Rwandan Ghosts – By Jason K. Stearns | Foreign Policy

Without getting too political, this exemplifies one of my main concerns about partisanship and how it can make otherwise good people act stupid.  Benghazi has become so politicized that we may not be asking the real questions about Rice’s competence in many other areas where she has a public service record.  Take the example of Rwanda, where Stearns points out what he sees as Ambassador Rice’s major failure.

The question is not whether Rwanda is the Beelzebub or the savior of Central Africa; it is neither. But given the gravity of the crisis, and the significant support the United States was providing to the Rwandan government, simply giving Kigali a pass for repeated mass abuses was unacceptable and sent the wrong signal. To suggest, as Howard Wolpe, the U.S. special envoy to the region did to me, reflecting on this period years later, “We just didn’t know what was going on, most of the reports about abuses were coming from the Catholic Church and we didn’t know what to make of them,” is not convincing. A complex tragedy deserved a nuanced response.

via Rwandan Ghosts – By Jason K. Stearns | Foreign Policy.


9 thoughts on “Rwandan Ghosts – By Jason K. Stearns | Foreign Policy”

  1. Yes, this is getting too politicized. Sadly enough, partisanship-caused-stupidity is in no way
    exclusive to government officials. Perhaps the most major and influential mistakes are made by them. For instance, failing to allow the word genocide to reach the public is a mistake that cost thousands of lives, however angry blog posters who alienate and offend voters from across the aisle do the same amount of good if not the same amount of harm. It seems like on every news report you read online there are several comments that are unintelligent name calling competitions. This doesn’t discourage people like Susan RIce from hiding truths from the public, but encourages it. Well, America, this doesn’t seem to be solving all our problems like we hoped. Maybe we could try something else?

  2. I think the comment that alarms me the most is when Rice said, “If we use the word ‘genocide’ and are seen as doing nothing, what will be the effect on the November [congressional midterm] election?”

    From my perception of the position of Secretary of State, the diplomat should be more concerned about the state of foreign relations, opposed to concerning their time and efforts with domestic politics. That being said, one cannot forget about them all together, but a separation would be nice as foreign policies will be around a lot longer than four (or eight) years.

    Check out the boxed portion:

  3. I did some further research on the M23. They are named after a peace deal of March 23, 2009 which they accuse the government of violating. So these Tutsis soldiers became part of the national army (Congolese Army) in April. Once in this army they complained that they were not being promoted, had a lack of pay, and had poor conditions so they broke away. A driving force behind the regional conflict are deposits of tin, gold, tungsten, and coltan ( a mineral used in laptops and mobile phones in eastern Congo where M23 operates). This group reportedly recruits children soldiers as young as 8 years old.

  4. I can’t help but feel that the United States and, consequently, Ambassador Rice’s support for Rwanda in the face of mounting evidence of war crimes amounts to guilt about the Rwandan genocide. That is, the United States is willing to overlook Rwandan actions in the DRC because of the role (or lack role) that the United States played in ending the Rwandan genocide.

    Having said that, I look at the comments made by Ambassador Rice, and her position on Rwanda, through the lens of the organizational process model of decision making. This model says that Ambassador Rice is limited in her actions by the organization that she serves, suggesting that Ambassador Rice’s actions (and inaction) is a result of government policy that she doesn’t control.

    Here is a link to the Wikipedia page on the “Essence of Decision”, the book that includes this model of decision-making. Which one do you think is most accurate?

  5. As continue to dig up the passed it will be ever so difficult to look towards the future. Yes, it is important to learn from past mistakes however it is also pointless to continue to place blame long after the event has taken place. If one is falsely accused it would be fair to make the argument and let this person free of the consequences. However, this article is pointing out the fine details to blame government officials for U.S. action during the Rwanda Crisis.
    We has a people need to look toward the future of Africa, allowing us to forgive and forget the past. To develop it is important to focus on solution instead of past blame. There are still many current problems in Rwanda, however some improvement has been made. Now, 57% of the population with 80% of the working class in agriculture.
    The website allows us to become educated and aware of the subject so we all can look to the future.

  6. As Secretary of State, Rice will be responsible for more than just relations with Africa. If her service record in Africa is any indicator of how she will perform as Sec of State, we have reason to be concerned. She supports dictators and ignores crimes against humanity for the sake of political gain. If our goal is to have a foreign policy that is protecting America’s interests and making the world a better place, she is definitely not a good choice. If our goal is to have a foreign policy that protects the interests of the Democratic party, she is a fantastic choice.
    This article gives a summary of Rice’s involvement in US African policy.

  7. I agree with the fact that the genocide has a lot to do with the decisions made by the US. In this statement we can see how Rwanda has not yet gain confidence in the US: “It’s impossible to say Rwanda will be in safe hands with the United States on the DRC issue,” said Olivier Nduhungirehe, a U.N.-based Rwandan diplomat. “Rwanda will be on our own.”
    We can see the lack a confidence and with the conclusions that the government of Rwanda (GoR), with the support of allies within the government of Uganda, has created, equipped, trained, advised, reinforced and directly commanded the M23 rebellion. In addition by the fact that Security Council’s key Western governments, including the United States, Britain, and France have largely backed the Group of Experts panel in the face of Rwandan criticism. Such statement is high applicable.

  8. Her educational and job backgrounds are flawless and more than just enough to qualify to serve as the Secretary of the State. However, I think there is more than just scholarly skills to adequately fulfill the duties of the Secretary of the State. He or she is definitely the head diplomat (after the President) of the state representing America, and it is more beneficial to us if the delegate qualifies to earn respect and awe from other countries. Hillary Clinton is a powerful example whose charisma and personal history is very overpowering that there is no doubt that she is bringing more positive effect of diplomacy using that brand power (at least that was how it appeared in South Korea). Likewise, will Susan Rice be able to bring about effective diplomacy with African countries having this rumor established well in the world of foreign politics? At this time of the history when there is so many demands of attention are coming out of the international community, I say that President Obama will have to make a wise choice based on not only the potential delegate’s competence but also its relative representativeness to the world and the message it can send to different countries. This is a link to the duties of the Secretary of the State:

  9. The following article from the Council on Foreign Relations makes a bold claim, to which the Rice/Rwanda issue plays into well, and I have to agree with: “Rising Partisanship Weakening U.S. Role in the World” (

    In a report issued by the Council on Foreign Relations’ Washington Program, it is observed that partisanship has only worsened. As a result, foreign policy is often conceived on “one side of the aisle.” Policy produced by the US isn’t American policy, but rather Democratic or Republican. There is even a warning that is the United States continues working with “half of its collective policy brain,” they will lose their dominance in today’s globalized world.

    How has this happened? The article also suggests a few factors that play into the dramatic increase of partisanship. There is less time and more work for policymakers, and it costs more money to win and maintain a congressional seat. The prominence media also has increased partisanship, not just by twisting stories to fit their views, but even just exposing more and more politicians to looking good in front of a camera for money and votes, rather than making inquiries that may have prevented genocide in Rwanda.

    So how do we solve this? The article was void of any suggestions and the actual report was just a call for bipartisan foreign policy. If you hold high political efficacy, contacting local leaders and state congressional representatives is a place to start. But with partisanship only increasing in magnitude and “nastiness”, it appears difficult to break past the ideological barrier of the two parties.

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