Monthly Archives: June 2006

Darfur and Loss Compensation

Although territorial loss in war with its seemingly irreversible quality tends to be decisive, the expectation of such loss, if uncompensated, can also have horrific consequences. In the Darfur region of western Sudan we may have an illustration of just such a consequence as a form of loss compensation by means of self-help, in contrast to compensation that could be offered by the international community.

As a result of protocols signed on May 26, 2004, between southern Sudanese leaders of the black, predominantly Christian Sudanese People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) and the Arabized Muslim leaders of the north, a six-year interim period would be specified, after which a referendum would take place allowing for the possibility of independence for the oil-rich south. This outcome would lead to the loss of approximately one-third of Sudanese territory including its oil. The possible presence of oil in the Darfur region as well makes this territory potentially as valuable economically as the oil-rich south. If Darfur were to be Arabized through the massacre and ethnic cleansing of its black population, then it could serve as compensation for losses in the south, especially in the face of an incipient rebellion by the black Africans in Darfur.

Encouraged by the success of the black southern rebels both on the battlefield and at the conference table, two groups of black Muslims from Darfur rebelled, apparently representing black populations persecuted through raids and other violence by nomadic Arabized tribes. Confronted by another separatist rebellion like that of the SPLA, ethnic cleansing of another black population was unleashed, with a possible genocidal component of tens of thousands dead. One purpose of this effort has been to compensate for the potential losses in the south by ensuring that another potentially valuable territory, Darfur, remains within an Arab-dominated Sudan.

As in the Rwandan case, the international community was intensely concerned that a settlement between the Khartoum government and the SPLA be reached. Colin Powell, then the US secretary or state, visited the negotiations between the SPLA and Khartoum leaders in October 2003 and Darfur itself in June 2004. The United Nations has also taken an active role. And like Arusha in the Rwandan case, an international agreement implying heavy losses in the future, whether in political power (Rwanda, territory already having been lost to the RPF) or valuable territory (Sudan), may have spurred this effort at loss compensation. Also like the Interahamwe in Rwanda, much of the killing and ethnic cleansing has been carried out by a government-supported militia, the Janjaweed, an Arabized military group.

These considerations suggest that even more active intervention is required to stem these massacres and ethnic cleansing. A pairing of the two regions of Sudan, Darfur and the south, should be the focus of international diplomacy, without forsaking one region for the other. Unfortunately, just the opposite appears to have occurred. According to John Prendergast, a former African affairs director at the National Security Council under President Clinton, “When the secretary [Colin Powell] was in Naivasha [location of the negotiations between the Khartoum government and the SPLA], and a major problem was getting worse in Darfur, everyone agreed to deal with the southern problem first and with Darfur later. That was a monumental diplomatic error.”

SOURCE: The Killing Trap: Genocide in the Twentieth Century, by Manus I. Midlarsky (Cambridge U. Press, 2005), pp. 386-387

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The Fate of Bulgaria’s Jews during the Holocaust

Bulgaria illustrates the influence of prudent realpolitik at the highest levels of decision making and the absence of the impact of loss. Additionally, the Bulgarian Orthodox Church protested even the earliest introduction of anti-Jewish legislation….

Prudent realpolitik nevertheless was evident in the Bulgarian governmental decision to propitiate Nazi Germany in the hopes of immediate gain. And these hopes were realized. On February 15, 1940, the German-educated and strongly Germanophile Bogdan Filov was appointed premier by King Boris III, replacing the earlier moderately pro-Western Georgi Kyoseivanov…. Between August and December, the Law for the Defense of the Nation was prepared in the National Assembly and officially promulgated on January 23, 1941. The law defined precisely who was a Jew and proceeded to limit Jewish participation in the professions, property ownership, and even places of residence. During this period, the Germans interceded on behalf of Bulgarians in Vienna on September 7, 1940, at which time the Bulgarians received southern Dobrudja from Romania. In March 1941, Bulgaria … assumed control of Thrace and Macedonia. As Nissan Oren comments: “In the main, the Law for the Protection of the Nation was to pave the way for the fast developing rapprochement with Germany and solidify Bulgaria’s position within the Axis.”

