Skip to Main Content
Have library access? Log in through your library
State Crime

State Crime: Current Perspectives

Dawn L. Rothe
Christopher W. Mullins
Foreword by William J. Chambliss
Introduction by M. Cherif Bassiouni
Copyright Date: 2011
Published by: Rutgers University Press
Pages: 368
https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt5hhzq7
  • Cite this Item
  • Book Info
    State Crime
    Book Description:

    Current media and political discourse on crime has long ignored crimes committed by States themselves, despite their greater financial and human toll. For the past two decades, scholars have examined how and why States violate their own laws and international law and explored what can be done to reduce or prevent these injustices. Through a collection of essays by leading scholars in the field,State Crimeoffers a set of cases exemplifying state criminality along with various methods for controlling governmental transgressions. With topics ranging from crimes of aggression to nuclear weapons to the construction and implementation of social controls, this volume is an indispensable resource for those who examine the behavior of States and those who study crime in its varied forms.

    eISBN: 978-0-8135-5023-7
    Subjects: Sociology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Foreword
    (pp. vii-viii)
    William J. Chambliss

    When i ask my students “What makes an act a crime?” the most common answer, even among seniors majoring in criminology, is “Acts that violate cultural norms.” The answer raises more questions than it answers. I usually follow the question of what makes an act a crime with another: What is the difference between civil and criminal law? That question is usually greeted with silence.

    While it is true in a tautological sense that criminal acts violate societal norms, this answer misses much more than it hits. First and foremost, fortunately, not all acts that violate societal norms are criminal....

  4. Preface
    (pp. ix-x)
  5. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xi-xiii)
  6. Introduction: Crimes of State and Other Forms of Collective Group Violence by Nonstate Actors
    (pp. 1-22)
    M. Cherif Bassiouni

    Throughout history, abuses of power by tyrannical rulers and ruling-regime elites, which are carried out under their direction by state actors, have occasioned significant human, social, and economic harm to their respective national societies and those of others. Under the guise of war, large-scale human depredations have taken place, as well as in the colonization context and in other contexts manifesting oppression or repression by states that victimize groups in other states or territories.

    Since the end of World War II forms of collective violent social interactions have increased significantly, but no reliable data have been gathered to document this...

  7. Part I Crimes of the State

    • [Part I Introduction]
      (pp. 23-34)

      Scholarly attention to crimes committed by states or governments has steadily increased over the past few decades. Coming from many disciplinary perspectives—criminology, history, law, political science, socio-legal studies, and sociology—this field of scholarship has been united by two central concerns: identifying the etiological dimensions of crimes committed by states and forms of control that have been or can be devised and implemented. A simple perusal of headlines in major newspapers highlights the importance of such a field of inquiry: the continued fallout from the United States’ and Britain’s illegal invasion of Iraq, an ongoing genocide in the Darfur...

    • Chapter 1 Revisiting Crimes by the Capitalist State
      (pp. 35-48)
      Gregg Barak

      Crimes by the Capitalist State: An Introduction to State Criminality (CBCS) was the first book devoted entirely to the study of state crime, to call for the development of a criminology of the state, and to present several case studies of state crimes from North America, Latin America, Europe, and Down Under. Some of the state crimes covered in this early volume included but were not limited to aboriginal deaths in custody, multitiered terrorism, air piracy, contract policing, and sexual assault. Since that time, I would argue that while the criminological study of state crimes has matured significantly, its influence...

    • Chapter 2 The Crime of the Last Century—And of This Century?
      (pp. 49-67)
      David O. Friedrichs

      The turn of a century inevitably gives rise to much retrospective interpretation and prospective speculation: What have been the central events and trends of the century now ending, and what are the most likely key events and trends of the century now beginning? An article entitled “The Crime of the Century: The Case for the Holocaust,” published in 2000, was my contribution to the former project. With the first decade of the new century drawing to a close, an opportunity has arisen to use this retrospective interpretation as a foundation for a provisional contribution to the project of prospective speculation...

