Thursday, July 24, 2014

EdwardSHerman. DavidPeterson. The Politics of genocide. Monthly Review Press. 2010. 03. Some benign bloodbaths.

Some Benign Bloodbaths

As the leading U.S. client and recipient of foreign aid, and with extraordinary power over U.S. Middle East policy, sometimes referred to as the “tail that wags the dog,” Israel enjoys great freedom in international affairs, including the privilege of threatening and even invading foreign territories, without derogatory reference, indignation, or policy constraints coming from its patron (the dog). In fact, Israel’s aggressions, law violations, and bloodbaths are almost always partially funded and diplomatically protected by major sectors of the U.S. establishment, from the executive and congressional branches through its news media. Like its patron, this exempts Israel from international law and the constraints of the UN Charter and “international community,” and emboldens Israel to commit aggression and war crimes. It also renders Israel’s actions relatively free from designation by invidious words such as “genocide,” “war crimes,” “ethnic cleansing” or “crimes against humanity.”
Thus Israel could invade and occupy Lebanon in 1982, killing an estimated fifteen to twenty thousand Lebanese citizens and Palestinian refugees in the process, and suffer no UN Security Council penalty or threat, or call from any humanitarian interventionists for action to protect its victims. As in the later case of Israel’s invasion of Lebanon in July–August 2006, U.S.–U.K–EU, and thus UN, protection of the aggressor gave it leeway to kill without international penalty.
In a notable episode during the 1982 invasion-occupation, the high command of the Israel Defense Force (IDF) enabled the Christian Phalange militia to enter the Palestinian refugee camps at Sabra and Shatila in Muslim West Beirut on September 16, 1982, knowing full well that mass killings would follow. Established shortly after the 1948 Arab–Israeli war for the Palestinians driven from their homes in Israel at the founding of the Jewish state, these camps housed unarmed women, children, and elderly people, largely the remaining relatives of Palestinians who had fled Beirut during the prior weeks of conflict, but also some Lebanese nationals. The bloody assault on Sabra and Shatila was the culmination of a series of IDF attacks on Palestinian refugee camps (at Tyre and Sidon, for example) during its sweep northward to Beirut beginning on June 6 that had razed each refugee camp to the ground in a massive operation the IDF named “Peace for Galilee.” (160)
On September 14, Bashir Gemayel, the Christian Phalangist president of Lebanon, was assassinated when a bomb destroyed much of his party’s office in Christian East Beirut, where a Phalange meeting was being held. The incident “was a painful blow to Israel,” the Israeli journalist Amnon Kapeliouk reported, as Gemayel “was the sworn enemy of the Palestinians,” and strongly aligned with Israel. (161) Within twenty-four hours of the assassination, the IDF moved to occupy all of Muslim West Beirut, which the IDF had not entered until then. “We are going to mop-up West Beirut,” IDF General Raphael Eitan told Israel’s Ma’ariv newspaper. “We will find all the terrorists and their leaders. We will destroy whatever requires destruction.” On September 15, the IDF met with top figures of the Christian Phalange militia to “[work] out the details of the Christian militiamen’s role in the takeover of West Beirut,” Kapeliouk’s account continues. “At the end of the meeting, a Phalangist military commander admitted to the Israelis: ‘We have been waiting for this moment for many years’.” (162)
The IDF completely surrounded the Sabra and Shatila refugee camps and established checkpoints allowing it “to control all entrances and exits.” In the evening of September 16, the IDF permitted the Phalange militia to enter the camps, and the “carnage began immediately,” lasting “forty hours without interruption,” with the IDF “able to observe the operations from the roof (seventh floor) or the three Lebanese buildings they had occupied since September 3.” By 10 AM September 18, between eight hundred and three thousand Palestinian civilians had been slaughtered. As Kapeliouk summed-up the massacre: “The Israeli Army surrounded the camps, disarmed the Lebanese militias hostile to the Phalangists, coordinated the latter’s entry into the camps giving them diverse logistical support, and closed its eyes and ears during forty hours of carnage.” (163)
Although this mass killing was widely reported and frequently called a massacre—584 times in the newspapers, as shown in Table 3 (164)—the word “genocide” was only rarely applied to Sabra and Shatila—only four times in the newspapers, only once in the New York Times, in an Associated Press report quoting Yasir Arafat, (165) and never in the Washington Post. This word usage, the generous reporting about the self-exonerating Israeli Kahan Commission of Inquiry’s treatment of the massacre, (166) and the steady media failure to look back on the event (as the media do with Srebrenica, intensively, every July) and tie it to major Israeli leaders like then-Defense Minister and later Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and Israeli army General Raphael Eitan and General Amos Yaron, who were deeply involved in the killings, made it possible for them to prosper in Israeli politics and to gain acceptance as leaders by the “international community.”

TABLE 3: Differential Use of “Massacre” and “Genocide” for Benign and Nefarious Atrocities [A]

Theater where
Deaths per
Use of the
Use of the
El Mozote
Rio Negro
Two Sarajevo
7,000-8,000 [D]
Serb Krajina-
Gaza Strip

[A] Factiva database searches carried out under the “Newspapers: All” category in January 2009. The exact search parameters are described in note 161. We used the database operators w/5 massacre and w/10 genocid* to capture all variations of our particular search terms occurring anywhere in the title or text within five or within ten words of the other primary search term.