King Boris III, virtually the absolute authority since 1934, actually suggested the Law of the Defense of the Nation, remarking that such legislation had been imposed in Romania, Hungary, “and even France.” … Thus, with Nazi Germany in the political and military ascendancy throughout Europe, Bulgaria, a small, militarily insignificant country, demanded a prudent realpolitik in its foreign policy, lest it be overwhelmed by the much stronger European great power. In that event, the plight of the Jews would be far worse than the mild application of the Law of the Defense of the Nation. The territorial rewards were ample and the safeguards were significant…. Later in the war, in March 1943 after the massive German defeat at Stalingrad, Boris responded positively to the plight of the Jews, effectively preventing their deportation.

How did this state of affairs come about? More precisely, in addition to the diminishing threat of Nazi Germany and a required corresponding change in prudent realpolitik, what were the domestic circumstances that allowed Boris to essentially thwart Hitler’s intention to eradicate Bulgarian Jewry?

The Bulgarian National Assembly is said to have been influential in mustering a protest against the deportations that led to their postponement and ultimate cancellation…. Boris was obviously influenced by this protest from a substantial portion of his own party’s deputies. But even more important, and consistent with the demands of prudent realpolitik, the king “needed as much support as possible. He had to convince the Germans that his decision to stop or delay deportation was the result of a series of strong protests that … could not be ignored.”

At the same time, recent scholarship has shifted to an emphasis on one member of the National Assembly in particular, its vice chairman, Dimitar Peshev. It was he who organized the petition signed by one third of the government’s own party members. When he heard of a roundup of Jews in his own electoral district, the town of Kyustendil, he acted….

Nevertheless, … this is not the whole story…. When Bulgarians in Kyustendil heard of the arrests, they quickly made plans to send forty of their number to the National Assembly in Sofia. After deliberation, they chose only four, all non-Jews, to plead the case of their Jewish townspeople. Although Peshev had already heard of the arrests through other avenues, he was heartened by the concern of his non-Jewish constituents. Thus, in addition to the basic decency of the man and his supporters in the National Assembly, we must consider the milieu that made it possible. Why, in contrast to France and Romania, not to mention Germany, was Bulgaria so free of anti-Semitism that it could yield Peshev’s success?

One answer, of course, is the absence of territorial loss and its accompanying refugee influx. Without the large numbers of refugees of like ethnoreligious identity, sympathy can actually be extended to others of a different identity, who, through no fault of their own, are subject to deportation and probably death.

In the end, Bulgaria’s 45,000 Jews were not deported and survived the war, although Bulgaria had earlier deported 11,393 Jews from Thrace and Macedonia to Poland, where almost all perished. The demand for the earlier deportation was agreed to on 2 February 1943, before the news of the crushing German defeat at Stalingrad had been widely disseminated.

SOURCE: The Killing Trap: Genocide in the Twentieth Century, by Manus I. Midlarsky (Cambridge U. Press, 2005), pp. 326-330

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Wordcatcher Tales: Kami-, Shimo-, -zen, -chu, -go

If you found yourself in Lower Slobovia and wanted to head for Upper Slobovia, in which direction would you head?

  1. upcountry
  2. upriver
  3. upstate
  4. upmarket
  5. up north (or up south down under?)
  6. to the capital city

In how many places outside Japan would the last answer be most likely? Anyone who regularly rides the long-distance trains in Japan knows that all trains bound for Tokyo are ascending trains (上り列車, noboriressha), while all trains heading away from Tokyo are descending trains (下り列車, kudariressha). That’s not too surprising for train systems in centralized states. Of greater interest is the fact that old placenames in Japan show the same alignment, as I discovered while deciphering a Japanese map from a few hundred years ago.

The names that most puzzled me were 上総 Kazusa ‘Upper Fusa’ in lower Chiba and 下総 Shimousa ‘Lower Fusa’ in upper Chiba (where my use of ‘lower’ means southern and ‘upper’ means northern), along with 上野 Kōzuke ‘Upper Keno’ for what is now Gunma and 下野 Shimotsuke ‘Lower Keno’ in what is now Tochigi. ‘Upper’ Gunma lies to the southwest of ‘Lower’ Tochigi. Neither riverflow nor terrain height will explain why one member of each of these pairs is ‘upper’ and the other is ‘lower’. Nor will orientation to Japan’s current capital, Tokyo (lit. ‘East Capital’).

The key to the answer fairly leapt out at me when I factored two more sets of old provinces into the equation.

