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Humanitarian Violence

Humanitarian Violence: The U.S. Deployment of Diversity

Copyright Date: 2013
Pages: 280
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  • Book Info
    Humanitarian Violence
    Book Description:

    When is a war not a war? When it is undertaken in the name of democracy, against the forces of racism, sexism, and religious and political persecution? This is the new world of warfare that Neda Atanasoski observes inHumanitarian Violence, different in name from the old imperialism but not so different in kind. In particular, she considers U.S. militarism-humanitarianmilitarism-during the Vietnam War, the Soviet-Afghan War, and the 1990s wars of secession in the former Yugoslavia.

    What this book brings to light-through novels, travel narratives, photojournalism, films, news media, and political rhetoric-is in fact a system of postsocialist imperialism based on humanitarian ethics. In the fiction of the United States as a multicultural haven, which morally underwrites the nation's equally brutal waging of war and making of peace, parts of the world are subject to the violence of U.S. power because they are portrayed to be homogeneous and racially, religiously, and sexually intolerant-and thus permanently in need of reform. The entangled notions of humanity and atrocity that follow from such mediations of war and crisis have refigured conceptions of racial and religious freedom in the post-Cold War era. The resulting cultural narratives, Atanasoski suggests, tend to racialize ideological differences-whereas previous forms of imperialism racialized bodies. In place of the European racial imperialism, U.S. settler colonialism, and pre-civil rights racial constructions that associated racial difference with a devaluing of nonwhite bodies,Humanitarian Violenceidentifies an emerging discourse of race that focuses on ideological and cultural differences and makes postsocialist and Islamic nations the potential targets of U.S. disciplining violence.

    eISBN: 978-1-4529-4006-9
    Subjects: History, Political Science, Sociology

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. [i]-[iv])
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. [v]-[vi])
  3. INTRODUCTION The Racial Reorientations of U.S. Humanitarian Imperialism
    (pp. 1-32)

    IN 2012 the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugo slavia (ICTY), which was founded by the United Nations Security Council in 1993 to adjudicate war crimes and crimes against humanity committed during the 1990s wars of secession, announced its plans for completion in 2016. The existence of the Tribunal as an institutional site for advancing international humanitarian and human rights law for two de cades now has made it, alongside the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, a permanent fixture of the postsocialist world. In contrast to the relatively brief duration of the Nuremberg and Tokyo Tribunals after the Second...

  4. 1 RACIAL TIME AND THE OTHER Mapping the Postsocialist Transition
    (pp. 33-72)

    IN 1991 THE HISTORIAN ARTHUR SCHLESINGER JR., who rose to fame at the height of the Cold War as the chronicler of the Kennedy administration’s days in the White House, published a controversial book on multiculturalism,The Disuniting of America: Reflections on a Multicultural Society.¹ Presenting a dystopic vision of America’s future, in which multiculturalism exceeds the desire for national unity among distinct cultures and turns to separatist aspirations, Schlesinger warns that “at the end of the Cold War, [when] we have an explosion of long repressed ethnic, racial, religious, national antagonisms . . . Yugoslavia is a murderous portent...

  5. 2 THE VIETNAM WAR AND THE ETHICS OF FAILURE Heart of Darkness and the Emergence of Humanitarian Feeling at the Limits of Imperial Critique
    (pp. 73-101)

    THE 2008 DOCUMENTARYAn Unlikely Weapon: The Eddie Adams Storyengages the life and work of the photojournalist made famous by his photograph capturing a Vietcong insurgent’s moment of execution at the hands of the Saigon police chief.¹ Foregrounding Eddie Adams’s artistic genius not just in the field of war but across a range of human experiences, the photographer is nonetheless figured as representative of how the human search for perfection inevitably fails. The documentary opens with Adams’s musing that the desire for greatness is both universal and unattainable. While his colleagues and contemporaries attest to the unparalleled impact and...

  6. 3 RESTORING NATIONAL FAITH The Soviet–Afghan War in U.S. Media and Politics
    (pp. 102-127)

    IN SPITE OF being one of the decisive events that precipitated the demise of the Soviet Union and the Communist world, the Soviet–Afghan War (1979–1989) has been largely forgotten in the United States, having been overshadowed by America’s own imperial occupation of Afghanistan over the last decade.Charlie Wilson’s War(2007) is a rare mainstream film that reflects back on U.S. aid to the mujahideen in the 1980s.¹ Released in a year that was “the deadliest for U.S. and NATO-led forces in Afghanistan since the Taliban regime fell in late 2001,” its focus is on U.S. senator Charlie...

  7. 4 DRACULA AS ETHNIC CONFLICT The Technologies of Humanitarian Militarism in Serbia and Kosovo
    (pp. 128-165)

    THE AMERICAN BLOCKBUSTERVan Helsing(2004), a recent adaptation of Bram Stoker’s novelDracula(1897), introduces Dracula’s by-now-infamous homeland, Transylvania, with a surprising twist. In a black-and-white homage to Universal Studios’ monster pictures of the 1930s and 1940s, the film opens with a mob of angry peasants preparing to storm not Dracula’s castle but, unpredictably, Frankenstein’s castle at the very moment the doctor brings his creature to life.¹ By relocating the birth of Frankenstein’s creature to the Romanian province,Van Helsingimagines Transylvania as a location that produces multiple monsters. Following the rogue adventurer Van Helsing from Transylvania to Budapest...

    (pp. 166-199)

    THE 2009 THRILLERStorm, which dramatizes the political intrigues of the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugo slavia (ICTY) in The Hague, frames the search for postwar justice in international courts of law as a story about faith.¹ The film begins at the moment a prosecutor at the Tribunal, Hannah Maynard, takes over a high-profile war crimes case against a Yugo slav National Army commander. During the trial, the defendant’s attorney unexpectedly demonstrates that the prosecution’s chief witness, Alen Hajdarević, has lied about seeing Serb forces loading Bosnian Muslims onto buses for deportation. In an early scene, Alen and...

  9. EPILOGUE Beyond Spectacle: The Hidden Geographies of the War at Home
    (pp. 200-208)

    IN THE INTRODUCTION to her book on the impact of the Yugoslav wars of secession on Bosnian women,Worlds Apart,former U.S. ambassador Swanee Hunt expresses serious concerns about the state of American democracy in the post-9/11 era. Presuming that it is the geopolitical responsibility of the United States to advance ethnic, religious, and women’s rights abroad, she contrasts the Clinton administration’s humanitarian aid to Muslims in Bosnia with George W. Bush’s wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Hunt writes that while 9/11 could have been turned into an opportunity for Americans to empathize with and “understand what the people in...

    (pp. 209-212)
  11. NOTES
    (pp. 213-250)
  12. INDEX
    (pp. 251-261)
  13. Back Matter
    (pp. 262-262)