[B] Taking each row in turn: (1) El Mozote, El Salvador, December 11, 1981; (2) Rio Negro, Guatemala, March 13, 1982; (3) Sabra -Shatila Palestinian refugee camps, Beirut, Lebanon, September 16–18, 1982; (4) Halabja, Kurdish (Patriotic Union of Kurdistan) province of Sulaymaniyah, northeastern Iraq, March 15–16, 1988; (5) Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina, February 5, 1994 and August 28, 1995; (6) Srebrenica, eastern Bosnia and Herzegovina, July 11–20, 1995; (7) Krajina (or border) regions of Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina, August 1995; (8) Račak, Kosovo province, Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, January 15, 1999; (9) Liquiçá, East Timor, April 6, 1999; (10) Dasht-e-Leili, northern Afghanistan, November, 2001; (11) Falluja, Iraq, November, 2004; (12) Gaza Strip, December 27, 2008–January 18, 2009.
[C] We’ve reported estimated death tolls causally-linked with the theater or locale named in Col. 1. Where appropriate, we acknowledge that a range of estimates is available. Note that at times, the reported estimates strike us as improbable and incorrect (as well as fraudulent or mythical).
[D] The estimated death-toll reported for Srebrenica in Table 3 is contested.

The contrast with the treatment of the Serb leadership and of ethnic Serbs more generally, whose alleged (and inflated) crimes are not as easily erased and whose “victims” must be satisfied that justice triumphs, could hardly be more dramatic. The Yugoslavia Tribunal stated that the “killing of all members of the part of a group located within a small geographical area ... would qualify as genocide if carried out with the intent to destroy the part of the group as such located in this small geographical area.” (167) In late 1982, the UN General Assembly—in contrast to the non-action by the Security Council—resolved that the Sabra-Shatila “massacre was an act of genocide.”168 You may be sure that none of this showed up in the Free Press.

On December 27, 2008, Israel launched a military offensive against the Gaza Strip that from its first day on amounted to a wholesale slaughter of the Gaza Palestinians. By the date the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) announced a ceasefire effective as of January 18, approximately fourteen hundred Gazans had been killed, 850 of them civilians, and more than five thousand wounded, with women and children suffering 30 percent of the casualties. Israelis also died, ten of whom were IDF soldiers participating in the assault (three from “friendly fire”). The scale of the physical damage was immense, with three thousand houses destroyed and another eleven thousand damaged, as well as mosques, hospitals, colleges, factories, small businesses, and even United Nations property damaged or destroyed, orange and olive groves bulldozed flat, and large areas of densely crowded cities such as Gaza City left in rubble and resembling earthquake zones. (169)
“[N]owhere in Gaza was [it] safe for civilians,” the Red Cross reported. (170) A fact-finding mission headed by John Dugard on behalf of the League of Arab States concluded that the “IDF had not distinguished between civilians and civilian objects and military targets.” (171) Although a group of sixteen prominent jurists and human rights figures addressed an open letter to the Secretary-General in which they urged him to initiate a UN inquiry into violations of international and humanitarian law committed during the attack, (172) the Secretary-General rejected the idea—”I do not plan any further inquiry,” Ban Ki-moon told the Security Council. (173) Instead, the inquiry would have to be undertaken by the Geneva-based UN Human Rights Council, which the United States rejoined in early 2009 under the new Obama administration in part to “[fight] against the anti-Israel crap,” (174) as UN Ambassador Susan Rice explained, and where the inquiry’s findings and recommendations were eventually rejected by both the U.S. and E.U. delegations.
The alleged purpose of Operation Cast Lead (Israel’s name for the onslaught) was to stop Hamas from firing rockets across the Gaza’s northern border with Israel toward Sderot and other nearby villages in southern Israel, formerly Palestinian land but ethnically cleansed and now inhabited by Jewish settlers—a bit of nasty displacement reality, in contrast with the Serbs’ mythical “Operation Horseshoe,” a figment of Western propaganda alleging a Serb plan to drive the ethnic Albanian population from the province of Kosovo that was swallowed by those eager to punish Serbs in the early weeks of NATO’s 1999 war. The U.S. establishment gave its full support to this Israeli invasion, with virtually unanimous Senate and House votes defending it. Two weeks into the bloodbath, only five members of the House voted against a resolution expressing “vigorous and unwavering commitment” to the “survival of the State of Israel as a Jewish and democratic state,” as well as Israel’s “right to act in self-defense to protect its citizens against Hamas’s unceasing aggression, as enshrined in the United Nations Charter;” while on the Senate floor, Democratic Majority Leader Harry Reid noted that the Senate’s resolution reaffirmed “Israel’s inalienable right to defend [itself] against attacks from Gaza.” At the swearing-in ceremony two weeks later for Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, President Barack Obama was no less emphatic: “America is committed to Israel’s security,” he said, and “will always support Israel’s right to defend itself against legitimate threats.” (175)
