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February 20, 2005

Democratic Peace Q&A
Version 2.0

This is a comprehensive Q&A and FAQ responding to the many questions I have received on this website since I set it up in 2000. I am indebted to those who took that time to contact me with their questions, and thank them here. I also wish to thank Harries-Clichy Peterson, Jr. for taking the time out of a heavy schedule to do a thorough review and editing.

Q&A Topics

DEMOCRACY: Democracy, Freedom , Alternative Types of Governments , Stability , Specific Governments , Nondemocracies


THE DEMOCRATIC PEACE: No War Between Democracies , Possible Exceptions , Foreign Violence


DEMOCIDE: Definition and Use , And Genocide , Statistics , Foreign Democide , Criticisms , Specific Democides -- Regimes CAUSES AND CONDITIONS OF DEMOCIDE: Freedom as a Solution , Race, Religion, or Culture , Other

DEMOCRACY AND DEMOCIDE: Democracy in General , Liberal Democracies , Power , Possible Exceptions

DEMOCRACY AND FAMINES: Evidence , Criticism , And India



THEORY AND PHILOSOPHY: Why Theory? , And Democratic Peace , And Statistics , The Conflict Helix , Philosophy

METHODS/RESEARCH PHILOSOPHY: Regarding Quantitative Methods/Statistics , Regarding Estimates of Democide , Regarding Research

POLICY (WHAT TO DO?): Fostering Democracy , Maintaining Democratic Stability , Preventing War and/or Democide , On an Alliance of Democracies



wedge Democracy
wedge Q: How do your define a democracy?
* A: One necessary and sufficient set of characteristics involves the electoral system through which people choose their representatives and leaders, and thus give their consent to be governed and communicate their interests. They comprise regular elections for high office, a secret ballot, a franchise including nearly the whole adult population, and competitive elections. Real competition in the elections is a key requirement. A government with these characteristics is called an electoral democracy. If the government also recognizes freedom or religion, speech, transparency (in particularly knowing how one's representatives voted and debated), and the right to organize around special interests (even political groups representing a small radical minority), then it is called a liberal democracy. I elaborate on these characteristics in Chapter 3 of my book, Saving Lives (link here). My references to democracy in this Q&A are to both kinds, unless otherwise noted. Note that the “standard” definition of democracy in political science is: a political system characterized by mass participation and contested elections, and the protection of rights by laws. My definition of democracy is congruent with this “standard” definition.
wedge Q: You often conceptually oppose democracy against totalitarianism. What is that?
* A: I define a totalitarian state as one with a system of government that:
* -is unlimited constitutionally or by countervailing social or economics powers (such as by a church, rural gentry, labor unions, big businesses, or regional powers);
* -- is not held responsible to the public by periodic secret and competitive elections;
* -- and employs its unlimited power to control all aspects of society, including the family, religion, education, business, private property, and social relationships.
* Under Stalin, the Soviet Union was thus totalitarian, as was Mao's China, Pol Pot's Cambodia, Hitler's Germany, and U Ne Win's Burma. Presently, North Korea is a prime example. Totalitarianism is an ideology for which a totalitarian government is the agency for realizing its ends. Thus, totalitarianism characterizes such ideologies as state socialism (as in Burma), Marxism-Leninism as in the former Soviet Union, and Nazism (Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei -- National Socialist German Workers' Party; although racist and nationalist doctrines dominated, economically all become subverted to the party, as under communism; as Hitler said: "We are socialists"), and Italian fascism. Other versions dot the modern world, such as the socialist Baathist Party that ruled Iraq under Hussein and still rules Syria. Not all totalitarianism is socialist. Theological totalitarianism, for example, characterized the Taliban, does so for revolutionary Islamic Iran since the overthrow of the Shah in 1978-79 and Saudi Arabia. Here totalitarianism is married to Islamic fundamentalism. In short, totalitarianism is the ideology of absolute power.
wedge Q: When you say, "democracy," do you mean a republican form of government? In other words a representative type of democracy. Our Founders were against pure democracies and characterized them as mob rule. They felt that democracy, pure and simple, is a dictatorship of the majority. 51% beats 49% every time. The minority only has privileges granted to it by a condescending majority.
* A: This is an 17th-18th century understanding, when democracy was much feared by classical liberals. Both the terms liberal and democracy have undergone a change in definition since then. Liberal no longer means what it did then; now it is what we call a conservative or libertarian (depending on which 18th Century liberal one reads). And democracy that was then limited to the meaning you use, has now evolved to mean both parliamentary (the closest to traditional democratic institutions) and republic. In present political science writing, democracy means any government, whether a parliamentary democracy, majority rule democracy, or a republic, that has open, fair, and periodic elections for the highest offices, near universal franchise, and secret ballot. A liberal democracy would be one with not only such elections, but also civil rights, like freedom of religion and speech. What can be said about violence and democratic freedom applies to all forms of democracy, and best to liberal democracy.
wedge Q: Democracy, whether in ancient Greece or 21st century America, is nothing other than an historically necessary mediation between two parties vying for freedom. How can you then say it is an indicator of freedom?
* A: I do not say that democracy is an indicator of freedom? It is a system of governance through which (if one is talking about liberal democracy) civil and political rights are guaranteed.
wedge Q: Why, if the United States is a democracy, have we had ties to tyrannies such as Iran, Iraq, Indonesia, and Chile. Does this mean the U.S. is not a democracy?
* A: Hardly. Such ties were a function of the Cold War. American foreign policy was focused on containing the Soviet Union and communism. As part of this attempt to prevent the spread of communism, the U.S. allied itself with many unsavory anticommunist regimes. There has been much criticism of this, but strangely, there has been no similar criticism of the American alliance with Stalin to defeat Hitler. Yet, of all regimes, Stalin's was worse than any military or authoritarian regime we supported after the war, and on par with Hitler's. Why the unhappiness with our support of, say, Chile (after the coup) during the Cold War, and not of the Soviet Union in World War II?
wedge Q: How can you be so positive about democracy when the U.S. is the most hard line democracy of all nations, and has waged so many wars on innocent women and children.
* A: American wars have not been waged on women and children. As in Iraq and Afghanistan, the wars were fought against bloody dictators to free the people of these countries and promote democracy in them. It was the Taliban and Hussein that waged war on their own women and children. So far as we have been able to determine, Hussein murdered about 800,000 of his people. Just recently, a new burial site was uncovered in Iraq in which 400 women and children were found with bullets in the back of their head.
wedge Q: Are not there only a small number of democracies? Are there not even fewer liberal democracies like the United States, almost all being in Western Europe? In fact, is not your characterization of democracy too Western, hardly fit for nations in Asia, South America, and Africa?
* A: The answer is no to each of these questions. Out of 192 nations in 2004, 119 were democratic – 62 percent of the world’s countries. This number of democracies is a sharp increase from the sixty-nine that existed in 1985, and well shows that the world is becoming increasingly democratic. Democracy is now the world's dominant form of government, and with the death of fascism through World War II, and of communism with the end of the Cold War, democracy has no real competitors for hearts and minds. Were you born today, the odds of you being born in a democracy are greater than 50 percent. Democracies are now spread all over the world, and manifest different cultures, different religions, different languages, and different levels of economic development.
* Q: Some seem to treat democracy as a religion. Don’t those that do unwittingly fall into the trap of promulgating a type of secular messianic view without even knowing it? Isn’t this a great danger . . . the same that we see with what happened to Marxism (The Soviet Union, China, etc.)?
* A: I understand this and the danger is real. However, rather than making democracy a matter of faith and gut belief, it can be made a moral and utilitarian choice. That is, democracy is consistent with the core of human rights -- freedom -- that is now enshrined in international law and international conventions, is an engine of human welfare and development, and is a solution to war, democide, and famine. I wrote a book on this, Saving Lives . . . ., which is on my website at: www.hawaii.edu—WF.COVER.HTM
wedge Freedom
wedge Q: How do you define freedom?
* A: In short, freedom is civil rights and political liberties -- the freedom to pick your leaders, to chose your religion, to speak out, to organize, and to freely buy and sell in the market; and freedom from fear. It is liberal democracy.
wedge Q: What color is freedom to you? Why?
* A: White. This is the mixture of all colors, as freedom is the mixture of different beliefs, faiths, and political parties. Its flag would have the primary colors at the edges, all merging with each other and toward a central white circle.
wedge Q: Limited-Government is an outright contradiction of concepts. Haven’t both logic and history already clearly demonstrated that government cannot be limited?
* A: Well, now, compared to the recent totalitarian states like Stalin’s Soviet Union, Mao’s China, and today’s North Korea and Saudi Arabia, I have to say that the American and European governments, among other democracies, have remained severely limited. It is important to look at democracy not just as an isolated phenomenon, but comparatively as well.
wedge Q: Does national freedom always grow stronger, or does it suffer when free countries fight ones that are more repressive?
* A: War, even by the democracies, centralizes power. If it’s a near total war, as were World Wars I and II, it creates a garrison state to fight the war. Afterwards, the victorious garrison state is only partially dismantled when people believe that because a highly centralized and organized government could win a war, it also could organize to fight drugs, poverty, racism. . . you name it.
wedge Alternative Types of Governments
wedge Q: Some people favor constitutional authoritarianism in place of democracy, which they define as the protection of individual rights of speech, property, and religion through a system of law not subject to arbitrary government manipulation. Your response?
* A: In this type of government, somebody has to decide and make policy about social problems, national issues, protests, and political demands that arise in a society. In a democracy, it is elected leaders subject to recall that do this -- they are responsible to the people for their actions, and lose power if they step on too many toes, are corrupt or incompetent. In an authoritarian system, the leaders are not so beholden to the people. With such leaders (really, rulers) free to exercise their power over the people, what then will happen to human rights? Well, we have a very long history of authoritarian systems of all kinds against which to answer this question. And the answer is uniformly simple: people lose their freedom.
wedge Q: The U.S. is a republic, not a democracy. The Constitution does not even mention “democracy,” while Article 4, Section 4 of the Constitution, "guarantees to every state in the union," a republican form of government. Yet, you keep calling the United States a democracy. Why?
* A: This was a distinction made in the 16th and 17th centuries. Democracy meant then direct voting on issues by the people. Political philosophers then distinguished this from a republic (a government without a monarch), or representational democracy. In the 20th century, this distinction collapsed, since direct democracy (pure democracy) was not feasible and really did not exist anywhere. Now the term democracy stands for a republic or parliamentary political system.
wedge Q: Doesn’t the Communist Manifesto also call for democracy, as you seem to be doing?
* A: The Manifesto says, “ . . . the first step in the revolution by the working class is to raise the proletariat to the position of ruling class to win the battle of democracy.” Of course, since democracy has become in our era a good word, many ideologies claim to be trying to achieve it. But there should be no doubt what I mean by it, which is a wide franchise, secret ballot, periodic elections for the highest office, competitive political parties, and for liberal democracies, civil and political rights, and liberties.
wedge Q: Are there any examples of anarchies (of whatever kind, anarcho-syndicalist or anarcho-capitalist) that have survived the test of time, or have they all collapsed into mob rule?
* A: The simplest and most obvious answer is that the entire world lives in anarchy – which best characterizes the international system. Since the Treaty of Westphalia in 1648, the major European nations, and gradually all nations, have been at the highest level of political architecture, interacting in a global anarchy. In the international relations of nation-states, groups and organizations, and individuals, there has been no law with force, and no government with a monopoly of force, or any global force at all. This is the definition of anarchy. Strange to say, that this has been missed by most everyone who has actually lived under this anarchy for all their lives.
* This anarchic international system has been stable over the centuries, and has not collapsed into mob rule.
* Now, has there been a sub-international anarchy, as in states themselves? Yes, at two levels. One has been at the level of the nation-state, in what are often called failed states. Somalia and the Congo are contemporary examples. One can point to China from the fall of the Manchu Dynasty in 1912 to well after 1928 -- the Warlord Period. Also, the Soviet Union from the Bolshevik coup in 1917 to the final victory of the communists over the White Armies in the later 1920s. None of these have collapsed into mob rule, but have been stabilized in one way or another by quasi-sub-government rule by armed groups or warlords, comparable to what took place in international relations with the formation of nation-states, or by the victory of a national government.
* Below the state, that is, even with the existence of the state government exercising force and authority, there is often an anarchy of gang rule, as there was in the United States in the 30s and late 40s in Chicago and New York Chinese tong and mafia, and as there has been in Japan and China with secret societies through their modern history.
wedge Stability
wedge Q: Could democratic governments under severe economic stress become authoritarian?
* A: Little theoretical/empirical research has been done on this, but we do know enough about democracies historically to suggest the following. Aside from the effects of foreign invasions and occupation (as of France by Germany in 1940), the stability of democracies seems to depend on (1) their age (democracies are most unstable in the first years of their life), (2) on the degree of the people's civil rights and political liberties (the more free, the more stable), and (3) the degree of economic development. Russia today falls down on all three factors, and it is hardly surprising, therefore, that it displays the current instability and authoritarianism. I don’t believe there is a case (aside from war and invasion) of a well-established liberal democracy turning authoritarian or totalitarian. The democratic Germany that Hitler corrupted and overthrown was not liberal in terms of the civil and political rights the people had.
wedge Q: Isn’t democracy a very unstable form of government?
* A: Studies have been done on the stability of democratic governments, and they have been found empirically to be the most stable, compared to communist, fascist, and other dictatorships. Of course, in history, specific father- to- son monarchies have lasted longer, but there are very few of these, while the era of democracies is just beginning. Even then, just considered the durability of the American and British democracies, and those in Canada, New Zealand, Australia, and so forth.
wedge Q: Do you have concerns about pure democracy degenerating into tyranny -- as appears to be happening in the U.S. , partly by means of voters voting to increase government transfers of wealth (and thus increasing government's size and role)?
* A: We have never had a nation-level pure democracy anywhere in recent centuries. But we have had republics like the U.S. and the parliamentary democracies, as in Europe, and in each of these, the people’s votes are restrained and circumscribed in one way or another. This having been said, it is true that the layers of insulation between what people want and government policy and action have been breaking down, and many democratic governments have been becoming overly centralized and powerful. Still, as long as there are civil and political rights and liberties, a secret ballot, true competition for office, regular elections, etc., then even an enlarged, more powerful democracy would still adhere to the democratic peace.
wedge Specific Governments
wedge Q: Frequently you mention Iran as being nondemocratic. How can you say this, since they have elections and a legislature?
* A: They're having a “competitive election” among political parties and nominees selected by the Ayatollah dictators misleads you. This makes Iran no more a democracy than did elections in the Soviet Union. After all, in Iran the political parties allowed to present candidates are limited to those that are theologically acceptable. Second, the country is in reality ruled by the unelected Assembly of (Islamic) Experts, which appoints the leader of the Islamic Revolution for life, who is then the Chief of State. He is presently Ayatollah Ali Hoseini-Khamenei. I should note that in 1988 the previous Chief of State, Ayatollah Khomeini, directly ordered 30,000 people murdered (all hanged from cranes) as "political opponents," some of them children. The murders were done rapidly in number of locations, with forklifts raising the condemned to nooses hung from cranes, about a half hour per batch.
wedge Q: What would it take for you to change your classification of the U.S. as a democracy?
* A: There are many things I might mention, among them the suppression of all but one political party, or the "postponement" of national elections, or the suspension of the Constitution or Bill of Rights. Moreover, the president has the legal authority to declare a national emergency under which he could suspend elections and act as a virtual dictator, but unless there was a catastrophic disaster (natural, as being hit by an asteroid, or man made -- as being hit by nuclear weapons), he would only provoke a revolution and guerrilla war. Also, keep in mind that elections per se do not make a democracy. The Soviet Union, after all, had regular elections. Truly competitive elections with secret ballot and a franchise extended to all the classes is required.
wedge Q: Could you enlighten me as to whether there exists, or ever existed any multi-party democracy in the Arab and, or Islamic world?
* A: I divide democracies into two types. One is the electoral democracy, where there are multiparty elections, but civil and political rights are limited. Examples are Russia, Ukraine, Colombia, and Brazil. Then there are the more prevalent liberal democracies in which civil and political rights exist and are protected, such as in the U.S. , Australia, Great Britain, Belgium, Japan, etc.
* There is (or have been) a number of democracies among Islamic countries (50% or more Moslem), including Albania (1991-), Algeria (1995-2000), Bangladesh (1981, 1991-), Burkina Faso (1978-1979), Chad (1960-1961), Gambia (1965-), Guinea (1995-1999), Indonesia (1955-1958, 1999), Lebanon (1946-1989), Malaysia (1959-), Niger (1993-), Nigeria (1960-1965, 1979-1982, 1999-), Pakistan (1973-1976, 1988-1996), Senegal (1993-), Sierra Leone (1962-1996), Somalia (1960-1968), Sudan (1968), Syria (1954-1957), and Turkey (1950-). All were electoral democracies, except for (classification beginning in 1972) Bangladesh (1991-1993), Burkina Faso (1978-1980), Gambia (1972-1981, 1989-1994), Lebanon (1972-1975), Malaysia (1972-1974), Nigeria (1979-1984), and Turkey (1974-1980). While democracy, even liberal democracy, has been tried in a number of Moslem, and some Arab countries, as one can see, it is generally unstable and has only lasted for a few years.
wedge Nondemocracies
wedge Q: The amount of political arbitrariness (unfreedom) a population puts up with from its government is directly proportional to its threat perception. If you were to put the American populace between Europe, the Arab Crescent and China; give the Russians borders of Atlantic, Pacific, Mexico and Canada, wouldn’t your work then be praising Russian "freedoms.”
* A: You are saying that power at the center is a function of the perceived foreign threat. There is some historical truth to this and helps explain the growth of centralized power in democratic states over the past century. However, this does not explain the most notable cases of totalitarianism, such as China, Nazi Germany, post-World War II Eastern Europe, Militarist Japan; or even authoritarianism as in Iran, Syria, Saudi Arabia, etc. It is not foreign threats that ultimately cause dictatorships, but the existence of dictatorships, which often invent and exploit such threats as a way of keeping control over the people they rule.
wedge Q: What makes your concept of libertarianism any different than the concept of democracy and freedom that thinkers such as Montesquieu, Rousseau, Jefferson and others have already proclaimed?
* A: I do not accept Montesquieu's belief in slavery or the subordination of women. Like him, I do accept that there are certain natural laws, one of which for me is the right to freedom. Like him, I believe that the power of government should be checked and balanced, and that democracy is the best form of government.
* I disagree with Rousseau's attacks on private property (he is one of forebears of socialism, which is antithetical to libertarianism), and his belief in a Common Will of the people that government must follow, despite the majority will, and which justifies government dictating to the majority. It's understandable that he was the godfather of the bloody dictatorship following the French Revolution. No matter how misconceived in detail, however, I agree with his emphasis on his two principles that government and morality must go together, and that government is meant to preserve freedom.
* I agree with Jefferson's powerful advocacy of liberty above tyranny, and his natural rights theory of freedom. He was the primary author of the Declaration of Independence, which proclaimed that all men are equal in rights, regardless of birth, wealth, or status, and that government is the servant, not the master, of human beings. I resonate to that.
wedge Q: Do you believe that theocracies are a positive or negative way of ruling a population? Why?
* A: Negative. They allow little freedom and human rights, and retard human and economic development. Theocracies today are among the most repressive and backward of all nations.
wedge Q: Do you feel that countries with a secular government generally have a better way of life compared to countries ruled by religion?
* A: Historically, secular governments have also been very repressive and murderous. All communist and fascist governments (Hitler, Mao, Stalin, etc) have been secular, and also murderous. The worst of all such governments have been atheistic and communist, and murdered overall around 110,000,000 people in the 20th Century.
wedge Q: What do you see as the trends worldwide - toward greater or less democracy?
* A: Greater democracy. See my Democratic Peace Clock at: www.hawaii.edu—DP.CLOCK.HTM.

wedge ON WAR
* Q: Isn’t your 15,000,000 killed in World War II way off? According to some sources, such as the National Institute on War Documentation (NIOD, Netherlands), all of World War II showed a sum of about 50,000,000 people killed in all theaters. The Russians alone claimed about 20,000,000.
wedge Q: The figure you give for war deaths during the twentieth century -- 35,000,000 -- is inaccurate and detracts from your credibility. How can you justify this?
* A: You are confused on this, as are your sources, by the way war dead are often counted. Take World War II for example. The most authoritative sources, widely relied in the field of war studies, are the statistical books of J. David Singer (search under COW Project). His figure for World War II war dead is 15,000,000. Now, you may think he is in error, since that often given for the U.S.S.R. alone is about 20,000,000, and 50,000,000 to 60,000,000 is the total for the war often cited. What has caused these massive disparities is the confusion between those killed in combat and its crossfire, and those murdered by governments during the war (democide). Aside from battle or military engagements, during the war the Nazis murdered around 20,000,000 civilians and prisoners of war, the Japanese 5,890,000, the Chinese Nationalists 5,907,000, the Chinese communists 250,000, the Nazi satellite Croatians 655,000, the Tito Partisans 600,000, and Stalin 13,053,000 (above the 20,000,000 war-dead and democide by the Nazis of Soviet Jews and Slavs). I also should mention the indiscriminate democidal bombing of civilians by the Allies that murdered hundreds of thousands, and the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Most of these dead are usually included among the war-dead. But those killed in battle versus in democide form distinct conceptual and theoretical categories and should not be confused. That they have been consistently confounded helps raise the toll during World War II to some 60,000,000 people, way above the estimated 15,000,000 killed in battle and military action. And that the almost universally accepted count of genocide during this period also is no more than "6,000,000" Jews, around 13 percent of the total wartime democide, has further muddled research and thought.
* Overall, both World War I and World War II had about 24,000,000 (combat) war dead. This leaves still many, and smaller, wars to go to reach my approximate 35,000,000. I did a through search of the estimates of war dead for each nation, 1900-1987, and you can find them in my books Lethal Politics for the U.S.S.R., China's Bloody Century, Democide for Nazi Germany, and for all others, Statistics of Democide. For their location on my website, see my list of documents at www.hawaii.edu—LIST.HTM
wedge Q: How are the Iraqi and Afghani wars related?
* A: They are engagements in World War IV, which is a war in response to the war on us by terrorists and the thug-states that support them. These engagements should be understood as connected in the same way as our Invasion of Italy and then France in World War II.
wedge Q: Aren’t we engaged in the Middle East in a struggle between our Western values and those wanting to maintain Islamic culture and traditions?
* A: No, the struggle is between democratic freedom and the status quo of dictatorships, some with much blood on their hands. Their people should be free to decide how they want to be ruled.
wedge Q: Can war bring peace?
* A: Yes, if as a result democracies are created where few or none existed before. For example, consider Europe, which up until World War II was the cauldron of war. As a result of defeating fascism and creating democracies in Europe, it is now a unified and peaceful region. Similarly with Japan. As a result of its defeat in World War II and the creation of Japanese democracy, Japan is no longer a threat to its neighbors, and as far as Japan is concerned, World War II created peace. I hope you understand that this is not an argument for going to war. It is only an argument against the view that all wars are disastrous and no good ever comes out of them. With this view, no nation would ever defend itself against aggressors and the world would be made safe for tyrants to do with what they want.
wedge Q: Is war ever justified, in your opinion, or not?
* A: My research career began many years ago with a major in international relations so that I could study and do something about war. I was a pacifist, but as my studies deepened, I saw the justification for the Catholic doctrine of a Just War. So, I came to accept that some wars are justified if the evil allowed by not going to war exceeds that of war itself. Thus, for me, for example, World War II was justified. Of course, such a war has to follow certain rules, such as proportionality and noncombatant immunity.
wedge Q: Is the war in Iraq a just war?
* A: Yes. Consider the evil that was done to his own people by Saddam Hussein, the bloody and absolute dictator of Iraq, before he was defeated by the United States. He was an undoubted sponsor of terrorism (e.g., he gave $10,000 to $25,000 to each family of a genocide bomber). He would have posed an enormous danger to the democracies was he to achieve a nuclear capability. Just to put this in terms of corpses, which is only one gauge, the number of people he would have murdered and tortured since he was defeated would far exceed the number killed in the war. For example, recently a mass grave of 400 women and children was uncovered, all shot in the back of the head.

