Why Do Killers Kill?
This film excerpt begins with a short introduction to the crisis in Darfur, suggesting that genocide is an ongoing problem. It then moves to Rwanda, where Goldhagen interviews Esperance Nyirarugira, a rape victim whose family was brutally murdered right before her eyes.
Why Does the International Community Fail to Intervene?
The film excerpt begins with the question of why genocide continues to occur even though the phrase “never again” has resounded innumerable times since the end of World War II. The discussion then shifts to the international failure to stop the Turks’ systematic mass elimination and extermination of Armenians during World War I. The film excerpt focuses on the Turkish government’s denial of this genocide and the fact that the United States has failed to formally recognize it as a genocide.
This film excerpt also depicts the crisis and genocide in the region of Darfur in western Sudan. Sudan’s president, Omar al-Bashir, whose Islamic Arab dictatorship controls northern Sudan, was conducting a long and bloody eliminationist assault against the predominantly black and Christian southern Sudan. The campaign, which was also designed to bring this oil-rich region under al-Bashir’s control, ended in 2005. Al-Bashir and his forces killed as many as two million people and expelled millions more from their homes and regions. In the film, Goldhagen explains that the impunity with which the Sudanese government was allowed to conduct the war against the south led to the genocide in Darfur. In 2003, the Sudanese government began systematic attacks in Darfur, using as a pretext for its action the small incident of a raid by two armed groups of Darfuris on a Sudanese military installation (the raid was protesting years of economic and political discrimination). By 2010, the Sudanese government and its forces had, directly and indirectly, contributed to the deaths of more than 300,000 Darfuris, expelled more than 2.5 million people, and tortured and raped victims on a vast scale.
An interview with Madeleine Albright, the US ambassador to the United Nations at the time of the genocide in Rwanda (1994), raises questions about the failure of international diplomacy in the 1990s. Specifically, the interview examines the failure of the United States to do anything to stop the Rwandan Hutu’s genocidal killing of Tutsi. The film excerpt also examines and questions the role of the United Nations during the genocide. It probes what Goldhagen sees as UN paralysis and overemphasis on national sovereignty. The film takes issue with the definition of the term national sovereignty as “the state’s right for immunity from other countries intervening in its internal affairs.” According to Goldhagen, this definition stands in the way of effective intervention during genocide.
The reactions of outside states to a genocide or eliminationist assault can be broken into those actions carried out before, during, and after the killings. This section focuses on reactions during and after genocide, addressing several of Goldhagen’s ideas for early detection and response to imminent genocidal threats.
What is the Role of Leaders in Genocide?
Following a discussion of the role of Pol Pot in the Cambodian genocide, Goldhagen cites a series of other episodes of mass killing and asserts that “genocide is always the decision of one leader or a small group of leaders.” Using examples from the Holocaust and the Armenian Genocide, he explains that genocide is the result of a calculated political act rather than a spontaneous eruption of hateful feelings. His father and mentor, Erich Goldhagen—a Holocaust survivor and scholar—offers a chilling picture of a world ruled by Hitler. The excerpt contains footage of Daniel Goldhagen at an old Berlin train station. Metal plaques on the old tracks with destination names, dates, and numbers memorialize those sent to German death camps during World War II.
The film continues with images from the Rwandan and Bosnian genocides and with an analysis of the means that leaders use to mobilize their people for mass killing. Among other things, the film discusses how leaders start genocides, their motivation for doing so, and the ways in which they inflame historical prejudices to incite violence. Finally, this clip introduces the use of the media as a means of intensifying prejudices and producing fear in order to mobilize people to participate in mass killings. Among the included media are radio sounds from Radio Mille Collines, which was used extensively in Rwanda to dehumanize the Tutsi people, to mobilize Hutu to murder the Tutsi—including, sometimes, their neighbors—and to coordinate the killings.
The next segment here is a documentary to show the establishment of the International Criminal Court and whether this Court can actually enforce genocide. Watch.