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No Lessons Learned from the Holocaust? Assessing Risks of Genocide and Political Mass Murder since 1955

No Lessons Learned from the Holocaust? Assessing Risks of Genocide and Political Mass Murder since 1955

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Barbara Harff
Barbara Harff

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No Lessons Learned from the Holocaust? Assessing Risks of Genocide and Political MassMurder since 1955Author(s): Barbara HarffSource:
The American Political Science Review,
Vol. 97, No. 1 (Feb., 2003), pp. 57-73Published by: American Political Science AssociationStable URL:
Accessed: 11/10/2008 00:21
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AmericanPolitical Science ReviewVol. 97, No. 1 February2003
NoLessonsLearnedromhe Holocaust?AssessingRisks
of
Genocide
and
Political
Mass
Murder
since
1955
BARBARAHARFFu.s.
NavalAcademyhis articlereportsa testofastructuralmodelofthe antecedentsofgenocideandpoliticide(politicalmassmurder).A case-controlresearchdesignis usedto testalternativespecificationsofamul-tivariatemodelthatidentifiespreconditionsof geno-/politicide.The universeofanalysisconsistsof126 instancesofinternalwar andregimecollapsethatbeganbetween1955 and1997,asidentifiedbythe StateFailureproject.Geno-/politicidesbeganduring35oftheseepisodesofstatefailure.Theanalyticquestioniswhichfactorsdistinguishthe35episodesthat ledtogeno-/politicidesfromthosethatdid not.The case-controlmethodis usedto estimatetheeffects oftheoreticallyspecifieddomesticandinternationalriskfactorsmeasuredoneyearpriorto the onsetof geno-/politicide.Theoptimalmodelincludes sixfactorsthatjointlymake itpossibletodistinguishwith 74%accuracybetweeninternalwarsandregimecollapsesthat do andthosethat do not lead togeno-/politicide.The conclusionuses themodeltoassess therisksoffutureepisodesin 25countries.
W
We
mustremembernotonlywhathap-penedbutwhyandhow ithappened."Inrememberingthe Holocaust"weneedto learnits lessonsandapplythem tocontemporaryevents"(Mattas1992,185).What has beenlearned?We knowthatgenocidesandpoliticalmassmurdersarerecurrentphenomena;that sinceWWIInearly50such eventshavehappened;that theseepisodeshavecost thelives of at least12 million and asmanyas22millionnoncombatants,more thanall victimsof inter-naland internationalwarssince1945;1and thathumansuffering rarelymobilizedpolicymakersinto action.Wealso knowthatdespiteCambodia,Bosnia,andRwanda,some lessonshavebeen learned.During
BarbaraHarff isProfessor,Departmentof PoliticalScience,U.S.NavalAcademy, Annapolis,MD 21401(harff@usna.edu).Thisstudywas commissionedin1998bythe CentralIntelli-genceAgency'sDirectorateofIntelligenceinresponseto PresidentClinton'spolicyinitiative ongenocide earlywarningandprevention.It wasdesignedbythe authorand carried outusingher datawithotherdata andanalytictechniques developedbythe StateFailureTaskForce. Statisticalanalyses reportedhere were donebyMichaelLustik andAlanN.Ungerof ScienceApplicationsInternationalCor-poration(SAIC),McLean,Virginia.The authoris senior consultantto the TaskForce,which was establishedin1994inresponseto arequestfrom senior U.S.policymakerstodesignandcarryout a data-drivenstudyof the correlates of