are more necessary than ever, in part because democrisy has always been in the eye of the beholder. For proponents and defenders of Western states, for those who buttress the idea of "the West's" exceptional role as a civilizing force, no hypocrisy enters the equation -- because there is no systematic deviation from the democratic norm, whether internally or outside Western states' boundaries. Democratic states "wouldn't do" something atrocious; therefore they "don't." Any suggestion that they regularly have done it, and continue to do it, is viewed as intemperate or ungrateful at best, dangerous or extremist at worst. The result is an effective "culture of impunity," in which the atrocities committed by Western states and their allies are systematically ignored, explained away, defined out of existence, or openly celebrated -- anything to preserve them from serious and objective criticism.

Genocide, War Crimes and the West can be seen as an attempt to erode, in some small way, this culture of impunity. As such, it forms part of a "dissident strand" in analyses of Western foreign and domestic policy. I do not mean to say that the contributors' approaches and conclusions are uniform. A significant proportion, for example, do not condemn in blanket fashion the actions of a given Western state or states. But none, I think, would support the idea that the behaviour of Western democratic states, abroad or at home, is purely benevolent, and therefore exempt from systemic critique.

The emergence of the dissident strand took a somewhat different path in each Western country, strongly influenced by events in the decolonizing countries and their independent successors in the "Third World." I do not intend to provide a detailed multinational history here, but will limit myself to exploring the dissident strand as it took shape in the most powerful Western country and the leading focus of such critiques, the United States, with passing references to parallel developments elsewhere.

The dissident literature on U.S. foreign and domestic policy has deep roots in populist and socialist traditions that extend far back into the 19th century. One need only consult the record of the spirited debates over U.S. intervention in the Philippines and Cuba at the turn of the 20th century, for example, to see that skepticism towards proclaimed policy goals is nothing new in the American body politic. In its post-World War II incarnation, dissidence was connected closely with the U.S.'s emergence as the dominant global power. The "grand strategy" implemented after the war to organize international relations according to U.S. ambitions led naturally to interventions, both overt and covert, on a scale unprecedented in U.S. (indeed world) history. This prompted, beginning in the late 1950s, the rise of a "revisionist" school of historians led by William Appleman Williams with his 1959 work, The Tragedy of American Diplomacy.

Williams was less radical than many of his successors, but his appears to have been the first prominent academic voice of the postwar era to point out the basic expansionist continuity in American policy, at home and abroad. The closing of the "frontier" at the end of the 19th century brought an end to the continental drive that had placed much of North America under U.S. control and exterminated the majority of its native inhabitants. For Williams, the imperial campaign that took over, continuing into the post-World War II era, was founded on a desire for new international markets and favourable economic arrangements to bolster prosperity domestically, and to compensate for the loss of an ever-expanding lebensraum on the North American continent itself.

The primacy of economic considerations in Williams's model was duplicated in the more detailed dissident analyses that proliferated in the 1960s, with the United States turning large parts of Indochina into wastelands cratered by high explosives. David Horowitz led the way with his Free World Colossus (Horowitz, 1965), a book that the author eventually disowned and withdrew from sale after his conversion to hardline neo-conservatism.(7) With the international New Left reaching its apogee, the years 1966-69 saw the publication of a succession of core dissident texts: Edward S. Herman's America's Vietnam Policy: The Strategy of Deception (1966); Franz Schurmann et al.'s The Politics of Escalation in Vietnam (1966, co-authored by a contributor to this volume, Peter Dale Scott); Howard Zinn's Vietnam: The Logic of Withdrawal (1967; see also Zinn, 1980); Gabriel Kolko's The Politics of War (1968; see also Kolko, 1988); Richard J. Barnet's Intervention and Revolution (1968); and Noam Chomsky's first collection of essays, American Power and the New Mandarins (1969, gratifyingly reissued by the New Press in 2002). More or less concurrently, soul-searching on the domestic issue of race produced the first "Black Power" texts (see, e.g., Malcolm X, 1965; Cleaver, 1968), as well as Dee Brown's majestic revisionist account of the "settling" of the American West, Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee (Brown, 1972).(8)

Congressional revelations, in the mid-1970s, of Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) interventionism throughout the Third World were buttressed by the memoirs of former CIA operatives, notably Philip Agee (Inside the Company: CIA Diary, 1975) and John Stockwell (In Search of Enemies: A CIA Story, 1978). These taboo-breakers paved the way for more mainstream authors to contribute well-documented dissident critiques, such as William Shawcross's Sideshow: Kissinger, Nixon, and the Destruction of Cambodia (1979); Seymour M. Hersh's ruthless dissection of the Kissinger myth, The Price of Power (1983); Stephen Schlesinger and Stephen Kinzer's history of the U.S.-sponsored coup in Guatemala in 1954, Bitter Fruit (1983; see also Immerman, 1982); and New York Times journalist Raymond Bonner's chilling study of U.S. policy in El Salvador, Weakness and Deceit (1984).

