Ethics & International Affairs Volume 16.2 (Fall 2002): Book Reviews: Samantha Power A Problem from Hell: America and the Age of Genocide

Nov 25, 2002

Peter Ronayne (reviewer)

Joseph Stalin, mass-murderer extraordinaire, famously commented, "A single death is a tragedy; a million deaths is a statistic." Stalin’s cynical statement no doubt has a ring of truth to it—the mind is easily overwhelmed by the staggering death tolls that represent genocide in Armenia, Cambodia, Rwanda, Bosnia, and elsewhere. Nonetheless, one expects and hopes that the United States and its leaders, as champions of human rights, would rise well above Uncle Joe’s cynicism to see such "statistics" for the crimes they are and put a stop to them where possible.

In her authoritative book, A Problem from Hell, Samantha Power reminds us that, sadly, this has not been the case. Instead, the United States has consistently failed to exert its considerable leadership on the world stage to halt genocide.With forceful, regretful, and even angry prose, Power reveals the stark record: the United States has rarely missed an opportunity to miss an opportunity to stand against genocide.

You may also like

U.S. Army soldiers in Iraq, March 2008. CREDIT: <a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/soldiersmediacenter/2340862578">The U.S. Army</a> <a href="https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/">(CC)</a>

JAN 27, 2020 Podcast

Just War, Unjust Soldiers, & American Public Opinion, with Scott D. Sagan

Do soldiers fighting for a "just cause" have more rights than soldiers fighting on the other side? In this interview following up on an "Ethics & ...

JUN 29, 2021 Podcast

The Ethics of Global Vaccine Distribution, Part One, with Cécile Fabre

As we enter the summer of 2021, some nations are seeing vaccination rates of around 50 percent, effectively ending the imminent threat of COVID-19; others are still ...

President Trump at the 2017 UN General Assembly. CREDIT: <a href=https://www.flickr.com/photos/un_photo/37501289212/>UN Photo/Ariana Lindquist (CC)</a>.

SEP 9, 2019 Article

Transactionalism and U.S. Foreign Aid

A draft of a new presidential directive on American foreign aid suggests that transactionalism will shift from being a rhetorical device to an actual defining ...