statefailure,defined to includerev-olutionaryand ethnicwars,adverseordisruptive regimetransitions,andgenocidesandpoliticides(forthe latestreporton Task Forceresearch see Goldstone etal.2002).The authoracknowledgestheadvice of otherTask Force consultants andanalysts throughouttheresearchprocess.The viewsexpressedherearethoseof the author and donotrepresentthe officialviews of theU.S.government,theU.S.intelligencecommunity,or the CentralIntelligenceAgency.Theauthorespeciallythanks Ted Robert Gurrfor hiscritiquingearlydraftsandusingthefindingsto construct the tablethat identifieshigh-riskcountries andgroups.His insistence about theimportanceofthestudy promptedme torevisethemanuscripta number oftimes,despite myinitialreluctance,giventheyearsofwork that hadgoneinto itspreparation.It wasespeciallyhard to condense thiseffort from itsoriginal75pages.Thepaperalso benefited from acarefulreading byMarkI.Lichbach of aprevious reportandfromcommentsofanonymousreviewers for the American Political ScienceReview.1Numbers ofgeno-/politicidesand fatalities are tabulated for the listof cases and fatalitiesinTable1,with the addition ofepisodesthatoccurred between1945and 1954reportedinHarff 1992.
recent decadesgenocideandHolocaust scholarshavejoinedto combatignoranceaboutthe causes of theseevents,toengage politicians,and to mobilizepub-licempathy.Somehave listened.The Clinton Ad-ministration,in the aftermath ofRwanda,sponsoredtheuse of socialscienceanalysistoexplain geno-cidesand ethnicconflict,with aneyetodevelopingearly warningsystemsto detect humanitarian disas-ters in themaking.Thestudy reportedherewassup-portedinpart bytwo successiveadministrationsandbuilds onyearsofpriorresearchbythose involvedinthecomparativestudyofgenocideand similarpheno-mena.Duringtheearly1980s socialscientistsbegantostudy genocidecomparatively(seeFein1979,1992;Harff1987,1992;Kuper1981;and Melson1992).Thesepioneers,surveyedin Totten andJacobs2002,definedthephenomenon,accumulatedevidence ofpastandongoingcases,and went on todevelop explanationsforthe occurrenceof such events(seeFein1993b,chap.3,for a review of theoreticalapproaches).Comparativegenocideresearch has drawnuponconflictanalysis.Althougha distinctphenomenon,it shares some char-acteristics andantecedents with ethnic wars andrev-olutions.Moreover,almost allgenocidesof the lasthalf-centuryoccurredduringor in the immediate after-math of internalwars,revolutions,andregime collapse.Ideologiesthat mobilizepotentialrevolutionaries canalso inciteethnic hatredandprovideincentives to killrealorperceivedenemies of the new order.However,despitetheexplosive growthoftheliterature,onlytwopublished genocidestudiessystematicallytest varioushypothesesderived from the case andcomparativelit-erature(Fein1993a;Krain1997).This articleexpandsonprevioustheoretical andem-piricalworkby testingthe effects ofpriorconflict,elitecharacteristics,regime type,and international con-text on the likelihood ofgeno-/politicide.Theopti-mummodel identifiessixpreconditionsofgenocideandpoliticide (politicalmassmurder)that make itpossible,usingthe case-controlprocedureandlogistic regres-sion,topostdict accurately74% ofepisodesthatbeganbetween 1955andthe late 1990s.57Vol.97,No.1February2003mericanPoliticalScienceReview
 
