In This Review

Never Again? The United States and the Prevention and Punishment of Genocide Since the Holocaust
Never Again? The United States and the Prevention and Punishment of Genocide Since the Holocaust
By Peter Ronayne
Rowman & Littlefield, 2001, 222 pp

Prevention of genocide has become an accepted goal of U.S. foreign policy. This book is the first serious effort to understand how that norm evolved into a treaty. Ronayne also explores why the U.S. Senate took decades to ratify that treaty. He brings together case studies of how U.S. leaders, living in the shadow of the Holocaust, confronted emerging genocide in three countries: Cambodia, Bosnia, and Rwanda. Ronayne finds the U.S. responses grievously disappointing. Readers are likely to agree with him, even as they tease out the nuances that thwarted comprehension or confounded effective responses at the time. Following an intellectual tradition of thinkers such as Reinhold Niebuhr, Ronayne presses the case for ethical realism in defining American national interests. His individual stories may be familiar to some, and Ronayne has no generic answer. Although he does canvass the available alternatives in each case, pulling them together poses a clear challenge to U.S. leaders: Looking at the record so far, can one credibly say, "Never again?" In waging the current war against terrorism, the time is again ripe to articulate an answer that is moral as well as practical.