Archive | Genocide

Arms Trade Treaty conference ends without agreement

The weeks-long conference at the United Nations to produce an Arms Trade Treaty is ending without the creation of a treaty. None of the draft treaties which have circulated in the past several days came remotely close to finding consensus support.

The impossibility of achieving consensus involved a wide variety of issues and nations, far beyond the Second Amendment concerns that have been raised by many American citizens.

The 2001 UN Programme of Action on Small Arms remains in effect. Over the last two decades, a large gun control infrastructure has grown up in the United Nations, not only in the headquarters building, but also within many of the UN various commissions and departments. Likewise, there are a significant number of NGOs which have a strong commitment to global gun control, and to using international law and the UN to solve what they consider to be the problem of excessive gun ownership in the United States. The NGOs and their UN allies have successfully used the 2001 PoA to sharply restrict gun ownership in some parts of the world, and they would have used the ATT  for the same purpose. That they did not succeed in creating an ATT may be very disappointing to them; they are not going to go away, or relent in the pursuit of their objectives.

But in their pursuit, they are not going to have the new weapon of an ATT. This is good news for human rights worldwide, especially for the fundamental human right of self-defense against violent criminals, and against violent criminal tyrannical governments. [...]

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Ecstatic crowds in Libya celebrating imminent use of U.S. military force against Gaddafi

U.N. Security Council Resolution passes 10-0. Live feed from Benghazi on Al Jazeera English. The Resolution authorizes “all necessary measures” except military occupation of Libya. By my reading, the authorization includes destruction of Gaddafi’s anti-aircraft defenses, and of his air force and its mercenary pilots. As President Reagan once said, “We begin bombing in five minutes.” I hope.

UPDATE: Wall Street Journal reports that Egyptian army is shipping arms to the Libyan “rebels.” Which is to say, to the legitimate government of Libya. As the Declaration of Independence affirms, the only legitimate governments are those founded on the consent of the governed. Accordingly, the Gaddafi gang was never a legitimate government, merely a large gang of criminals who controlled a big territory. The French government’s diplomatic recognition of the legitimate Libyan government reflects this fact. @liamstack reports that France says it will be ready within hours to fly over Libya. @lilianwagdy says that Libyans in France are chanting “Zanga Zanga, Dar Dar, We will get you Muamar!” Vive la France! Vive Sarkozy! Vive les droits de l’homme! [...]

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Text of U.N. Security Council draft resolution on Libya

Right here, provided by the Inner City Press, which has long been the best English-language media covering the United Nations. The resolution authorizes member states–acting either through regional organizations or nationally–to “take all necessary measures” to establish a no-fly zone over Libya. It further authorizes the member states to enforce the arms embargo against Libya by interdicting ships on the high seas. The resolution forbids the establishment of an occupation force. A vote is set for 6 p.m. Eastern Time. On Twitter, @SultanAlQassemi writes that according Al Arabiya’s UN correspondent, China, Russia, and South Africa (in other words, the pro-dictator caucus on the Security Council) and two other countries will abstain. [...]

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Frank Dikötter on Mao’s Mass Murders

Back in September, I wrote a post about historian Frank Dikötter’s excellent new book on Mao Zedong’s “Great Leap Forward” terror famine of the early 1960s. Dikotter recently published a New York Times op ed summarizing his thesis:

The worst catastrophe in China’s history, and one of the worst anywhere, was the Great Famine of 1958 to 1962, and to this day the ruling Communist Party has not fully acknowledged the degree to which it was a direct result of the forcible herding of villagers into communes under the “Great Leap Forward” that Mao Zedong launched in 1958.

To this day, the party attempts to cover up the disaster, usually by blaming the weather. Yet detailed records of the horror exist in the party’s own national and local archives…..

Historians have known for some time that the Great Leap Forward resulted in one of the world’s worst famines. Demographers have used official census figures to estimate that some 20 to 30 million people died.

But inside the archives is an abundance of evidence, from the minutes of emergency committees to secret police reports and public security investigations, that show these estimates to be woefully inadequate…..

In all, the records I studied suggest that the Great Leap Forward was responsible for at least 45 million deaths.

Between 2 and 3 million of these victims were tortured to death or summarily executed, often for the slightest infraction….

The term “famine” tends to support the widespread view that the deaths were largely the result of half-baked and poorly executed economic programs. But the archives show that coercion, terror and violence were the foundation of the Great Leap Forward.

Mao was sent many reports about what was happening in the countryside, some of them scribbled in longhand. He knew about the horror, but pushed

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Did Joseph Stalin Commit Genocide?

In his excellent recent book Stalin’s Genocides, Stanford historian Norman Naimark argues that Joseph Stalin committed genocide and not “merely” mass murder. Few any longer deny that Stalin’s regime slaughtered millions of innocent people. But the Russian government and some Western writers continue to argue that these murders were not genocidal, and that Stalin therefore cannot be classed in a category with Adolf Hitler and others who slaughtered entire racial, ethnic, or religious groups.

Back in 2008, I blogged about the debate over the question of whether the Soviet terror famine of the early 1930s (in which some 6 to 10 million people died) was a case of genocide or mass murder (see here and here). Many Ukrainians and some Western scholars argue that this was a case of genocide because Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin specifically targeted Ukrainian peasants for extermination. By contrast, the Russian government claims that Stalin was an equal opportunity mass murderer. The distinction matters because international law defines mass murder as genocide only if it was the result of an “intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnic, racial or religious group, as such.” It also matters because of the ongoing debate over whether communist mass murders deserve as much opprobrium as those of the Nazis.

Naimark concludes that both the terror famine and various other Stalinist atrocities qualify as genocide. His book is the most thorough and compelling study of the subject so far. In the end, however, I am not so much persuaded that Stalin committed genocide as reaffirmed in my view that the genocide-mass murder distinction isn’t a morally meaningful one. Moreover, Naimark overstates Stalin’s personal role in the mass murders committed by his regime and understates the impact of the communist system.

I. Was it Genocide [...]

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