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tv   Book TV  CSPAN  April 7, 2012 6:00pm-7:00pm EDT

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think it's a block buster of a book. it's a small book. it's not one of these large, henry kissinger thousand pages, but probably 80 pages, and so it's accessible to anybody interested in the subject, and i invite anyone who is interested to come to the corchtion. go to the witherspoon's institute website or the berkley center university, google that, and you'll find a march 1st event here on the campus of georgetown university, and we invite all of your viewers to come and join with us. we're going to have a keynote address by robert george, who is a professor of political science and political theory at princeton university, one of the preimminent public intellectuals in the united states on the subject, many subjects, but especially on the subject of religious liberty.
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we're going to have a number of panels including one of american muslims who are going to talk about this as it impacts american islam and islam around the world. .. gal encore booknotes from 2002.
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off their samantha power talked talk about her book, "a problem from hell" america and the age of genocide, published by basic hooks. she criticizes the u.s.'s failure to stop genocide such as occurred in rwanda and bosnia and explains the basis of the united states policy of nonintervention. this is just under an c-span: samantha power, where did you get the title for your book, "a problem from hell"? >> guest: i took it from warren christopher's statement during the war in bosnia, when he described the hatred between the groups in the former yugoslaviae as "almost unbelievable, almosth terrifying.e it was a problem from hell," which implied that there was nothing much we on the outsidepm could do about it. c-span: your subtitle on theimp book is "america and the age of genocide." c where did the word "genocide"ou come from?nd >> guest: genocide is -- one of where did genocide come from? >> in the course of writing this book is it's a recent innovation
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you would have thought it was with us as far back as the bible. it was a polish jew who lost 49 members of his family who decided he was going to devote the rest of his life after the holocaust to banning a crime that was then called barbarity. he said i need a word that describes the evil we are describing. he went through his notebooks and tested a pwufrpbl of other different expressions before. finally in 1944, he settled upon the word genocide. he had fled poland which was his homeland and gone via latvia and lithuania. he was working here in 1944 when he coined this term. he tried to get it into webster's and the o.e.d. and all the dictionaries but recognized -- he was a lawyer -- he recognized a free-floating word
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that canoted evil wasn't enough. what he did after coining the word was draft the first u.n. human rights treaty which was the genocide convention. he died in 1959. he tried to get the genocide convention through the u.n. general assembly and most crucially through the u.s. senate which he failed to do. >> what does genocide mean? >> very controversial, obviously to this day. the definition settled upon in the u.n. treaty is a systematic attempt to destroy in whole or substantial part a national, ethnic or religious group as such. the idea here is that you don't have to exterminate every last member of the group to commit genocide. if you intend to wipe out the group as a meaningful entity on a territory, that's enough. it's more expansive than our associations which are with the holocaust. >> when did genocide start in the world? >> the practice?
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again, genesis i think. it's been with us forever. there's a tendency of groups who feel themselves under siege, who feel they're risking losing something either because a minority group is claiming their rights and usually there's some economic dislocation and some kind of catalyst in terms of, you know, a plane crash or the outbreak of war. genocide often happens under the cover of war. but where one group sets out to systematically destroy another group either by murdering everybody as hitler did and as the rwanda hutu set out to do or in bosnia by ethnicly deporting an entire populous, namely the bosnian muslims. the only way to get rid of them is to convince them there would be a death sentence and degrading the women with rape camps. there's a lot of forms genocide has taken over time. i think one of the problems that
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lemken has encountered is that people associate the word genocide with the holocaust. there's a tendency to say we can't use the word until it is six million or until we have full proof that the perpetrator group is setting out to exterminate every last member. it would make lemken turn over in his grave because he was adamant that the holocaust not be the standard. preventive action could come too late. >> there's a picture of a person we have seen a lot of in this town. it's an earlier in his life picture. a senator by the name of william proxmire. why is he in your book? >> after lemken died, the senate foreign relations committee wanted no part of it. a number of southern senators were afraid they would be hauled up on genocide charges because of jim crowe. they thought the language was too expansive.
