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"Complicity with Evil": The United Nations in the Age of Modern Genocide Hardcover – 4 Oct 2006

4.5 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Yale University Press; 1st ed edition (4 Oct. 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0300111711
  • ISBN-13: 978-0300111712
  • Product Dimensions: 14 x 3.2 x 21 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,641,145 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

'LeBor pulls no punches in his indictment of the UN under Annan.'
-- The Independent, November 17, 2006

'[LeBor writes] honestly and vividly...[his] style is tight and factual:
the events he descibes need[ing] no amplification.' -- The Daily Telegraph, November 19, 2006

'...LeBor is unflinching in his analysis...His greatest strength
is that he avoids ranting polemic, making his judgements with care...'
-- The Mail on Sunday, December 3, 2006

'...cuts through the usual waffle and shirking of responsibility
officials offer to excuse their gross indecency.' -- Open Democracy, November 1, 2006

'For the new man in the UN's top chair, Ban Ki-moon, this book is
essential reading.'
-- Irish Times, November 25, 2006

'One can only hope that LeBor's readers will be stimulated to
think clearly about what more could be done to prevent genocide.'
-- The Guardian, February 24, 2007

Adam LeBor has produced a powerfully intelligent book. -- Fergal Keane, BBC journalist and author

From the Author

This book is rooted, most of all, in my experiences as a correspondent
during the Yugoslav wars. The time that I spent in Sarajevo in the summer
of 1992, and in other parts of Bosnia during 1993, had a profound effect
on me. I could not believe then, and still cannot believe now, that Europe,
and the world, in the late twentieth century, could simply sit back and let
a multi-cultural, cosmopolitan country be pounded into rubble by an army
that targeted women, children and civilians. This appeasement of genocide
by the UN and the international community helped lead to the massacre in
July 1995 of 8,000 men and boys at Srebrenica by the Bosnian Serbs.

Tragically though, Srebrenica was not an isolated incident, but part of a
repeating pattern of failure by the UN to confront genocide. It happened a
year earlier, in Rwanda in 1994, when 800,000 people were killed by Hutu
militias. Genocide continues now in Sudan, where more than 400,000 have
died and more than two million been made homeless in the conflict in
Darfur. That's why the book focuses as much on Darfur, an ongoing crisis,
as well as the tragedies of Rwanda and Srebrenica, which happened over a
decade ago.

The title, 'Complicity with Evil', is the UN's own words to describe its
failures. It is taken from a UN report on peacekeeping operations,
published in August 2000. Many UN officials themselves recognise that the
organisation's obsession with neutrality and impartiality has had
disastrous results. The report's executive summary notes: "Impartiality for
United Nations operations must therefore mean adherence to the principles
of the Charter: where one party is clearly and incontrovertibly is
violating its terms, continued equal treatment of the parties by the
United Nations can in the best case result in ineffectiveness and in the
worst may amount to complicity with evil". This book is a considered
critique and I make clear throughout the book my respect for the UN's
humanitarian operations and their staff who have saved many thousands of
lives in crisis zones, often working in conditions of great danger.

One of the key arguments of my book is that the relationship between the
Secretariat, the permanent UN officials, and the Security Council needs to
be reformed. In all three crises examined in `Complicity with
Evil',Secretariat officials have prioritised the political demands of the
Security Council over the UN's founding humanitarian mission. Kofi Annan,
head of peacekeeping during both the Rwandan genocide and the Bosnian war,
helped shape UN policy as well as implement it. In January 1994 he refused
General Dallaire, the commander of the UN mission in Rwanda, permission to
raid the Hutu arms caches, and did not tell the Security Council that
General Dallaire had asked to do so. In May 1995, Yasushi Akashi, the most
senior UN official in the field in the former Yugoslavia, refused to
authorise an airstrike against the Bosnian Serbs after they shelled
Sarajevo, even though there was a mandate to do so. One of Akashi's reasons
was that such an airstrike would `weaken' the then Serbian President
Slobodan Milosevic, who was later put on trial for war crimes and genocide.
Akashi's cable is included in the book.
With regard to Darfur, in 2003 the powerful Department of Political Affairs
downplayed a year's worth of warnings from the field about the atrocities
there because the DPA wanted to prioritise a separate peace agreement over
the conflict in southern Sudan. These were decisions taken not by the
Security Council, but by UN officials. It is not only legitimate, but
vital, to examine the role and influence of UN officials on the UN's
decisions and actions on subsequent events, especially when the
consequences can be so tragic.

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Format: Hardcover
`Complicity With Evil', the title of this interesting and important work, is derived from the U.N's self-critique of its operations in the 1990s. In short this is LeBor's thesis, the U.N has paved a road to hell with good intentions in the Balkans, Rwanda and lately in Sudan. Many readers may find it troublesome that half the book is devoted to the Bosnian-Serb war, and principally to the massacre at Srbrenica in 1995. LeBor notes that he hopes to "provide a detailed template for understanding why the U.N has not stopped genocide in Darfur." This is a worthy endeavor, but it sheds light on the most significant problem with this book, it is far too detailed on the subject LeBor is most familiar with: Bosnia, and ignores the really massive genocides of the last thirty years, from Cambodia to Rwanda and Darfur, where millions of have died, rather than thousands, where whole peoples have been almost whiped off the earth.
The greatest contribution of this book is the analysis of the inner-workings of the U.N, its slow incompetence and competing interests that time and again frustrated any efforts by any parts of it to do anything in the conflicts discussed. However LeBor's claim to offer a new insight into the Balkan wars and the ethnic-cleansing(page 7) is inaccurate when it comes to framing the Bosnian-Serb conflict. LeBor's bias against the Serbs is shown again and again: "The Bosnian-Serbs killed their prisoners...many of the killers enjoyed their work" and "the killings of Srbrenica were not carried out by battle-enraged soldiers."(pages 117-118) "The Bosnian-Serbs proved less efficient in fighting proper soldiers than in shelling women and children.(page 129)"

The author asks rhetorically "where did this come from, this hatred of Bosnian Muslims.
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Brilliant!
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