  • The old provinces of 越前 Echizen ‘Near Echi’, 越中 Etchu ‘Middle Echi’, and 越後 Echigo ‘Far Echi’ run up the Japan Sea coast from southwest to northeast, corresponding to the current prefectures of Fukui, Toyama, and Niigata.
  • The old provinces of 備前 Bizen ‘Near Bi’, 備中 Bitchu ‘Middle Bi’, and 備後 Bingo ‘Far Bi’ run along the Inland Sea from east to west, corresponding to parts of the current prefectures of Okayama and Hiroshima.

In both cases, the provinces whose names end in -zen ‘before, in front, pre-‘ are closer to the old capital of Kyoto, while those whose names end in -go ‘behind, in back, post-‘ are farther from Kyoto. Kyushu also had three pairs of former provinces, where the half of each pair ending in -zen (Buzen, Chikuzen, Hizen) lay to the north (and thus nearer Honshu) of its counterpart ending in -go (Bungo, Chikugo, Higo).

LATER INSERT: These old placenames still turn up in modern contexts. The 上越新幹線 Jōetsu Shinkansen, the bullet train line that runs from Tokyo through Gunma to Niigata gets its name from the Sino-Japanese reading (jō) of the first character of 上野 Kōzuke ‘Upper Keno’ (now Gunma) and an alternate Sino-Japanese reading (etsu) of the first character of 越後 Echigo ‘Far Echi’ (now Niigata). Furthermore, a native Japanese reading of the latter character, 越 koshi, shows up in the name of perhaps the most famous cultivar of Japanese rice, Koshihikari (越光), which originated in Niigata (although Koshihikari is rarely written in kanji these days). Koshi was the older (7th century!) name for the province that was later divided into Near, Middle, and Far Echi, which were in turn eventually renamed as prefectures of Fukui, Toyama, and Niigata on Japan’s Hokuriku coast.

How many other placenames that can be rendered as Upper X and Lower X, or Near X and Far X, describe relative distance from capital cities? (Far Rockaway in Queens, NYC, was apparently named for its relation to what used to be East Rockaway, now part of Nassau County, NY, and not for its relation to NYC.)

UPDATE: The title of this post does not include the usage of nobori ‘ascending’ and kudari ‘descending’ for travel toward and away from the capital city, respectively. That usage I suspect is very, very common, as two commenters have pointed out. I’m interested in placenames, where Japanese usage is unique, at least in my experience. Lower Saxony is on the coast and lower in elevation than landlocked Saxony farther inland. Orientation to Berlin, or Vienna, or Rome is irrelevant. The Prussian province of Lower Silesia was actually closer to the Prussian capital, Berlin, than Upper Silesia. There are many towns on the slopes of the Carpathians in Romania named along the lines of Făgăraş de Sus and Făgăraş de Jos, but Sus means upslope and Jos means downslope, not closer or farther from Bucharest or Vienna or wherever the capital may have been at one time. In East Asia, Korea has many provinces split into North (-bukdo) and South (-namdo) parts—Hamgyong, Hwanghae, Pyongan, Chungcheong, Gyeongsang, Jeolla—none of which are distinguished relative to the position of the capital city. China, similarly, has several sets of matching province names—Guangxi, Guangdong; Hunan, Hubei; Henan, Hebei—but all of them are distinguished by cardinal positions relative to the globe, not relative to the capital city. So the question remains: In what other country or language would the equivalent of Upper Slobovia be closer to the capital than Lower Slobovia?

UPDATE 2: In the comments, Nathanael of Rhine River notes the conflict between the German usage of upper and lower to signal the highlands and lowlands of German-speaking lands and the (North) American tourist usage of upper and lower to distinguish northern and southern Germany, plus similar conflicts in usage that afflict those who equate ‘upper’ with ‘north’ and ‘lower’ with ‘south’ in reference to both the Nile and the Mississipi, which flow in opposite directions.

UPDATE 3: Well, this post prompted me to consult my hitherto underutilized electronic Super Daijirin and solve a few onomastic problems that have nagged at me for a long time. (And just in time, too, since I leave Japan tomorrow.) As noted above, Tochigi Prefecture used to be called 下野 Shimotsuke ‘Lower Keno’ while Gunma used to be called 上野 Kōzuke ‘Upper Keno’. It turns out there are several ways to write both province names. In fact, the Keno portion is rendered more accurately by adding the syllable for ke ‘hair’, as in 下毛野 ‘Lower Hair Field’ and 上毛野 ‘Upper Hair Field’. (I wonder if those names refer to the bearded wheat and barley that still dominate the agriculture of the region.)