It is vital to acknowledge the contributions of a number of "Third World" writers whose critiques of Western imperialism penetrated the Western consciousness from the 1960s to the 1980s. These included Frantz Fanon's studies of the psychology of colonial oppression (The Wretched of the Earth, 1963; Black Skin, White Masks, 1968); Che Guevara's Guerrilla Warfare (1961) and Reminiscences of the Cuban Revolutionary War (1968); Paulo Freire's Pedagogy of the Oppressed (1970); Walter Rodney's How Europe Underdeveloped Africa (1972); Eduardo Galeano's Open Veins of Latin America (1973); Edward Said's Orientalism (1979); and Rigoberta Menchú's I, Rigoberta Menchú (Burgos-Debray, 1983). Perhaps for the first time, a broad and multifaceted dialogue was initiated between Third World critics and activists and their First World sympathizers -- a process mirrored by the rise of numerous solidarity committees in Western communities and on Western university campuses.

The wave of U.S.-supported and -inspired coups in Latin America and elsewhere during the 1960s and 1970s led to the establishment of "National Security States" (NSS), in which selective or blanket terror was used to crush popular mobilization and reduce citizens to a state of fear and passivity. Roughly contemporaneously, a neoconservative critique was gestating within U.S. political and academic life, built on the Rambo-esque conviction that victory in Vietnam had been sabotaged by domestic interests (including pusillanimous politicians and hyper-critical mass media). From this interpretation of the recent past, it followed that waging the Cold War with the Soviets required not the squeamishness of the "Vietnam Syndrome," but unabashed militarism and interventionism.

With the ascent to power of Ronald Reagan in 1981, this strand found its most potent expression. The result was a renewed campaign of U.S. support for terrorist states and movements around the world, accompanied by largescale but usually "covert" violence in Central America, Southern Africa, and elsewhere. This could all be presented as the result of a staunch commitment to fighting terrorism -- a trope that was possible only if the term "terrorism" was strictly limited in its practical application, designating only movements and regimes deemed hostile to the United States.(9) Some of the most terror-fuelled regimes of the 20th century -- in Guatemala, El Salvador, and Indonesia, to cite just three -- were thus redefined as progressive, as "embattled democrats," as "caught between extremes" of left (the popular and guerrilla opposition) and right (the paramilitaries and death squads, somehow divorced from the regimes that constituted and directed them). Meanwhile, "retail" terrorist movements, whose power was minuscule in comparison with the "wholesale" state terror that predominated in the Western sphere of influence, were depicted as nothing more than cogs in a communist machine. Their origins lay not in local grievances but in the Soviet Union's attempt to undermine Western democracy and establish Red supremacy worldwide.

This frankly Orwellian framing of terrorism was enthusiastically adopted by the school of "terrorology" that crested around this time, with contributions from scholars like Walter Laqueur (Terrorism, 1977; The Age of Terrorism, 1987), Jeane Kirkpatrick (Dictatorships and Double Standards, 1982), and Paul Wilkinson (Terrorism and the Liberal State, 1977; Terrorism: Theory and Practice, 1979); the diplomat and future Israeli Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (Terrorism: How the West Can Win, 1986); and journalistic hacks such as Claire Sterling (The Terror Network, 1981) and Arnauld de Borchgrave and Robert Moss (The Spike [fiction], 1980).

The generally reactionary thrust of U.S. politics, academics, and mass media in the 1980s spawned a reaction, in turn, from proponents of the dissident strand. An important and perhaps unique exception in the academic study of "terrorology" was Michael Stohl, whose edited volume The Politics of Terrorism remains one of the field's enduring classics.(10) The broader dissident strand produced a range of seminal studies of "counter-terrorism" and "counter-subversion" (which amounted, in the dissident view, to largescale terrorism and subversion). Edward S. Herman led the way with a 1982 work, the title of which, The Real Terror Network, aimed squarely at confronting Claire Sterling's influential thesis (Herman, 1982; see also Herman and O'Sullivan, 1990). Building on seminal 1970s works co-authored with Noam Chomsky (Chomsky and Herman, 1979a, b), Herman analyzed the politics of the emerging school of "terrorology," the terroristic underpinnings of U.S. client-state networks throughout the Third World, and the role of mass media in establishing "acceptable" parameters of thought and analysis. He was also one of the first to emphasize the role of "sub-fascist" client states in imposing terror that Western countries could support without having to micro-administer.

