Dewaal part 2

de Waal urges readers to avoid complacency, and to turn attention to ongoing and future famines. He stresses that starvation isn’t a passive state, but an action done by some people to others. Thus he writes of “forced mass starvation” in order to focus on the agency and political will behind such tragedy. A “forced mass starvation” perspective might link the famine in Yemen that began in 2015 with not only a weakening economy and internal conflict, but also a blockade by the Gulf Cooperation Council, supported by the UN Security Council. de Waal argues that UN agencies and the press have been coy about singling out Saudi Arabia, the US, and the UK for their role in precipitating the food crisis. Yet “Should a famine rage in Yemen, the culpability for creating it and covering it up will lie primarily with the Saudi-led military coalition and its use of indiscriminate economic warfare” (page 190).

The human tragedies recounted in these pages are of course bleak. But the book’s style is accessible, and its message – that we can eradicate mass starvation, with sufficient political will – is galvanizing.


The good news is that famine has declined precipitously in the past few decades. Post-1980 there are fewer incidents of mass starvation, and fewer deaths during the famines that do occur. de Waal – who coined the term “famine crime” several decades ago while studying famine in Sudan and Ethiopia – explains that colonialism, totalitarianism, communism and international war largely explain the famines that occurred before 1980, while subsequent famines have been attributed to civil war. He adds that famines have increasingly become a political tool or a component of mass atrocities, and have diminished as political freedoms have expanded.

As well, the humanitarian sector has become increasingly sophisticated. For instance, aid workers learned painful lessons about the militarization of aid during Operation Restore Hope in Somalia in the 1990s, when civilians were killed by both the US military and outraged crowds. Another important event showing the problems of humanitarian logic was the provision of aid to refugees in eastern Zaire fleeing (and in some cases perpetrating) the Rwandan genocide, but the relative inability to support those left within Rwanda’s borders because their food insecurity didn’t fit within existing humanitarian categories.

Genocide: A world history chap 8

In 1991, Yugoslavia’s republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina (Bosnia) had a population of 4 million, composed of three main ethnic groups: Bosniak (Bosnian Muslim, 44 percent), Serb (31 percent), and Croat (17 percent), as well as Yugoslav (8 percent).

On April 5, 1992, the government of Bosnia declared its independence from Yugoslavia. The creation of an independent Bosnian nation that would have a Bosniak majority was opposed by Bosnian Serbs, who launched a military campaign to secure coveted territory and “cleanse” Bosnia of its Muslim civilian population. The Serbs targeted Bosniak and Croatian civilians in areas under their control, in what has become known as “ethnic cleansing.”

During the subsequent civil war that lasted from 1992 to 1995, an estimated 100,000 people were killed, 80 percent of whom were Bosniaks. In July 1995, Bosnian Serb forces killed as many as 8,000 Bosniak men and boys from the town of Srebrenica. It was the largest massacre in Europe since the Holocaust.

Fighting ended after a NATO bombing campaign forced Bosnian Serbs to the negotiating table, and a peace agreement, the Dayton Accords, was signed in 1995.

Bosnia part 2

In 1993, the United Nations (UN) Security Council declared that Sarajevo, Goradze, Srebrenica and other Muslim enclaves were to be safe areas, protected by a contingent of UN peacekeepers. But in July 1995, Serbs committed the largest massacre in Europe since World War II in one such area, Srebrenica. An estimated 23,000 women, children and elderly people were put on buses and driven to Muslim-controlled territory, while 8,000 “battle-age” men were detained and slaughtered. The so-called safe area of Srebrenica fell without a single shot fired by the UN.In 1994, NATO initiated air strikes against Bosnian Serbs to stop the attacks. In December 1995, U.S.-led negotiations in Dayton, Ohio (The Dayton Peace Accords) ended the conflict in Bosnia, and a force was created to maintain the ceasefire. Since the end of the conflict, the International Criminal Tribunal for Yugoslavia (ICTY) at The Hague has charged more than 160 persons. Convictions have included Serb, Croat and Bosniaks, though Serbians and Bosnian Serbs have faced the majority of charges. In 2001, former-President Miloševic was captured, but he died in his cell in 2006. Radovan Karadžic, the supreme commander of the Bosnian Serb armed forces, was captured in 2008, and is being tried in The Hague on genocide charges. Ratko Mladic, chief of staff of the Bosnian Serb Army, was captured in May 2011 and is charged with 11 counts, including genocide and crimes against humanity.