Not only are there multiple ways to write each placename, there are also multiple ways to pronounce each kanji in the placename. Older placenames seem to have been pronounced in native Japanese form (like Koshi instead of Echi/Etsu for 越), but the kanji originally used to write them have contributed Sino-Japanese pronunciations to the same placenames, and the latter readings usually show up in abbreviations. So the old name of Gunma is alluded to in the 上 Jō- of 上越新幹線 Jōetsu Shinkansen, and a slightly longer version appears in the name of 上毛電鉄, Jōmō Electric Railway, which runs from the Gunma border city of Kiryū, which abuts Ashikaga City in Tochigi Prefecture, to Maebashi, the capital of Gunma Prefecture. Two local newspapers also conjure up the old placenames: Jōmō Shimbun (“Upper Hair News”?) in Gunma and Shimotsuke Shimbun (“Lower Field News”) in Tochigi.

Now, finally, the pièce de résistance: The JR line that runs through Ashikaga is known as the Ryōmō line. It runs between Oyama City in southeastern Tochigi, and Takasaki City in central Gunma. The Tōbu railway express train that runs through Ashikaga and terminates at Akagi in central Gunma is also called the Ryōmō. Ryōmō is written 両毛 ‘Both Hairs’, a strange name that doesn’t make much sense unless you know that it refers to the combination of regions formerly known as ‘Upper Hair’ (上毛, now Gunma) and ‘Lower Hair’ (下毛, now Tochigi). Weird, huh?

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The Romanian Holocaust Begins: June 1941

Iaşi [= Jassy, rhymes with Josh] was the location of the first large-scale massacre of the Romanian Holocaust. In addition to its anti-Semitic traditions of over a century, because of its proximity to the Soviet fronter, “it became the focus of many of the anti-Semitic measures that accompanied plans to join Germany’s invasion of the USSR.” The terms “Jew” and “Communist” were virtually interchangeable, as in the order by Ion Antonescu, the Romanian head of state, to compile lists of “all Jews, Communist agents, or sympathizers in each region.” Worse was Order No. 4147, issued at about the same time, which demanded the expulsion of all Jews between the ages of eighteen and sixty from northeastern Moldavia (the Iaşi region) in expectation of fighting there. The presence of large numbers of Jews in the region was anathema to both the German and Romanian officials. Fully half of Iaşi’s population of 100,000 was Jewish. In cooperation with the German Gestapo and the SD (the intelligence arm of the SS), the Romanian Secretariat of the Secret Intelligence Service (SSI) prepared the expulsions. At the same time, former Iron Guardists (also called legionaries because of the virtually equivalent organizational name of Legion of the Archangel St. Michael) were informed of the impending expulsions and likelihood of a pogrom.

A raid against Iaşi by the Soviet air force provided the spark for the pogrom. Damage was minor but rumors spread that the entire Jewish population of Iaşi was in league with the Red Army. Further rumors of Iaşi natives flying Soviet aircraft fanned the flames still further. On June 20th, four days after the beginning of Operation Barbarossa, the pogrom began in earnest. It lasted over a week, until June 29. Although it is difficult to gain accurate estimates of the number of Jews killed, the minimum is probably around 900, with a more forthright testimony from a witness estimating the number of dead at 3,000–4,000.

But worse was yet to come. Several thousand Jews had been interned in police stations and special camps as “dangers” to Romanian security. At the end of June, these Jews were loaded onto death trains to be transported out of the region. The cars were decorated with signs stating that inside were “Communist Jews” or “killers of German and Romanian soldiers.” Several destinations were chosen and ultimately few survived the densely packed, poorly ventilated cars. No food or water was allowed. Jews, who frantically jumped from train cars to drink at a river crossing were shot or forcibly drowned. Those who survived were forced to hand over their valuables in a pattern of voracious looting that would be characteristic of the entire Holocaust, and of other genocides as well. Of 2,530 Jews who were transported in the first train, some 1,400 died. Of 1,902 Jews who boarded the second train, 1,194 died.

