Jamie's Reviews > A Problem from Hell: America and the Age of Genocide

A Problem from Hell by Samantha Power
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's review
Dec 10, 2010

really liked it
Read in December, 2010

I felt this book evaded the true problem from hell, which represents our inability to value all life equally. Our international justice system is a failure by prosecuting crimes only based on their magnitude and relative prominence. When a woman is raped, anywhere in the world, that should be followed by criminal prosecution. No soldier / person should be absolved from any horrific and inhumane action, even when under the fog of war. All people that commit a crime should be punished, not just the top leaders. This should be the message sent out to the world. I recognize this is idealistic and likely impracticable to enforce, but it is only when all lives are valued equally, all around the world, that true international justice can be established and respected.

Even if scale needs to remain as the primary threshold, the focus needs to be on all mass atrocities and crimes committed against humanity. I felt this book missed the opportunity to address significant crimes against humanity by only centering on the genocide definition. For instance there have been millions killed across China (Mao Zedong and 40m deaths) and Russia (Stalin and 20m deaths). What about Biafra? What about Darfur? What about Ethiopia and Somalia? Why weren't these victims entitled to justice?

The focus on genocide is not the answer, our international justice system should focus on recognizing and preventing all crimes against humanity.

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