During the same period, Noam Chomsky continued his forceful evaluations of U.S. policies in Towards a New Cold War (1982), Turning the Tide (1985) and The Culture of Terrorism (1988). Chomsky and Herman collaborated again on Manufacturing Consent: The Political Economy of the Mass Media (Herman and Chomsky, 1988). Michael McClintock published his devastating two-volume indictment of The American Connection to despotic regimes worldwide (McClintock, 1985).(11) Michael Parenti weighed in with Inventing Reality: The Politics of the News Media (1986) and The Sword and the Dollar: Imperialism, Revolution and the Arms Race (1989; see also Parenti, 2000). The focus on "covert" and "low-intensity" warfare in U.S. strategy produced some significant dissident analyses of these phenomena (e.g., Klare and Kornbluh, 1988). Notable critical voices in the mass media throughout the decade included the British critics Alexander Cockburn (1987) and Christopher Hitchens (1990), as well as the Australian John Pilger (1989, 1994).

The dissident literature on terrorism and counter-terrorism achieved something of a summation with the publication of Alexander George's edited volume Western State Terrorism in 1990. This book, perhaps the most obvious forebear of Genocide, War Crimes and the West, deserves closer consideration here, and comparison with the present work.

An omnibus approach links Western State Terrorism to Genocide, War Crimes and the West. George's book drew together and summarized the dissident literature of the 1970s and 1980s that had turned accepted conventions of "terrorism" on their heads, though its contribution was largely ignored in public and academic discourse. A number of pivotal figures of that literature (Noam Chomsky, Edward Herman, Michael McClintock, Richard Falk) were represented. The book was a seminal contribution, published by a major press (Polity, an offshoot of Cambridge University Press). That it is virtually unknown today - though it is still, fortunately, in print -- perhaps attests to the enduring hegemony of the mainstream discourse on terrorism.

George and his contributors produced a powerful, wide-ranging volume with a strikingly consistent clarity of tone and methodology. The contributors rejected the facile equation of terror with small-scale, "retail" terrorism directed against Western states. Through their (and Michael Stohl's) explicit focus on Western support for state terrorism, the conceptual playing field was substantially broadened. State terror was also brought up against its conceptual limits -- that is to say, attention was paid to the points at which terrorism spills over into aggressive war and genocide. George's edited book thus shares with this one a skeptical approach towards Western claims of moral righteousness and impunity from criticism. However, fewer contributors to the present volume adopt as forthrightly dissident a stance as that of the luminaries assembled for Western State Terrorism. Indeed, several of them argue for a more nuanced evaluation of Western complicity in genocide and war crimes. A few -- like Steven Jacobs, Eric Langenbacher, and David Bruce MacDonald -- bring in qualified verdicts in the particular cases they examine. (Thomas Turner's consideration of Western involvement in the murder of Patrice Lumumba, meanwhile, can perhaps be viewed as a motion for retrial!) Nonetheless, by their simple (and complex) presence in this volume, they demonstrate a conviction that Western countries cannot claim impunity from the investigative searchlight that they routinely turn on "the Other" worldwide. When the analytical terrain broadens to allow cases for both the prosecution and defence to be presented, even if an exculpatory verdict is eventually passed, we are far from a mainstream framing that relies upon nipping any such debate in the bud.

In addition to a somewhat broader range of approaches and conclusions, there are other differences between Genocide, War Crimes and the West and George's edited work. One is the scale of the project: Zed has generously granted the present set of contributors much greater space with which to work. The result is a book that contains nearly two dozen chapters and document excerpts, versus nine for Western State Terrorism. The available space is, moreover, devoted to themes that are in many ways substantially different from George's. The present book does not situate itself in the "terrorism" literature per se, focusing more (as the subtitle suggests) on war crimes and genocide. The landmark contributions to the study of terrorism and "terrorology" in Western State Terrorism can therefore stand, and be supplemented here by related but distinct lines of investigation.

George's volume contained just three case-studies of Western involvement in largescale terrorism or other criminal activity (Britain and Northern Ireland, Indonesia during the epic massacres of 1965-66, and southern Africa during the Reagan era of the 1980s). A key ambition of Genocide, War Crimes and the West, on the other hand, is to present the most geographically and historically comprehensive survey yet of Western involvement in war crimes and other atrocities. Treatment is accorded to subjects as diverse as the German extermination, early in the twentieth century, of the Herero and Nama peoples of Namibia (then South-West Africa); U.S. maraudings in South-East Asia and Latin America; residential schools for Native Americans in Canada and the U.S.; France's coming-to-terms with its past of torture and atrocity in Algeria; and the structural violence that underpins more visible forms of oppression and brutality.

