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Information Intervention: When Switching Channels Isn't Enough

As the great powers lose enthusiasm for addressing mass human rights abuses with large-scale armed interventions, the international community must search for less risky alternatives that accomplish more than the symbolic and generally impotent condemnations from bodies like the U.N. Commission on Human Rights. One such measure would be to monitor, counter, and block radio and television broadcasts that incite widespread violence in crisis zones around the world.

Mass media reach not only people's homes, but also their minds, shaping their thoughts and sometimes their behavior. Many of the humanitarian disasters of the twentieth century were spawned or exacerbated over the airwaves: radio was used to propagate Nazi ideology in Germany and spur genocide in Rwanda, Somali warlords used it to incite civil war and widespread violence, and it has been instrumental, with television, in fomenting ethnic animosity and bloodshed in the former Yugoslavia. Countering such incendiary transmissions systematically,

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