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A Problem from Hell: America and the Age of Genocide Hardcover – Bargain Price, February 19, 2002
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During the three years (1993-1996) Samantha Power spent covering the grisly events in Bosnia and Srebrenica, she became increasingly frustrated with how little the United States was willing to do to counteract the genocide occurring there. After much research, she discovered a pattern: "The United States had never in its history intervened to stop genocide and had in fact rarely even made a point of condemning it as it occurred," she writes in this impressive book. Debunking the notion that U.S. leaders were unaware of the horrors as they were occurring against Armenians, Jews, Cambodians, Iraqi Kurds, Rwandan Tutsis, and Bosnians during the past century, Power discusses how much was known and when, and argues that much human suffering could have been alleviated through a greater effort by the U.S. She does not claim that the U.S. alone could have prevented such horrors, but does make a convincing case that even a modest effort would have had significant impact. Based on declassified information, private papers, and interviews with more than 300 American policymakers, Power makes it clear that a lack of political will was the most significant factor for this failure to intervene. Some courageous U.S. leaders did work to combat and call attention to ethnic cleansing as it occurred, but the vast majority of politicians and diplomats ignored the issue, as did the American public, leading Power to note that "no U.S. president has ever suffered politically for his indifference to its occurrence. It is thus no coincidence that genocide rages on." This powerful book is a call to make such indifference a thing of the past. --Shawn Carkonen --This text refers to the Audio CD edition.
From Publishers Weekly
Power, a former journalist for U.S. News and World Report and the Economist and now the executive director of Harvard's Carr Center for Human Rights, offers an uncompromising and disturbing examination of 20th-century acts of genocide and U.S responses to them. In clean, unadorned prose, Power revisits the Turkish genocide directed at Armenians in 1915-1916, the Holocaust, Cambodia's Khmer Rouge, Iraqi attacks on Kurdish populations, Rwanda, and Bosnian "ethnic cleansing," and in doing so, argues that U.S. intervention has been shamefully inadequate. The emotional force of Power's argument is carried by moving, sometimes almost unbearable stories of the victims and survivors of such brutality. Her analysis of U.S. politics what she casts as the State Department's unwritten rule that nonaction is better than action with a PR backlash; the Pentagon's unwillingness to see a moral imperative; an isolationist right; a suspicious left and a population unconcerned with distant nations aims to show how ingrained inertia is, even as she argues that the U.S. must reevaluate the principles it applies to foreign policy choices. In the face of firsthand accounts of genocide, invocations of geopolitical considerations and studied and repeated refusals to accept the reality of genocidal campaigns simply fail to convince, she insists. But Power also sees signs that the fight against genocide has made progress. Prominent among those who made a difference are Raphael Lemkin, a Polish Jew who invented the word genocide and who lobbied the U.N. to make genocide the subject of an international treaty, and Senator William Proxmire, who for 19 years spoke every day on the floor of the U.S. Senate to urge the U.S. to ratify the U.N. treaty inspired by Lemkin's work. This is a well-researched and powerful study that is both a history and a call to action. Photos.
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.--This text refers to the Audio CD edition.
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Very informative but disturbing book. Excellent reference and very easy to read. Doesn't take in to account American national interests and critical of US hesitancy with regards to military involvement in foreign affairs (at times appropriately so. . .)
Would love to see a sequel after the author's completion of her tenure as the Ambassador to the United Nations.
The United States is the focus of the study because their position as a superpower gave them the ability to do something about transpiring genocides, yet offered little more than rhetorical speeches and token gestures in Cambodia, Iraq, Rwanda, and The Balkans fiasco that resulted from Yugoslavia breaking up.
Action or inaction was wrapped up in terms of the United States self-interest or rhetorical gymnastics like "acts of genocide" rather than genocide for example. These types of actions prevented the ratification of the Genocide Convention for decades.
This book will make the reader angry. That a country can have all this brave rhetoric against human suffering, but yet when the time comes to act on those brave words, our politicians cower behind self-interests and angry words.
For a little old American lady with 5 children this book was extremely difficult to read. The corruption and the behavior of the individuals who are genuinely evil in this book are documentation of how the US cannot place key families in charge of community assets. Not abroad and not on US soil. Especially on US soil and especially when the military and the police are involved in targeting key families that the US. Military is sworn to protect. But what can you do when they take away your home, your business and your ability to feed your children? In America we simply move 2 hours north. I like many in America, used to think it was crazy to learn to shoot a gun and to prepare for when our government imploded and made us vulnerable to outside attack. The worse attack from 9/11 has been the attack form within on our currency and our liberty. From those sworn to protect us. The military should intervene not for personally financial gain but only when needed for safety of people unable to defend themselves.
Those who are "prepping" are also working within the system to try to take it back. Just because they are growing crops does not mean they are not acting town hall meetings and voting. This is going to be the quietest revolution ever. We will simply choose sustenance farming and the government will run out of money because we will not have any economy that the government can Tax. Feed your family and buy less Chinese plastic.
Perhaps if we held our politicians and our military poltiicans personally accountable for their actions and their placement of madmen like Hussein things like the atrocities in this book would not ever happen. The knowledge that you can be held personally accountable seemed very distant for those who would visit such violence on women and children, Only with personal accountability can we take back our global morality.
Appalling book, I cannot believe I read every word...