Rwanda 20 years on. Profiteering from the memories of horror


Never again…or at least not on my watch!

On this 6 of April, twenty years will pass from the day when the plane carrying the Presidents of Rwanda and Burundi was shot down killing everyone on board. What followed this still unresolved crime was war, massacres and violence of the worst scale and ferocity.

I only wish that humanity’s crimes would have ended right then and there. Like many other tragedies from the archive of humanity’s grotesque insanity, the Rwandan genocide, that followed the murders of the two head of states, has become just another memory used to invoke sentiments of horror. In a lobby like campaign under the, always opportunistic, ‘Never Again’ banner paraded by an army of intellectuals, diplomats, politicians, retired presidents or generals the Rwandan and Congolese tragedies are re-discovered whenever an imperial power sees the need to justify humanitarian intervention or pre-emptive crisis management military strikes. Having collectively swallowed Neo’s blue pill of willful ignorance and amnesia we all seem to be collectively pre-programmed to remember these tragedies with the same specific moral authority that shoved that pill down our throats in the first place. “Everywhere is Rwanda for the humanitarian imperialist,” noted Max Forte in his book Slouching Towards Sirte, NATO’s War on Libya and Africa.

As a modern twist of the tragedy of the Holocaust the Rwandan genocide is pulled out from under the carpet to show off the catastrophic effects of inaction when facing a force of evil. In the words of one of the fathers of modern conservatism Edmund Burke ‘Evil prevails when good men fail to act’. Robin Philpot describes in his new work ‘Rwanda and the New Scramble for Africa, From Tragedy to Useful Imperial Fiction’ how the good men of the west constructed the main narrative of this conflict to represent the current President of Rwanda Paul Kagame as a brilliant strategist who came down from the north of the country with his Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) and put an end to the genocide. Moreover the same narrative tell us that the tough but visionary leadership of Kagame turned this troubled under developed nation to the next African miracle. The lesson that perpetrates this story is that in the future our western developed democracies should, by any means,act swiftly and drastically to prevent these atrocities from happening in the name of humanity.

Cracking towards the truth.
Thankfully through the work of people like Robin Philpot the carefully camouflaged cracks of this narrative are starting to show. He describes how facts become obscured or even simply neglected from the official narrative. The then Secretary General of the UN then Boutros Boutros Ghali, or Frenchie for the Americans has confessed to him that ‘the Rwandan genocide was 100% American responsibility’. What the US and the British intelligence and diplomacy did, as recently declassified Clinton’s administration documents show, was to try to withdraw the UNAMIR forces and block any more resolutions on the matter giving the time to Kagame’s RPF to mobilize after the events of April 6. Nothing was left to chance and so the events of April 6 were never thoroughly investigated. If they were the role of the RPF in the murderous attack would have become evident.
The US and the British wanted to set the field for a single power structure, at all costs, in the region of Central Africa’s Great Lake’s Region in the face of the RPF. In what it seems now as an early practice round of the Shock and Awe strategy the Americans succeeded to concealed their involvement in setting up the crisis and later to conspicuously rejected their diplomatic responsibilities in sabotaging the international efforts to act and resolve it. For Washington, the 1993 Arusha Peace Accord had to become obsolete.

An extensive PR network, similar to what it was used some years ago towards the hype to the war in former Yugoslavia, and the vocal repeated condemnations from the RPF against the international community, guaranteed that the arrows against the West were not aiming just at the US or the British.


One hand washes the other and both they wash the blood away…

Perhaps the most astonishing achievement for Robin Philbot of the then US Ambassador to the UN Madeleine Albright and of the State Department was the disconnection from the contextual references of this tragedy of the instigating first chapter of this supreme humanitarian crime.

When in 1990 around 4000 Ugandan uniformed troops, which they later went to become the RPF, invaded Rwanda most analysts quickly described it as just another minor hot incident in the region. Even much later in 2002 the majority of the populous western media described those events as ‘increased tensions’. But in 2010 the UN Mapping Report confirmed the criminal nature of the actions of RPF in Congo. A bit too little too late one might say. If you look at the events in the region between 1990 and 1994 you will see that the horrific crimes have started well before the April of 1994 and that the RPF was one of the main instigators during these violent and bloody years. This part of the narrative is laid forgotten as it doesn’t help anyone who wants to invoke ‘Rwanda’ to justify military intervention in a conflict or crisis zone.

What it does help though is perpetuating the notion of a ‘conspiracy to create genocide’ which the Western powers should had intervened and put an end to it. There were mass killings in Rwanda and war crimes have been committed, no one can dispute this evidence. The evidence though has failed to show was that there was a pre-planned conspiracy, at least from the side of the then Rwandan regime, for the genocide. Even after 18 years the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda had to acquit Théoneste Bagosora who has been repeatedly accused of being the man who instigated and planned the mass killings.

Again, this doesn’t mean Théoneste Bagosora is innocent of any involvement in this horrible story. A simple, relevant, but neglected, truth of the events as Robin Philbot argues in his book is the fact that ‘the Rwandan military and the police, who were the only one able to stop the killing in April, May and June 1994, were simply unable to do so because they were engaged in a war to the finish with a powerful and fully-equipped military machine known as the Rwandan Patriotic Front. That army also enjoyed the political, diplomatic, and military backing of two very powerful countries, the United States and the United Kingdom’.

These two realities have been very tactfully removed from the main-streamed narrative of the war in Rwanda. Just as the American foreign policy apparatus worked tirelessly to cover their own backs they did the same to offer the same services to their local culprits.

The most sickening of all is to see how the same people that have so cynically worked behind the scenes to multiply the viciousness and the ferocity of an incredibly difficult and complex conflict to then turn it into a handy propaganda clip whenever they want to justify further military interventions in Africa or elsewhere. And if you think this is just a circumstantial situation then have a closer look at what it’s happening the last two and a half years in Syria, or what has happened in Libya. Instead of Bill Clinton or Tony Blair orchestrating the events behind the scenes, the people of these countries have Obama, Cameron, Merkel or Putin with their local pons of idiots playing games with their lives on the global chessboard.


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