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so they basically torpedoed the convention. eight years later, william proxmire took up the cause. my main goal in the book is for the word lemkenian to be an adjective to describe obsessive compulsive humanitarian. he stood up on the senate floor in 1967 and said i will give a speech a day for as long as it takes to get this convention through. i can't believe that the u.s. senate could not have ratified this law. it's a genocide convention for crying out loud. he thought it was a legislative quirk. 19 years, 3,211 original speeches later, proxmire, creakier at at the joints was still standing giving his speeches with the hope of getting the convention through. >> bit time the genocide
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convention was approved, it was the 98th country or something like that. >> that's true. what's interesting is how the rat tpeu indication came about. i wish i could say it was lemken and proxmire teaming up and these cassandra figures had brought enough people around. it's important the reason that the rat tpeu indication came about is for very political reasons. ronald reagan, you might remember, visited the s.s. graves or he visited the cemetery in west germany and there were s.s. soldiers buried there. there was a firestorm of protest in the united states. protests in 15 american cities with tens of thousands of people coming out -- jewish groups, church groups, labor groups, people unhappy with reagan. even though he knew the outrage was brewing, he went ahead and proceeded with the trip because he wasn't one to back down under public pressure. people said oh, your reputation
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has suffered, there's this public outrage. as soon as he got back, he summoned to his oval office, lieutenant colonel on the national security council staff, incidentally oliver north, and he said wasn't there a genocide convention lying around somewhere. north said there was and is. it's in the senate foreign relations committee and no president has invested any political capital in getting it through the committee. there's this crazy guy who has been yammering for the last 19 years. within the year it cleared the senate foreign relations committee and came for a full vote in the senate. there it did very, very well. they attached a number of reservations to it that protected american soldiers and political leaders. it sort of undermined the rat tpeu indication but at least it came about. what we would see in the 1990's when genocide would happen is even though we detach these reservations, officials within
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the government and outside used the convention and the signature a belated signature to try to generate a response on the grounds we committed ourselves to doing so. >> have you over 600 pages, 14 chapters. i'm going to quickly read some of the chapters. six, cambodia, helpless giant. eight, iraq, human rights and chemical weapons use aside. nine, bosnia, no more than witnesses at a funeral. 10, rwanda, mostly in a listing mode. 11 getting creamed. 12, kosovo, a dog and a fight. why are these the named chapters? what's the purpose? >> they're a little different in terms of where the quotations come from. they tend to be from u.s. government documents. one of the things i had the great privilege of doing was working with the national security archive, a non- governmental group based in washington to use the freedom of
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information act to get the documents declassified. i took advantage of the collection they amassed, worked with them. when i conducted an interview and learned about a document would tell them about it. they did the heavy lifting. these documents you would see in very sterile, cold, bureaucratic language, phrases like human rights and chemical weapons use aside, saddam hussein really looks like he can be a reliable partner in the middle east. you know, the kosovo title that you mentioned, a dog and a fight was my play on words because james baker said we don't have a dog in that fight. in kosovo we had a dog or perceived ourz to see have a dog and consequently we had a fight. >> how did you get into this in the first place? >> i was a reporter, young reporter, very idealistic in
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bosnia during the war there. i went over in 1993 for the first time and left finally in 1996. >> writing for? >> writing for streaming ""u.s. news & world report"" and the last year for the "washington post." >> there was an incredible community of journalists that were embracing for somebody who didn't know what she was doing. it was hard because the nato planes were flying overhead every day and they're monitoring what is going on. but they're not intervening, they're not stopping it. and i felt -- especially once i was able to write for the "post" and cover big stories for them that i was at the height of my potential power as a journalist. even if i were a staff correspondent, the best i could do as a foreign correspondent was to write on the front page of the "washington post" on a big news story. it seemed to do no good whatsoever. i left bosnia in september 1995 and decided to go to law school,
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thinking i would try to prosecute the bad guys who really were bad and who had just committed the largest single massacre in europe in 50 years, the massacre you mentioned. i came back very sort of disspirited about the power of the pen, very disspirited about the united states and foreign policy. clinton made a series of commitments in the campaign about what he was going to do and won my love, as a result my vote. you know, when he got into office, he just decided the cost of engagement were much greater than the non-costs of staying uninvolved. when i returned to the united states, literally the day i got to boston to go to law school, nato intervened. it was only through reporting for this book and doing the other sides of the story, not what was going on in bosnia but the policy story, that i realized why that intervention came about, which is about the american domestic politics which is the thesis of the book, the
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battle to stop genocide is lost in the realm of domestic politics and that's where it can be won if it is to be won. we did bomb. i just -- when i was in law school, i spent my early months trying to figure out why the bosnian-muslims had been so excluded from the universal law and why everywhere i went the remembrance of the holocaust, there were more holocaust- related news stories in the first years of the 1990's than in the previous 4r5 years combined. the holocaust museum opened up on the mall in washington. this seemed appropriate in remembrance and commemoration but it didn't translate into any kind of moral disdance even though we just allowed these people in my judgment anyway to die for 3 1/2 years. the book was to figure out what
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made the bosnian muslims different. if we said never again and meant it, why didn't we mean it for them? we did more for the bosnian muslims than any victim of genocide in the 20th century, in fact. that was sort of jarring for me to realize how frustrating it was to see the nato planes flying overhead and little girls and boys picked off their bicycles and men herded into camps and feel we could have done something, to realize that the mere act of having planes flying overhead, it was the greatest deterrence and greatest investment in preventing or deterring genocide that this country had made. >> your law school was harvard? >> yes. >> what year did you get your law degree? >> i took a year off in the middle to work on the book. 1999. >> undergraduate? >> yale. >> hometown is where? >> complicated. i immigrated to this country. my family came in 1979 when i was nine.
