Before we all light our torches, don our while sheet appearel, and grab our pitchfork, let us consider.
It first came to me in sociology class while studying the rwandan genocide. If you're not familiar with it, go educate yourself.here. I'm just warning. It's graphic. Also, on a playlist on youtube.
Well bassically as you can see in that movie, America did a fat load of nothing. We sat on our couches, knew all about the conflict and did the thing most natural to us. Nothing.
800,000 thousand people slaughtered. Later in the movie you will see terrible political bullshit gargin, and spinning. We prommised people carrying mobile troop vehicles. And troops. They never arrived. We concentrated on the shitty details like, how long will this lease last? What shall we stencil on the side? Well none of these troops ever made it into rwanda, other than to rescue any americans in Rwanda at the time. We even were kind enough to save the embassy dog, and a mans piano, not ANY rwandan lives.
Well there is much much more to that conflict and the nothing that we did. The knowledge that BIll Clinton HAD but didnt realease or act upon. The ability we had to save those lives, but the lives we never saved.
Well mr.clinton was nice enough to give the Rwandans a plaque. I shit you not. A plaque, that's worth 800,000 lives, right?
Well the racist part, right.
What bothers me most about this is that during this time period, we suddently took an interest in the Bosnian Genocide, with one main difference, we did something. Now Bosnian people and Rwandan people have 1 difference, that changed weather or not we acted, conciously or subcounciousy, Bosnians are white, and Rwandans are black. We saved the beautiful Bosnians, but not those dirty rwandans.
Is anyone else seeing a trend here?
First we enslave black people, then we give them seperate rights, then we ignore their plight.
So i ask you think my esteemed friends. Are we racist? I know its an overly used term, if that doesnt tickle your fancy, were our actions in these situations justified?
I don't think that's really fair, and the comparison you've made is oversimplistic. The Rwandan genocide happened so fast, that the international community as a whole didn't respond. The UN made an attempt to, but got caught up in the details, and it ended up being that the Dutch force that was out there could only fire if it was fired upon. And also, it was not akin to the Bosnian genocie, which was being perpetrated by the Serbian army. Now that might seem like an academic difference, in that the Rwandan genocide wasn't being carried out by an army, but by ordinary people, however when a genocide is being carried out by an army it is far easier to deal with because the perpetrators are wearing uniforms. The fear in the international community was that if they stepped in, they could end up commiting a reverse genocide, killing many of the civilian population who were doing the killing. Now you might say that's justified, but in the heat of battle, not all the details would have been clear, and it would have ended up looking a lot like the Kosovo conflict in 1997, where although many smart weapons were used, the number of non-combattant casulties would have been high. The international community was afraid of getting itself dragged into a quagmire which it could not bring itself out of. Now, in heinsight, it seems very cut and dried, but the truth of the matter was that it was not a military force commiting the Rwandan genocide, meaning any attempt to meet it with military force would have been doomed to confusion, inacuracy, and a situation that may have looked much like Afghanistan today, with an international force trying to maintain order, while dealing with a people who don't fit the standard profile of an "enemy". So no, I don't think the US is racist, I think the international community was dealing with a complex system that it was very ill-prepared for, understandably so. Of course, that does not excuse our inaction, but it does explain it. Furthermore, it does remind us once again of a standard problem the west faces.
If it intervenes in dealing with despots/warzones which need control, it is accused as being imperialist
If it leaves well enough alone, it is accused of being cowardly and indifferent to the plights of others
Damned if do, damned if dont.
No the US isn't racist, the world is just complicated.
I agree the international community should have acted, but I also think that, any action they did take would have been criticised in one way or another. The problem the international community has is that it cannot be perfect, yet it holds people up to a near-perfection standard, and everyone expects it to be something it cannot.
I agree that just because something isn't being carried out by the state it shouldn't be ignored, but I also think that heinsight is 20:20. Had the international community got involved, while it almost certianly would have saved lives, it wouldn't have been remembered as such. It would more likly have been remembered as the international community medling and causing some loss of life. Of course, it would have been far less than if it had been allowed to continue, but then people would never have known that.
But in answer to your central question, "Why did america help in the Bosnian genocide but not in the Rwandan Genocide" its because
- The Bosnian genocide's perpetratiors were easy to identify (the Serbian army), the Rwandan genocide's was not (Hutu civilians whipped up into a frenzy by propoganda)
- The Rwandan genocide happened so fast (most of the killing was done in a 4 day period) that the International community didnt have time to react effectively. The Bosnian genocide was a more offical, methodical and as a result slow affair
- Because of the confusion, the UN force was given oblique, useless orders, which could not have done anything to help. Had the UN given different orders, yes less lives would have been lost, but some lives still, which is what would have to be focused on by the media
This brings a much more interesting question to light. Should the media report on positive posibilites as well as negative consequences. IE if someone kills one man to save hundruds, should the media report that he saved 100s of people, as well as killed one man. This question is easy when it's obvious, but at the level of wars, it gets confusing.
America has done a lot of awful things by acting passively--or, in other words, has refrained from doing the things it should have. Logically, it could be argued that the US is prejudice against people of all race, religion, and gender.
Obviously, that's an exaggeration, but I digress.
Because that's not our fucking job, that's why. Besides, we would have been accused of "imperialism" had we done anything.
Oh, and everyone at one time or another enslaved other people. Stop shitting on us for something that ended over a hundred years before most of us were born.
Ok I'm not even going to try to weigh in on the whole 'is America racist?' part, because I think that's a bigger discussion than this, and I don't have time to even begin to answer that question! But I can try to shed some light on the intervention question i.e. why there was one in Bosnia and not in Rwanda.
So firstly, interventions are ALWAYS tricky, because the concept of territorial sovereignty (aka thou shalt not send your military into another country unless that country's government asks you to) is a really basic tenet of international relations, so if you're going to violate another country's territorial sovereignty you need a really good reason and preferably a UN security council resolution specifically saying that there has been a decision to send troops to that country. Also, especially in a democracy, there is a general aversion to invading other countries because people do not like sending their sons and daughters somewhere to be put in harm's way unless they can see a really, really good reason for it. (Now some people would say that stopping genocide IS a really really good reason, but some people would disagree, as you can see from this thread. There are different opinions on this, basically!)
Like Vertigo One has said, in Rwanda there was the very real problem that a lot of the perpetrators were civilians. If all of these people had been arrested and shipped off to be tried for war crimes, there would not have been many people left in the country to rebuild its economy/infrastructure/etc. It's a sad fact of post-war situations but sometimes so many people have committed atrocities (especially if that society is very poor, and many people have had to join criminal gangs just to survive and be able to feed their families) that you just have to try and reintegrate most of them back into society as best you can. Now I don't know that much specifically about the Rwandan genocide but I would guess that this made the task of peacebuilding in Rwanda a lot more difficult, and is part of why the international community dithered so much about going in.
Also, to be cynical for a minute, there ARE always going to be political issues surrounding interventions. We probably aren't going to find out exactly what they are but like I said, interventions are a difficult issue, so a country's got to have a lot of incentive to commit it's military to something like that. I would guess that part of the reason why Bosnia happened and Rwanda didn't was that Bosnia's location was more strategically important. Obviously also there was horrendous violence going on and the international community wanted to stop it, but the strategic importance might have been an added factor in the decision to intervene. But I should emphasise that this is just me speculating and that might not be a reason at all!