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Africa Today 47.1 (2000) 125-127



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Adelman, Howard, and Astri Suhrke, eds. 1999. The Path of a Genocide: The Rwanda Crisis from Uganda to Zaire. New Brunswick and London: Transaction. 414 pp. $44.95

The strength of this collection is its examination of international engagements in the Rwandan crisis. Added to this are several chapters that identify historical reasons for animosity between the Tutsi and other groups in Rwanda, Uganda, and the eastern parts of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The remaining articles examine areas in which external actors could have acted, but chose not to, as well as areas in which actors acted, but adopted policies which failed.

The Arusha peace process was designed to usher in a smooth transition to democratic elections in Rwanda but, instead, according to Bruce Jones, it set the stage for the genocide. The very essence of the negotiating process was to limit the power of the regime and to pry open the political system for the internal opposition and the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF). Concessions by the regime reflected the realpolitik on the ground, namely that the RPF had a far superior fighting force and did not hesitate to use it to advance its negotiating position. The outcome of the process was, according to Jones, flawed, in that it failed to incorporate "spoilers"--Hutu extremists--into the deal. Rather, by fearing that they would lose everything, they were willing to risk everything to sabotage the accords.

Part of the failure of the Arusha process might well be attributed to the inability, or unwillingness, of the international community to develop policies that addressed issues relevant to Rwanda. Agnes Callamard argues that France fit Rwanda into its time honored approach to Africa, namely supporting dictatorial regimes diplomatically and militarily. Support for the status quo blinded the French from the policies their "allies" were pursuing. The U.S. comes off no better. Steven Livingston and Todd Eachus argue that U. S. policy in Rwanda was formed by Presidential Directive 25, which set out the guidelines for U.S. intervention abroad in such a way as to preclude U.S. intervention in Rwanda. Moreover, the U.S. sought to prevent any other institution from requiring it to act, and thus refused to use the word genocide in its description of events in Rwanda. Livingston and Eachus also argue that the media followed the formulation of U.S. policy, rather than led it. A genocide is difficult and dangerous to cover, but a refugee crises is not. Thus, media coverage of Rwanda focused almost exclusively on the humanitarian crisis in eastern Zaire and the international response, rather than on that which had occurred in Rwanda or the lack of international response to it. [End Page 125]

After reviewing attempts by the Organization for African Unity (OAU) to establish mechanisms for conflict resolution, Amare Tekle argues that the lack of administrative and fiscal resources, coupled with the divergence of national interests in Africa, will continue to hamper the ability of the OAU to undertake successful preventative diplomacy. Middle powers provide little hope for clear vision either, as Howard Adelman describes Canadian policy as exhibitionist, rather than in depth, though he rules out accusations of Canadian complicity in crimes against humanity.

Given the weakness of the international community, it is not surprising that when presented with evidence of "hate radio," they chose not to take it seriously and to do nothing. By dismissing such broadcasts, governments were not obligated to utilize jamming technologies which, according to Frank Chalk, were readily available.

The final section of the text examines the international intervention itself and the aftermath. The United Nations operation in Rwanda was, according to Turid Laegreid, characterized by logistical problems, while the size of the force was determined by political and financial considerations--rather than military ones. Moreover, the U.N. Secretariat based its directives on a narrow interpretation of "peacekeeping," which was based upon the maintenance of a cease-fire. Such an approach failed utterly to distinguish between massacres perpetrated by the government...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1527-1978
Print ISSN
0001-9887
Pages
pp. 125-127
Launched on MUSE
2000-02-01
Open Access
No
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