There was much concern over Hamas’ ability to attack Israel and to smuggle weapons into Gaza via tunnels and other means. But there was no one within the establishment prepared to argue that the Gaza Palestinians also possess a right to defend themselves or that other states bear a “‘responsibility to protect’ a civilian population being collectively punished by policies that amount to a Crime Against Humanity” (UN Special Rapporteur for the Palestinian territories Richard Falk (176)). Much less that Israel’s open pipeline to U.S. weapons as well as its own worldclass military-industrial sector poses an existential threat not only to the Palestinians but also to peace in the Middle East. That Israel had been provoking the Gaza Palestinians by holding their territory under near-total siege since June 2007, blockingoff access to food, medicines, humanitarian assistance, travel, and much else, and had caused a major humanitarian crisis in Gaza, as stressed by numerous UN and independent observers, including the Vatican’s Council for Justice and Peace, whose minister compared this besieged territory to a “big concentration camp,” was of no interest to the U.S. establishment. (177) Nor was Israel’s cruel and anti-civilian targeting and methods of warfare in its bombing and invasion, with undeniable use of white phosphorus weapons, all clearly designated war crimes by UN and other observers—though “turkey-shoot” was also properly used to describe this attack. (178) Unlike the Security Council, where Israel’s offensive was as always shepherded by the permanent veto of the United States, the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva adopted a resolution “strongly condemn[ing] the ongoing Israeli military operation,” calling for “international action to put an immediate end to the grave violations committed by the occupying Power,” and for “international protection of the Palestinian people....” (179) But among the major sectors of the U.S. establishment, the Palestinian response to the Israeli offensive and to massive prior violence is “terrorism” and the Palestinians resisting these conditions “militants;” Israeli violence, although killing many hundreds more civilians than the responsive “terrorism,” and rooted in a system of long-term human rights abuses and dispossession perhaps without equal in the past forty years, is “self-defense” and “retaliation.” (180)
The Gaza Palestinians remain untermenschen for the Israelis, for U.S. officials, for establishment pundits, and for leaders of the E.U. As victims of a U.S.-armed and protected client state, they are “unworthy” and not classifiable as the victims of “genocide” or “massacres.” At a double-session of the UN Security Council on January 14 devoted to the “protection of civilians in armed conflict,” the Israeli attack on the Gaza Palestinians was mentioned by speakers throughout the day, as was the doctrine of the “responsibility to protect,” adopted by the UN General Assembly in September 2005. (181) But the clear application of this doctrine to the Gaza Palestinians then under attack was mentioned by one speaker only, Egypt’s UN ambassador Maged Abdelaziz, late in the afternoon session. (182) Similarly, the Global Center for the Responsibility to Protect at the City University of New York, which had issued a statement in August 2008 dismissing Russia’s claim at the time to be protecting South Ossetia’s population against Georgia’s aggression, issued no such statement dismissing Israel’s claim to be protecting its population against Hamas and its rockets, much less did the Center invoke the “responsibility to protect” on behalf of the Gaza Palestinians. (183) A search of both newspapers and wire services for the twenty-three days of Israel’s offensive finds that in only eleven different items was the “responsibility to protect” applied to the Gaza Palestinians, and none of these was in a mainstream publication. Not surprisingly, the doctrine was invoked in thirteen different items as applying to the Israelis instead; e.g., “Israel, as a UN Member State, has the right and responsibility to protect its citizens from these terrorist attacks” (B’nai B’rith International, News Release, January 12). (184)
When the UN’s Fact Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict, headed by the South African jurist and avowed Zionist Richard Goldstone, published its assessment of Operation Cast Lead in September 2009, (185) the report was immediately ridiculed in Israel and within forty-eight hours dismissed by the Obama administration as well, with UN Ambassador Susan Rice expressing “very serious concerns about many of the recommendations in the report.” (186) The Goldstone Commission found that the Israeli onslaught had been carried out against the “people of Gaza as a whole,” extending from the destruction of life and limb to the “destruction of food supply installations, water sanitation systems, concrete factories and residential houses,” and, in short, the “economic capacity of the Gaza Strip”—and leaving “no doubt that responsibility lies in the first place with those who designed, planned, ordered and oversaw the operations.” (187)
A UN Environmental Program assessment released at the same time concluded that the “sustainability of the Gaza Strip is now in serious doubt.” Years of underinvestment in the Gaza’s water treatment facilities (extraction, sanitation, and desalination), the Israeli military’s deliberate targeting of its sanitation and electrical systems, an Israeli embargo that prevents the importation of spare parts, and the Gaza’s “overused” and “severely damaged” coastal aquifer (the region’s sole supply of fresh water which is now contaminated by waste and toxic chem-icals, as well as by seepage from the Mediterranean Sea) mean that this strip of land some forty-one kilometers long and twelve kilometers wide at its maximum is no longer capable of supporting the Gaza Palestinians’ needs. “Unless the trend is reversed now,” the UNEP warned, “damage could take centuries to reverse.” (188) The Israelis’ deliberate destruction of the Gaza’s infrastructure (especially its water, sewage, and electrical systems), as well as the their blockade of the equipment needed to make repairs, is reminiscent of the deliberate U.S. destruction of Iraq’s infrastructure in 1990–1991 and the U.S. and U.K. sanctions to prevent Iraq’s recovery from late 1990 into 2003. In both cases, the mass suffering and deaths caused by these policies are regarded as a “price” that is “worth it” to the policymakers. For its part, the “international community” evades any mention of a “responsibility to protect” large civilian populations under siege by Western powers.
