Armenian Genocide

June 6, 2009

[first published May 4, 2005] Were the total number of human beings murdered by governments—their democide—widely known, it would be stunning and chilling. And perhaps it would bring pressure on liberal democracies, the only type of government that does not murder its own, to stop the democide now going on in Sudan, North Korea, Burma, and various other thugdoms in Africa.

In the history of this democide in the last century, one that stands out for various reasons is the mass murder of Armenians, Greeks, and other Christians by the Young Turk rulers during 1915 to 1918. It was well planned in the highest councils of government, and well prepared and organized, as was the Holocaust. Then in 1915 the telegrammed order, “Take care of the Armenians,” launched the genocide.

The Young Turk government collapsed with Turkey’s defeat along with its ally Germany in World War I. But, the killing did not end then. Within less than a year of their defeat the post-war Turkish government was taken over by Kemal Attaturk, whose positive reputation in the West hides the fact that he restarted the genocide of the Armenians, and with a greater focus on wiping out the Greek minority also.

The table below provides the totals. The large collection of estimates, sources, and my calculations behind this these numbers is in Chapter 5 of my Statistics of Democide .

Among genocide scholars the entire focus is on the Young Turks, and the United States State Department is often questioned by them about what it knows. After all, the United States had full information about the genocide from it is ambassador, Henry Morgenthau, and other diplomats in Turkey at the time. Ambassaador Morgenthau actually wrote a book published in 1919 that described the genocide. But, for political reasons the State Department refuses to make its archives on the genocide public, or even acknowledge that the genocide took place. Now, Israel—ISRAEL—not only joins the United States in this, but also pressures its genocide scholars and others against public comments on it.

How explain this? By two words that I increasingly find distasteful—real politic. I hope some day we can encase in lead the foreign policy these words describe and drop it in the deepest part of the ocean. The sound we might then hear could be the cheering of all the dead souls whose memory this policy has consigned to oblivion.


Link of Note

”Rattling the Cage: Playing politics with genocide” (4/21/05) By Larry Derfner, The Jerusalem Post

I am including the following article in full, since one has to register with the newspaper to read it.

“And the world stood silent.” This is one of the most indelible Jewish memories of the Holocaust, and one of our most bitter accusations.

On Sunday, in the Armenian capital of Yerevan, the 90th anniversary of the Armenian genocide the slaughter of at least 1 million Armenian civilians by the Turkish Ottoman regime will be memorialized.

What does the State of Israel and many of its American Jewish lobbyists have to say about it, about this first genocide of the 20th century? If they were merely standing silent, that would be an improvement. Instead, on the subject of the Armenian genocide, Israel and some US Jewish organizations, notably the American Jewish Committee, have for many years acted aggressively as silencers. In Israel, attempts to broadcast documentaries about the genocide on state-run television have been aborted. A program to teach the genocide in public schools was watered down to the point that history teachers refused to teach it.

In the US Congress, resolutions to recognize the genocide and the Ottoman Turks’ responsibility for it have been snuffed out by Turkey and its right-hand man on this issue, the Israel lobby.

Jeshajahu Weinberg, founding director of the US Holocaust Museum, wrote that when Armenians lobbied to show the genocide in the museum, Turkey and Israel counter-lobbied to keep out any trace of it. The museum decided to make three mentions of the genocide, including Hitler’s call to his troops to be merciless to their victims: “Who, after all, speaks today of the annihilation of the Armenians?”

Over 125 Holocaust scholars including Elie Wiesel, Deborah Lipstadt, Daniel Goldhagen, Raul Hilberg and Yehuda Bauer have signed ads in the New York Times demanding acknowledgement of the Armenian genocide and the Ottoman Turks’ culpability for it. Wiesel testified in Congress on behalf of such a resolution. The International Association of Genocide Scholars which, by the way, is studded with Jewish names holds the same view as a matter of course.

In the face of all this, Israel’s position, as articulated by then-foreign minister Shimon Peres before a 2001 visit to Turkey, says the Armenian genocide is “a matter for historians to decide.”

The American Jewish Committee’s position is that of “the US government, the government of Israel, and the Turkish Jewish community: that this is an issue best left to historians, not politicians,” says Barry Jacobs of the AJC’s Washington office.

Off the record, a Foreign Ministry official describes Israel’s approach to the issue as “practical, realpolitik. Whoever sees our position in this region can understand how important our relations with Turkey are.”

And that’s what determines the Israeli and US Jewish establishment stand on the Armenian genocide Israel’s crucial military, economic and political ties with Turkey.

