Saturday, August 26, 2006

Booknotes: Samantha Power

Samantha Power has written extensively on several post Holocaust genocides; including the Bosnian genocide.

This booknotes site includes an overview, full transcript and video of her apperance on a 2002 episode of the CSPAN show "Booknotes" to promote her book "A Problem From Hell: America and the Age of Genocide."

Main Page & Link to Transcript & Video

Transcript Excerpt:
But where one group sets out to systematically destroy another group, either by murdering everybody, as Hitler did and as the Rwandan Hutus set out to do, or as in Bosnia, by ethnically deporting an entire populace, namely, the Bosnian Muslims, killing a huge number of them because the only way to get rid of a populace is to convince them that returning would mean a death sentence, and degrading the women by setting up rape camps and other things. There are lots of sort of forms that genocide has taken over time.
And I think one of the problems that Lemkin has encountered, or that his legacy has encountered, is that people do associate the word "genocide" with the Holocaust. And there's a tendency to sort of say, you know, we can't use the word until it's 6 million, or until we have full proof that the perpetrator group is setting out to exterminate every last member. And it just would make Lemkin turn over in his grave because he was so adamant that the Holocaust not be the standard because, obviously, then preventive action, if it were to come, would necessarily come too late.


Owen said...

In the context of an interview about Bosnia Samantha Power may not have been thinking too carefully about her analogies, but in referring to "the Rwandan Hutus" she runs the risk of putting the Rwandan genocide into the "ancient ethnic hatreds" box. The Rweandan genocide was a social, political and economic conspiracy, like the Bosnian genocide.

Shaina said...

I think it was just a semantic error, because in her book, she does explain how the Rwandan genocide was a result of the political elite in the country and not a "tribal war" as so many have characterized it as.

Kirk Johnson said...

Great catch, Shaina. In the past few weeks, you've piqued my interest more than a few times.

Owen said...

Shaina, to line myself up behind Kirk, thanks for coming up with so much interesting stuff.

Bg anon said...

I'm not convinced that any wars are based on ancient ethnic hatreds. Its just the way the lazy or badly intentioned tend to explain to the similiarly uninformed in a language that they might understand.

And the right dont have a monopoly on it either, even if they are more inclined to the 'let the primatives fight it out amongst themselves' point of view. I wasnt too impressed with Kaplans 'Balkan Ghosts' - the title is a clue. Of course such a title sounds good if one aims to sell good copy.