    • Chapter 3 Nuclear Weapons, International Law, and the Normalization of State Crime
      (pp. 68-93)
      Ronald C. Kramer and David Kauzlarich

      In this chapter we argue that the use, threat to use, and continued possession of nuclear weapons by the United States constitute international state crimes and can be subjected to a sociological/criminological analysis. We have previously addressed some of these issues in our book,Crimes of the American Nuclear State: At Home and Abroad, but here we cover substantial new ground. One new theoretical argument that we advance, following the work of Diane Vaughan (1996), is that the crimes of the American nuclear state have become, over time, normalized within the broader political culture and specific national security agencies of...

    • Chapter 4 Empire and Exceptionalism: The Bush Administration’s Criminal War against Iraq
      (pp. 94-121)
      Ronald C. Kramer and Raymond J. Michalowski

      On March 19, 2003, the United States and Great Britain, in conjunction with several inconsequential members of the “coalition of the willing,” launched an unprovoked invasion of Iraq and subsequently inaugurated a formal military occupation of that once sovereign nation. The Bush administration’s legal and political justifications for this attack migrated from the eradication of weapons of mass destruction, to the advancement of democracy, to fighting terrorism, and back to the advancement of democracy. Economic and geopolitical motives, such as controlling Iraqi oil, reconstructing Iraq’s economy into a radical free market system, or establishing permanent military bases in the heart...

    • Chapter 5 Do Empires Commit State Crime?
      (pp. 122-141)
      Peter Iadicola

      If one reflects on the history of the world and focuses on those acts that have been defined by the Nuremberg Tribunal and the United Nations as the most severe crimes—genocide and wars of aggression—and combined these acts with the massive confiscation or stealing of property and resources, it would be hard to avoid the historical intersections of the actions of empires in their conquest of new territories and their efforts to control their domain. The United States’ histories of empires focus on their achievements and the advancements in civilization. It is quite obvious from whose perspective these...

    • Chapter 6 Burundi: A History of Conflict and State Crime
      (pp. 142-161)
      Kara Hoofnagle

      In east-central Africa, nestled between Tanzania, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Rwanda is Burundi. From the onset of independence in 1961, Burundi has had a history of internal armed conflicts, ethnic tensions, and civil unrest in the form of crimes against humanity, massive and systematic rape, and other gross human rights violations that have resulted in hundreds of thousands of civilian deaths. The main civil war began in 1993 as a response to the election of Melchior Ndadaye in 1992. Ndadaye’s victory was met with resistance by elite Tutsi and on October 23, 1993, Tutsi officers staged a...

    • Chapter 7 Legal Precedent, Jurisprudence, and State Crime: Pinochet and Crimes against Humanity
      (pp. 162-178)
      Dawn L. Rothe and Michael Bohlander

      With the 1973 military coup of Chilean President Salvador Allende, General Augusto Pinochet began a seventeen-year dictatorship founded on fear, oppression, intimidation, and violence. According to theReport of the Chilean National Commission on Truth and Reconciliation, 3,200 people were killed or forcibly disappeared, with more than 28,000 victims of torture and hundreds of thousands of civilians who were exiled or left the country in fear for their lives (Human Rights Watch 2006a; Chilean National Commission on Truth and Reconciliation 1991). While the crimes committed by Pinochet and his regime were horrific, they were not unlike atrocities committed by other...

  8. Part II Controlling State Crime

    • [Part II Introduction]
      (pp. 179-184)

      Criminology is not just focused on explaining the etiological factors behind crime commission; ultimately the goal is to find and empirically assess policies to control it. A criminology of the state is no different. While explaining the causal mechanisms and common enactment procedures of state crime are important in themselves, at core, the goal is to control such actions and end the long-standing impunity enjoyed by high-ranking officials and heads of state who violate domestic law, international criminal and humanitarian law, or human rights. Nonetheless, one can reasonably argue that the majority of the research on state crime has focused...