Then, along with the “realpolitik” considerations, there’s the Jewish people’s weighty moral debt to Turkey, a safe harbor for Jews since the Spanish Inquisition over 500 years ago.

Finally, on a petty level, there’s the worry that letting the Armenian genocide out of history’s closet might diminish the “uniqueness” of the Holocaust in people’s minds.

“Frankly, I’m pretty disgusted. I think that my government preferred economic and political relations with Turkey to the truth. I can understand why they did it, but I don’t agree with it.”

That’s Yehuda Bauer talking. He’s Israel’s leading Holocaust historian, an Israel Prize winner, and now academic adviser to Yad Vashem. He began studying the Armenian genocide about 25 years ago as a natural outgrowth of his study of the Holocaust.

For 80 years, says Bauer, Turkey has been “denying the genocide… saying, ‘Yes, there was terrible suffering on both sides, the Turkish versus the Armenian, these things happen in war.’ But that’s nonsense. This was a definite, planned attack on a civilian minority, and whatever Armenian resistance there was came in response to the imminent danger of mass murder.”

To Turkey’s claim, backed by Israel and its Washington lobby, that there’s no conclusive proof of a Turkish Ottoman order for the mass murder of Armenians, Bauer says, “Oh, there’s no doubt about it whatsoever. It’s absolutely clear.” He cites “thousands” of testimonials from US, German and Austrian officials who were in Turkey and what is now Armenia when it happened.

One of the most important of those witnesses was US ambassador to Turkey Henry Morganthau a Jew, incidentally. He wrote that the “persecution of Armenians is assuming unprecedented proportions. Reports from widely scattered districts indicate a systematic attempt to uproot peaceful Armenian populations and… arbitrary efforts, terrible tortures, wholesale expulsions and deportations from one end of the Empire to the other, accompanied by frequent instances of rape, pillage and murder, turning into massacre, to bring destruction and destitution on them.”

Israel and the Israel lobby fully acknowledge that the Armenians suffered a terrible “tragedy.” A Foreign Ministry statement even notes that “the Jewish people have a special sensitivity to the murders and human tragedies that occurred during the years 1915 and 1916.”

They just won’t say who was to blame, or whether Turkey bears historical responsibility. Mention Wiesel and all the rest of the Holocaust and genocide historians, and the Israeli and US Jewish officials come back off the record with the renowned Bernard Lewis. Along with a few other American historians, Lewis says it wasn’t a genocide at all, that World War I was going on and Armenians were fighting with Russia against the Turks, and that you can’t blame Turkey for what happened, not then and certainly not now.

Thus the official Israeli/Jewish line: “It’s a matter for historians to decide.”

Fair enough. Even though Lewis’s side is terribly outnumbered among Western historians, let’s say the burden of proof lies with Wiesel, Bauer, Lipstadt et al, who say the Ottoman Turks ordered the massacre of 1 million-1.5 million Armenians. Let’s say Israeli and US Jewish leaders aren’t competent to judge who’s right and who’s wrong.

And let’s even give their declared neutrality the benefit of the doubt because of Israel’s relations with Turkey, and Turkey’s long history of welcoming Jews in distress.

The point is this: Israel and the US Jewish establishment may say they’re neutral over what happened to the Armenians 90 years ago, but their actions say the opposite. They’ve not only taken sides, they’re on the barricades. They’ve done everything they can to cover up what the great majority of historians, including the entire community of Holocaust scholars, say was a clear-cut case of genocide.

Jews shouldn’t do this for any reason. Ninety years after the Armenian genocide, there is a decent Jewish response to the sickening behavior of the State of Israel, the American Jewish Committee and other US Jewish organizations: Not in our name.


Never Again Series


It’s Not Hopeless — There Is An Antidote

June 4, 2009

[First published May 16, 2005] Ryan Barnard lest this comment on the Thursday, March 03, 2005 Refract Blog:

So many atrocities, both epic and personal. So much sorrow in the world. Two options: turn a blind eye or work to change things. But all of these atrocities repeat, over and over again in the course of human history, in so many different societies. That suggests that it’s not cultural, that it’s human nature. Perhaps an aberration of human nature, but biologically wired nonetheless. And so how can one hope to ever make a difference?

So much suffering. So little of it need ever happen.

I really want some encouragement… I feel so hopeless. What can anyone do…?

