Will Genocide Ever End?

Will Genocide Ever End?

Will Genocide Ever End?

Will Genocide Ever End?

Excerpt

Although the term “genocide” is relatively recent, its occurrence is not new. Mass slaughter has been used as a-means of asserting dominance, imposing ideology, and altering the status quo for millennia. It has been implemented over and over again as a tool of fear, as a means of pillage, of changing ethnic balance, of creating space, and of subjugating the weak for the benefit of the strong. From the deaths of thousands of slaves in Egypt disposed under the foundations of the pyramids to Joshua's conquest of the town of Ai; from the millions wiped out by Genghis Khan to the destruction of Central and South American populations by the Conquistadors, the search for dominance and the propensity to waste life has left genocide's countless victims scattered throughout virtually every chapter of human history.

The twentieth century opened as a century of promise, but by the time it ended, an estimated 200 million civilian deaths littered the global landscape, the result of the deadly policies of a spectrum of political ideologies. There has also been a tragic shift in expectations. At the beginning of the last century, the expectation was that adult males wearing uniforms and carrying weapons would be the likely victims of warfare. By the end of the twentieth century, however, something quite different was true. Not adult males wearing uniforms-soldiers-but civilians-the majority of them women and children-were the victims.

This is where cause for concern lies. Genocide, mass death, and ethnic cleansing are not on the decline, either in incidence or scale. Our ability to predict the occurrence of genocide may be markedly more sophisticated today than it was in the past, but our ability to prevent genocide does not seem to be more effective today than it was in the past. The struggle for power, the subjugation of vulnerable groups and the creation of conflict is part of the current social reality and seems set to continue for the foreseeable future. The question is: In what ways can the actions of genocidaires inwaiting be stopped or mitigated, prior to the implementation of their deadly campaigns?

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