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>> where from? >> from ireland, dublin. i went to high school in atlanta georgia, and then began moving around once i went to college. >> why from ireland? why did they come here? >> there was no divorce in ireland back then. actually it's a very recent innovation. my parents were splitting up so my mother came over with my stepfather. this was the land of the free and you can freely disengage from past commitments. we stayed. you had to stay here i think five years to get a divorce. we ended up staying forever. >> where do you hang your hat now? >> winthrup, massachusetts. >> doing what? >> watching a lot of red sox games now that i'm finished with this beast of a book. i run something called the car remarks center for human rights policy. it's something i founded with a tremendous entrepreneur nameed dave carr who invented voice
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mail. he decided what the world needed was not only more human rights groups and more advocacy and more documentation, what it needed was a think tank to reflect on what works and what doesn't in terms of governmental policy and in terms of advocacy. this book in many way sincere an outgrowth of that kind of thinking. it's an effort to not just lament u.s. policy for the last 100 years but understand what makes it tick and what makes each of the individual actors tick within it in the face of these aoe norm 'tis. this carr center for human rights policy i hope will be with us for a long time. i lead the position of executive director. michael who i'm sure has been on your program in the past is the faculty director. this will shepherd it into the next generation of human rights crises. >> what are you doing then? >> i'm taking time off to begin working on new projects and will teach at kennedy school
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beginning in 2003. >> philosophically, you mentioned being a journalist, writing for the "post." what should a journalist do as a job as a reporter? should they advocate? >> i don't think it's our job to add indicate. but i certainly -- i don't think neutrality in the face of genocide is an appropriate stance either. i think it's interesting to go back through other cases -- again, not my own but rwanda and cambodia and other major cases of genocide -- to see journalists bending over backwards upon being greeted with the unthinkable, that is atrot 'tis of this scale. do not compute. upon being greeted with that, immediately, because of this bias toward neutrality and because we're trained in that way, bending over backwards to fine atrocities, so as to do a
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sort of two-sided account. the thing about genocide is that it is not two-sided. you may have isolated abuses committed by people who have arms in the victim group. but for the most part as in bosnia, it was 90% of the atrocities committed by the serbs, especially in the early part of that crisis. yet, our tendency was to say ok, if we have reported a massacre against muslims, let's find the massacre against serbs. that was a huge mistake. you saw journalists over time growing out of it as they came to realize neutrality and objectivity are two different things, you don't have to be neutral but objective. often objectivity will take you to a place where you are telling the story with the proportions that it warrants. >> you have a cover here of a cemetery. where is this? >> the lyons cemetery in sarajevo. i thought it was an appropriate juxtaposition with warren
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christopher's account of the former yugoslavia. i think one of the lessons that one gathers over the course of a century in addition to the lesson that lots of bodies will pile up and there will be lots of cemetaries whose numbers are, you know, expanded dramatically. one of the lessons is usually these crimes are committed by a discreet, nameable set of perpetrators, many of whom these days carry cell phones, can be contacted, you know, are known. we had a u.s. diplomat in the rwanda -- during the rwanda genocide where 800,000 people were killed in 100 days. our deputy assistant secretary for african affairs had the cell phone numbers of the perpetrators and would call them up. she would set her alarm for 2:00 in the morning and say colonel, i want you to know if you don't stop the genocide, the president will hold you personally responsible. she was total smoke and mirrors. the president had not given her any such instructions. they are nameable, they are
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findable and they are stopable. but it's not something we have chosen to make a priority just yet. >> you often tell the stories in here with a person and one of those is henry. who was he and what's the story around him? >> henry is my first, what i come to call upstander. this is a book by about bistanding. it's told through the incredible struggles of upstanders, people who stand up in or outside the system. he was the u.s. ambassador in constantinople when the turks began to systematically deport and murder and destroy their army and minority. what's interesting about him is number one is that it took him a while to move along a continuum of knowledge.
