The Criminal State and the Middle East Crisis: The Cases of Iraq and Israel

David O. Friedrichs, University of Scranton

ABSTRACT
The concept of a criiminal state is contentious. It has been most readily applied to Nazi Germany. In one view, it is objectively applicable to states that have as their central enterprise (e.g., genocide). In an alternative interpretation, the label "criminal state" is essentially a label imposed in a purely politicized fashion. Thge invocation fo state crime in the context of the Middle East situation is especially complex. Iraq was designated as one of the "axis of evil" states by the Bush administration, with a de facto characterization as a criminal state providing a core rationalization for a military invasion and "regime change." On the other hand, Israel is clearly regarded as a criminal state by militant Palestinians and by many citizens of Arab states. The core question addressed here is this: What can a specifically criminological approach contribute to an understanding of the issues arising in the Middle East context? An emerging criminology of state crime may be generating an alternative framework for analyzing an inherently contentious political situation.

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Updated 05/20/2006