Why States Commit Genocide

We have a very poor understanding of genocide. Genocide is the sort of thing we typically associate with chaotically evil people, people who “just want to watch the world burn” and have no respect or regard for human life. Those who commit genocide are viewed as irrational, irredeemably bad people. I am not convinced by this. This is not to say that I think genocide is defensible or morally justifiable, but I think there are rational, logical reasons that motivate states to commit genocide. I enjoy attempting to theorize rational explanations of seemingly wholly malevolent phenomenon–back in September, I offered a theory of why states sometimes deliberately target civilians in war. Today I’d like to offer a theory of genocide, one that I hope will help us to make better sense of the circumstances that promote genocide and understand how those circumstances might be avoided.

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