This feeling gets to me, since I believe the evidence is persuasive — there is more than hope, there is an outright solution. And one that is desirable in itself. This is fostering global democratic freedom. I wrote a blog on this some months ago, ” Yes, There is Hope—Great Hope” ( Link here)

Rather than repeat that blog, I will present in figures some of the evidence. All are from my “Statistics of Democide” (link here). The first figure is 17.3 below. Note how the number murdered by governments rises at the high centralized power, high totalitarian end, while it’s lowest (virtually zero) at the low power, democratic end (liberal democracies). This already tells us what to do about democide. Diffuse and democratize power.


Figure 1.3 shows the rise and fall of democide with the rise and fall of totalitarian states. There is the slight rise in foreign democide by democracies during World War II (1941-1945), which is a reflection of illegal (Geneva Conventions) Allied urban bombing of German, and later Japanese cities. The others in the plot are authoritarian states, like Italy, Hungary, and China (Chiang Kai-chek).


Figure 17.2 is the best of the lot. It’s the result of a factor (component) analysis of various measures of politics and democide for over 200 nations. The result shows that political power and totalitarianism are aligned with each other and both almost completely with the total genocide, domestic democide, and democide rate (annual per capita). Democracy, however, is completely opposed. It is as though democide forms a tight cone of behavior, and down the center of that behavior, a causal force acting on it is totalitarianism, while democracy is a driving against it.


The easiest to understand figure and by virtue of that, maybe the most powerful is 17.5 below. This is a plot of domestic democide logged against the range of power, where the size of the point in the plot represents the amount of democide. Domestic democide is plainly a logarithmic function of power. That is, as power increases, domestic democide just does not increase additively, but by magnitudes – by a factor of ten.


There is much more I could present, such as what happens when many other variables are held constant. But for my purpose here, which it to prove the existence of an antidote to democide, these figures should serve.


Link of Note

” Can institutions resolve ethnic conflict?” (February 2000) By William Easterly, World Bank

Abstract:

High quality institutions, such as rule of law, bureaucratic quality, freedom from government expropriation, and freedom from government repudiation of contracts, mitigate the adverse economic consequences of ethnic fractionalization identified by Easterly and Levine 1997 and others. In countries with sufficiently good institutions, ethnic diversity does not lower growth or worsen economic policies. High quality institutions also lessen war casualties on national territory and lessen the probability of genocide for a given amount of ethnic fractionalization.

Translation of World Bankanese: Among countries with ethnic divisions, the liberal democracies among them are least likely to commit genocide.


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Its Democide, Not Politicide

May 8, 2009


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[First published October 25, 2005] Some of you may have come across the term politicide. Barbara Harff (here) and I independently developed the concept. I used it to refer to the murder by government of people because of their politics, political activities, or their threat to the government. Politicide is not genocide, which is the attempt to eliminate in whole or in part people because of their race, nationality, ethnicity, or religion.

Harff, unfortunately, and those who have followed on her research have used the term to define any government murder other than genocide. This is a simple misunderstanding of the extent and variety of government murder. True, when a government kills “rightists,” “counterrevolutionaries,” or officials of the former defeated government, as Mao did in China, it was politicide. When Pol Pot tortured and murdered Khmer Rouge for supposedly plotting against him, it was politicide. When Lenin had Czar Nicolas II and his whole family assassinated in 1918, it was politicide. But then much, if not most, government murder is not politicide or genocide, but democide.

Now, democide is any murder by government, which is the intentional killing of unarmed people for whatever purpose. It is comparable to the concept of murder in domestic law. It includes genocide, politicide, massacres, atrocities, assassination, extermination, ethnic cleansing (if killing is involved), suicide bombing, and indiscriminate shelling, bombing, and strafing.

The problem with equating politicide with democide is the killing that is thereby omitted. For example, everyone knows about the so-called Rape of Nanking by the Japanese Army when it captured the city on December 13th, 1937. Its soldiers were given freedom to rape, loot, and kill for nearly two months. I calculate that about 200,000 civilians and POWs thus were massacred. But while some killing was politicide, most was not. The label cannot be applied, say, to women being raped and then murdered, or husbands and fathers shot while trying to prevent their wives or daughters from being raped. Nor, can it apply it to the binding of POWs together, pouring gasoline on them, and burning them alive, or using them for bayonet practice.

Similarly with the widespread rape and murder of helpless women and children as the Red Army pursued the defeated Germans across Eastern Europe and into Germany in 1945. None of this should be characterized as politicide, but as democide.

