Third Party & Independents Archives

Never Again

This week, the people of Rwanda remember the ten year anniversary of the genocide of merely one million people in their homeland. In short, leaders from one so-called ethnic group, using the downing of an airplane as a pretext, called for the mass-slaughtering of another ethnic group- while the world, including our administration, stood by and did nothing.

While the people of Rwanda were calling for help from this genocide with machetes, the rest of the world did nothing. While radios, which could have been taken by a force of just a couple of thousand troops, instructed Hutus to kill and rape Tutsies, or die themselves, the U.N. debated about whether what was going on could be defined as “genocide”. While desperate Rwandans sent word to the world about what was happening, the Clinton administration was licking its political wounds from Somalia and not wanting to get involve in “that part” of the world again, did nothing. After all, we couldn’t act unilaterally, what would the world community think (for more information, see Philip Gourevitch’s excellent account in “We Wish to Inform You That Tomorrow We Will be Killed With Our Families: Stories from Rwanda.”)

This reminder comes at an apt time when a particular dangerous and irresponsible form of rhetoric has taken hold because of harsh disagreements about the war on Iraq. When people say “never again”, they mean “never again should we stand by while genocide is taking place” not “never again, unless of course, the international community cant come to a consensus, and then, well let them fight it out.” I am not saying what was going on in Iraq was the equivalent of Rwanda, but only that rhetoric that requires that we seek the permission of the U.N., the same body that did nothing in Rwanda, is morally irresponsible. In fact, the U.N. did worse than nothing, they cut their force in Rwanda from 2,500 troops to 450 men before the massacre, despite warnings that it was coming.

The article I cited concludes with the fact that we are now offering 5 million dollars for information that would lead to the arrest of one of the monsters who financed this genocide. If only we had cared that much in 1994, where a well-trained force of a couple thousand of our soldiers could have prevented this genocide from ever happening.

The U.N. was started in the shadow of the holocaust, and yet it continues to take the path of Hitler’s appeasers that allowed the holocaust to take place. If we are going to live by the motto of “never again”, we need to either radically alter the course of the U.N. or we need to treat it as the irresponsible sewing circle of nations that it is. So the next time the president comes out and says a particular dictator needs to be taken out, by all means you can oppose him on all kinds of reasons (saying its impractical, saying our resources should be used elsewhere, saying we need a better exit strategy), but please don’t say that we need the U.N.’s permission. Ten years ago we didn’t have it, and the results were a “yet again”

Posted by Misha Tseytlin at April 8, 2004 12:57 AM