Global Policy Forum

AP Dispatch (excerpt):


US Neglected Rwanda

May 6, 1998

Partly as a result of the Somali debacle, Washington's prevailing mood as genocide began in Rwanda was to "just say no" to U.N. peacekeeping missions, which had been proliferating for years. So even as the death toll in Rwanda mounted five per minute by some accounts Washington was determined not to become involved and strongly supported moves to withdraw U.N. peacekeepers from Rwanda on grounds that they could neither carry out their duties nor be protected.

The administration's aloofness was underscored in late June 1994 at a Clinton-hosted White House conference on Africa. The Rwanda genocide was petering out at the time, but administration stage managers wanted it treated as a nonevent at the conference even though it was among the worst mass slaughters in the post-World War II era. It was a contrite Clinton who met March 25 with Rwanda genocide survivors, many bearing horrible physical and emotional scars from the events of 1994. "We in the United States and the world community did not do as much as we could have and should have done to try to limit what occurred in Rwanda in 1994," he said.

To some independent analysts, apologies are not enough. "The ball was not only dropped by the U.S., it was blocked by the U.S.," said Lionel Rosenblatt, president of Refugees International. In a similar vein, Alison DesForges, of Human Rights Watch, described the United States as "the primary stumbling block" to international efforts to stop the genocide.


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