You may be surprised at the extent to which empirical research and solid research conclusions depend on the proper conceptualization of the subject. While the discussion of politics can tolerate confusion over such terms as liberal (as vs. 19th century liberal), scientific research begins with establishing and defining terms. And in research on the democratic peace, it is especially important to distinguish politicide from democide — that is, murder for political purposes from wanton murder.


Link of Note

“‘Us’ or ‘Them’?” By Thomas Sowell

:

Compromise and tolerance are not the hallmarks of true believers. What they believe in goes to the heart of what they are. As far as true believers are concerned, you are either one of Us or one of Them.
. . . [M]any issues that look on the surface like they are just about which alternative would best serve the general public are really about being one of Us or one of Them — and this woman was not about to become one of Them.

Many crusades of the political left have been misunderstood by people who do not understand that these crusades are about establishing the identity and the superiority of the crusaders.

RJR: Exactly. And now I have the characterization of the 50-times-more-effective Gartzke (here) for which I was looking. He is a true believer.

Links I Must Share

“79% of Iraqi voters back constitution “

RJR: Much better than the American Constitution would have done if put to a referendum, and like the two Sunni provinces that voted in large numbers against it, so would have Maryland for sure, and perhaps Rhode Island, New York, and Massachusetts (only nine states needed for ratification).

“Rice Outlines Iraq Victory Strategy On Capitol Hill “:

. . . .The key to victory over the insurgency in Iraq, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice told Senate Committee on Foreign Relations members, is to “clear areas from insurgent control, hold them securely, and build durable, national Iraqi institutions.” American servicemen and women are fighting in Iraq “at a pivotal time in world history,” Rice said. Efforts to defeat the insurgents “must succeed,” she said, if the Iraqis are to be successful in establishing an inclusive, democratic government unique in the Middle East. “Let’s work together on how we will win,” Rice said, calling for increased collaboration between U.S., coalition, and Iraqi security forces, as well as help from the U.S. Congress.

“Leahy says president needs to find plan to bring troops home”:

The president must develop a plan to bring the troops home from Iraq, U.S. Sen. Patrick Leahy said Tuesday. “The American people need to know that the president has a plan that will bring our troops home,” said Leahy in a speech delivered in the Senate.

“This war has been a costly disaster for our country,” he said. “Far from making us safer from terrorists, in fact it has turned Iraq into a haven and recruiting ground for terrorists and deflected our attention and resources away from the fight against terrorism,” he said. “If anything, it has emboldened our enemies, as it has become increasingly apparent that the most powerful army in the world cannot stop a determined insurgency.”

RJR: Relevant follow-on to Rice’s hope above. This was said after the above announcement of the Iraqi constitution’s victory. He, and his liberal-left colleagues, are playing the Vietnam song all over again. We won every battle in Vietnam, the South was democratizing, but with the Democrats controlling Congress and the budget, they forced us to leave Vietnam to the communists and many Vietnamese to their deaths. Good thing the Republicans now control Congress, and we should make sure they continue to do so after the 2006 election.

” With a Whimper” Victor Davis Hanson:

How the violence in Iraq will end. . . . So when this is all over — and it will be more quickly than we imagine — there will be a viable constitutional government in Iraq. But the achievement will be considered either a natural organic process, or adopted as a success by former critics only at its safe, penultimate stage.
Most of us tragically will forget many of the American soldiers who courageously fought, died, and gave the Middle East its freedom and us our security. Purple fingers, not overloaded American helicopters taking off from the embassy roof, is the future of Iraq.
Yes, the terrorists’ assault against the Iraqi democracy will end — as all failed insurrections do — not with a bang but with a whimper.

RJR: As history has mercifully forgotten all the no-sayers about the democratization of South Korea, Taiwan, Japan, and Germany, and an American victory in the Cold War, so it will do so when Iraq is fully democratized and a stable contributor to peace and human security in the Middle East.

“Syria’s dissidents unite to issue call for change “
RJR: Democratic change in Syria is inevitable, but given the small ethnic gang that rules with their guns, I fear that such change will come only through massive internal violence, and life-saving intervention.



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Death By Marxism

May 7, 2009

[First published November 10, 2005. Among all the democide estimates appearing here, some have been revised upward. I have changed that for Mao’s famine, 1958-1962, from zero to 38,000,000. And thus I have had to change the overall democide for the PRC (1928-1987) from 38,702,000 to 76,702,000.

I have changed my estimate for colonial democide from 870,000 to an additional 50,000,000.

