Weapon Of Choice: A Review of the Book “Complicity With Evil”

Donald Paneth Apr 13, 2007

UNComplicity With Evil: The United Nations in the Age of Modern Genocide
by Adam LeBor
Yale University Press (2006)

Human beings may have passed the point of no return. Genocide is becoming the strategy of choice in warfare today.

Genocide, overwhelming as a phenomenon, is a tough subject for an author. Adam LeBor, a foreign correspondent for the London Times and The Independent, has written “Complicity With Evil: The United Nations in the Age of Modern Genocide”, a good book on genocide that is, however, inadequate to its subject.

LeBor covers three genocides. Rwanda (1994) counted 800,000 persons killed in three months; Srebrenica, Bosnia (1995), counted some 6,000 Bosnian Muslims massacred by Bosnian Serbs; Darfur, Sudan (2003-present), estimated at 200,000 dead and 2 million villagers displaced.

In each episode, LeBor details the failure of the United Nations, militarily and administratively, to stop the killing. During the Rwanda crisis, the U.N. commander in the capital of Kigali, Canadian General Romeo Dallaire, urgently requested reinforcements. Kofi Annan, then chief of the U.N. Department of Peacekeeping Operations in New York, rejected those requests. Instead, Dallaire’s force was cut from 2,500 troops to 270.

At Srebrenica, a small contingent of Dutch U.N. peacekeepers fell back as Serbian troops took the town and entered the U.N. compound where thousands of Muslims had been given haven. The Dutch were disarmed, the refugees led out and murdered.

The U.N. Security Council has passed numerous resolutions on Darfur, dispatched missions there and received reports from them to very little effect. John Holmes, the U.N. undersecretary-general for humanitarian affairs, recently completed a visit to Darfur during which Sudanese soldiers refused him entry into a refugee camp. “I find this quite extraordinary,” Holmes said on March 25. “I am quite frustrated and angry.”

LeBor’s book is, unsurprisingly, not comprehensive. He omits the hundreds of Iraqis dying weekly in U.S.-provoked communal violence (ignited by its invasion and occupation of Iraq four years ago) and the hundreds of thousands of Iraqi children who have died or suffered grievous harm as a result of the 1991 Gulf War and the U.N. sanctions regime that followed it. The future possibilities of mass assaults on civilian populations appear to be limitless.

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