The Null Device
Posts matching tags 'atrocities'
The big news today was that Radovan Karadzic, the Bosnian Serb warlord wanted for organising massacres of Croatian and Muslim civilians, has been arrested, and is likely to be shipped to The Hague post-haste. Rather than hiding in a hole or an impregnable fortress manned by fierce hordesmen, Karadzic spent the past 14 years being a celebrated New Age therapist in Belgrade. He grew an ecclesiastical-looking white beard, called himself Dragan Dabic and went around teaching meditation, yoga and tai chi and offering "bio-energy healing", amassing a considerable following.
Those who knew Dr Dabic on the New Age circuit have told The Times that he was regarded as an expert in silence and meditation. One of his lectures was called 'The relationship between calmness and meditation,' and another one was titled 'How to nurture your own energies.'
Mr Ljajic said that Dr Karadzic's disguise had rendered him so unrecognisable that even the landlord from whom he rented a flat had no idea who he really was.
Next time you buy the mandatory diamond ring for your beloved, spare a thought for the child soldiers who valiantly fought to get it for you, or the civilians in Sierra Leone whose limbs they hacked off:
Over the course of the decade-long war, the rebels have mutilated some 20,000 people, hacking off their arms, legs, lips, and ears with machetes and axes. This campaign was the RUF's grotesquely ironic response to Sierra Leone President Ahmad Tejan Kabbah's 1996 plea for citizens to "join hands for peace." Another 50,000 to 75,000 have been killed. The RUF's goal was to terrorize the population and enjoy uncontested dominion over the diamond fields.
The Powers That Be assure us they're reforming the process to ensure eliminate the perception of such inequity; however, without much success.
Unfortunately, neither action is halting the lucrative trade: "Efforts to end the trade in conflict diamonds ran into a major obstacle in the Bush administration, which has been reluctant to impede business in any way or have its hands tied by any international agreements, even when the U.S. diamond industry has called for it," says Akwei.
(Does that mean that Halliburton, the Carlyle Group or some other band of highly-connected kleptocrats have a stake in the diamond trade, or are the Bush administration just being recalcitrant out of principle?) (via Adbusting)
A few choice quotes from Winston Churchill, the great man who was recently selected as the Greatest Briton Ever (beating off a strong challenge from Lady Di, no less), and who is widely held to have been the George W. Bush of his time.
I do not understand the squeamishness about the use of gas. I am strongly in favour of using poisonous gas against uncivilised tribes.
Writing as president of the Air Council, 1919
I do not admit... that a great wrong has been done to the Red Indians of America, or the black people of Australia... by the fact that a stronger race, a higher grade race... has come in and taken its place.
Churchill to Palestine Royal Commission, 1937
One may dislike Hitler's system and yet admire his patriotic achievement. If our country were defeated, I hope we should find a champion as admirable to restore our courage and lead us back to our place among the nations."
From his Great Contemporaries, 1937
A sobering interview a professor of psychology who has studied the psychology of genocide, or why ordinary people commit atrocities. Eye-opening, and not optimistic; basically, his thesis is that the line between everyday civilisation and genocide is rather thin; that it's very easy to dehumanise an "enemy", thus enabling ordinary people to commit atrocities against their now no-longer "human" foes and still see themselves as good people, and that genocide is not, as is widely believed, an intrinsically male specialisation.
And in the Holocaust you had incidences of this, too -- I'm thinking of Jan Gross' book, entitled "Neighbors," about a small village in Poland named Jedwabne where the Catholic half of the village killed the Jewish half simply because they were given permission to do so. You realize how thin this veneer of civilization is that we put up. We say we live as neighbors and in a community, but when something happens structurally that says now you have permission to persecute, to take from, to even kill people that you've lived with for years, the relative ease with which people can do that is incredible.
It's one thing to understand killing, but killing with brutality and killing with zest and killing by taking trophies as American soldiers did with massacres of American Indians, is another thing. Why is that necessary? You'll even notice that in executions throughout World War II, the person's back is always toward the executioner. There really is no logistical reason for that in terms of ease of killing, it's more just a psychological defense of not having to see the victim.
And, according to Waller, genocide and other atrocities are likely to increase as more people compete for fewer resources.