Monday, August 13, 2007

"A Problem From Hell" by Samantha Power [4]

I highly recommend this book to all readers of this blog (I suspect most of you have already read it). It is a serious and nuanced work yet Power does not shy away from drawing hard conclusions; it is sober, reasoned, and balanced yet impassioned and far from neutral. From the first page, when Power recounts a horrific scene from her stint covering the war in Bosnia, her commitment to advocating a greater involvement by the most powerful nation in the world is clear. She makes no pretense to disinterested neutrality.

The disconnect between the reality that Power documents and the surreal, conspiracy-heavy world that Johnstone and Parenti describe is immense; anyone who finds Parenti's fictional Western conspiracy to undermine and colonialize Yugoslavia even slightly plausible needs to read this book--Power's well-documented, coherently argued, and well-written text will make short work of such pathetic delusions.

As to the myriad of objections that Parenti and company constantly bring up in their tedious campaign to muddy the truth and cloud moral judgment, allow me to quote Power from the conclusion of this necessary book. In a section discussing various reasons for US inaction and passivity in the face of genocide, she discusses several factors, beginning with "Knowledge". As in "We didn't know." As she demonstrates in case after case, we always knew enough to know that something terrible was happening. And, she argues, calls for unrealistic levels of precision and completeness are a great way to avoid taking action 'until all the facts are in.' And so she concludes:

"With so much wishful thinking debunked, we should long ago have shifted the burden of proof away from the refugees and to the skeptics, who should be required to offer persuasive reasons for disputing eyewitness claims. A bias towards belief would do less harm than a bias toward disbelief."

Accept the moral logic of this simple declaration, and the entire edifice of lies, distortion, and amorality constructed by the Balkan revisionists comes tumbling down.

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