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i have come to see knowledge as almost indeterminant, that you can have abstract information and sometimes it takes a series of personal encounters either with refugees or something that makes that information kind of become almost knee buckling knowledge. he didn't believe the reports he was receiving initially about what was being done. who could? who would think that that kind of thing would happen? he had this do not compute problem this so many of us have had. there was a moment when missionaries came into his office with tears streaming down their face and he thought it's true, isn't it? he had been told that the armenians were being murdered in the public square. they were deported into the desert where no care was made for them and they would die of starvation. they were killed along the way
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by their alleged escorts. i think as a foundational character in the book, he is important because it shows the limit of our imagination. also the privilege of having face to face encounters with people, with armenians and turkish officials who told him the stories. the other thing you see is how limited our conception of american power, because, of course, we're firmly isolated. it's world war i, we have no intention of foregoing neutrality, certainly not in the interest of humanitarian intervention of any kind. you also seat limits of the conception of what any government has a right to ask of another government. meaning he was asking the administration can i have permission to denounce these crimes. he was told no. you can't interfere in the internal affairs of a sovereign state. he said what do you mean i can't interfere in the internal
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affairs, they're killing the armenians. no, have you to retain neutrality. finally he went off the reservation and began issuing basically private demorishes. one thing you see is how our conception of what is possible in terms of intervention -- if you view intervention with a small eye instead of military intervention -- back then what he hoped for was to hope to denounce. in 1999 with kosovo, we had the air intervention. one of the complaints on this side in washington was why no ground troops. in bosnia, we were arguing for air strikes. in rwanda for radio jamming and for other things. you see the kind of tool kit that people have on offer that they can dip in to in the face of genocide, that the upstanders
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argue we do open and start to experiment with. then it gets much more expansive and we are more creative on what it is the u.s. government can do. the u.s. government tends not to take that. >> is he the father of f.d.r.'s secretary of the treasurer? >> his son was greatly influenced by his father's experience. that sense of impotence. i think one of the reasons that henry jr. was as punitive as he would become -- of course, he was the oughtor of the pastoralization plan where it was a plan to wipe out german industry after world war ii, very much against the sort of vision for recoupe raeugs. but i think he had grown up with these stories of these crimes and had a sense like my god, if we don't punish these, send a signal not only to the perpetrators in hand but to any would-be perpetrator who would contemplate these crimes, it will come back to haunt us.
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>> who is this fellow in the picture? >> that is tehlirian. he lost his entire family in the armenian genocide. he decides he is so shattered and lost literally everything, he joins a terrorist group, one of the century's first terrorist groups, boston-based actually, which was devoted to simply tracking down the leading perpetrators of what was then called race murder. lemken only invented his word in 1944. he referred to it as race murder. he was basically contracted to track down the minister of the interior of the turkish minister. the opening scene of the book, not to ruin it for people, is him tracking him down in the streets of berlin in 1921 and coming up to him and pointing a revolver at the back of his head and saying "this is to avenge the death of my family." and killing him. >> how many armenians were
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killed? >> numbers difficult to pin down even 87 years later. somewhere between 800,000 and 1.5 million. the number of armenians i encountered overt course of speaking about this book and really just traveling around the country listening to people who have lost, you know, grandparents, parents, i can't believe the toll that this has taken. you see it and you see on armenian remembrance day april 24, armenians gathering in mass, so devastated by the absence of recognition. unfortunately, a denial of the crime that was committed against their people that i fear will persist at an official level. certainly the turkish government shows no signs of engaging to have a conversation about what they will admit was done in their name. but also in washington, of course, because of our reliance on the relationship with turkey. i think there's very little
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likelihood that the white house or even the congress will issue the resolution that the armenians long for. it's amazing to me. the word was invented having read about what the turks did to the armenians. this was the thing that made him think i have to devote my life to banning this crime. i'm a polish jew, i used to think this was only against jews that the crimes were committed. now i see it's even against christians. this crime happens throughout history. biological irregularity he would say. it was that that got him on his path toward naming and banning the crime. >> the word genocide, again, it means race murder in what language? >> it's a greek and latin hybrid. it means the killing of a people. so killing of a group. you know, genos and cide. he said why not genocide. in addition to sort of being set
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down a garden path by reading about this assassination. he said to himself if victims are always stuck taking justice into their own hands, we're going to live in a lawless world we have to have some kind of court of public opinion or actual court that will weigh in on atrocities committed by states against their own people. if states are committing the crimes, they'll not punish themselves for them. >> you say lemken ended up pennyless in a one-room apartment in the upper west side of new york. died what year? >> 1959. >> he was 59? >> yeah. >> but along the way, you say this man could be a real pest. and a lot of people used to say here he comes and go out the other door. >> absolutely. lemkenian. you see this with a lot of my upstanders throughout the
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century, people who take a stand tend not to be the most politically savvy. they are so single-minded, complete tunnel vision. there's a letter that i have in there that is just i think the best indicator of lemken's absence, the absence of social graces. he writes to a woman named thelma stevens who volunteered her time to work for him. he didn't pay them. he went through volunteers like they were going out of style. there's a letter he writes to thelma stevens, this methodist counsel volunteer. he writes a letter. she open this is letter and it says, i know it must be hot there in washington as you write this letter of campaign, but needless to say, it's not nearly as hot as the ovens of auschwitz and i urpbg you...
