- The Washington Times - Sunday, December 8, 2002

What turns normal human beings living in a democracy into moral monsters? The question arises after reading Death on the Black Sea by Douglas Frantz and Catherine Collins (HarperCollins, $26.95, 368 pages), one of the most awful exposes of World War II inhumanity and this time by democratic Britain.
Desperate to escape Nazi invaders in Romania in late 1941, 800 Jewish refugees boarded at a Romanian port city a ship destined for Palestine. They and their ship were quarantined in Istanbul for two months. Then the ship, its engine disabled and useless, was towed into the middle of the Black Sea and 24 hours later sunk by a Soviet submarine with all aboard in freezing waters. One passenger survived to tell the tale.
What the authors reveal is how the British government, which had it in its power to do something, did nothing while the refugee ship was docked in Istanbul. Worse, British authorities on the scene also refused even to allow the children aboard the stricken vessel to disembark and proceed to Palestine. Archives show that Britain was fearful of disrupting oil exports from Arab countries if the refugees were allowed to go to Palestine. As for the Soviet submarine, Joseph Stalin had issued a secret order that all transport ships leaving neutral Turkey in the direction of Germany were to be sunk lest the Nazis obtain Turkish chromium.
Among the countless books about the Holocaust, I found "Death on the Black Sea" particularly important. Perhaps because of the book's small compass, one begins to understand why and how Auschwitz happened.

The Scapegoat of the Decade is a word which has only recently been endowed with the magical power of total evil. Whatever goes wrong in the Asia, Africa, the Balkans it's all the fault of grrrrrrr, GLOBALIZATION.
This is the theme of Yale Law School professor Amy Chua in her book, World on Fire: How Exporting Free Market Democracy Breeds Ethnic Hatred and Global Instability (Doubleday, $26, 304 pages). In her catalogue of sins, what happened in Serbian concentration camps in the 1990s, in Rwanda where Hutus hacked Tutsis by the hundreds of thousands, or the Javanese slaughter of Chinese in Indonesia in 1998, the World Trade Center on September 11, whatever and wherever, don't blame the killers, the genocidists. Blame a process: Globalization. (Note to slow thinkers: It used to be called ugh! capitalism.)
Globalization subsumes three ingredients: markets, democracy and ethnic hatred, which to Ms. Chua is a lethal brew. As she lists all these genocidal horrors, I asked myself: But there was no globalization process at work back in 1965 when, with the overthrow of Achmad Sukarno, millions of local Chinese were killed by rampaging Javanese mobs. Between 1975 and 1978 B.G. (Before Globalization), the Indonesian army killed 200,000 of 600,000 East Timorese to stop an independence drive in the onetime Portuguese colony.
Until globalization came along, life in the Balkans had been idyllic, no? Serbs, Croats, Slovenians, Montenegrins, Bosnians, Moslems, Christians were full of brotherly love, yes? And of course, the Hutus were so overwhelmed by globalization that they lashed out at the Tutsis, yes? And until globalization came along, the Palestinians and the Israelis were living happily side by side, yes? And did globalization transform Iran from an authoritarian monarchy into a theocratic tyranny?
So what's the solution? The solution: Corporate philanthropy and more government foreign aid. And still more foreign aid. And then human nature will lose that primeval homicidal streak … Oh, come on, professor.

I turn now to a book which I commend to Ms. Chua: Will Genocide Ever End? edited by Carol Rittner, John K. Roth and James M. Smith. (Paragon House, $18.95, 272 pages). "Systematic mass murder is a growing feature of the modern world," is the theme of this book. How to stop genocide is its focus. Yes, genocide will end if the book's recommendations, made by the writer-experts, are followed. The recommendations deal with practical yet modest proposals.
But they cannot deal with the problem of human nature when, overnight, people who have lived side-by-side for generations are suddenly transformed into maddened killers of each other as we saw in the bloody Balkans. Nevertheless this is a book to be read and studied.

And talking about genocide, there's Stalin's contribution in the name of buildingsocialism.Read all about it in Stalin's Loyal Executioner: People's Commissar Nikolai Ezhov by Marc Jensen and Nikita Petrov (Hoover Press, $25, 274 pages) The authors quote Ezhov in July 1937 as the Great Terror begins: "If during this operation, an extra thousand people will be shot, that is not such a big deal." He was so good at mass killing that with Stalin's encouragement, the Great Terror carries his name in Russian, the Ezhovschina. And why not? At one point, it could be said he was the second most powerful man in the Soviet Union. But in Stalin's Russia being second was an invitation to the Gulag or, in Ezhov's case, execution.
In reading this well researched biography of Stalin's NKVD police chief and lord high executioner, one begins to wonder how Stalin managed to develop a reputation among liberals as a tough but fair-minded tyrant. What Ezhov did to his own citizenry in the 1930s was no particular secret. After all, there were the so-called trials. But the horror was well concealed by Western journalist-crooks or explained away by admiring liberals like Beatrice and Sidney Webb as unfortunate but unavoidable events on the road to utopia.

I wonder what the odds are that Saudi Arabia's dynastic monarchy, created in 1932, will still be standing in five years? If there is one country besides Iraq which is certain, for good or ill, to undergo a fundamental transformation in the near future, it is the homeland of the Prophet Mohammed, where resides Islam's holy of holies.
To write a book about Saudi Arabia takes intellectual courage since serious research such as that contemplated by Middle East specialists would be regarded by the Saudi government as a breach of etiquette if not worse. So Daryl Champion's study, The Paradoxical Kingdom: Saudi Arabia and the Momentum of Reform, Columbia University Press, $32.50, 368 pages) deserves a round of applause. The author writes:
"The problem of the regime is that the policies of the United States, vengeful after 11 September, 2001, and buoyant after victory in Afghanistan, will make the Saudi-U.S. relationship even more of a liability for the Al Saud than it has already become, and that militant anti-regime, anti-US/anti-Western action by clandestine groups in sympathy with the cause of Osama bin Laden will become more frequent and more concerted."

The Two Faces of Islam: The House of Sa'ud from Tradition to Terror by Stephen Schwartz (Doubleday, $25, 312 pages) is a report of a monarchy from which came 15 of the 19 terrorists on September 11,a monarchy which is supposedly an ally of the United States in the war against terrorism yet refuses to lift a finger to help fight terrorism. Saudi Arabia is home to the uglier of the two faces of Islam, the Wahhabi face which cannot tolerate the existence of Western civilization and, more immediately, which supports Hamas, the Palestinian terrorist band of suicide bombers.
Mr. Schwartz, a Jewish convert to Islam who speaks for the kinder, gentler Islam, finds hope in, of all places, in Iran. He attacks "some hardline American conservatives [who] refuse to give up their obsessive hatred of the Teheran regime" because he says "a gradual process of democratization is increasingly evident in Iranian life." Fortunately, such howlers are rare in what is otherwise a readable and informative volume.

Arnold Beichman, a Hoover Institution research fellow, is a columnist for The Washington Times.


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