Why reward the ‘Bob Dylan of genocide apologists’?


The increasingly vocal isolationist argument that the U.S. should not engage in “endless wars” holds that the United States need not employ military means in response to terrorism, civil wars, mass atrocities, and other problems that are not its business, notes a leading analyst.

Adopting such a cramped view of American interests, however, carries its own costs, argues Richard Fontaine, CEO of the Center for a New American Security. Successive presidents have used military might to prevent, halt, or punish mass atrocities—Clinton to cease the genocide against Bosnian Muslims in the Balkans, Obama to protect the Yezidi minority in Iraq, and Trump after Bashar al-Assad’s chemical attacks against his own people in Syria. There is every reason to believe that similar cases will arise in the future, he writes for Foreign Affairs:

Yet this argument ignores the many other times in which the use of American force worked. It ejected Saddam from Kuwait, it ended a war in Bosnia, it stopped ethnic cleansing in Kosovo, it paved the way for a democratic transition in Liberia, and it helped defeat narcoterrorists and bring temporary peace to Colombia. Even in Afghanistan, it should not be forgotten that Washington denied al Qaeda a safe haven, and in Iraq and Syria, it eliminated ISIS’ physical presence, limited the flow of foreign fighters, and liberated cities from depravity.

A must-read report from the New York Times explains How Myanmar Covered Up Ethnic Cleansing, published in a week that marks the 25th anniversary of the Rwandan genocide. So much for ‘Never Again.’

Myanmar might finally be held accountable for the genocide of the Rohingya, after it was announced at the UN General Assembly last month that the Myanmar government faced proceedings at the International Court of Justice, analyst writes for the Conversation. Last year, a Human Rights Council Fact-Finding Mission report detailed serious breaches of international humanitarian and human rights law by members of the Tatmadaw (armed forces), including killing, rape, torture, arson and forced displacement.

Survivors of the 1995 Srebrenica massacre have called for Austrian author Peter Handke’s Nobel Prize for Literature to be revoked, saying it was “shameful” to recognize a man who has denied the killings happened, Reuters reports:

Their anger echoed criticism of Thursday’s decision in many Balkan countries over Handke’s open support for late Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic, who led his country during the Balkan Wars of the 1990s.

“We shall send a letter to the Committee to revoke the award,” Munira Subasic, president of the Mothers of Srebrenica association which represents survivors, told Reuters.

Handke’s Nobel Prize has validated an aesthetic untroubled by decency, a literary project whose value should dissolve like a body in acid before the magnitude of crimes its author repeatedly denied and thus endorsed, notes Princeton University’s Aleksandar Hemon. Mr. Handke is the Bob Dylan of genocide apologists. The Nobel Committee has shown us that it knows little about literature and its true place in this so-called world, he writes for the New York Times:

Mr. Handke’s politics irreversibly invalidated his aesthetics, his worship of Milosevic invalidated his ethics. At Mr. Milosevic’s funeral, he said, “The world, the so-called world, knows everything about Yugoslavia, Serbia. The world, the so-called world, knows everything about Slobodan Milosevic. The so-called world knows the truth … I don’t know the truth. But I look. I listen. I feel. This is why I am here today, close to Yugoslavia, close to Serbia, close to Slobodan Milosevic.” The writer who could speak those words can’t have anything of value to say. RTWT

Srebrenica stands as a stark reminder that there are evil people prepared to kill without conscience or mercy if the world stands aside, said Anthony Blinken, Deputy Assistant to the President and National Security Advisor to the Vice President. He recalled the murder of 8,000 Muslim men and boys in the 1995 massacre at a memorial event hosted by the National Endowment for Democracy and the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum.

The University of Connecticut’s Thomas J. Dodd Center this week held an event commemorating the 25th anniversary of the Rwandan Genocide, the mass slaughter of the Tutsi people by the Hutu people which began April 7, 1994. Over the course of the next hundred days, nearly a million were killed and two million displaced, among countless other atrocities. The evening began with a screening of a short film, entitled “Kwizera: A Story of Hope Born From Resilience.” The film was created by UConn students Sahil Laul, Kaitlyn Luft and Soumya Potu, and tells the story of Josiane Mumukunde-Alix.

The Simon-Skjodt Center for the Prevention of Genocide conducts the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum’s work on genocide and related crimes against humanity under the guidance of the Committee on Conscience, a standing committee of the United States Holocaust Memorial Council.

Samantha Power’s “The Education of an Idealist: A Memoir” details her time as Barack Obama’s national security adviser and ambassador to the United Nations. “She was a table-pounding idealist and human rights advocate, and believed in using American power to protect innocent civilians and advance democracy”, Thomas Friedman writes for The New York Times.

This tale is filled with half-measures, disappointments and bureaucratic defeats …But Power argues that activism on the inside, even when it fails, is no betrayal of pressure from the outside, the Washington Post’s Adam Kushner writes:

“The reason I was exercising my voice before was to influence people in jobs like the one I now have,” she tells friends. “A voice is not an end in itself.” Power uses her position to agitate for refugees, rape victims, persecuted LGBT populations, political prisoners and oppressed minorities everywhere. She isn’t in charge, and she often fails to persuade her colleagues. (“We’ve all read your book, Samantha,” Obama snaps during one Situation Room meeting.) But she walks away with a list of real human rights accomplishments that may not have happened if she hadn’t joined up. “Better is good, and better is actually a lot harder than worse,” Obama reassures her.

It is too bad that the Assad regime’s wanton slaughter of civilians was not, in the strict sense of the word, “genocide,” writes Atlantic Council analyst Frederic Hof. Power herself does not argue in her memoir that slaughter in Syria is less criminal, reprehensible, or deserving of a lethal response because it is not (by definition) genocidal. And yet…

If Assad had decided to exterminate or expel Syria’s Sunni Muslims simply because of their sectarian identity—causing, in the pursuit of genocide, the same or even fewer civilian casualties than he actually produced—the belief here is that the author of A Problem from Hell: America in the Age of Genocide would have confronted President Obama for the very behavior she condemned in that splendid volume, and she would have left office if rebuffed. Indeed, President Obama might have felt obliged, if genocide had been in play, to extend to Syrian victims of Assad the same protection he offered Yazidi and Kurdish targets of ISIS (ISIL, Daesh, Islamic State). 

But it is hard to imagine a book like Power’s “A Problem From Hell,” a critique of the country’s repeated failure to stop genocide, becoming the sensation it did in 2002, notes analyst Peter Beinart. As Americans have grown more preoccupied with, and more pessimistic about, their own country’s moral condition, they have turned inward.

The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum presents “How Did American Women Act? Heroism on the Home Front” at The Paley Center For Media on Thursday, November 7 at 7 p.m. The program is co-presented with the National Women’s History Museum and Women in Film:

Women’s roles changed significantly in World War II America. Many were conscripted to join the war effort and wielded new power through jobs outside the home. Their influence wasn’t limited to factory floors. Some women used their social and political positions to fight back against isolationism and sound the alarm about the plight of Europe’s Jews. A select few even put their lives at risk to organize acts of rescue.

The “How Did American Women Act? Heroism on the Home Front” program is free and open to the public, but advance registration is required at ushmm.org/events/women-la. For more information, contact the Museum’s Western Regional office at 310.556.3222 or email at western@ushmm.org. The Paley Center for Media is located at 465 North Beverly Drive, Beverly Hills, CA 90210. A public parking lot is located across the street at 428 N Beverly Dr., Beverly Hills, CA. RSVP






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