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Genocide, War Crimes and the West: History and Complicity [Paperback]

Adam Jones

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Book Description

July 1 2004
Genocide and war crimes are increasingly the focus of scholarly and activist attention. Much controversy exists over how, precisely, these grim phenomena should be defined and conceptualized. Genocide, War Crimes & the West tackles this controversy, and clarifies our understanding of an important but under-researched dimension: the involvement of the US and other liberal democracies in actions that are conventionally depicted as the exclusive province of totalitarian and authoritarian regimes.

Many of the authors are eminent scholars and/or renowned activists; in most cases, their contributions are specifically written for this volume. In the opening and closing sections of the book, analytical issues are considered, including questions of responsibility for genocide and war crimes, and institutional responses at both the domestic and international levels. The central section is devoted to an unprecedentedly broad range of original case studies of western involvement, or alleged involvement, in war crimes and genocide.

At a moment in history when terrorism has become a near universal focus of public attention, this volume makes clear why the West - as a result of both its historical legacy and contemporary actions - so often excites widespread resentment and opposition throughout the rest of the world.

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Review

"This exceptionally well selected, brilliantly edited collection of writings provides the most comprehensive treatment of Western responsibility for mass atrocity yet published. The cumulative impact of the volume is a devastating indictment of state terrorism as practised by the West, both historically, and now after September 11 in the name of 'anti-terrorism.'" - Richard Falk, Professor Emeritus, Princeton University

"In the names of millions of forgotten victims, from Wounded Knee to My Lai, a brilliant tribunal of scholars assail the himalayan hypocrisy of 'Western humanitarianism'." - Mike Davis, author of Late Victorian Holocausts

'Like communist and third world regimes, Western states have been opponents, bystanders, accomplices and perpetrators of genocide and war crimes. In different cases, they have also variously ignored, denied, covered up, re-examined, recanted, and refused to apologise for their roles. Is there a pattern here? "Genocide, War Crimes & the West" is definitely worth reading. In case studies and thematic essays, the authors offer a variety of answers and raise important new questions about democracy, foreign policy, and international law, uncovering the complexity along with the complicity in the West's relationships and approaches to genocide and war crimes.' - Ben Kiernan, Director, Genocide Studies Program, Yale University, and editor of Genocide and Democracy in Cambodia.

"This book documents one of the darkest chapters in recent history. It tells the story of what the 'First World' - the Western democracies, most prominently the United States -- have done mainly against countries and peoples in the South and in the former socialist world. It is a history of aggression, indiscriminate bombing, war crimes, and massacres since the 1970s, the story of Western complicity in genocide in the South and East, and worse, it is about genocide committed by these democracies themselves. This path-breaking book fills a huge void; it carefully accounts for serious crimes that others have shamefully avoided, omitted or denied." - Christian P. Scherrer, Professor of Peace Studies, Hiroshima Peace Institute, Japan; author of Genocide and Crisis.


d 'A revealing compendium of studies regarding the crimes against humanity committed by "Western democracies." This book should give citizens a better sense of those parts of our history that remain largely unexamined and untaught.' - Michael Parenti, author of The Terrorism Trap and The Assassination of Julius Caesar: A People's History of Ancient Rome.

About the Author

Adam Jones is currently Professor of International Studies at the Center for Research and Teaching in Economics (CIDE) in Mexico City. He is author of Beyond the Barricades: Nicaragua and the Struggle for the Sandinista Press, 1979- 1998 (Ohio University Press, 2002), and editor of Gendercide and Genocide (Vanderbilt University Press, forthcoming). His scholarly articles have appeared in Review of International Studies, Ethnic and Racial Studies, Journal of Genocide Research, Journal of Human Rights, and other publications. He is Executive Director of Gendercide Watch.

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Amazon.com: 4.0 out of 5 stars  4 reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent if depressing read May 12 2009
By James Bond - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
It looks like the main problem the first reviewer (William Podmore) had with this book was Eric Langenbacher's essay. Rather than looking at the whole book, he focuses on but a small part that he has a personal problem with (one almost senses a zionist undertone, but whatever).