wedge No War Between Democracies
wedge Q: How would you classify the arguments against or questions about the democratic peace (DP)?
* A: They fall into four groups. First, and the largest number of adherents, are those who argue from historical examples that allegedly disprove DP. Favorites are the Civil War, Hitler being democratically elected, and World War II, the various French-British crises, democratic Finland being allied with Germany in World War II, and certain democratic American Indian tribes on which the U.S. made war. Also, there is the finger pointing at all the wars that the U.S. and U.K. fought.
* The second group is those who, like the last example above, misunderstand what DP is, and thus use examples that are at different levels of analysis or conceptual design.
* The third group argue from balance of power or power superiority theories, a la Hans Morgenthau, and assert that DP is Wilsonian idealism, i.e., unrealistic and wishful thinking.
* Finally, there is the group of those who question the methodology, with one of the favorites being "correlation does not mean causation," as though all of us using quantitative methods on DP never even took statistics 101. I find these people usually don't know what they are talking about (although sometimes wrapped in the usual quantitative jargon), or like the above quote, assume we're all naive.
wedge Q: Are you saying that democracies do not engage in aggression against their neighbors or intentionally disturb the peace of the world?
* A: No. Democracies do commit aggression against their neighbors and others, such as against the U.S. against Panama and Grenada, and in the Mexican-American War, Spanish-American War, India versus Pakistan (1971), Yom-Kippur War, and the Suez War. And democracies have intentionally disturbed the peace of the world, e.g., Suez. Such misunderstanding weakens the truly well founded claim about a democratic peace that democracies have much less severe foreign violence than other political systems, and fight not at all against each other.
wedge Q: If all you say about democratic freedom as a solution to war and democide is true, aren’t you afraid of turning democracy into a secular religion that will become intolerant of other views? Look what happened to Marxism.
* A: I understand this and the danger is real. However, rather than making democracy a matter of faith and gut belief, it can be made a moral and utilitarian choice. That is, democracy is consistent with the core of human rights -- freedom -- that is now enshrined in international law and international conventions, is an engine of human welfare and development, and is a solution to war, democide, and famine. I wrote a book, Saving Lives . . . on this, which is on my website at: http://www.hawaii.edu/powerkills/WF.COVER.HTM
* Yes, look at what happened to Marxism, especially as practiced in the Soviet Union and Mao’s China. Yes, the Soviet Union and PRC did turn it into a secular religion. But, a true democracy acts in a democratic manner to decide value issues and conflicts, and by votes of the people's representatives. This always involves some people having values they don't agree with being imposed on them. Such as polygamy being made illegal, or drugs, or gambling, etc. But, in a democracy people can speak out, and fight against this to overthrow the law or win the next election. And, this can only be done in a democracy. In nondemocracies, the value whims of a small elite or one thug is applied to all, and the people better not protest.
wedge Q: You explain the democratic peace as due to representative government decision makers being restrained from making war by the public will. Does that mean that the U.S. is not a democracy, since it hasn’t been restrained from making war on Afghanistan and Iraq?
* A: No, the U.S. is a democracy, and in a variety of historical cases it has been restrained from foreign violence by public opinion. But, this explanation is incomplete, since democratic publics also have been a force for war. So, because of this, one has to dig deeper for an explanation of the democratic peace, which I do in terms of cross-pressures, a democratic culture, the restraint of a belief in liberalism, and the common spontaneous society of democracies.
* In any case, the U.S. is only one of 121 democracies today, and thus cannot be treated as a paradigm case unless I make an absolute statement, like "democracies do not make war on each other." Then, even one example negates it.
* To the statement that on the average democracy has the least foreign violence, think not only of the U.S., but also of Sweden, Norway, Switzerland, Costa Rica, Denmark, New Zealand, Japan, etc.
wedge Q: Do you think your findings on the democratic peace could help explain why so many indigenous groups who live without intertribal warfare (there are some who are warlike, but many who are not) are so often also the groups that are organized in relatively democratic fashion?
* A: Yes. Research on this has been done among indigenous tribes, and this is the finding.
* Q: You make much of liberal democracy and peace. How do you define it?
wedge Q: Are not your findings a matter of definition?
* A: I do provide an explicit definition in Chapter 3 of my Saving Lives . . . at: http://www.hawaii.edu/powerkills/WF.CHAP3.HTM. But not everyone is happy with this. The question of definition can be carried too far, however, and risks a kind of definitionalism that can stand in the way of theory and empirical research. First, there is certainly a core group of nations that one generally would be considered perverse for calling nondemocratic. For example, Switzerland, Sweden, Norway, Belgium, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, etc. One does not need to focus on precise definition. Point and clicking is sufficient. Perhaps this undoubted set of democracies would comprise 20 or 30 nations. Now, while democratic none of them have made war on each other. Now, extend this list by increments. Add say the United States, Greece, France, and others for which a small minority would say that their being liberal democracies is questioned. Has the any member of this enlarged group made war on each other?. No. Now add to this list those for which there is a larger group of scholars who would say they are nondemocratic, such as Japan, Israel, and India. Still no wars between them. And so on. Obviously, we would eventually add supposed democracies that have engaged in war, such as Great Britain and the war of 1812 and Boar War, or Kaiser German in World War I. But the point is that we would still have a large, undoubted list of core democracies that have not made war on each other and that number of democracies would be of such a size that the lack of war between these core democracies would be significant.
* Now, consider this from the opposite side. Undoubted nondemocracies, such as the PRC, U.S.S.R., Nazi Germany, militarist Japan, Nationalist China, Vietnam, Khmer Rouge Cambodia, Iraq, Iran, and so on, have made war on each other. In other words, at the poles of democracy and non-democracy the empirical proposition that democracies don't make war on each other and that non-democracies will make war on each finds its clearest manifestation.
* The question is then what characteristics do the core democracies have that separate them from near democracies that they will fight. I believe the answer to this is the degree to which people are empowered through competitive and open elections and have equal rights under law. The distinction is between rule by an elite (even if that elite have democratic elections and equal rights among themselves, as in South Africa of a decade ago) or by a greater majority of the people.
* There is still another way of looking at this. If you push political scientists for a definition of liberal democracy, most will agree on several essentials, but they will also differ in detail and emphasis. It is important to note, then, that even though those who have done research on the relationship between democracy and violence, including war, have defined liberal democracy in different ways at the margins, almost all have agreed in their empirical findings that democracies do not (or rarely) make war on each other.
* Given these empirical results and our understanding of democracy, I think we are now well beyond considering this a matter of definition. Rather the more relevant questions are (1) how far can we push the findings/theory until it breaks down (i.e., where are the margins for the current world system and historically) and (2) what are the implications for foreign policy.
wedge Possible Exceptions
wedge U.S. Wars, Foreign Inventions
wedge Q: Democratic countries go to war. How can you deny that in the face of the American wars in Afghanistan and Iraq?
* A: Of course democracies have gone to war. No reader of history or contemporary events can deny that. But, not against each other, and overall their foreign violence is much less severe than that of nondemocracies.
wedge Q: You say that, “Free, democratic nations do not make war on each other and, overall, have the least foreign violence." But, the United States has engaged in an enormous amount of foreign violence over the last 40 years. It is currently occupying Iraq, a country that never attacked us. Does this mean that the U.S. is not truly democratic?
* No. I don't say that democracies have no foreign violence. They do, but on the average much less than any other type of government. The U.S. is but one of 121 democracies today, few of which have been engaged in foreign violence in the last decade or so. Even when engaged in foreign violence, it is generally less severe than that of other nondemocratic governments. Consider the wars by the U.S. (and Coalition members) in Afghanistan and Iraq. The death toll overall is probably less than 70,000. When Iraq went to war against Iran the toll was 1,000,000; when It was the Soviet Union against the Afghans, it was around another 1,000,000 people murdered.
wedge Q: During the Cold War, did not the U.S. intervene in many countries, some democracies such as Chile, Guatemala, and El Salvador, support death squads murdering rebels, and help behind the scenes mass murder, such as in Indonesia?
* A: Even if true, none of the events you mention was a war. No collection or list of international wars would include them. They are therefore irrelevant to the proposition that democracies do not make war on each other, and cannot be used as evidence to disprove it. Now, dealing with the events themselves, in each case there appeared to be a communist revolution/overthrow in the making. They should be looked at as part of the Cold War and the American attempt to contain communist expansionism, particularly in Central and South America.
* Q: wouldn't the U.S. intervention against the democratically elected Allende count as a war between two democracies?
wedge Q: The Jacobo Arbenz democratic government in Guatemala was overthrown in 1954 on the directives of the United States Fruit Company and with financial and military support from the U.S. and the CIA. Also, General Pinochet overthrew Salvador Allende’s democratic government in Chile with the support of the CIA. How should you respond to these anti-democratic peace cases?
* A: No one who has studied the question of Chile and other possible interventions in Central and South America, such as Guatemala, and looked for exceptions to the rule that democracies do not make war on each other has categorized any of them as a war. Also, your assumption is incorrect. The U.S. did not intervene against Allende. The coup against him was an internally generated matter. The U.S. did favor it, however. You should keep in mind that Allende was a communist, aided by Castro and the Soviet Union, was attempting to convert Chile to a dictatorship, like that of his model, Castro. Allende had destroyed virtually all his pubic support, including the unions, business, the church, and, of course, the military.
* At another level of analysis, during the Cold War the CIA was an authoritarian enclave operating secretly within a democratic system. It was not subject to the democratic forces that exist in an open competitive democratic system to moderate and bleed off violence. For this reason the CIA acted in a manner more typical of authoritarian systems than democratic ones. In the context of the Cold War this may have been desirable, but in any case, the CIA has been brought under much more democratic control since these events in the 50s and 60s.
wedge Q: Isn’t the Civil War, America's bloodiest war, fought between a democratic north and democratic south, a contra-example of democracies making war on each other?
* A: No. This was a civil war, not an international one. The South was not a sovereign democracy at that time. For one, it was not recognized by any major Power, which means that it was not recognized as an independent state. But aside from this, the franchise was limited to free males (which constituted about 35 to 40 percent of all males in the Confederacy), President Jefferson Davis was not elected, but appointed by representatives themselves selected by the Confederate states. There was an election in 1861, but it was not competitive.
* Q: What about the War of 1812 between Britain and the U.S.?
wedge Q: As a point of curiosity, how would one categorize the War of 1812 between the United States and Great Britain? It would seem to me that a good deal of the criteria used to define democracies in the historical periods would describe Britain in the early part of the century, as it would the United States.
* A: At the time of the War of 1812, Great Britain was not a democracy, regardless of the existence of a parliamentary government. Voting was not secret, the franchise was highly restricted to a small minority, many new cities (such as Birmingham and Manchester) had no representation in the House of Commons while many small villages might send two or three members, and in any case, only less than one-third of the Commons was properly elected. The greater majority of seats were appointed or selected (such as by guilds), or bought or rented. Moreover, the House of Lords, an appointed body, had considerable power and could veto any general legislation the Commons passed. Democracy did not come to Great Britain until the franchise was extended to the middle class by the Reform Act of 1832, to industrial workers by the Reform act of 1867, and to agricultural laborers by the Reform Act of 1884.
* Q: What about the Cherokee Nation versus the U.S.?
wedge Q: As for the U.S. having "never made war on another democracy," what about the American invasion of the Iroquois tribal nation, with an established a government, and the Cherokee tribal nation?
* A: Three books, Spencer R. Weart, Never At War (I have his Chapter 1 to his book on my web site http://www.hawaii.edu/powerkills/WEART.CHAP.HTM); James Lee Ray, Democracy And International Conflict; and Bruce Russett, Grasping The Democratic Peace; among others, support the proposition that democracies don't make war on each other, and have looked at many possible exceptions (negative cases), including that of the Cherokees. They find that these possible negatives to the proposition are not such.
wedge Q: The North American Indian nations considered themselves true nations. Their governments were closer to true democracies than anything the U.S. has ever experienced. However, war between the U.S. and these nations took place. How can you say, “No War between democracies?”
* A: I limit what is war to the international system and that fought between sovereign states that mutually recognize each other as a sovereign. No sovereign states with democratic political systems have ever fought each other. Moreover, there has been virtually no military action between them. With regard to internal (domestic) wars, such as revolutions, civil wars, rebellions, etc., democracies have such, but among all political systems, democracies have the least such violence.
* Now, while Indian tribes were truly independent, they were not part of an international legal system that recognized that independence, and, in fact, were seen as tribes of savages. This was the major reason for their treatment by Britain, France, Spain, and first the American colonists, and then the sovereign United States. There is also a major issue as to whether the term democracy would apply to their internal governance. Perhaps the closest to this was the Cherokee nation of Georgia, which did have elections. However, their democracy broke down over the issue of their accepting the demands to leave Georgia, when a faction seized control and then harassed, beat up, and in some cases murdered, those among them who wished to accept the conditions for their removal.
* In any case, the question is no longer relevant to the issue of war today and in the future, since colonialism has virtually ended and the whole world is now divided into nation states. What is clear is that democracy within the international system provides a solution to the death and destruction of international and domestic war, and genocide and mass murder.
wedge Germany, World War I, and Hitler
wedge Q: Wasn’t Germany democratic? They did elect Hitler. Yet, as a democracy it made war on other democracies and murdered millions of people.
* A: Germany was not a democracy at the time it carried out its genocide and mass murder, and aggression. Nor was Hitler elected. Before then, he turned Germany into a dictatorship. He lost badly the two national elections in which he ran. He was appointed. In the 1932 presidential election, Hindenburg got over 18,700,000 votes to Hitler’s 11,300,000, but Hindenburg missed having an absolute majority of the votes as required by law. In a second election held a month later, Hindenburg then got over 19,400,000 votes to Hitler’s 13,400.000. With much behind the scenes maneuvering, especially by Franz von Papen who had just resigned as chancellor, Hitler was appointed the chancellor as head of a coalition in which the Nazis held only 3 of 11 seats. However, Hitler got the coalition to agree to new elections to the Reichstag. During this election campaign the Nazis used violence and threats to discourage voting for opposition candidates, and probably rigged the burning down of the Reichstag building, alleging it was part of a communist plot. Still, the elections did not give the Nazis a majority in the Reichstag. But with a voting coalition involving the Nationalists, the Nazis were able to get a bare majority of the votes. This enabled Hitler to have the Reichstag pass his enabling act, which gave him the power to rule by decree. The rest is bloody history.
* Q: Since during World War I, Wilhelmine Germany was a constitutional monarchies with a freely elected multi-party parliament, and therefore arguably a democracy, isn’t this an exception to democracies not making war on each other?
wedge Q: To the argument that democracies never make war on one another, I see one big exception, World War I. Were not both France and Germany democracies in 1914?
* A: No. At the time of World War I Germany was not a full democracy. The Kaiser still had much power. He had control over the army, appointed and could dismiss the chancellor, and played a key role in foreign affairs. In effect, therefore, in foreign and military affairs, the German legislature had little control, and this is the key dimension for maintaining the democratic peace.
wedge Other
wedge Q: Wasn’t Egypt a democracy during its wars with democratic Israel?
* A: Egypt was not a democracy during these wars. It had and still has an authoritarian government.
wedge Q: But your statistics are for the Cold War period. Was not the lack of war between democracies really due to the threat of the Soviet Union?
* A: Regarding the 1946-1986 test, it may be true that the Cold War accounted for the particular lack of war between democracies, but what about other periods? I did several other tests for much longer periods, including 1816-1974, and found the same positive results. Also, ignore the statistics and consider Europe, the historical cauldron of war, and what has happened since the end of the Cold War. Unity has continued to grow, rather then hostility. And, incredibly, those old enemies, France and Germany, have even considered forming a common army. Moreover, once the former enemies became democratic, they have tried into a larger economic and political Europe.
wedge Q: Isn’t the problem that when people push for a definition of democracy, they often want, implicitly, their definition; and if you give anything but their definition the retort is that you are reading out by definition cases that go against the democratic peace?
* A: Yes, if I had my way I would wave a wand and extirpate from political science all concepts that have political (as in social justice) connotations. I would rename the idea of justice "alpha," freedom "beta," and democracy "xocracy." If I then argued that xocracies (that is political systems with certain characteristics) do not make war on each other and here is the data, the empirical results, and the theory, there would be much less of a problem with people accepting and understanding this. This would be, of course, because few would have any prior meaning or allegiance to attach to this type of political system.
wedge Other Possible Causes and Conditions
* Q: Your validations are not in fact valid tests. For example, your use of the binomial theorem to test the chance that no democracies have made war on each other is silly. This is because many of the democracies would not make war on each other by virtue of their size, economics, and/or proximity to far more powerful neighbors. They are not in a position to attack anybody, no matter what kind of government they have. Response?
wedge Q: Are your tests of democracy not making war on each other valid when so when so many can’t make war on each other because of their distance, technology, size, and population? Would you really expect that the Bahamas and Croatia, Dominika and Finland, or Mali and the Marshall Islands would make war on each other regardless of their type of government?
* A: Two things. One is that many of us doing research on this question have used multiple regression (linear and polynomial) and analysis of variance to assess the impact (or hold constant) those factors the question mentions, among others. I have, for example, analyzed through these methods the effect of size, economic development, number of borders (many democracies have none or one), religion, culture, geographic location in the world, and so on. None of these factors have any meaningful impact on the finding that democracies do not make war on each other -- the results remain statistically significant, regardless.
wedge Q: So it seems that democratic governments are peaceful amongst them -- but is that because they are democratic?
* A: Yes, according to theory and with regard to the empirical tests of other possible explanations, e.g., distance, common borders, power, culture, religion, technology, education, and so on for dozens of variables. Only democracy explains this greater peacefulness.
wedge Q: Does state-sponsored Islamic terrorism come exclusively from non-democratic states?
* A: Yes. Consider the clearest sponsors: Syria, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Libya, Sudan, and North Korea.
wedge Q: Besides democracy, which you emphasize, are there any other important conditions for fostering peace?
* A: Two countries being democracies is a sufficient, but not a necessary condition for peace. Peace can also obtain for other reasons, but then we get into probabilities. Given any two countries such that one or both are nondemocracies, then the likelihood of war between them is increased by how totalitarian their governments are, whether they share a common border, the imbalance of power between them, their historic grievances, and whether one is allied with the enemy of the other.
wedge Q: Is religious conflict the greatest source of wars?
* A: Religion was a major cause of war was in Europe and the Islamic Empire during the Middle Ages. But even then, wars were being fought elsewhere in the world for other reasons, such as in Asia. In recent centuries, religion has been simply one minor cause among others for some minor wars. Major causes of major wars have been conflict over territory, ethnic grievances, honor, greed, and power. There was no religious component to World Wars I and II, nor the Korean and Vietnam Wars. However, the current war on terror has a fundamentalist Islamic aspect to it, but it is not one religion pitted against another, but fundamentalist Islam against the freedom and values of democratic countries.
wedge Foreign Violence
wedge Q: You say that democracies have the least severe foreign violence. What do you mean by “severe”?
* A: Among those doing research on the democratic peace, the number of wars a nation fought usually measures its foreign violence. This is misleading, since wars vary so much in their intensity and scope. By theory, to me, the democratic inhibition to go to war depends on its expected intensity, and I have consistently measured this by the number killed in war: the more that a war will cost in lives, the more likely a democracy will avoid it.
wedge Q: Can you compare pre-World War I Germany with the United States under Bill Clinton and George Bush? In both cases, a single person has committed the government and nation to war.
* A: At the start of World War I Germany was not a full democracy, as previously noted. As to the United States, Bush committed the U.S. to war with the express approval of Congress. Clinton had done so with implicit approval. Unlike pre-World War I Germany, the U.S. legislature controls the budget and can end a war or prevent it by refusing to allocate the necessary funds. And this has been done. In 1971-73, for example, Congress increasingly restricted funds for the Vietnam War, eventually cutting off all funds. The reason President Nixon pulled out when he did, in spite of the agreement with South Vietnam that we would defend her to the end (this was made in order to get South Vietnam to go along with the Paris Accords signed by the North), Congress refused to give Nixon the necessary funds, and thus South Vietnam was left alone to meet the last and victorious offensive from the North.

wedge Q: When plotting the degree to which a nation is democratic (x-axis) against its internal violence (y-axis), isn’t the resulting curve U-shaped? Don’t democracies have low violence on the average, while authoritarianism produces much violence, totalitarianism, with all its controls and suppression of dissent, has much less violence?
* A: If one focuses just on violence, without considering in addition genocide and mass murder, there is generally a U-shaped distribution. With the addition of genocide and mass murder, the plot of the relationship of democratic freedom to violence is exponential -- increasing power has a multiplying effect on violence. The least violence occurs at the democratic end of a power scale, and the greatest, by far, occurs at the opposite least democratic (totalitarian) end.
wedge Q: Has much research been done on the domestic aspect of the democratic peace, that is that domestically democracies have the least violence?
* A: While there is vigorous research on the idea that democracies don’t make war on each other by students of international relations (IR) and war, there is a substantive iron wall between IR people and those working on comparative politics. Therefore, there is little appreciation that the democratic peace extends to domestic violence and democide. Yet, if one is studying war because of the horror of the deaths involved, then there should be even more incentive to study the domestic aspect of the democratic peace, since many times more people are killed in internal collective violence and democide than in war.
wedge Q: Even within a democracy, there can be a high level of violence -- although not to the degree caused directly by the worst of governments. What comes first to my mind is organized crime. For example, when alcohol was prohibited a large illegal industry grew to meet the demand. Similar industries arose to meet the demand for prostitutes or gambling. These industries have been characterized by violence. Of course, there are many other kinds of violence within a nation. Has your approach of research and analysis been used to identify what may cause overall violence within a nation to decrease?
* A: Yes. The more individual freedom in a nation, the less its domestic violence. The correlation is very strong here ( and the theory for understanding why this should be so is in Part II of my Power Kills). But this refers to collective violence. Crime is another story and very little comparative work on it has been done -- I've done none.
wedge Q: Do you think that the existence of religious minorities in a country increases the potential for future violence?
* A: It does, and in this way. If a country is liberally democratic (human rights are respected), then ethnic divisions do not generally lead to violence. If a country is nondemocratic, such divisions do. there is a scale here. The more nondemocratic a regime, the more likely that ethnic divisions will lead to violence.

