The Duck of Minerva

The Duck Quacks at Twilight

Speaking of Genocide

August 16, 2008

At the Danger Room blog, Nick Thompson claims Russia may be right in calling Georgian behavior “genocide.”

Over at Complex Terrain Lab, Mike Innes pokes some useful holes in Thompson’s argument.

I would add to Mike’s points that the most important error made by Thompson is mistakenly conflating the intentional killing of civilians with genocide. The intentional killing of civilians in war is a war crime; if carried out en mass (even in peacetime) it’s a crime against humanity. Genocide is not a crime against civilians (as individuals) at all; it’s a crime against groups. To count, an atrocity has to be carried out with the intent of destroying a group. Russia has provided no evidence whatsoever to make this case: their rhetoric is also based on a misunderstanding of the term.

Naturally. Since it’s simply propaganda. As are Georgia’s counter-claims.

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Charli Carpenter is a Professor in the Department of Political Science at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst. She is the author of 'Innocent Women and Children': Gender, Norms and the Protection of Civilians (Ashgate, 2006), Forgetting Children Born of War: Setting the Human Rights
Agenda in Bosnia and Beyond (Columbia, 2010), and ‘Lost’ Causes: Agenda-Setting in Global Issue Networks and the Shaping of Human Security (Cornell, 2014). Her main research interests include national security ethics, the protection of civilians, the laws of war, global agenda-setting, gender and political violence, humanitarian affairs, the role of information technology in human security, and the gap between intentions and outcomes among advocates of human security.