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U.S. knew about Rwanda before, during and after

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EDITOR’S NOTE: The U.S. also knows about, and is in fact an accomplice in, the current slow-pace, systematic genocide in the Ogaden region of Ethiopia by its client regime.

By Scott Baldauf | The Christian Science Monitor

Johannesburg, South Africa – The Clinton administration and Congress watched the unfolding events in Rwanda in April 1994 in a kind of stupefied horror.

The US had just pulled American troops out of a disastrous peacekeeping mission in Somalia – later made famous in the book “Black Hawk Down” – the year before. It had vowed never to return to a conflict it couldn’t understand, between clans and tribes it didn’t know, in a country where the US had no national interests.

From embassies and hotels in Kigali, diplomats and humanitarian workers gave daily tolls of the dead, mainly Tutsis but also moderate Hutus who had called for tribal peace. The information came in real time, and many experts say that the US and the Western world in general failed to respond.

‘We knew before, during, and after’

“During World War II, much of the full horror of the Holocaust was known after the fact. But in Rwanda, we knew before, during, and after,” says Ted Dagne, a researcher at the Congressional Research Service in Washington, who has traveled to Rwanda on fact-finding missions. “We knew, but we didn’t want to respond.”

In an official letter written as late as June 19, 1994, the then-UN-Secretary General Boutros Boutros-Ghali showed exasperation at the numbers of peacekeepers that member nations were willing to provide.

“It is evident that, with the failure of member states to promptly provide the resources necessary for the implementation of its expanded mandate, UNAMIR (the United Nations Assistance Mission in Rwanda) may not be in a position, for about three months, to fully undertake the tasks entrusted to it,” Mr. Boutros-Ghali wrote. Within a month of the writing of this letter, the genocide ended, as Paul Kagame’s Rwandan Patriotic Front took full effective control of Rwanda.

US support for a rapid-action force

Mr. Dagne, a Congressional aide at the time, says that if the Clinton administration had called for a rapid-action force to stop the killings in Rwanda, Congress would have supported him. Letters from bipartisan panels of Congress back this up.

“We are writing to express our strong support for an active United States role in helping to resolve the crisis in Rwanda,” wrote Rep. Bob Torricelli (D) of New Jersey, in a letter of April 20, 1994, signed by Republicans and Democrats alike. “Given the fact that approximately 20,000 people have died thus far in the tragic conflict, it is important that the United States endeavor to end the bloodshed and to bring the parties to the negotiating table.”

But time and again in that spring and summer, President Clinton replied with more pleas for the government and the rebels to stop the violence themselves, and suggested that the underarmed, overstretched UN peacekeeping mission on the ground was the right group to lead the way.

“On April 22 … the White House issued a strong public statement calling for the Rwandan Army and the Rwandan Patriotic Front to do everything in their power to end the violence immediately,” President Clinton wrote on May 25, 1994, to Rep. Harry Johnston (D) of Florida. “This followed an earlier statement by me calling for a cease-fire and the cessation of the killings.”

With Congress looking toward the president, and the White House looking toward the UN, nothing was done, and the genocide ran its course.

“At the end of an administration, they write a report, and Rwanda was at the top of the failures list for the Clinton administration, so this is something that they acknowledge themselves,” says Dagne.

If there is a lesson learned from Rwanda, Dagne says, it is that the international community needs to avoid giving the impression that it is willing or capable of rescuing civilians in a conflict. “It’s important to build the capacity of people to do the job themselves [of protecting themselves],” Dagne says. “We must not give the expectation that people will be saved.”

4 thoughts on “U.S. knew about Rwanda before, during and after

  1. They knew what was going on in Rwanda and know other killings done by “friendly tyrants”.Who cares about Africans all what is needed is their resource.

  2. The US, not only knows about the genocide in Ogaden, but looks the other way when atrocities by the Weyane regime are being committed. The interesting thing though, some knowledgeable sources venture even as far as accusing the Bush Administration by supporting the ONLF as well. Talk about double dipping!

  3. It is so sad to hear that the US knew about the millions of Rwandans being slaughtered and looked the other way. You see it shows that the racism that exits and that they don’t care about Africa and its people. That is why we and our leaders need to be smart and make peace among our selves, peace with our neighbours and work together towards improving our life, and earn respect for our self and for our people. Being a donor recipient does not earn any RESPECT….very few people have respect for BEGARS some people may have PITY for beggars but not respect. Let us say No to their DONATION and work hard to earn food security, eradicate poverty and sickness.

    In This regard one of the leaders I really admire is ISAIAS AFEWORKI…..he told them “we don’t need for donation and you cannot tell us what to do and what not” We know what is better for our people than others……please – please my country men let us be smart !! I know there are many smart Ethiopians who think like me.

  4. Why would the USA and others are blamed for the loss of Rwandans lives, Africans, or anyone else for that matter when their rulers and compatriots perpetrate heinous massacres against their own people. USA never claimed or should be expected to be angels or international guardians of peace.

    In Rwanda, the ones who committed the crime were all the Rwandans, not just the ruling elite. When one is hungary of his brothers’ and sisters’s blood, then it would be naive or hypocritical to blame others for not coming from far away and help stop massacre. Africans, rulers and the ruled, need to shoulder responsibility of their actions.
    If Rwandans stepped forward and said no, they could have averted the slaughter of 800,000 Rwandan lives and the subsquent enmity that the killing brought about.

    In Ethiopia, Massacres are committed by the Meles regime against Ogadenis and other Ethiopians. Now whose responsibility is it to speak out about it and try to do something about it?. Hope the answer is not the USA and other Western countries!

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