wedge Definition and Use
wedge Q: What about people dying because of government neglect? Isn’t this democide?
* A: I do not restrict democide to just directly killing people, as by shooting them. I use the civil definition of murder, where someone can be guilty of murder if they are responsible in a reckless and wanton way for the loss of life, as in incarcerating people in camps where the may soon die of malnutrition, unattended disease, and forced labor, or deporting them into wastelands where they may die rapidly from exposure and disease.
wedge Q: When you did your research, how could you be certain that a killing was democide and not genocide?
* A: One can never be certain of all the judgments that need to be made on one democide/genocide after another. What I tried to do was to be explicit as possible about definitions and the differences between democide and genocide. On democide versus genocide, see: www.hawaii.edu—GENOCIDE.HTM
wedge Q: Why don't you make the murder/manslaughter distinction?
* A: Murder involves the intention to kill, or the killing of a person as though it was intended, as by imprisoning them under lethal conditions. Manslaughter is being responsible for someone’s death due to negligence, as deaths due to drunk driving, killing a person without malice, or causing a persons death by hitting out of sudden anger. To include manslaughter by government in my data collection, which already took eight years, would have been too much. I hope others, however, will do this. On my definition of democide, see www2.hawaii.edu—DBG.CHAP2.HTM
wedge Q: When did you first use the term “democide”?
* A: My first public use of the term was in Lethal Politics (http://www.hawaii.edu/powerkills/NOTE4.HTM). It was a central concept, e.g., “The Soviets committed democide by . . . and their total democide was . . . .“ From its publication (in 1990) on, whenever I wrote about genocide and mass murder I used the concept.
wedge Q: There exist situations in which mass deaths take place that don't involve intent. The black plague in Europe, the spread of sexually transmitted diseases on the part of sailors in your home Hawaii. The question is how to look at “effect” rather than just intent. Simply because it is incidental or accidental doesn't mean that the effects aren't just as bad.
* A: True. War and democide involve intent as part of their definition. What makes democide much more horrible than the plague, say, is that humans are intentionally murdering humans. Thus, a moral dimension is added, and in large-scale democide, this is sufficient to call it an evil. The plague wasn't evil -- the death toll under communism was, and that is why I focus on it. But note this: even though democide is an evil, with the exception of the Holocaust there is more published on the plague and famines and disease than there is on democide.
wedge Q: You have too many categories to describe peoples’ deaths, such as massacre, democide, terrorism, execution, holocaust, genocide, extermination, politicide, and so on. This can only confuse people. Can’t you provide a simple term for all this?
* A: I do. This is “democide.” Democide is one concept, one term, which covers all the other ways of committing murder, such as massacre and genocide. It is actionable, describable, and empirical. perhaps all the levels and clauses involved in its definition are confusing. but, the attempt of the definition is to make clear to what the term is applicable. This is necessary if one is to collect data, and for others to evaluate what is included and excluded. Without such, the concept is entirely subjective. While this is the way journalists and politicians work, the scientists must be exact if others are to replicate their work. In general, however, simply treat democide as murder by government.
wedge Q: Lets pick up one point of your definition of democide: “imposing of deathly circumstances of life.” Can this also refer to embargoes, which have an influence on the health supply of the people?
* A: Yes, if knowingly deadly, as of the British embargo against Germany after World War I. This was democide, and I so counted it.
wedge Q: Determining what kinds of deaths directly attributable to government murder is a difficult chore. For example, shall we attribute the deaths of all U.S. prisoners to capitalism? Regardless, what do you think are the determining factors for a death to be democide?
* A: This is the central question of all my work on democide. For this reason I devoted a chapter to this in my Death By Government. It’s at: http://www2.hawaii.edu/~rummel/DBG.CHAP2.HTM. In brief, for deaths to be democide requires: (1) that the death be intended, or the result of a wanton disregard of a high risk of death (as murder is defined in civil law), as in incarcerating people in a prison environment in which life expectancy is three to six months due to disease, malnutrition, exposure, and overwork; and (2) that this be done by an agent of the government according to its policy, rules, high level orders, or high level acceptance (as in turning the other cheek). Silence, lack of punishment, or apparent lack of concern over such murdered is evidence of high government involvement and thus democide. Executions after a fair and open trial for crimes internationally considered the subject of severe punishment, as for murder, treason, brutal rape, etc., are excluded.
* As to the "deaths of all U.S. prisoners to capitalism," I made a simple rule as expressed in the above -- the deaths must be carried out by someone and be directly connected to government action or inaction -- they must be in line with what we conventionally call murder.
wedge Q: Some people measure chemicals in the hair of Napoleon and come to the conclusion that the British murdered him slowly with arsenic. What would you call this method of killing somebody ?
* A: If in fact the British did poison Napoleon, slowly or not, it was democide – murder by government.
wedge Q: On the direct orders of Ayatollah Khomeini in 1988, 30,000 "political opponents,” some children, were hanged within a few weeks. The murders were done rapidly in number of locations, with forklifts raising the condemned to nooses hung from cranes, about a half hour per batch. The source is Khomeini's second in command at the time and apparent successor. What do you call this undeniably intentional mass murder by the ruler of Iran?
* A: If we use the legal definition of genocide, which means to try to destroy a national, ethnical, racial, or religious group in whole or in part through killing or other means, it is not genocide. But, it can and should be called democide -- murder by government.
* Note the abysmal public morals regarding this democide. Had the president of a well known corporation contracted with a gang of assassins to murder 100 of his competitors, as confessed by his vice president, this would be sizzling news all over the airways and other media. Every major network would immediately interrupt its programming to bring you this news -- it would surpass in coverage every previous public scandal. It would be a 100 point bold headline in the newspapers. Day after day, every little detail of this monstrous crime would be divulged, included whether in his youth this murderer had thrown spit-balls. But let the dictator of a nation-state murder in cold blood 30,000 -- THIRTY-THOUSAND – human beings, and that is a small news item, probably ignored by most media.
wedge Q: If by plan, a government makes life difficult enough for a people so that they will resettle out of a region or flee the country, is it democide?
* A: It usually is not democide unless somebody has been murdered. Just forcibly removing people or manipulating the environment or events to get them removed is not automatically democide. However, if the repression in a country is so bad as to make the people risk likely death to escape, then their deaths constitute democide. For example, the deaths of the Boat People that fled Vietnam’s communist subjugation and repression by the hundreds of thousands in the late 1970s and throughout the 1980s is democide.
wedge Q: Does democide refer solely to one's own government, or does it also refers to murders committed by other governments?
* A: It refers to any murder by any government at any place at any time.
wedge Q: Is execution for such crimes as treason, rape, or murder democide?
* A: Capital punishment with a fair and public trial for crimes ordinarily considered among the worst, such as violent rape, murder, and treason, is not democide. Any summary executions, or executions after mock trials, are democide.
wedge Q: Is the killing of nonviolent demonstrators by the military or police democide?
* A: Yes, if done with the approval or connivance of the government.
wedge Q: You define democide as any murder by government. Is this not so broad as to make the concept almost useless?
* A: Scholars and historians have developed a number of specific terms to denote massacre, genocide, mass murder, terrorism, extra-judicial executions, assassinations, politicide, and atrocities. Strangely, however, there was no term to cover all of this killing, to refer to murder by government as we refer to a private individual killing another by shooting, strangulating, knifing, beating, poisoning, and so on, as murder. I invented the concept democide to fill this void. No need to worry about it being too general, and therefore weak, since we have all the subcategories. e.g., genocide, to use as types of democide.
wedge Q: Is not the term “democide” a narrow focus on governments as agents, rather than on the widespread, systematic, premeditated character of attacks which may be initiated by state or non-state actors?
* A: By definition, the one committing "democide," is restricted to any group that controls a geographical territory and the people in it. This involves a generic meaning of "government," such as the leadership (government) of a social group, of a terrorist organization, of an international organization like the UN, or of the mafia. Thus, "democide" is not limited to state governments, and even quasi-state governments. As long as a group controls territory and people within the territory, it is a government within the definition of democide.
wedge Q: Could not even a defensive war against invasion be regarded as an instance of democide, since warfare necessarily involves the murder of persons by soldiers as agents of governments?
* A: The term democide covers only the murder of people individually, people as members of some group, people as members of some collectivity. Is it not discrimination to treat the murder of a person because he accidentally sat on a picture of Stalin versus the murder of some person because he was an Armenian, Jew, or Tutsi, as fundamentally different, one to be conceptually ignored, the other to be the focus of research, scholarship, and teaching? I believe it is and believe that we must not ignore what happens to individuals. Second, the definition explicitly excludes combat deaths or those of civilians that die as a result of combat. "Democide" does include, however, the killing of unarmed civilians or prisoners of war. The defining document for this is the Geneva Accords.
wedge Q: What more does the term “democide” accomplish than "crimes against humanity”? You really don’t need the redundant term democide, do you?
* A: The Nuremberg Charter defines crimes against humanity as murder, extermination, enslavement, deportation, and other inhumane acts committed against civilian populations, before or during a war; or persecutions on political, racial or religious grounds in execution of or in connection with any crime within the jurisdiction of the Tribunal, whether or not in violation of the domestic law of the country where perpetrated. True, "democide" only deals with murder. This is its research focus. If others want to do research on "crimes against humanity," as so broadly defined, fine. But I have to say. if we eliminate from humanity just murder by government, we will have gone a long way to a safer and more socially just world society.
wedge Q: What about mass murders carried out by pre-literate peoples against other pre-literate tribes or nations, or such measures as infanticide on a mass scale, or human sacrifice? Why should "genocide" be limited in definition to Western peoples in modern times, or those (like Pol Pot) influenced by Western ideologies?
* A: I come at this question as a social scientist, and not a legal scholar or philosopher. This means that if I identify x as having defining characteristics u, v, and w, then wherever in space and time I find these characteristics, I have x. Thus, I researched a large number of general and specific historical sources to define the nature and amount of democide back to ancient times and regardless of civilization (among the many observations I have about historians as a result of this research is that they love to write about war and hate to write about democide). Thus, I included infanticide, sacrifices, forced labor deaths, slavery, and so on, as well as such episodes as the slaughter by the Mongols, Russian Czars, Christian Crusaders, French revolutionaries, German witch hunters, Spanish inquisitors, and New World and African colonizers.
wedge Q: How does democide differ from genocide?
* A: All genocides that include murder are democides, but not all democides are genocides. (1) The legal definition of genocide is of an intentional attempt to eliminate a religious/linguistic/ethnic group in whole or in part (not even deaths need to occur).? But, many scholars apply a broader definition, such as (2) a government intentionally murdering people by virtue of their membership in a religious/linguistic/ethnic group, or simply (3) the intentional mass murder of people, including for example, the government approved or allowed murder of women by soldiers after they were raped.? Regardless of how defined, democide includes all three definitions, and is identical to the third. Democide is murder by government, where murder is understood to have the same meaning as murder in the civil law of most democracies. See my article: "Democide vs. Genocide. Which is What?" at: http://www.hawaii.edu/powerkills/GENOCIDE.HTM
wedge Q: What about terrorism?
* A: If terrorism – the intentional killing of civilians as a political or religious act -- is carried out in coordination with or by agents of some kind of government (as of a terrorist organization that controls some territory and people), it is genocide. But if terrorism is done by individuals where a government plays a minor or no role, this is civil murder of foreigners and under our laws murder and a possibly a hate crime.
wedge Q: Was the 9/11 terrorist attack on the United States democide?
* I will discuss the two possibilities separately. First, assume that the terrorists were acting with the support and direction of some government. As action by a sovereign state's government, it was democide.
* But, one could say, it was symbolic objects that were attacked, and American civilians happened to be in them. This would be acceptable if they were military targets, as in Pearl Harbor, where no question of democide is raised. But, purely civilian targets were the objects, except possibly for the Pentagon. So, if a government orchestrated the attack, it was democide in my terms.
* Here is the second possibility. What if it were done by terrorists acting independently, or with limited aid and advice of some government? This is a difficult one, because our concepts in this field are usually restricted to actions by government. Now, if the terrorists have control over some territory that they in effect govern (like some guerrilla groups do in some states, or the PLO does), then they are pseudo states and what was said above applies to them. But, the terrorists belonged to the Al Queda terrorist group, which has no such independent control over territory. But, rather it is a diffuse network within states, although they may be allowed training camps. Then, the attack on the U.S. was not democide
* But, we do have two concepts that can apply -- mass murder and hate crime. If acting largely independently, the terrorists were a gang of civilians murdering people on mass because they were Americans. They are like civilians within a state that commit mass murder against their fellow citizens who are members of some group. The difference here is that this gang of civilians murdered foreigners instead of their own nationals. I'm tempted to use the term serial murderers, since this is the usual way mass murders, at least in the U.S., are characterized, whether they murder people one after another or all at once. But the "serial" is confusing. In sum, then, if a state were responsible for 9/11, calling it a democide would be appropriate. If the terrorists were acting largely independently, it was mass murder and a hate crime.
wedge Q: According to your definition, democide has to happen intentionally. Are there possible cases where this intention is not clearly recognizable? Can there be democide out of thoughtlessness, e.g. by a policy that does not plan democide but that also does not care about possible victims?
* A: Yes. It is still democide if people knowingly put in others in such conditions that their lives are lost, although that was not the intention. For example, during World War I, the Russians kept German POWs in such awful, and life consuming camps, that tens of thousands died from disease and hunger when they need not. That was democide.
wedge Q: Isn’t abortion democide?
* A: No. I've tried to stick to democide defined as murder by government. I understand the arguments for including abortion, and once had a student who did a major term paper on why it should be included. But, abortion is not legally murder in any major democracy, and I adhered to the consensus on this. Also consider the confusion if my raw democide totals included abortion along with outright murder, such as burying people alive, torturing them to death, or machine gunning them.
wedge Q: How do you count the democide in their colonies by the democracies, such as Belgium, France, and Great Britain?
* A: I count such democide as foreign democide, since the colonies were not recognized as a part of the home country by other countries, nor by the home country itself in its laws and for purposes of public administration and elections.
wedge Q: Is there such a thing as unintentional democide, such as that by poverty or class structures?
* A: The term "non-intentional democide" seems contradictory, since democide can only occur if there is intention, as defined for murder in civil law. However, "intention" comes in many forms, and this is why your question still makes sense. It can, for example, involve purposely putting a person under the high risk of death, although death itself is not intended. This is also consistent with civil law. One example would be feeding a child so little that he dies of malnutrition.
wedge Q: What is institutionalized democide?
* The literature on democide (or genocide) usually focuses on two types of democide: episodic democide, such as Rwanda, Burundi, Bosnia, that is a rapid escalation in the murder of unarmed civilians for one reason or another; and instrumental democide, such as in Burma, Apartheid South Africa, Iraq, or by the El Salvadoran death squads, which is planned to achieve some governmental purpose and extends over a long period at some relatively constant rate of killing. Of course, for the same regime, as Hussein’s Iraq, instrumental democide may be punctuated by several episodic outbreaks.
* There is one kind of democide, however, that is virtually ignored, and that is institutionalized democide. That is democide that neither suddenly happens, nor is part of a special policy, but is built into the very structure of the political system. North Korea is an example of this. Christians caught with a bible or practicing their faith are executed or sent to a forced labor camp where their life expectancy is short. Those trying to organize other religions, speak out against government policy, organize groups, such as labor unions, and so on and on, risk their lives if caught. Such murders are built into the North Korean political system and in this sense, are nothing special. Yet, day after day, ten or a hundred lives here, more lives there, and over the years the total democide of a government can exceed that of episodic democide elsewhere. Other examples, but hardly a complete list, of where such institutionalized democide exist are China, Vietnam, Burma, Sudan, Angola, Zaire, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Iran, and Cuba.
* Q: I take it that "democide" would count, for instance, government assassination of an individual dissenter, even if the assassination was purely individual and not part of an overall effort to exterminate persons having that dissenting ideology (politicide). Am I correct?
wedge Q: Is there a lower limit on the number murdered before it can be democide?
* A: Any murder by government is democide. Even the murder of one person in civil society is punishable. Similarly, any murder by government should be treated as a murder by the officials responsible, and they should be treated and punished similarly. A human being is a unique individual, a human soul, with all that we prize in humanity -- the capacity to love, to cry, to admire beauty, to procreate, to think, to be self-conscious of one's existence, and to have free will. To steal even one person's life is to steal what is most precious to us all, ourselves. This is to rob from others as well the person they love and upon who they may be totally dependent. No government, no leader or ruler, should be empowered to do that without recognition in our scholarly and legal concepts. And retribution.
wedge Q: Would you count U.S. support of regimes that commit democide, such as those of Guatemala or Indonesia, as U.S. democide?
* A: No. There is the question as to who carried out and made the decisions about such democide -- that is, the primary killers. If the U.S. had really been directing these democides behind the scenes, then the U.S. would be the one responsible. But this was not the case. Now, especially in the case of Indonesia, the U.S. may have turned a blind eye toward this democide (there are good arguments on both sides of this being true) while supporting the regime, and this could be called "second order democide." I made no accounting of this, however, since doing this consistently would muddle the significance and meaning of the overall democide statistics. For example, near democratic Finland supported Nazi Germany in its war on the Soviet Union. Do we then also chalk up to Finland the millions murdered by the Nazi's in their campaign against the Soviets? What about the Soviet support of Mao during the 1950s when Mao was murdering tens of millions of Chinese. Do these also go on the Soviet ledger (and thus double counting)? And so on around the world?
wedge Q: Consider an imagined case: democratic politicians make an economic or health policy that mainly is aimed to satisfy lobby groups. Then it turns out that by another policy more people would have survived, e.g. through lower medical costs and a better health supply, or through a lower rate of drug crimes due to a legalization of drugs, through more joy of life by less incapacitation and more freedom. Can one in such cases make responsible politicians for the death of people and would we have to do with a democide here?
* A: One has to show that this was knowingly done with the reckless disregard for the clear lethal consequences. This is not as easy to show as it is in the treatment of POWs and purposive man-made famines. In individual cases it sometimes easy to prove, as when parents keep their child naked in a closet without access to a toilet and provide little healthy food, and the child then dies of some disease or malnutrition. This is murder by American law
wedge And Genocide
wedge Q: Is there a lower bound on genocide? What if only one person is murdered by a government because of their race, nationality, religion, etc.?
* No legal or scholarly definition on genocide sets a lower bound. This comes from the Preparatory Commission for the International Criminal Court (www.un.org—prepfra.htm), which laid out the particulars for the application of the crime of genocide, among other acts over which the ICC has jurisdiction. While it always, as much as I could find, used the plural "individuals," it did not set a lower limit.
wedge Q: Is it not murder to sterilize or to move children away from their culture, as with aboriginal in Australia, when the aim was clearly to destroy a specific group.
* A: No, this is not murder. It is genocide. A good criterion to use is whether such action by individuals would be defined as murder in any civil legal system. The intention to destroy a group does not murder make, unless group members are actually murdered.
wedge Q: Isn't there real danger in talking of "genocide" before the term was invented, or even before there was an International Convention defining the crime and authorizing intervention by "outside" powers to prevent it?
* A: I see this as a scientific question: how do we theoretically and empirically explain democide? Of course, in our hearts, the idea of democide is reprehensible. But in research, I use the concept descriptively, as in medical research we seek a cure for cancer. Thus, as in research on cancer, when the concept was invented is irrelevant. What is important is when what we describe as cancer or democide occurred and in correlation with what. I want an explanation that will cure it, and this requires analyzing all, or most, or a comprehensive sample of events or episodes that match the definition of democide.
wedge Q: Do you consider the suicide bombing of Israeli civilians in Israel by Palestinian terrorists to be genocide?
* A: I would not call this suicide bombing, but genocide bombing, which answers your question. It is strange to me that I have yet to read or hear that the suicide attacks on Jewish civilians in Israel is genocide. Even among genocide scholars, I don't remember any reference to this as genocide. But if one accepts either the legal definition (trying to wipe out Jews as a group [nation] in whole or in part) or the more expansive definition (to murder by virtue of a person's religion), then this is genocide.
wedge Q Is it the numbers that define genocide, or the deliberate murder of a selected group of people?"
* A: It is the attempt to eliminate a racial/ethnic/national/ethnic group that defines genocide according to international law. Murder may not be involved. But, by usage among students and some scholars, genocide had come to mean murder and only the murder by government of people due to their racial/ethnic/national/ethnic group membership. A third meaning is that genocide is any murder by government (what I call democide). A foremost proponent of this definition is Israel Charny, Editor in Chief of the Encyclopedia of Genocide. Moreover, genocide may involve the murder of one or more people. So, numbers don’t define genocide, but the intent to eliminate a group, kill people by virtue of group membership, or simply to murder them.
wedge Q: What do you think is the best way of defining genocide vs. democide?
* A: The legal definition of genocide (that is actionable under international law) is "any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such: (a) Killing members of the group; (b) Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group; (c) Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part; (d) Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group; (e) Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group."
* This view of genocide is complex and subsumes behavior different in kind, such as government murder, government induced psychological damage, government attempting to eliminate a group in whole or in part (what empirical meaning can we give to "in part "?), or government removing children from a group (removing what percentage constitutes genocide?), and so on. For clarity and ability to do empirical research on genocide to determine its causes and conditions, I believe that genocide should ordinarily be understood as the government murder of people because of their indelible group membership (let the international lawyers struggle with the legal meaning). Democide then any murder by government, including this form of genocide.
wedge Statistics
wedge Q: In some places you give the total 20th century democide as about 170,000,000. In other places, you cite the total as 174,000,000. Which is it?
* A: The lower total is for 1900-1987. After my statistics were published, I did a less than systematic estimate of the democide for the rest of the century, and roughly estimated that about 4,000,000 people were murdered, 1988-1999. See http://www.hawaii.edu/powerkills/POSTWorld War II.HTM
wedge Q: Can you please give me a short list or something that would indicate some different genocides throughout history?
* A: For a list of 20th Century democides, 1900-1987, go to http://www2.hawaii.edu/~rummel/SOD.TAB16A.1.GIF. For those before the 20th C., see the tables in www2.hawaii.edu—DBG.CHAP3.HTM.
wedge Q: Did you take domestic murder into account in your democide statistics?
* A: I do not take deaths due to criminal activity like family murders, murder in the course of a burglary, rape, etc., into account. I have to be careful here, for in many totalitarian countries people have been executed by regimes for what is labeled criminal activity (such as criticizing the government), so by criminal I mean that usually considered a crime among liberal (and thus largely economically free) democracies. I exclude this because the theory that power kills, that freedom promotes non-political violence, does not extend to criminal activity. Indeed, one might argue that under the most repressive regimes, where fear is the basic ordering principle of the society, such crime is reduced in comparison to free societies.
wedge Q: In a recent book, Will Genocide Ever End?, Roger Smith states, "Since 1945 more persons have died through genocide and state-sponsored massacres than have been killed by all international or civil wars during the period." Do you agree?
* A: Yes, this is my statistical finding. For the much longer period 1900 to 1987, which includes the two world wars and the Korean and Vietnam Wars, over four times more have been murdered in democide than died in combat in all the foreign and internal wars during those years.
wedge Q: Why try to determine how many were murdered?
* A. While all government murder is immoral, we can nonetheless say that as an intentional act of government, some murders are worse than others. For example, the Holocaust in numbers murdered is worse than government- supported, death squad murders in Argentina, or the democide of France in Algeria. Moreover, as numbers get larger at some level (like increasingly heated water turning into steam) they convert from quantities to qualities. Consider, for example, that in the last century governments murdered, roughly, about 174,000,000 people. The resulting corpses lined up head to toe would circle the earth about four times. This number in itself carries a ton of meaning and significance, and changes the qualitative and ethical idea of government.
wedge Q: As you say, your numbers are no better then order of magnitude estimates. Given this, why do you sometimes give precise looking numbers, like Stalin, 1929-1953, is responsible for the murder of 42,672,000 people? Isn’t it sufficient just to say 43,000,000?
* A: I some cases I do so. But, the problem is this. If I gave an order of magnitude estimate of over 10,000,000, or a more specific 40,000,000, and one or the other gets quoted widely, but my estimates/calculations/sources table shows 42,672,000, people may be confused. To keep consistency between text and calculations in the tables, I often try to use the same totals. Where I rounded off my figures, I used "about" or "near" or "almost,” as in about 43,000,000.
wedge Q. So, you know the magnitudes of democide. So what?
* A: Even orders of magnitude give us a scientific tool to analyze causes and conditions. If we wish to find an x such that the more or less of x (or its existence or nonexistence), the more or less a government murders its people, then even magnitudes can be the base data for this search or for testing related theories. For example, we now can say that based on such research the less democratic freedom in a country, the more of its citizens a government is inclined to murder. This finding, backed up by theory, enables us to say that we can reduce democide by increasing the democratic freedom of a population. Moreover, even if we can only rank nations on their estimated amount of democide, this is enough for the most complex statistical and mathematical analyses. Even such is possible if we can divide demociders into three groups: those with much domestic democide like Hitler or Stalin, those about average like Iraq or Iran, or those with little of none like France or Britain.
* In the quantitative aspect of my research, I have tried to determine the causes and conditions of democide such that we would have the best ability to generally explain why it occurred and predict where it might happen in the future. For this purpose, and at its most general, I could have simply treated a regime as having committed a democide, or not. But this would have equated, say, the democide of Stalin with the dozen or so murders of some Latin American dictator. Surely, for prediction and explanation we would want some kind of scale of democide that would discriminate between the Stalins, Hitlers, and the ordinary dictator. The two scales I have found most effective for this purpose are the number murdered and the annual rate of such killing calculated over the life of a regime. The result is that these two measures of democide are highly correlated and are similarly predicted. The best prediction and explanation, then, of where a genocide is likely to occur and how probable it is to happen is the degree to which the people of a nation have democratic freedom. No matter what other political, economic, cultural, regional, social indicators are held constant, this one indicator -- degree of freedom -- gives by far the best prediction of the degree of democide. It would not do so unless there was a good, nonrandom, substantive meaning to the measure, which is the overwhelming difference in magnitudes among demociders, which is from zero or a few dozen murdered to over 10,000,000.
wedge Q: Who were the ten bloodiest dictators for the millennium?
* They were (totals rounded off)
* 1. Stalin. 43,000,000 (1929-53)
* 2. Mao Tse-tung. 38,000,000. (1923-76 -- includes during the civil war period)
* 3. Hitler. 21,000,000 (1933-45)
* 4. Khubilai Khan. 19,000,000 (during 1252-1279 rule of China)
* 5. Manchu Dynasty. 12,000,000 (during 1859-64 Tai Ping Rebellion)
* 6. Chiang Kai-shek. 10,000,000 (1921-1948)
* 7. Jinghiz Khan. 4,000,000 (1215-1233)
* 8. Lenin. 4,000,000 (1917-24)
* 9. Tojo Hideki. 4,000,000 (1941-45)
* 10. Pol Pot. 2,000,000 (1968-87 -- includes civil war period)
wedge Q: Some of your pre-20th century figures for how many were murdered in the sacking of a city seem very high. Do your figures include estimates of refugees who might have fled before the hordes, etc.?
* A: Yes, many of these cities were swelled with refugees at the time they were sacked. During the Mongol invasions and retaliations against rebelling cities, some had swelled with refugees to well over 1,000,000. Since refugees were not recorded as part of a cities population (as during World War II), population sizes given by historical demographics are inconsistent with the actual number that may have been murdered in a sacking.
wedge Q: How can you justify quibbling over whether 2,000,000, 3,000,000, or 10,000,000 people were murdered.
* A: There is one very good scientific reason to be sensitive to the numbers -- they enable us to test hypotheses as to underlying causes and conditions of democide. The more reliable, the better, although given our modern techniques, we can often simply deal with levels of magnitudes. It is such numbers or magnitudes that enable us to say that the greater the dictatorial power a regime has, the more likely it will murder its citizens en masse.
wedge Q: On your website, you estimate the number of people murdered by democide between 1988 and 1999 to be around 4,000,000 people -- far less than the 19,000,000 we would expect based on rates of killing from earlier decades. Do you stand by this estimate?
* A: Unlike the estimates for 1900-1987, it is an educated guess. I did not do a democide-by-democide count (I don't think I had the heart for it anymore), but I did an informal list of the major sources of democide for the period, such as Somalia, Rwanda, Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran, North Korea, China, Burma, Congo, Bosnia, Kosovo, and roughly estimated the toll overall as 4 million. The total is far less than one would expect based on previous years, but this is because with the growth of democracies (now at 121) there has been an overall decrease in the world’s democide.
wedge Q: How does the number of victims of democide compare to the number murdered by ordinary criminals ?
* A: On world homicide, democide by governments exceeds deaths from traffic accidents, war, and homicides combined. See the plot of this at http://www.hawaii.edu/powerkills/VIS.TEARS.ALL.AROUND.HTM.
wedge Q: I haven’t seen any statistics comparing death by democide to other causes (disease, crimes by other citizens, etc). Do you know if that information is available somewhere?
wedge Q: Your research has revealed that the number of people murdered by absolutist governments in the 20th century far exceeds the combat dead for all wars. Is this unique for the 20th century?
* A: No. For all the pre-20 C. democide, I estimate that 133,147,000 people were murdered. Compare this to 174,000,000 for the 20th Century. There were, however, billions of more people to kill in this century, so I took the proportion of the word's population murdered in the 20th C., and then applied this proportion backwards to the world's population for each previous century. That would give a total pre-20th C. hypothetical genocide of 625,716,000. In short, the 20th C. was by far the bloodiest in history both in total murdered and as a proportion of the world's population.
* By comparison to the pre-20th C democide, the international war-related pre-20th C dead amount to about 40,457,000, a few millions more than were killed in combat in all 20th C. wars. See Chapter 2 of Statistics of Democide at: www.hawaii.edu—NOTE5.HTM
wedge Foreign Democide
wedge Q: Have you considered genocides or democides that are not internal to the state or society?
* A: Yes, this is foreign democide. See the “foreign democide” column in my summary table at: www.hawaii.edu—SOD.TAB16A.1.GIF
wedge Q: What would you say is the firing of a missile by remote control from pilotless CIA drone aircraft at a tall man wearing Arab clothes?
* A: War takes place in a fog, and I can therefore only offer a foggy scale. But I think we can anchor it at three points. 1. If the intention was to kill a tall man wearing Arab clothes, it would be murder by the United States, which is democide. 2. If the intention was to kill a leader of Al Queda or the Taliban, but there was wanton disregard for the possibility that he was a civilian, then it was democide. 3. If after careful assessment of the situation and circumstances, there was substantial reason to believe he was a leader of Al Queda or the Taliban, the intention then was to kill him, this was a legal (Geneva Conventions) act of war.
wedge Q: Do you have any documentation of democide or genocides during an anarchy?
* A: As to documenting democide in an anarchy, since international relations is an anarchy, all my documented foreign democide is in fact democide under an anarchy. Also, all my documented democide by quasi-governmental groups is similarly democide either in an anarchic state, such as Somalia, or in sub-state terrorism or violence.
wedge Criticisms
wedge Q: When it comes to totalitarian regimes, how come you like to choose the figures that are on the high side, while you tend to downplay the butcher bill of democratic states?
* A: Simply not true. As a study of my many tables would show, I give both highs and lows and then a conservative estimate. Usually this estimate is closer to the low than the high. Overall the democide in this century, my range is 76,543,000 to 359,348,000 murdered, with my much quoted prudent estimate being 169,187,000. Note how much closer to the low than the high this is. Now, as to playing down the “butcher bill” of democratic democide versus totalitarian regimes, your accusation is too general. What specific estimates are too low or too high?
wedge Q: Why do you make a big thing of governments killing people? After all, they are licensed to kill. It’s not like murder by private individuals.
* A: Governments are not licensed to kill. By international law, genocide and virtually all democide are illegal. The Nazi government, for example, was not licensed to kill Jews. Indeed, there was not even a domestic legal basis by government decree or law that said that if one is a Jew, the government is authorized to kill him. Keep in mind that we executed German and Japanese war criminals for killing in violation of international law, although they were government leaders.
* Nor is killing in war licensed. A state is forbidden to kill in an aggressive war. And even if the war is legal by international law, such as in responding to aggression, who, when, and where people may be killed is limited by the laws of war. Governments, for example, have no license to bomb churches and schools, and those who command this may be tried as war criminals.
* What comes closest to the granting a license to kill is the constitutional and legislative law in a democracy approved by the people, who through their representatives define when the government may carry out judicial executions or go to war. In nondemocracies, the government arrogates to itself when it will kill or not, and what it does is often simply illegal by international law.
* Part of problem in bringing the mass murderers, like the dictators of Iran, to justice is our conceptualization of governments as having a license or right to kill people. This conception is part of the way people are taught to view government. They come to see it as a generally benign organization working for the people's benefit, carrying out social and political functions from which all are saved from their private sins and excesses. This is a most misleading conception. Rather, in most cases nondemocratic governments are nothing more than gangs of thugs. They have seized power with their guns and use their naked power to pillage, rape, and kill at their whim. These thugs, of course, often use nice words that seduce the intellectually unwary, such as justifying their actions and rule by their alleged pursuit of development, glory, human betterment, some Utopia, and racial purification, or simply by saying that they are a "government." But beneath this cover they remain would they are -- gangs of international outlaws. If we keep firmly in mind that many governments are made up of nothing but supremely powerful gangs of thugs, then it clarifies much of the why and how of democide and war. And makes easier international action to bring these thugs to justice, or at least put a halt to their repression and violence.
wedge Q: Isn’t “democide” an unhelpful combination of Greek and Latin roots, given the differences between Greek deomocratia and Roman res publica?
* A: I don’t care if the word combines Greek and Latin roots. My interest is in whether it fills a void and carries meaning to the reader and user, even if I have to mix Japanese and Nigerian roots.
wedge Q: Does you concept of “democide” really accomplish anything more than done in a clearer, more focused way by the concept "crimes against humanity”?
* A: The Nuremberg Charter defines crimes against humanity as "murder, extermination, enslavement, deportation, and other inhumane acts committed against civilian populations, before or during the war; or persecutions on political, racial or religious grounds in execution of or in connection with any crime within the jurisdiction of the Tribunal, whether or not in violation of the domestic law of the country where perpetrated.” Now, the proof of a term is in its utility. I can now say with theoretical and empirical confidence, that to eliminate murder by government -- democide -- , promote democratic freedom. This would have saved over a hundred millions lives from 1900 to 1987, including about tens of thousands murdered in one genocide or another. True, the concept this does not include all the elements in "crimes against humanity." But, really, given its findings, so what?
wedge Q: But are not these numbers ridiculously unreliable? Who knows really how many died in a particular democide?
* A. True, and no one really knows. But we can at least establish rough estimates and orders of magnitude. Surely, Stalin and his kind murdered in the millions, Hussein of Iraq in the hundreds of thousands, Castro in the tens of thousands, Libya in the thousands, and the Honduran 1982-1987 government in the hundreds. The Holocaust surely meant the death of 5,000,000 to 6,000,000 Jews, no more, no less.
wedge Q: You mistakenly focus on “people,” rather than groups or populations.
* A: The concept of "democide" is only concerned with the murder of people individually. Is it not discrimination to treat the murder of a person because he accidentally sat on a picture of Stalin versus the murder of some person because he was an Armenian, Jew, or Tutsi, as fundamentally different, one to be conceptually ignored, the other to be the focus of research, scholarship, and teaching? I believe it is, and that we must not ignore what happens to individuals.
wedge Q: Don’t you realize that soldiers as agents of governments could regard even a defensive war against invasion as an instance of democide, since warfare necessarily involves the murder of persons?
* A: The definition explicitly excludes combat deaths or those of civilians that die as a result of combat. "Democide" does include, however, the killing of unarmed civilians or prisoners of war. The defining document for this is the Geneva Accords.
wedge Q: Your concept of democide is too restricted in its focus on governments as agents, rather than on the widespread, systematic, premeditated character of attacks that may be initiated by state or non-state actors. Response?
* A: By definition, the one committing "democide" is restricted to any group that controls a geographical territory and the people in it. This involves a generic meaning of "government," such as the leadership (government) of a social group, of a terrorist organization, of an international organization like the UN, or of the Mafia. Thus, "democide" is not limited to state governments, and even quasi-state governments. As long as a body controls territory and people, it is a government within the definition of democide.
wedge Q: “Democide” as a concept is a too narrow focus on murder, rather than the range of acts specified under crimes against humanity. How do you answer this?
* A: Democide as a concept is even broader than the general, scholarly (nonlegal) use of "genocide," which is to murder people because of their indelible group membership or with the intention of eliminating their group. "Democide" even includes such usage of genocide within its definition.
* Above all, democide is an empirical concept. Data can be collected on it for all countries, and it can be used to determine the conditions and causes of democide. Indeed, the need for an empirical concept is why so many scholars have reduced the legal definition of genocide (which includes besides murder, 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) to an easily operational definition dependent on murder alone.
* Now, consider research without the concept democide. What then do we call a government's murder of people by quota, summary execution of rebels, shooting critics, etc. "Genocide" does not cover such murder; "democide" does. The concept is like that of "murder" for civil society. No matter the who and why, the intentional killing of a human being, aside from capital punishment after a fair trial, is murder. This is precisely the understanding of democide, except limited to what a government does.
wedge Specific Democides -- Regimes
wedge Africa
wedge Q: Is it true that about 50,000,000-100,000,000 African’s lost their lives in the slave trade?
* A: I get a prudent estimate of about 17,000,000 slaves murdered, 1451-1870, including those dying in transit, and taken for slaves not only to the New World, but also to Europe and Asia, as well as North Africa. See on my web site: www2.hawaii.edu—SOD.CHAP2.HTM and www2.hawaii.edu—DBG.CHAP3.HTM
wedge Q: Is there a difference between processes of destruction in German Africa (e.g., the mass murder of the Hereros) in contrast to say Belgian Congo? And if there is a difference what is its significance?
* A: German Africa was similar to the Congo in the forced labor and exploitation of the natives, with the one major exception of the Hereros. As a result of their rebellion, the Germans intentionally tried to kill them off root and branch. This was genocide. Otherwise, in German colonies, as in the Congo Free State, French Congo, and other colonies, natives were murdered in the process of their exploitation as slave labor, or when they got in the way. The were not murdered because of their tribal membership or race as such. But this is where the different definitions of genocide used by scholars hits home. By the Convention's standards, only the Hereros involved genocide, and maybe some isolated cases of minor significance. But by some genocide scholar’s definition of genocide, all the mass murders in the colonies were genocide.
* I suspect there are two reasons for the emphasis on the Herero. One is that it is manifestly genocide as defined by the Genocide Convention. Second, the Germans did it, which then play into all kinds of theories about national character, precursors of the Holocaust, the Kaiser, and the causes of World War I.
* Anyway, the significance of the different treatment is that an incredible amount of democide has been missed, and this affects our attempt to get at causes and conditions, or most fundamentally, our understanding.
wedge Q: How do different regions, such as Africa, compare as to their democide?
* A regional plot is at: http://www2.hawaii.edu/~rummel/DBG.FIG1.5.GIF. The data for individual African nations is at www2.hawaii.edu—SOD.TAB16A.1.GIF. The problem with comparing the data on Africa to other regions is that almost all African nations were independent for only a decade or so before 1987, whereas in other regions most nations have been independent far longer (at least since 1900 in Europe and South America). Moreover, the cut off year of 1987 is critical because most of the killing that has taken place in Africa since. I have not researched this in detail, but as an educated guess (taking into account the democide since 1987 in Rwanda, Burundi, Angola, Sudan, Somalia, Algeria, Liberia, Zaire, and what scattered democide has taken place in other African nations), as many as 3,000,000 more dead should be added to the African for the post-1987 years.
wedge Australia
wedge Q: Didn’t you miss the Tasmanian Aboriginal race, which was systematically exterminated. The last of this group died in 1876.
* A: I knew about it and tried to get as much information on it as possible before compiling my democide data. See www2.hawaii.edu—DBG.CHAP3.HTM and use your find command to search Tasmania. Also, for the sources and estimates, see www2.hawaii.edu—SOD.TAB2.1.GIF and line 214 following.
wedge Q: Re indigenous people in Australia, why do you and all the others dealing with genocide always neglect or just do not recognize that Australia has to be taken into account?
* A: I took Australia into account. I get a democide of 35,000 for Australia and New Zealand, possibly even as high as 250,000, in the 18th and 19 centuries. See line 214 and following on the pre-20th century table at www2.hawaii.edu—SOD.TAB2.1.GIF.
wedge Belgium
wedge Q: Isn’t your low figure of 25,000 Congolese murdered by King Leopold II and Belgium ridiculous? Leopold alone murdered millions.
* A: Yes, I missed this when I was doing my data collection, and did not realize it until I read Adam Hochschild's King Leopold's Ghost: A Story of Greed, Terror, and Heroism in Colonial Africa, published in 1998. Probably 10,000,000 Congolese or more were murdered from 1885 when The Berlin Conference formally recognized the Congo Free State (now the Democratic Republic of the Congo -- formerly Zaire) to 1908 when Belgium took it over as a colony. The Congo Free State was the private land, not a colony, of King Leopold II of Belgium to do with whatever he wanted. See my commentary, “Exemplifying the Horror of European Colonization: Leopold's Congo" at: www.hawaii.edu—COMM.7.1.03.HTM.
* And the massive killing did not stop when Belgium took it over. But amazingly, although the death toll is in the many millions, far exceeding what Germany did to the Hereros (I get a toll of 55,000), the incredible terror, slavery, and death imposed on the Congo natives by one man has been virtually ignored in books on genocide. For example, there is nothing on it in Frank Chalk and Kurt Jonassohn's The History and Sociology of Genocide (1990), Leo Kuper's Genocide (1982), and Israel Charny's two-volume Encyclopedia of Genocide (1999). There is one paragraph without estimates of the toll in Samuel Totten, Williiam S. Parsons, and Israel Charny's Century of Genocide (1997). Moreover, no work on genocide mentions that the French in their Congo taken over in 1900 (now the Republic of the Congo) copied Leopold's system of rule and exploitation and thus may have murdered several million Africans as well.
* Because of all this, and after considerable research, I've reevaluated the overall colonial toll for all of colonized Africa and Asia 1900 to independence. I now believe that total to be around 50 million. This is way above my original 870,000. Even 50,000,000 may be too conservative. If this figure were roughly close, however, then I must raise my total murdered by governments in the 20th Century from 174,000,000 to 223,000,000.
wedge Q: King Leopold II of Belgium murdered millions in the Congo in the last years of the 18th and early years of the 20th centuries. Does this change your evaluation of the relationship between power and democide, freedom and nondemocide?
* A: No. It reinforces it. King Leopold II had absolute power over the Congo Free State. It was his. Belgium had nothing to do with it. And he created and slave and lethal land on the order of Stalin's slave labor gulag.
wedge Q: What about when the Congo Free State was transferred to Belgium in 1908? Didn’t mass murder continued there. Also, didn’t the French democracy carry out mass murder in the French Congo? Doesn’t this change your view that democracy commits little democide?
* A: Belgium colonial officials went to extreme lengths to prevent information about the Congo from getting out, particularly to the people. For example, the testimony before a Commission set up to investigate what was going on in the Congo was suppressed. Even Belgium's own ambassadors in the 1970s, over 60 years later, were forbidden from looking at the secret files. Nonetheless, due to the legislature's demands and overview, conditions in the Congo were gradually improved after it took it over. Similarly with France. The French colonial office kept secret information about events in the colony and tight control over who went there and what they could say. Nothing negative was allowed out.
* We have here the problem in democracies, especially regarding foreign affairs, whether war, security threats, or colonialism. Although the democracy itself may be open, with freedom of speech and the diffusion of power, centers of near absolute power may be set up that operate internally and over their mandate as though a dictatorial system. The intelligence services (e.g., CIA and Indonesia), the military in time of war (e.g., Hiroshima), or the colonial administration (e.g., France).
wedge Cambodia
wedge Q: Some are calling what the Khmer Rouge did in Cambodia genocide. Was it?
* A: It depends on the definition of genocide. According to the legal definition, the one employed in the genocide convention or by the International Criminal Court, no it was not. The Khmer Rouge was not murdering Cambodians because they were Cambodians. However, they did commit genocide against their Buddhist monks, Chams (Moslems), ethnic Vietnamese, and ethnic Thai. I call their murder of all Cambodians, about 2,000,000 of them, democide.
wedge Q: Did the massive bombing of Cambodia by the U.S. in the early 1970's fuel support for Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge?
* A: American bombing did not have much to do with KR support or activities. Most important was the support to them of the North Vietnamese. The KR were vigorously active as a guerrilla movement well before the bombing, and as bloody in their treatment of the people they controlled.
wedge Q: Is there any evidence that Mao's famine inspired Pol Pot, head of Cambodia’s Khmer Rouge?
* A: Pol Pot and other top Khmer Rouge were fanatical Maoists; more Mao than Mao. They wanted to create Mao's communes and Great Leap Forward in an instant; they wanted to do what they thought the Cultural Revolution had achieved -- ideological purification. In sum, they wanted the purest form of communism. They learned nothing from the Great Famine in the early 60s that was caused by Mao's policies. As a result, most of those that died under the Khmer Rouge died from starvation. This was some achievement in a country rich in natural food. But, consider. It was a crime punishable by death in many, if not most villages, to eat a banana off a banana tree in the forest instead of bringing it in to contribute to the village food supply. One could eat only what one was given to eat by the village chief, which often was not enough to support life for long. No private food plots were allowed.
wedge China
wedge Q: Is it an established fact that as a result of Mao's so-called agricultural and economic policies, at least 43,000,000 Chinese starved to death? If so, how, within debates about famine as genocide, and compared to Stalin's policies in the 1920s and 1930s, would one categorize starvation as a political weapon?
* A: There is no doubt that the famine occurred and was the largest in history by far. It resulted from Mao's 1950s collectivization of agriculture into factory- like communes, and his late 1950s Great Leap Forward attempt to rapidly industrialize China. In my chapter on this famine in China's Bloody Century, I give the most probable toll as 27,000,000, although I noted it could reach 40,000,000 dead.
* The famine surely cannot be categorized as genocide as legally or conventionally understood (those dead were not intentionally singled out because of their group identity), but what about democide? I classified it as man-made, but not intentionally so, and thus not democide either, unlike Stalin's enforced Ukrainian famine (this was democide, with about 5,000,000 dead). But not characterizing the Mao famine as a democide was a toss up. What persuaded me was that the top rulers seemed unaware of the famine, since from lower down in the hierarchy they kept getting glowing reports about the harvests. However, when they otherwise heard about people starving to death, they sent out a team to investigate, and when it came back with the awful news, they began to import wheat from abroad (even though an abject loss of face), and dismantle the communes (a blow to their ideology). I don't think they would have done either of these things unless committed to ending the famine.
wedge Q: I've seen figures quoting that in China, up to 180,000,000 people have been murdered or died by famine under Mao -- is this correct?
* A: My figure is about 35,000,000 murdered, 1949-1987. The famine under Mao may have murdered as many as 40 million. I give a conservative figure of 27 million. I do not include these dead in my 35 million, but some experts think I should. As to the 180,000,000 you mention, my highest possible democide is about 103 million. I don't think the evidence can in any way support the 180,000,000 total.
wedge Q: Regarding China’s world record famine in the late 1950s and early 60s, did Mao know the results of his policies early on still continue on this deadly path?
* A: The extent to which there was knowledge at the top of the famine is in dispute. Clearly, the Party was making export and internal distributional decisions based on a crop yield well above the actual. Agricultural statistics all the way up the reporting ladder were grossly inflated. Evidence for the widespread ignorance at the top is that after a special group was sent out to investigate and reported back about the famine conditions, the Party did a turn around, began to import food and radically reform the institutions responsible for the famine. However, at the time I categorized this as nondemocide it was a close call. But I followed the principle throughout in assessing democide, that in cases where there was an argument on both sides, be prudent and take the lesser, or nondemocide alternative. As in a trial for murder, I think the evidence should support democide beyond a reasonable doubt.
wedge Q: Did you count state-enforced abortion in your democide figures for China?
* A: No, I did not count abortions or define it as part of democide. I have had students who thought I should have but since there is no moral consensus on this and abortion is not considered murder under any civil law, I did not. China, however, pushes the envelop on this, since many women are physically forced to abort, and there have been Clean Out The Stomach Campaigns. There is, of course, a difference between a women choosing to have an abortion and forcing her against her will to have one. Nonetheless, I still limited democide to human beings outside of the womb for the reason that even forced abortion is not conventionally considered murder of a human being.
wedge Q: In China's Bloody Century, your high-end estimates are inflated, which throws off your calculations. You failed to obtain a reasonable margin of error for your low and high-end estimates -- you simply put them together and took the average, without considering the individual authenticity of each estimate. Do you have a response?
* A: This is contrary to what I did. My highs came from the highest estimates in the literature, sometimes from communist sources; my lows were from the lowest estimates. These lows and highs then became my most probable error margins -- the absolute margins for the lowest possible and largest possible democide. As to the mid-value, this is not an average for the totals (for some subtotals where I could not evaluate the separate estimates, I then used the average, but this was infrequent). In determining my mid-estimates, I usually relied on the most authoritative (read scholarly and credible) sources I could find. Overall, you will find that the mid-estimates are below the average of the highs and lows, as is the final estimates. The final low of China’s (PRC) democide is 6 million, high is 103 million, and mid-estimate is 35,000,000 (if an average, it would have been 54,500,000). The variation from low to high tells one a lot about the difficulty of estimating China’s democide.
wedge Q: How would you classify the deaths of those Chinese who spent a great deal of their lives in the Laogai network -- actually got passed on from one division to the next under the auspices of reeducation -- and then were sent home, when they are old or ailing, to die?
* A: I did not and would not count them (as I did not for the Soviet Union). This is a gray area, to be sure, but for this ideologically sensitive accounting, it’s best to be conservative and stick to clearly attributable deaths.
wedge Q: Was Mao mass death (in camps) comparable to the Holocaust.
* A: I calculate a figure of near 15,000,000 murdered in China’s camps and forced labor from 1949 to 1987. Obviously, this is a figure far greater than the Holocaust camps.
wedge Q: I read that the Chinese communist regime has ordered a county to do 20,000 abortions and sterilizations before year-end. This is the treatment of women as numbers. Has democide been carried out in this way?
* A: Yes. Even though China has turned authoritarian, this is a hangover from its totalitarian period when it was a routine operation to apply quotas to all aspects of production, including murder. Murdering people by the numbers, regardless of who and what they are -- is to my knowledge uniquely totalitarian. To some, these quotas exceed even the horror of the Holocaust, and do so in this sense: Jews were murdered because of who they were -- Jews. Similarly, Armenians, Bengalis, Hutu, Tutsi, kulaks, etc., etc., were wiped out as Armenians, Bengalis, and so on.
* To be murdered because of a group attribute, and not one's individuality, is dehumanizing enough. But then to be murdered at random, not because of an attribute, group or otherwise, but because one happens to be a random number, is demeaning of all humanity. To my knowledge, the three regimes that murdered by the number were the Soviet Union under Stalin, China under Mao, and Vietnam under Ho and his successors. I suspect Tito and Kim Il Sung's regimes did the same, but I don't have direct evidence. The Nazis also had a quota system, but not as a purification or decontamination campaign, but as a technique of deterrence. In some occupied countries, the murder of a German soldier or civilian, or sabotage by partisans, would call for (as it threatened) the murder of 50 or 100 nationals picked at random.
* Other political systems or armies as well may have deterred by murder, but I don't recall any. As a political scientist, I have to say that here is an area -- government murder by quota -- that political scientists and genocide scholars have ignored. Economists have written about pigs, iron, steel, wheat, oil, and so on, in terms of production by quota (but never deaths by quota). Political scientists have no concept for deaths by quota, and I could find no publication by a political scientist in which this is even mentioned. Nor do I remember finding murder by quotas mentioned in books on genocide, where genocide is understood comprehensively to mean what I call democide.
wedge Christians
wedge Q: Do you have an estimate for the number of Christians martyred during the 20th Century? In his book The Truth of Catholicism, the Roman Catholic writer George Weigel gives an estimate of 27,000,000. Is this correct?
* A: I don't have an overall estimate. There is the case of the Christian Armenian and Greek genocides in 1915-1923 in which the Moslem Turks murdered over 2,000,000 of them, but that is the only major Christian specific genocide I can point to. There are many minor ones, such as the Moslem attacks and murder of Christians in Indonesia and the Middle East. But, the estimate of 27,000,000 seems way too high. I came up with 38,000,000 for all genocide against racial, religious, national, and ethnic groups. I doubt very much that Christians made up even 25 percent of this total. Of course, if one counts the genocidal killing of, say Christian Tutsis of Rwanda, as creating "Christian martyrs," then the figure might be close to that you mention. But this is misleading, since for this genocide and many others like it, being Christian was incidental.
wedge France
wedge Q: Weren’t the conditions in the French Congo not much different from the Congo Free State Okay, thus killing millions of natives?
* A: Its conditions and thus the mortality seem similar to the Congo Free State. But information is sparse. The French colonial office kept secret information about events in the colony and tight control over who went there and what they could say. Nothing negative was allowed out.
* We have here the problem of secrecy in democracies, especially regarding foreign affairs, whether war, security threats, or colonialism. Although the democracy itself may be open, with freedom of speech and the diffusion of power, centers of near absolute power may be set up that operate internally and apart from their mandate, as though a dictatorial system. We see this, for example, with intelligence services (e.g., CIA), the military in time of war (e.g., Hiroshima), or the colonial administration (e.g., France).
wedge German’s, Ethnic
wedge Q: I hear that a Russian submarine sank a ship filled with German refugees fleeing from the East around 1944-45. It is said that many more lives were lost than in any ship sinking before or since. Is this true?
* A: The ship was the Wilhelm Gustloff. I estimate 7,700 lives were lost compared to about 1,503 in the sinking of the Titanic.
wedge Q: After the German army was defeated or fled from one Eastern European country after another in 1944-45, what happened to the ethnic Germans that remained behind?
* A: What happened to the ethnic Germans who had no responsibility for the Nazis is a black hole in our collective memory bank. Over 1,800,000 were murdered throughout Eastern Europe, 1945-1948.
wedge Q: You have counted about 1,800,000 German genocide victims during the ethnic cleansing in Eastern Europe after World War II. Overall, 15,000,000 Germans were expelled. In Germany, these crimes are mainly seen and even legitimized as the inevitable consequence of Nazi crimes. Do you agree?
* A: Don't agree. It was outright genocide carried out against ethnic Germans, many of who may have been opposed to Hitler's invasions and occupation, or were children, or were bemedaled former soldiers in the very country that then murdered them by virtue of their ethnicity. As acts of genocidal murder, I see no difference between shooting to death a person because he is a Jew, or because he is an ethnic German. I know, I know. Killing Jews was a hate crime. Jews were thought parasites, cockroaches, which had to be eliminated. But if one gets into the rationales used by those murdering ethnic Germans, some of the same language was sometimes used. Anyway, it is not a matter of the language, but the intention and the action that for me is the evil.
wedge Q: How many ethnic Germans were murdered in Eastern Europe after World War II -- especially in Yugoslavia?
* A: For Yugoslavia, I estimated that from 55,000 to 85,000 were murdered, most likely 75,000. Of German soldiers and civilians taken as prisoners of war, about 70,000 died in camps/prisons, in effect democide. See www.hawaii.edu—SOD.TAB9.1.GIF On the overall toll of German ethnics, I calculate that from 11,500,000 to 18,000,000 Germans were expelled, fled, or were transferred to Post WWII German from Eastern Europe. Of these about 2,000,000 to 3,700,000 died in the process. 528,000 to 3,724,000 of this toll were democide, most likely 1,863,000. For the country-by-country breakdown, see http://www.hawaii.edu/powerkills/SOD.TAB7.1.GIF.
wedge Germany/Holocaust (Nazi Genocide Of The Jews)
wedge Q: Is it true that the German government was the only country in the world whose leaders sat down around a table and decided and planned to officially exterminate an entire minority, and proceeded to carry it out by official governmental orders?
* A: No. The Turkish government's genocide of the Armenians in 1915-1918 was planned at the highest political level. We have the minutes of a secret meeting among the Turk rulers in which they discussed, voted on, and unanimously passed a resolution to exterminate the Armenians, provided not a single one should be left alive. There were many other genocides in the 20th Century that were planned and carried out. Just to mention three more. Pakistan's genocide of Bengalis and Hindus in what is now Bangladesh in 1971 was planned at the top, preparations made, and carried out. Every Hindu caught was automatically murdered, and so was every Bengali of note who could be tracked down (maps and lists of names were prepared). Bengalis and Hindus murdered: about 1,000,000.
* Rwanda’s government committed genocide against the Hutu in 1994. Planned also by top rulers, militia were trained for the purpose, it was made it a an unofficial capital offense not to kill a Hutu, and the campaign was systematically carried out. Murdered: about 800,000 to 1,000,000 in four months.
* Stalin's planned and executed starvation of the Ukrainians in 1931-32 in order to destroy Ukrainian nationalism and their opposition to collectivization. The technique was to blockade the Ukraine against any food being taken in, to take by force what food the Ukrainians had, and to kill all their livestock, pets, and even birds that might be eaten. Murdered by starvation: about 5,000,000.
wedge Q: What do you think of the singular focus on the Holocaust? If not the only reference to genocide, it dominates all others in school texts and public mention.
* A: We must go beyond a singular focus on it. By studying all genocides and mass murders by government, one soon begins to see that this potential to murder others is truly general. And one soon finds that such killing has little correlation with national character, religion, geographic region, culture, population size, economic development, education, language, ethnic diversity, and so on.
* A singular focus on the Holocaust misleads people into thinking that this is the only or major genocide to have occurred. This is morally confusing. Far more people were murdered by governments in others ways than the Holocaust, or in genocide. Among the approximately 170,000,000 people murdered by governments (1900-1987), about 38,000,000 of them were outright genocides. For these statistics, genocide should be understood as the murder of people because of their race, religion, nationality, or ethnicity. Just some examples. In addition to the Holocaust, genocide includes the murder of Cambodian Moslems, Buddhists, and Vietnamese-Cambodians by the Khmer Rouge; Bengalis by West Pakistan in 1971; Armenians and Greeks by the Turks during and after WWI; Rwanda and Burundi over various years; Jews in Russia before WWI; diverse nationality groups by the Soviets after WWI; incidents of genocidal mass murder and massacres in Sudan, Somalia, South Africa, Angola, Zaire, Iraq, India, Indonesia, Brazil; and German genocides in Africa before WWI.
* Examples of nongenocidal (by the definition given above) governmental mass murder, massacres, terrorism, politicide, death camps/prisons, lethal forced labor, deadly deportations, intentional mass starvation, and the like, include the Soviet purge of about 1,000,000 communists in the Great Terror and the purposive famine in the Ukraine; the Rape of Nanking and mass murders/massacres by Japan throughout China, 1937-45; the massacre of unarmed communists and sympathizers by the Chinese Nationalist government; the mass murder of non-Jewish Poles (especially actual and potential leaders) by the Nazis; the post-WWII murder of ethnic Germans in newly occupied East German territory by the Poles, and of ethnic Germans through Eastern Europe; the Cambodian "Holocaust"; the extra-judicial executions throughout Vietnam after 1945 and during and after the Vietnam War by the communist government and those carried out by South Vietnam; the massacres and mass murders by North Korea. And so on, ad neuseum.
wedge Q: The largest total I find for the number of Nazi victims murdered from 1933-1945 (euthanasia, political opponents, concentration and death camps, labor camps, death marches, ghettoization, starvation, privation) is close to 14,000,000. What is your total?
* A: I get an absolute low of about 15 million, an absolute high of 31,600,000, and a prudent estimate of near 21,000,000 murdered. This includes all victims, even the Nazis themselves that were murdered by the party. See: www.hawaii.edu—NOTE3.HTM
wedge Q: In your opinion, what are the two best books in English that document the Holocaust?
* A: Raul Hilberg, The Destruction Of The European Jews. Very close in usefulness as histories are (I can't choose between them) Lucy S. Dawidowicz, The War Against The Jews1933-1945; and Yehuda Bauer, A History Of The Holocaust. Also, be sure to look through the Encyclopedia Of The Holocaust.
wedge Q: What is the basis for your figure of 87,600 (non-Jewish) British citizens "killed in cold blood"?
* A: Mainly indiscriminate bombing of British cities. In international law, this is a crime against humanity and is no less in cold blood (maybe even colder, when you consider with what little passion the bombs are dropped) than shooting people at the edge of a ditch. These figures focus on the Nazi's. I count elsewhere the toll for the American and British indiscriminate bombing of German and Japanese cities. All my figures refer to what would be categorized as murder by the state according to international law or UN conventions. The figure also includes 7,310 British POWs murdered.
wedge Q: Your figure of 21,000,000 murdered by the Nazis is way too high. Where do you get this total from?
* A: From hundreds of sources for each specific ethnicity, nationality, or democide. I compared and contrasted estimates, compiled, and totaled them. So far as I know the literature, I am the only one to have done this complete accounting. I can only hope that it will encourage others to improve on the estimates.
wedge Q: How much faith should we put in your figures for the Nazi democide?
* At their best, my figures are only approximations. But this is true of Holocaust totals as well. Experts who have painfully sifted through the Nazi archives, extensively interviewed survivors, and taken detailed depositions of witnesses, have been unable to agree among themselves on the final total of Jews murdered. In his thoroughly documented and comprehensive work, Raul Hilberg concluded that 5,100,000 Jews died; based on her detailed country-by-country analysis Lucy Dawidowicz arrived at a figure of 5,933,900 annihilated. Gerald Reitlinger calculated the toll at 4,204,400 to 4,575,400 Jews. Taking all such studies into account and making his own calculations for his Atlas of the Holocaust, Martin Gilbert arrived at a total of just over 5,750,000 deaths. In later work, in the appendix to the Encyclopedia of the Holocaust, Israel Gutman and Robert Rozett estimated total losses at from 5,596,029 to 5,860,129. Just among these five thorough studies of the available evidence and statistics, the variation from the lowest to the highest figure is 41 percent.
* Finally, if all these figures are so uncertain, with so much disagreement as to the low and high, why do this? While no actual figure, not even from government archives, can be certain, in general and if done carefully, they give us a magnitude of which there can be little doubt. Surely, for example, Hitler slaughtered somewhere between 5,000,000 and 7,000,000 Jews. I also submit that there is now no doubt that he also murdered over 7,000,000 non-Jews.
wedge Q: You focus on German indiscriminate bombing, but ignore that of Germany by the Allies. How come?
* A: Both the U.K. and U.S. did carry out indiscriminate bombing of German, Hungarian, and Rumanian cities. Again, I do not count civilians killed in what was supposed to be precision bombing or bombing of military targets. But those murdered in indiscriminate bombing (numbers are the low, my estimate, high, in 000): UK, 307, 424, 608; U.S., 243, 372, 922. Then there was the U.S. indiscriminate firebombing and Atomic bombing of Japanese cities. Toll: 225, 337, 855. For sources, estimates, calculations, and the like on this bombing, as well as justification for counting it, see: www2.hawaii.edu—SOD.CHAP13.HTM.
wedge Q: Doesn’t the comparison of the Holocaust to other genocides/democides demean it.
* A: This is to misunderstand scholarship and science. That the medical scientist collects data on deaths from skin cancer in order to uncover its causation is not to demean the death of anyone's loved one from heart disease.
wedge Q: Is the complaint that there is so little on the Holocaust in textbooks correct?
* A: Yes, if looked at alone. But, overall, the Holocaust gets much more attention in texts than does the democides that have murdered in horrible ways many more than the Holocaust. Consider that Stalin alone is responsible for the murder of about 40,000,000 of his subjects and foreigners; Mao Tse-tung near 35,000,000. Yet, this goes virtually unmentioned in any textbook.
wedge Q: Is the Holocaust unique?
* A: Depends on the perspective. For me it is not unique in being a case of democide that can be studied in comparison to other democides to search out common causes and conditions. The most basic commonality is that it was carried out by a nondemocracy.
wedge Q: It is presumptuous on the part of any human being to claim a "empirical" understanding of the Holocaust. How can statistics, stretched as they may be, convey the immeasurable depth of this human tragedy.
* A: Quite right. By "empirical," I mean to include what is our most basic empirical data: actual human experience. Statistics have their place, but are truly limited in conveying understanding. This comes from actual experience of an event, and interviews and conversations with survivors and perpetuators, and scholarly study. I've thus tried to combine scientific research with traditional scholarship and my own book on Nazi genocide (at: www.hawaii.edu—NOTE3.HTM), which should well display my successes and failures at this.
wedge Q: What is your estimate of the Jewish dead during the Holocaust? I have seen estimates from 500,000 to 6,000,000 .
* A: I wrote a book on the democide by the Nazi regime, and since so much work has been done on it, I was especially careful about that for the Jews. See: http://www.hawaii.edu/powerkills/NOTE3.HTM. My estimate for the Jews murdered is 5,291,000. It may be surprising that among the best studies of the Holocaust (Hilberg, Dawidowicz, Gilbert, Reitlinger, and Gutman and Rozett), their estimates vary by 41 percent. So, it would be absurd for me to claim my total is true, rather than the ballpark estimate it is.
wedge Q: There's a statistic I'm having trouble finding on your web site: what is the percentage of the population of Europe murdered by Nazi Germany during World War II?
* A: The Nazi's probably murdered one out of every eighteen Europeans they controlled during World War II, including Germany itself 1933-1945. Exclude Germany, and it is one out of every fifteen people. Keeping in mind that Germany occupied almost all of Europe during the war, effectively this figure is for East and West Europe as a whole. The source is the appendix to my Democide: Nazi Genocide and Mass Murder. See the summary chapter on my website at www.hawaii.edu—NOTE3.HTM, and particularly Table 1.2 at: www.hawaii.edu—NAZIS.TAB1.2.GIF . Table 1.1 (www.hawaii.edu—NAZIS.TAB1.1.GIF provides a list of the Nazi democide per country).
wedge Q: How many non-Jews did the Nazis murder?
* A: There has been virtually no attempt to determine these overall statistics. So, I did this for my book Democide: Nazi Genocide and Mass Murder at: http://www.hawaii.edu/powerkills/NOTE3.HTM. Overall, 1933 to 1945, the Nazis murdered 20,946,000, including 5,400,000 Jews. Subtract the Jewish Holocaust, and I get that the Nazis murdered 15,546,000 Poles, Germans, Frenchmen, Czechs, Russians, and so on.
wedge Q: I have been taught that Hitler murdered approximately 9,000,000 people in concentration camps, about 6,000,000 of them Jews. Is this correct?
* A: For all, including Jews, I determined that, as a conservative estimate, 6,000,000 were murdered in the camps. Inside and outside the camps, the Nazi’s murdered overall 20,900,000 Russians, Poles, French, Yugoslavs, etc., including 5,400,000 Jews.
wedge Q: Regarding victims, the Soviet Gulag state has got the high score in the last century. The Nazi genocide state is on the third place. In Germany, the current view is that the Nazi tyranny is a singular piece of history concerning evil. Is it possible to rate tyranny in terms of victim scores only, or is there also something like a democidal quality, based on the contemplation of human life, which would make Hitler a more evil murderer than Stalin?
* A: No. I think that democide is a measure of not only the number murdered, but also the horror of the underlying tyranny. But, here the population size and age of the regime have to be taken into account. The Cambodian Khmer Rouge were the absolute worse, murdering 2,000,000 of their people, about one-fourth to one-third of all Cambodians in four years. In terms of murdered to the population controlled, the Soviets murdered at an annual rate of .42 percent; the Cambodians at an annual rate of 8.16 percent, and Germans at .09 percent. In these terms, if one wants to rate evil, the Khmer Rouge were worse.
* I don't think in these terms however. When you get up to millions murdered by a regime, it is so manifestly evil and inhumane, that nothing more need be said. It is like asking which is worse, killing a child with a hammer or a knife? Stalin, Hitler, Mao, Pol Pot, and several others were absolute evil unto themselves.
wedge Q: Shouldn’t Hitler be credited with the starvation deaths of some number of citizens of the Soviet Union, perhaps about 30,000,000?
* A: There was starvation to be sure, but much of this was due to the war and some to Soviet policy. Overall, my toll for the Nazi genocide in the U.S.S.R. is 12,250,000.
wedge Greece
wedge Q: How can you explain Greece? Greece is, and started out as a democracy, but it had been known to "force" democracy via what you could prove as democide. They had nearly all the checks and balances we have today, but they still committed democide, per your model.
* A: Greece did commit democide of about 16,000 in the period 1911-1924; 20,000 during 1946-1949 by ELAS; and 3,000 during 1944-1952. However, none of these governments were democratic. However, it is clear that Greece committed democide during the later 1940s in the process of democratization.
wedge Gun Control
wedge Q: How many of the regimes that murdered 169,000,000 people, during the period 1900-1987, had some form of arms prohibition for its the people in place?
* A: I don't know. This is not something that I systematically noted. I can say that some nations, such as Turkey, did require Armenians turn in all weapons before slaughtering them. But then there were countries in which weapons were widely available before the killing started, as in Mexico during the Revolution, or Russia during its Red Terror and Civil War after the Bolshevik coup.
wedge Q: Have you done any research into the fact that totalitarian/democidal governments like Nazi Germany, U.S.S.R., China, Cambodia, Rwanda, and Turkey, first disarmed their people with gun control, and then the populations had no means of self defense or check against power, and were left vulnerable and at the mercy of the totalitarian governments?
* A: Not specifically on this question, but it was clear in the process of my research that some regimes did this seizure of guns systematically, as did the Turks in 1915 before beginning their genocide of their Armenians.
wedge Indigenous People
wedge Q: Why you have not included the most comprehensively successful examples of genocide, the destruction of indigenous cultures by European invaders in Australia, New Zealand, Canada, and the U.S.A.?
* A: I have had to limit my specific data collection to 20th century. But, in my book Death By Government, however, I do present a chapter on pre-20th century democide (at: www.hawaii.edu—DBG.CHAP3.HTM), and deal with that of Australian natives, as well as North and South American Indians. There were also cases of killing of Indians in this century, none of which, however, rises into the hundreds of thousands. Mexico, however, did murder over 1,000,000 people prior to and during the Revolution, many of whom were Indians under forced labor. Germany before WWI carried out a campaign of murder against Africans in its colonies. Much democide also occurred on European plantations in South-East Asia.
wedge Iran
wedge Q: Is not Iran a democracy? Yet, it commits democide, murdering its people by the tens of thousands?
* A: Iran does have a competitive election among licensed political parties, but this makes Iran no more a democracy than did elections in the Soviet Union make it a democracy. After all, in Iran the political parties allowed to present candidates are limited to those that are theologically acceptable. Second, the county is in reality ruled by the unelected Assembly of (Islamic) Experts, which appoints the leader of the Islamic Revolution for life, who is then the Chief of State. He is presently Ayatollah Ali Hoseini-Khamenei. I should note that in 1988 the previous Chief of State, Ayatollah Khomeini, directly ordered 30,000 people murdered (all hanged from cranes) as "political opponents,” some of them children. If I were to rank countries in their freedom, Iran would be among the least free.
wedge Iraq
wedge Q: How many did Saddam Hussein murder?
* From 1963 to 1987 (the end of my data collection), the socialist Baath Party that ruled Iraq murdered 101,000 to 407,000 people, probably around 189,000. Hussein took command of the Baath Party in 1965, became Deputy Chair of Revolutionary Command Council in 1969, and President of Iraq in 1979. As to his rule after 1987, and judging by news reports and the mass graves so far found in Iraq, he must be responsible for an additional several hundred thousand victims. If the his war against Iran and Kuwait are taken into account, he surely is responsible for the death of well over 1,000,000 people.
wedge Israel
wedge Q: Is suicide bombing to kill Israel Jewish civilians genocide?
* Yes. There has been a systematic campaign of genocide against Israel, really the Jews in Israel, and often elsewhere as well (for example, there is good reason to believe that the journalist Daniel Pearl was murdered because he was a Jew). This genocide is being carried out with the support of Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Syria, and the Palestinian Authority (groups connected to the Authority have admitted responsibility for some of the bombing)
wedge Q: What is your proof that the suicide bombing is genocide?
* A: To be genocide, there must be an intent to kill Jews because they are Jews. Now, Palestinian terrorist organizations, such as Hamas, have often claimed responsibility for one bombing or another, and display this by honoring the bombers, and celebrating the deaths of the Jews so murdered (to keep this in context, they glory in the murder of Jewish civilians going about their daily lives). And the Charter of Hamas (The Charter Of Allah: The Platform Of The Islamic Resistance Movement) says, among other things: "[O]ur struggle against the Jews . . . . The time will not come until Moslems will fight the Jews (and kill them); until the Jews hide behind rocks and trees, which will cry: O Moslem! there is a Jew hiding behind me . . . . The Nazism of the Jews does not skip women and children, it scares everyone. They make war against people's livelihood, plunder their moneys and threaten their honor [How reminiscent of the Nazi's rational for the Holocaust] . . . . Within the circle of the conflict with world Zionism, the Hamas regards itself the spearhead and the avant-garde. It joins its efforts to all those who are active on the Palestinian scene, but more steps need to be taken by the Arab and Islamic peoples and Islamic associations throughout the Arab and Islamic world in order to make possible the next round with the Jews, the merchants of war.”
* Of course, one may say that this is a terrorist organization, not the Palestinian Authority. Then look at the Palestinian National Covenant. It in effect calls for the liquidation of the "Zionist presence," a common Arabic euphemism for the State of Israel. Some quotes from the Covenant: Article 15: "aims at the elimination of Zionism in Palestine." Article 22: "Israel is the instrument of the Zionist movement, and geographical base for world imperialism."
* Then there are statements such as these: "Kill so many Jews that they will eventually abandon Palestine." (Ibrahim Sarbal, Leader of Islamic Jihad Movement in Palestine -- Al-Aqsa Brigades); "Six million descendants of monkeys [i.e., Jews] now rule in all the nations of the world, but their day, too, will come. Allah! Kill them all, do not leave even one!" (Imam Sheik Ahmad Ibrahim, Hamas leader, in a sermon at the Palestine Mosque in Gaza).
wedge Q: How can you call the suicide bombing genocide, given what Israel has done to the Palestinians?
* A: There is nothing in the Genocide Convention or the International Criminal Court articles, or the preliminary discussion of them, which mitigates genocide. Genocide is genocide, pure and simple. If x commits actions against y that fall under the definition of genocide in the Convention or ICC's definition, it doesn't matter whether y eats little children for breakfast. It is still genocide.
wedge Q: What is your political position on the Palestinian cause?
* A: I strongly am for a sovereign Palestinian state on coequal terms with Israel, as long as it is democratic and accepts by treaty the coexistence of Israel.
wedge Q: Do you think there is a possibility that Israel is moving down a road toward genocide of the Palestinians?
* A: No. What is necessary for genocide to be possible, not that it would necessarily carry it out, is that Israel’s government be non-democratic. The more nondemocratic, the more likely such genocide. While there are human rights problems in Israel, it is a well functioning democracy, as witnessed by the recent elections.
wedge Japan
wedge Q: Are the 3,949,000 victims of the Japanese that you have on the list of democide instances/periods for China's Bloody Century separate from the 5,964,000 victims during World War II, or are they a part of the 5,964,000?
* A: The 3,900,000 figure is of Chinese murdered by the Japanese. The 5,960,000 is the total of all those murdered by the Japanese, including Chinese.
wedge Q: Published figures on the Rape of Nanking in 1937 by the Japanese Army vary considerably, but none is over 60,000; one is as low as 20,000. What is your figure?
* A: China now claims the total was 300,000, as did some American and Chinese investigators soon after the war. A chief Chinese prosecutor claimed in 1946 that the toll was 260,000. After considering such estimates, I settled on a toll of 200,000 Chinese murdered.
* Q: Why does the Rape of Nanking get so much attention, while the killing of millions of Chinese during the Japanese invasion and occupation elsewhere in China receive to little?
wedge Q: You must know about the Rape of Nanking. Is this the worst that the Japanese did during their invasion and occupation of China?
* A: No. There is a near total neglect of what the Japanese military did elsewhere in China. The Rape of Nanking was not unusual -- it was exemplary of the rape and murder done in many cities and towns, and the countryside. The reason it got so much attention at the time, which then feeds into the current singular treatment of it, is that in 1937 Nanking was Chiang Kai-shek’s capital and location of embassies, and major base of foreign journalists and missionaries. So, foreigners were able to see the massacres and rapes first hand, record them in diaries and monographs, and take photographs. Thus, many articles and a book or so was written on what happened. Such information was not easily available for the rest of China. This Rape of Nanking thus became famous. Now, Iris Chang has published a book in 1997, The Rape of Nanking, on it, and it has become well known. The only book that to my knowledge focuses on the Japanese democide throughout China is my China’s Bloody Century, but it is hardly known. See www.hawaii.edu—NOTE2.HTM.
wedge Laos
wedge Q: I did not see the death count for the country of Laos. Do you know how many people have died in Laos since the Vietnam War?
* A: Yes, for Laos (Pathet Lao, 1960-1975) I estimate a democide of about 38,000. For the PDR (1975-1987) I estimate about 56,000. For the breakdown of these figures, see on my web site and lines 2159-2255 in my Table 15.1D at: www2.hawaii.edu—SOD.TAB15.1D.GIF
wedge Mongols
wedge Q: I am surprised to learn from your website the Mongols found so many people to kill in individual cities. Were there cities with more than 1,000,000 inhabitants in the 13th Century? How accurate are the sources on which these estimates are based?
* A: There were cities containing over 1,000,000 population, largely due to refugees, I believe. For documentation of this, see on my web site Chapter 3 of my Death By Government (and use your find command to locate Mongols) http://www2.hawaii.edu/~rummel/DBG.CHAP3.HTM. I was also surprised by this and investigated a number of sources, but could find no disagreement.
wedge Pakistan
wedge Q: Why do you think that the genocide 1971 in East Pakistan (now Bangladesh) is so little reported among genocide scholars?"
* A: To determine how true this is, I went to the two-volume Encyclopedia of Genocide and found only three columns on the genocide (or democide, if one feels the term does not apply), or a page and a half, plus an entry in a tabular list. That's it. So, the genocide is little reported by this measure. This in spite of this quote from the Encyclopedia (p. 115): " . . . three million people dead, a quarter of 1,000,000 women and girls raped, ten million people fled to India, and thirty million people forced to flee their homes." This would make it one of the worst cases of genocide in the century, if the numbers are near correct (my estimate is a democide of 1,503,000). It is worse by the Encyclopedia's numbers than the genocides of the Armenians, Cambodians (adopting the Encyclopedia's treatment of this as genocide), Rwandans, Hereros, and Indonesians. etc. Why this lack of interest? "I don't know. It's a mystery to me."
wedge Poland
wedge Q: How can you blame Poland for the mass murder of ethnic Germans 1944-1947. The Soviet security apparatus directed it. Although Poles certainly did participate, as did Czechs and Jews, the policy was directed from Moscow.
* A: In the immediate aftermath of the Germany’s defeat in Poland, when most of the democide occurred, the local and national Polish governments were a mixture of communists and noncommunists. True, security was in the hands of the communists; true, the police were overall directed by the communists. But still, Polish officials made many of the local decisions, especially those affecting the treatment of ethnic Germans, and particularly in the newly occupied eastern territories. One example is the feeding and treatment of ethnic German refugees, which many local communities allowed to starve to death or die of exposure. Moreover, the manner in which the expulsion of German's was carried out, even if the expulsion order was Moscow directed, was usually in the hands of Polish officials. One must also take account of the murder of Germans that was done by Poles acting in one capacity or another (such as prison guards) and that went purposely unpunished at the time or was treated by officials with a wink and a nod. It was not until 1947 that the government was totally taken over by Moscow- directed communists, which was well after the democide I recorded. The present democratic government of Poland recognizes this itself, and has tried a 78-year-old Pole accused of killing thousands of German civilians in the aftermath of the Second World War.
wedge Q: I understand that you have become an ogre in Poland for your claim about their murder of ethnic Germans after the war, and have received many emails about it. Have you revised your statistics on this?
* No. I have received many more emails about these statistics than about any other. To respond to all these, I wrote an addenda to my statistics to clarify their nature and basis. It is at: www.hawaii.edu—SOD.CHAP7.ADDENDA.HTM.
wedge Pre-20th Century
wedge Q: Did not the Romans use a democidal quota system? They used execution of a tenth of a military cohort (decimation) as an incentive to better performance or discipline.
* A: You are right about the Romans using this technique as a form of punishment of a group of soldiers. Other nations did this as well, including the Russians. In modern times, it has been used as a way of weeding out "nonconformists" or "opponents." Among civilians. In some cases, the rulers theorize that x percent of their people, or those under their control, are such, and then send orders to their military or secret police to exterminate this percent in a town or village. This type of quota is distinctly different that punishing a group by selecting each tenth man for death.
wedge Rwanda
wedge Q: Have you done any studies of the hideous 1994 genocide in Rwanda?
* A: For a number of practical reasons I had to cut off the episode-by-episode-collection of democide data and analyses at 1987. Thus, Rwanda 1994 is not covered in my statistics. From my reading, however, I guess the toll was about 350,000 to 1,000,000, conservatively 700,000. I would not put a fine point on this number, however, if at least the range is correct.
wedge Sri Lanka
wedge Q: Has the case of the Tamils in Sri Lanka ever been cited by yourself or others as a case of genocide. Research on the human rights situation there is leading me increasingly to conclude that this situation is also one of genocide.
* A: My data collection stopped at 1987, but up to that time, I get a democide by the government of 4,000, possibly as high as 10,000 murdered. Whether this is genocide is a question, however. I did not count it as such, since this democide occurred in an attempt to put down a rebellion and fight terrorism by the Tamils. To be genocide requires that people be murdered because of their ethnicity/nationalism/religion/race alone, as for example, for being a Tamil.
wedge Terrorism
wedge Q: Was the 9/11 attack on the twin towers democide?
* If the terrorists were agents of a government, yes. If they were part of a terrorist organization that controlled territory and its people, then yes, since a quasi-government ran it. If they were members of no such territorially based organization, and the planning was their own, even although they did receive aid and comfort from a state, what they did was not democide, but plain murder.
wedge Turkey and Armenians
wedge Q: Did the Turkish government commit genocide against its Armenian minority during World War I and after?
* A: By my estimation, from 1900 to 1923, the various Turkish governments committed a number of genocides (for summary statistics, see the table at www.hawaii.edu—DBG.TAB10.1.GIF). Armenians murdered = 2,102,000 (1,487,000 foreign and domestic by Young Turks; 614,000 foreign and domestic by Nationalists). Greeks murdered = 347,000 (84,000 by Young Turks; 264,000 by Nationalists). There were also nongenocidal massacres of 15,000 Armenians under Abdul Hamid. I must point out that all these figures are my conservative estimates within a low-high range of estimates from a large variety of sources. Even were my figures too high by 200 or 300 percent, even if the Young Turks and Nationalists murdered, no more than 500,000 Armenians and 100,000 Greeks, nothing morally is changed. This was an historical outrage of the first order and the world community must recognize it as such.
* A: No doubt that the Turkish governments committed this genocide. But, successive Turkish governments since then have done everything in their power to suppress knowledge about the genocide and to deny it to this day. This is reminiscent of the French colonial office concealing information about the genocide in French Congo.
wedge Q: You claim that the Turks murdered 1,883,000 Armenians in Turkey between 1909 and 1918, and a further 878,000 between 1919 and 1923. Are these figures are the result of your own research, or did you copy and paste the information from some other source?
* A: These are the result of an extensive and intensive research on the question of Turkish genocide and mass murder -- not only of Armenians, but also Greeks and other Christians. It is a chapter in my book, Death By Government. The chapter is not on my web site, but the summary overview of the material in the book is at: http://www2.hawaii.edu/~rummel/NOTE1.HTML. I have put on my site, however, all the estimates, calculations, and sources for my figures on Turkish democide. These are in my book Statistics of Democide, which is entirely on my site, and the chapter on Turkey is at: www2.hawaii.edu—SOD.CHAP5.HTM
wedge Q: You say about 2,100,000 Armenians were murdered by Turkish regimes, while many scholars put the number somewhere between 1,000,000-1,500,000. Why the difference?
* A: Too many scholars stop their analysis at the end of the Young Turk Regime. But genocide also occurred after that, even involving the Turkish invasion of the new, postwar Armenian state. See my statistical analysis at: http://www.hawaii.edu/powerkills/SOD.CHAP5.HTM
wedge Q: You claim that the Turks committed genocide on their Armenians and Greeks. What about what the Armenians and Greeks did to Moslem Turks?
* A: Greeks and Armenians did also commit genocide. As best I could determine, the Greek Army murdered at least 15,000 Moslem Turks (see line 422f of www.hawaii.edu—SOD.TAB5.1A.GIF), and Armenians themselves murdered some 80,000 Moslem Turks and Azerbaijanis (lines 100f of www.hawaii.edu—SOD.TAB15.1A.GIF). This genocide is itself to be condemned.
wedge United States
wedge Q: Are you troubled by the increasing centralization of power in the American federal government?
* A: Yes. Well-established democracies have built in safeguards against collapsing into dictatorship and consequent democide. But I worry about the effect of the increasing centralization of power on these safeguards. As the center assumes more power around itself, the political/economic/social stakes of the struggle for power become greater. A point can be reached where some in power feel that the justice/equality/welfare/security of the whole country demands they "temporarily" set the Constitution aside. We have an example of this with the democratically elected Alberto Fujimori’s 1992 assumption of dictatorial powers "for the good" of Peru. The only final protection against this, I believe, is to reduce the stakes, which is to reduce centralized power -- to roll Big Government back. I don't believe this is a partisanship, Republican or Democrat issue, but a democratic one. If we want to keep our democracy and its attendant Bill of Rights secure, we must reduce the current overwhelming centralization of power.
wedge Q: For U.S. democide, do you include the invasion of Panama, the invasion of Iraq, deaths by U.S. sponsored contras in Nicaragua, the "disappeared" in S. America who were murdered by U.S. supported and trained personnel, the CIA sponsored wars/ atrocities in Chile, Angola, Vietnam, Guatemala, El Salvador, Afghanistan, etc, or would you consider those third party and attribute the deaths to the governments of the respective countries?
* A: First, my statistics only go up to 1987. Second, they do not include killed in combat or though military action, unless the Geneva Conventions are violated. Third, only direct murders are included. Second or third party involvement is not included. Finally, if such were included, the totals for the U.S.S.R., China, and many other countries would be far more inflated then they would be for the United States
wedge Q: What about the extermination of native Americans? Was not the U.S. a democracy during this?
* Most of Indian deaths were due to disease or the private action of citizens and groups. Many were murdered while what is now the U.S. was a colony; and during the four bloody Anglo-French wars that preceded the Declaration of Independence in 1776. Those Indians murdered after the American Revolution and due to government action, as by soldiers, amounted to 10,000 to 25,000. Not even close to the hundreds of thousands and millions of their citizens and natives murdered by totalitarian governments. Then, keep in mind that the U.S. was not a democracy in modern terms. Slavery was legal and widespread; and women did not have the vote.
wedge Q: What about what the United States did to the Native Americans : -- wasn't that genocide?
* A: Yes, some of it was genocide, as now legally defined; some of it was non-genocidal democide, i.e., plain murder by government.
wedge Q: Your democide body count of American Indians who were murdered by government or settlers or because of deportation is a maximum of 25,000 between 1789 and 1900. In Europe, the number of 60,000,000 often is believed to be the number of Indian victims of the U.S. A alone.
* A: The problem is in what is meant by “victims.” The death toll from diseases that the colonists brought to the American continent, what is now the United States, was truly horrendous, but I don’t think that 60,000,000 is close to the toll. I doubt the population was nearly this huge.
* But, the unintentional toll from disease is often confused with the number of Indians murdered. That latter number is surprisingly low, compared to those murdered in the European colonies, such as the Congo Free State of the King of Belgium (5,000,000 to 10,000,000). One reason for the misunderstanding is the large number of cases (frequency) but relatively low number of deaths (severity) in which Indians were massacred by Federal troops. Based on European history, one might think of massacres as being in the thousands, and in some cases hundreds of thousands. But in reality, they amounted to 150 here, 200 there, or 74 in another place. True, these add up, but to the low thousands and not hundreds of thousands.
wedge Q: What about slavery in the United States? Couldn't this be considered genocide or mass murder?
* A: Not unless the slaves were (1) murdered in order to destroy the group of slaves (genocide), (2) intentionally murdered by government for whatever reason (democide).
wedge Q: Was the American atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki democide?
* A: Yes, and the A-bombing of Hiroshima, Nagasaki, and firebombing of Tokyo/Yokohama and other cities should be considered together. One bomb each on Hiroshima and Nagasaki may have murdered together some 150,000 Japanese, but the firebombing of Tokyo alone murdered about 100,000 within a day or so. These bombings intentionally murdered women and children, old and helpless, and all unarmed. This was a war crime, and if Japan had won the war they could have legitimately, by international law, tried as war criminals President Truman and the top military responsible for the bombing. By the Geneva Conventions it is a crime against humanity to bomb unarmed civilians. The targets were cities as such, not military targets.
* If you believe that I’m applying the greater sensitivity of post-WWII soul searching to events during the war, think again. When the Japanese were bombing Chinese cities in 1937, with nowhere near the toll of American bombing of Japan, both the Unites States and United Kingdom sent diplomatic protests to Tokyo over their barbaric, inhuman, bombing of civilians. If this very limited Japanese bombing could be so characterized by the United States, what could be said of the American bombing of Japan?
* But, in the case of the atomic bombs, the supporters of their use argued they may have saved the lives of hundreds of thousands of American servicemen, and even more Japanese, since partially armed civilians would have been thrown into the battles against invading forces. However, this is all hypothetical. The war may have ended before an invasion was necessary. True, American lives might have (note, might have) been saved. Really. Is a Japanese life less precious than an American life? In any case, it would have been armed American and Japanese lives lost in battle, which moralists recognize as ethically different from armed soldiers purposely killing unarmed, helpless civilians.
* If bombing is a matter of revenge, as I’m sure it was in the general bombing of Japanese cities, then how justify so murdering vast numbers of children who had no responsibility for the war. Indeed, since Japan at the time was a fascist, military state, where the Japanese people were but brainwashed pawns in the schemes of the military, how to even justify killing men and women who had no responsibility for the war or actions of the Japanese military?
wedge Q: Wasn’t the indiscriminate bombing of German cities democide.
* A: Yes, and so was the firebombing of Japanese cities. I count all this as U.S. democide. Note that in an Errol Morris documentary, in reference to a World War II firebombing of Japanese cities, former American Secretary of Defense, Robert McNamara -- who was a lieutenant colonel in the US air force at the time -- admits that he and his top military commander were ``behaving as war criminals''. If the United States had lost the war, he says he believes he and Washington's leaders would have been tried for their acts, in which 100,000 Japanese civilians were murdered in just one night's firebombing of Tokyo.
wedge Q: The atom bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki and the bombing of German towns like Dresden were democidal acts, because the responsible governments knew that the deaths of hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians would be the result. Does the fact that the allies were not the first aggressor in that war, soften the quality of this democide? Or are the responsible persons war criminals like the aggressors of the other side?
* A: Regarding the first question, not for me. On the second question, I don't care what the reason, to intentionally murder civilians is murder. If one finds it difficult to accept this for the murder of an aggressor's civilians, one must ask about how one can qualify the murder of children, or folks who had nothing to do with the regime, or indeed, may have been opposed to its aggression.
wedge Q: Regarding what you call U.S. democide, aren’t you applying back in history, when such was not recognized as wrong or immoral, a modern view of indiscriminate bombing.?
* A: This was not illegal at the time? If one considers the various conventions trying to limit war and agreed to by the international community as establishing a legal code, then the Hague Convention of 1923 (Articles 22, 23) made indiscriminate urban bombing illegal. This view is confirmed by the speech of the British Prime Minister before the House of Commons in 1938 in which he said that any such bombing was an "undoubted violation of international law." Shortly after, the League of Nations unanimously passed a resolution affirming that such bombing was illegal. Moreover, the U.S. officially characterized such urban area Japanese bombing in China as barbaric, inhumane, and criminal. So, such action was recognized before WWII as wrong and immoral. And Great Britain and the U.S. did much worse in bombing civilian areas (e.g., fire bombing) in total destruction and civilian lives lost than did the Japanese.
wedge Q: How can you think that President George Bush, who started a war with the sovereign nation of Iraq, can be on the side of democracy?
* A: He did because of the danger Hussein posed to the United States. And the danger was there in Hussein's aid to terrorists, and the potential weapons at his disposal, which eventually would be nuclear weapons. I know this is now controversial, but this was at the time the consensus of all Western intelligence agencies.
* Second, the man had murdered hundreds of thousands of his people, launched a war that killed about 1,000,000 Iraqi and Iranians, and totally repressed his people. Women were raped at will, and fathers or brothers that complained were murdered. Plus, he had invaded and tried to take over completely the neighboring country of Kuwait. Then there is Afghanistan, which was, especially for women, under the Taliban a hellhole. Now, because of Bush, it is a democracy. The president’s policies in the Middle East, Iraq, and Afghanistan are consistent with Bush’s rhetoric. His basic policy is to foster democracy, and that is what he has been doing.
wedge Q: What is your response to arguments frequently raised by Edward S. Herman and Noam Chomsky that the levels of political violence have been comparable or higher in states allied with the United States than in states regarded as America's political enemies?
* A: I don't see how this claim can be made except by ignoring most of the world, especially what had gone on in communist countries, which were hardly allied with the U.S. Consider where most of the domestic political violence has occurred since World War II: U.S.S.R., communist China, North Korea, Vietnam, Khmer Rouge Cambodia, communist Hungary, communist and post- communist Afghanistan, just to mention a few. Then there were/are the noncommunist dictatorships, such as Burma, Iraq, Syria, post-revolutionary Iran, Algeria, Uganda, Rwanda, and Burundi.
wedge Q: why no mention of the mass murders by America all over the world?
* A: I have. See, for example, http://www2.hawaii.edu/~rummel/SOD.CHAP13.HTM
wedge Q: Does your work include mention of Operation Keelhaul?
* A: Yes, I did considerable reading on Operation Keelhaul and included what estimates I could find and make in my Lethal Politics on the Soviet Union and Statistics Of Democide. All told, the incredible "repatriation" of actual and former Soviet citizens to the U.S.S.R. after the war amounted to about 5,500,000 people, more than half of which died or were murdered as a result (see Lethal Politics, p. 165). Both the British and Americans bear considerable responsibility for this.
wedge Q: According to a simple equation of body count/unit time squared, the United States outperforms all the authoritarian/totalitarian states combined in potential lethality. That you should say its "levels of violence" are in any way inferior to other states . . . well, let's tote up dead Iraqi and N. Korean children, plus all the other deaths directly attributable to American foreign policy since World War II, and see. Then handgun and other criminality statistics, internally. You agree?
* A: No. Even were I to agree with what you included under democide, which I don’t, the totals would proportionally remain the same for free societies. This is because, according to your way of counting, you would have to include all the government caused famines in socialist states (which for China alone could be near 40,000,000), those that died from malnutrition, forced labor, fleeing from the country, and the like.
wedge U.S.S.R./Communism
wedge Q: I think there's an unconscious ideological bias in the way you define deaths that can be blamed on governments. I think one should count deaths due to economic policies. My impression is that you do this for Communist countries -- from glancing at your Soviet statistics I assume you are using the famine statistics of the 30's to arrive at some of those huge numbers. Well, aren’t noncommunist economic policies in the Third World also to blame for huge excess death rates?
* A: Note that I only count famines if they were politically imposed, as was the Ukrainian famine of the 30s. This was a famine created by Stalin in order to defeat Ukrainian nationalism and opposition to collectivization. I have a chapter on this in my book Lethal Politics, and need only point out here that communist cadre would go through the Ukrainian countryside killing livestock and pets, searching for hidden food, and even taking food off of tables.
* I did not count the Chinese famine of the 60s, although clearly caused by the Great Leap Forward and commune system.
* As to counting deaths due to economic policies, this is a bag of worms with all kinds of complications. Better to count deaths clearly intended by government. Intention, in my work, is the critical criterion. The Ukrainian famine deaths were intended; the Chinese ones were not. Its like separating murder from homicide.
* Q: Do I read your website correctly as estimating the Ukraine famine deaths were 5,000,000? I’ve read elsewhere they were 7,000,000-8,000,000.
wedge Q: On Stalin’s democidal famine against Ukrainian nationalism and resistance to collectivism in the early 1930s, I’ve seen the figure of 7,000,000 starved to death or died from associated diseases. You publish the total as 5,000,000. Which is it?
* A: The best estimate of the Stalin made Ukrainian famine is 5,000,000. However, outside Ukraine, especially in the Caucasus, another 2,000,000-3,000,000 died unintentionally, but nonetheless because of collectivization.
wedge Q: Didn’t a Soviet ship sink sometime in the 1930s with a loss of life greater than the Titanic?
* A: Yes. It was the Soviet prison ship, Indigirka, carrying 2,500 former Kolyma forced labor camps prisoners from Magadan to Vladivostok. It struck a rock. Officials refused to unlock the holds so that the prisoners could escape. Only thirty survived. Source: Vladimir Petrov, Soviet Gold (1949, pp. 403-6).
wedge Q: You say that the Soviet Union from 1917-1987 murdered about 61,000,000 people. That’s too incredible. On what is this based?
* A: See my Lethal Politics: Soviet Genocide and Mass Murder at
* http://www.hawaii.edu/powerkills/NOTE4.HTM for the hundreds of sources, estimates, and calculations involved in this total.
wedge Q: I keep seeing the figure of 20,000,000 for those murdered in the U.S.S.R., but your figure is 62,000,000. This is a huge difference. How come?
* A: This figure of 20,000,000 is from Robert Conquest’s The Great Terror, and is for the 1930s. Independently, I come up with near the same total for those years. However, when you include Stalin’s democide during and after WWII and until his death in 1953, the total for him rises to about 42,000,000. Then there is the democide of Lenin (about 4,000,000) that in the years before Stalin rose to absolute power, and that of those who followed Stalin to power. Moreover, the 62,000,000 total democide takes into account the foreign democide of Poles, Hungarians, Rumanians, Bulgarians, Germans, and so on, amounting to about 7,000,000.
wedge Q: Did Stalin repress the Christian religion, or just those Christians he saw as a threat to the state.?
* A: Stalin systematically attempted to destroy religion. Public and private Churches were torn down, clergy executed, and believers forbidden to worship on pain of gulag or death. It was forbidden to teach a religion to one's children. In 1932 Stalin launched an "antireligion five-year plan" so that at the end of the five years "not a single house of prayer will be needed any longer in any territory of the Soviet Union, and the very notion of God will be expunged . . . ." Those who tried to practice their religion in their own home secretly ran the risk of being caught and punished. And one's children were ordered at school to tell teachers if their parents were doing anti-Soviet things, like exercising some religion.
wedge Q: I read that Stalin's economic radicalism and terror claimed approximately 10,000,000 souls 1929-39. Is that what you find?
* A: I divide this period into 1928-35 (collectivization and famine), 1936-1938 (Great Terror), and 1939-June 1941 (Pre-WWII). For the successive periods, I estimate unnatural non-democidal deaths and democide of 2,000,000, 11,400,000; 1,200, 4,300,000; 256,000, 5,100,000. Therefore, totals for 1928-39: non-democidal unnatural deaths from war/famine = 2,260,000; democide = 20,800,000. This democide figure is amazingly close to Robert Conquest’s (Great Terror) estimate of Stalin’s democide, although I determined it independently.
wedge Q: Why are your estimates of killing in the Soviet Union far higher than those cited by recent sources (since 1989) from the former U.S.S.R.?
* A: There are problems with many of the estimates that depart greatly from mine, but predominantly the following. One is that they are focused on the 1930s (as is the case with the often quoted 20,000,000 estimate, for example) and don't take into account the period under Lenin, Stalin's mass murder during WWII, Stalin's post-war democide, and that by his successors. Moreover, many only focus on domestic murdered, whereas I take into account foreign murdered as well. including the millions of POWs murdered.
wedge Q: I'm interested in the "disappearance" of members of the Japanese Kwantung Army who surrendered in 1945 in Manchuria and was being marched into Russian POW camps when they disappeared. About 1,000,000 of them. Do you know anything of this?
* A: I tried unsuccessfully to find statistics on this and finally ended up treating it as a question mark. From what I know about Soviet treatment of conquered territories and POWs during this period, your 1,000,000 may not be off by much. Since I did not include in my total of Soviet democide during WWII (about 13,000,000) or after (1945-53: about 7,000,000) any estimates for the Japanese democide, and some other groups as well, my figures are truly conservative. See my Lethal Politics at: http://www2.hawaii.edu/~rummel/NOTE4.HTM
wedge Vietnam
wedge Q: How many people out of the total number under Vietnamese Communist control were murdered by the Vietnamese Communists from 1945-1991, and how does this ratio compare to the same ratio for the Nazis from 1932-1945?
* A: The 1945-1987 annual rate of murder for Vietnam (Hanoi) is .1 percent, or 1 per 1,000. The Nazi German rate 1933-45 is .09 percent, or less than 1 per thousand (9 per 10,000). Go to table 1.2 of Death By Government at: http://www.hawaii.edu/powerkills/DBG.TAB1.2.GIF. Thus, the communist Vietnam regime was more deadly than the Nazis. Interesting, isn't it, which government gets the most attention for mass murder.
wedge Q: Were Ho Chi Minh and the Viet Minh guilty of genocide?
* A: The regime conducted a variety of murderous campaigns, including land reform. There was the elimination of Vietnamese noncommunist nationalists, the purging of the Communist Party, the atrocities and massacres in the south during the Vietnam War, the mass executions in the South after victory in 1975 (forget the numbers -- no one disagrees that it occurred), the ethnic cleansing of Chinese-Vietnamese in the late 70s-early 80s (causing the massive Boat People exodus), and the Gulag- like prisons, re-education camps, and forced laborers. All these involved government murder. Which is genocide? By the legal meaning, only the ethnic cleansing of Chinese-Vietnamese was genocide. By the common meaning as the killing of people because of group membership, this also is the only genocide. By the generalized meaning of any government murder, all was genocide. However defined, from 1945 to 1987 the Communist Party of Vietnam, before, during, and after the Vietnam War, murdered 1,669,000 people. See Statistics of Democide: http://www.hawaii.edu/powerkills/SOD.CHAP6.HTM
wedge Q: You say that Vietnam under Ho was one of "four regimes that murdered by the number" in furtherance of some sort of quota. What do you mean?
* A: There were at least two major applications of a murder quota by Ho Chi Minh, head of the Vietnamese Communist Party and President of Vietnam (1945-69). One was in his land reform of the early and mid-50s, and the other was during the Vietnam War in the South.
* Regarding land reform, the communists demanded at first that at least one "landlord" be murdered per village. They later found this number insufficient, and raised the quota from one to five per village. That is, the peasants of each village in North Vietnam were ordered to define at least five "landlords" for execution.
* Then, during the Vietnam War, the North conducted a terror campaign against South Vietnamese villages that used a murder by quota system. As an example, consider a secret 1969 Viet Cong directive (keep in mind that the Viet Cong were secret, fully controlled, operational units of the North) for the Can Duoc District Unit Subregion, which specified for the month of June the following quotas for the units it covered: "kill at least one chief or assistant chief in each of the following: Public Security Service, District National Police Service, Open Air Service, Information Service, Pacification Teams," and a "District Chief or an Assistant District Chief;" and "exterminate three wicked tyrants living in district seats or wards." As to village units, they "must kill three enemy." Sometimes the quotas were even given in the aggregate for whole areas. Just for the coast in the Viet Cong's Sub-Region 5, higher authority instructed them to "kill 1,400 persons (including 150 tyrants [South Vietnam government officials])) . . . and annihilate . . . four pacification groups."
wedge Q: Your democide total for Vietnam is incredibly high compared to knowledgeable scholarship. What are your sources?
* Critics of my work have often pointed out my use of "right wing" sources, while they ignore those from the "left," or communists. This has been a misunderstanding of my methods. I have tried to use communist, left wing, and right wing sources, to bracket not only the low and high for the democide, but to also make sure I understood the several interpretations of events. Of course, I also tried to consult the major "objective" academic/research sources. Finally, my research on Vietnam ended about 1990/ or 91 and thus may be dated as far as interpreting events is concerned, but I have seen no attempt by genocide scholars to update or correct my democide totals since.
* My sources are given in the notes to my chapter on Vietnam in Death By Government and Statistics of Democide.
wedge Q: Who were the Viet Cong at the height of the Vietnam war?
* A: Mainly South Vietnamese farmers, who worked their fields during the day, and fought as Viet Cong (communist Vietnamese) at night. Their composition is not as important as who controlled the Viet Cong. They were directed by the North as an extension of its army. It is a myth that they were an independent force, South Vietnamese fighting a civil war against their government.
wedge Other
wedge Q: Why has democide been so ignored by political scientists and students of international relations?
* A: True, it has been ignored. Open any political science textbook and look in the index for murder, genocide (aside from the Holocaust), massacre, atrocity, or even death. Usually, nothing aside from possibly the Holocaust, will be written involving these terms. Indeed, I went through the Ph.D. and my first years teaching political science and international relations without knowing that any extensive democide other than the Holocaust had been committed (of course, there were bits and pieces about Stalin and Mao, death squads, political assassinations, but not enough to see the overall picture or get any idea of the magnitudes involved). It is for this lack of attention to the evil potential of government that I have called political scientists the clergy of government. Their fundamental faith in government to solve social and economic problems helps explain why there is so little about government murder in the professional literature
wedge Q: What are the locations of 20th century democides?
* A: The have occurred all over. There is very little correlation with geographic region.
wedge Q: What shocked you the most about democide?
* A: That the Soviet Union, Mao’s China, and communist Vietnam, at least, would order their cadre to kill a certain number of people. They were given a quota of murders they had to reach.
wedge Q: Why do you feel democide is an international relations issue?
* A: Because 1) humanitarian issues, such as genocide and human security have become international issues; 2) the question of humanitarian intervention is in its very nature an international issue; and 3) much of the democide has been against foreigners, as in war, for example. The murder of foreigners is ipso facto an international issue.
wedge Q: Is the ability of governments to commit democide limited by a lack of population and technology?
* A: Population sets an upper limit. Some small countries have experienced incredible democide. For Cambodia, it was about one-fourth to one-third of the population. If they had triple the size population, I suspect that the number murdered would be tripled also. As to technology, it sets no limit historically. The Mongols, for example, with the most primitive technology would kill virtually all of a city that resisted them. In some cases, when the city was crowded with refugees, they slaughtered over 1,000,000. The technique was to apportion those to be murdered among each of the soldiers, who was then held responsible for their death, proof of which was given by cutting off a dead person’s ear. Moreover, often the way large numbers of people were murdered was by depriving them of food, or driving them into a desert -- no technology involved here. In this way, in 1904 the Germans slaughtered about 55,000 Herero in what is now Namibia.
wedge Q: You talk about all sorts of democides that were committed by all nations that at one point in time were enemies of the Western Powers, but nowhere do you bring up democides committed by the West. Why?
* A: Wrong. I count as democide Hiroshima, Nagasaki, firebombing over Tokyo/Yokohama and German cities, British concentration camps during the Boar war, murdering of Germans during and after World War II, U.S. democide in the Philippines and Vietnam, and so on.
wedge Q: Is democide the face of modern war?
* A: This is true of not only modern war, but also wars throughout history. There is a very strong correlation between war (international or civil) and democide in general and genocide in particular. It provides the excuse, the means, or the cover for the elimination of "threatening" parties, "undesirables," political opponents; and ethnic, racial, national, and religious groups. I have a chapter that deals with the relationship between democide and war at: www2.hawaii.edu—SOD.CHAP21.HTM
wedge Q: Have you ever attempted to separate the reasons for killing by government? What I am particularly interested in is the ratio of killings in the name of human rights, property rights, and democracy compared to other categories, viz. making men virtuous etc.?
* A: No, with two exceptions. I have pulled out (1) those that were murdered because of their indelible group membership (ethnic, racial, religious, nationality) -- i.e., genocide; (2) those that were killed as part of military action -- i.e., war dead. If you subtract my genocide figures from my democide ones, you then get those murdered for other reasons than group membership. In some of my tables, I do specify in either topic headings or the notes to an estimate details that may indicate other reasons for the specific democide, as of Vietnamese nationalists murdered by the communists 1945-47.
wedge Q: Has much comparative research been done on democide?
* A: Virtually none before my research.
wedge Q: Will there be another Rwanda -- somewhere around 750,000 people murdered in about four months?
* A: Yes, quite possible as long as there is dictatorships, and the more absolute the dictatorship, the more likely it will commit genocide -- another Rwanda. How to make sure this will not happen again? Democratization. Modern democracies, what we call liberal democracies, do not commit genocide against their people. All other regimes, no matter the type of dictatorship, do. Witness Afghanistan and Iraq; or North Korea and Cuba; or Congo and Sudan.
wedge Q: Why try to determine how many were murdered?
* A. While all government murder is immoral, we can nonetheless say that as an intentional act of government, some murders are worse than others. For example, the Holocaust in numbers murdered is worse than government supported, death squad murders in Argentina, or the democide of France in Algeria. Moreover, as numbers get larger at some level (like increasingly heated water turning into steam) they convert from quantities to qualities. Consider, for example, that in the last century governments murdered, roughly, about 174,000,000 people. The resulting corpses lined up head to toe would circle the earth about four times. This number in itself carries a ton of meaning and significance, and changes the whole idea of government.
wedge Q: Why, in a period, which has seen a comparative reduction in the number of conventional wars, has genocide/ethnic cleansing come to dominate the headlines?
* A: In part because of the very reduction of wars -- otherwise wars would be the focus. In addition, there has been a growth of democracies and a reduction in totalitarian systems. Democratic peoples are naturally concerned about such cleansing, as well as other forms of genocide. This concern is an attribute of democracy that helps to virtually eliminate domestic democide by democracies.