Even though the Goldstone Commission devoted substantial sections to the conduct of the Gaza Palestinians, in particular their firing of rockets into southern Israel (extremely marginal actions relative to the scale of the IDF’s attack on the Gaza Palestinians, with only one Israeli death for every one hundred Palestinian deaths), Goldstone, his Commission, and the UN Human Rights Council which sponsored the inquiry were savaged. The report “does not distinguish between the aggressor and the defender,” went the Israeli line (President Shimon Peres), and “gives de facto legitimacy to terrorist initiatives and ignores the obligation and right of every country to defend itself.” (189) Peres can say this without eliciting laughter because in the West Israel only responds to the violence of others, but never initiates it, and Israel’s steady dispossession of the Palestinians is normalized— ”ethnic cleansing” takes place only when dispossession is carried out by a target state such as Serbia. “Israel justly defended itself against terror,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said. “This biased and unjust report is a clear-cut test for all govern-ments. Will you stand with Israel or will you stand with the terrorists?” (190) But in fact Netanyahu’s own definition of terrorism would include the Israeli attack on the Gaza Palestinians: “Terrorism is the deliberate and systematic murder, maiming, and menacing of the innocent to inspire fear for political ends.” (191) This is how Goldstone, and John Dugard and Richard Falk before him, describe Israeli actions in the Gaza. But Israel is free to kill and ethnically cleanse untermenschen, given a remarkable system of propaganda that overwhelms truth and morality.
Another line of attack on the Goldstone report stressed what it could mean for Israel’s Western allies “if the methodology and conclusions of this infamous report were ever applied generally to democracies seeking to combat terrorists who hid behind civilians— as in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iraq,” as Harvard’s Alan Dershowitz warned. The Israeli political scientist Gerald Steinberg added that the “same terms could be applied to NATO officials responsible for the deaths of civilians in strikes against Taliban assets, such as oil trucks in Afghanistan. American troops who used white phosphorous to protect against detection in the battle of Fallujah in Iraq could be accused, like the Israelis targeted by Mr. Goldstone, of war crimes.” (192)
In effect, these authors argue for Israel’s exemption from the rule of law on the ground that the United States is exempt! As the United States enjoys impunity, no matter what it does to the Afghan and Iraqi untermenschen, surely Israel should enjoy the same impunity where the Palestinians are concerned.
But the fears expressed by Dershowitz and Steinberg about Israeli vulnerability before the rule of law are unjustified: Israel has been exempt from the rule of law from time immemorial and remains exempt to this day. As a primary client of the United States, Israel repeatedly violates the Fourth Geneva Convention as an occupying power of the Palestinian Gaza Strip and the Palestinian West Bank. For decades, Israel has illegally detained thousands of Palestinians and used torture against them. It has committed major aggressions against Lebanon and for a long period maintained a terrorist army inside Lebanon. But throughout all of this, Israel has never once been subjected to international sanctions. Nor is there any reason to believe that something punitive will result from the Goldstone Commission. The Goldstone Commission recommended that after six months time (roughly, by the spring of 2010), “in the absence of good faith investigations that are independent and in conformity with international standards,” the Gaza attack should be referred to the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court for further investigation. (193) This will never happen. Indeed, several days before Goldstone presented his report to the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva, Susan Rice took issue with its “fundamental problem”: the Commission “was hatched with a bias inherent in its mandate,” namely, to investigate both Israeli and Palestinian crimes, not just Palestinian. After Goldstone presented his findings, the U.S. representative Michael Posner rejected them as “unbalanced” and “deeply flawed,” and warned that Washington would continue its fight against the Council’s “double standards and disproportionate focus on Israel.” The U.S. rejected the report and was joined in this by the E.U., both forcing the Council to delay a vote on the report at least until March 2010, effectively burying its recommendations. (194) The United States also announced that it will block any effort on the part of the Security Council to refer Israel to the ICC, and it is clear that no ad hoc tribunal will be established to investigate and prosecute Israel’s crimes. Israel will remain free to dispossess, to ethnically cleanse, and to commit aggression. Israel enjoys client-state impunity.
As shown in Table 3, Israel’s attack on Gaza was referred to quite often as “genocide” (sixty times in twenty-three days)— more times than any other massacre in our sample except Srebrenica. But the Israeli attack was never once called “genocide” by any executive branch or high-ranking congressional leader, mainstream pundit, or editorial. Of the major U.S. news-papers, the Christian Science Monitor once cited a statement by Hezbollah that used the word (“The militant Shiite Hezbollah has led calls of condemnation in Lebanon, declaring the attack on Gaza an ‘Israeli war crime and represents genocide,’” December 29, 2008), and the New York Times closed its report about the Israeli shelling of a UN school that killed forty Palestinians, mostly women and children, with a quote from Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez (“Mr. Chavez ... described Israel’s actions in Gaza as ‘genocide,’” January 7, 2009). But this was it: The rest were either smaller U.S. newspapers or foreign-based English language newspapers (though the Washington Post did run an op-ed by a Jewish academic in Jerusalem who stated that “Israelis are united today about our right to defend ourselves against Gaza’s genocidally minded regime,” January 4, 2009).
We believe that the reason “genocide” has been applied to the Gaza Palestinians so often by those who do use it is that the word does in fact fit Israeli plans and actions in Gaza and the West Bank so very well. Israeli leaders have often referred to Palestinians with racist derogation (“roaches,” “grasshoppers,” and “two-legged beasts”); some of them have spoken openly about their desire to transfer Palestinians out of the promised land or make their lives sufficiently miserable so as to move voluntarily; and Cast Lead was but one of many similar operations in which Palestinians are freely killed and their social fabric badly damaged. This is a genocide-inprocess, moving slowly but relentlessly, and with the steady support of the Enlightened West. But we will certainly not see it called by its proper name by Samantha Power, David Rieff, Aryeh Neier, or the editors and pundits of the New York Times.

