“We share the same biology
Regardless of ideology
What might save us, me, and you
Is if the Russians love their children too.”

–“Russians,” a song about the ‘mutually assured destruction’ doctrine from the Cold War nuclear arms race by Sting, The Dream of the Blue Turtles (1985).

Are we becoming increasingly tolerant of, or simply numb to, Genocide happening in various hotspots around the globe?  Can the US still be the ‘Cop of the World,’ and do something to stop it?  Should we?  As a matter of morality, can we continue to sit idly by and just watch, but do nothing?

Right now, as you read this over morning coffee, Genocide is happening in several places that we know about: Syria, Sudan, plus South Sudan, and possibly others that we will learn about in horror later.

In Syria, the Alawite-dominated government has been waging a campaign of Genocide against it’s own people (Sunni’s, that is), all the while proclaiming that it is really fighting terrorists.  Efforts to stop the nearly daily slaughter of men, women and children are being blocked at the UN, repeatedly now, by Russia and China.  Some say the reason is that both Russia and China greatly fear their own versions of the “Arab Spring” awakening of their people, and what that could portend for each of their own internal stability.

In Sudan and South Sudan, Genocide is happening right now also.  Bombings daily in the Nuba Mountains and Blue Nile region, it’s neighbor, plus blocking food and aid from entering, expelling aid groups and attempting to keep out witnesses, have left people there starving, having only insects, leaves and the occasional wild roots to eat.

Genocide is defined by one scholar in the field as “the deliberate and systematic destruction, in whole or in part, of an ethnic, racial, religious, or national group.”  According to the 1948 United Nations Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide (CPPCG), Article 2, Genocide is defined as: “any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such: killing members of the group; causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group; deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life, calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part; imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group; [and] forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.”

We are all too painfully familiar with the Genocide which occurred during WWII in which some 6 million Jews and millions of others perished in systematic, almost industrial killing, brought about the Nazi’s in their infamous concentration camps.  Some thought that the abject horrors of this WWII-era Genocide would finally end Genocide as a practice, but that was simply not to be.  The list of post-WWII Genocides would go on longer than this article could possibly go.

In a world of some 7 Billion human souls, can 300 Million-strong America really, effectively police the remainder of the extant human population to put a stop to Genocide as it occurs?  Syria illustrates that this cannot happen.  Our preference is to use the UN for this task, but the UN’s fragile structure allows a veto by Russia and/or China to stop any UN intervention, and the killings continue.

In 1948, the UN General Assembly, in adopting the  CPPCG, discussed above, legally defined the crime of Genocide for the first time.  The CPPCG did not officially come into effect until January 12, 1951 (as Resolution 260 (III)).   CPPCG contains a definition of Genocide which has been incorporated into the national criminal legislation of many countries and has achieved international recognition.  This definition, quoted above, was also adopted by the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, the treaty that established the International Criminal Court (ICC).

But, due to the sovereignty of each nation on earth, even international recognition of Genocide as a crime has severe limits.  Occasionally, though, it works – witness the recent conviction of Charles Taylor, former warlord and former President of Liberia, for Genocide and sentencing by the ICC.  The ICC’s verdict was announced in The Hague on April 26, 2012, unanimously ruling that Taylor was guilty of all 11 counts of “aiding and abetting” war crimes and crimes against humanity, receiving a 50-year prison sentence, which, for Taylor, born in 1948, is effectively a life sentence.  This was only possible because, on June 16, 2006, the United Nations Security Council agreed unanimously that Taylor be sent to The Hague for trial.  Unanimity is required.

Russia and China now block that required unanimity for the UN to intervene in Syria.

“First they came for the communists,
and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a communist.

“Then they came for the trade unionists,
and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a trade unionist.

“Then they came for the Jews,
and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a Jew.

“Then they came for me
and there was no one left to speak out for me.”

— attributed to Pastor Martin Niemöller (1892–1984), commenting on the passivity of German intellectuals during the Nazi’s rise to power and purging of each of their chosen groups, one after the other.