wedge Freedom as a Solution
* Q: Succinctly, why democide?
wedge Q: How does one explain so much democide during the 20th Century?
* A: Part of this is due to there being many more people to kill. The 10th century had about 265,000,000 people, the 19th century about 1,200,000,000. Our century now has over 6,000,000,000. But population aside, this century has also been one of totalitarianism -- communism and fascism. Communism alone has been responsible for the murder of about 110,000,000 people (over three-times the combat killed in all 20th century domestic and foreign wars). And fascism in China (Chiang), Germany (Hitler), and Japan (Tojo), and as well as elsewhere is responsible for at least another 36,000,000 murdered.
wedge Q: How did earlier genocides of the 20th Century come about?
* A: Dictatorship, war, and revolution.
* Statistical analysis of 214 regimes that did or did not commit democide, including using controls, holding variables constant, etc. showed that ethnicity, race, culture, wealth, education, literacy, population, area, and region have little correlation with democide. The only characteristic that generally predicts to (is highly correlated with) democide is the degree of unrestrained power of a regime. That is, the less liberally democratic a regime, the more likely it will murder its people and foreigners under its control. The worst demociders are those regimes giving their people the least freedom; the least demociders are those regimes that are the most democratic. Governments kill when their leaders have the unrestrained power to do so.
wedge Q: Is it possible to find common links between genocides?
* A: Yes, it is dictatorial power. The less the power, the greater the democratic freedom of a people, the less the democide.
wedge Q: How do you account for the foreign democide democracies have committed?
* A: Democracies generally commit such democide during war. The more intense the war, the greater the democide democracies will commit, but not even near that of their nondemocratic enemies. War, however, is a function of the degree nations are nondemocratic. This means that as democracies increase in the world, the likelihood of war decreases (I have shown this as a polynomial function -- see www.hawaii.edu—DP.CLOCK.HTM), and thus the likelihood of democracies also committing democide decreases.
wedge Q: Aren’t you too readily dismissing as unimportant the social and the psychological factors in democide.
* A: Saying they are secondary is not dismissing them. They are very important, but still less than power. And even in the long run, power is the most important factor.
wedge Race, Religion, or Culture
wedge Q: Are not race and religion the determinants for genocide, not some abstract idea of freedom or democracy?
* A: Race and religion are variables that researches have included in a number of statistical analyses of democide (genocide and mass murder by governments) across all nations. They have very little relationship to democide. The only variables that are highly related to democide among the very many that have been tested, are war/revolution and the type of political system (e.g., whether a democracy or not). Freedom and democracy are not just abstract ideas: they are empirically measurable on both “either/or” and “more/less” dimensions.
wedge Q: Is there a relationship between culture, religion, society, and democide? Do some religions commit more democide than others, for example?
* A: This is an empirical question, and I've done research on it. For some of the related work and technical stuff, see Part III of my Statistics of Democide (www.hawaii.edu—NOTE5.HTM). In essence, for the democide of all nations 1900-1987, compared to nations without democide, there is no meaningful correlation between democide, religion, culture, technology, economic development, geographic region, education, literacy, geographic size, population size, and density. Only two major variables correlate with democide, and they are involvement in war and dictatorial power. Since war itself is dependent on dictatorial power, this power (or lack of democracy) comes out as the primary empirical predictor of democide. Correlation must be understood generically. In the above empirical analyses, I used multiple and curvilinear regression, factor analysis, analysis of variance, and canonical analysis.
wedge Q: Haven’t established religions been the greatest killers?
* A: Most contemporary democide, far greater than any historical cases, has been by free thinkers, i.e., those who believe that the established religions are superstitions, and one should be scientific, objective, rational, etc. Communism is a case in point, where out of the 174,000,000 murder 1900 to 1999, about 110,000,000 were by communists, who are professed atheists. Democide is largely a matter of power, not religion. Note that when a particular religion has the power, it murders as well. Contemporary Iran is a case in point. Religion is not necessarily a protection from, or guarantee of democide.
wedge Q: Is atheism the principal factor in democide, such as that committed by the "Big Three,” Stalin, Mao, and Hitler?
* A: No. I find that religion or its lack -- atheism -- have hardly anything to do in general with wide-scale democide. The most important factor is totalitarian power. Whether a church, atheists, or agnostics have that power is incidental -- it is having the power that is a condition of democide. Incidentally, some ideologies, such as communism, function psychologically and sociologically as though a religion. The only distinction is whether the subject is a god or a man, such as Marx, Lenin, Hirohito, Hitler, Mohammed, Kim Ill sung, Mao, etc.
wedge Q: How can the escalation from ethnic tension to genocide happen suddenly, taking everyone by surprise?
* A: It happens when a political crises escalates to overt military violence by a dictatorial regime.
wedge Other
wedge Q: What is the relationship between war and democide?
* A: Very close. But since dictatorial power is also the major underlying cause of war, as it is of democide, power remains the fundamental cause. See the summary chapter to my book Power Kills at: www2.hawaii.edu—PK.CHAP1.HTM
wedge Q: Doesn’t anarchy kill more people than totalitarianism?
* A: No, the evidence is the other way around. International relations are a real anarchy, but fewer people have been killed in combat among nations then have been domestically murdered by totalitarian nations.
wedge Q: How does your term democide apply to left vs. right wing dictatorships?
* A: Both committed democide, which is murder by the state. On the fascist right, the Nazi's murdered about 21,000,000 people, the Chinese Nationalists about 10,000,000. But the left has conducted much more democide. Overall, communists murdered about 110,000,000.
wedge Q: What are the warning signals for genocide?
* A: Escalating political crises in a dictatorial regime; outbreak of civil or international war; unrest or rebellion.
wedge Q: How can neighbors become the murderers of people they have lived with for decades?
* A: Through hate propaganda and manipulation of facts by a dictatorial regime; by their creating a situation in which one side is made to appear evil and the other to have justness, fairness, truth, and honor on its side; by their making it appear that the other side is now a dangerous threat to all that is held dear; by their reducing the other side to vermin, apes, cockroaches, etc. Some scholars describe this as placing others outside one’s own moral universe.
wedge Q: Do genocides occur most often in a state where there is rapid transition, or where the government promotes an extreme ideology? Why?
* A: They happen in a state where there is a totalitarian ideology, especially one trying to makeover society. Why? Because the dictators have the absolute power to impose their ideology. See for example, the summary chapter to my book Lethal Politics on the Soviet Union at: www2.hawaii.edu—U.S.S.R..CHAP.1.HTM
wedge Q: Which genocides can be attributed to colonialism, long after the colonizers have left the area?
* A: I would rather not go that route, simply because the relationship between colonialism and post-colonial democide is too often a weak chain of causes and conditions, and too fraught with bias. From a scientific perspective, I prefer just to pinpoint the democides and the regimes directly responsible.

