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State Crime

Current Perspectives

Edited by Dawn L. Rothe and Christopher W. Mullins and with an introduction by M. Cherif Bassiouni

Publication Year: 2011

Current media and political discourse on crime has long ignored crimes committed by States themselves, despite their greater financial and human toll. For the past two decades, scholars have examined how and why States violate their own laws and international law and explored what can be done to reduce or prevent these injustices. Through a collection of essays by leading scholars in the field, State Crime offers a set of cases exemplifying state criminality along with various methods for controlling governmental transgressions. With topics ranging from crimes of aggression to nuclear weapons to the construction and implementation of social controls, this volume is an indispensable resource for those who examine the behavior of States and those who study crime in its varied forms.

Published by: Rutgers University Press

Series: Critical Issues in Crime and Society


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pp. v-vi

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pp. vii-viii

When i ask my students “What makes an act a crime?” the most common answer, even among seniors majoring in criminology, is “Acts that violate cultural norms.” The answer raises more questions than it answers. I usually follow the question of what makes an act a crime with another: What is the difference between civil and criminal law? That question is...

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pp. ix-x

When we first began discussing editing a collection of classical and current research on crimes of the state for a book, we envisioned including some reprints and a couple of new pieces to serve as a one-stop reference for scholars and students of state crime. As such, we wanted to emphasize not only crimes by states but also responses and/or controls. However...

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pp. xi

We are thankful to the contributors for their willingness to be a part of this volume and for laying the foundation for our own scholarship on crimes of the state.Thank you to our colleagues for the support, guidance, and knowledge you so willingly share. We also want to thank William Chambliss and M. Cherif Bassiouni for their willingness to...

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Introduction: Crimes of State and Other Forms of Collective Group Violence by Nonstate Actors

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pp. 1-21

Throughout history, abuses of power by tyrannical rulers and ruling-regime elites, which are carried out under their direction by state actors, have occasioned significant human, social, and economic harm to their respective national societies and those of others. Under the guise of war, large-scale human depredations...

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Part One: Crimes of the State

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pp. 23-33

Scholarly attention to crimes committed by states or governments has steadily increased over the past few decades. Coming from many disciplinary perspectives—criminology, history, law, political science, socio-legal studies, and sociology—this field of scholarship has been united by two central concerns: identifying the etiological dimensions...

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Chapter 1: Revisiting Crimes by the Capitalist State

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pp. 34-48

Crimes by the Capitalist State: An Introduction to State Criminality (CBCS) was the first book devoted entirely to the study of state crime, to call for the development of a criminology of the state, and to present several case studies of state crimes from North America, Latin America, Europe, and Down Under. Some...

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Chapter 2: The Crime of the Last Century—And of This Century?

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pp. 49-67

The turn of a century inevitably gives rise to much retrospective interpretation and prospective speculation:What have been the central events and trends of the century now ending, and what are the most likely key events and trends of the century now beginning? An article entitled “The Crime of the Century: The Case for the Holocaust,” published...

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Chapter 3: Nuclear Weapons, International Law, and the Normalization of State Crime

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pp. 68-93

In this chapter we argue that the use, threat to use, and continued possession of nuclear weapons by the United States constitute international state crimes and can be subjected to a sociological/ criminological analysis.We have previously addressed some of these issues in our book, Crimes of the American Nuclear State:At Home and Abroad, but ...

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Chapter 4: Empire and Exceptionalism: The Bush Administration's Criminal War against Iraq

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pp. 94-121

On March 19, 2003, the United States and Great Britain, in conjunction with several inconsequential members of the “coalition of the willing,” launched an unprovoked invasion of Iraq and subsequently inaugurated a formal military occupation of that once sovereign nation. The Bush administration’s legal and political justifications...

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Chapter 5: Do Empires Commit State Crime?

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pp. 122-141

If one reflects on the history of the world and focuses on those acts that have been defined by the Nuremberg Tribunal and the United Nations as the most severe crimes—genocide and wars of aggression— and combined these acts with the massive confiscation or stealing of property...

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Chapter 6: Burundi: A History of Conflict and State Crime

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pp. 142-161

In east-central Africa, nestled between Tanzania, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Rwanda is Burundi. From the onset of independence in 1961, Burundi has had a history of internal armed conflicts, ethnic tensions, and civil unrest in the form of crimes against humanity, massive and systematic rape, and other...

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Chapter 7: Legal Precedent, Jurisprudence, and State Crime: Pinochet and Crimes against Humanity

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pp. 162-177

With the 1973 military coup of Chilean President Salvador Allende, General Augusto Pinochet began a seventeen-year dictatorship founded on fear, oppression, intimidation, and violence. According to the Report of the Chilean National Commission on Truth and Reconciliation, 3,200 people were killed or forcibly...

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Part Two: Controlling State Crime

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pp. 179-183

Criminology is not just focused on explaining the etiological factors behind crime commission; ultimately the goal is to find and empirically assess policies to control it. A criminology of the state is no different. While explaining the causal mechanisms and common enactment procedures of state crime are important...

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Chapter 8: Reinventing Controlling State Crime and Varieties of State Crime and Its Control: What I Would Have Done Differently

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pp. 185-197

In 1995 my edited book Controlling State Crime was published (Ross 1995a). Five years later, not only was my follow-up edited book, Varieties of State Crime and Its Control, released (hereafter Varieties), but so too was the second edition of Controlling State Crime (Ross 2000a, 2000b). In between the time...

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Chapter 9: Complementary and Alternative Domestic Responses to State Crime

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pp. 198-218

Over the past two decades a growing body of literature on state crime has focused on documenting and explaining the etiological factors of the worst atrocities known to humanity. One can reasonably argue that the majority of this research on state crime has focused more on description and less on issues of controls of state...

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Chapter 10: The Fairness of Gacaca

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pp. 219-244

In 1994, for one hundred days, Rwanda lost more than one million lives of innocent men, women, and children. In the aftermath of the genocide that killed mostly Tutsi and moderate Hutu, the country was laid in shambles: bodies were generally strewn everywhere in the country, some floating in rivers and a few buried in...

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Chapter 11: Assassination of Regime Elites versus Collateral Civilian Damage?

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pp. 245-261

The U.S.-led aggression against Iraq in 2003 makes one wonder why it was that thousands of Iraqi civilians would have to die because the George W. Bush administration and their allies thought it prudent to bomb the country’s cities before they risked the lives of their own ground troops, beginning with the well remembered...

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Chapter 12: How to Restore Justice in Serbia? A Closer Look at Peoples’ Opinions about Postwar Reconciliation

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pp. 262-274

Sixteen years after the beginning of the disintegration of Yugoslavia and the conflicts that ravaged the whole region, most intensely Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, and Kosovo, each of the countries is still struggling to find the best way(s) to address the atrocities that occurred in the past, realize...

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Chapter 13: The Current Status and Role of the International Criminal Court

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pp. 275-292

The twentieth century saw a number of attempts to create a permanent court to adjudicate cases involving the worst sorts of crimes people commit—genocide, war crimes, and crimes against humanity. From the Leipzig trials after World War I, through Nuremburg...


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pp. 293-317


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pp. 319-320


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pp. 321-335

E-ISBN-13: 9780813550237
E-ISBN-10: 0813550238
Print-ISBN-13: 9780813549002
Print-ISBN-10: 0813549000

Page Count: 368
Illustrations: 7 tables
Publication Year: 2011

Series Title: Critical Issues in Crime and Society