No Lessons LearnedromheHolocaust?February
2003~~~~~~~~~DEFININGANDIDENTIFYINGEPISODESOFGENOCIDEANDPOLITICIDEFromLegaltoEmpiricalDefinition
Genocide,accordingtoArticleIIof theUnitedNations(UN)GenocideConvention,refers to"actscommittedwithintenttodestroy,inwholeorpart,anational,eth-nical,racial,orreligiousgroup."Pointsb,c, d,andespecificallyrefer toconditionswhosecumulative ef-fectsareconductiveto agroup'sdestruction.Thesepointsare(b)"causingseriousbodilyormental harmtomembers ofthegroup," (c)"deliberatelyinflictingonthegroupconditionsof lifecalculatedtobringaboutitsphysicaldestructioninwholeor inpart,"(d)"imposingmeasuresintended topreventbirthswithin thegroup,"and(e)"forciblytransferringchildren ofthegrouptoanothergroup."Thislegaldefinitionprovidesthe basisfor anoperationaldefinitionbut hasfourlimitations.First,theConventiondoes notincludegroupsofvictims definedbytheirpoliticalpositionoractions.RaphaelLemkin(1944)coined thetermgenocideandlatersoughtthesupportofasmanystates aspossibleforalegaldocument thatwouldoutlaw masskillingsandprescribesanctionsagainst potentialperpetrators.Be-causethe first draft oftheConvention,whichincludedpoliticalgroups,wasrejectedbytheUSSRandits al-lies,the finaldraft omittedanyreference topoliticalmassmurder(LeBlanc1988).Theconceptofpoliti-cide is used heretoencompasscaseswithpoliticallydefinedvictims,consistent withFein's(1993b,12)lineofreasoningthat "masskillingsofpoliticalgroupsshowsimilarities in theircauses,organizationandmotives."Second,thephrase"mental harm" inpointbisprob-lematic,for itencompassesa vastarrayofinstances ofpsychologicalandcultural harmdone togroupsthathavelost theircohesion andidentity,but nottheirlives,as a result ofprocessesof socialandeconomicchange.Settingaside thisproblematicclause,thecrime ofgeno-cide isdelimited toacts thatcollectivelyendangerthephysicallife ofgroupmembers.Third,thephrase"intent todestroy"raises theques-tion of howobserverscanreliablyinferthe intentions ofauthorities.PerpetratorsrarelysignaltheirintentionsasclearlyasHutu extremistsdidinRwanda intheearly1990s whentheycharacterizedTutsis as verminandproposedto eradicate them(seeDesForges1999 andPrunier1995,chaps.5,6).Theoperational guidelinesused here to inferintent andapplythem tospecificcasesaredescribed below.Fourth,the GenocideConventiondoes nottake intoaccount thepossibilitythatnonstateactors can and doattempttodestroyrivalethnic andpoliticalgroups.Oneunambiguousexamplefrom thepost-ColdWarperiodis theethniccleansingperpetrated bySerbnationalistsagainstMuslims inBosnia(1992-93).ApossiblecaseoccurredinCongo (Kinshasa)inlate 1996andearly1997.Suspicionsarestrongthat,duringandafter theKabila-ledrevolution thatoverthrewMobutu'sgov-ernment,Kabila knew of andprobablyendorsed thesystematickillingsofHuturefugeesineasternCongobyTutsi membersof hisarmy.Thereforetheopera-tionaldefinition ofgenocideandpoliticideusedhereisexpandedtoincludeepisodesthat occurduringcivilwarswhenaterritoriallybasednationalist orrevolu-tionarymovementtargetsanethnicorpoliticalgroupfordestruction"inwholeor inpart."Thisencom-passessituations inwhich atleastonepartyto a civilwarsystematicallyusesdeadlyforce todestroythe civil-iansupportbase of itsopponents,as inAngola'scivilwarssincetheearly1970s.Thefollowingdefinitionsummarizesthe abovepointsand isusedtoidentifytheuniverse ofcasesforcomparativeanalysis.Genocidesandpoliticidesarethepromotion,execution,and/orimpliedconsentofsustainedpoliciesbygoverningelites ortheiragents-or,in thecaseofcivilwar,eitherofthecontendingauthorities-thatareintended todestroy,in wholeorpart,acommunal,political,orpoliticizedethnicgroup.Ingenocidesthevictimizedgroupsaredefinedbytheirperpetratorsprimarilyn termsof theircommunalchar-acteristics.Inpoliticides,incontrast,groupsaredefinedprimarilyintermsoftheirpoliticaloppositiontotheregimeanddominantgroups.IncommonusagetheKurds ofIraqaresaid tobevictimsofgenocide.InfactmanyIraqiKurds serve intheIraqibureaucracyandmilitaryandsome aremembers of therulingBaathParty.TheKurdswhoweretargetedfordestruction inthealAnfalcampaignof1987 werethemainlyruralsupportersoftheKurdishDemocraticPartyandthePatrioticUnion ofKurdistan.Thus,theevent wasapoliticide(seeMakiya 1992).The definitionparallelsthosedeveloped byothercomparativeresearchers. Forexample,Fein(1993b,24)exhaustivelyrevieweddefinitionaldiscussionsandpro-posedasociologicaldefinition:"Genocideissustainedpurposefulactionbyaperpetratortophysicallyde-stroyacollectivelydirectlyorindirectly,throughin-terdictionofthebiologicalandsocialreproductionofgroupmembers,sustainedregardlessof thesurrenderor lack of threatofferedbythevictim."2Herdefinitiondiffersfromthe one usedheremainlyinits lackofreference totheidentityoftheperpetrators,i.e.,statesor rival authorities(fora similar definitionseeChalkandJonassohn1990,23).
OperationalGuidelines
Ingenocidesandpoliticideskillingsare neveracciden-tal,nor aretheyactsofindividuals.Thekeyisthattheyare carriedout at theexplicitor tacitdirectionof stateauthorities,or thosewhoclaim stateauthority.Thefollowing guidelineswere used tohelp distinguishcasesofgenocideandpoliticidefrom otherkindsofkillingsthat occurduringcivilconflicts.(1)Istherecom-plicitybythe state(or,inthecase of civilwar,eitherof thecontendingauthorities)in actionsundertakenthatendangerhumanlife?(2)Is thereevidence,evenifcircumstantial,of intent onthepartof authoritiestoisolateorsingleoutgroupmembersformistreatment?
2
For a detailedanalysisofalternative social science definitions andepisodesencompassed bythem,see Fein1993b,8-31,79-91.
58NoLessonsLearnedfrom theHolocaust?February2003

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