Shaking Hands with the General

Monday, March 20, 2006 | Washington, DC, USA

Today I met Roméo Dallaire, former commander of UNAMIR, the UN peacekeeping mission in Rwanda during the country's 1994 genocide. Boxed in by a constricting UN mandate while the killing raged, Dallaire grappled with many lose-lose decisions in trying to mitigate the slaughter that surrounded him and his forces. Dallaire's book, Shake Hands with the Devil, earned him further acclaim and criticism for his decisions.

He was at Georgetown for a ceremony, but spoke to a few members of the campus STAND chapter (of which I'm an occasional member) about his experiences and his thoughts on the current crisis in Sudan's Darfur region.

Most interesting, in my eyes, was his criticism of the Bush administration and others who have labelled recent events in Darfur as "genocide." Levelling the accusation of genocide can be effective, Dallaire said, but only if you plan to do something about it. By calling Darfur's conflict a genocide and failing to follow up with appropriate action, he said, the international community has cheapened the term, has sent the message that the crime is a permissible one, and has done nothing to reduce the suffering in Darfur.

No comments:

Post a Comment