Paul Berman: Dangerous Places

Harvard’s Samantha Power put genocide on the geostrategic map as a major “wicked problem” for the international community, well before Darfur. Paul Berman‘s fine review of Power’s new book Chasing the Flame: Sergio Vieira de Mello and the Fight to Save the World (New York: The Penguin Press, 2008) summarizes the ethical dilemmas that United Nations administrative staff face in trying to prevent future genocides. For Power, Vieira de Mello had to make deals in the twilight realm of lesser evils. For Berman, the tragedy is that genocides continue because of “a problem of imagination . . . an inability to imagine why some people might set out to destroy whole populations.” For one explanation why, see the overlooked fifth series of J. Michael Straczynski’s Babylon 5 (1998).

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