Although many different ethnic and religious groups had resided together for 40 years under Yugoslavia’s repressive communist government, this changed when the country began to collapse during the fall of communism in the early 1990s. The provinces of Slovenia and Croatia declared independence, and war quickly followed between Serbia and these breakaway republics. Ethnic tensions were brought to the forefront, and people who had lived peacefully for years as neighbors turned against each other and took up arms. When Bosnia attempted to secede, Serbia – under Slobodan Miloševic’s leadership – invaded with the claim that it was there to “free” fellow Serbian Orthodox Christians living in Bosnia.Starting in April 1992, Serbia set out to “ethnically cleanse” Bosnian territory by systematically removing all Bosnian Muslims, known as Bosniaks. Serbia, together with ethnic Bosnian Serbs, attacked Bosniaks with former Yugoslavian military equipment and surrounded Sarajevo, the capital city. Many Bosniaks were driven into concentration camps, where women and girls were systematically gang-raped and other civilians were tortured, starved and murdered.

The Dictator

General Aladeen is the lead character in this outrageous political comedy, a vicious militant dictator in the North African nation of Wadiya. He is a wacky over-the-top figure, politically incorrect in every way, and he is a big fan of casual torture and murder of his opponents. He proudly is attempting to build nuclear weapons to take out Israel, but when the United Nations threatens to intervene, Aladeen decides to go to New York to explain himself. However, when he arrives in New York, his uncle has him kidnapped, shaved, and replaced by a lookalike… but when the kidnapper sets himself on fire, Aladeen is let loose in New York, but without his trademark big bushy beard, so no one recognizes him in the entire city. He finds Nadal, a former worker for him, and recruits him to help him try to fit into the big city more easily. He starts working at a natural health shop run by hippies, led by a hardcore feminist activist named Zoey, whose belief are ironically the exact opposite of Aladeen’s. He begins learning that women are not just objects at his disposal and starts to fall in love with Zoey. Unfortunately, Zoey finds out who he really is, which puts a strain on their blossoming love, especially when Aladeen reveals he wants to stop his wicked uncle and re-claim his country. He must find a way to get to the United Nations, convince the world that he is the real dictator, avoid his uncle, and get Zoey to fall in love with him once again. He is a spoof of many dictators around the world, one that comes to find is muammar Gaddafi. He seems to wear the same dress as him and also comes from a very similar region (north africa) despite Cohen’s character being fake. He is also very eccentric like the former leader of Libya and carries the same flair with me

Rwanda part 2

The second part of the book documents the genocide itself. On April, 6 1994, President Habyarimana’s plane was shot down and he was killed. The Hutus blamed the incident on the RPF and promulgated the belief that every Tutsi was involved with the RPF. The Tutsis became the scapegoats and almost immediately the slaughter began. Hutus were encouraged and even forced to go out and murder as many Tutsis as they could. As one Hutu stated, “many killed to save their own lives” (p.127). Within three months nearly a million Tutsis were slaughtered, along with some Hutus who did not agree with the tactics. Throughout this period the international community remained reluctant to become involved. The UN even had peacekeeping forces in the region; however they were barely used and were not reinforced despite General Romeo Dallaire’s call for more troops and assistance. (General Dallaire was head commander of the UN peacekeeping force – Read more about his story in the book review of Shake Hands with the Devil on this website.) Many countries, including the United States failed to recognize the atrocities as genocide. The genocide finally came to a halt when the RPF gained control of the country.The final part of the book describes the aftermath of the genocide. One particularly disturbing fact is the negative role that the international community had on the region in the relief efforts. Many organizations helped the “genocidaires”, by providing them safety, food and comfort. This allowed them to regroup and even continue their terror on Tutsis in Rwanda and surrounding countries, such as Zaire. The region is still unstable and facing some very difficult times. The author makes it clear that much of the world just wants Rwanda to move on and forget about the genocide; however, Rwandans themselves are struggling with living next door to the same individuals who tried to kill them and their family. As one Tutsi survivor states, “the horror that we saw is intrinsic” (350).


The “Stories from Rwanda” are of the horrible genocide that took place in this small African country in 1994. The genocide involved two African tribes, the Hutus and the Tutsis. Beginning in April of 1994 and ending only ninety days` later, just under a million Tutsis were slaughtered by the Hutu majority, making this event the largest genocide since the Nazi extermination of the Jews during World War II. The book is divided up into three sections: before the genocide, during the genocide and finally, after the genocide. Many testimonials, from the different groups/individuals/nations, are included.

