That I’d believe.
There is nothing wrong with this. But there is also nothing all that right with it either. Bluntly put, an undeniable gulf exists between the frequency with which the phrase is used — above all on days of remembrance most commonly marking the Shoah, but now, increasingly, other great crimes against humanity — and the reality, which is that 65 years after the liberation of the Nazi concentration camps, “never again” has proved to be nothing more than a promise on which no state has ever been willing to deliver. (…)
The world has learned very little. But this has not stopped it from pontificating much. (…)
Whether or not one agrees with the task force about what can or cannot be done to change this, there can be no question that sorrow over the world’s collective failure to act in East Pakistan, or Cambodia, or Rwanda is the only honorable response imaginable. But the befuddlement the authors of the report confess to feeling is another matter entirely. Like most thinking influenced by the human rights movement, the task force seems imbued with the famous Kantian mot d’ordre: “Ought implies can.”
But to put the matter bluntly, there is no historical basis to believe anything of the sort, and a great deal of evidence to suggest a diametrically opposing conclusion. (…)
It is here that doubt will begin to assail more skeptical readers. Almost since its inception, the human rights movement has been a movement of lawyers. And for lawyers, the establishment of black-letter international law is indeed the “end of the story” from a normative point of view — an internationalized version of stare decisis, but extended to the nth degree. On this account such a norm, once firmly established (which, activists readily admit, may take time; they are not naifs), can within a fairly short period thereafter be understood as an ineradicable and unchallengeable part of the basic user’s manual for international relations. This is what has allowed the human rights movement (and, at least with regard to the question of genocide, the members of the task force in the main seem to have been of a similar cast of mind) to hew to what is essentially a positivist progress narrative. However, the human rights movement’s certitude on the matter derives less from its historical experience than it does from its ideological presuppositions. In this sense, human rights truly is a secular religion, as its critics but even some of its supporters have long claimed.