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Never again. Maybe.

Glenn Reynolds discusses the issue of genocide in the post World War Two world, noting that Cambodia, the Congo, and Rwanda have all experienced the phenomenon we supposedly abolished after the Holocaust, despite their signatures on international agreements. The so-called "international community" failed to intervene when the crimes were happening, and was ineffective in punishing those responsible after the fact.

Glenn suggests an alternate theory for preventing genocide: arm the public.

The result, conclude law professor Daniel Polsby and criminologist Don Kates, is that "a connection exists between the restrictiveness of a country's civilian weapons policy and its liability to commit genocide."

Armed citizens, they argue, are far less likely to be massacred than defenseless ones, and armed resistance to genocide is more likely to receive outside aid. It is probably no accident that the better-armed resistance to genocide in Bosnia and Kosovo drew international intervention, while the hapless Rwandans and Cambodians did not. When victims resist, what is merely cause for horror becomes cause for alarm, and those who are afraid of the conflictís spread will support (as Europe did) intervention out of self-interest when they could not be bothered to intervene out of compassion.

It is no wonder that genocide is so often preceded by efforts to disarm the people.

But while Glenn cites Bosnia as a counterexample, what he fails to mention, which makes the argument even more horribly ironic, is that the international community's response to the Serbian assault on Bosnia was to impose an international arms embargo on the area. Not only did the United Nations fail to defend Bosnians against Serbian attacks; the UN tried to prevent Bosnians from defending themselves. The Serbs, of course, had no trouble getting weapons, since they were backed by the already-armed Yugoslavia.

This approach is nothing new; as Britain pulled out of Palestine and Israel prepared to declare independence, as Arab countries prepared to attack Israel, the United States and Britain responded by imposing an arms embargo on the region. The Arabs were backed by armed Arab states, while Jews had only what they could smuggle.

It should come as no surprise to anyone; the "international community" is made up of governments, not people. And governments protect other governments; they don't protect individuals. Individuals who defend themselves are just so... inconvenient.


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