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Under the patronage of St. Tammany
Mark C. N. Sullivan is an editor at a Massachusetts university. He is married and the father of three children. Email
TEN years ago today the Rwanda massacres began in earnest. It was the worst genocide since the Holocaust. And it will forever be a stain on the record of the Clinton administration, the United Nations and the whole so-called "international community."
Nothing the Clintonites ever did or were accused of doing comes close to the grotesque immorality of their failure to act to stop the Rwanda slaughter.
And no matter how intimately U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan turns out to have been involved with the U.N./Iraq Oil-for-Food scandal, with its billion-dollar scams and disgusting collaboration with the Saddam regime, the real measure of his failure as international diplomat is Rwanda.
Nothing the outside world has learned in the intervening decade dilutes the guilt of those who stood by and allowed the killing to go on, when (as Canadian Gen. Romeo Dallaire pointed out) 2,000 Western troops could probably have stopped it in its tracks.
According to newly declassified documents released by the independent National Security Archive (NSA), President Bill Clinton's somewhat indirect 1998 apology to Rwandans over Washington's failure to act to stop the mass killings until it was too late was at best disingenuous, and more likely a deliberate distortion of what he knew and when he knew it.
"It wasn't a question of not knowing", said NSA fellow William Ferroggiaro, who obtained the latest documents through the U.S. Freedom of Information Act. "It was a question of wanting to know", he told IPS.
The new documents, he said, show, "that the system worked: diplomats, intelligence agencies, defense and military officials -- even aid workers -- provided timely information up the chain to President Clinton and his top advisors", Ferroggiaro said. "That the Clinton administration decided against intervention at any level was not for lack of knowledge of what was happening in Rwanda".
Of the lessons that can be taken from the sickening chapter in world history that is being recalled this week, one might be that military force can be a useful and even necessary adjunct to diplomacy to protect the weak and to further peace and justice. Another might be that brutality is not the sole franchise of the United States of America.
The anniversary of the most concentrated mass-killing of the generation is being widely noted this week.
The only mention of Rwanda on the website is in a 1999 speech by visiting Spanish peace activist Juan Carrero, who in remarks on receiving the Courage of Conscience Award ultimately indicted the US:
In the same way that the so called genocide of 1994 cannot be used as the alibi to eliminate in a selective and massive way the Hutus ethnicity, nor can the grave responsibilities of some European governments in the past in this region excuse the responsibility of the US now. For this reason I denounce here today the Government of the US for giving military training to these armies guilty of genocide.
(The Carrero speech is posted at another site that disputes the labeling of the 1994 killings as genocide. Carrero has campaigned against the massacres of Hutus in Rwanda and Burundi, but if his Peace Abbey speech is an indication, has turned something of a blind eye when they are the ones committing the massacres. His view of the US as "ally to monsters" could not have been a hindrance to his being nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize or his friendship with Cynthia McKinney.)
It might be noted the Carrero speech of five years ago also carries the sole reference to "Pol Pot" at the Peace Abbey's website. A search for "Hitler" at the Peace Abbey site comes up empty, as does a search for "Stalin," as does a search for "Mao."
At present, the Peace Abbey's photo page does give good play to Ganesh the Hindu Elephant God and the recently unveiled statue of the late Emily the vegetarian cow.
Why don't the Peace Abbots take up flower garlands and finger cymbals and use the Rwanda anniversary to make their argument: that military intervention to stop the savage slaughter of hundreds of thousands of innocents would have been the moral equivalent of the slaughter that military force aimed to prevent?