Joy Gordon


The U.N. Security Council responded to Iraq's invasion of Kuwait with a

comprehensive regime of sanctions. This Article examines the claim that

the highly planned policy contains elements of genocide and critically

examines the international legal definition of genocide and its central

requirement of specific intent. It argues that the conception of genocide

contained in the 1948 Genocide Convention ignores whole categories of

atrocities, exculpating certain actors who have committed acts of massive

human destruction and removing the acts themselves from the sphere of

moral judgment and accountability. The Article describes the devastating

human costs that the Security Council and the United States have

knowingly imposed upon the people of Iraq through the sanctions regime.

It suggests that because the policy is justified with claims of international

peace and security or denials of moral agency, it cannot meet the Genocide

Convention's requirement of specific intent. Drawing upon the work of

philosophers such as Arendt and Nietzsche, the Article concludes by

charging the Security Council and the U.S. Government with something

that will not fit within the Genocide Convention at all, something best

described by Plato's concept of "perfect injustice," which occurs when

atrocities are made at once invisible and good.