    • Chapter 8 Reinventing Controlling State Crime and Varieties of State Crime and Its Control: What I Would Have Done Differently
      (pp. 185-197)
      Jeffrey Ian Ross

      In 1995 my edited bookControlling State Crimewas published (Ross 1995a). Five years later, not only was my follow-up edited book,Varieties of State Crime and Its Control, released (hereafterVarieties), but so too was the second edition ofControlling State Crime(Ross 2000a, 2000b). In between the time that the two books were published, and since the release ofVarieties, the once nascent field of state crime, interchangeably labeled governmental crime, illegality, lawlessness, official deviance, or misconduct, has evolved. Old and rudimentary ideas have either been abandoned or modified, and numerous subject-relevant essays and case studies have accumulated....

    • Chapter 9 Complementary and Alternative Domestic Responses to State Crime
      (pp. 198-218)
      Dawn L. Rothe

      Over the past two decades a growing body of literature on state crime has focused on documenting and explaining the etiological factors of the worst atrocities known to humanity. One can reasonably argue that the majority of this research on state crime has focused more on description and less on issues of controls of state crime. In general, when criminologists do address these controls, their findings can typically be categorized as theoretically grounded and policy oriented with an international focus (Ross 1995a, 2000a; Mullins and Rothe 2008a, 2008b; Rothe and Mullins 2006a, 2006b, 2007), and embedded within an analysis of...

    • Chapter 10 The Fairness of Gacaca
      (pp. 219-244)
      Roelof H. Haveman and Alphonse Muleefu

      In 1994, for one hundred days, Rwanda lost more than one million lives of innocent men, women, and children. In the aftermath of the genocide that killed mostly Tutsi and moderate Hutu, the country was laid in shambles: bodies were generally strewn everywhere in the country, some floating in rivers and a few buried in shallow graves. The country’s population was unstable: a large number of perpetrators fled the country seeking refuge in other countries, while others returned who had left the country as refugees in previous conflicts. The genocide left behind a large number of orphans and widows, traumatic...

    • Chapter 11 Assassination of Regime Elites versus Collateral Civilian Damage
      (pp. 245-261)
      Michael Bohlander and Dawn L. Rothe

      The U.S.-led aggression against Iraq in 2003 makes one wonder why it was that thousands of Iraqi civilians would have to die because the George W. Bush administration and their allies thought it prudent to bomb the country’s cities before they risked the lives of their own ground troops, beginning with the well remembered “shock and awe” mission. As the intense bombing continued, hundreds of civilian casualties occurred without any discernable military gains. There was widespread use of cluster bombs, deployment of napalm-like Mark 77 firebombs, the indiscriminate use of depleted uranium munitions, and numerous attempted decapitation strikes targeting senior...

    • Chapter 12 How to Restore Justice in Serbia? A Closer Look at Peoples’ Opinions about Postwar Reconciliation
      (pp. 262-274)
      Stephan Parmentier, Marta Valiñas and Elmar Weitekamp

      Sixteen years after the beginning of the disintegration of Yugoslavia and the conflicts that ravaged the whole region, most intensely Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, and Kosovo, each of the countries is still struggling to find the best way(s) to address the atrocities that occurred in the past, realize their consequences, and rebuild trust among its citizens.

      The debate on how to deal with the past in Serbia is an ongoing one. Since 1993 the International Criminal Tribunal for ex-Yugoslavia has indicted 161 persons, of which 120 have been tried in eighty-six cases (June 2009) of international crimes in the...

    • Chapter 13 The Current Status and Role of the International Criminal Court
      (pp. 275-292)
      Christopher W. Mullins

      The twentieth century saw a number of attempts to create a permanent court to adjudicate cases involving the worst sorts of crimes people commit—genocide, war crimes, and crimes against humanity. From the Leipzig trials after World War I, through Nuremburg and Tokyo, to the International Criminal Tribunals for the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda, international society created institutions designed to bring those responsible for mass harms to justice. These and other ad hoc tribunals (i.e., the hybrid court in Sierra Leone, the Cambodian tribunal established to investigate the crimes of the Khmer Rouge, and the East Timor Tribunals) were created...

  9. References
    (pp. 293-318)
  10. Contributors
    (pp. 319-320)
  11. Index
    (pp. 321-335)
  12. Back Matter
    (pp. 336-336)