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"America and the Age of Genocide"
Samantha Power
Book Review with commentary

A most remarkable book; Power draws a bead on the mindsets of those "watching" as genocidaires hacked people to death; 8000 per day for 100 days in Rwanda, for one example. She gives others. Cambodia, Iraqi Kurds, and Bosnia were similar in that the policy setters in the US Government not only did nothing but at times aggravated the problem by interfering with those who were trying to prevent the genocides. At times, the US Government even provided some direct or indirect aid to the genocidaires!

It seems none of these genocides imperiled "US National Interests," oil being the prime example. The policy setters were both Democratic and Republican. The most common excuse, after the action, was: "We did not know" or "We did not appreciate." The fact is that intelligence officials regularly and accurately reported problems brewing.

A second reason for lack of involvement in the various genocides was political. No politician in charge dared risk American lives to save others when their own jobs were at stake. To them, Rwanda, for example, looked like another Somalia, where America did try to resolve genocidal conflict, and got a bloddy nose for its trouble. So, they simply denied any Rwandan genocide was taking place, if they discussed it at all! Are American politicians that insecure about getting re-elected? Without a doubt it seems.

    Ed: Where are the American statespeople? A statesman or woman has the fortitude to lead when leadership is needed. Where indeed? David Glasgow Farragut, of the battle of Mobile Bay, left us an example too rarely followed:

"Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead!"

The Belgians in Rwanda behaved in Rwanda like the Americans did in Somalia. Belgian troops were bloodied at the outset when trying to save a moderate prime minister, the Constitutional leader at the time. When the Belgians withdrew their support, the UN force was left virtually without fire power and helpless in preventing unprecedented killing over the next 100 days. Both the US and Belgium have become so gun-shy that we and they were impotent to stop the killing.

Finally and accurately, Power takes the American electorate to task, for it too stood by as the media omitted and selectively disclosed the facts. Her final quote from George Bernard Shaw is worth reprinting here.

"The reasonable man adapts himself to the world.
The unreasonable one persists in trying to
adapt the world to himself.
Therefore, our progress depends on
the unreasonable man.

Needless to say, the world is stumbling backwards in our times.


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