Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Hotel Rwanda

This is a well made movie about a man who saved 1200 victims from one of the bloodiest massacres in recent history. The movie is based on the true story of Paul Rusesabagina.

Watching this movie, I couldn't quite come to grips with the limits of human atrocities against humans and the inability of the better-off people in the 1st world to act quickly to avoid such horrors.

Human Resources Watch reports the massacre. Reading it leads me to believe that the reason for the lack of intervention was the economics. The cost it took to save a million lives from terrible violence was too much to bear - for the wealthiest of nations.

There was also the fear of loosing personnel. I copy below:

"But instead of using the peacekeeping troops to stop the genocide, the U.N. sought primarily to protect its soldiers from harm. Dallaire was ordered to make avoiding risk to soldiers the priority, not saving the lives of Rwandans. To do so, he regrouped his troops, leaving exposed the Rwandans who had sought shelter in certain outposts under U.N. protection. In the most dramatic case—for which responsibility may belong to commanding officers in Belgium as much as to Dallaire—nearly one hundred Belgian peacekeepers abandoned some two thousand unarmed civilians, leaving them defenseless against attacks by militia and military. As the Belgians went out one gate, the assailants came in the other. More than a thousand Rwandans died there or in flight, trying to reach another U.N. post."

After exploiting Rwanda from 1916 through 1961, Belgium could not deal with the economics of saving a million Tutsi lives. These were the same people Belgium favored during their regime, the people, who under the Belgian command resorted to extreme violence against the Hutus. Some claim that the later uprising of the Hutus against Tutsis were largely due to the ethnic division enforced by Belgium in their divide-and-rule policies.

What is still not clear to me is why the 1st world did not threaten the genocidal government with economic sanctions. This would not have required much capital. Perhaps they looked at the situation from an economic view-point and just said - "why bother, what is in it for me?" I copy below:

"Discussion about the size, mandate, and strategy for a new peacekeeping force continued until May 17, in part because of U.S. rigidity in applying its new standards for approval of peacekeeping operations, in part because of hesitations sparked by RPF opposition to any intervention. Manoeuvering by nations supplying troops and those supplying equipment consumed another two months, so that the second peacekeeping force landed only after the RPF had defeated the genocidal government. The slowness and ineptness of national and international bureaucracies in mounting the operation was not unusual, nor was the attempt by participating nations to get the most or give the least possible. What was extraordinary was that such behavior continued to be acceptable in the context of genocide, by then openly acknowledged by national and international leaders."