Iaşi was only the first of many massacres of Jews that were to take place in nearby Bessarabia and Bukovina, territories that had been transferred to Soviet control in 1940, but were now under German and Romanian authority. Mihai Antonescu, a relative of Ion Antonescu and deputy premier, supported the forced “migration” of Jews from Bessarabia and Bukovina. The attitude of “blame” for the loss of these territories in 1940 was to characterize much of Romanian Jewish policy. Frequent massacres occurred immediately after the German invasion. During July alone, Raul Hilberg estimates that more than 10,000 Jews were murdered by the Romanian and German military, as well as the native Ukrainian peasantry. These massacres were to be followed by mass deportations to work camps in Ukraine and ultimately death camps in Poland. At first, the Germans resisted the massive relocation of Jews from northern Bessarabia into German military-controlled districts. The number of Jews in each of these attempted transports was in the tens of thousands. The Germans conjured up the specter of more than half a million Jews to be added to the many indigenous Ukrainian Jews now being murdered by Einsatzgruppe D with only 600 men. Consequently, the German legation informed Mihai Antonescu that the Jews were to be eliminated in “a slow and systematic manner.”

Jews were now interned in transit camps throughout Bessarabia. In October, deportations to Ukraine began. During the first months of the war, it is estimated that at least 65,000 Jews from Bessarabia and Bukovina were killed in mass murders, in the transit camps and during deportation. If we add the number of Jews deported who died in southwestern Ukraine (called Transnistria by the Romanians), the number reaches approximately 130,000. If we add to this the number of native Ukrainian Jews in Odessa and elsewhere killed by the Romanian and German authorities, the number reaches approximately 250,000 murdered under Romanian jurisdiction. According to Raul Hilberg, “no country, besides Germany, was involved in massacres of Jews on such a scale.”

SOURCE: The Killing Trap: Genocide in the Twentieth Century, by Manus I. Midlarsky (Cambridge U. Press, 2005), pp. 205-207

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Chijimi vs. Pajon: Korean Okonomiyaki in Japan

Korean okonomiyaki in JapanAmong my favorite Korean dishes is 파전 (p’ajŏn, pajeon), which usually shows up on North American menus as Pa Jun. In North America, it’s often compared to pizza, and in Japan to okonomiyaki. But Jun refers to a much thinner egg batter for quick pan-frying than the batter used in either pizza or okonomiyaki. (In Hawai‘i and parts of the West Coast, you can also find meat jun.)

Japanese Wikipedia tries to clarify the difference.


My rough translation follows (as amended by Matt of No-Sword), using Japanese roumaji (‘roman letters’) for the katakana.

In Japan, chijimi and pajon (파전) are often confused, but pajon is actually jon (전) that uses green onions (pa, 파). Jon, in turn, is a type of puchimuge (called chijimi in Kyongsang Province). There are other types of jon that use kimchee (kimuchijon, 김치전), potato (kamujajon, 감자전), or seafood (hemurujon, 해물전).

While doing a bit of nostalgia-driven culinary fieldwork near the Sannomiya area of Kobe (where I went to high school), I chanced upon a menu that listed both pajon and chijimi side by side (pictured above). So I sampled a small order of pajon to go with a glass of Taishikan Weizen at the Tor Road branch of the New Muenchen Kobe Taishikan, a beer hall whose ambience I fondly remembered, but whose location had drifted away from me (unless it was rebuilt in a different location after the Great Hanshin Earthquake of 1995).

My research results seem to indicate that Kyongsang-style chijimi more closely resembles Osaka-style Japanese okonomiyaki than does pajon, because that style of chijimi has both a thicker batter and a milder dipping sauce. If chijimi is ever served with mayonnaise, well, that would add an even more decisive factor. The essential difference seems to lie in the batter. Jon uses a lighter egg batter for quick frying, while chijimi uses a heavier batter thickened with more flour. The チヂミ粉 ‘chijimi flour’ that you can buy in Japanese supermarkets apparently contains bean flour as a thickener.

PS: In my careful scrutiny of the New Muenchen Tor Road menu, I noticed a few odd transcriptions out of Japanese katakana into something other than German, Italian, or English: waizen beer, focatcha bread, and humberger sandwich. Being the roving editorial dogooder that I am, I wrote out a note for the management listing the oddities and suggesting corrections. The Japanese spellings in my note were no less idiosyncratic than the romanized spellings on the menu, but I hope the management at least will get a second opinion on the items I noted. (The menu at the main brewpub was much more accurate. It also featured beer-flavored ice cream, which was fortunately beyond the scope of my fieldwork agenda.)

eGullet Forum has a pertinent discussion thread on Korean food in Japan. Some commenters clearly regard Chijimi as just a dialectal synonym of Pa Jun.

UPDATE: I’ve made some revisions in response to corrections by Matt of No-Sword, who was kind enough to be my roving editorial dogooder.

