The New Killing Fields: Massacre and the Politics of Intervention

The New Killing Fields: Massacre and the Politics of Intervention

by Kira Brunner, Nicolaus Mills
     
 

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A prize-winning group of war reporters and analysts looks back on the killing fields of the late twentieth century and poses provocative questions for the future of human rights.
The New Killing Fields revisits Cambodia, Yugoslavia, Rwanda, and East Timor-sites of four of the worst instances of state-sponsored killing in the last half of the twentieth…  See more details below

Overview

A prize-winning group of war reporters and analysts looks back on the killing fields of the late twentieth century and poses provocative questions for the future of human rights.
The New Killing Fields revisits Cambodia, Yugoslavia, Rwanda, and East Timor-sites of four of the worst instances of state-sponsored killing in the last half of the twentieth century-in order to reconsider the success and failure of U.S. and U.N. military and humanitarian intervention.
Through original essays and reporting by, among others, David Rieff, Peter Maass, Philip Gourevitch, William Shawcross, George Packer, Bill Berkeley, and Samantha Power, The New Killing Fields reaches beyond headlines to ask vital questions about the future of peacekeeping in the next century. In addition, theoretical essays by Michael Walzer and Michael Ignatieff frame the issue of both past and future intervention in terms of today's post-Cold War reality. As human rights abuses increasingly occur in "failed states" such as Afghanistan, which pose international security threats, the future of human rights will not be, as it once was, considered solely a question of the beneficence and charity of the West. The prominent group of reporters and academics assembled here ponder these questions in light of their extensive experience, and reveal a fascinating set of conclusions, and further questions, about the future of human rights in the next century.

Author Biography: Kira Brunner is an editor of Dissent, and Nicolaus Mills a professor of American studies at Sarah Lawrence College. They live in New York City.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
This compilation of 14 essays focuses on three of the world's bloodiest killing zones in the 1990s: Yugoslavia, Rwanda and East Timor. In a fascinating prefatory essay, editor Mills (The Triumph of Meanness: America's War Against Its Better Self) draws on such writers as Joseph Conrad and Primo Levi in tracing the evolution of the language of slaughter. Mills shows how writing about mass atrocities became more and more concrete, spare and factual as the scale of the killings increased over the last century. The writers examining Yugoslavia, Rwanda and East Timor share in that same literary tradition. Their essays are strong on factual presentation but restrained in moralizing. For each of the three killing zones under study, the editors include discussion of what has happened since the murders stopped. Of particular interest are the efforts in Rwanda and East Timor to create mechanisms for administering justice to those accused of crimes against humanity, generally modeled on South Africa's Truth and Reconciliation Commission. The contributors to this volume-including Michael Walzer, William Shawcross and David Rieff-generally advocate intervention by the West whenever mass atrocities occur in places where Western pressure and even military action is possible (although the authors recognize that military force is not always the first or only resort). Given the frequency of anarchic mass slaughter in the 1990s, more such atrocities will likely occur in the decades ahead. Close observation and analysis of the kind demonstrated in this book will be essential to forming the nation's and the world's response. (Oct. 1) Forecast: This will appeal to readers of Samantha Power's A Problem from Hell and David Rieff's Slaughterhouse. Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
A survey of simmering hatreds and ethnic slaughter in places like Kosovo and Rwanda, and of the failure of the so-called civilized world to contain them.

The events of September 11, several of these 13 contributors to this well-intended volume suggest, have brought those remote barbarisms ever closer to home; one result, observes Samantha Power, may be a change in national policy, but also in national attitude such that "Americans inside and outside government [are] more capable of imagining evil committed against innocent civilians." That evil, of course, is no stranger to the residents of Kabul, Sarajevo, Dila, or Bujumbura, where unspeakable crimes against humanity have recently been committed—and where many of the contributors here, assembled by Dissent editor Mills (The Triumph of Meanness, 1997) and freelance journalist Brunner, traveled in search of the truth, or at least a good story. The danger of such parachute journalism, Mills acknowledges in his introduction, is that "the atrocities that occurred . . . in the last decade can, if a writer is not careful, be turned into nothing more than serious-sounding entertainment." There’s precious little entertainment here, but much soul-searching and righteous anger. Michael Walzer, for example, scourges the Clinton administration and the European powers for their failure to put ground troops in Kosovo, arguing that their presence would have made the appalling bombing of Serbia unnecessary; William Shawcross writes sardonically of the West’s inaction when confronted with the inescapable fact of genocide in Cambodia, suggesting that because of it "no judicial accounting of the Khmer Rouge period will take place"; David Rieff mourns thedestruction of Bosnia, "our generation’s Spanish Civil War." While there’s a certain amount of Monday-morning quarterbacking, sound policy recommendations also arise from time to time, all in the hope of encouraging an active internationalist peacekeeping effort so that such horrors do not occur again. As they almost certainly will.

An illuminating collection for students of war-reporting, advocacy journalism, and international affairs.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780465008032
Publisher:
Basic Books
Publication date:
09/18/2002
Pages:
296
Product dimensions:
6.39(w) x 9.48(h) x 1.83(d)

Meet the Author


Kira Brunner is an editor of Radical Society magazine and lives in New York City. Nicolaus Mills is Professor of American Studies at Sarah Lawrence College and lives in New York City.

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