In the seventh chapter of Genocide: A World History by Norman Naimark, the author goes over the history of the genocide in Guatemala, the genocide in Indonesia, and the genocide in East Timor. All three of these genocides were Cold War genocides that resulted out of not ethnical or religious conflicts, but ideological conflicts. The Cold War introduced rivalry into genocide’s long history, such as the rivalry between communist and capitalist power. Yet, this also led to genocides purely about getting rid of communists. The genocide in Guatemala was the result of the legalization of the communist party in the 50’s, which led to the U.S. training Guatemalan forces to fight against communism. By the 80’s, a full genocide broke out and the Mayan people were targeted for extermination. Likewise, in Indonesia, the communist party was attacked and over 500,000 were killed. The same perpetrators of the genocide in Indonesia carried out a genocide in East Timor in over a long expanse of time. East Timor was under Indonesian control for over twenty years, while lots of people were hunted down and wiped out. In all of these conflicts, politics were what divided people into groups.
Out of all other chapters in Naimark’s book, this was the most difficult to get through. I had never really heard about a genocide in Guatemala or Indochina, and I had never even heard of East Timor. For the other chapters, I usually had an understanding of basic knowledge regarding the genocides discussed, either from prior knowledge or from the other readings from our class. This chapter consisted of completely new information that I had no prior understanding of, so it was a little more difficult to get through. Overall, I was able to learn about genocides during the Cold War that I didn’t know about. This knowledge will allow me to understand the timeline of the Cold War a lot better. Instead of simply knowing the American perspective of the Cold War, Naimark introduced me to a completely different outlook on that period of history.
Relating to the introduction of this book, these three genocides that came about due to conflicts during the Cold War, most of the killings going on during this time were internal. Countries were so fearful of different ideologies that they had been taught to believe were evil and harmful to their society, that they were led to completely wipe out all people with different political beliefs. Naimark presented the information in a concise way that was easy to follow along with. It was enough information to get a good grasp on what happened; I was not overloaded with excess details, which is what I like about Naimark’s writing. The genocides discussed within this chapter shared a lot of similarities and came about for similar reasons.
1. If the Cold War was largely about the fear of external threats, why were the Cold War genocides discussed in this chapter solely internal conflicts?
2. What are the reasons for the United States’ support of the state-sponsored killings in Guatemala’s civil war?
3. Was the fear of communist power within East Timor fed by the events of the Cold War involving world powers?