Crimes Against Humanity
In this chapter Cowling discusses Geras’s final book on Crimes against Humanity, in which Geras identifies the major features of crimes against humanity, and proceeds from these to develop the idea of a duty of humanitarian intervention, identifying a number of criteria on which it might be justified. Cowling argues that Geras would have benefited from a wider historical study of episodes of humanitarian intervention, including some arguments in favour of restricting it. In the second half of the chapter Cowling takes on Geras’s highly controversial support for the invasion of Iraq in 2003, on the grounds that Saddam Hussein had shown such a propensity to kill and torture Iraqi citizens that humanitarian intervention was justified in getting rid of him. Cowling gives a lengthy and compelling series of reasons why the marchers against the war were right not to trust the US-led invasion. Marxism involves a serious attempt to analyse the nature of societies, and on this issue, at least, Geras seems to have abrogated this in favour of making liberal moral judgements.
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