A difficulty with much of the dissident writing on terrorism, war crimes, and genocide is that it is frankly depressing to read. William Blum's Rogue State (Blum, 2000), surely the most encyclopedic popular compendium of U.S. criminality and mendacity yet assembled, suffers somewhat from its overwhelming accumulation of grim detail. Noam Chomsky has often grappled with the concerns of his large audience that his work is so unremittingly bleak as to almost rule out possibilities for constructive (or even peaceful) change. Chomsky has responded by stressing the huge accomplishments of progressive movements over the last two hundred years -- ending slavery and colonialism, securing rights for women and workers, gradually opening up the range of permissible thought in authoritarian and democratic societies alike, and so on. Fortunately, the list is not a short one. But the overriding and indispensable focus of this literature, greatly assisted by the work of non-governmental human rights organizations, has been on cataloguing the crimes in which Western democracies have been complicit -- and frequently cataloguing them in stomach-churning detail. Such wrenching data are then deployed as evidence for the broader case: that democrisy must be exposed; that Western states must be placed under the moral microscope along with the designated Other.

There is no shortage of contributions in Genocide, War Crimes and the West that follow something of the same strategy, and readers will be moved at many points by empathy for suffering peoples beyond our borders or (pace Churchill's study of residential schools and Prontzos's examination of structural violence) on our doorsteps. But contributors have also been asked to adopt a constructive approach as far as possible: to explore issues of justice, restitution, truth and reconciliation. So it is that Jan-Bart Gewald, for example, while pulling no punches in his depiction of the German genocide in Namibia, devotes much of his chapter to an analysis of how Herero national consciousness gradually led to a powerful and partially successful campaign for compensation from the present-day German government. Brian Willson's passionate evocation of war crimes in Vietnam likewise issues a heartfelt call for reconciliation through painful acknowledgment of past wrongs, and commitment to peaceful and constructive relations in the future. Mario Aguilar casts his own study of Chile in the context of the growing impetus for a legal process against Henry Kissinger and surviving co-conspirators in the Nixon Administration.

A separate section groups together essays that adopt a broad comparative approach to these themes. Ernesto Verdeja provides a wide-ranging and highly-readable overview of "Institutional Responses to Genocide and Mass Atrocity," exploring the profusion of truth-and-reconciliation campaigns in countries such as Chile and El Salvador, and the complex trade-offs with which they must deal. Building on the research carried out for his ground-breaking book on the subject, Arthur Jay Klinghoffer provides a fascinating overview of the evolution of "citizens' tribunals," beginning with the Reichstag Fire of 1933 and continuing into the contemporary era with tribunals examining U.S. policies in Vietnam and Central America, the destruction of indigenous peoples, the worldwide oppression of women, and much else besides. (The activities of the citizens' tribunals are also reflected in two documents: Jean-Paul Sartre's 1967 address to the Vietnam tribunal, and the "criminal complaint" filed by Ramsey Clark, who has overseen a similar process in the case of U.N. sanctions and U.S./British military actions against Iraq.)

The West and genocide

Over the past two decades, building on the systematic attention devoted to the Jewish holocaust from the 1960s onwards, the multidisciplinary field of comparative genocide studies has established itself in the social sciences. Its contributors hail from an impressive range of disciplines and pursuits, including political science and international relations, sociology, anthropology, criminology and international law, gender and queer studies, and (last but not least) human rights investigation and activism. At the same time as our book draws on dissident analyses of state terror in the 1970s and 1980s, it should be seen explicitly as a contribution to the important and still-emerging field of comparative genocide studies.(12)

The mainstream of this field in many ways represents a notable improvement over the narrow-minded and jingoistic "terrorism" literature of the 1970s and 1980s. From the start -- that is to say, from the publication of Leo Kuper's Genocide: Its Political Use in the Twentieth Century in 1981 -- the literature has been more attentive to the Western role in international crime and atrocity, including "the crime of crimes" -- genocide. (One might link this to the school's foundation in study of the Jewish holocaust. That event surely and forever put paid to notions that "civilized" Western states were immune to outbursts of unfathomable violence, or that "civilized" democratic states would not stand by and wash their hands of responsibility as the horror mounted.)

The title of Kuper's book indicated its author's preoccupation with the state as guiding force, both in the committing and the obfuscating of acts of genocide. In a chapter of almost biblical resonance, Kuper bitterly declaimed against the "right of the sovereign state" to wage genocide within its own borders. Genocide was a crime intimately bound up with the Westphalian state system and the United Nations institutions which, with their foundation in national governments and Westphalian notions of sovereignty, were a contemporary offshoot of that system. Kuper was ruthless in condemning the complicity of states, including Western states, in practical and political support for genocide (as with the kid-glove treatment accorded the Khmer Rouge's representatives to the General Assembly, after their genocidal reign had been ended by the Vietnamese). His global-historical survey of genocide included the trampling of indigenous civilization by Western colonialists worldwide. And Kuper recognized the intimate link between genocide and war, as with his controversial claim that the U.S. destruction of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, among other acts of "strategic bombing," constituted genocide.

