The Duck of Minerva

The Duck Quacks at Twilight

But in Darfur…

January 23, 2006

[Updated 1/23]

George H.W. Bush, “Global Message”, March 19, 2003:

In a free Iraq, there will be no more wars of aggression against neighbors…no more poison factories…no more executions of dissidents…no more torture chambers and rape rooms.

Nicholas D. Kristoff, The New York Review of Books, “Genocide in Slow Motion,” February 9, 2006:

On one of the first of my five visits to Darfur, I came across an oasis along the Chad border where several tens of thousands of people were sheltering under trees after being driven from their home villages by the Arab Janjaweed militia, which has been supported by the Sudan government in Khartoum. Under the first tree, I found a man who had been shot in the neck and the jaw; his brother, shot only in the foot, had carried him for forty-nine days to get to this oasis. Under the next tree was a widow whose parents had been killed and stuffed in the village well to poison the local water supply; then the Janjaweed had tracked down the rest of her family and killed her husband. Under the third tree was a four-year-old orphan girl carrying her one-year-old baby sister on her back; their parents had been killed. Under the fourth tree was a woman whose husband and children had been killed in front of her, and then she was gang-raped and left naked and mutilated in the desert.

Those were the people I met under just four adjacent trees. And in every direction, as far as I could see, were more trees and more victims—all with similar stories.

What does the ongoing genocide in Darfur (the subject of a number of different blogs) reveal about our policy priorities?

UPDATES: I’ve been reminded (in comments) that the Genocide Intervention Network provides many resources and suggestions for activism.

To make my post a bit less skimpy, I thought I’d recommend some books that tackle key explanatory, conceptual, and empirical issues in the study of mass violence. These are the texts I usually assign when I teach “Mass Violence and Genocide” at Georgetown:

• Baumann, Zygmunt. Modernity and the Holocaust(Cornell University Press).

• Browning, Christopher R. Ordinary Men: Reserve Police Battalion 101 and the Final Solution in Poland(Harper Perennial [Reprint edition]).

• Courtois, Stephanie et al. The Black Book of Communism: Crimes, Terror, Repression(Harvard University Press).

• Mosse, George L. Towards the Final Solution: A History of European Racism(Howard Fertig).

• Naimark, Norman. Fires of Hatred: Ethnic Cleansing in Twentieth-Century Europe(Harvard University Press).

• Power, Samantha. A Problem from Hell: America and the Age of Genocide(Basic Books).

• Tilly, Charles. The Politics of Collective Violence(Princeton University Press).

• Valentino, Benjamin. Final Solutions: Mass Killing and Genocide in the Twentieth Century(Cornell University Press).

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Daniel H. Nexon is a Professor at Georgetown University, with a joint appointment in the Department of Government and the School of Foreign Service. His academic work focuses on international-relations theory, power politics, empires and hegemony, and international order. He has also written on the relationship between popular culture and world politics.