Thus, the new world total: old total 1900-1999 = 174,000,000. New World total = 174,000,000 + 38,000,000 (new for China) + 50,000,000 (new for Colonies) = 262,000,000.

Just to give perspective on this incredible murder by government, if all these bodies were laid head to toe, with the average height being 5′, then they would circle the earth ten times. Also, this democide murdered 6 times more people than died in combat in all the foreign and internal wars of the century. Finally, given popular estimates of the dead in a major nuclear war, this total democide is as though such a war did occur, but with its dead spread over a century.]

What is the greatest source of democide?

First, I should note that by democide I mean to define the killing by governments as the concept of murder defines individual killing in domestic society. And it is focusing on this democide, rather than the genocide that is one of its components, which uncovers the true dimensions of mass murder in the world.

Since democide is a government activity or policy, we must consider what type of governments are the worse murderers. Is there a political factor that discriminates between mortacracies–governments characterized by murder–and those who may kill incidentally or situationally? Yes, totalitarianism. Almost without exception, totalitarian governments are or have been mortacracies.

There is much confusion about what totalitarian means in the literature. I define a totalitarian state as one with a system of government that is unlimited constitutionally or by countervailing powers in society (such as by a church, rural gentry, labor unions, or regional powers); is not held responsible to the public by periodic elections via secret ballot, and competitive elections; and employs its unlimited power to control all aspects of society, including the family, religion, education, business, private property, and social relationships. Under Stalin, the Soviet Union was thus totalitarian, as was Mao’s China, Pol Pot’s Cambodia, Hitler’s Germany, and U Ne Win’s Burma. Presently, North Korea is a prime example.

Totalitarianism is also an ideology for which a totalitarian government is the agency for realizing its ends. Thus, totalitarianism characterizes such ideologies as state socialism (as in Burma), Marxism-Leninism as in the former Soviet Union, and Italian fascism. Then, of course, there is Nazism, the Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei–National Socialist German Workers’ Party — although racist and nationalist doctrines dominated, economically, all become subverted to the Party, as under communism; as Hitler said: “We are socialists.” Other versions of totalitarianism dot the modern world, such as the socialist Baathist Party that ruled Iraq under Hussein and still rules Syria.

Not all totalitarianism is socialist. Theological totalitarianism, for example, characterized the Taliban, does so for revolutionary Moslem Iran since the overthrow of the Shaw in 1978-79 and Saudi Arabia. Here totalitarianism is married to Moslem fundamentalism.

In short, totalitarianism is the ideology of absolute power.

The worst of the totalitarian governments, however, by far have been the socialist. Socialist self-righteousness, desire to radically reconstruct the fundamental institution of society (throwing out the institutional evolution and cultural learning of generations), the belief that those who disagree are evil, and that one must “break eggs to make an omelet,” have led to monumental democide, as for example by the Soviet Union (about 61 million murdered), Mao’s China (about 35 million), and so on for all the communist regimes, as well as the nationalist socialists like Germany (21 million), state socialist like Burma, Baathists like Syria and Hussein’s Iraq, socialist Libya, and so on. See the figure below.

The details of communist democide are below:

By my count (here) for 1900-1987, totalitarian regimes murdered about 138 million (communist regimes about 110 million out of 169 million overall for all governments. Electoral or procedural democracies murdered 2 million (149 thousand domestic, mainly due to the Spanish Civil War); liberal democracies murdered none of their citizens.

Some, mainly on the left, argue that my figures for communist systems are way too high, while being too low for democracies, especially like the United States. Okay, cut in half all my estimates for communist systems, and double those for democracies. That leaves the communist murdering 55 million versus 4 million for the democracies (almost all wartime democide against enemy civilians). We can even go further and do this again, and the conclusion remains the same–nondemocratic socialism is one of the great threats to human life. In other words, as far as democide is concerned, the major danger, by far, is from the nondemocratic far left.

Be clear, regimes on the right, such as the absolute monarchies and non-socialist fascists like Chiang’s Nationalist government of China (10 million murdered) and Japan’s WWII military government (6 million), also committed major democide, but overall much less than the Marxists. Truly, we can say of communism, it is death by Marxism.



Only Mass Murder, Not Like A Disaster

May 5, 2009

[First published December 5, 2005] Have you noticed how disasters will dominate the headlines and mobilize the world to rush aid to the region or country involved, and help search for survivors? We’ve all see the moving videos — the bodies pulled from wreckage of hurricanes, floods, volcanic eruptions, earthquakes, and tornadoes, the destroyed homes and rubble everywhere. Then in hours come the headlines, “Death toll in quake feared to be 10,000,” “Village leveled by volcanic blast — 2000 dead,” or “Tsunami killed 2,500.”

