by Austin Bay
September 26, 2006
The demonstrators had extraordinary moral credibility.
Last week in Kigali, Rwanda, survivors of the 1994 Rwanda
genocide called on the United Nations and world leaders to act to end the
continuing genocide in Sudan's western Darfur region.
"We survivors stand with the victims in Darfur," Rwandan Freddy
Umutanguha told The Irish Independent. "We know what it is like to lose our
mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, sons and daughters."
In April 1994, Hutu-led mobs and militias began slaughtering
800,000 mothers, fathers, sons and daughters -- mostly Tutsi tribespeople,
though Rwandan Hutus who opposed the killers were also slain. The murder
campaign continued for three months.
Since February 2003, at least 250,000 people have been killed in
Darfur. Another 2.5 million have been displaced.
In February 2004, reflecting on Rwanda's genocide, U.N.
Secretary General Kofi Annan said: "There can be no more binding obligation
for the international community than the prevention of genocide. ... The
events in Rwanda ... were especially shameful. The international community
clearly had the capacity to prevent those events, but failed to summon the
will. ... We must ensure that we never again fail to summon the will." Lack
of political will and lack of credible military power contributed to the
A U.N. peacekeeping force deployed to Rwanda in 1993 to monitor
a ceasefire agreement between the Rwandan government and a Tutsi rebel
group, the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF). I am not convinced that small and
lightly armed force could have done much -- there were too few of them, and
the genocidal attacks quickly spread throughout Rwanda. However, Canadian
Gen. Romeo Dallaire, the U.N. force commander, now believes early, decisive
action against the Hutu extremists who led the genocide would have thwarted
their plans. Dallaire's U.N. troops would have been intervening in a Rwandan
civil war, but in retrospect he thinks that was the least-terrible choice.
The peacekeepers did not intervene, however. Belgium withdrew
its contingent when 10 soldiers were killed. U.N. leaders dithered for weeks
before voting to reinforce the mission, sending too little, too late.
The mounting death toll in Darfur tests Annan's stirring words.
But when it comes to ending genocide, words require swords. Fine words
cannot protect the vulnerable from dedicated killers -- that job demands
Annan knows this. Annan, with the support of the United States
and Great Britain, wants to reinforce the hapless, ineffective African Union
peacekeeping force now in Darfur. In August, the Security Council approved a
U.N.-led force. But the resolution "invites" the consent of the Sudanese
government in Khartoum to approve deploying U.N. troops.
Khartoum interpreted the diplo-speak "invites" to mean it could
nix a U.N. force. Sudan said, "No, thanks," and called a U.N. force in
Darfur "a European imperialist invasion. " Scratch "imperialist," and
Khartoum's killers have the trace of a legitimate case, for a credible U.N.
military force entering Darfur would be invading to halt Khartoum's
state-sponsored policy of ethnic cleansing.
Mao Zedong's rule of thumb -- people are like water, and a
guerrilla army like fish swimming in the human pool -- influenced Rwanda's
Hutu radicals. The genocidaires believed mass murder would eliminate "the
ethnic pool" supporting rebel Tutsis.
Pursuing a similar goal with similar means, Khartoum has its
"Janjaweed" militia proxies ravage, then torch, villages it suspects support
Darfur rebel factions.
Ending the Darfur genocide means terminating Khartoum's savage
policy. That means peacekeeping forces combating the militias would be
waging war against allies of the "host" Sudanese government.
Rwanda's pro-intervention demonstrators have moral credibility
borne of unspeakable suffering.
Credible combat power -- well-armed, well-led, well-supported
soldiers with full authority to use decisive, deadly force -- can be
deployed in Darfur.
That credible combat power must be backed by credible leaders,
however. That means leaders with the spine to intervene despite Khartoum's
intransigence and leaders with the grit to continue this difficult mission
when (it is inevitable) the fighting gets dirty, good soldiers die and
tragic mistakes occur.
Despite Annan's fine words, outside of London and Washington
such leadership is not in evidence. Until it appears, "the international
community" deserves to be shamed.