A Short History of Collective Punishment: From the British Empire to Gaza

Reblogged from Caged But Undaunted, written by Stanley Cohen

Q.What do lawyers and sperm have in common?
A: A one in a million shot at being human.

-Stephen Fry

Stanley Cohen is that one in a million.

caged but undaunted

Originally published August 24, 2018 in Counterpunch

As old as war itself, collective punishment has long been the most damning and destructive weapon of all. Not satisfied with engaging combatants alone and directly, historically, it has fueled state reprisal against families, communities and entire populations in a drive to “win” a given conflict, military or otherwise, at all costs.

With roots that trace, literally, to the start of time, reprisal has evolved as modern warfare has became more proficient and popular resistance more prevalent. Nowhere has collective punishment proved more evident and systemic than it has in the West where it has long run the gamut from civil sanctions, to population displacement, to political penalty, to imprisonment, to outright slaughter. Of late, it has grown more subtle, yet no less pernicious, through state censorship that seeks to control the narrative of the day.

In the American Civil War, during his…

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