In the course of its struggle to break away from the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, Croatia made a determined effort to crush and to ethnically cleanse the very large number of Serbs remaining in Croatian territory. They first did this to the Serb inhabitants of Western Slavonia via Operation Flash in May 1995. Later and far more extensively, in August 1995, Croatia launched Operation Storm against the Serbs living in the Krajina region, where Croatia shares a very long border with Bosnia and Herzegovina. These operations received critical U.S. support in terms of material aid and intelligence, the training of both Croat and Bosnian Muslim troops by corporate U.S. mercenaries such as MPRI (Military Professional Resources Inc.), and by diplomatic protection. (195) Coming less than one month after the Srebrenica massacre, Operation Storm drove some 250,000 ethic Serbs out of the Krajina along both sides of the Croatia-Bosnia border, killing several thousand, including several hundred women and children. On the day in August when the Security Council took up the situations in both Bosnia and Croatia, U.S. Ambassador Madeleine Albright spoke in graphic terms about how “important” it was to “focus international attention on the plight of the refugee population from Srebrenica and Zepa,” numbering some thirteen thousand by her reckoning, who the “Pale Serbs beat, raped and murdered.” But she said nothing comparable about the twenty-times larger cleansing of Serbs from the Krajina, using Srebrenica as a cover for this still ongoing operation carried out with blitzkrieg-like efficiency. (196)
This ethnic cleansing of 250,000 Serbs was the single largest event of its kind in the Balkan wars. On ICTY logic, the Croat leaders of Operation Storm could have been prosecuted for genocide. Consider the ICTY’s reasoning in its Judgment for its first case related to Srebrenica, where it accepted that the “intent to eradicate a group within a limited geographical area such as the region of a country or even a municipality may be characterized as genocide.” (197) Indeed, Operation Storm was nothing if not intended to kill or remove all Serbs from the Krajina, an area vastly larger than Srebrenica. In his testimony during the one Operation Storm-related case to be prosecuted at the ICTY, Peter Galbraith, the U.S. Ambassador to Croatia at the time, specifically recalled that “He [Franjo Tudjman] believed that ... European states were much better off if they were ethnically homogeneous,” and that Tudjman “saw because of their geography that the Krajina Serbs were a particular threat ... located, after all, in such a way that they almost divided the northern part of Croatia from the coast.” Galbraith also recalled a conversation with one of Tudjman’s closest aides, who told him: “We cannot accept them to come back. They are a cancer in the stomach of Croatia.” (198)
But as Operation Storm was both U.S.-sponsored and helped clear up Croatia’s Serb problem, it was minimally newsworthy and has been treated neither as a massacre nor as genocide, as we can see in Table 3. In fact, although it was as clear a case of deliberate and massive ethnic cleansing as one could find, even the “ethnic cleansing” designation so prevalent in the coverage of these wars was denied by Peter Galbraith himself: “It is not ethnic cleansing,” he said over BBC radio during Operation Storm. “Ethnic cleansing is a practice sponsored by the leadership in Belgrade carried out by the Bosnian Serbs and also by the Croatian Serbs of forcibly expelling the local population, whether it was Muslim or Croat, using terror tactics.” (199) Actually, Galbraith’s crude parsing of a military tactic according to its perpetrators and victims—“ethnic cleansing” if carried out by ethnic Serbs against Muslims or Croats, but not if carried out by their forces against ethnic Serbs—revealed a great deal about the U.S. and Western approach to the Balkan wars and many other theaters of conflict as well. The U.S. media in general used and continue to use the phrase pretty much in lockstep with Galbraith’s usage here. Operation Storm was a Benign ethnic cleansing and bloodbath and is treated accordingly by the Free Press and the humanitarian intervention intellectuals.

In November 2001, after the U.S.-allied Northern Alliance had captured thousands of Taliban fighters, several thousand of the prisoners were taken from jail, stuffed into some twenty-five containers, with about two hundred prisoners in each container, forty-five hundred prisoners in all, and driven to a final destination in the Dasht-e-Leili desert. A majority died en route of suffocation, and many were shot dead on arrival and buried in a huge gravesite bigger than any found in Bosnia. The estimates of numbers dead in this atrocity range from 961 to four thousand. (200)
Newsweek reported in “The Death Convoy of Afghanistan” that a confidential UN memo stated that while the facts of Dasht-e-Leili “are sufficient to justify a full-fledged investigation,” the problem is “the political sensitivity of this case,” and, as such, all action should be postponed “until a decision is made concerning the final goal of this exercise.” (201) Translated from gobbledygook: As the United States was closely involved in these crimes, forget it. (In his 2002 documentary Massacre at Mazar, Irish filmmaker Jamie Doran provided compelling witness evidence that U.S. army, Special Forces, and CIA personnel were on the scene, did not interfere with the operation, and at various points seemed in charge.)
The U.S.-based Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) said “The examination of bodies and dignified burial of remains [from Dasht-e-Leili] will contribute to the truth and accountability process which is essential for future peace and stability in Afghanistan.” But PHR is mistaken: This line of argument is only applicable in places like the former Yugoslavia in justifying the pursuit of villains—it is not applicable in places like Afghanistan and Indonesia where the possible villains are “our kind of guy” (a Clinton official on Indonesia’s Suharto). While PHR, Amnesty International, and, to a lesser extent, Human Rights Watch gave some attention to Dasht-e-Leili, with PHR lobbying the U.S. government as early as 2002 to guard the integrity of the mass grave at Dasht-e-Leili for future investigation, (202) no protection was forthcoming. When PHR warned in December 2008 that “large sections of the Dasht-e-Leili mass grave in Northern Afghanistan have been dug up and removed,” a spokesman for the U.S. commander of the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan dismissed calls to protect the grave, explaining that “protection of the site is not within the [ISAF’s] mandate.” (203) In short, as the United States was closely involved in these crimes, protection of the mass graves has not and will not happen in U.S.-controlled Afghanistan. But the “international community” will still be encouraged to protect and exhume mass graves in Bosnia, Iraq (i.e., provided they were filled by Saddam’s regime), and Darfur.