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"in a sense to get your butt in gear. >> how did he make money? >> tin pot. you know, really just relied -- he hated the indignity of it all. he wrote on rose cultivation, on gardening, travel in japan. wherever he was as a refugee en route here, he would gobble up the local culture. he was home schooled. he spoke 13 languages. >> did he marry? >> never married. never dated as far as i can tell. >> what happened when people ask him about that, what would he say? >> about? >> marriage. >> i don't have time. i'm married to securing the banning of the crime of genocide. i don't have time for love. >> the genocide convention, today if something happens and it can be proved, who has to prove it's genocide? >> this is one of the many structural problems with the
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law. there is no by-law that is the necessary arbitrator. he proposed it be created at the united nations with independent member states who would weigh in on the evidence. that never came into being. no state party of any prominence namely the u.s. or allies, wanted to put in place a body that might judge it or its allies. really the way it happens in practice is what you get is groups like human rights watch who become increasingly professional. their lawyers are ever more trained to go in to a crime scene, debrief refugees, to try to gauge perpetrators' intent. this is an intent-based crime. it's not a numbers count, body count. it's what is the intent of the perpetrator. do they intend to destroy in whole or part a substantial group? you get nongovernmental groups. the best ones are good at this in going in quickly. they themselves try to get one
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or more of the member states to admit what is going on is genocide. unfortunately, what an achievement that he turned this word into this incredible stigma that there's this convention, that courts are prosecuting it, but the bitter part of the otherwise sweet legacy i suppose is that all of this sort of stigma has succeeded in doing in making states much more reluctant to say genocide is on the way. what's interesting is no state wants to be seen to be allowing it. what they do is call it a problem from hell. statesmen say it's a problem from hell, it's ethnic violence nobody uses the word genocide. no sitting president has used the word genocide to describe a genocide under way. only when it is past and political implications have died down for the american leader is the word employed. >> without lemken, would you have the milosevic trial going
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on in the hague? >> excellent question. i'm not sure. presumably there would be a push for an international criminal justice mechanism over time. presumably -- lemken didn't have much to do with the creation of human rights groups. he was so impossible. he hated human rights people. in fact, he petitioned eleanor roosevelt and the assistant secretary of state to exclude from the universal declaration for human rights the right to life. he said that's my right, my convention. he got a funny letter back saying i'm sure you would agree that right to life is one of the more fundamental human rights. i think what you would have seen is a human rights movement anyway, both on the heels of eleanor roosevelt's universal declaration and international law that has grown out of it. you would see him having to get into the business of documenting
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atrocities and freeing prisoners. it helped that the genocide convention was the one piece of international law that had in it a reference to a future international, permanent international criminal court. of course, it was just in march of 2002 that -- april of 2002 that that criminal court came into existence. we're in the process of waiting to see whether it will have legs and life of its own, especially with american opposition. >> let me ask you about people as a way of getting to tell some of the stories. michael 20. >> charles 20. >> excuse me. >> no problem. i thought maybe there was another one. >> it's charles. >> charlie 20 was like henry. he was -- he worked at the u.s. embassy in thailand during the period where popot ran cambodia
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and was wiping out anybody who had hands that looked like they were in school and not in the field, anybody who wore eyeglasses, anybody with a seventh grade education or above. this was -- that was that time between 1975 and 1979. >> what's this picture by the way? >> that's a soldier entering in 1975 and who is very, very angry. the united states has just been involved in bombing cambodia. there's great resentment toward the regime deemed to be a puppet regime of the united states that ran cambodia. and what he did was he went and was dispatched. he was dispatched to the thai- cambodian border as a slow trickle of refugees emerged from cambodia telling stories simply unbelievable. >> you say he spoke the language. >> he had earned the sort of
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laughter and ridicule of his colleagues at the state department while they were learning thai and chinese, he was studying camare. it came in handy as he was able to mine the refugees of their stories. he couldn't wrap his mind around it. henry was hearing the stories before he learned about the holocaust. there was no precedent for the systematic destruction of a people. but the fact he had learned and been groomed on the holocaust and having learned to be atentative that these crimes could happen, for him he couldn't believe he himself could be living in a time where history was repeating itself. >> due talk to him? >> i did. i talked to any u.s. official i could who would talk to me. i tried to track down over the course of the last six years. he was gracious and described that process.
