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Stopping Mass Atrocities: Targeting the Dictator

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Weerdesteijn, Maartje

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Abstract The international community has determined it carries the responsibility to protect civilians from atrocity crimes if a state is unable or unwilling to do so. These crimes are often perpetrated in authoritarian regimes where they are legitimized through an exclusionary ideology. A comparative case study of Pol Pot and Milosevic indicates that whether the leader truly believes in the ideology he puts forward or merely uses it instrumentally to manipulate the population, is an important variable, which affects the manner in which third parties can respond effectively to these crimes. While Pol Pot was motivated by his ideological zeal, Milosevic used ideology to create a climate in which mass atrocities could be perpetrated in order to garner further power and prestige. In Max Weber’s terminology, Milosevic was guided by instrumental rationality while Pol Pot acted on the basis of value rationality. This case study compares two crucial moments - Vietnam's invasion of Cambodia and NATO's bombing of Serbia when the crisis in Kosovo escalated - to analyze the responsiveness of the two leaders. It is argued that ideological leaders are less responsive than non-ideological leaders to foreign policy measures targeted to stop or mitigate the occurrence of atrocities. (author's abstract)
Keywords international politics; genocide; massacre; political violence; political ideology; ideology; propaganda; dictatorship; political leadership; rationality; protecting power; military intervention; Cambodia; Vietnam; Yugoslavia; authoritarian system; Southeast Asia
Classification Political Process, Elections, Political Sociology, Political Culture; Peace and Conflict Research, International Conflicts, Security Policy
Free Keywords Pol Pot; Slobodan Milosevic
Document language English
Publication Year 2015
Page/Pages p. 53-66
Journal Politics and Governance, 3 (2015) 3
Issue topic Mass Atrocity Prevention (Part I)
ISSN 2183-2463
Status Published Version; peer reviewed
Licence Creative Commons - Attribution