Last night we went to the movie, Shake Hands with the Devil, the documentary based on Romeo Dallaire’s book of the same name on his experience as the head of the ill-fated UN peacekeeping mission in Rwanda.
A very powerful movie that, among other things, points out how ineffectual and corrupt the United Nations is.
In an interview with Mother Jones, Dallaire was asked why he thought the UN was unwilling to reinforce his mission and send him more support. Dallaire answered:
It became very obvious very soon from the office of the DPKO [Department of Peacekeeping Operations], from Kofi Annan and them. No one — absolutely no one — gave a damn. Or, to put it another way, no one wanted to risk soldiers in another “African adventure” where the country was of absolutely no strategic importance to anyone. So they simply applied the “Mogadishu rule,” that, unless it’s in your self-interest, you don’t go and waste resources or risk your people in these conflicts. So led by the Americans, and supported by the British and the French at the time, they simply pulled out and decided not to come back.
It is hard to believe that 800,000 Rwandans were murdered over 100 days and no one in power gave a damn.
Although it was never mentioned in the film, it showed in graphic detail how helpless civilians are when they have no means to protect themselves against the violence perpetrated against them, their families and their neighbours. In this case the rebels and the government both had arms but the citizens who just wanted to go about their lives had nothing and were butchered with no chance to resist.
Another history lesson that we choose to ignore.