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Negative Action vs. Affirmative Action Inside Higher Ed

The 21 June issue of Inside Higher Ed reports on two articles that “challenge some conventional wisdom about affirmative action in higher education.”

The article about Asian Americans comes amid many reports that they are the group that most benefits from the elimination of affirmative action. That supposition is important for several reasons, both practical and political. On a practical level, it counters the idea that colleges will be all white in a post-affirmative action era. Politically, these projections have been used repeatedly by critics of affirmative action, arguing that they are not “anti-minority” and to appeal for Asian support in referendums. One of the most dramatic studies on this issue came last year, when two Princeton University researchers analyzed data from elite colleges and projected that, without affirmative action, four of every five slots lost by black and Latino students would go to Asian Americans.

In “Negative Action Versus Affirmative Action: Asian Pacific Americans Are Still Caught in the Crossfire,” William C. Kidder takes issue with the Princeton study and similar findings by other scholars. It’s not that the demographic shift seen by the Princeton researchers wouldn’t take place in an admissions system that’s truly race-neutral, says Kidder, a senior policy analyst at the University of California at Davis. Rather, it’s the question of why those slots would go to Asian applicants.

The reason, he says, isn’t the elimination of affirmative action, but the widespread use of “negative action,” under which colleges appear to hold Asian American applicants to higher standards than they hold other applicants. Using the available data from the Princeton study — and not all of it is available — Kidder argues that the vast majority of the gains that Asian American applicants would see come from the elimination of “negative action,” not the opening up of slots currently used for affirmative action. Based on the data used by the Princeton study, Kidder argues that negative action is the equivalent of losing 50 points on the SAT….

Tracking enrollment patterns from 1993, when all of the law schools had affirmative action, to 2004 — when they all did not — and then to 2005, when Texas restored it, his results were surprising. Without affirmative action, the share of Asian American enrollments dropped at two of the law schools and increased only marginally at three of the schools — even though people assume Asian American enrollments will go way up without affirmative action. Kidder notes that during the time period studied, the percentage of Asian Americans applying to law school increased 50 percent, so the pool should have created the opportunity for major increases.

What does this all mean? Kidder argues that all the references to growing Asian enrollments in a post-affirmative action world encourage a return to the “yellow peril” fear of people from Asia taking over. More broadly, he thinks Asian Americans in particular aren’t getting accurate information about the real cause of their perceived difficulties getting into competitive colleges. Their obstacle, he says, isn’t affirmative action, but the discrimination Asian Americans experience by being held to higher standards than anyone else. He says that the differential standards appear to be growing and are similar in some ways to the way some Ivy League institutions limited Jewish enrollments in the first half of the 20th century.

via Instapundit

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Who Critiques Human Rights Interventions?

The application of human rights aspirations, in the policy practice of NGOs, the foreign policy of states and regional institutions, from the European Union to Nato, and in the activities of the UN, has not been without its detractors. Commentators across the board, from academics to journalists, state officials and NGO practitioners, have raised a large body of criticism.

This criticism has originated largely within the human rights discourse itself. The policy-makers and institutional actors have been criticised for failing to act on behalf of human rights in some areas of the world, or when they have acted, have been criticised for being too slow to respond or for merely taking half measures. Much of this criticism has also been focused on the low level of institutional change in the international sphere, for example: the UN Security Council composition and power of veto; UN Charter restrictions on international intervention; the slow development of the International Criminal Court; the lack of institutional integration of NGOs in international decision-making; and the remaining outdated privileges of state sovereignty.

As Alex de Waal has noted, ‘to date most sociological study of humanitarian action implicitly accepts the axioms of the humanitarian international’. Statements by human rights NGOs, states and international institutions acting in the name of human rights are often taken at face value as if the nobility of aim confers immunity from sociological analysis or political critique. Waal sums up the strength of consensus by analogy: ‘It is as though the sociological study of the church were undertaken by committed Christians only: criticism would be solely within the context of advancing the faith itself.’