When Jamie Doran’s Massacre at Mazar was shown in preliminary form in Europe in June 2002, the European media gave it some attention, although brief, but the film was not mentioned once by the mainstream U.S. media. Newsweek’s substantial article on “The Death Convoy of Afghanistan” led to a tiny flurry of reports elsewhere in the media, after which it was quickly dropped. When the young British men known as the Tipton Three were released from U.S. custody in Guantanamo Bay in early March 2004, among their other revelations was their personal experience barely surviving the “death convoy.” While this was reported in the British media, the New York Times failed to mention this feature of the disclosures. As we can see on Table 3, this gruesome massacre was never once described as a “massacre,” let alone “genocide,” in the newspapers. It was a Benign bloodbath, and on the borderline of the Constructive with such heavy U.S. involvement; hence neither newsworthy nor the basis of indignation and calls for justice.
After years of disinterest in this case, the New York Times returned to it in July 2009 with a front-page article and editorial. (204) The editors denounce as a “sordid legacy” of the Bush administration its “refusal to investigate charges” of these killings. “There can be no justification for the horrors or for the willingness of the United States and Afghanistan to look the other way,” the Times editorialized. But the truth of the matter is that when the Bush administration refused to “investigate charges” and “looked the other way” back in 2001 and 2002, so did the New York Times. The paper published no editorials or opinion columns on the case, and only two news articles by foreign correspondent John Burns dealt with the Dasht-e-Leili massacre (the word “massacre,” incidentally, being one that that Burns never applies to this case), neither published until August 2002. (205) That was it for the Times until July 2009. During this seven-year period there were several opportunities to look more closely at the subject and bring it to public attention, but the Times failed to do so. The Bush administration wanted the U.S. media to look the other way—and the Times obliged. So the “sordid legacy” of George Bush is also a part of the sordid legacy of the New York Times.
But what caused the Times to change its focus in the summer of 2009? The editors are open about it. As they note, “the administration is pressing Mr. Karzai not to return General Dostum [the Afghan warlord in charge of the Dasht-e-Leili prisoners] to power. Mr. Obama needs to order a full investigation into the massacre. The site must be guarded and witnesses protected.” (206) Now, the editors acknowledge that back in 2001 Dostum “was on the C.I.A. payroll and his militia worked closely with United States Special Forces in the early days of the war.” But seven years earlier, in August 2002, John Burns reported instead that the Joint Chiefs of Staff Vice-Chairman General Peter Pace had told a news conference that an “internal review conducted by the United States military had turned up no evidence that American troops were in any way involved in what happened at Shibarghan [sic].” (207) At that time, General Dostum was doing what the Pentagon wanted him to do. But now the Pentagon and Obama administration want Dostum out of the way, and the news fit to print at the Times changes accordingly.

Over many years, both Turkey and Iraq have massively abused their Kurdish populations, which occupy land in the common border regions of northern Iraq, southeastern Turkey, northeastern Syria, and northwestern Iran. Iraq’s massacres, destruction of villages, and ethnic cleansing campaign against its Kurds under Saddam Hussein’s rule achieved great notoriety, but only following Iraq’s 1990 invasion of Kuwait and the first Gulf War in 1991. The largest body of indictments for which members of the former regime have been tried before the Iraqi Special Tribunal—and for which it sentenced Saddam to hang—pertain to this earlier campaign.
Beginning in the mid-1980s and continuing into this decade, successive regimes in Turkey have carried out their own systematic program to crush Kurdish nationalism, killing perhaps thirty thousand Kurds, destroying some thirty-five hundred villages, setting as many as three million refugees afoot, and for many years prohibiting expressions of “Kurdish” identity under a national law. (208) This murderous program was generously supported by successive U.S. administrations, reaching its peak in the mid-1990s under Bill Clinton. (209) Saddam Hussein was also vicious in dealing with his Kurds throughout the 1980s, with tens-of-thousands killed in the al-Anfal campaign. The most infamous incident in the al-Anfal campaign was the Halabja massacre, where Saddam’s forces used chemical weapons, killing thousands. But that was back in March 1988, when Saddam was still a U.S. ally and prosecuting his war against the Islamic state of Iran. As the United States was among Saddam’s suppliers of “weapons of mass destruction,” critiques of the Halabja massacre were limited at the time, only to soar in the aftermath of Iraq’s August 1990 invasion of Kuwait, the first Gulf War, the U.S.-UK invasion-occupation of 2003-2009, and the eventual show trials of Saddam and his associates. Table 3 shows that Halabja produced 122 newspaper items that mention “massacre” and ten that mention “genocide.” These numbers reflect the nefarious quality of the Iraqi leadership—at least after Saddam became “another Hitler” with his invasion of Kuwait in 1990.
