Governments Kill More People Than Wars,
by Eric Margolis
"In questions of power...let no more be heard of confidence in man, but bind him down from mischief by the chains of the Constitution."
Thomas Jefferson: Kentucky Resolutions, 1798
Mass-murderer Pol Pot, who was run to ground some time ago in the remote jungle of northern Cambodia, was the leader of the notorious Khmer Rouge. Pol Pot ordered the killing of at least one million 'class enemies' in the Cambodian Killing Fields.
Pot was a monster who deserved to be buried alive (the manner in which many of his victims lost their life). This marxist madman reminds us of an amazing, but little-know fact: more people have been killed in the 20th Century by their own governments than by all wars combined.
About 25 million soldiers died in World Wars I and II. Another 12 million were killed in this century's other wars and revolutions, a total of 37 million dead.
*Under Lenin and Stalin, the Soviet government became the greatest mass-murderer in history. Lenin's collectivization and purges of 1921-1922 caused 4 million deaths. In 1932, Stalin ordered the Ukraine starved to enforce collectivization and crush Ukrainian nationalism. At least 8 million Ukrainians were murdered. Others resorted to cannibalism.
From 1917 to Stalin's death in 1953, the Soviet Union, worshipped by leftists around the world as the acme of human political accomplishment, shot, tortured, beat, froze or starved to death at least 40 million of its people. Some Russian historians claim the true figure is even higher. In an ugly spasm of deja-vu, Russian troops slaughtered 80,000 Chechen civilians over the past two years.
*In China, Great Helmsman Mao Zedong had 2 million 'class enemies' shot when the communists took control. Another million Tibetans and Turkestani Muslims were 'liquidated' from 1950-1975. During Mao's crazy Great Leap Forward, in which China's farmers were collectivized en masse, an estimated 30 million or more people starved to death. Another two million are said to have been killed in Mao's Cultural Revolution.Total: 35 million dead.
*Hitler was responsible for the deaths of 12 million civilians, half of them Jews. The Nazis exterminated people because of race; the communists because of class or nationality. Hitler killed with gas; Stalin with bullets, cold, and hunger.
Some two million German civilians were killed in 1945, and at least 200,000 died in communist concentration camps from 1945-1953. The victorious Allies handed back 2 million anti-communist Soviet citizens to Stalin in 1945: he had half shot, and the rest sent to Arctic death camps.
*During World War I, the Ottoman Empire slaughtered or starved up to 2 million Armenians, the first great genocide of the new century.
*In the early 1960's, 600,000 ethnic Chinese were massacred in Indonesia by government-encouraged mobs and soldiers.
*During the Marcos era in the Philippines, 75,000 Muslims were massacred by government paramilitary gangs.
*In 1971, Pakistani troops killed tens of thousands of Bengalis in former East Pakistan. Indian security forces and police have massacred great numbers of tribesmen in border regions, and many civilians in Kashmir and Punjab.
*In the 1980's, Ethiopia's marxist regime denied seeds to 'capitalist' farmers, causing a million people to starve to death.
*A half-century of tribal massacres between Hutu and Tutsi culminated in the recent slaughter of half a million Tutsi civilians by Rwanda's Hutu government.
*Serbia's nazi-nationalist regime conducted the massacre of 200,000 Muslim civilians in Bosnia.
There are many other examples. But just the figures cited above amount to almost 100 million deaths this century deaths that were not caused by war or revolution, but by the conscious decision of tyrants, politicians, or bureaucrats to murder great numbers of their own people for reasons of ideology, religion, race or land.
Compare: 100 million people murdered by governments this century; 75% by communist regimes to about 38 million killed in all wars and conflicts.
So let Cambodia's now almost forgotten Pol Pot remind us that big governments, particularly those driven by ideology and idealism, have been a greater menace than big armies, heavy armaments, even nuclear weapons.
In fact, Pol Pot's Khmer Rouge killed five times more civilians than did atomic bombs at Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
copyright eric margolis 1997
written 26 June 1997