Saturday, March 27, 2004

previous entry | main | next entry | TrackBack (5)

The ten-year anniversary of the Rwandan genocide

The Economist has an article marking the 10-year anniversary of the Rwandan genocide and the lessons learned from it. There's an interesting contrast between the lessons learned by the "international community" and the lessons learned by the survivors of the genocide:

Though they would deny it, Rwanda's ruling party and its tough-as-kevlar president, Paul Kagame, have concluded that the only way to guarantee the survival of the Tutsis is to remain in power indefinitely. In many respects, they rule well: Rwanda has seen a remarkable recovery since 1994. But they tolerate no serious domestic opposition, nor much in the way of free speech. Rwanda today is a thinly-disguised autocracy, where dissidents, who are usually accused of genocidal tendencies, live in fear, or exile, or both. The regime is also a menace to its neighbours. It was justified in invading Congo to disperse the génocidaires who were using the place as a base for attacks on Rwanda, but it surely did not have to kill 200,000 people in the process.

The rest of the world has learned different lessons from its failure ten years ago. Then, the West's reluctance to get involved was largely a consequence of America's shambolic intervention in Somalia the previous year. Since then, the response to all remotely similar emergencies has been guided by a desire not to allow a repeat of Rwanda. Some of the results have been encouraging. NATO eventually checked Serb aggression in the Balkans, though only after the 1995 Srebrenica massacre. British troops ended Sierra Leone's terrible civil war. Last year, in Congo's Ituri region, UN peacekeepers found themselves in a position with ominous echoes of Rwanda in April 1994: outnumbered, lightly armed and unable to prevent horrific tribal killings. Instead of cutting and running, Europe sent a French-led force to restore order, with some success.

The genocide has also jolted the world into reconsidering how to prosecute mass killers. Ad hoc international tribunals for Rwanda and the former Yugoslavia, though slow and costly, are gradually securing convictions. Several countries have passed laws allowing their courts to try those accused of genocide, regardless of where the crime was committed. The impetus to set up an International Criminal Court sprang partly from the world's shame over Rwanda. Legally, genocide is oddly defined—why is it worse to seek to eliminate an ethnic group than a socio-economic one? It is also hard to prove. Few cases are as clear-cut as Rwanda's; Slobodan Milosevic, the former Serb leader, may be acquitted of genocide, though probably not of other grave charges.

UPDATE: Nicholas Kristof points out why this is a far from academic conversation:

For decades, whenever the topic of genocide has come up, the refrain has been, "Never again."

Yet right now, the government of Sudan is engaging in genocide against three large African tribes in its Darfur region here. Some 1,000 people are being killed a week, tribeswomen are being systematically raped, 700,000 people have been driven from their homes, and Sudan's Army is even bombing the survivors.

And the world yawns.

David Gelernter writes in the Weekly Standard about the relevancy of genocide prevention to Iraq as well. Both articles are worth checking out (and thanks to commenters for raising both topics).

posted by Dan on 03.27.04 at 12:30 PM


OT: But excellent article

posted by: mal on 03.27.04 at 12:30 PM [permalink]

It's happening again, in the Sudan.

Is there any chance the world will stop it this time?

posted by: MattJ on 03.27.04 at 12:30 PM [permalink]

"Why is it worse to seek to eliminate an ethnic group than a socio-economic one?"

Time for this journalist to take a class in 20th century history. Perhaps because, while socio-economic status can be radically altered by an application of force, skill, or luck, one's genetic makeup is unalterable. Except for the kulaks of Russia, it's hard to think of another "socio-economic" group that was slaughtered en masse (and even that was a fairly localized exercise in mass-murder) while the world abounds in instances of genocide taken out largely (though not exclusively) on putative "racial" or ethnic grounds.


posted by: Kelli on 03.27.04 at 12:30 PM [permalink]

1) What rancid , two-faced hypocrisy. We didn't intervene in Rwanda because Rewanda has no significant oil deposits.

2) We intervened in Kosovo because the Brown and Root subsidary of Halliburton did a feasibility study in 1995 re running a pipeline to carry Caspian Sea oil across the Yugoslavian penisula and such a pipeline was feasible only if US troops were stationed somewhere nearby --on some pretext like a "war on genocide" -- to guard it.
See , , ,

3) The AMBO pipeline was a way to control, throttle, and tax Russian oil exports from the Caspian Sea so that US oil companies could exert pressure to get a share. In spite of "detente" , Russian attempts to export Caspian Sea oil to Europe suffered a number of interesting obstacles during the 1990s.

First, someone stirred up the natives in Chechnya to threaten the Russian pipeline carrying oil from Azerbaijan to Black Sea ports. After the Russians --at great expense and blood --put down that threat, someone encouraged the Turks to shutoff the passage of Russian oil tankers through the Bosphorus Straits --even though a 1929 treaty gave Russian vessels free passage.

You will notice that the US news media never tells US citizens about these agendas or maneuvers -- or about Dick Cheney's intense interest in gaining access to Caspian Oil for the Big Oil boys in Houston.

That is why, in my opinion, the mainstream news media and conservative pundits are a pack of lying shitheads -- existing solely to mislead, misdirect, and con the American voters.

posted by: Don Williams on 03.27.04 at 12:30 PM [permalink]

Ya know, I've just discovered a massive tinfoil shortage.

posted by: Bitehad on 03.27.04 at 12:30 PM [permalink]

"And the world yawns."

Does it? When should the US intervene and when should it not? When should the world intervene and when should it not?