An earlier study that compared the use of the word “genocide” to describe Turkey’s treatment of its Kurds and Saddam’s treatment of Iraq’s Kurds in five major U.S. print media sources from 1990 to 1999 found that the term was used in Turkey’s case in 14 different items, versus 132 for Iraq’s. The print media in this sample devoted twenty-four front-page articles to stories that mentioned Saddam’s “genocide,” but only one front-page story mentioned Turkey’s “genocide.” (210) The same pattern holds true even if we greatly expand our print media universe and the time-horizon surveyed. Although attributions of “genocide” in relation to Turkey were common for the twenty-five-year period from 1984 to 2008, virtually all of these (99.8 percent) were made in relation to the Ottoman Empire’s slaughter of the Armenian population from around 1915–1917 (i.e., in the distant past), with the miniscule remainder (0.2 percent) having been applied to Turkey’s treatment of its Kurds in the contemporary period. Similarly, although attributions of “genocide” were made during this twenty-five-year period to show how different states treated their Kurds, virtually all of these (93.7 percent) focused on how Saddam treated Iraq’s Kurds, again with the modest remainder (6.3%) left over to describe how Turkey treated its Kurds. (211) This contrast underscores not only a remarkably deep bias but also a consistent, even a rigid one over a very long period of time. The worthiness of Kurdish victims rises or falls in accord with the identity of their tormentors: An official enemy of the United States, like Saddam Hussein’s regime from August 1990 on, produces worthy Kurdish victims; a key U.S. ally and member of the NATO bloc, like Turkey, does not.

When Indonesia invaded East Timor in December 1975, it did this with U.S. approval and military and diplomatic aid. “Suharto was given the green light [by the U.S.] to do what he did,” C. Philip Liechty, a former CIA operations officer at the U.S. embassy in Jakarta, told John Pilger. As well, says Liechty, “without continued heavy U.S. logistical military support the Indonesians might not have been able to pull it off.” (212) But U.S. assistance also reached into the UN Security Council. Given the task of rendering the United Nations “utterly ineffective” in whatever measures it might take to reverse Indonesia’s aggression, U.S. Ambassador Daniel Patrick Moynihan bragged that he “carried it forward with no inconsiderable success.” (213)
It followed that the subsequent deaths of 200,000 Timorese—a larger percentage of the population than those who died under Khmer Rouge rule in Cambodia—were treated gently in the U.S. media. New York Times coverage of East Timor fell to zero in 1977 and 1978, as U.S. military aid to Indonesia quadrupled under Jimmy Carter and Indonesian terror reached its pinnacle. Misleading apologetics for the Suharto dictatorship were prevalent throughout this era of mass killing. (214) In the rare case where the word “genocide” was mentioned in the New York Times, reporter Henry Kamm dismissed it in 1981 as an oversimplification of the complex basis of the huge death toll: “accusations of ‘genocide’ rather than mass deaths from cruel warfare and the starvation that accompanied it on this historically food-short island” were the merest “hyperbole,” Kamm insisted. He added that as the “bulk of the testimony has come from highly partisan members or supporters of [the Timorese resistance] Fretilin,” the world should treat such reports skeptically, in contrast to the denials by Indonesian officials. East Timor simply “does not qualify for a busy world’s attention,” Kamm repeated several years later (1987). (215) Kamm was right: The media of that “busy world” paid minimal attention to East Timor under five consecutive U.S. presidential administrations (Gerald Ford through Bill Clinton), as Indonesia’s twenty-four-year rampage was both an approved genocide and a Benign bloodbath.
Very much the same pattern was repeated in 1998–1999. (216) Following Suharto’s replacement in May 1998, in the midst of a severe economic collapse in much of the region and mounting pressures at the United Nations to deal with the Timorese question once and for all, an agreement was reached in May 1999 permitting a referendum among the Timorese on whether to accept or reject their permanent integration with Indonesia. In an effort to make sure the referendum would not take place or that the Timorese would at least approve the outcome desired by Jakarta, the Indonesians launched yet another campaign of terror and killings, the violence dramatically increasing in the months before the UN agreement and culminating in the weeks after the vote on August 30. Although the Indonesian army began staging large troop withdrawals from East Timor as early as the summer of 1998, inviting Western reporters to witness the event, it was even then organizing paramilitary groups to carry out the terror campaign against proindependence Timorese at its behest. (217) After the 1999 terror was well underway, Allan Nairn found the “chief-of-staff” of thirteen of these militias, who admitted that his groups had been given a “license to kill” by the Indonesian army. (218) Later, Nairn learned that after the April 6 massacre at the Catholic church in Liquiçá, where between sixty and two hundred civilians were slaughtered, (219) Admiral Dennis Blair, then the Commander in Chief of the U.S. Pacific Fleet (and in 2009 appointed Obama’s Director of National Intelligence), was dispatched to Jakarta to meet with the Indonesian military leadership. But “at no point” did Blair tell Indonesia “to stop the militia operation,” Nairn reported, based on a reading of U.S. documents. Instead, the Indonesian military took Blair’s visit no doubt in the way Blair intended it—as a “green light to proceed with the militia operation.” (220)
Less than three months before the Liquiçá massacre there had been the Račak massacre in Kosovo, which involved far fewer deaths (and, as shown below, was also mythical). As we can see on Table 3, Račak was referred to as a “massacre” in our newspaper universe three-times more often than was Liquiçá, although the latter was quite real and with larger numbers killed. Noting the contradictions between the “high-minded rhetoric from NATO” about protecting human rights in Kosovo but not East Timor, Fretilin’s Jose Ramos-Horta listed NATO’s bombing war against Serbia, its demands for Serbian troop withdrawals from Kosovo (itself a province within Serbia), and its calls for the prosecution of Serbian officials by the ICTY—none of which were applied to the leadership of Indonesia’s military forces, “many of whom have received training in NATO countries” and been the recipient of Western military largesse for decades. (221) But whereas the Račak massacre was serviceable to U.S. policy interests at the time, providing a convenient justification for NATO’s coming war on Serbia, the Liquiçá massacre was not helpful: Liquiçá was a massacre by a valued client enjoying decades of U.S. support and approval, carried out while the “busy world” was focused on claims of “genocide” in Kosovo.