wedge Democracy in General
wedge Q: I get the feeling that even democracies are more prone to democide during times of war. If this is so, it seems to me that the instances of democide we do see from democracies would be highly correlated with times of war.
* A: It is. As I collected my democide data it became clear that democide for democracies took place almost entirely in time of war and almost always against the "enemy.
wedge Q: While you claim that democracy is the solution to the problem of genocide, democracy implies much more than mere political process. Doesn’t it require shared social, education, legal, and religious standards? These are not created politically, require a long time to gestate, and are fragile even where they have existed a long time.
* A: True, and this is why the nonviolent effects of democracy may not be immediate. It takes time for a democratic culture to develop sufficiently to lessen a potential for violence. How long this should be is a question. Current research has settled on three-years and this seems to work.
wedge Q: What factors make genocide possible -- what ties Stalin's Russia with Hitler's Germany and the situation in Rwanda that happened in 1994? Is the biggest factor "neglect" from the outside world?
* A: Genocide is the murder of people because of their ethnicity, race, language, or religion. Let me use a more general term than genocide, which is democide -- the outright murder of people, which besides genocide includes the murder of people for political reasons, as well as massacres, the killing of POWs, atrocities, and so on. The question is then what ties the democide of the Soviets, Nazis, and Rwanda together. It is that the three were nondemocratic regimes ruled by dictators. And this is the major condition for such democide to occur. Indeed, research has well shown that there is a scale here. The more centralized and absolute the power of a regime, the more people it is likely to murder. Marxist regimes, the most totalitarian of all, murdered in the 20th Century about 110,000,000 people out of a total world democide of 174,000,000. This is an incredible toll, since it is several times greater than all those killed in combat in all the domestic and foreign wars during the century, including World Wars I and II.
* The media and other governments were often aware of these democides, but for various reasons would not, or could not intervene, to stop the killing. This is true of Stalin's mass murders, and Hitler's mass murders that were going on during World War II when the Democracies were already engaged in a war against him. So, it is not a matter of neglect by the outside world. But, there is a memory hole here. The public and media become aware of them, such as Turkey's genocide of around 2,000,000 Armenians, Greeks, and other Christians from 1915 on, but decades later it becomes totally forgotten or ignored by intellectuals, and many historians.
wedge Liberal Democracies
wedge Q: How do you explain the democracies, especially liberal democracies commit virtually no domestic democide?
* A: Consider the nature of democracy. It is a system of overlapping and diverse group memberships, multiple pyramids of power, and manifold cross pressures; it is a system of laws that are above governments, and a culture of negotiation, compromise, and tolerance. Above all, the people can vote their leaders out of office. Quite simply, people do not want to be murdered or see loved ones or others like them murdered, and by their voting power they act as a brake on any tendency to use murder as an instrument of policy. Moreover, a democratic culture of negotiation, compromise, tolerance of differences develops, and overlapping group memberships and cross pressures tend to localize conflict between groups and tends to limit whatever violence occurs.
wedge Power
wedge Q: You argue that a highly centralized power is the greatest threat to precipitate a genocide. If so, then, historically, didn't it take a centralized power to destroy the State apparatus that had sanctioned the genocide, as of the Allies in World War II?
* A: No. While centralization to some degree did take place to fight the war (this is a comparative statement -- compared to totalitarian centralization, the "some degree" is appropriate), there were also open and competitive elections during the war, with universal franchise and secret ballot. Moreover, except for censorship over military reporting, the press was free in all other matters.
wedge Possible Exceptions
wedge Q: How can I agree that fostering democracy will prevent all democide or genocide? Democracies clearly committed one or both in the founding periods and have either actively pursued one or both in the name of other ideologies. For example, U.S. bombing in Laos, Cambodia, and other places.
* A: Modern liberal democracies commit virtually no domestic (and that is the key qualifier) democide. But they do commit democidal murder in foreign wars, as in the Atomic bombs, indiscriminate fire bombing of urban areas, and outright democide, as in the Vietnam War. But globalizing democracy would also eliminate war, and thus virtually eliminate war related foreign democide as well.
* Q: Are there not many cases in which democracies have committed democide, such as the U.S. in the Vietnam War and Britain during its Boar War?
wedge Q: Didn’t the democracies commit considerable foreign democide during their wars against nondemocracies?
* A: As one who argues that the U.S. committed democide by dropping atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, I must agree. But, since democracy is also a solution to war and foreign violence, as democracy expands, the cause and excuse for foreign wartime democide disappear with the absence of war. Keep in mind also that during wartime, hot or cold, the military dominates, and within a democracy, the military and intelligence agencies are totalitarian subsystems not internally amenable to the same democratic checks and balances as is the overall political system.
wedge Q: Regarding your claim that democracies commit virtually no democide, what about the U.S. in the Vietnam war?
* A: Yes, the U.S. has committed democide, but not domestic democide. Consider the three great American domestic political crises of the second half of the last century: Watergate and Nixon's resignation, Clinton's impeachment, and the year 2000 presidential election. All involved tremendous political emotions and nonviolent conflict. No one was politically murdered; no one was killed, there was no significant associated violence.
wedge Q: How do you explain that democracies murdered 149,000 of their own people?
* A: None of them were liberal democracies. They were all electoral democracies. There is a scale here -- the less democratic freedom a people have, the more likely their government is to murder them. While electoral democracies do not have all the civil and political rights of liberal democracies, nonetheless, their electoral democratic nature still acted to inhibit killing-as noted, they murdered far fewer by several orders of magnitude than did dictatorships.
wedge Q: How do you account for the colonial democide committed by the democracies, such as Belgium and France?
* The key is that the colonial administrations were secret, dictatorial enclaves within the democracies, as the military may be in time of war. The colonial administration lied, deceived, refused to divulge evidence of colonial evils, etc. Note, however, that as what was going on in the colonies gradually became known, especially during World War II, as the natives were able to inform the people of the home countries about the plight and desire for independence, the independence movement in the home countries gained steam, and eventually independence was granted, although not always peacefully.
wedge Q: Democracies may not usually attack democracies, but democracies are perfectly capable of contributing to the deaths of large numbers of innocent people in other countries, sometimes in an indirect manner. For instance, didn’t the United States quietly support the Indonesians while they were wiping out 200,000 (approximately) Timorese in the 1970's.
* A: I agree about democracies being complicitous in some democide by either by winking or looking away. But don't let this problem of secrecy in some democracies distract you from the incredible value of democracy. The desire for democracy pure in spirit and action could inhibit the growth of what is practical -- and what is practical is a miracle in itself. Democracy, as impure as it is, ends war and minimizes violence.
wedge Q: If one ethnic/racial group is a minority, it wants to become a majority, right? We have seen that many ethnic conflicts occur in the world, and it's all about numbers, about who has more numbers than the other. Everyone keeps track of how many there are by not just counting heads, but also counting what ethnic group that head belongs to. How do you reconcile this dilemma with the idea of lasting peace just because everyone becomes democratic at some point?
* A: Note that where the conflict between ethnic groups has turned into extreme violence and genocide -- it is not in democratic countries. A Rwanda or Bosnia has not occurred in a democracy, even though many of the democracies have many different ethnic groups. This is not to say that there is no violence in democracies, but that it is very small by comparison. Ethnic/racial conflict gets balanced and absorbed, its leaders become part of the system, and its gripes are responded to political and socially.
wedge Q: Some of your conclusions have been criticized for not considering the number of deaths due to anarchy and the lack of government, through mechanisms such as civil conflict, the breakdown of society, and foreign invasion. What would you say to such criticism? If we, for argument's sake, accept this criticism, does it change anything of the "big picture" you have helped create when it comes to democide?
* A: The criticism does not realize that we live in the world's largest anarchy, which is the international system. Then compare the number killed in wars within this anarchy to the numbers within a state murdered by its governments in democide and its civil wars. Some of the most violent wars have been civil (up to 40,000,000 dead in the Tai Ping Rebellion, for example, and the American Civil War was the deadliest war between the Napoleonic Wars and World War I). Unknown to many is that we can test this argument about anarchy empirically, and what in shown is that anarchy is far less violent that totalitarian nations, but more so than democracies.
wedge Q: You claim that there has not yet been any democide between democracies. Is this due to the character of democracy or is it still too early to exclude democratic democide in future?
* A: No, it is due to the nature of democracies. See Chapter 7 of Saving Lives at: www.hawaii.edu—WF.CHAP7.HTM, or if that is too brief, Chapter 13 to my Power Kills at: www.hawaii.edu—PK.CHAP13.HTM
wedge Q: Is there a possible kind of society that is less susceptible for democide than our modern Western democracy?
* A: Western democracy encompasses many types. The least susceptible to democide is liberal democracy, which is a democracy that maximizes human rights and the rule of law. I do not know of any case of domestic genocide under such governments.

