The genocide row
Belgian Defence Minister Andre Flahaut's decision to publish a report blaming the US for the worst genocide in history is still making waves, but you've also found time to write on other issues.
The pre-colonization population of the continent North America is disputed.
According to Jared Diamond's "Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies", the population may have been as high as 20 million. Up to 90 percent of these indigenous people are assumed to have been killed by diseases carried by European, African and Asian settlers and immigrants in North America, and also by indigenous people carrying Spanish, Portuguese and African vectors up from South and Central America, as well.
In isolated cases, the spreading of such diseases was deliberate. This of course, does not include the indigenous victims of murder, famine or war as a result of contact with (mainly) white settlers.
There are a number of other genocides which are clearly not taken into account, including Nazi Germany, which killed 6 million Jews, 20 million Russians, and many, many more; Communist China, Stalinist Russia (30 million Russians, not to mention many more of other nationalities); and Khmer Rouge Cambodia (which could win on a percentage basis).
The United States came into existence in 1776, not 1492, and even then did not control all of the territory now inside US borders until 1949. Other powers such as Spain, Britain, Russia and France controlled significant parts of what is now the US until the end of the 19th century.
Christopher Columbus never set foot on what is now considered to be the territory of the USA.
It is also curious that no one has mentioned Belgium's contribution to the genocide sweepstakes. According to Adam Hochschild's "King Leopold's Ghost", over 10 million indigenous people were exterminated in the Congo Free State between the mid-19th century and the 1950s.
Strong arguments have also been made to the effect that Belgian policy in Africa set the stage for the genocide in Rwanda, and the ongoing bloodbaths in the DRC and Burundi.
A Non-White American
Belgian Defence Minister Andre Flahaut seems to not know his history. I am sorry, but wasn't Columbus a European? And what about what the Belgians did in the Congo, as if Belgium is not guilty.
This is just typical American bashing at its best, something we have become used to.
Not as if anyone cares what the Belgian Defence Minister has to say about world politics. His voice carries about the same weight as Big Bird's.
Erin Ross Moses
Mr. Flahaut should resign.
That would most definitely help to create a positive atmosphere inside a corrupt system.
In your cover article "Belgium celebrates EU enlargement" you erroneously put Slovenia among the countries of the former Soviet bloc.
Slovenia used to be one of the former Yugoslavia's six republics until the federation disintegrated in 1991.
And, as you will remember, Yugoslavia was not part of the Soviet bloc.
Thus the number of countries that once belonged to the Soviet bloc should be seven, and not eight as you put it.
The same goes for the article "Brussels ahoy!" since it would be incorrect putting Slovenia in the group of the "Iron Curtain" states.
[Copyright Expatica 2004]
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Subject: Belgium, news, letters