These headlines are soon followed by, “Aid rushed in . . . ,” “U.S. planes carry . . . ,” or “UN Annan inspects . . . .” Surely, such headlines should invoke memories, for they have deluged us all. I do not wish to make light of such disasters or the plight of the victims. Our heats go out to them. I just want to draw an incredible comparison to the democide, which goes on and on without headlines or aid or intervention, as in North Korea, Sudan, Burma, the two Congos, Angola, and so on.

In the last century, 56,679,764 people died in disasters, totaled for those killing more than 10,000 people. The list is here, and includes the 5,000,000 Ukrainians that Stalin purposely starved to death 1932-1933. I subtracted that from the total to get the above total. Oddly, the world’s worst famine created by Mao in China, 1958-1962, is not listed as a disaster.

There is also another list of the “Death Toll from Disasters, War & Accidents, which comes to 99,000,000 for disasters alone. I suspect that it includes Stalin and Mao’s democidal famines, the later listed in a different table on the same page as 30,000,000. So, I will take the total in the above paragraph and estimate that when the dead for disasters less than 10,000 are added, the disaster toll for the last century is 60,000,000 dead.

That is an indigestible number. It is as though virtually every living human being in France, or Britain, or everyone in Italy or South Korea were wiped out. If the average height of these dead were five feet, the bodies lined up head to toe would span 56,818 miles. The circumference of the earth is 24,855 miles. So, the 60,000,000 dead from disasters would circle the earth head to toe 2.3 times! Wow, what a lot of bodies.

Of course, you know where I’m going with this. The total murdered in all communist countries alone was 148,000,000, or 2.5 times those killed in disasters. For all countries, the world total is 212,000,000 murdered in the last century — 3.5 times all of the century’s disasters. Since almost all these murders were by dictators, I can say this.

Dictatorships are human made disasters many times more deadly than nature’s. Dictatorships are not simply disasters, they are human catastrophes. Power kills, absolute power kills absolutely.

It should be a crime against humanity for any dictatorship to exist.

Spread the word and help freedom ring.


A Just Democide Doctrine?

April 30, 2009

[First published December 28, 2005] I just finished reading Downfall: The End Of The Imperial Japanese Empire by Richard B. Frank, which is on what led up to and caused the defeat of Japan in World War II. Based on the latest disclosures about the Magic and Ultra decoding of Japanese diplomatic and military messages and the debate among top Japanese rulers, this is the definitive book on the effect of our dropping the atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. It answers the major questions I had:

Were the bombs decisive? Yes. And it had to be two bombs. Hiroshima alone would have allowed the Japanese to conclude, which they were on the verge of doing, that we had only one bomb, and it would take a long time for us to make another.

Were the Japanese peace feelers in Moscow serious? No. Not by the Japanese or by the Soviets, who were bent on conquering Japanese held territory

Would a change in American surrender terms from unconditional surrender to allowing a continuation of the emperor and imperial dynasty have brought about surrender. No. The reason the Allies insisted on unconditional surrender was so as not to repeat the mistake of the Versailles Treaty that ended WWI. It allowed the Germans to keep their government and military organization in place, and left it to Germany to punish her war criminals, and reform the military that led her into war. Now, in WWII, Britain and the U.S. were convinced that Japan and Germany would have to be occupied, and democratized by the Allies. Few critics of our Afghanistan/ Iraq nation building seem aware that this is what we did successfully in “authoritarian and militaristic” Germany and Japan after their defeat.

Would a million Americans have been killed if we invaded Japan? Unknown. Contemporary estimates were 300,000 more or less would be killed. However, given that the Japanese had predicted where the invasion would take place, had reinforced her forces there well above what we anticipated, would use all her aircraft for suicide attacks, and had prepared civilian battalions for suicide attacks, the toll on our side may not only have been close to a million, but the invasion may have been defeated. In any case, the Navy finally opposed invasion, and preferred to rely on blockade and air attacks alone. However, the war ended before this became an open fight between the Army and Navy.

Were Hiroshima and Nagasaki democide? Yes, it was mass murder, as was the firebombing of Tokyo and all other major cities.