wedge Evidence
wedge Q: Are you able to validate that democracies have never had a famine?
* A: I recorded all cases of famine in this century and find that it is a product of state ownership, massive regulation of agriculture, military/government corruption, or purposely man-made. Note that the worst famine in history occurred in communist China in the late 50s and early 60s (perhaps upward of 40,000,000 died). There were massive famines in the U.S.S.R. and Ethiopia had its worst famine ever with the communist takeover. Consider North Korea today, where millions have died from hunger and malnutrition. And so it is with socialist Somalia and the Sudan. No democracy, however, has had a famine.
wedge Criticism
wedge Q: Doesn’t the claim that democracies have had (are the cause of) no famines ignore what political systems cannot control? If a nation experiences a major crop failure, and is too poor to afford substantial food imports, and the rest of the world chooses not to show it charity, it matters not what proportion of its citizens are enfranchised, or whether they choose to be ruled by elected representatives, or whether they divide into parties? To peddle democracy as a cure for forces beyond its control, is to peddle a snake-oil remedy."
* A: The question ignores that poor democracies in poor regions in which many countries are or have suffered famines, do not themselves have it. Moreover, when nature would ordinarily produce a famine in a nondemocracy, for a democracy it does not. For example, during the extreme drought in the western part of the United States in the 1930s, what became the dust bowl, not one person died from famine. Of the some 120 democracies today, most are poor and many are in regions beset by famines, eleven of them in Africa. This, while famine is occurring in a number of countries, such as the Sudan, Somalia, Ethiopia, and North Korea. Surely, since this distribution of famines only to nondemocracies is highly unlikely to occur by chance alone, there must be something responsible for this. And there is -- democratic institutions and culture. Snake oil? More like penicillin.
wedge And India
wedge Q: You say that no democracy has ever had a famine. What about India?
* A: Over 86,000,000 people died in famines in the 20th century. Not one of them was in a democracy, or in India while it was a democracy. Consider the work of Amartya Sen, for example, the 1998 Nobel Prize winner in economics from India. He became the youngest chairman of the Department of Economics, Jadavpur University, at the age of 23. He has been the President of the Econometric Society (1984), the International Economic Association (1986-89), the Indian Economic Association (1989), and the American Economic Association (1994). He is now Master of Trinity College Cambridge. So, he should know something about India. Sen says as well that no democracy has had a famine, and as far as India is concerned, its last famine was the 1943 Bengal famine (Development as Freedom, p. 180) when India was a colony of Britain.
wedge Q: Do you believe that the Bengal famine in 1943-45 is not related to British government policy? This is the only explanation I can think of for your under 1,000,000 dead statistic for Great Britain. Scholars estimate that 5,000,000 Indians died.
* A: I've put some time into studying the scholarly works on the Bengal famine, including that by Indians. The highest estimate of the famine toll I could find is 4,500,000 dead; the lowest at 1,500,000. After going through these works, I settled on a range of 1,500,000 to 4,500,000 dead, most likely about 3,000,000. I did not mark this famine down as British democide. True, they are partly responsible for it, since it was aggravated by the British taking food supplies for their Burma campaign and to stock up for a possible Japanese invasion. However, the famine was not by intent and once it happened the British took steps to deal with it. This is the same argument I used for not counting the Chinese communist famine of 1959-63 as democide. If the Bengal famine is to be defined as British democide, then the Chinese famine must also so be counted, which would add at least 27,000,000 or more to the communist total.

wedge MISC.
wedge Q: Are the cultural left and the cultural right taking us down the same path?
* A: In politics, power is the name of the game, and were we not to have a checks and balance system, I fear that whoever has the power would aggrandize it and, in all probability, use it to commit democide. It is not left or right that is the essential danger, but anyone with absolute power. If your interest is to secure freedom, a danger to that freedom is to be fixated instead on left or right. Fix your eyes on whoever is gaining power, even if apparently a nice person saying the good things about what you believe. Then, their power must be challenged, balanced, and limited, even if by people whose policies you detest.
wedge Q: Aren’t Nazism and communism polar opposites?
* A: Actually, they were closer than that. Nazism was socialist, as was communism. Their differences lie in their rationality, which for communism was Marxism, and for Nazism it was eugenics, nationalism, and state socialism.
wedge Q: How can conflict and cooperation by relatively uncorrelated, as you say?
* A: First, people interact on multiple issues, dimensions, interests, etc, so that they may be involved in conflict on one thing while cooperating on other things. Secondly, even when involved in violence, there may be cooperation within the violence itself, as in tacit or explicit agreement as to the limits of the violence or its nature, or discussions as to how to resolve it. Keep in mind. There is the empirical world, where we know through our data that in fact cooperative and conflict behavior generally (this does not mean that there are no conceptual or psychological linkages) have little correlation, and the theoretical world where we try to explain this. Our theories may be right or wrong, but the facts still exist.
wedge Q: What, do you suppose, is the reason for the hatred of America (specifically) by Islamic fundamentalists?
* A: It depends on the Islamic terrorists. For some it is their hatred of Jews and Israel, of which they see us as the major supporter. For some it is the hatred of Western culture and ways, of which they see us as the leader. For some it is a matter of their religion that they interpret as saying "Kill the unbelievers."
wedge Q: Have you done any research into Islam regarding your studies?
* A: I sometimes included a religion variable in my analysis. For example, see: http://www2.hawaii.edu/~rummel/SOD.CHAP19.HTM. I recently included a majority Christian and majority Moslem variables in a prediction of violence from the level of freedom. I found that Moslem countries had significantly higher violence than expected, given their level of freedom; Christian countries had significantly less for their level of freedom. Nonetheless, freedom was by far the best predictor of domestic violence, with religious variables being only secondary -- what I call helper variables.
wedge Q: What does the greed and bloody profits of concessions in the colonies say about capitalism?
* A: Nothing. There was no capitalism, no free market, no competition, and no free trade. The companies that operated were given special dispensation and military protection to be monopolies over a specific region or trade. In the case of the Congo Free State, for example, Leopold only allowed most concessions into the Congo if he had control of at least 50 percent of their stocks. This was industrial socialism at its worst.
wedge Q: What do you think of the current direction of the nation (the U.S.). It does seem to me that the government is amassing altogether too much power into its own hands and wresting it out of ours, the citizens'.
* A: I do think that the government is too large, with too much power at the center. Government regulations, I fear, have cut too deeply into our freedoms, and we are overtaxed. But, and this is a big but, we are at war, and certain intrusions into American lives and that of foreigners living here are necessary. Even then, we are still a democracy with extensive civil and political rights. And all this must be seen comparatively. That is, although I think our government has become too big, compared to the lack of freedom in such places as North Korea, China, Russia, Syria, Iran, and so on -- places where people have no, or partial freedom -- we live in a very free country.
wedge Q: My professor lectured that the U.S. is an imperialist nation trying to rule the world. Is this what you believe?
* A: After World War II, the U.S. was by far the most powerful nation. It could have taken over the world. It didn't. It surely could have taken over Western Europe, including the UK, and Asia. It didn't. Instead, it provided billions in aid to help these nations reconstruct and feed themselves. German and Japan were prostrate under American military occupation (in Germany the UK and France were also occupying authorities, but they had no power -- it was the U.S. that made the important decisions. Russia was supposed to be an occupying power of East Germany, but instead of eventually giving it independence, it imposed a communist system on it ruled from Moscow). What did the U.S. do with these former bloody enemies? It gave them aid and support and created the conditions for democracy, oversaw development, and then, hard to believe in the history of international relations, it gave them complete independence. Germany and Japan are now well functioning democracies with solid human rights.
* From 1945 until the early 1950s, Europe was unable to protect itself against Soviet power and domestic communists seeking revolution (which would have meant inviting the Soviets in). The Soviet Union had taken over Eastern Europe, and was poised to do the same to Western Europe, but what protected Western Europe were American troops and aid, and the creation of NATO. It is not an overstatement to say that Europe owes it health, human rights, and democracy to the U.S. .
* Even during the Cold War, the U.S. gave the Philippines its independence, and did the same for many Island nations of the Pacific that it controlled (e.g., Micronesia). To the people of its other territories it gave their peoples the option of becoming states or independence. Hawaii and Alaska thus became part of the U.S., and Puerto Rico has voted on this twice (if I recall correctly).
* Then the U.S. emerged from the Cold War the only superpower. No other nation’s military power or any coalition of nations could match it. Yet, Europe and other nations could not only keep their independence from the U.S., but thumb their noses at the U.S. with impunity as have France, Russia, China, and North Korea.
* None of this is consistent with the U.S. being imperialistic.

wedge Q: Do you think the key to democracy's success in promoting nonviolence is in its procedures (that is, established, legal means of conflict resolution) or in the moral reverence in which it holds the individual?
* A: Both reasons help explain the relative nonviolence of democracies. More to the point, a democratic society (1) fosters a spontaneous society in which there are multiple pyramids of power and attendant cross-pressures that moderate and isolate the social conflicts that occur; (2) develops cultural norms of negotiation, tolerance, and compromise (or conflict resolution, in your terms); and (3) is sewn together by a liberal belief system -- expectations -- emphasizing civil and political rights and freedoms (which includes, of course, the moral reverence of the individual). I believe that (1) is the most important, with (2) and (3) being equally but of lesser importance. That is, the structure of society sets the foundation for the democratic peace and the ground for the operation of (2) and (3).
wedge Q: What is the common denominator of democide, war, poverty, and famine?
* A: Dictatorship.
wedge Q: With what you say about war, democide, and nonviolence, would not the best form of government be no government, that is an anarchy?
* A: While in practice you could have an anarchy at one level of society (as at the international level today), at some level you will always have a few monopolizing force over a many. The question is whether this will be a few ruling democratically by majorities, by a republican constitution limiting power, by inheritance, or by the gun. To try to eliminate what now protects our lives and welfare at the national level, our constitutional liberal government, would be dangerous in the extreme. Eliminating the state and national governments would bring out the guns, and whatever new rulers gain power locally or nationally, you can bet that hundreds of thousands, if not millions, would lose their lives before a stable government is achieved. And most likely, in the short run, it would not be democratic or republican, but rule purely enforced by the gun.
wedge Q: Isn't violence an integral part of human nature?
* A: Violence is very much a part of human interaction, as is cooperation and love. That, however, must be distinguished from large-scale group and collective violence. Democratic freedom will not eliminate interpersonal violence. What democratic freedom does is to isolate, encapsulate, and cross pressure violence such that it does not arise to the society as a whole or infect relations between nations. For example, while there has certainly been violence in democracies, it has not for modern liberal democracies risen to mass genocide or democide by democratic governments, or to war or violence between them.
wedge Q: Couldn’t it be the apathy of the persons in democracies that creates the lack of violence? Somafied people . . . .
* A: Its not apathy that causes the democratic peace, but the structure and culture of a free society – in short, a spontaneous society.

wedge Why Theory?
wedge Q: Do you believe that political theory can help understand political phenomenon like democide and war?
* A: My work is based on political theory." See Part II of my Power Kills (1997). Part of it is on my web site at http://www2.hawaii.edu/~rummel/NOTE6.HTM. In particular, see my Understanding Conflict and War, Vol. 1-5 (1975-1981) and Vol. 1 (The Dynamic Psychological Field) at http://www2.hawaii.edu/~rummel/NOTE10.HTM. From my political theory, I argued that the more democratic freedom a country has, the less genocide and mass murder it will commit. All the statistical tests I have done verify this. The theory also provides understanding of why this should be so.
wedge And Democratic Peace
wedge Q: The democratic peace is not well theorized. Do you agree?
* A: I disagree, although I do think that many have too narrowly conceived it. We really have a miracle of freedom here, where not only do democracies not make war on each other, but they also minimize other forms of violence, particularly the democide that is by far the most costly in lives. And there is solid theory for this in terms of cross-pressures, exchange culture, in-group perception, and above all, the dynamics of a spontaneous society.
wedge Q: How is the theory of democratic freedom related to theories of economic laissez-faire?
* A: They are very close. The idea of a free market is part of that of a spontaneous society, which is a condition for peace. See Part II of Power Kills: www.hawaii.edu—NOTE6.HTM
wedge Q: Multiple times, I've been asked to explain why the freedom-causes-peace hypothesis is more than a mere historical correlation. Do you have a better response than " “Because there's a theory that predicts it, and the theory largely revolves around the observation that democracies are peaceful internally and so expect other democracies to be peaceful”?
* A: Start with the answer of the philosopher Immanual Kant to why universalizing republics (democracy was a bad word for Classical Liberals in his time) would create a peaceful world. People would not support and vote for wars in which they and their loved ones could die and lose their property. But this is only partly correct, for the people can get aroused against nondemocracies and push their leaders toward war, as in the Spanish-American War. A deeper explanation is that where people are free, they create an exchange society of overlapping groups and multiple and crosschecking centers of power. In such a society a culture of negotiation, tolerance, and splitting differences develops. Moreover, free people develop an in-group orientation toward other such societies, a feeling of shared norms and ideals that militates against violence toward other free societies.
wedge Q: Isn’t this about as starry-eyed and utopian as Marx ever got, and just as naive?
* A: Look at the evidence, both historical and scientific, much of which is referenced or given on my website. For example, it is empirically true that no democracy has ever had a famine, that democratically free countries have the least, if any, genocide and mass murder, and that democracies do not make war on each other. On this last point, see the book Never At War by the historian Spencer Weart (summarized at http://www.hawaii.edu/powerkills/WEART.CHAP.HTM) and see my statistics on this in Power Kills (at www.hawaii.edu—NOTE6.HTM).
wedge Q: How does freedom work to create peace?
* A: Regardless of the philosophies, religions, or ideologies of the people, freedom creates a social structure that balances and checks their tendencies to violence and mass murder. Emphasizing what people should believe (as in a philosophy of compassion) has not worked historically to keep the peace; what has worked is placing people in a social structure that acculturates them into peaceful behavior. Such is the structure of democratic freedom (liberal democracy). Such freedom does not come from liberal democracy, nor does liberal democracy come from such freedom. They are a unity, integrally the same, and inseparable.
wedge Q: From a libertarian perspective: why does freedom create peace?
* A: Because freedom creates a spontaneous society that not only creates wealth and happiness (a la Hayek and Mises), but also creates a culture and structure that prevents violence or bleeds it off when minor points of violence occur.
wedge Q: Theories go through stages of acceptance until they become a consensus. What stage is the theory of the democratic peace in?
* A: the stages theories go through are: “No way!” “Maybe, but . . .,” “Yes,” “Obvious,” and “I knew it all the time.” The democratic peace is moving from the “Maybe, but . . .,” to the “Yes.”
wedge Q: What are the best and worst ideas of the 20th Century?
* A: The worst idea of the century was Marxist-Leninism (communism) which was responsible for wrecking the economies of one communist country after another, destroying public health and welfare (the worst famines of all time have occurred in communist countries in this century), and murdering millions of people. Communist governments have murdered about 110,000,000 people, many times the number of combat killed in all this century's wars and revolutions.
* The best idea is democratic freedom. It is an engine of economic development and welfare. Moreover, and most importantly, democracies don't and have not made war on each other, have by far the least domestic collective violence, and don't murder their own citizens.
wedge And Statistics
wedge Q: You mentioned controlling for possible other factors. By this, I assume you meant statistically controlling for these other variables when using statistical analysis. But, to even know what you might want to statistically control for, you need to have some kind of theory to start out with, otherwise you end up controlling for meaningless things like "do the flags of democratic States have the color red or not?" Correct?
* A: Yes, I often made this point to my students -- there must be theory. But not necessarily a rigorously mathematical one, although I lean in that direction. I call my own theory "social field theory,” which to a certain extent leans on the mathematics of Catastrophe and Quantum Theories. For the Catastrophe Theory aspect of this, see my article at www.hawaii.edu—CAT.ART.HTM.
wedge The Conflict Helix
wedge Q: Isn’t your conflict helix -- the process of conflict -- a catastrophe theory like process?
* A: Yes, very much so, and I published an article (see: http://www.hawaii.edu/powerkills/CAT.ART.HTM) showing this to be so. The world is made up of two kinds of people. Those who see most everything as happening along a continuum, as in evolutionary theory. And those who see things as happening in jumps, as in earthquakes. Things go along without much change and then some "catastrophe" causes a jump, or a jump occurs over some minor event because of accumulated "tension" beneath the surface. Regarding conflict and cooperation, Catastrophe Theory models this conceptually by the conflict helix and mathematically.
wedge Q: Marxism-Leninism postulates not a smooth process of historical change, but one that takes place in big, discontinuous jumps. It has been called a "punctuated equilibrium" model. Your theory is similar, isn’t it?
* A: Yes. I have developed a theory of conflict and cooperation, called the conflict helix, which conceptually and mathematically models a punctuated equilibrium, although I don’t use that term. The mathematics of this encompasses catastrophe theory, which models mathematically changes taking place in jumps. For this model, see the article on my web site at: http://www2.hawaii.edu/~rummel/CAT.ART.HTM. I have developed the associated conceptual theory in a number of books and articles on my website. For the relationship between my conflict helix and Marxist theory and class conflict, see: www2.hawaii.edu—CIP.CHAP5.HTM.
wedge Philosophy
wedge Q: Relative to your “truths,” are they absolute – meaning that an objective reality exists, even if our individual perceptions of it may vary? Or is your truth relative, unknowable, or something you can just make up for yourself?
* A: Truth is of four kinds. There is the absolute truth of analytic systems like mathematics and logic; the synthetic truth of statements that may be empirically true or false, the moral truth of ethnical statements, and the emotive truth of emotional statements (like ugh). Understanding this then, is there such a thing as empirical truth. Yes. Hawaii is in the Pacific is a empirically true statement. So is the statement that Mercury is closer to the sun than is Earth, and democracies don’t make war on each other.
wedge Q: Given all your research on democide, what do you think is the nature of man? Is man inherently good, born morally perfect only to be warped by an imperfect society? Or is man inherently sinful, needing moral guidance, discipline and self-restraint?
* A: I believe man is what he is, neither inherently sinful or good, but free (as in free will) to shape his own destiny and choose his own actions. I have written much on this question and direct you to my book, the Dynamic Psychological Field at http://www2.hawaii.edu/~rummel/NOTE10.HTM.