SOURCE: From Kosovo to Kabul and Beyond: Human Rights and International Intervention, new ed., by David Chandler (Pluto Press, 2006), pp. 11-12

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Holocaust in Romania vs. Hungary

A contrast between the outcomes in Hungary and Romania is puzzling. Despite the barbarity of the Romanian authorities, approximately half of Romania’s Jews survived, a larger percentage than in Hungary. Out of 756,000 Jews in Romania in 1930, 375,000 survived the war, the vast majority of them in Regat Romania [the old kingdom of Moldavia and Wallachia, not the parts of Greater Romania acquired after World War I]. Why? There are essentially two reasons for this outcome, both consistent with the theoretical framework put forward here emphasizing losses at the outset. First, as Radu Ioanid put it,

In regard to the experience of the Jewish community of Regat, one thing was clear during the Holocaust: not having come into contact with the Soviets in 1940, the Jews were not held accountable for the loss of Bessarabia and Northern Bukovina and therefore not singled out for prompt punishment at the beginning of the war.

Thus, Jews in the Regat were not murdered in the same extent as those in Bessarabia and northern Bukovina, because they were not held responsible for the Romanian territorial losses and consequent refugee migrations.

Second, despite Romanian refusals to initiate these deportations, the Germans might still have intervened directly in Romania to effect deportations under different geopolitical circumstances. And here we find one of the crucial distinctions between Romanian and Hungarian behavior. Whereas the Romanians could refuse the German requests for deportation for their own reasons, having to do principally with the fear of Allied reprisals after the increasingly likely German defeat, the Hungarians could not. In contrast to Romania, Hungary lay directly in the path of the Soviet westbound march. In the Nazi view, as we saw earlier, the large concentrations of Jews in Hungary constituted a potentially collaborating fifth column that could ease the Soviet advance to the Reich heartland. Hence, direct German intervention was required.

Although geopolitically important principally due to the Ploesti oil fields, Romania did not lie directly in the path of the main Soviet advance and was not required for a strategic defense of the eastern reaches of the Reich. At this stage in the war, after Allied bombing of the oil fields and the absence of a perceived direct strategic threat Germany of Romania’s remaining Jews, an intervention was not required for strategic defense. It is ironic that a country with a far more virulent and barbaric anti-Semitic tradition could save a larger percentage of its Jews than one with an earlier history of strong Hungarian-Jewish collaboration. Yet here we see the importance of geopolitical imperatives, an important component of realpolitik (as identified in the three models [brute-force imprudent, prudent, and cynical] of realpolitik in chapter 5)….

Finally, the pattern of Hungarian-Jewish deportations suggests a transition even within imprudent brute-force realpolitik. Whereas the choice of genocidal behavior clearly was imprudent at the start of Operation Barbarossa in mid-1941, three years later, even to German opponents of Nazism, it could now appear to be prudent. By this time, the Germans could reason, many Hungarian Jews would have heard of the genocide elsewhere in Europe and would have become determined opponents of the Nazi regime. Aid to the oncoming Soviets would have been forthcoming. Having created this body of potential fifth columnists by their own unbridled brutality, the Germans were forced to live with the consequences. Deportation and death of this Jewish population then could easily have been seen by the Germans to be absolutely required in order to protect the German state and its population from Soviet revenge.

SOURCE: The Killing Trap: Genocide in the Twentieth Century, by Manus I. Midlarsky (Cambridge U. Press, 2005), pp. 258-259

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Wordcatcher Tales: Dekoboko, Kappou

凸凹 dekoboko ‘unevenness, roughness, bumpiness’ – Today I went to my neighborhood barbershop, not so much because my hair was getting too long for the increasingly muggy weather, but because my beard was getting too scraggly. Well, instead of looking up ‘scraggly’ in my electronic dictionary, which would have returned 不揃い fuzoroi ‘uneven, not uniform, irregular, mismatched’, I looked up ‘uneven’ and found the wonderfully graphic 凸凹 dekoboko ‘unevenness, roughness, bumpiness, inequality’.

The barber seemed to understand fine what I meant when I characterized my beard as dekoboko. He might have had more difficulty processing the Sino-Japanese pronunciation of the combination, tatsuou, but someone who works with lenses might have found it more familiar, as 凸 also translates ‘convex’ and 凹 translates ‘concave’.

割烹 kappou ‘fine cuisine’ – To celebrate their 25th wedding anniversary, the Far Outliers treated themselves to an elegant dinner at nearby 割烹 懐石 蝶や Kappou Kaiseki Chou-ya ‘fine-cuisine tasting-menu butterfly-shop’. Wikipedia’s “tasting menu” is a good characterization of kaiseki, which has an interesting etymology in its own right, but I want to examine 割烹 kappou, which was new to me. At one level, it’s just a synonym of 料理 ryouri, but the respective etymological ingredients of the two words bring out different flavors.

