|January 9, 2007||Posted by Fred Foldvary under Archive, Progress Report, The Progress Report|
Fred Foldvary’s Editorial
‘Never Again’ Requires Self-Defense
by Fred E. Foldvary, Senior Editor
Despite the vow after World War II to never again permit genocide, the slaughtering of people seems to never end. The United Nations peacekeeping apparatus has not prevented or stopped the mass killing of people in Rwanda, Cambodia, and the ex-Zaire Congo.
The United Nations, while performing valuable services in restoring the rule of law in Cambodia, East Timor, and other places, is too politically conflicted to effectively prevent ethnic killings. It often does a good job after a conflict in restoring order, but the U.N. did not prevent conflicts such as the wars in Yugoslavia following the breakup.
Since outside military aid is uncertain and often too late, we need a way to prevent genocide and minimize the deaths if it starts. If we look at past mass killings, there is a common pattern: superior force of arms against mostly unarmed and helpless people.
The effective remedy therefore is to arm the potential victims. If the Jews of Europe had been well armed and ready to resist aggression, would the holocaust have occurred? We should not blame the victims, often subjected to gun controls and prohibitions, we can learn lessons from history.
What if the Cambodian peasants had been armed to the teeth and stood ready to defend themselves against the Khmer Rouge? What if the Rwandans had guns and were ready to use them against any attackers? What if the victims of the horrible war tactics of chopping off hands and arms in Sierra Leone had weapons? Perhaps these peoples would still have been attacked, but it would not have been nearly so easy to kill and brutalize so many.
Yet who is talking about arming potential victims? Governments have more control when subject peoples are not armed; they will not encourage armed defense. But those who champion human rights should be talking about the right of self-defense. Much of the policy and talk on guns now focuses on arms controls, but guns offer a defense against aggression too.
I see no alternative to an armed population as the ultimate defense against genocide. It would be nice to have a world without weapons, but we live in a nasty, not nice, world today. We need a dialog on arming those who are vulnerable to genocide. If potential victims stand ready to defend themselves, they may not have to use their weapons.
It’s basic economics. Raise the cost of committing genocide, and we will have less of it. If the potential victims are well enough armed, there may never again be any more genocide.
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