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he said he had reports saying that anybody over seventh grade education was being murdered. i wasn't going to file that to washington, i was going to look crazy. >> this is 1970? >> 1975-1976. he was at the border. >> who was the bad guy in charge of cambodia? >> pulpot. he came from a radical, revolutionary past. he was waging a guerrilla war. in april of 1975, he succeeded in taking penonpen. kamare rouge were the revolutionaries that paid very little attention to the welfare of their people and who in the end were responsible for the deaths of about two million over the course of four years. >> how do we know there were two million? >> again, i'm using that number as short hand.
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there's been a significant number of exhumations done and census compilation done. as in many places where genocide happens, the census was pretty incomplete before hand so it's hard to do a before and after check. having reviewed all the statistical surveys i could, that seems the number most agreed upon by the most respected historians. >> he closed up the country for how long? >> just over three years. from april 1975 to january 1979. >> what was our approach to all this? >> complete shutdown. i mean just, you know, we have come home at least from vietnam. the idea of focusing this country's attention on cambodia when we clearly had no intention of sending military troops to alter the situation on the ground and when protests, denunciations of these crimes felt like they would be
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ineffectual -- he cut off the country almost entirely -- the temptation was to go into a complete sort of cocoon. the agregious thing is not that the u.s. didn't send their troops back to southeast asia after having come home, but i think when a relationship was developed with china, with the opening, to not think about mentioning to china that its ally was committing these abuses. the only partner it had was china. many arms were coming from beijing. again, genocide doesn't factor in to the thinking of many american administrations in and of itself. it's not on the list of things to do. >> how do you know they didn't talk to the chinese back then? >> i have done all the reporting i was able to do. and, i mean, one of the things that we did -- that the united states did after the vietnamese,
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of course, dislodged pulpot, invaded the country and succeeded in ousting the k.r. and rescuing people -- it was a puppet vietnamese regime. and because of our not so nice relationship with vietnam, our policy afterwards was to continue to recognize the k.r. fort next decade. even though we had documentation of the killing of around two million people, the k.r. continued to occupy the seat at the united states. -- united nations. the enemy of our enemy. it may not be our friend but it can be our diplomatic partner. it is the lesser of evils. the question i think years later that we have to ask is could there have been an evil greater than that of pulpot at that time? >> what about romeo delair. >> roebgo. >> did you talk to him?
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>> i did at great length. >> where did you find him? >> he is in canada. he was in charge of u.n. peacekeepers in rwanda. he in some ways a lemkenian figure in a couple of ways. one, a prophecy. in january of 1994, four months before the genocide in rwanda would begin, romeo sent a now famous cable to kofi annan who was the head of peacekeeping operations in new york, saying the militia in rwanda had the capacity to exterminate at a rate of 1,000 every 20 minutes. he said this. it's in writing. the second thing he said was that the militia's" knew from somalia that can would only take the murder of 10 bell underpeacekeepers to complete the unraveling." 1,000 -- the language of
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extermination. 1,000 every 20 minutes. whoa. the response from new york was very adamant. don't confront. don't for fit neutrality. washington will never stand for it. i think that was an accurate account of what washington had an appetite for at that time. so delair was left in this untenable position of watching the grenades come in, machetes come in, the radicalization of this militia. he would hear on hate radio -- there was a rwanda radio station that talked about sanitizing the cockroaches and kill or be killed and how the bell january peacekeepers needed to be targeted. he is watching this escalation with no power to stop it. >> what year? >> april 1994. january 1994 is the cable he sends. april 1994 the killing started. >> the hutus brought in --
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550,000 machetes. >> they said it was garden implements. the radio was transmitting, you know, evidence that ethnic polarization was being done in a fashion and demonization of the tutsi. >> you mentioned kofi annan was not the head of the u.n. at that point. >> he was head of the peacekeeping office, beneat ghali. >> the tendency at the united nations throughout the 1990's was to internalize the constraints that the member states imposed. instead of saying oh, my god, let's try to shame the member states into doing something like this. let's say my god, 1,000 every minute, help. the tendency was to say we don't want to alienate the member states, we know what washington will give us, very little,
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somalia has just happened, there's a fatigue in washington, congress especially with peacekeeping, and a tendency that the u.n. was going over with cambodia and guatemala and bosnia. so we know what washington's response is going to be. so in a sense, why bother? i think what they have learned and i think the new administration of kofi annan as secretary-general, the good news is one lesson was learned which is externalize those constraints. shine the spotlight where it belongs which isn't on the united nations or poor romeo delair in rwanda. it's in the capitals who control the purse strings. >> canadian general. you tell the story about him. things didn't go well for him once he got back to canada. >> no. because what happened -- he was like lemken is that he was a profit ahead -- prophet ahead of time. he was in a situation where nobody would heed his pleas as the genocide unfolded.