wedge Regarding Quantitative Methods/Statistics
wedge Q: Could you put your findings and research methods in laymen’s terms?.
* A: No matter how sophisticated the science involved, it all boils down to this. Empirically, free people do not make war on each other, and the greater the freedom within two nations, the less violence between them; free people have the least internal violence, turmoil, and political instability; and free people have virtually no government genocide and mass murder. These are not accidental relationships, since there are good theoretical reasons for this, and the chance of these being accidental relationships is very, very low. Therefore, fostering democratic freedom a solution to the horror of war, and the only practical means of making sure that "Never again!" In general, democracy is a method of nonviolence -- the most peaceful nations are those whose people are free.
* As to the methods, they involve (1) testing my theory by (1a) calculating precise correlations between different kinds of violence and the degree to which a nation is a democratically free, while holding constant things like common borders, economic development, aspects of culture, etc, that might also explain a nation's violence; and (1b) seeking negative instances that would falsify the theory; and (2) testing calculating how likely it is that the results, positive or negative, could have happened by chance. This theory is essential, for as everyone knows who has taken statistics 101, correlation does not mean causation.
wedge Q: I would say your work was done from a quantitative side. Do you think such work can be done qualitatively?
* A: Yes, and I've done the qualitative side. Look at my books on Soviet democide (Lethal Politics) and Chinese democide (China's Bloody Century. They are mainly historical (qualitative). See: http://www.hawaii.edu/powerkills/NOTE4.HTM and http://www.hawaii.edu/powerkills/NOTE2.HTM. My web site is mainly made up of qualitative studies
wedge Q. Isn’t your focus on the number murdered ignoring qualitative factors? The best way of understanding democides is by studying the history and culture of the people involved, and by sensitivity to the psychological, cultural, and social forces at work. Good traditional scholarship, including assessing the experience of survivors, is the only way to understand why the Germans and the Turks, for example, committed their genocides.
* A: After a point, the numbers murdered reflect qualitative factors, as in the tens of millions murdered by Stalin, Mao, or Hitler, or in the Rwandan and Cambodian democides. However, I do not ignore qualitative factors, but have written about them as the social and historical context within which democide takes place. Anyway, this is not an either or choice in methods or approaches. Both quantitative and qualitative must be used. At every step of an analysis, scholarship informs and interprets the quantitative analysis of democide. Conversely, such analysis tests the intuitive and speculative assumptions and conclusions of scholarship and can point to the need for more scholarly work. There is a symbiotic relationship between the two.
wedge Q: Surely, you can't reduce important factors in democide like religion, ethnicity, race, and so on, to quantities to include in your analysis. Won’t your results be very limited, therefore?
* A: Such factors can be quantified. For example, consider the question (often now heard) whether Christian nations are less inclined to democide than, say, and Moslem nations? Data on the proportion or Christians or Moslems in a nation are available, and researchers can use them to measure a Christian or Moslem variable, which they then can use to assess its correlation with the magnitude of a nation's democide. The answer would be that whether one religion or another does not make much of a difference (e.g., at the time of their megademocide, Nazis were Christians, Turks were Moslems, and Russians were atheists). At the lowest level of measurement, researchers can treat a condition like being a former colony as a dichotomous variable (former colony = 1, no = 0) and correlate it with democide. The results would be also that it makes not much of a difference. Once we have a good quantitative measure of democide, such as the magnitude of those murdered, a world of scientific analysis opens up.
wedge Q: Aren’t you playing with numbers in order to make them agree with your favorite thesis?
* A: When I started my work on war I had no idea that democracy would play the role it does in the results and in fact had initially dismissed democracy as having any relationship at all. That different researchers with different sets of data and methods and presumably different agendas have so far replicated the results speaks to the veracity of the findings.
wedge Q: Why not adopt an ordinal scale of democracy, using the two dimensions of contestation and inclusion?
* A: In some of the quantitative analyses of the relationship between democracy and various kinds of violence, I first did a factor analysis of a variety of different scales of democracy. I then developed from this an ordinal scale running from the most democratic at one end to the most totalitarian at the other. I discuss such a scale in the Journal of Conflict Resolution (see www.hawaii.edu—JCR.ART.HTM).
* In separate analyses, I simply concentrated on defining democracy quantitatively through various factor analyses of all published scales of democracy that I could find, including contestation and inclusion. I also included scales of a variety of political characteristics in factor analyses of national economic, social, cultural, and geographic characteristics, and found that democracy versus totalitarianism emerged as a dimension among nations statistically independent of their level of wealth, power, and culture. On this, see my Dimensions of Nations and National Attributes and Behavior. These results match those found by others doing similar analyses, as cited therein.
* As a result of all this, I have treated democracy as an independent variable in two ways. As factor scores or their equivalent based on the above factor analysis, or as in the ranking of Freedom House, where I equated democracy to an overall rating of free. In both cases, the results are the same about war, violence, and democide.
wedge Q: Cannot statistics be used to prove anything?
* A: True, statistics can be misused and have been, but this is true of any scientific method. Virtually all the medical drugs one takes today are based on statistical tests, not unlike those used to test whether democracies do not make war on each other is a chance occurrence. If one is going to be cynical about statistics, then one should also be very wary of taking any modern drugs for an illness or disease. This issue is really not statistics but how well they have been applied and whether the data meet the assumptions of the statistical model used.
wedge Q: I am working on some approaches to looking at war and conflict. In your statistical work, don’t you assume that the observations are independent and exchangeable?
* A: Actually, this is not an assumption of factor analysis and canonical analysis, one reason I often used these methods. Intercorrelations are assumed, so the purpose of the method is to uncover what independent dimensions exist among these relationships. Once they are defined, then they, and not the original variables, can be used in a causal analysis.
wedge Regarding Estimates of Democide
wedge Q: How should we view estimates of democide? When are they acceptable or unacceptable?
* A: I don't believe any of my estimates of democide tell the true death toll. Nor do I believe anyone will ever know the precise number of people murdered in any democide, including the Holocaust (estimates in this best of all studied genocides and with the best archival and other records still differ by over 40%). Then what is the purpose of estimating democide? Two reasons dominate: moral assessment, and related scientifically based policy. Democide is a crime against humanity, one of the worst crimes the rulers or leaders of a government can commit. But there are levels of democide, and I see a moral difference between rulers that murder at different orders of magnitude (powers of ten). That is, I find the evil of a Stalin who most probably murdered over 10,000,000 people (and this seems to encompass 99.9 percent of all estimates) greater than rulers who murdered 1,000, 10,000, 100,000, or even 1,000,000. More specifically, my moral gauge clicks in at orders of magnitude. (There are other moral gauges, of course, such as the proportion of a population murdered; how people were murdered, such as randomly or by ethnicity or race; whether the intent was genocide or revenge, etc.) The moral question for me is then whether an estimate captures the order of magnitude. While I don't think we can ever get a true estimate, I do think we can bracket the range of estimates within which the true value must be found, either absolutely or probabilistically.
* As to the second criteria for accepting an estimate, my concern is to forecast the most likely order of magnitude of democide based on the characteristics of a society, nation, culture, ruler, leadership, people, geography, and so on. This is a scientific problem and engages methodological and technical questions inappropriate here. What is appropriate to the question of errors in democide estimates is at what level of error we get meaningful enough results to define the causation involved in democide, when no actual estimate is true. And since the estimates are usually close enough in magnitudes to enable us to rank nations, and divide them into groups of more or less, then we have enough precision to carry out scientific tests as to what causes democide.
wedge Q: No matter how we twist and turn the figures it becomes clear that the totalitarian regimes -- Hitler’s, Stalin’s, Mao’s -- have committed the biggest and the worst mass murders in the history of the world. Does juggling of numbers for their democides really matter?
* A: No, not morally. But, it does in order to do quantitative analysis.
wedge Q: Of those that commit mass democide, shouldn’t one micro study their culture through the centuries by means of every discipline currently available? Surely, only then will you be able to understand the specific origins of their degenerative behavior and ultimately destructive organizations.
* I believe that both the methods of the traditional scholar and those of the theoretical/empirical scientist must be employed together. For example, research on all democide, including genocides, during the last century -- amounting to some 170,000,000 people murdered by governments -- has shown a clear correlation, holding other things constant, between the dictatorial power of a government and its commission of democide. The more such power, the more people murdered. As by theory, this should be the case. And when one studies the actual democides in scholarly detail, taking into account the culture, history, diversity, stereotypes, and all that which provides us with the in depth understanding of the mass murder of Jews, Armenians, Christians, Bengalis, Ukrainians, counterrevolutionaries, communists, Kurds, POWs, Hindus, Tutsi, Ethnic Germans, "Rightists", "Leftists", "Moslems", and on and on, we can understand even beyond the theory why the correlation makes sense. And with this understanding and accompanying theory, we gain an ability to predict, control, and prevent democide.
wedge Q: You are trying to construct a causal model of democide, and seem to be claiming that the size of the population is not a relevant predictor of the absolute number of people murdered in a region. Wouldn’t that make Fiji’s regime worse than Hitler’s if it murdered a larger percentage of its population?
* A: First, I'm not trying to construct a causal model, but testing a theory. This makes for a different approach to the statistics. Second, I include a population variable in all my analyses. Many years past I did many very large scale factor analyses of cross-national variables, and found that population and area helped define an independent dimension among nations. I called it national power (it also includes military expenditures, size of army, and energy production). This dimension has also appeared in my current work. Interestingly, this dimension is independent of separate dimensions of economic development, culture, political system, and conflict/violence. For this reason, when testing the hypothesized relationship between freedom and democide, I want to be sure that other conditions/factors are not accounting for the results, and so include population as one of the possible influences on the tests. My reasoning is not as bizarre as it may seem. While some very large countries have committed democide exceeding the population size of many small countries, there are many large countries that have very little, if any democide. Then you have small Cambodia, whose democide exceeds that of most large countries. Even tiny Grenada had a democide greater than that of many large countries. As a result, there is very little correlation between population and domestic democide.
wedge Q: So, you got all these unreliable, rough guesses at democide totals. Outside of horrifying people with them, so what?
* A: Even orders of magnitude give us a scientific tool to analyze causes and conditions. If we wish to find an x such that the more or less of x (or its existence or nonexistence), the more or less a government murders its people, then different magnitudes can be the base data for this search or for the testing of related theories. For example, we now can say that based on such research the less democratic freedom in a country, the more of its citizens a government is inclined to murder. This gives us a tool for reducing the amount or democidal killing.
* Moreover, even if we can only rank nations on their estimated amount of democide, this is enough for the most complex statistical and mathematical analyses; even if we can only say that there was much domestic democide like Hitler or Stalin, about average like Iraq or Iran, or little like France or Britain.
wedge Q: What are different ways of measuring democide?
* A: I don't believe there is an absolute answer to this. It depends on what one is trying to understand about democide and to do with this understanding. In my quantitative research, I have tried to determine the causes and conditions of democide anywhere such that we would have the best ability to generally explain why it occurred and predict where it might happen in the future. For this purpose, I could have simply treated a regime as having committed a democide or not. But this would have equated, say, the democide of Stalin with the dozen or so murders of some Latin American dictator. Surely, for prediction and explanation we would want some kind of scale of democide that would discriminate between the Stalins, Hitlers, and the ordinary dictator. I have found two measures of degree most effective for explaining and predicting democide. These are the number murdered, and the annual rate of such killing calculated over the life of a regime. The result is that these two measures are highly correlated and are similarly predicted the degree (yes, another degree) to which the people of a nation have democratic freedom.
wedge Q: Isn’t the best way of understanding democides by studying the history and culture of the people involved, and by sensitivity to the psychological, cultural, and social forces at work. Good traditional scholarship, including assessing the experience of survivors, is the only way to understand why the Germans and the Turks, for example, committed their genocides? In your massaging of numbers, you miss this.
* A: This is not an either or choice in methods or approaches. Both must be used. At every step of an analysis, scholarship informs and interprets the quantitative analysis of democide. Conversely, such analysis tests the intuitive and speculative assumptions and conclusions of scholarship and points to the need for more scholarly work. There is a symbiotic relationship between the two.
wedge Q: How can you reduce important factors in democide like religion, ethnicity, race, and so on, to quantities to include in your analysis? You can’t. Therefore, your results can only be very limited.
* A. Wrong. For example, consider the question (often now heard) whether Christian nations are less inclined to democide than, say, Moslem nations? Data on the proportion or Christians or Moslems in a nation are available, and researchers can use them to measure a Christian or Moslem variable, which they then can use to assess its correlation with the magnitude of a nation’s democide. The answer would be that whether one religion or another does not make much of a difference. At the lowest level of measurement, researchers can treat a condition like being a former colony as a dichotomous variable (former colony = 1, no = 0) and correlate it with democide. The results would be also that it makes not much of a difference. Once we have a good quantitative measure of democide, such as the magnitude of those murdered, a whole world of scientific analysis opens up.
wedge Regarding Research
wedge On Bias
wedge Q: Why is it that when it comes to totalitarian regimes, you choose the figures which are on the high side while you tend to downplay the butcher bill of democratic states?
* A: Simply not true. As a study of my many tables would show, I give both highs and lows and then a conservative estimate. Usually this estimate is closer to the low than the high. Overall the democide in this century my range is roughly 76,500,000 to 359,000,000 murdered, with my much-quoted prudent estimate being 170,000,000. Note how much closer to the low than the high this is.
wedge Q: Aren’t you defining democracy, war, and democide on a case-by-case basis, using subjective judgment calls and arbitrary parameters to eliminate examples that would ruin your statistics?
* A: First, many others have done research on this, and have used slightly different definitions and criteria for what are democracies, as well as different methods and tests. So, my definitions are not the only ones that underlay the proposition. Second, if I collected my data in the way the question puts it, I would be a poor scientist, indeed. Although one might disagree with my definition of democracy, it was explicit, empirical, and all states in my analysis had to conform to it.
wedge Q: You have jumped to the conclusion that A (the narrowly-defined form of government) is indeed the sort of thing that can cause not-B. This may be an error of reification: A may in fact not be capable of causing the sort of effect you attribute to it. In fact, A may be only an appearance of thingness, the equivalent of a cloud shaped like an animal which may look like an animal but cannot actually do what an animal does. Do you agree?
* A: This is a good and important point. It would be telling were it not that my work is based on a well articulated and developed theory that explains why democracies should not have war, be least violent, and commit the least democide. Theory trumps reification, especially since what the theory predicts is found in the empirical data. I have published this theory, which I call a social field theory, in a number of places, but it is best seen in my book Power Kills (www.hawaii.edu—NOTE6.HTM).
wedge Q: Does not your number mongering ignore qualitative factors, as in the intention to eradicate a race, culture, ethnic group, etc., or the extensive marshaling of a state’s resources to make war on an unarmed people?
* A: After a point, the numbers murdered reflect these qualitative factors, as in the tens of millions murdered by Stalin, Mao, or Hitler, or in the Rwandan and Cambodian democides.
wedge Q: Aren’t you playing with statistics to make them agree with your thesis about democracy?
* A: when I started my work on violence I had no idea that democracy would play the role it does in the results and in fact had initially dismissed democracy as having any relationship to violence. That the results have so far been replicated by different researchers with different sets of data and methods and presumably different agendas speaks to the veracity of the findings. All the research in the field by others is discussed and evaluated in my book Power Kills (www.hawaii.edu—NOTE6.HTM)
wedge On Democracy
wedge Q: Besides the number of people living in democracies you might consider also the quality of democracy they live in - the easiest but not quite valid method might be to average the indices of the Freedom House ranking for democratic countries only.
* A: I agree and this is why I distinguish electoral democracies from those that are electoral and also respect civil liberties and political rights. On this, see Chapter 3 in my Saving Lives at: www.hawaii.edu—WF.CHAP3.HTM
wedge Q: Can you really apply the contemporary definition of democracy to previous centuries?
* A: There is a problem and it resides in how far equal rights and the franchise are extended. Before women achieved equal rights, the franchise was limited to property owning males, or slavery existed. For previous centuries the definition of democracy has been loosened by researchers to include at least, as mentioned, two-thirds males having equal rights (as long as the lower classes were not excluded), while maintaining the other characteristics (equal rights, open competitive elections, etc.). For one, democracies so defined in previous centuries, such as the United States in 1800 and democratic classical Athens, saw themselves as democratic, called themselves democratic, and were perceived by other nations as democratic. Second, even with this looser definition, well-established democracies so defined still did not make war on each other. Well-established means that a regime had been democratic long enough for it to be stable and democratic practices to become established. The fundamental question about any definition is whether it works? Does it define something in reality that predicts systematically to something else? If we have so defined an x such that it regularly predicts to y, then that is a useful and important definition of x. In the definition I have given above of democracy it predicts to a condition of continuous peace (nonwar) between nations defined as democratic. If one does not agree that these are democracies, fine. Then call them xracies. We then still can say that xracies do not make war on each other and by universalizing xracies, we have a solution to war.
wedge On Democracy and Democide
wedge Q: It is hard to tell, but it seems as if the dependent variable in your analyses is the absolute democide number, sometimes per year, but not relative to the population size. As the totalitarian regimes you criticize tend to cover large populations, this is not a fair test, is it?
* A: I calculated an annual rate of democide (democide to population per regime year) and did factor, regression, and canonical analysis of 1900-1987 on it along with absolute democide. The results were largely the same -- power predicts the rate as well as the level of democide. To see the sequence of analyses, begin with chapter 16 of my Statistics of Democide at http://www2.hawaii.edu/~rummel/SOD.CHAP16.HTM and follow through to Chapter 22.
wedge Q: You say democracy is the solution to democide. How do you know?
* A: Look at the democide statistics. For 1900-1987, totalitarian governments murdered over 110,000,000 citizens, authoritarian governments about 23,000,000, and democracies 149,000 (two orders of magnitude less). Now, of these 149,000, near 100,000 are due to the far left Spanish Republican government during its 1936-39 civil war, 10,000 to Peru's (1980-87) fight with communist guerrillas, 25,000 to India, 4,000 to Colombia, 2,000 to the U.S.A. (largely because of lynching in the early years of the century), and lesser numbers to a smattering of others. Among these democracies, none were liberal democracies at the time of their democide (when American domestic democide occurred women could not vote and minorities were systematically and legally segregated, harassed, and denied the vote in many states), and one might argue that some were not democracies at all.
wedge On Correlations
wedge Q: Given we have a negative correlation between democracy and war, how can we establish that this is causal from the first to the second?
* A: The most important answer is that there are theoretical reasons why there should be this inverse correlation. This theory has consistently predicted what has been found empirically. On the theory see Chapter 8 of my Power Kills at: www2.hawaii.edu—PK.CHAP8.HTM and chapter 13 at: http://www2.hawaii.edu/~rummel/PK.CHAP13.HTM. Chapter 1 at www2.hawaii.edu—PK.CHAP1.HTM gives an overview of the empirical results and the theory.
* A second answer is empirical. Variables reflecting other explanations of the findings (such as number of borders, geographic distance or location, economic development, culture, religion, military power, and even chance) were included in the analyses and held constant (if you are not into statistics, this is similar to using control groups in medical research). The results invariably showed that democracy was inversely related to war, regardless of what other variables were introduced.
* A third answer is methodological. Simply, the inverse relationship has held up regardless of researcher, data, methods, or period covered. Even an historian using qualitative methods found that democracies never in history have made war on each other (Spencer Weart, Never at War, Yale University. Press). A copy of his summary chapter is on my web site at: www2.hawaii.edu—WEART.CHAP.HTM.
wedge Q: How can you go from, for example, the inverse correlation between democracy and war to causation? Correlation, you know, doesn’t imply causation.
* A: Of course, and I taught this to my students in statistics 101. The correlations are but one step in my research. I begin with a theory as to why democracies should not make war, derive hypotheses from the theory, and test them against data independently collected by others, when such exist. What I state as my "findings" are the results of positive scientific tests, therefore. This is the surest way, although full of pitfalls, to establish causation.
wedge Q: What methods have you used to check that your factor analyses have uncovered causal relationships, rather than correlations?
* A: A cluster of intercorrelated variables may or may not be a causal cluster, but such a cluster is in general a necessary condition of a causal relationship, but not sufficient. In my work, I used factor analysis in three ways -- one to establish the independent dimensions of a set of variables and their indicators for subsequent causal analysis; second to suggest causal interrelationships; and third to test a theory as to what causal relationships should exist. But then one must go beyond the factor analysis, as I did. I used several kinds of regression analysis, analysis of variance, and canonical analysis to pin down the cause-effects.
* It is especially important to note that this was not a purely empirical operation. A theory about what I should find in the data was always there. My field theory and associated conflict helix guided all the analyses, which were really empirical tests.
* We all know that correlations do not imply causation. But if a theory says that x causes y, and the data analyses consistently show across data sets, researchers, and methods that y varies with x, regardless of what controls are introduced, then it is fair to say the x causes y. Thus, I say that power kills.
wedge On Samples
wedge Q: How could just your two centuries of data, your narrow sampling frame, reflect the overall sweep of history?
* This question assumes that I am the only one who has done research on the relationship between democracy and violence. There now is a large literature of replications and historical analyses , including the wars among the classical Greek city-states, among primitive tribal units, among the Swiss forest democracies of the Middle Ages, among all democracies since the 17th century, and so on, that support my conclusions.
wedge Q: Is not the historical sample of democracies too small for your broad generalization about democracy and war?
* A: Whether the definition of democracy is broad or narrow, we have statistical way to calculate whether the number of democracies is in fact significant (the same kind of statistics medical researchers use to test the significance of drugs or symptoms). That there have been no wars between democracies since, say, 1816, is statistically significant. That is, given the historical number of democracies, the probability of the hypothesis that democracies have never made war on each other being wrong is very low (given the consistency of findings across diverse studies, the odds must be surely millions to one).
* Moreover, this question treats the proposition about democracy and peace as though I am the only one who has done research on it. The question does not seem to appreciate the extent to which there is a large literature of replications and historical analyses by others that arrive at, or close to, the same proposition. I list these many studies in the bibliographies and references on my website. See, for example, www.hawaii.edu—PK.REF.HTM.
wedge Q: Would describe your methodology as culturalist or structuralist?
* A: My methodology is quantitative (specifically statistical/multivariate analysis) and qualitative (e.g., case studies); my theoretical approach is primarily structural and secondarily cultural. In sum, I argue that structurally democratic institutions (which fundamentally include civil and political rights and liberties) create the most peaceful politics and society, and that out of these institutions evolves a culture of nonviolence (e.g., tolerance for diversity in views, acceptance of political defeat, willingness to negotiate and compromise differences, and so on).
wedge Q: How did you determine the number of people who were victims of democide during the 20 the century ?
* A: Regarding the methods I used, you will find a methods theme page at http://www.hawaii.edu/powerkills/TECH.HTM. Specific to democide collection methods, see http://www.hawaii.edu/powerkills/METHOD.HTM. I should point out that this way of collecting data, which is to consult sources on all ideological/theological/political sides to get the most probable highs and lows has caused much misunderstanding. Those on the far left are very unhappy, and condemn my work, because of my sources from the right wing. Similarly, those on the right are unhappy at my use of communist sources.
wedge On Statistics
wedge Q: But can you meet the assumptions of the statistical model, particularly that of randomness?
* A: All statistical tests on humans suffer from the inability to truly meet the assumption of randomness (equal likelihood of each case, event, and sample point) basic to the model. In medical tests, whether double blind or not, the sample is usually constrained to Americans, students, nurses, etc., and thus may introduce unknown masking factors. Even ignoring this, any statistical tests are only giving results in terms of probabilities, and for that one test, the improbable may in fact have occurred. This is why no researcher should accept any one or two tests as definitive. Only if a range of tests is consistent over many kinds of data, researchers, and methods can one have confidence in the results. This is true for statin drugs reducing cholesterol; it is true for the proposition that democracies do not make war on each other
wedge Q: You base so much of your conclusions on statistical inference. Should we not be suspicious of statistics, which have been often used to assert opposing ideas?
* Although a political scientists by career, I also have a formal mathematical background. That said, there is great confusion among political scientists over the use of statistical inference. They often think they are using it when in fact they are dealing with a population and not a sample, or at least not a sample in any proper statistical inference sense. I generally don't use statistical inference because I'm dealing with either the universe or near universe of events or cases. My approach is generally mathematical, as in curve fitting or determining the components (eigenvectors/eigenvalues) of a matrix, as in factor analysis. On this, see my piece at: www.hawaii.edu—UFA.HTM. If I use combinatorial probabilities (not statistical inference) to assess the fit of my mathematical curves (coefficients), it usually is only as a benchmark.
wedge Q: Isn’t the problem with statistics, such as those you rely on, that they don't really tell you anything aside from history; it is up to the individual to interpret them.
* A: Choice and interpretation are always involved. I'm not a hard numbers man and believe research must involve not only hard science, but also intuition, imagination, and a solid knowledge of the field. So, while not being sufficient in themselves, scientific tests are necessary to balance off the subjective biases we all have.
* I make this point to my hard number colleagues. I simply ask them to justify using the product moment correlation among the dozens or so correlation type coefficients they could select, each of which could give different results, and sometimes opposite conclusions. Turns out it is just a conventional choice generally. Here, theory and interpretation in the choice of coefficient is called for, but seldom applied.
wedge Philosophy of Science
wedge Q. Are you saying that we can reduce all questions of democide to numbers and statistics?
* A: Heavens, no. Only questions about causes, conditions, solutions, predictions, and such. But there is a multitude of moral, philosophical, conceptual, and legal questions that require quite different kind of analysis. For example, is there a Just Democide doctrine conceivable that is the counterpart of the Just War doctrine? Are there imaginable circumstances when the moral consequences of not committing democide are worse than committing democide, or is democide absolutely to be avoided despite all circumstances? This is a question of ethics, not science.
wedge Q: In historiography, when can numbers speak louder than words?
* A: When they are large enough. Just take the number murdered by communist governments, which is about 110,000,000. That number alone speaks volumes. Add to it that this is more three times the number combat killed in all international and domestic wars, and the “three” is an incredible historic number. It adds more highly significant volumes still to our historical knowledge. I would add the visualizations of the numbers to this. See, for example, http://www.hawaii.edu/powerkills/RM1.RINGS.OF.TEARS.HTM.
wedge Q: Good science is not a matter of ex post facto explanations full of arbitrary and mysterious criteria, but rather a matter of general laws that have a real causal relationship to the predicted result and that can be tested under a variety of circumstances. By this standard, what you offer is not good science. Comment?
* A: I don't understand this claim. I cover all cases of war back to the beginning of the 19th Century; all 20th century cases of genocide and mass murder, all political systems, whether democratic or not, and all famines. Moreover, these data are presented and well defined, and explicit systematic statistical and mathematical methods are applied to them, all so that others can replicate my results, as they have been. (That democracies don't or virtually never make war on each other is now the most replicated finding in international relations).
wedge Q: Hasn’t social science tried to substitute mechanistic models for the subtleties of human judgment, and failed miserably when it has tried to construct grand laws of history, or to predict and control anything as large and complex as a real human society?
* A: This is demonstrably false. We have been able to establish several major social laws about real societies. For example, when human societies are formed into states, their type of government predicts to their foreign and internal violence. Specifically, democracies don't make war on each other and the more democratic two governments, the less foreign violence between them; the more democratic a government, the less its foreign and domestic violence; and the more democratic a government, the less its democide/genocide and mass murder. Now, are these not grand laws of history? Other examples: democracies do not have famines; and democracy is an engine of economic development.
wedge Q: You say that 20th century "killing in the Soviet region was worse than ever in history." Ditto for China. Don't these kinds of statements imply a comprehensive knowledge of historical events that no one could possibly have?
* A: True. I should have added "As far as my data show." But I did survey all the historical sources -- thousands -- I could find that might have anything on mass murder. The 61,000,000 murdered by one regime -- the Soviets -- does far surpass anything I could find, or other countries in history. Also, keep in mind the population differences. The further one goes back in history, the fewer the people to kill.
wedge Q. Anyway, don’t statistics lie? Garbage in, garbage out?
* A. Even the most qualified analysts can misuse and misinterpret statistics. The solution to this is the three R’s: replication, replication, and replication. Only as different researchers, with different points of view, and different sets of data, end up with the same or similar results can we have confidence in the conclusions of such studies. But this is the way both science and scholarship work. Unlike what the popular media does regarding the results of medical research, no student of democide should consider a single statistical study anything more than interesting and suggestive.
* As to garbage in, garbage out, we have well-developed methods for reducing or eliminating the garbage in data and baring the meaningful information they contain. It’s like eliminating the background noise and static in electronic communication.
* The most obvious claims for garbage are apparently precise statements like, for example, Stalin murdered 40,000,000 (or 30,000,000, or 20,000,000) people. But we can use methods that essentially discard the aura of guess work around such figures and still pull out the valuable information they contain, particularly if the analysis is comparative, as in the assessment of estimates of deaths for many democides. Then we are back to orders of magnitude already mentioned.
wedge Q: How can YOU be so sure?
* A: No one can be certain. There is always the possibility that one can be wrong in fact and theory. But I am confident enough that democracies do not make war on each other to believe that it is the best solution to war. I started research on war and peace in 1956 and have spent a professional research career in political science on it since. The whole character of this lifetime of research supports the proposition. But others have done their own research and come to the same conclusion. And like others, I have gone from unbelieving (it is too simple and simplistic) to a maybe-but, to full acceptance as the number of positive research studies and theoretical elaborations have accumulated.