Regardless of whether one thinks the allied bombing of non-military and civilian areas of germany was good or bad, the book as a whole is excellent. There is no way one single book can cover every instance of western war crimes (another complaint the first reviewer had, and in my opinion an unreasonable one, being beyond the scope of one book), but this book serves as a good introduction to further reading. Rather than talking exclusively about subjects that are already adequatly covered in other works (such as Vietnam, the Holocaust, the slave trade - although this book does touch on these subjects), its strength lies in bringing to light some of the lesser known (but no less repugnant) atrocities committed by the west. Even the native american holocaust, of which most people are aware, is looked at from a different light than is traditionally taught in american history classes (in this case, the boarding school system, of which I was not aware of until I read this book, and which is one of the most shameful and despicable episodes in Canadian and United States history). In my opinion this book is worth it for this latter essay alone.

North and latin america, africa, southeast asia, europe - this book covers various regions in different continents.
14 of 21 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Muddled account of the causes and results of wars Jan. 13 2005
By William Podmore - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
There is useful material in this book, but its definitions are muddled. Under the UN Charter, aggressive war is the supreme crime. So colonial conquests - stealing nations' rights to self-determination - are criminal.

Most of the essays are about colonial conquests, for example, the German destruction of the Herero in 1904-08, France's assault on Algeria 1954-62 and the USA's attack on Vietnam in 1963-75, killing three million people. But there is no mention of the crimes committed abroad by the British ruling class, the slave trade, the recurrent famines in British India, its endless colonial wars, nor of the US-British attacks on China and King Leopold's pillage of the Congo in the 19th century, Japan's assault on China in the 1930s, the USA's attacks on Korea in 1950-53, killing two million civilians, or apartheid South Africa's wars against its neighbours.

The editor includes Eric Langenbacher's misguided essay describing the Allied bombing of Nazi Germany as genocide. Yet it cut Germany's industrial production in 1944-45 by a fifth. Albert Speer, Hitler's minister for munitions, called the bombing the `cause of all our setbacks'. It was a legitimate contribution to the just war against Nazism.

The US and British states backed the slaughters in Guatemala from 1954, in Indonesia in 1965 (a million killed), Chile in 1973, Somalia in 1988, Rwanda in the 1990s, the sanctions against Iraq in the 1990s (killing an estimated 1.5 million people), Colombia now.

In the 1991 US-British attack on Iraq, US forces used 940,000 DU shells and 62,000 cluster bombs, all illegal under the Geneva Conventions. The US-British attack on Yugoslavia in 1999 included attacks on civilians and the use of 31,000 DU rounds and 1,400 cluster bombs. The attack was illegal under the UN Charter and the US Constitution. The recent US-British attacks on Iraq and Afghanistan have killed respectively at least 100,000 and 3,600 civilians.

As Marx wrote, capitalism was born in `plundering, piracy, kidnapping slaves, and colonial conquest'. Now it is dying in `plundering, piracy, kidnapping slaves, and colonial conquest'. Only by destroying capitalism will we end war.
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars On Western war crimes Sept. 2 2008
By M. A. Krul - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Adam Jones' collection of contributions on the topic of Western complicity and commission of genocide is a necessary and important corrective to the self-serving and false liberal ideology of Western liberal democracies as inherently more 'good', 'peaceful' or 'friendly'.

Various authors focus on case studies to demonstrate this, from the war crimes committed in the American war against Vietnam (Second Indochina War, 1959-1975) to the German genocide of the Herrero and Nama peoples of Namibia (1905-1907), the bombardment of German cities during WWII, American support for mass murdering governments such as the Suharto regime, and many others in passing. Other writers discuss the status of war crimes tribunals, of war crimes as such, and the need for a "truth and reconciliation commission" on slavery & colonialism.

This book is a useful addition to the still somewhat (though not enormously so) underdeveloped field of 'Western' mass murders and complicity therewith, although it is hampered by the fact that there is much focus on the more 'obvious' cases, as well as the disjointed and unstructured nature of the collection, which seems to have been cobbled together in ad hoc fashion. The best article in the book is the only one on the way economic structures can be systematically violent against poor people, in the way pointed out by Paul Farmer and others, authored by Peter Prontzos. For very little in the book, as reviewer Podmore points out, actually covers the systematic context and causes for this Western violence now and in the past, which to some extent defeats the purpose; all the more since the systematic violence of our world economic system, capitalism, has over the past two centuries been more lethal than any government or war. As Charles Darwin wrote: "If poverty is not a result of nature, then great is our sin." The collection would have served its purpose better had it taken this into account.
5.0 out of 5 stars A must read. Dec 28 2013
By M. Conea Rosenfeld - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This is a classic in its field. Presently, with Darfur and other issues involving intentional killings this books remains a classic.

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