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this is a killing spree that was faster than that of the nazis if you can believe it. with the primitive implements, they were able to kill an average of 800 people a day for 100 days. the cables and the journalism that was done -- a limited number of journalists were there but they did a great job of bringing the story out. delair was on the phone saying please send the help, they're systematically destroying the tutsi populous. he didn't use the word genocide. he was afraid of being accused of crying wolf. owl of our tendencies is to wait until a huge number of bodies before you use the word. we immediately go for numbers rather than intent. but delair and the u.s. officials present in rwanda when the genocide started were adamant that if you had tutsi on
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your ethnic identity card it was a death sentence. if you -- there is tutsi at your u.n. post, you have 2,500 troops under your command when the genocide starts and unit by unit gets pulled out from under you. the united states' position -- they did have a policy. it was a serious act of commission. the assistance that the peacekeepers be pulled out from under delair. he is saying i need more. he expects reinforcements. they're systematically killing all the tutsi. he is informed on april 21, two weeks into the genocide that 90% of the genocide peacekeepers -- peacekeepers are going to be taken from him. tutsi gathered at u.n. posts, under the baby blue and white u.n. flag, the peacekeepers leave through one gate and the militia enters through the
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other. they were so much worse off than if they had not relied on the promise of u.n. protection in the first place. >> were any of the u.n. peacekeepers killed? >> they were, in accordance with the prediction that delair made. guess how many? 10. exactly what he warned on the first day of the genocide on april 7. >> were they macheted? >> initially with gunfire and badly disfigured with ma khetys. >> what's your position on this? should americans expect to have their people sent into a situation like this? soldiers. >> i don't think they have any reason to expect that so far. i think it's important not to make the response to genocide an all or nothing response, meaning i think the tendency of u.s. policymakers is to say we don't want to send our troops into thoseicy places, therefore, let's not call it genocide. let's call it a problem from hell and look away entirely. one of the things i have come to see over time -- i mention this in the context of contrasting
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the land of the possible now, is we do have this tool kit. we can do everything from high level denunciation to threatening prosecution, to freezing foreign assets. perpetrators are greedy, they like their money. you could impose an arms embargo if you saw machetes coming in. take sides with the victim people and try to arm them if you don't want to go there. in rwanda, one thing proposed was the united states use their technology to jam this hate radio. you could rally troops from other countries. create safe areas that are actually safe. putting a meaningful number of peacekeepers on the ground and use nato planes overhead. i certainly think rwanda was a case with 10,000 people a day, 8,000 people a day dying, sending u.s. troops is part of a multi-national force. >> who is this fellow? >> this is peter who was a
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staffer on the senate foreign relations committee back in 1987 -88 when saddam hussein was gassing the kurds in northern iraq. this is a crime one is hearing a lot about these days in enthusiasm for confronting saddam increases, there's a way of going back to his gassing of his own people. a lemken. >> an unguided missile. >> peter was mad. again, maybe not the best spokesman for his cause but a true humanitarian. he went to northern iraq and noticed in 1987 that all of the occurredish villages he visited or seen from afar three years before no longer existed. they were systematically bulldozed. there was nothing but rubble. >> where were the villages?