Some would say that the US should intervene only when we have a vital national interest. Others would say we should intervene for "human rights" purposes. Which was the Iraq war? Which was Liberia? Haiti? Where do we draw the line? If one is going to use a human rights argument to justify the Iraq war as the Weekly Standard article does, one must address why Iraq was a special case.

As to the world’s responsibility, is this not a reason to strengthen international institutions rather than demonizing and undercutting them?

I'm somewhat intrigued to see Dan Drezner in the Woodrow Wilson/Jimmy Carter school of foreign policy.

posted by: TexasToast on 03.27.04 at 12:30 PM [permalink]

As to the world’s responsibility, is this not a reason to strengthen international institutions rather than demonizing and undercutting them?

A good question.

Seems to me, though, that the answer comes down to what purpose you think the "international institutions " you speak of, are actually serving. And take notice, please that the purposes they *say* they're serving are vastly different from what they actually are doing.

For example; after 10 years, what purpose as regards the Rwandan problem, has been served? What were they doing beforehand to prevent the problem? Granted that small short term gains have been made at times, but at what cost and for what long-term gain?

The UN created Israel, but has it been able to enforce the peace, there?

And the elephant in the room here is corruption of such groups. Can YOU say "Oil For Food"?

posted by: Bithead on 03.27.04 at 12:30 PM [permalink]

The colonialists left Africa too soon. Most of the indigenous people (does that sound better than natives?) were not even close to handling their own political affairs. They required guidance for the minimum of a few more decades. Regrettably, the politically correct liberals really screwed things up. You can’t put the genie back into the bottle. And no, we don’t have any real interests in the region. Altruism is our only authentic motivation.

What can be done about this current crisis? That is a very easy question to answer: guilt trip the selfishly indulgent Europeans and other leading nations of the world! The United States cannot do it all. It’s time for the parasites of the West to do their part.
Am I oversimplifying everything? Hell no, but our American liberal intelligentsia refuses to push them to do their part.

posted by: David Thomson on 03.27.04 at 12:30 PM [permalink]

"For decades, whenever the topic of genocide has come up, the refrain has been, "Never again.""

The libral media has done it's upmost to condem an Honorable nation that has STOPED a form of Genocide (Iraq). This is the hipocracy of the libral media at it's best/worse. So, for the next eight to ten years, why should any nation do the honerable thing only to reap the venom of the libral media???

posted by: Jim Coomes on 03.27.04 at 12:30 PM [permalink]

Hell no, but our American liberal intelligentsia refuses to push them to do their part.

I don't know, David, as I'd put it so.

First because I doubt it's possible to ay a guilt trip on people who are shameless. Do you really consider that the leading nations within the EU, (France, Germany) could EVER be moved by such attempts?

Secondly, yes, it's true that our own left would like to see them take the lead, but with their ideas, not just their muscle, and their funds. Put another, and more accurate way, the American left's international utopianism would have us fullowing Europe's lead in things international.

And guess which way that would have the world leaning, politically? A look at the UN should give us an indication.

posted by: Bithead on 03.27.04 at 12:30 PM [permalink]

darn typos....

posted by: Bithead on 03.27.04 at 12:30 PM [permalink]

1) As I recall, Hussein did most of his killing in the 1980s --gassing of Kurds, Iranians,etc. As I recall, Rumsfeld was over in Baghad shaking Hussein's hand during that time. See,e.g.,

The two-faced deceit and hypocrisy of the Republicans knows no bounds.

posted by: Don Williams on 03.27.04 at 12:30 PM [permalink]

Hell yes, Hussein has been a Saint, a Saint in the 90's. No mass graves, no gang rapes, no sreaders on video tape ($29.95US to drop box Oudi, Bagdad) To think that Mother Teresa was Sainted ahead of Sadam if an injustice only history can correct.

posted by: S. H. Bray on 03.27.04 at 12:30 PM [permalink]

Maybe Don should count how often Rumsfield was shaking Saddam's hand and how often Jacques Chirac did before making silly statements.

posted by: Robin Roberts on 03.27.04 at 12:30 PM [permalink]

But I'd go further, Robin, and ask both of you to look at what we now know was going on behind the scenes, wih Hcirac in particular.

posted by: Bithead on 03.27.04 at 12:30 PM [permalink]

To add to (and to try t re-spur) this discussion:

Boortz this morning touches on this subject:


Documents obtained using the Freedom of Information act show that President Bill Clinton ignored the genocide that was going on in Rwanda, and knew about it before and as it was happening. According to declassified documents, the Clinton administration buried the information to justify its inaction. Officials were already privately using the word genocide within days of the start of the killings, but said nothing publicly because Clinton chose not to intervene. It took the death squads three months to murder 800,000 people.

Now, the US had no interests in Rwanda, so the policy of not intervening may have been right, but where is the Congressional Black Caucus on this one? What if this were President Bush instead? We would never hear the end of it. Can you imagine? It would be the top story in the news media for days on end, with the president being accused of genocide and racism for his inaction. Liberals would be calling for not only impeachment, but probably war crimes trials. Just envision the speeches on floor of the House and Senate. The left would be picketing the White House with pitchforks.

Remember this the next time someone tells you there's no bias in the media.

Now, I'm not sure I agree with him on the 'no interest' assesment. Yet his points about the reaction to all of this from the American Left are well taken; their silence on all of this is the most puzzling aspect of all.

Until of course we remember that Bill Clinton was Presdient.

posted by: Bithead on 03.27.04 at 12:30 PM [permalink]

Post a Comment:


Email Address:



Remember your info?