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The Politics of Genocide

The Politics of Genocide

Edward S. Herman
David Peterson
Copyright Date: 2011
Published by: NYU Press,
Pages: 128
https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt9qfj4g
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  • Book Info
    The Politics of Genocide
    Book Description:

    In this impressive book, Edward S. Herman and David Peterson examine the uses and abuses of the word genocide. They argue persuasively that the label is highly politicized and that in the United States it is used by the government, journalists, and academics to brand as evil those nations and political movements that in one way or another interfere with the imperial interests of U.S. capitalism. Thus the word genocide is seldom applied when the perpetrators are U.S. allies (or even the United States itself), while it is used almost indiscriminately when murders are committed or are alleged to have been committed by enemies of the United States and U.S. business interests. One set of rules applies to cases such as U.S. aggression in Vietnam, Israeli oppression of Palestinians, Indonesian slaughter of so-called communists and the people of East Timor, U.S. bombings in Serbia and Kosovo, the U.S. war of liberation in Iraq, and mass murders committed by U.S. allies in Rwanda and the Republic of Congo. Another set applies to cases such as Serbian aggression in Kosovo and Bosnia, killings carried out by U.S. enemies in Rwanda and Darfur, Saddam Hussein, any and all actions by Iran, and a host of others.With its careful and voluminous documentation, close reading of the U.S. media and political and scholarly writing on the subject, and clear and incisive charts, The Politics of Genocide is both a damning condemnation and stunning expose of a deeply rooted and effective system of propaganda aimed at deceiving the population while promoting the expansion of a cruel and heartless imperial system.

    eISBN: 978-1-58367-387-4
    Subjects: Political Science

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Reflections on The Politics of Genocide
    (pp. vii-xxiv)
    Edward S. Herman and David Peterson

    Almost immediately after we submittedThe Politics of Genocideto Monthly Review Press in late March 2009, a series of events unfolded that confirmed our analysis of the political basis of the use versus non-use of the words “genocide” and “massacre” to describe different theaters of atrocity. Now, writing some two-and-one-half years later, we can state without exaggeration that our critique was robust: It fits well not only with how the politics of “genocide” has continued to play out, but also with how the same political factors extend to a much wider range of events and the treatment they receive...

  4. Foreword
    (pp. 7-12)
    Noam Chomsky

    Perhaps the most shattering lesson from this powerful inquiry is that the end of the Cold War opened the way to an era of virtual Holocaust denial. As the authors put it, more temperately, “[d]uring the past several decades, the word ‘genocide’ has increased in frequency of use and recklessness of application, so much so that the crime of the 20th Century for which the term originally was coined often appears debased.” Current usage, they show, is an insult to the memory of victims of the Nazis.

    It may be useful, however, to recall that the practices are deeply rooted...

  5. Introduction
    (pp. 13-28)

    A remarkable degree of continuity stretches across the many decades of bribes and threats, economic sanctions, subversion, terrorism, aggression, and occupation ordered-up by the policy-making elite of the United States. But no less impressive is the continuity that can be observed in the ways these policies are understood by this elite, and by the establishment intellectuals and news media that report about them daily and reflect on or ignore their consequences.

    With both its major rivals and allies in Europe and Asia devastated during the Second World War, the United States, suffering no direct damage at all, emerged from the...

  6. Constructive Genocides
    (pp. 29-38)

    In terms of the number of human lives taken and the awareness among policymakers that this was the likely consequence of their policies, perhaps the largest genocidal action of the last thirty years was the economic sanctions imposed upon Iraq following Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait in August 1990. First adopted by Security Council Resolution 661 to compel Iraq’s withdrawal from Kuwait, the U.S. and British victors in the 1991 war on Iraq pressed the Council to adopt a new Resolution 687, following Iraq’s defeat, that demanded the destruction of Iraq’s chemical, biological, and nuclear weapons programs, as well as its...

  7. Nefarious Genocides
    (pp. 39-68)

    Samantha Power once marveled about how the government in Khartoum “could hardly have predicted that an obscure, inaccessible Muslim region like Darfur would become acause célèbrein America.”⁶³ Power is naive, ignoring the obvious facts that have made Darfur a predictably well-qualified candidate for a focus on villainy: That its government is dominated by Muslim Arabs; that the Sudan possesses oil, but that it is China rather than the United States or the West which has developed a strong relationship with Khartoum; and that the United States and Israel need distractions from their own human rights atrocities and those...

  8. Some Benign Bloodbaths
    (pp. 69-94)

    As the leading U.S. client and recipient of foreign aid, and with extraordinary power over U.S. Middle East policy, sometimes referred to as the “tail that wags the dog,” Israel enjoys great freedom in international affairs, including the privilege of threatening and even invading foreign territories, without derogatory reference, indignation, or policy constraints coming from its patron (the dog). In fact, Israel’s aggressions, law violations, and bloodbaths are almost always partially funded and diplomatically protected by major sectors of the U.S. establishment, from the executive and congressional branches through its news media. Like its patron, this exempts Israel from international...

  9. Mythical Bloodbaths
    (pp. 95-102)

    “Mutilated Kosovo Bodies Found After Serb Attack,” a page-one headline in the January 17, 1999,New York Timesannounced. “Kosovo Serbs massacre 45 villagers,”The Sunday Timesof London put it. And at theWashington Post: “Villagers Slaughtered in Kosovo ‘Atrocity.’”

    TheNew York Times’s report opened with the “bodies of 45 ethnic Albanians . . . found shot or mutilated,” “all dressed in civilian clothing,” and added grisly details about “eyes gouged out or heads smashed in, and one man lay[ing] decapitated.” The LondonTimesandWashington Postrepeated the “eyes gouged out” line, as did many others; the...

  10. Concluding Note
    (pp. 103-112)

    During the past several decades, the word “genocide” has increased in frequency of use and recklessness of application,²⁴⁷ so much so that the crime of the twentieth century for which the word originally was coined often appears debased. Unchanged, however, is the huge political bias in its usage, and it remains as true today as it was in 1973 or 1988 that “We can even read who are the U.S. friends and enemies from the media’s use of the word.”²⁴⁸

    When we ourselves commit mass-atrocity crimes, the atrocities areConstructive, our victims areunworthyof our attention and indignation, and...

  11. Notes
    (pp. 113-150)
  12. Index
    (pp. 151-159)