While 料理 describes cooking in the abstract, as Ingredients Management, 割烹 describes cooking as concrete actions, Slicing and Simmering. You can see the ‘sword’ (刀) radical (刂) down the right side of 割 waru ‘divide, cut, halve; separate; split, rip; break, crack, smash; dilute’ (Sino-Japanese katsu), and the ‘fire’ (火) radical (灬) flickering under 烹 niru ‘boil, cook’ (Sino-Japanese hou). (The usual way to write niru ‘boil, cook’ is with 煮, Sino-Japanese sha.)

Perhaps it’s not too misleading to propose a rough analogy along the lines of 割烹 : 料理 :: cuisine : cooking. At first I suspected kappou was only used for fine Japanese cuisine, but then I found 中華割烹 Chuuka kappou ‘Chinese fine-cuisine’, to label a Chinese-style “tasting menu” approach (to judge from the images).

So here’s how our kaiseki meal progressed. We sampled two local brands of sake as we ate, both served in a small teapot of clear glass with gold trim. Our sake cups were also of glass. Mine had gold flakes on the bottom, and with twelve delicate, alternating green and white vertical lines. My wife’s was slightly smaller, made of cut glass of a purplish hue.

  1. Starter: tiny scallop on half shell, fresh ginger shoot (myoga), and a slice of chicken on fishcake
  2. Hashiarai: clear soup with noodles made of fish cake (surimi) in lacquer bowl
  3. Sashimi: slices of snapper (tai), scallop (hotate), and yellowfin tuna (maguro)
  4. Mushimono: I can remember the dish, but not what was on it!
  5. Nimono: simmered pork kakuni hidden under a scoop of rice in covered lacquer bowl
  6. Yakimono: whole celebratory red snapper (tai, implying mede-tai)
  7. Hassun: clear broth with daikon, shiitake, takenoko, broccoli, green fishcake, and shrimp
  8. Agemono: oily shrimpcake
  9. Sumono: vinegared tomato with sesame-flavored bean threads
  10. Udon: thin Akita noodles and thin chirashi nori
  11. Dessert: fresh local strawberry gelato bursting with flavor, paired with bitter green tea

Our rather unpretentious hostess didn’t describe each dish as she presented it, but was only too happy to answer my questions when I asked. Here‘s a photo gallery of a more elaborate kaiseki dinner.

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Wordcatcher Tales: Hanabishisou, Hotaru-Bukuro, Tade

花菱草 hanabishisou ‘California poppy’ – The common, vulgar, lowly, ubiquitous (but not somniferous) California poppy has a most impressive moniker in Japanese: 花 hana ‘flower’ + 菱 hishi ‘water chestnut’ + 草 sou ‘grass’. Almost makes you want to ingest it.

蛍袋 hotaru-bukuro Campanula punctatacherry bells‘ – One flower that seems to bloom with the sprightly bluebells is what looks like its depressive cousin, the hotaru-bukuro ‘firefly sack’. One can win many points with dowager gardeners by learning this obscure plant name.

The specific cultivar ‘Cherry Bells’ was developed in Japan. It is really one of the most pleasing campanulas for tidiness of basal leaves & beauty & colorfulness of large longlasting pendulous flowers. The stems have an appealing flowing tilt which does not look floppy, but permits the “bells” to dangle naturally, so that staking is never required.

tade ‘smartweed, knotweed’ (Polygonum spp.) – At Uotami (‘Fish Nation’) izakaya in nearby Kiryu, Gunma Prefecture, over the weekend, the Far Outliers were served an unusual blue-hued dipping sauce for our tasty whole ayu (鮎) ‘sweetfish’ on a stick. The waitress said the sauce was made from tade, which The New Nelson defines oversimply as ‘smartweed’ (also known as ‘smartass’), a plant with a nasty reputation. But the blue hue turns out to offer a subtle hint. The Japanese variety, also known as dyer’s knotweed (Polygonum tinctorium), is one of several secondary herbal sources for indigo dye (Indigofera tinctoria), along with woad (Isatis tinctoria), a favorite of the Picts, who got their Latin name from their fondness for body-dye.

UPDATE: Matt of No-sword adds a tade-related proverb that I neglected to mention: 蓼喰う虫も好き好き Tade kuu mushi mo sukizuki ‘Even bugs who eat tade are quite fond of it’—corresponding to “There is no accounting for taste” or De gustibus non disputandem est. I wonder if the smell of tade, like other indigo dyes, is supposed to repel mosquitoes.

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