The United States supported regimes of terror for decades in Central America. Confining ourselves to El Salvador and Guatemala, we note that the UN Commission on the Truth for El Salvador was clear on the government’s and government-supported paramilitaries’ primary responsibility for the many thousands of civilian deaths and numerous massacres from 1980-1991. (222) A separate Truth Commission found the same to be true regarding Guatemala, and provided a countrywide map showing a reported 669 different massacre sites for 1962–1996. No fewer than 626 of them were carried out during the “so-called scorched-earth operations [of the early 1980s], as planned by the State, [and resulting] in the complete extermination of many Mayan communities.” (223)
These Truth Commissions failed to stress the importance of U.S. origination, support, and protection of the two regimes of terror. Both the Salvadoran and the Guatemalan regimes received financial support under U.S. congressional legislation that claimed the aid to be “counter-terror,” when in fact this was aid directed to very serious perpetrators of state terrorism. In both countries, “demonstration elections” were held under systems of terror that made them a substantive farce, but gave the false impression of a slackening of military control in “fledgling democracies,” which with U.S. media cooperation helped make palatable U.S. support of these terror regimes. (224)
Among the many massacres in El Salvador, one of the most vicious was carried out in December 1981 by the U.S.-trained Atlacatl Battalion in the peasant village of El Mozote, where some eight hundred to a thousand civilians, including several hundred children, were slaughtered in cold blood. But its notoriety stemmed not only from its magnitude, but in part because the Wall Street Journal editors, furious at Raymond Bonner of the New York Times for reporting this slaughter, denounced him and labeled him a traitor, helping assure his rapid removal from this beat. (225) We can see from Table 3 that while this episode has in fact been called a “massacre” in 122 different items since 1982, it was referred to as “genocide” only once. (226) The contrast in usage of the “massacre” label between El Mozote and the two cases stemming from the wars in the former Yugoslavia at the Sarajevo marketplaces, Račak and especially Srebrenica, is dramatic.
Guatemala’s short-lived democracy was terminated with the U.S.-organized overthrow of the Arbenz government in 1954. There followed a counterinsurgency and terror state that carried out systematic warfare against any organized popular or dissident groups, many only coming into existence to resist the brutal state-terror. The successive military rulers could count on regular U.S. support in their anti-democratic and bloody campaigns. In 1980, Amnesty International published a study of Guatemala titled A Government by Political Murder, and Guatemala was also featured in another AI study called Disappearances: A Case Study. The 1999 report by the Truth Commission found that by far the greatest percentage of these state-organized massacres were carried out in a single department, El Quiche (45 percent), overwhelmingly against its indigenous Mayan population (83 percent). The Commission concluded that “many massacres and other human rights violations committed against these groups obeyed a higher, strategically planned policy, manifested in actions which had a logical and coherent sequence,” adding that “agents of the State of Guatemala, within the framework of counterinsurgency operations carried out between 1981 and 1983, committed acts of genocide against groups of Mayan people....” (227)
The exact numbers killed in these hundreds of massacres is unknown, but may run to 200,000 or more. Such large numbers, the focus on the Mayan population, and the evidence of high-level planning, makes this period of Guatemala’s history a much better example of the Nuremberg (or ICTY-ICC) definitions of conspiracy, crimes against humanity, “joint criminal enterprise,” and genocide than any incidents stemming form Bosnia’s civil wars. But the perpetrator was a U.S. client state, fighting “Communism.” Therefore, its massacres were Benign and its victims unworthy and downplayed by the media. Indeed, no “international” tribunal was formed to investigate and try the perpetrators— only a Commission for Historical Clarification. Although many more were killed in this war on the Mayan Indians than in Bosnia in the 1990s, “Guatemala” does not show up in the index of Samantha Power’s book, whose subtitle is “America and the Age of Genocide.”
Table 3 includes Guatemala’s March 1982 massacre at Rio Negro, where an estimated 444 Mayans were slaughtered. A Rio Negro “massacre” turns up in twenty-one different items in our newspaper universe, but never a Rio Negro “genocide,” and never Rio Negro as one link in a lengthy chain of massacres that, taken as a whole, more appropriately would be called “genocide.” Note that though the word “genocide” is applied to Bosnia 481 times in Table 1 and to Srebrenica 442 times in Table 3, the latter also shows that our newspaper universe used it only once for El Mozote and never for Rio Negro. This parallels news coverage and reflects deep political bias. It should also be noted that the New York Times never once cited the two devastating Amnesty studies of Guatemala published in 1980 and 1981 and that a separate analysis showed that twenty-three murdered Guatemala religious figures, including one U.S. citizen, got less than onetenth the coverage of the single murder of the Polish priest Jerzy Popieluszko. (228) Here, as before, the difference is that the twentythree were killed by a client-perpetrator, making their deaths unworthy. In contrast, Popieluszko was killed by an enemy-perpetrator, the then-Communist state of Poland, a Nefarious case and a worthy victim, reported often and with great indignation and with an unremitting search for responsibility at the top.

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