Therefore, should we not have dropped the bombs and carried out the firebombing? As an adamant opponent of democide, I must painfully conclude that with foresight as to the reasons below, I would have approved this democide:

It ended the war

It thereby saved the lives of millions of Japanese who were on the edge of starvation. They would have died of a nation-wide famine if we had started bombing the internal transportation network, and tightened the blockade, as planned had we not dropped the bombs. These are sure deaths aside from those who would have been killed had the Navy agreed to go along with an invasion.

It saved the lives of the millions who would have been killed under Japanese occupation and by continuation of the fighting in China, the Pacific, and Southeast Asia. Perhaps a million or more were saved by the A-bombs.

Had we invaded Japan, all POWs held by the Japanese would have been killed. That was a standing order.

At the time of the surrender, Soviet forces were on the verge of invading the home islands from the north, and had the war continued for months (the bombs were dropped on August 6 and 9, 1945. Our invasion of southern Japan was planned for November, and that of the Tokyo area in March 1946. By then, the Soviets might have taken and occupied half of northern Japan. Thus, once Japan was defeated, the Soviets would have shared in the occupation as they did in Germany. Many Japanese lives alone were saved from communist terror as a result, or from fighting invasion Soviet forces.

Even if the ruling military in Tokyo had been forced to surrender by an invasion or strangulation of Japan, her vast armies in China and elsewhere might have continued to do battle (deeply ingrained in the Japanese military by their culture and unique history was to never surrender — this was a matter of honor and self-esteem), and the attempt to occupy Japan would have met a nation-wide insurrection and terrorist attacks by civilians that would have made those in Iraq look puny. What brought about a total surrender of Japan’s people and armies was the Emperor overriding the military and making it an imperial decree to end the war forthwith, and his radio broadcast calling for all Japanese to surrender. He had to be obeyed. He did this because of the two atomic bombs.

So, for me, as for American decision makers at the time, there is the awful choice between two stark evils. One is to murder hundreds of thousands of Japanese civilians versus ending the war quickly with the millions of lives thus saved. What we have here is the need for — and even to think about it gives me a feeling of horror — a Just Democide Doctrine — that is an ethical rational for democide comparable to the Just War Doctrine developed by Catholic Theologians centuries ago. That is: If the lives to be assuredly saved by a democide far exceed in number the lives to be murdered, than the murdering is justified, although evil.

As to the ethics of this, I’ve been a deontologist, and much influenced by Immanuel Kant. Now, with this idea of a Just Democide, I’ve collapsed into situational ethics. So be it. That’s the world we live in.


“No, God, I Can’t Believe It”–A Ducudrama Of The Forced Ukrainian Famine

April 28, 2009

[First published in May 18, 2005] In 1932, Stalin went to war against Ukrainian nationalism and resistance to collectivization. His weapon of choice was enforced famine. Stalin won. The “war dead?” About 5,000,000 Ukrainians who starved to death or died of associated diseases. Want to know what it was like for a Ukrainian villager then? Here is one possible story.
***

“We were starving to death,” Viktor suddenly blurted as I placed another beer before him. “My father, Petro Pynzenyk, was powerless to do anything about it, which made him very angry. I remember him shaking his feeble fist in the air and yelling to my mother Olena, ‘How could he do this to us? How could he starve us to death? God, why? What have we done to him?’

“My mother wouldn’t answer. Skeletal and weak with hunger, she could no longer leave their bed.”

Ignoring his beer, his eyes turned inward, Viktor finally let it all out.

***

Drought had brought famine to the Ukraine. But this famine was nothing compared to what Stalin, the absolute dictator of the communist Soviet Union, or USSR, was doing. He had launched a total blockade that prevented any food from getting into that Soviet republic. The communist cadre even searched travelers to the Ukraine to make sure they carried no food with them.

According to Stalin’s fanatical communist reasoning, Ukrainian peasant nationalism was a danger to his power that had to be subdued. The peasants also had strongly resisted giving up their homes, farms, and livestock to be collectivized into factory farms. Stalin’s weapon against such stubbornness and nationalism was starvation. He sent the communist cadre, activists, and security forces into the region to enforce his own man-made famine.

Petro Pynzenyk’s anguished outbursts against Stalin would almost exhaust him. He had been a handsome man in his youth, taller than most other peasants, with a round, open face and a strong brow. Even when age had grayed his hair, he had been well muscled, as heavy farm workers usually were. Now his ribs showed and his stomach was caved in; his arms and legs had grown bony, their muscles raped by his body for sustenance.

Viktor remembered watching him pry the soles off his shoes and then drop them into a pot of boiling water hanging in the fireplace. “Maybe they’ll add some flavor to the tree bark,” he rasped. It seemed that he could no longer say anything normally.