Since Kuper, numerous other writers have expanded our understanding of Western involvement in genocide. Chroniclers of the destruction of indigenous civilizations in North America and Australasia have been among the most prominent; Ward Churchill's A Little Matter of Genocide and David Stannard's American Holocaust are both indispensable to an understanding of themes addressed in this volume by Peter Dale Scott and by Churchill himself.(13)

The Guatemalan case has been widely accepted as a contemporary genocide against an indigenous population, and is prominent in many studies, although the dimension of Western complicity -- the overthrow of the democratic Arbenz regime in 1954; subsequent counterinsurgency aid and training; the funnelling of arms through Israel and South Korea at the height of the genocide in the late 1970s and 1980s -- remains underexplored. East Timor was also absorbed into the literature as a paradigmatic case of genocide -- somewhat unevenly, but a little ahead of public and political opinion galvanized by the international Timor solidarity movement.

Adam Hochschild's prizewinning study of Congo under Belgian rule, King Leopold's Ghost, brought to light a holocaust in the heart of Africa that seemed comparable, in its scale and savagery, to the Nazis' attempted extermination of the Jews decades later. A number of useful anthologies have emerged, almost all featuring attention to cases of Western involvement in genocide beyond the Nazi case. Historically-distant events like the Herero genocide, explored here by the expert pen of Jan-Bart Gewald, have been rescued from obscurity, at roughly the same time as social movements have rendered them pressing political concerns.

Kuper's original dissection of the failures and hypocrisies of the Western state system has inspired a rapidly-growing substrand of the genocide literature that focuses on state response, or tragic lack of response, to mass atrocity. Studies of the Jewish Holocaust, beginning with Arthur Morse's While Six Million Died (Morse, 1968; see also Wyman, 1984) have highlighted Western passivity as Hitler's machinery of extermination was developed and deployed. U.S. support for the Indonesian invasion of East Timor, leading directly to genocide and to one of the highest death-tolls, relative to population, since the Jewish holocaust, received sustained attention in works like Mathew Jardine's East Timor: Genocide in Paradise (Jardine, 1999). Linda Melvern's A People Betrayed: The Role of the West in Rwanda's Genocide lambasted Security Council inaction in the face of the mass killings of Rwandan Tutsis and moderate Hutus; Melvern's core thesis is on display in her chapter for this book. Samantha Power's recent, compulsively readable study, "A Problem from Hell": America and the Age of Genocide marks the apotheosis of this literature to date. Powers surveys the inability and unwillingness of the U.S. and other Western powers to effectively confront genocides -- sometimes because they were too busy supporting them or (post facto) their perpetrators, as with Saddam Hussein's Anfal campaign against the Kurds and the Khmer Rouge's post-1978 diplomatic trajectory. A parallel literature in human rights, exemplified by Des Forges (1999), has been similarly blunt in its condemnations, while internal U.N. investigations have directed strong self-criticisms against the international organization that crumbled before the génocidaires in the Balkans and Rwanda.

Theoretical probes have been made into subjects such as "conventional" warfare, structural and gendered violence, and the natural environment, with the corresponding proliferation of terms such as "omnicide," "ecocide," and "gendercide." Eric Markusen, in separate collaborations with Robert Jay Lifton and David Kopf, has worked to explore the omnicidal rationale at the heart of both the "nuclear mentality" and the strategic bombing campaigns of the Second World War. (The issue is explored in Eric Langenbacher's impressively nuanced chapter for this volume.) Other studies of "conventional" warfare sought to emphasize its genocidal logic and dimensions, as with Omer Bartov's studies of the "barbarization" of the Eastern Front in World War II (e.g., Bartov, 1985) and John Dower's comparison of exterminatory ideology and rhetoric in the Pacific War (Dower, 1986). The analysis is highly relevant to cases like Namibia, Algeria, the Philippines, and Vietnam, all of which receive consideration in this book as case-studies of Western complicity in genocide and war crimes.