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>> in northern iraq. there are kurds in turkey. well outside of northern iraq. there was a kurdish rebellion and insurgency. some of the rebels partnered with iran. saddam's decision was to deal with the security threat that he faced with genocide. so he made no discrimination between soldiers and nonsoldiers. rounded people up in mass. a number of villages were targeted with these terrible poisons which literally made the sort of skin peel and singe. the most ghastly form of death. >> peter did something that not many have ever done, work for a senate committee. >> he did a couple of things. one, he decided that -- we weren't going to intervene to stop saddam. that was not an option. iran was the main enemy in the neighborhood. peter understandably came to the conclusion that giving a man who was gassing his own people
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american farm credits and manufacturing credits was probably not a desirable way to send a signal that gassing your own people is a bad thing to do. what he did is drafted a -- economic sanctions. quite a mild sanction when you think of the toll that saddam's brutality is taking on these people. but his feeling was again, we're giving him $500 million a year in these credits. let's not if this is how he is behaving. initially, peter succeeded in getting this piece of legislation through the senate on a voice vote. it was not long before the combination of the farm lobby and the reagan white house teamed up along with some members of congress who themselves really didn't think it was a good idea to be making foreign policy on capitol hill, tendency to defer to the white house when it comes to these matters. they teamed up to kill the sanctions package. a year after saddam's genocide against the kurds, the united
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states doubled their credits to saddam. >> the only politician -- maybe not the only -- but one of the few politicians you give a gold star to is bob dole. >> i give him a gold star in bosnia. he doesn't come off terribly well on rwanda or iraq. as they're struggling on the ground to get rescue and respite from the outside, dole says the americans are out, as far as i'm concerned that's the end of it. iraq he is friendly with saddam's kansas farm state. the credit program was good for his workers. >> met with saddam hussein? >> yes. yes. >> there was a democrat this there, too. >> perhaps. i'm not remembering. but not a -- not a golden moment for any of those senators who had golden moments in their days. dole's golden moment -- he is in some ways the central protagonist in the book, in that
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he owns bosnia in the senate. >> what motivated him to get involved in bosnia? >> as is so often the case -- i wish it didn't have to be this way -- but some combination of serendipity and personal encounter. like lemken having to take flight and 49 members of his family getting murdered, dole had a terrible war injury in world war ii, shipped back to the united states in a full body cast and a plastic surgeon in chicago offered to operate on him if he could get his train fare to chicago taken care of. famously in kansas they chiped in and got him his train fare. this doctor operates on dole. he is himself an armenian survivor. he regales goal with stories of what was done to his family. he lost his parents, his sisters. he tells dole about the balkans,
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two, about the concept of genocide. he says there's this guy lemken and he invented this word and keep your eye out for genocide. don't make holocaust the standard. it has happened through history. that was one thing that motivated dole. the second is, as a result of this seed being planted, as a congressman he made a number of trips to the balkans. on one of those trips in 1989, he visited kosovo of all places, before anybody heard of it, a full 10 years before the nato intervention there. they came out to cheer him. they never had a visit from a high level american politician. the next thing coming down out of the hills he saw covered trucks filled with serb police and paramilitary units. these guys came out with trenches and tear gas and started whacking albanians. dole has his face pressed up against the glass thinking the
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brutality of this regime. while the rest of us were reading, myself included, atrocity reports with a glazed eye, dole has in mind these helpless albanians. beginning under the bush administration when baker didn't have a dog in the fight, dole had a dog in the fight. he called for confronting the serbs, using air strikes, lifting the arms embargo against the bosnian muslims. the thing that makes dole different, unlike all the other upstanders, is that he succeeds in turning genocide into an issue for american domestic politics. no other upstander had ever succeeded in doing that. he does it by taking advantage of number one, the fact that the genocide lasted 3 1/2 years. you had a steady, consistent coverage in the major newspapers the "new york times" and "washington post,". you have jewish groups teaming
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with human rights groups, grass tops and grassroots advocacy. in july 1995 when the massacre took place and 7,000 muslim men and boys are murdered in cold blood in a 10-day period, effectively on television. we sort of covered it all right down to the residue of the killing and the refugees describing the killing. dole uses that to secure on capitol hill a lift of the arms embargo against the bosnian muslims. the climax of the book is clinton on the putting green realizing there was success in making foreign policy on capitol hill, humiliated the president. clinton is screaming and says i'm getting creamed, we've got to stop the killing, aim' getting creamed. bob dole and others but with him at the lead as an american, influential decision maker
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turned the occurrence of genocide into something that was politically costly for an american president. that had never happened before. >> in the minute we have left, let me ask a couple of tiny questions. you said -- how many interviews did you do for the book? >> i don't know. >> i think somewhere you said 300. >> i thought you meant promoting the book. more than 300. with americans. thousands with others. >> in your footnotes, there's hardly a reference to an interview in the back. why? >> no good reason. i had the footnotes to the interviews. i ended up decides just a short hand to introduce the quotes with a present tense as a way of signaling it came from an interview because i was getting such complaints about the number of footnotes that i had. >> you got a grant from the open society institute. for what? >> to travel to these countries. this is a book about america more than about the specific genocides. the only way to understand what the human stakes are is to, in
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fact, interview victims, by- standers. they enabled me to travel to far off places. >> thank you very much. samantha power is our guest, and this is the book. it's called "a problem from hell: america ..


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