From Massacres to Genocide: The Media, Public Policy, and Humanitarian Crises

By Robert I. Rotberg; Thomas G. Weiss | Go to book overview

CHAPTER NINE
Coping with the New World Disorder: The Media, Humanitarians, and Policy-Makers

Robert I. Rotberg and Thomas G. Weiss

THE PEACE OF THE WORLD, the reduction of ethnic and religious hostilities, and the avoidance of recurring complex humanitarian emergencies depend upon a reconceptualization of American self-interest. The new sense of the national interest needs to emphasize humanitarian core values. It should elevate the freedom of peoples around the globe to the same heights that containing communism once reached. If the United States, as the world's lone superpower, does not assume these responsibilities, global tensions will proliferate.

We should accept the premise that the political values, moral stature, and domestic tranquillity of the United States are genuinely threatened by instability and strife wherever in the world they occur--even well beyond our usual geographical spheres of concern. Genocide cannot be ignored, even if the peoples being attacked are distant and their countries confer little strategic advantage. As a nation we no longer have the luxury of retreating from the world or of choosing involvements with Europe, Russia, and Israel over being engaged elsewhere and everywhere. The global village, tied together by the media and populated in part by American and international relief agencies, is a reality.

Communications have indeed become instantaneous. Mass killings anywhere appear on CNN and television news programs. A prospective genocide in Burundi, therefore, does impinge upon our own enjoyment of American freedom just as the abridgement of human rights in, say,

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