Saturday, September 10, 2011

The problem of genocide

Just finished Samantha Power's A Problem from Hell - America and the Age of Genocide. The book is a detailed analysis of the last century of American Foreign Policy - from President Wilson through to George Bush (Junior).  The book highlights American (and perhaps - the worlds) indifference and courage in the face of genocide. The book clearly establishes, how much was known and when, and how difficult it was of people to believe the stories they have heard.  (Read more about Samantha here)

Power writes that 'no US president has suffered politically for his indifference ... it is thus no coincidence that genocide rages on'.  She talks from the Armenian Genocide of 1915 through to Rwanda and the Balkans. It would be interesting to read her thoughts about Sudan.

I noted down a coupe of thoughts I had flowing from her conclusion.

  • Knowledge: we are more aware of what is occurring, as it happens
  • Influence: we possibly have more means of influence than ever; (and politician do listen, if enough noise is made (but as per my previous post, politicians should be seeking to lead, or drive public opinion)
  • Will: this is perhaps the key - we and our governments lack the will to act (perhaps, at least in part, because we understand the cost of action. 
  • Accountability: Given the awareness we have, we are accountable for how we respond. 

In summary, the book is well worth reading, and after reading we are witnesses of history and must be changed. After reading this book, its worth having a look at the material surrounding the 'responsibility to protect'. )

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