He was nonpolitical, tried to stay out of trouble, and did what the local communist functionaries asked. Except that, with all his being, he dreaded the demand he knew would soon come from Kiev—that he give up his one-acre farm and small home to collectivization. His father had worked all his life to develop and build this small farm. Petro did not want to give it up, but if he resisted, the communists would shoot him and his family.

Viktor was fourteen at the time. He spent the days hunting alone, because Petro, much to his shame, had grown too weak to join him. With a long-handled net, Viktor tried to catch any animals he saw around the village or in the unplowed fields, even former pets that the communists had missed when they came through, shooting them and stuffing the dead ones in sacks to be carried or trucked away. They’d also taken all the livestock, and had gone house to house looking for food, even seizing warm bread off the tables. When they learned that the villagers had started catching birds to eat, the communists again came through, shooting the birds out of the trees and bagging their little bodies.

When they came to the Pynzenyk home, they poked around the grounds outside the house with long rods, searching for buried food. They thus found the seeds Viktor’s mother had hidden by the pump, which they’d planned to use for planting if they survived.

Finally, as much as he didn’t want to believe it, Viktor realized they would not survive much longer.

One late afternoon when Viktor returned empty-handed to their house, he was just pulling the door shut behind him when he heard a distant scream. Alarmed but too weak to move himself, Petro waved Viktor outside to find out what was happening. Petro and Olena waited in tense silence as Viktor left the house. Viktor could tell they were scared. He followed the sound of the screams, which were soon punctuated by loud moans and gasps for breath.

When Viktor discovered what had caused the screams, he vomited up what liquid lay in his empty stomach. Sickened, revolted, he ran home and lay by his house and wept until too exhausted to cry anymore. Finally, he staggered inside.

He pushed the door shut behind him and stood there, swaying as if cornered. He could only gape at his parents, his mouth working. He started crying again, fighting to gulp air into his lungs, but dreading the news he had to tell his parents.

“What is it?” Petro demanded weakly.

Viktor ran over to his mother’s bed and threw himself down beside her, his whole body shaking. Olena put her bony arm around him, murmured some soothing words, and waited.

Finally, still trembling, Viktor blurted, “They ate her.”

“Ate who?” asked his father.

“Yana.”

“Yana? What are you talking about?” His mother looked from Viktor to Petro in confusion.

Viktor calmed down enough to explain, although tears still flowed. “Little Yana down the road. She went missing, and her father searched the woods and finally checked that crazy man Taran’s house on the other side of the stream. She was . . . ”

“What, Viktor?”

“She was . . . cut up in his . . . in his food pot. Her father grabbed a shovel and killed Taran and his mother with it.” Viktor’s stomach heaved at the memory, but nothing would come up. He whimpered, “She was such a fun little girl. She was always laughing and trying to trip me. She would make believe I was a horse.”

“My Holy God in Heaven,” Petro groaned. “I had heard this was going on, but in our village? No, God, I can’t believe it.”

Olena could only close her eyes and let the tears flow.

The days went slowly by, each a torment of hunger. Petro also grew too weak to leave his bed. Viktor continued to hunt, and captured some rats in the field. With the head of one he saved from the pot, he actually caught a starving dog whose own hunger had overcome its natural fear. His parents always gave him the largest part of any catch. They wanted Viktor to live to remember them, and what had happened.

Olena died two weeks later, and Petro the following week. With the death of his father, Viktor gave up all hope. He was lying on their bed, just waiting for the end, when Stalin ordered the release of grain from the military warehouses.

Local officials soon started going from village to village, looking for survivors. When they came to Viktor’s house, they knocked on the door. Receiving no response, they entered and, one told him later, were nearly overcome by the smell of urine, feces, and death. They found Viktor almost dead, lying next to the rotting corpses of his mother and father on a pile of filthy blankets. Viktor was not the first one they’d seen in this condition; they knew what to do. He was carried outside and propped on the ground to be spoon-fed thin soup.

***

Unlike all but a few in his village, Viktor survived. Five million Ukrainians did not.

Even this did not satisfy Stalin. He decided that the core Ukrainian culture had to be destroyed. And who was at the heart of this culture? The blind traveling musicians, who played and sang the classical Ukrainian music and folk tunes, and recounted tales of Ukrainian heroes. So, Stalin had communist officials call all the folk musicians together for a festival, and then had them all shot to death.

How can we prevent this from ever happening again? Through the democratic peace.


War/peace docudramas
War/democide Docudramas