Sunday, September 03, 2006

Rwanda and Darfur

Once in a while, I come across something that, while I may want to write about it right away, I feel like I need to wait until the emotional turmoil dies down. I watched Hotel Rwanda this weekend. I couldn’t sleep later that night, and the pit in my stomach didn’t dissipate until well into the next day.

For those who haven’t seen it, Hotel Rwanda is a movie about the 100 day, Hutu-led genocide that claimed the lives of 500,000 to over 1,000,000 ethnic Tutsis and Moderate Hutus, in 1994.

First, the genocide underscores the belief that the United Nations is useless at preventing violence and protecting others from violence. Every decision is by committee, and thus any issue that arises must inspire widespread support to ever get acted on. Since none of the major players at the U.N. cared about African conflicts, the news of the Rwanda genocide was slow to permeate the consciousness of the delegates.

The U.N. had personnel there! Oh, but they weren’t allowed to intervene (the force was also small enough that intervention would have resulted in dead peacekeepers). Finally, Western governments responded, sending some troops, but it was only to rescue foreign nationals trapped in the country.

Something similar has been going on, for the last three years, in the Darfur region of the Sudan. Islamicist militias, with the tacit approval of the Sudanese government, is waging a campaign of murder, rape, and pillaging to drive non-muslim residents of Sudan into neighboring countries. The Sudanese government has obviously learned more from the Rwanda genocide than the U.N. has, including how to wage an internal war without foreign intervention. After three years, the U.N. has finally voted to gather some troops, and establish some peacekeeping operations in the region. Good luck with that, by the way.

It seems clear that anyone who’s depending on the U.N. for help is screwed. The Blue Helmets will show up in time to uncover the mass graves, tour the burned villages, and give candies to the children of all the rape victims. Is that the best we can do?

"Where are the French? We'd love to watch them surrender."

1 comment:

Kasia said...

Actually, seems to me it's been going on for more than 3 years. Is that right? I know that when it started getting noticed by the American press (during the '04 elections) it had already been going on for quite a while.