In the first part of the book Gourevitch provides a concise history of Rwanda leading up to the genocide. Rwanda was colonized by the Belgians and it was the Belgians who claimed that the majority Hutu population (80-85%) was inferior to the minority Tutsi population (15%). The Belgians believed that the Tutsis were more closely related to Europeans. This led the Tutsi population to gain control over the Hutus; having the best jobs, living in the nicest houses and benefiting from a higher social status. After World War II, pressure was put on many nations to allow their colonized countries/regions to become democratic nations. In July of 1962, Rwanda gained its independence. When this took place, the Hutu majority immediately gained control of the country and began ostracizing the Tutsis. By 1964 one quarter million Tutsis fled Rwanda. Many of these exiles joined the Rwandese Patriotic Front (RPF), which became the biggest opponent of the Hutu regime in Rwanda. President Habyarimana began ordering attacks on the Tutsi population throughout the 1970’s all the way up to the 1990’s. Killing Tutsis became a norm in Rwanda, and in the author’s words, “…killing Tutsis was a political tradition in postcolonial Rwanda…and it brought the people together” (p.95).

Bloodlands chap 5 – 11

The section of bloodlands talked about the ending results of the genocide.

In 1939, Hitler and Stalin enter into an alliance. Stalin, recognizing that war is soon to break out in Europe, wants to keep Russia neutral, hoping to swoop in and take over after Germany, France, and Britain fight. Hitler proposes that Germany and the Soviet Union divide Eastern Europe between the two of them. In the years that follow, the Soviet Union suffers several embarrassing military defeats, caused by a recent purge of the military that results in a shortage of trained officers.

In 1941, Hitler breaks the alliance with the Soviet Union, sending Nazi troops into Eastern Europe. During the first months of the year, the Nazis achieve major victories in Ukraine but are halted when they reach Moscow. Soviet prisoners of war in Nazi custody are systematically starved and executed en masse. According to Snyder, about 57 percent of Soviet POWs were killed, in contrast to 4 percent of American and British POWs. Five percent of the Soviet POWs were Jewish.

In addition to mistreatment of the Soviet POWs and Jewish citizens rounded up from conquered Soviet territories, the Nazis also use a Hunger Plan designed by Herbert Backe. Under this program, food is routinely denied to civilians in German-occupied territories. About 4.2 million people die due to severely reduced food rations. However, in most areas, the Germans are unable to confiscate all the food or keep people in cities from stealing. They do cut off the grain supply from Ukraine that leads to food shortages throughout the Soviet Union.

Jewish civilians in occupied Ukraine and Poland also suffer under the Nazi occupation. While Nazi activities in Poland are well documented, Snyder discusses occupied Ukraine, where the entire Jewish population of Kiev was marched into the woods and executed. Many of these people had escaped the famine of the early 1930s, as well as regular Soviet purges of ethnic minorities in the region.

At the same time, the Eastern European regions in question are also subject to regular purges from the Soviet government. Artists, intellectuals and ethnic minorities are especially vulnerable to being sentenced to forced labor or executed outright. Between 1937 and 1938, 400,000 Soviet citizens are executed, mostly criminals or people with anti-Soviet sympathies. There is also a similar program in Poland designed to wipe out all Polish resistance. Under this program, officers are given a quota of people to arrest, and fear being arrested themselves if they do not meet it.

Primo Levi

Primo Levi is about a survivor account of Primo Levi in Aschwitz. Primo Levi was a 25 year old chemist and an Italian citizen of the jewish race who was arrested by the italian fascists. A member of the anti-Fascist movement in Mussolini’s Italy, Primo Leviwas arrested and interned in a camp in Northern Italy, but in 1944 he was deported, along with his fellow prisoners, to the now-infamous Nazi camp, Auschwitz, in Poland. At the time, Auschwitz was not well known by name and initially the fact that they were going somewhere with a name, rather than being transported to a nameless location that meant certain death, gave Levi reason for optimism. The prisoners were crammed into windowless wagons and transported across Europe along specially-constructed railway lines that led directly to the work camps and death camps from which Hitler and his Government were carrying out the systematic destruction of the Jewish race in Europe.On arrival, the prisoners were divided into two groups – fit, young, healthy and able-to-work adults and young men were corraled on one side of the train, women, the elderly, the infirm, and young children onto the other. The latter group were taken to Belsen, where they were gassed. The former group were taken to Auschwitz, and put to work. The question I was thinking about while reading this is how did Primo Levi get caught despite being a chemist and could have been valuable for the nazis, and another question is how did he stay there even though he had the financial resources to leave the country and escape nazi persuetion. He probably had the money to escape nazi perseuction and the rest of the book when he had no idea how bad Ascuhwitz was even though no one knew how bad it really was when he is deported to the infamous camp.