Denunciations of global environmental destruction and calls for protection and preservation have been issued by such writers as Vandana Shiva, who explicitly, and for me persuasively, considers these to be issues of genocide and genocide prevention. Mike Davis, meanwhile, has turned his sights from pre-apocalypse Los Angeles (subject of his City of Quartz and Ecology of Fear) to the role of state-assisted famines in producing the modern Third World. His imposing Late Victorian Holocausts (2001) alleges Western complicity in megadeath, as colonizing powers and their local surrogates exacerbated some of the worst "natural" disasters and human catastrophes of the 19th and early 20th centuries. Such critiques, with their focus on the destructive and imperialist strategies of the Western path to modernity, point to another important thread in the skein of Western complicity in genocide and mass atrocity. They are echoed here in the chapters by Brian Willson and Peter Prontzos.

Definitions, caveats and acknowledgments

The term "the West" is notoriously amorphous and ambiguous. For the purposes of our volume, it is defined as the industrialized democracies of Western Europe, North America (excluding Mexico), and Australasia. Japan is not considered; nor are complexly-positioned actors like the Soviet Union/Russia, Israel, and South Africa.

Key terms deployed throughout this book are likewise open to extensive debate -- and are in fact extensively debated. One could fill a volume with the definitional debate over "genocide" alone. I have not sought to impose uniform definitions of these terms on contributors. However, I believe that the definitions of "war crimes" and "crimes against humanity" enshrined in the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC) are not at odds with any of the essays offered here. The ICC defines "war crimes" as "Grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions of 12 August 1949, namely, any of the following acts against persons or property protected under the provisions of the relevant Geneva Convention: (i) Wilful killing; (ii) Torture or inhuman treatment, including biological experiments; (iii) Wilfully causing great suffering, or serious injury to body or health; (iv) Extensive destruction and appropriation of property, not justified by military necessity and carried out unlawfully and wantonly; (v) Compelling a prisoner of war or other protected person to serve in the forces of a hostile Power; (vi) Wilfully depriving a prisoner of war or other protected person of the rights of fair and regular trial; (vii) Unlawful deportation or transfer or unlawful confinement; (viii) Taking of hostages." Of relevance is the list of "other serious violations of the laws and customs applicable in international armed conflict," specifically:

Intentionally directing attacks against the civilian population ... [or] civilian objects; ... Intentionally launching an attack in the knowledge that such attack will cause incidental loss of life or injury to civilians or damage to civilian objects or widespread, long-term and severe damage to the natural environment which would be clearly excessive in relation to the concrete and direct overall military advantage expected; ... Attacking or bombarding, by whatever means, towns, villages, dwellings or buildings which are undefended and which are not military objectives; ... Killing or wounding a combatant who, having laid down his arms or having no longer means of defence, has surrendered at discretion; ... Employing asphyxiating, poisonous or other gases, and all analogous liquids, materials or devices; ... Committing outrages upon personal dignity, in particular humiliating and degrading treatment; ... Intentionally using starvation of civilians as a method of warfare by depriving them of objects indispensable to their survival, including wilfully impeding relief supplies ...

"Crimes against humanity," meanwhile, are defined as:

any of the following acts when committed as part of a widespread or systematic attack directed against any civilian population, with knowledge of the attack: (a) Murder; (b) Extermination; (c) Enslavement; (d) Deportation or forcible transfer of population; (e) Imprisonment or other severe deprivation of physical liberty in violation of fundamental rules of international law; (f) Torture; (g) Rape, sexual slavery, enforced prostitution, forced pregnancy, enforced sterilization, or any other form of sexual violence of comparable gravity; (h) Persecution against any identifiable group or collectivity on political, racial, national, ethnic, cultural, religious, gender ... or other grounds that are universally recognized as impermissible under international law ...; (i) Enforced disappearance of persons; (j) The crime of apartheid; (k) Other inhumane acts of a similar character intentionally causing great suffering, or serious injury to body or to mental or physical health.

"Genocide" is perhaps the most extreme crime against humanity; as used throughout this volume, the term refers to destruction of human groups and their members, by murder and possibly other means (this is a shading on the U.N. Convention/ICC definition of genocide).(14)

Genocide, War Crimes and the West aims to be the most comprehensive collection of its kind ever published. But it is far from exhaustive. Most obviously, there is nothing on Germany and the Nazi holocaust, no less a "Western" phenomenon than any other examined in these pages (see Lindqvist, 1997). In partial compensation, Jan-Bart Gewald's rich and learned study of the Herero/Nama genocide in Namibia provides one of the most concise yet wide-ranging analyses in English of a key predecessor of Nazi rule. Likewise, Western involvement in the Southern African wars of the 1970s and 1980s,(15) Western support for Israel in its war against the Palestinians,(16) and British actions in Northern Ireland pass unexamined. We offer no chapter on the ideology and practice of nuclearism, and the implications of a possible "omnicide" of humanity as a result of the machinations of nuclear states, including Western states.(17)

