Opposing genocide has become a sort of cottage industry in the US. Everywhere, “genocide studies” are cropping up in universities.  Five years ago, an unlikely “Genocide Prevention Task Force” was set up headed by former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and former Defence Secretary William Cohen.

The Bible of the campaign is Samantha Power’s book, A Problem from Hell.  Her thesis is that the US administration while well-intentioned is too slow to intervene to “stop genocide”.  It is a suggestion that the US government embraces, even to taking on Ms Power as White House Advisor. Why has the US government so eagerly endorsed the crusade against “genocide”?

The reason is clear.  Since the Holocaust has become the most omnipresent historical reference in Western societies, the concept of “genocide” is widely and easily accepted as the greatest evil to afflict the planet. It is felt to be ‘worse than war’. Therein lies its immense value to the US military-industrial complex, and to a foreign policy elite seeking an acceptable pretext for military intervention wherever they choose.

The obsession with “genocide” as the primary humanitarian issue in the world today relativises war.  It reverses the final judgment of the Nuremberg Trials that: war is essentially an evil thing. Its consequences are not confined to the belligerent states alone, but affect the whole world. To initiate a war of aggression, therefore, is not only an international crime; it is the ‘supreme international crime’ differing only from other war crimes in that it contains within itself the accumulated evil of the whole.

Instead, war is transformed into a chivalrous action to rescue whole populations from “genocide”.

At the same time, national sovereignty, erected as the barrier to prevent strong nations from invading weaker ones, that is, to prevent aggression and “the scourge of war”, is derided as nothing but a protection for evil rulers (dictators) whose only ambition is to “massacre their own people.”

This ideological construct is the basis for the Western-sponsored doctrine, forced on a more or less reluctant United Nations, of “R2P”, the ambiguous shorthand for both the “right” and the “responsibility” to protect people from their own governments.

In practice, this can give the dominant powers carte blanche to intervene militarily in weaker countries in order to support whatever armed rebellions they favour. Once this doctrine seems to be accepted, it can even serve as an incitement to opposition groups to provoke government repression in order to call for “protection”.

A principal danger of the R2P doctrine is that it encourages rebel factions to provoke repression, or to claim persecution, solely to bring in foreign forces on their behalf. It serves primarily to create a public opinion willing to accept US and Nato intervention in other countries.  It is not meant to allow Cuban forces to shut down Guantanamo and end US violations of human rights.

US intervention does not have a track record of “protecting” people.  It is easier to imagine an effective intervention where none has been attempted than to carry it out in the real world. For all its military power, the US is unable to make over the world to its liking. It has failed in Iraq and in Afghanistan. Also, the “success” in Libya is publicly unravelling much faster.

Libya marked a turning point, when the Nato powers used the R2P doctrine not to protect people from being bombed by their own air force (the idea behind the “no fly zone” UN resolution), but to bomb the country themselves in order to enable rebels to kill the leader and destroy the regime.  That convinced the Russians and Chinese, if they had had any doubts, that “R2P” is a fake, used to advance a project of world domination.

And they are not alone and isolated.  The West is isolating itself in its own powerful propaganda bubble. Much, perhaps most of the world sees Western intervention as motivated by economic self-interest, or by the interests of Israel.  The sense of being threatened by US power incites other countries to build up their own military defences and to repress opposition militants, who might serve as excuses for outside intervention.

By crying “genocide” when there is no genocide, the US is crying wolf and losing credibility. It is destroying the trust and unity that would be needed to mobilise international humanitarian action in case of genuine need.

    The writer is a political analyst and has authored Fools Crusade: Yugoslavia, Nato and Western Delusions. This article has been reproduced from Counterpunch.

    Email: diana.josto@yahoo.fr