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Why States Commit Genocide February 22, 2014

Posted by OromianEconomist in Colonizing Structure, Dictatorship, Ethiopia's Colonizing Structure and the Development Problems of People of Oromia, Afar, Ogaden, Sidama, Southern Ethiopia and the Omo Valley, Ethnic Cleansing, Human Rights, Janjaweed Style Liyu Police of Ethiopia, Land Grabs in Africa, Nubia, Ogaden, Omo, Omo Valley, Oromia, Oromia Support Group, Oromia Support Group Australia, Oromiyaa, Oromo, Oromo Identity, Oromo the Largest Nation of Africa. Human Rights violations and Genocide against the Oromo people in Ethiopia, Self determination, Sidama, State of Oromia, The Colonizing Structure & The Development Problems of Oromia, Uncategorized.
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It wasn’t always like this. Before nationalism, empires frequently ruled territory that contained many diverse peoples. The Habsburg family once ruled over the Spanish, Dutch and Austrian nations, along with many of the nations of Latin America. The Romans ruled hundreds of peoples great and small, from Greeks to Gauls to Britons to Iberians to Gallicians to Egyptians to Thracians to Illyrians to Carthaginians to Numidians and on and on. Before nationalism, peoples would rather submit to foreign conquerors than risk the loss of life and limb, and as a result conquerors rarely engaged in genocide except as a means of exacting vengeance on foreign rulers who defied them (as the Mongols and Assyrians were wont to do). Empires often took some of the vanquished as slaves, but rarely did empires kill thousands or millions of defenseless people deliberately and systematically for the sole purpose of decimating another nation. Instead, empires often brought conquered peoples into their trade networks, recruited them into their armies, and, eventually, even granted them citizenship rights. By treating conquered people well, they could in time acquire their loyalty.

Nationalism changed all of that. By placing lexical priority on independence and self-determination, all foreign occupiers become villains regardless of whether they are benign or malevolent in their treatment of the occupied nation. In this day and age, even members of a nation like the Scots, which enjoys spectacularly generous subsidies and full voting rights from the British government in Westminster, desire independence purely on the basis that some Scots are nationalists and believe that nothing less than full self-determination does their nation justice. If good treatment doesn’t buy loyalty, occupiers quickly find that they are without incentives to treat subject peoples well or to attempt to integrate them into their states. Nationalism becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy–if occupiers have nothing to gain by offering fair terms of cooperation, they will not offer them, and the subjugation nationalists fear becomes reality precisely because they fear it and refuse to cooperate with the occupier.

The occupier is left with two choices:

Get Out.
Kill Them All.
Often times, occupiers choose to abandon whatever ambitions they might have had and leave in defeat and disgrace. But this doesn’t always happen–some leaders correctly reason that if they could just replace the existing population with their own people, they could pacify the territory and keep the resources it provides. If those leaders have the stomach for it, they will do the following:

Systematically murder the resisting nation.
Colonize the extinct nation’s territory with their own citizens.
Profit.
If we want to prevent genocide, we need to prevent occupiers from having to choose between defeat and genocide.

Why States Commit Genocide

by Benjamin Studebaker

http://benjaminstudebaker.com/2014/02/21/why-states-commit-genocide/

Benjamin Studebaker

We have a very poor understanding of genocide. Genocide is the sort of thing we typically associate with chaotically evil people, people who “just want to watch the world burn” and have no respect or regard for human life. Those who commit genocide are viewed as irrational, irredeemably bad people. I am not convinced by this. This is not to say that I think genocide is defensible or morally justifiable, but I think there are rational, logical reasons that motivate states to commit genocide. I enjoy attempting to theorize rational explanations of seemingly wholly malevolent phenomenon–back in September, I offered a theory of why states sometimes deliberately target civilians in war. Today I’d like to offer a theory of genocide, one that I hope will help us to make better sense of the circumstances that promote genocide and understand how those circumstances might be avoided.

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