wedge Fostering Democracy
wedge How and Feasibility?
wedge Q: Do you think we can export democracy?
* A: Wrongly conceived. We do not export democracy. We unchain the human rights of other people. Exporting democracy is really freeing people to enjoy the rights that are theirs by virtue of being human. Can we do this? Yes, we did it in post-WWII Japan and Germany, and in Afghanistan, and it was done in South Korea, Taiwan, Philippines, Indonesia, Botswana, and so on.
wedge Q: You say that, “Fostering global freedom is fostering a solution to war and foreign violence." OK, but fostering freedom how? Through violence?
* A: Hardly. I am opposed to invading a country to democratize it. But, fostering freedom can be done in many ways, one of which is as I am doing through my research and writing. But also, through aid to democratic groups, aid in the process of democratization, spreading the word about the power of freedom, education, and, of course, the methods you use through your website in fostering libertarianism and the antiwar cause.
wedge Q: There is no ready-made formula for democracy transposable from one country to another. Democracy is not a method, it is a culture. Do I understand you correctly?
* A: No. Democracy IS a method! It is the method whereby conflicts are resolved by the tools of bargaining, negotiating, and compromise. Democracy is most fundamentally about resolving differences with ballots rather than bullets. Separation of powers, checks and balances, federalism, constitutionalism are all structures people have developed -- some brilliantly -- to limit power by "making" people use certain institutions that require maximum amounts of participation and contestation. None of this is new, and political scientists have been writing about all this stuff since Aristotle. Simply: democracy is a method of nonviolence.
* To be sure, a certain political culture emerges when using these democratic structures. But the culture isn't ethnic, regional, or national. It is political: the habituation and expectation that the peaceful resolution of conflict is the norm. We expect elections. We expect vigorous debates. We expect people to abide by results. We expect elected leaders to leave when de-elected. We expect losers to survive, and even thrive on the lecture circuit and writing books, rather than disappear into gulags. All that is nothing more than the "democratic bargain": we agree to elect someone, who agrees to follow the rules, and to leave when kicked out.
wedge Q: Is there a realistic formula to spread democracy? If so, what would be involved?
* A: I don't think there is any one formula, but a complex of forward looking, pro-democratic actions and policies that vary depending on the nation and context. There are government agencies, non-profits, and governmental and non-governmental international organizations all dedicated in one way or another to promoting democratization. And its promotion will differ for each county, such as Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Algeria, China, and so on. I think you would be surprised by how much pro-democratization activity there is. However, one thing is essential to all, and that is that democratic publics more than just support such activity. They also must get behind them.
wedge Justification
wedge Q: How can you say that globalized democracy will solve the problem of war and minimize domestic violence? Life is a zero-sum game, resources are finite, and the dominance instinct is there within the human species. Someone will always want to make more money, have higher status; some guy will want an entire harem of blondes rather than one wife, and so forth.
* A: Yes, but the virtue of democracy is that it balances and checks the different groups, ideologies, and competitors. Democracy is a method of nonviolence, where in spite of these human instincts, they are balanced in a structural/cultural system of tolerance and compromise.
wedge Q: Is it right for a democratic country to go on a crusade to spread its culture (what it euphemistically calls democracy)?
* A: Not culture or democracy, but human rights. Civil rights, political liberties (yes, democracy) are people's rights by international law and conventions.
wedge Q: How can you really say that democracy will create a more peaceful world? Once the whole world is democratic, new forces may be unleashed creating even more war than we have now.
* A: This simply is saying that we cannot be certain about any route to peace. All we can do is move incrementally and carefully along any prescribed route, always ready to change direction if new theory and evidence show that we are mistaken. I can say here only that theory and empirical results agree, on balance, that democracy offers a way of reducing collective violence. This may be wrong and it might be wiser to wait until much more study has been done before drawing any policy implications. But I must ask: Do any of the current policy proposals for creating a more peaceful world have such accumulated empirical research and theory supporting them?
wedge Q: You seem to want to pressure authoritarian countries to become democratic. To really be democratic. Shouldn’t that be up to them?
* A: The logical error here is assuming that countries or nations decide anything. They don’t. The key question is what you mean by “them” and “they.” It is people who decide, and in democracies, it is the leaders elected by the people and who can be thrown out of office for what they decide. In authoritarian countries it is a small elite who decide and can like chess players, move people here and there around the board without fear of the consequences for their rule. I argue that if people vote through democratic procedures, such as an open and free referendum, to be unfree, that is their business. But if a people are ruled by those who murder tens and hundreds of thousands of their people, and make war arbitrarily, such as Saddam Hussein of Iraq, then it is our business.
wedge Q: How can we impose liberal democracy on one billion Chinese or 250,000,000 Indonesians? The era of gunboat diplomacy is over. What about the smaller nations like Iraq, Libya, Saudi Arabia, Malaysia, Egypt, Syria, Sudan, and Vietnam?
* A: First, one does not “impose democracy.” One unchains a people’s human rights. That understood, I do not argue this should be done by force. It is something that must come from the people themselves, and with the aid and support of the democracies. However, what we find in one authoritarian country after another is that the people want freedom -- they want their human rights -- but a small and powerful elite stand in their way. Moreover, in many countries, such as Iran or North Korea, it is a small group of murdering thugs that prevent any movement towards democracy.
wedge Q: What about the inequality of countries in terms of economy, resources, or development potential in general? What good does it give them to be free and democratic if they don't have the means to survive in, quite often, an aggressive economic world environment?
* A: The best engine of human development, equality, and economic development is democratic freedom. Just as one example, no democratic country has ever had a famine. Although in the last century some 80,000,000 people died in famines, none occurred in democracies. Another example: the richest, most developed countries in the world are virtually all democracies, the exceptions being the oil rich Middle Eastern countries. For the evidence on this and the systematic analysis, see the appendix to my Saving Lives, Enriching Life at: www.hawaii.edu—WF.APPENDIX.HTM
wedge Q: Isn’t it true that the minute someone starts thinking they have the right to impose their systems on someone else, they are walking a dangerous, narrow road. No one has that right. Not any person and not any government -- especially not a democracy, which is supposed to respect the rights of other people and nations.
* This question wrongly conceived what was involved in the Iraq and Afghan wars. The United States and its coalition were not imposing democracy. They were actually freeing the people from a dictator so that they could determine their own government, not one imposed on them as did Saddam Hussein and the Taliban.
* As to my argument on exporting democracy relevant here, see my commentary on this at:
wedge Q: Since everyone is in favor of democracy anyway why make a big thing of this?
* A: Because it will take the investment of much resources by the United States and other democracies to help nations democratize. Russian alone needs tens of billions in aid to further democratization. Such aid will be more forthcoming and more broadly supported if there is a wider understanding among the democracies that by providing human and financial resources to democratize we are not only promoting the freedom and prosperity of other countries but also peace and nonviolence. Such aid is cheap compared to the likely human and material cost of future wars.
* There is also the struggle for human rights in many countries. It helps the struggle not only to justify human rights for their own sake, but also to point out their importance for global peace and security.
wedge Maintaining Democratic Stability
wedge Q: In the past, a few democracies have reverted to authoritarian or totalitarian regimes through internal coups, etc. Even if all nations were democracies, what can be done to keep them democracies? Has your approach of research and analysis been used to establish what causes a democracy to become non-democratic?
* A: No, I have not empirically investigated this and there is very little work of this kind in the literature, although there is much speculation and millions of dollars are being spent presumably to help nations become or remain democracies. As best I can tell without having done the systematic research, economic development promotes democracy, and the more developed a democracy, the more stable it becomes. Indeed, there seems to be a reciprocal causation here: economic development promotes democracy, but democracy also seems to promote economic development.
wedge Preventing War and/or Democide
wedge By Using Violence?
wedge Q: Is it your position that we need to invade every 'non democratic' country in the world, in order to prevent war and 'democide', and chalk up all the deaths, detention without trial, 'disappearances', corruption, secrecy, sabotage of the UN, and so forth, to the 'greater good'?
* A: Nowhere have I written that fostering global freedom should mean invading or intervening in all nondemocracies. I oppose this. I do favor fostering freedom generally by nonviolent means, such as broadcasting into nondemocratic counties radio and TV programs providing the truth about the virtues of democracy and what the ruling thugs are trying to hide from their own people.
wedge Q: Are you in favor of spreading democracy by the sword, as we are doing in Iraq?
* I am not for spreading it by the sword. In general, I'm antiwar. But, as with World War II against Hitler, certain wars are a necessity. Is it right for me to pick up a club and batter a man trying to rape my wife. You betcha. Would I shoot him to stop him if he was bigger than me. You betcha. Was it necessary to protect the United States against the likes of Saddam Hussein. You betcha. The 9/11 attack made this clear.
wedge Q: Are we not forcing democracy on the Iraqis?
* A: We are unchaining them. We are giving them the freedom they have by their right as human beings. The same also applies to our war against the Afghanistan Taliban.
wedge Q: And finally, when and in what circumstances exactly is the best course of action to wage preemptive war against a dictator who, however loathsome, is dormant?
* The important term is "dormant." This means, I assume, that they are not murdering their people en masse, and they are not developing weapons of mass destruction that have the potential for attacking the United States. However, they can be dormant and have weapons of mass destruction that can hit the United States. In this case, preemption applies. We cannot wait until attacked to respond. And a dormant dictator can always change his mind this afternoon, and secretly prepare to attack. Or, his dormancy may only be a ruse. Or he may be overthrown by someone out to attack the United States with existing weapons.
* It's a difficult world we now face, when some crackpot dictator and terrorist group can kill hundreds of thousands of Americans in a blink, or millions by spreading some disease or gas. Remember the anthrax scare? Only a few people were murdered. Consider the panic and collapse of the economic system if thousands die within days in each of the cities like Chicago, New York, San Francisco, and Washington. Can we allow that capability to exist within the hands of a dictator who is helping terrorism, or who is a professed enemy of the United States?
wedge Q: Would I be wrong in suggesting that a component should be added to the foreign policy of U.S., European, and other democratic peace loving regimes? That component would be the forceful (if necessary) imposition of democratic political systems upon any adversaries that might otherwise arise?
* A: I oppose the forceful imposition of freedom, unless it is as the result of a war waged for other reasons (e.g., as in WWII). People may not want to be free in our sense, and whether they should be free ought to be a result of a referendum of some sort.
* There are really two questions here. One is the empirical one -- will freedom bring and assure peace. The answer is yes, so far as our research shows. The second question is more complex -- what is the moral thing to do? That is, what is socially just? Let us say that we discovered that not freedom, but totalitarianism ended all war and democide. Would we still want to give up our freedom to what we would consider an immoral political system? I've tried to deal with this whole issue of social justice, freedom, and the knowledge we have about freedom's power to end war, in my The Just Peace (at: http://www.hawaii.edu/powerkills/NOTE14.HTM). I argue there that people should be free to decide to be unfree. And this should be a decision of people as a whole and not their elite.
wedge By Humanitarian Intervention?
wedge Q: When, if ever, it is justified for one nation to intervene in the internal affairs of another? Would prima facie evidence of democide being carried out as state policy, for example, be one such sufficient basis?
* A: By international law, any intervention is justified if approved by the UN Security Council. However, such intervention is limited severely by the veto powers of the big five, and the membership of non-democratic, thuggish regimes. Morally, I believe intervention is justified at anytime there is extensive democide (e.g., Rwanda, Burundi, Sudan) or some democide coupled with extensive violation of human rights (e.g., Burma, Bosnia, Kosovo, East Timor).
wedge Q: How can any international action not authorized by the UN (or taken without even consulting its bodies) be legal?
* A: All kinds of actions taken by states without UN approval are legal under international law. The right to self-defense, for example, or the right to intervene to protect one's citizens or property, which incidentally, is one excuse for intervention to stop democide that can be used. In any case, if there is no international law to justify intervention to stop democide, then such should be invented through the process of intervention. Note that one source of international law is the behavior of states -- and actual intervention could then be such a source for new law. But really, sufficient international law already exists.
wedge Q: If "democracies" set a precedent for intervening in other nations, don’t we create significantly more problems than the ones we are trying to solve?
* A: If we save 1,000,000 lives, as is estimated the case in the Somalia intervention, than I for one am willing to live with what problems intervention creates.
wedge By Fostering Democratic Freedom?
* Q: How can genocides be prevented?
wedge Q: How do we prevent democide? Prevention must be our aim.
* A. To prevent democide, or genocidal democide specifically, is to do something that no longer allows government to murder its people. The long run answer is then democratization. But where democide will happen soon or is already underway, time equals deaths and the international community should immediately intervene. (Yes, I know about the political and diplomatic obstacles, but that is another thing). Since it is always a dictatorship -- a gang that seized power by the gun and rules by fear and terror -- that is doing the democide, by international law (such as the various human rights, genocide, and humanitarian conventions and treaties) intervention is right and morally just. This also provides the excuse and means to further democratization in the nation involved.
wedge Q: What lessons has your research taught you about human nature and how human society should be "constructed" to ensure a safer future?
* A: I've learned that war, democide, and famine are not matters of psychology, economics, or bad rulers, but a matter of a society’s social structure. When society is so structured that its people determine its policies and leaders (democratic freedom), then war, democide, and famine will disappear.
wedge Q: We are at a magical historic cusp because we possess, for the first time in history, the means to consolidate political power in the hands of peace activists planet-wide, as well as the means, motive and opportunity to exterminate the human species at the hands of international militarists planet wide. The Manichean elements of this stark polarization are ours to choose, with no prevarication, compromise, or indefinite fence straddling survivable for any serious length of time. Yes?
* A: Without agreeing to your full characterization of this, I do agree that we are at the magical historic cusp. For by fostering liberal democratic freedom, we can spread this oasis of international peace and human security by globalizing democracy.
wedge Q: Ending war isn't enough. We also need to demilitarize the world. How can that happen?
* A: Globalizing democracy. Democracies need no arms against each other. Note that in the world today, no democracies are armed against each other. Consider also that the democratic United States, Britain, France, Israel, India, and South Africa have nuclear weapons, but not one of them fears the nuclear weapons of the other, or takes defensive measures against them. Only the nukes of nondemocratic Pakistan, China, and N. Korea are feared and defensive measures have been taken and more are underway. Russia is again looming as a danger, since it has again moved to systematically deny human rights.
wedge Q: How can the promotion of democracy and freedom to achieve world peace be compatible with the quite often-intervening foreign policy of governments considered free and democratic?
* A: Big question, because there are so many aspects to it. On the same moral/conceptual plane, it is like asking how a society can be peaceful when the police are breaking up gangs that are preying on a neighborhood or preventing murder and rape. Turn the question around. How can a peaceful democratic world be promoted when dictators are allowed to massacre thousands of their citizens, enslave large numbers because of their sex or religion or color, invade their neighbors, and try to subvert democratic countries? Is it inconsistent with promoting freedom and democracy that the UN and some democracies intervened in Rwanda to stop the genocide that may have murdered around 750,000 people in four months?
wedge Not Possible or Applicable?
wedge Q: Has not history shown that trying to stop democide is a hopeless and idealistic endeavor. Even after the many loud “Never Again” exclamations following the Holocaust, there had been mass slaughter and democide in the Soviet Union, China, Rwanda, Iraq, Iran, Kosovo, etc., etc.
* A: Democide can be stopped. We should recognize two facts and one practical necessity that cut through the feeling of hopelessness. One fact is that democracies by far have had the least domestic democide, and now with their extensive liberalization, have virtually none. Therefore, democratization (not just electoral democracies, but liberal democratization in terms of civil and political rights and liberties) provides the long run hope for the elimination of democide. That the world is progressively becoming more democratic, moving from 22 democracies in 1950 to something like 121 democracies today (about 89 of them liberal democracies), which gives substance to this hope. The second fact is that democratization is central to the national interest of all these democracies. A fundamental national interest of a democracy is peace -- the avoidance of war -- and international trade and prosperity. This brings us to the one practical necessity. What is the best way overall to avoid war and promote prosperity in the long run? Through the promotion of democratization. Democracies don't make war on each other, and the more democratic a regime the less its foreign and domestic violence. And democracy is an engine of wealth and prosperity. Moreover, this is now the core idea in American foreign policy.
wedge Q: It is clear the Genocide Convention has failed to prevent genocide. Why?
* A: The main reason for the failure of the Convention (which only in recent years is beginning to be applied) was the Cold War. To try to apply it to government leaders during the Cold War would in many cases have led to war, which ultimately could have escalated to involve the U.S. and U.S.S.R. and nuclear weapons. Second, a number of countries carrying out genocide were close allies of the U.S. in the American attempt to contain and deter communist aggression (e.g., Pakistan). For the democracies to forcefully apply the Convention to these countries could have meant destabilizing them and making either a communist takeover likely or bringing about a new government that would abrogate its defense treaties with the U.S. (e.g., Indonesia). The paramount fact of international relations from 1948 to about 1990 was the Cold War; all else, including the Convention, was secondary. In this light, I should also note that much of the world was either authoritarian or totalitarian, and these were the nations that were committing genocide, as defined in the Convention. They had the majority of votes in the UN and on the human rights commissions. These countries were not about to let the Convention be applied to them, and for the democracies to try to do this by force (as in Kosovo) would, as I noted, meant war that well could have escalated.
wedge Q: If you are an optimist, whom I would define as someone who believes war can be abolished, would you say that you are in the minority among scholars who study war and peace?
* A: The term "study" is very broad, in that it encompasses a variety of writers, scholars, and researchers. Among this large group, I am in a minority in my belief that wars can be ended with what we know now. If you limit the term "study" to those who do quantitative (scientific) analyses of war, then I'm among a majority. However, this is not a matter of optimism or its opposite anymore than whether there are rings around Saturn is such a matter. It is what the empirical data say upon scientific analysis. I believe what they say is undeniable (indeed, some who now agree with me did their initial analyses to prove me wrong.) And that is that democracies do not make war on each other. There is not a clear case in history of such a war. Moreover, nondemocracies that made war on each other stopped doing so when they became democracies, and started doing so again when one or both democracies fell.
* And it is now possible to see this with the naked eye, so to say. There are about 120 democracies today in terms of their civil and political rights. In spite of the violent conflicts around the world, not one is occurring between any two democracies. With so many democracies, that this avoidance of such violence continues year after year cannot be by chance.
wedge Q: My impression is that many popular historians, such as Robert Kagan, Donald Keegan, Samuel Huntington, Victor Davis Hanson, et al, are pessimists, who believe that war and militarism are inevitable. Even lefties such as Michael Walzer and the journalist Chris Hedges lean toward that view. My impression talking to friends and acquaintances is that they are largely pessimistic too. Would you agree?
* A: Oh, yes, this pessimism is almost universal among such notables, except among those who have done the scientific research. This pessimism is due, of course, to our long, long history of war and the way such people do their analyses and scholarship. If one were to ask the same question about slavery or monarchies a few centuries ago, especially of the intellectuals of the time, the same pessimism would have been near universal.
wedge Q: I'd say that there isn't much relevance of the democratic peace to foreign policy. The analyses of the realist school supersede the relationship between the absence of war and relations between democracies. Comment?
* A: The realist school views international relations in terms of power, a balance of power, stability, and diplomacy, and that all nations face a security dilemma. It does not ignore the type of political system, but treats it as subordinate to the balancing of power and diplomacy.
* I disagree with the universal application of this view. What the evidence about the lack of war between democracies argues is that democracies are a zone of peace, that power and power balancing does not work the same among democracies, that democracies do not have to worry about a security dilemma among themselves. This is a profound thrust into the heart of realism. International relations is divided into two spheres, one in which peaceful and cooperative relations can proceed as though within municipal society; and the other sphere in which there is turmoil and power must play its realist role to keep peace, in which war is a normal expectation.
* This means that we have a real (as opposed to idealistic) foreign policy course for eliminating war altogether. That is by fostering democracy.
wedge Q: Even if the proposition that democracies do not make war on each other is true, how can you generalize to the future? Because something never happened in the past, you cannot say it will not in the future.
* A: That democracies do not make war on each other, that they create a zone of peace among themselves, is now the most firmly established proposition in international relations and the most important. Given this, we have a solid base for forecasting that there never will be a war between democracies and that universalizing democracy will end international wars.
* All public policies are based on perceptions of historical patterns. Indeed, all scientific predictions are based on established theoretical/empirical patterns. No prediction of the future is thus certain; all are based on the past. The question is how good the established patterns are that underlie the predictions. Are they reliable, well verified, and theoretically understood? The historical pattern that there is no war between democracies meets all these requirements. Even those who have been very skeptical when starting their research on this have become convinced. One has said that this is now the best established law of international relations.
* Given all this and the absolute importance of eliminating war, should we not implement the best empirical/theoretical solution now in our hands? That is, as practical and desired by the people involved, to universalize democracy?
wedge On an Alliance of Democracies
wedge The Alliance
wedge Q: Are there new preventative methods that can be tried to prevent war and democide?
* A: Many. I would emphasize as most important, however, the democracies organizing among themselves into democracy-only international organizations, the promotion of democracy and human rights, and humanitarian intervention to stop or prevent democide.
wedge Q. Is not independent military action against a UN member illegal? Conversely, would intervention by the Alliance be legitimate?
* A. All kinds of actions taken by states without UN approval are legal under international law. The right to self-defense, for example, or the right to intervene to protect one's citizens or property, which incidentally, is one excuse for intervention to stop democide that can be used. In any case, if there is no international law to justify intervention to stop democide, then such a law should be invented through the process of intervention. Note that one source of international law is the behavior of states -- and actual intervention could then be such a source for new law. But really, sufficient international law already exists. There are the Genocide Convention; Geneva Accords; Human Rights Conventions and treaties; the precedents established by the various war crimes tribunals; the norms governing Crimes Against Humanity; related resolutions of the United Nations; and the rules governing the judicial scope of both the International Court of Justice (the World Court) and the International Criminal Court at The Hague.
* Moreover, how we conceptualize the demociders is crucial to the idea of legitimacy. The relevant simile is that the government usually carrying out the democide is like a gang of thugs that have descended on a group of hikers, stealing their possessions, raping some, and killing others. If there is no international law allowing these thugs to be stopped, captured, and tried before an international court, then Natural Law provides the justification.
wedge Existing Institutions
wedge Q: Regarding your proposal for an Alliance of Democracies to eventually eliminate democide and war, isn’t there already a movement in this direction.
* A: Yes, there was a meeting of over 100 democracies in Warsaw in June 2000, and a Warsaw declaration looking toward a Community of Democracies, and regularly scheduled future meetings. For some relevant documents on this, see the "Towards a Community of Democracies" issue of Issues of Democracy at: usinfo.state.gov—ijde0500.htm For specifics on the Warsaw meeting, see: www.wmd.org—index.html There is a practical solution to democide in progress, folks.
wedge Q: There is now a Special Representative for Genocide Prevention located at U.N. Headquarters who will coordinate U.N. assessment of early warnings of genocides, and will inform the U.N. Security Council, U.N. General Assembly, U.N. agencies, member states, and international organizations. Do you think this is a step forward?
* A: Hardly a long- run solution, even if in fact the Special Representative inspires any intervention to stop genocide. Which he hasn’t so far. Two things. One is that I am reminded of the saying from the 1950s regarding international aid that goes something like: you can provide fish to the hungry, but you will need to do that every day; if you teach them to fish, however, you need do that only once. Similarly with democide (genocide and mass murder). If you stop or intervene in one democide, you still will have to do it in other places, or again in the same place later. If you foster democratic freedom, however, then once in democracy is in place and secure, you will not again have to worry about genocide. Then, should we not be tying democide prevention with creating democracies? A second thing. Why not go to the root cause and declare dictatorships an international crime? After all, they are terrorist rule by a gang of thugs at the point of their guns, they deny their people fundamental human rights, and they are the demociders.
wedge Q: Why ignore the UN and form this Alliance in its place?
* A. The UN should not be ignored. An Alliance of Democracies would have the most votes in the General Assembly, and the United States, Great Britain, and France have vetoes in the Security Council. However, communist China has a veto, as well as does Russia, a non-liberal democracy, and supporter of the two notorious demociders Iraq and Iran. Moreover, many nondemocratic members of the UN are dictatorships who have murdered thousands, and in some cases millions, of their citizens, and made aggressive war on their neighbors. The UN is therefore generally frustrated in its ability to deal with aggression and democide, or to foster democratic human rights. Nonetheless, the UN must be the first resort. The newly formed UN caucus of the democracies should be strengthened along the lines of a political party, so that it can act in the UN as does a political party in a democratic legislature. This means establishing a leadership, stands on issues, submitting resolutions, etc, but especially using its power to further human rights, and to get UN support for the decisions of the Alliance of Democracies. And whatever actions this Alliance would take against democide should be as a supplement or complement to UN action, or final alternative to the UN's failure to act.
* I must point out that I'm a strong supporter of the UN for many reasons, and there are many common interests between all nations, whether ruled by thugs or not, that must be worked out in the UN. Disaster relief is just one such. But not high among these common interests is fostering global democracy and effectively eliminating democide and aggression.
wedge Q: What is the basis of your argument that the UN is inadequate?
* A. Consider the Brahimi Report of the United Nations. In 2000, the Secretary General of the UN convened a panel of experts to review the UN's peace and security efforts. Lakhder Brahimi, the former minister of foreign affairs of Algeria, led it. The resulting Brahimi Report was a very negative critique of UN peacekeeping operations and military interventions and characterized them as repeated failures. I believe that one of the main reasons for this failure is that the membership of the UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations is made up of many authoritarian states and military dictatorships. I believe an Alliance of Democracies can do much better.
* Then consider the composition of the UN Human Rights Commission. In 2002, the United States temporarily lost its membership in this premier UN organization for hearing human rights appeals and fostering human rights around the world (it was voted back in 2003). The commission has 53 members. Who then on is on it in 2005? Cuba, China, Egypt, Saudi Arabia (that paragon of female enslavement), Sudan (yes, Sudan), Qatar (another one), Pakistan (yes, this one also), Russia (now unfree), and Zimbabwe, among others. Any so called human rights commission that has two communist members, plus murderous dictatorships and absolute monarchies, is a sham. But it is the way the UN has to operate. An Alliance of Democracies -- of governments that observe human rights and rarely, if ever, in modern times have murdered their citizens -- can do much better.
wedge For Fostering Democracy
wedge Q: Do you have any ideas on how to "install" a democracy in a country where citizens have never experienced it?
* A: democracy is not installed, rather the people are freed of their chains. That understood, this is the number one question, and part of the reason I suggest an Alliance of Democracies. This is to use the combined diplomatic and economic power of over 100 democracies to foster democratization. How? Though aid and support to democratic movements, activists, human rights advocates and petitioners, and nascent democratic parties in these nondemocracies.
wedge For Exposing Democide
wedge Q: How can turning a spotlight on a gross violation of humanitarian law affect the outcome?
* A: Because by arousing public opinion in democracies, intervention that will affect the outcome is made more likely. Witness the American intervention in Somalia when the photographs of starving Somalian children were shown in all the media.
* For Humanitarian Intervention
wedge Q: What do you believe is the role of a democracy in the face of massive democide in a nondemocratic nation?
* A: The role of democracies is to form a democratic alliance of nations to promote democracy and intervene to prevent such mass murder. Largely ruled by nondemocracies (note that China, Cuba, and Sudan, are members of the UN Human Rights Commission), the UN is unwilling to do anything serious about it.
wedge Q. If the Alliance acts independently, what would it do regarding democide?
* A. This would involve five things: preparation, diplomacy, shows of strength, public relations, and seizing opportunities.
* As to preparations, we know where democide is now happening and is most likely to flare up. Just to name a few nations where a sudden democide in the tens or hundreds of thousands is likely: Sudan, Democratic Republic of Congo, Burundi, Rwanda, Somalia, Iran, Pakistan, North Korea, and Colombia. There should be contingency plans worked out by the members of the Alliance before such democide occurs. And there should be in place a NATO type military organization of combined Alliance forces. This then can deploy to prevent or stop democide or aggression in line with a UN resolution, or because of the UN's failure to act.
* Concerning diplomacy, this would involve the usual thing -- emergency conferences, dispatch of diplomats to the offending government, warnings, threats, and so on.
* But diplomacy must be backed by strength. Any such Alliance must be credible so that a thug government planning democide must consider that it may have to fight the forces of the Alliance, be defeated, and its dictators tried before an international court for genocide, crimes against humanity, or aggression. The first successful intervention by the Alliance would establish this, which has already been helped by the war of the American Alliance against the Afghanistan Taliban and Hussein’s Iraq. But before the alliance flexes its military muscle, it must show that the diverse democracies that comprise the Alliance can work together and have in place a military second to no non-democracy. Any potential democider surely must note that the most powerful countries of the world, including the only super-power, are members of the Alliance and make up its military arm.
wedge Potential Problems?
wedge Q: Is there any reason to expect that a transnational organization composed of democracies could avoid the corrupting tendencies of centralized power?
* A: First, there must be some kind of international organization to deal with the multiple needs of a world of nation-states, including dealing with international disputes, conflict, and war when it does and should occur, not to mention the anti-human rights and democide of the thug regimes. There must be an international political organization for this, and the only question is what kind. The UN -- thug haven -- has failed, and its decisions are morally undesirable.
* I am arguing for a democratically organized international organization of all democracies, like a parliament or legislature in a democracy, but now one at the world level. If you accept such an organization for a democracy within a state, then you really should accept the same kind of organization of the global system of democracies. It is just one level higher. Consider. We have such a democratic organization at the town and city level, at the American state level, at the federal level, and I say that we should now have one at the international level.
wedge Q: Since your Death By Government points out that political power itself, irrespective of ideology, is the engine of democide, would not an Alliance of Democracies degenerate into a power-centered, democide-fostering, world government? One that is empowered to (in your words) "advance not only democracy, but also human rights, peace and human security" would also, in principle, have the power to imperil individual rights and individual security.
* A: The ultimate protection, as in our democracy, is the checks and balances system of political power. Such would come for an Alliance from its democratic nature, the natural political divisions among the democracies, as currently between the United States and its allies versus France and Germany, or Eastern Europe versus Russia, etc. I imagine that with the Alliance, these differences will settle into a new set of political parties, as happens in any legislature. Then there is in democracies the freedom of multiple groups (church, business, non-governmental organizations, human rights groups) to pressure the Alliance from different directions.
wedge Q: Why are western governments all too ready to turn their backs on genocides, until it's too late?
* A: Genocide elsewhere is not perceived as a vital or even secondarily national interest issue/problem. However, show that dealing with them is fundamental to a democracy's national interest, which is what I'm trying to do, and they will pay more attention to them and possibly even intervene.
wedge Q: Who is to choose what is a democracy for purposes of membership in the Alliance of Democracies?
* A. Why, the members themselves. Democracies can well choose fellow democracies and this should be up to the membership. I imagine that nations will ask to join, and whether accepted will be up to a committee of experts that will assess their democraticness, and recommend membership or not for a vote of the whole Alliance. Nothing strange here. This is the way international organizations work.
wedge Criticism
wedge Q: Do not the sins of the U.S. (such as aggressive wars, mass foreign democide, imperialism) weaken your argument for an Alliance of Democracies?
* A: There is a tendency among critics of an Alliance of Democracies to focus on the U.S. and its supposed sins. But such an Alliance would comprise over 100 nations, a good number of whom, such as France, Germany, and Canada, are not easily dominated by the U.S. It is strange that when an Alliance of Democracies is discussed, supposed American sins are used to argue against it, but when the UN and its possible actions are considered, the sins of such members as the Sudan, Somalia, Libya, China, Zaire, Rwanda, Burma, Vietnam, etc., are ignored.
wedge Q: The use of sanctions and force can only be done by organizations representing the international community. How can an alliance of democracies with such a heavily partisan character (and NATO is a distinct example) base its coercive actions on anything other than arrogance and crude might?.
* A: Who are these other nations that would be added to the democracies to create "collective international will"? Somalia, Sierra Leone, North Korea, Sudan, Burma, Iraq, Iran, Zaire, Rwanda, Burundi, and so, including that paragon of human rights, communist China. The only group of nations that meets the international criteria for human rights and reflects the will of their people is the democracies. They are the only systems that institutionalize social justice. So, they are partisan. That partisanship is to the good, as is the partisanship of the police in stopping gang murder.
wedge Q: Is the argument that democracies occupy the moral high ground in the international system implausible?
* A: Democracies do have the moral high ground. They are the only political system incorporating human rights at their core, don't make war on each other, and the liberal democracies among them -- a majority -- have virtually no domestic democide. Surely, freedom to vote leaders out of power is more moral than a dictatorship; freedom of religion is more moral than its suppression; freedom of speech more moral than its denial; freedom to organize unions more moral than its prevention; and so on for political parties, private schools, etc. Liberal democracy is the only political system that gives its people all these freedoms and thus does have the moral high ground. But look at the point in a different way. If you want to be inclusive, which gangs of thugs ("governments") do you want to include? Again, Sudan, Iraq, Burma, and so on?
wedge President George Bush and Iraq or Afghanistan
wedge Q: How can you support Bush going to war against Iraq and/or Afghanistan?
* A: He did so because of the danger Saddam Hussein posed to the United States. And the danger was found in Hussein's aid to terrorists, and the weapons at his disposal, and his doubtless developing of nuclear weapons. I know this is now controversial, but this was at the time the consensus of all Western intelligence agencies. Second, the man had murdered hundreds of thousands of his people, launched a war that killed about 1,000,000 Iraqi and Iranians, and totally repressed his people. Women were raped at will, and fathers or brothers that complained were murdered. Plus, he had invaded and tried to take over completely the neighboring country of Kuwait. Don't you think the democratizing Iraq and freeing its people, especially its women, is a worthy effort?
* Then don't forget Afghanistan, which was, under the Taliban, especially for women, a hell-state. Now, because of Bush, Afghanistan held its first democratic elections and elected its first president and legislature.
wedge Q: Isn’t Bush’s rhetoric on democracy and freedom just that -- rhetoric?
* A: No. His policies in the Middle East, Iraq, and Afghanistan are consistent with his rhetoric. His basic policy is to foster democracy, and that is what he has been doing.
wedge Q: Saddam Hussein murdered many of his own people. How does that give the U.S. the right to go in and do the same? 
* There are two sources of law for this. One is that of humanitarian intervention to protect a people from genocide and mass murder. This has been the basis of intervention, for example, in Rwanda, Kosovo, and currently, the Ivory Coast by, of all nations, France.
* The second, and more important one, was that Hussein was seen, based on all intelligence reports, a danger to the United States. We simply could not wait for him to supply terrorists with weapons of mass destruction, or to acquire nuclear weapons with which he could deter us from stopping him from invading neighboring countries. Hindsight is one thing, but one must judge an action on what was believed by all at the time.
* And you are sadly misinformed about our murdering Iraqis.

wedge Q: you use the term evil to describe democide, terrorism, and mass murderers like Stalin and Hitler. Who are you to say something is “evil”?
* To discuss evil in any depth requires either a theological discussion of evil, or a philosophical safari into ethics. I wish to leave theology aside, and as far as ethics is concerned, simply express my view of evil. First, I do not accept some prevailing ethics, such as that ethics are simply a personal emotive expression of something one hates (like ugh!), a situational expression about some gross immorality, or an objective fact that exists outside of us. In my view, ethical statements are prescriptive, state what ought to be morally, and are universal. That is, they state what everyone would agree to for their moral governance, were they to have to live under them without advanced knowledge as to their socio-economic status, race, religion, sex, etc. Evil for me is then something all would agree is not only morally reprehensible, but also fundamentally reprehensible to what it means to be human and civilized. In this sense, any murder is evil. We lock up people for life or execute them for this reason. But we also have to recognize that there are different levels of reprehensibility, as to whether a person murders one other, or 10,000 others in one pen stroke, as have some political leaders like Stalin.
wedge Q: Is 999,999 murdered less evil than 1,000,001 murdered? Is 400,000 murdered less evil than 1,000,000 murdered? Is 98,371 murdered less evil than 1,000,000 murdered?
* A: I believe that there are different levels of evil roughly corresponding to the different magnitudes of murder, as in democide. Now, I know this is subject to reductio ad absurdum. There can be no difference in evil between 9 and 10 murders, 999, and 1,000. But this idea of relative evil should be applied sensibly, that is with the recognition that we are talking about real differences in magnitude as well as levels: the murder of 5,400,000 Jews (by my calculations) is to me more evil than Indonesia's murder of about 700,000 people (1965-87), but in the same ballpark of moral reprehensibility as the Chinese Nationalist's regime murder of about 10,000,000 (1928-1949), leaving other moral consideration aside. Similarly, the Albanian regime (1944-87) that murdered about 100,000 people is less evil in this sense than Hitler's that murdered about 21,000,000. But I'm not willing to extend this moral differentiation to similar magnitudes. To me, Hitler's 21,000,000 murdered is as evil as Stalin's 40,000,000 (the often quoted 20,000,000 is only for the 1930s).
wedge Q. Excuse me, but where is morality in all this? Democide is an evil, yet you treat it with numbers as though you were analyzing the relationship between corn yields and rainfall.
* A: Immoral, yes. Evil, yes. All the more reason to bring science as well as scholarship to bear. The quantitative analysis of democide is like medical research into the causes and cure of heat disease and cancer. To focus on quantification and analysis does not mean that a medical researcher is ignoring the horror in lives, pain, and suffering of these diseases, but rather it is because of all this that the doctor has devoted his life to this line of research.
wedge Q: Liberal democracy is morally good, but is it sufficient to stop democide?
* A: Yes, the proof is in the statistical analysis of all democides and regimes during this century. The less democratic, the more democide; the more democratic the less democide. This is a very high and very significant correlation. And it holds up when we hold constant many variables that are believed to account for democide, such as education, economic development, religion, ethnicity or race, geography, and so on (the techniques used are analysis of variance, multiple regression, factor analysis, and canonical analysis). However, this is still only correlation. There is also theory as to why democratic freedom inhibits democide, which has to do with the nature of a spontaneous society, multiple balances and checks on power, cross-pressures, culture of tolerance, and so on. This theory predicts what in fact has been found empirically.
wedge Q: So, you believe your version of democracy is morally superior to other kinds of governments?
* A: Yes. I am not a moral relativist. I do believe that some governments are better than others; that the current German government is morally superior to Hitler's, contemporary Russia's to Stalin's, and Japan's to its militarist government of World War II. Indeed, I believe that the government that best promotes the development of its people in terms of their own interests and capabilities, while minimizing internal and foreign violence and democide, as does democracy, is better than those that don't. This is my prejudice and sense of social justice.
wedge Q: Democracies have rarely interfered when calamities like the Armenian and Rwandan genocides occurred. Is interference in such genocides not a moral responsibility that comes with being a democratic country?
* A: In my view, the democracies have a moral responsibility to intervene and stop massive democide. I would go further, since it is the absolute dictators of the world that are the major source of war and democide, I would rule dictatorship itself a crime against humanity.
wedge Q: The argument that "democracies" occupy the moral high ground in the international system is implausible. How can you justify this?
* A: They are the only political system incorporating human rights at their core, don't make war on each other, and the majority liberal democracies among them, have virtually no domestic democide. Is not freedom of religion more moral than its suppression? Is not freedom of speech more moral than its denial? Is not freedom to organize unions, political parties, private schools, etc., more moral than their repression? Is not the freedom to vote leaders out of power more moral than a dictatorship? Liberal democracy is the only political system that gives its people all these freedoms and thus does have the moral high ground.

wedge Q: Is your political ideology relevant to answers in this Q&A?
* A: Yes, I think my ideology is quite relevant. I'm a principled pacifist (sometimes war is the lesser evil, as against a Hitler), and thus neither left or right. This is my paramount value. Because of my research, I have changed my politics from democratic socialist to libertarian, and now to libertarian on domestic policy and while on foreign policy I am a strong supporter of fostering freedom internationally. To complete this ideological unveiling, I'm opposed to democide of any kind.
wedge Q: You say you are no longer a libertarian, but a freedomist. What is that?
* A: It is one that is a libertarian in domestic policy. My emphasis is on the freedom of the individual consistent with the freedom of others. This is not to deny that government has certain functions, such as guaranteeing these freedoms and protecting them, adjudicating claims, national defense, public health, the environment, etc. The question always is where the dividing line is between freedom and government. This is a matter of individual values, perceptions, and interests, and the best, socially just, arena in which these can be determined authoritatively for a society is in a democracy. However, unlike some libertarians, I favor an active foreign policy, one fostering freedom abroad. I think President George Bush has it right with his democratic peace foreign policy he calls ‘A Forward Strategy of Freedom.”
wedge Q: Since you supported the war against the Afghan Taliban and both wars against Saddam Hussein’s Iraq, wouldn't this somehow contradict your apparent pro-peace and pro-non-violence views?
* A: Being pro-peace is not contradictory to being for the use of violence to prevent those who would murder, rape, and loot others from doing so. Is it inconsistent with being pro-peace to favor a police force and their use of violence when necessary to subdue or capture murderers or rapists? No, it is not. And the same holds for international relations. Was it inconsistent with being pro-peace to have fought Hitler? No, because had the democracies not done so, his world would have been a world of murderers and slaves -- hardly a peaceful world, as we use that term. But remember, as a result of fighting and defeating Hitler and Tojo, both Germany and Japan were turned into peaceful democracies. Had the democracies not done anything, I leave it to your imagination as to what the world would be like with the Nazis occupying all of Europe and half of Russia and the Japanese military in occupation of all of Asia, including India, and the pacific west of Hawaii.
wedge Q: It appears that you have gone to some trouble to let people know about your theories -- what do you hope to gain in doing this?
* A: I'm retired and get nothing out my books (so far my current royalties would not cover my car repairs) and my web site except the psychic satisfaction from following through on a great sense of moral obligation. Let me put it this way. If one knows there is a cure for cancer of which the general public and most of the medical community is unaware, then there is a deep obligation to inform. Well, as a research social scientist I've come to know that there is a practical and in itself desirable solution to famine, mass poverty, political violence, genocide/mass murder, and war. And I'm now trying to communicate all this, and the underlying mass of research that supports it.
wedge Q: Who commissioned your research?
* A: None of it was done under commission. However, some of it was done under grants from the National Science Foundation (1962-1966), Department of Defense (1967-1974), and the U.S. Institute of Peace (1988-1992).
wedge Q: On the democratic peace, most people cite Michael Doyle, but didn’t you publish on it before he did?
* A: Yes. I did the theory and empirical work first in my Vol. 4 of Understanding Conflict and War, 1979. The democratic peace was one of the propositions (the Freedom Proposition) I tested and accepted. The book is on my web site at: http://www2.hawaii.edu/~rummel/NOTE13.HTM. Because these results were so important, I replicated the empirical work in my 1983 Journal of Conflict Resolution article at: http://www2.hawaii.edu/~rummel/DP83.HTM. Of note, the first modern researcher to explicitly argue and show evidence that democracies don’t fight each other was Dean Babst, who published an article on the subject in 1964.
wedge Q: How did this study change you as person, if at all?
* A: It made me far less tolerant of Marxists and the far left, which is responsible for most of the killing. Marxist governments alone have murdered about 110,000,000 people out of a total of about 170,000,000 for the whole world. It changed me from a mild pacifist to an interventionist -- it made me come to accept humanitarian intervention, forcefully if need be, to prevent massive democide. The cost of such intervention in human lives is always much less than the day after day murder of people by a democidal government.
wedge Q: What brought the issue of murder by government to your attention, making you dedicate yourself to the research of war and mass murder?
* A: I have spent much of my career in the study of war in order to understand how to stop this massive killing, I was increasingly surprised to come across references to those murdered in China, the Soviet Union, and elsewhere. I began to wonder if governments murdered more than died in war. Secondly, it became clear in my research that democratic freedom was a solution to war. The natural question was then: Is this also true of democide?
wedge Q: When did you term the coin "democide"?
* A: Sometime in the dim history. As far as my books are concerned, I first used it in my 1990 book Lethal Politics: Soviet Genocide and Mass Murder (see http://www.hawaii.edu/powerkills/NOTE4.HTM). Otherwise, I think I first used it in my 1988 grant proposal to the United States Institute of Peace, but I no longer have a copy of that to verify it. I suppose the easiest response is that I invented it sometime in the late 1980s.
wedge Q: Would you say that there any traces of "political correctness" in your views?
* A: I am a scientist and let the chips fall where they may, even if it leads to the negation of my pet beliefs. My web site has many examples of the methods I use to verify and test my hypotheses. See, for example, the appendix to my Saving Lives, which is at: http://www.hawaii.edu/powerkills/WF.APPENDIX.HTM. However, many a value and agenda is hidden in the claim of objective science. Although I have done my best to be objective, there still may be "traces" of political correctness in my work. This is why the best science is that involving many people with different beliefs testing the same theory and hypotheses. Although I did create a website detailing the results so that others could test the democratic peace as well, as they have done with similar results, there still might be traces imbedded in my work or the field itself.
wedge Q: What sort of feedback do you get about your work on democide in the U.S.A. and elsewhere in the world? Is there any sort of criticism?
* A: Generally, the reception has been good. But there is also a minority that thinks I'm a right-winger, that my figures are biased, or highly inflated against the former communist nations, especially for Cambodia, China, and the U.S.S.R.. Some don’t like my findings on the democide committed by the Chinese Nationalists; others are angry that I described what Turkey did to Armenians, or Poland to Germans (immediately after World War II) as democide. Mostly I find that those who criticize my results have not read my books, for what they say I should do, I have done, or what they say I should not have done I did not. Some are very critical that I included a source published in Taiwan, or by an anti-communist league, or by a communist refugee, not understanding that I tried to include sources from all sides so that I could get a low and high for each estimate.
wedge Q: Have any senior military, state department or congressional leaders (or leaders from other countries) talked to you about your findings and their implications for foreign policy?
* A: A reception on my Power Kills was held in the Congressional Building when it first came out. There were some Congressman and Senators there and I gave a speech on the book. And there have been some contacts with or words from others among the Washington power elite. But I have not been in contact with any senior policy makers in either the Clinton or Bush II administrations about my work.

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