Tonight, CBC tv in Canada aired one of the winners from the Sundance Film Festival, “Shake Hands With The Devil: The Journey of Romeo Dallaire.”
The documentry chronicled his return to Rwanda, ten years later. He has also written an award winning book, “Shake Hands With The Devil: The Failure of Humanity in Rwanda.”
Why did the UN all but withdraw from Rwanda, leaving a few hundred peacekeepers to witness the Hutu massacre of 800,000 Tutsis? As the violence escalated, more and more UN peacekeepers were withdrawn.
In the documentry, President Clinton is shown giving a speech in which he claims that the rest of the world didn’t understand the gravity of the situation, and didn’t see how quickly the violence was spreading. Another commentator, Canada’s Ambassador to the UN, claimed that Clinton was fulll of it and that he was well briefed on what was about to happen. He chose to tune out since he had other priorities.
Is this how people remember the massacre in Rwanda in 1994?
The impression I have is that it wasn’t just the US, but the international community in general that didn’t want to get involved in Rwanda. Why? I’m not sure. Lack of anything to gain, lack of interest in Africa, complicated situation… I don’t know.
The biggest culprit is the Clinton administration. The Clinton administration, and especially Madelaine Albright, actively worked to prevent an intervention in Rwanda. They weren’t just neutral, or just refused to send Americans, but they worked within the U.N. to persuade other countries to not intervene. I do not have the foggiest notion why, but Clinton has said since that it was perhaps the biggest mistake of his presidency.
Well, it sure as heck couldn’t be all the right-wing nutjobs who would have bitten Clinton’s head off and spat it out if he had tried to sell a military adventure in Rwanda. I’m just so sure that Newt Gingrich and the Limbaugh Dittoheads would have gladly thrown their full support for Clinton if he had floated that idea before the American people – they’d never even dream of accusing Clinton of trying to distract the populace from the Ken Starr investigations, and I’m sure they’d have told their fellow conservative comrades to give unconditional support for the President during wartime.
One of the reasons that the Clinton administration didn’t want to get involved with Rwanda was that it came after right after Somalia. They had taken an enormous amount of flack over the deaths of 19 soldiers in Mogadishu, that they didn’t want to get there hands dirty in Africa again.
Not sure about the Starr date, but Gingrich wasn’t exactly a total unknown then – the “Contract with America” was a campaign point from the 1994 midterm elections, after all.
In any event, I don’t think anyone believes that the GOP was lovey-dovey with Bill Clinton before Gingrich popped onto the national radar. The Republicans were already chomping for Clinton’s hide even before his first inauguration was over…
How would they stop it? Do you really think that either the UN or the USA has a magic wand and they can wave it and dudes will stop killing each other?
If they intervene, it takes a lot of money and costs a lot of lives- on all three sides (both sides of the conflict *and *the “peacekeepers”). Right now the American people aren’t very happy to see body bags coming home from Iraq. Do you think that body bags from Rwanda would make them any happier? At least the American Public (right or wrong) are more or less informed (or think they are, anyway) and supportive of our actions in Iraq. Not enough dudes (outside Rwanda that is) cared enough about Rwanda.
It’s a “lose lose” for an American leader to send troops anywhere. If you don’t- the liberal’s scream you’re being heartless- and if you do others scream you’re being an Imperialist.:rolleyes:
Personally- I think the situation in Rwanda was tragic- but how many American lives would you have spent to stop it? Would one of them have been you…or your son? It was pretty clear after Somalia that the American Public did not want to see another 19 body bags coming home (and I can’t blame them)- and frankly, Rwanda would have been much more costly in lives than Somalia.
Sam Stone- I am going to have to ask for a cite that it was American policy “actively worked to prevent an intervention in Rwanda”. :dubious:
Right. So your awfully interesting dissertation on the evils of Newt aside, how specifically did the Republicans block action in Rwanda? Since you brought it up, you must have specific and citeable instances where the GOP acted to block intervention in Rwanda, right?
That’s all true, but at that point in time, all they were were rabble-rousers, from a party that was out of legislative power for the most part for forty years. Obviously, Gingrich turned out to be a master strategist, but I highly doubt that at that point in time, Clinton had any real fear of them or their more rabid constituents.
Oh please. The tragedy in Rwanda was that stopping the process didn’t even necessarily require armed intervention. The genocide was incredibly low tech - it was driven largely by radio stations which urged people all over the country to slaughter their own using mainly machetes.
The U.S. didn’t even try jamming those radio stations. Meanwhile as the situation escalated the U.N. (under U.S. pressure) pulled out the forces it had already had there.
With all due respect, you are a Clinton apologist, meaning no matter what is said you try to shed the best possible light for him.
Even an embattled president has the obligation to do what he perceives as morally right. Clinton’s greatest short coming was that he always did what was right for him-others be damned. He always sought a legacy, and sending American soldiers into Rwanda to die did not fit that concept. I could possibly make exceptions for the level of animosity Clinton endured later in his first term, but not at the point Ruwanda happened.
The fact that his opposition did not like him makes a poor excuse to watch a genocide occur.
Clinton was probably wrong not to intervene in Rwanda. Bush was probably wrong not to intervene in Sudan. There is enough guilt in both men and both parties and all nations to go around. The US failed, the UN failed, and over a million died. If there is one legitimate reason to commit troops, it is to prevent genocide. Rather than trying to point blame at the opposing party, we should be working on ways to prevent the next genocide.