I hope, instead, that this book will be seen for what it is: a contribution, perhaps the most wide-ranging one, to the literature on crimes and atrocities committed by or with the active complicity of the Western countries. The justifications for such a focus have already been explored. We do not pretend to offer a systematic comparison of Western crimes set against those variously classed as communist, socialist, totalitarian, autocratic/dictatorial, and so on. Such comparisons are not an empty exercise, as works like Rummel's Death by Government, and some of the recent "democratic peace" literature in International Relations have demonstrated (Henderson, 2002). But they are secondary to the contention that, regardless of how other state crimes compare with those of the West, Western citizens -- the primary audience for this book -- should have a special concern for atrocities committed at the behest of their own leaders, ostensibly in their name. Genocide, War Crimes and the West exploits the freedom that still exists in democratic societies to unveil the darkest state abuses, and to ask core questions about state policy -- even if approaches and conclusions differ, as they should under democracy.

I offer my sincere thanks to all the authors represented in this volume. I am also most grateful to Zed Books for taking on the project despite its formidable bulk, and for shepherding it through to publication. Special thanks to Zed editor Robert Molteno for his unfailing support and guidance. Thanks also to Rosemary Taylorson, Julian Hosie, and Anne Rodford.

I am sure contributors will join me in expressing our appreciation to family, friends, and colleagues for the sustenance they have provided throughout the preparation of this book, and beyond.

-- Adam Jones
Mexico City
January 2003


1. For the text of McVeigh's letter, see Fox News (2001).

2. Harvard scholar Samuel Huntington's contribution makes it clear that the depiction of the U.S. as a rogue state -- or at least the recognition that a good part of the world supports that depiction -- is not limited to the radical end of the spectrum. Huntington -- a member of the Trilateral Commission of the 1970s, and author of the "clash of civilizations" thesis -- published his article in Foreign Affairs in 1999. It is worth quoting at length:

While the United States regularly denounces various countries as "rogue states," in the eyes of many countries it is becoming the rogue superpower. ... On issue after issue, the United States has found itself increasingly alone, with one or a few partners, opposing most of the rest of the world's states and peoples. These issues include U.N. dues; sanctions against Cuba, Iran, Iraq, and Libya; the land mines treaty; global warming; an international war crimes tribunal; the Middle East; the use of force against Iraq and Yugoslavia; and the targeting of 35 countries with new economic sanctions between 1993 and 1996. On these and other issues, much of the international community is on one side and the United States is on the other. The circle of governments who see their interests coinciding with American interests is shrinking. ... In the past few years the United States has, among other things, attempted or been perceived as attempting more or less unilaterally to do the following: pressure other countries to adopt American values and practices regarding human rights and democracy; prevent other countries from acquiring military capabilities that could counter American conventional superiority; enforce American law extraterritorially in other societies; grade countries according to their adherence to American standards on human rights, drugs, terrorism, nuclear proliferation, missile proliferation, and now religious freedom; apply sanctions against countries that do not meet American standards on these issues; promote American corporate interests under the slogans of free trade and open markets; shape World Bank and International Monetary Fund policies to serve those same corporate interests; intervene in local conflicts in which it has relatively little direct interest; bludgeon other countries to adopt economic policies and social policies that will benefit American economic interests; promote American arms sales abroad while attempting to prevent comparable sales by other countries; force out one U.N. secretary-general and dictate the appointment of his successor; expand NATO initially to include Poland, Hungary, and the Czech Republic and no one else; undertake military action against Iraq and later maintain harsh economic sanctions against the regime; and categorize certain countries as "rogue states," excluding them from global institutions because they refuse to kowtow to American wishes. ... At a 1997 Harvard conference, scholars reported that the elites of countries comprising at least two-thirds of the world's people -- Chinese, Russians, Indians, Arabs, Muslims, and Africans -- see the United States as the single greatest external threat to their societies. They do not regard America as a military threat but as a menace to their integrity, autonomy, prosperity, and freedom of action. They view the United States as intrusive, interventionist, exploitative, unilateralist, hegemonic, hypocritical, and applying double standards, engaging in what they label "financial imperialism" and "intellectual colonialism," with a foreign policy driven overwhelmingly by domestic politics (Huntington, 1999).

3. A draft of a proposed resolution for the Durban conference, intended for submission by European Union delegates, reads: "The European Union profoundly deplores the human suffering, individual and collective, caused by slavery and the slave trade. They are among the most dishonourable and abhorrent chapters in the history of humanity. The EU condemns these practices, in the past and present, and regrets the suffering they have caused" -- though without acknowledging Europe's central role in the slave trade.

4. In purely military terms, the shock to the West of successful wars of national independence was duplicated by the events of September 2001, in which the West's own technologies were turned against it. This has sharply transformed the "playing field" of war and terrorism. In the First World-Third World relationship, terror-bombing that kills thousands on the other side is no longer a Western monopoly.

5. There is much to Alexander Cockburn's assertion that the post-11 September world has witnessed "an imperial onslaught as brazen and lawless as any colonizing sortie of the nineteenth century" (Cockburn, 2002).

6. The radically different levels of domestic "protection" available to elites versus minorities naturally deserve much greater exposition, but are generally outside the boundaries of the present study, with the exceptions of Ward Churchill's examination of the residential school system for Native Americans, and Peter Prontzos's analysis of the costs of structural violence both within and beyond the countries of the developed West.

7. The ideological journey was described in Horowitz's memoir, Radical Son: A Generational Odyssey (Horowitz , 1997).

8. Important works of revisionist cinema, notably Ralph Nelson's Soldier Blue and Arthur Hill's Little Big Man (both 1970), also contributed to the resurgence of Native American issues. A fuller examination of the dissident stream should attend to such popular-culture artefacts, including some of the fiction and protest music that asked searching questions about U.S. policies at home and abroad.

9. A reasonably objective definition of terrorism is offered by the U.S. Congress: "[An] act of terrorism, means any activity that (A) involves a violent act or an act dangerous to human life that is a violation of the criminal laws of the United States or any State, or that would be a criminal violation if committed within the jurisdiction of the United States or of any State; and (B) appears to be intended (i) to intimidate or coerce a civilian population; (ii) to influence the policy of a government by intimidation or coercion; or (iii) to affect the conduct of a government by assassination or kidnapping." United States Congressional Code, 1984, quoted in Chomsky (2001, p. 16fn.).

10. Stohl's work places state terrorism, including in Western countries and throughout the Western sphere of influence, alongside terrorism by minorities, insurgent groups, and other "retail" actors. Indeed, in the third edition, published in the late 1980s, Stohl cited as "Myth 1" of the study of terrorism that "political terrorism is exclusively the activity of nongovernmental forces," and included as a parallel myth "that terrorism is not something practiced by the governments of liberal Western democracies" (Stohl in Stohl, ed., 1988, pp. 7-8). He stressed as the "major requirement" of the study of terrorism "an analysis, rather than an assumption, of the historical and political sources of the terrorism within a conflict situation," rather than obeisance to the Reagan administration's worldview (Stohl in Stohl, ed., 1988, p. 597).

11. The work by Herman, Chomsky, and McClintock has exerted significant influence over a new generation of scholars of state terror. See, e.g, Sluka, ed., 2000, especially pp. 7-10.

12. For a sampling of key texts in the literature on comparative genocide (which is not to imply that all these scholars would self-identify as primarily concerned with the subject), see, in alphabetical order: Alvarez, 2001; Andreopoulous, 1999; Bell-Fialkoff, 1999; Chalk and Jonassohn, 1990; Charny et al., eds., 1999; Chorbajian and Shirinian, eds., 1999; Churchill, 1997; Dadrian, 1975; Glover, 1999; Hinton, ed., 2000, 2002; Jonassohn with Björnson, 1998; Katz, 1994; Kuper, 1981; Levene and Roberts, 1999; Markusen and Kopf, 1995; Power, 2002; Rosenbaum, ed., 1996; Rummel, 1994; Schabas, 2000; Stannard, 1992; Staub, 1989; Totten et al., eds., 1997; Wallimann and Dobkowski, eds., 2000.

13. Churchill's volume is more explicitly positioned in the genocide studies literature. It includes a thorough overview of the field's evolution and some of its central concerns and debates.

14. The legal definition of genocide, enshrined in the 1948 Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide and the statutes of the new International Criminal Court (ICC), is: "any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national ethnical, racial or religious group, as such; (a) Killing members of the group; (b) Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group; (c) Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part; (d) Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group; (e) Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group" (Articles I and II). Article III specifically makes "conspiracy to commit genocide," "incitement to commit genocide," and "complicity in genocide" as punishable, regardless of "whether they are [carried out by] constitutionally responsible rulers, public officials or private individuals."

My own preferred definition of genocide, adapting (with the italicized phrase) that of Steven Katz, is: "the actualization of the intent, however successfully carried out, to murder in whole or in substantial part any national, ethnic, racial, religious, political, social, gender or economic group, as these groups are defined by the perpetrator, by whatever means."

15. Concise case-study treatments are available in George's edited volume Western State Terrorism (see Rolston, 1990; Gervasi and Wong, 1990).

16. The seminal indictments include Chomsky, 1984; Hirst, 1984; and Beit-Hallahmi, 1987.

17. For an overview, see Lifton and Markusen, 1990.


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