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Response to TorchTheWitch (Reply #6)

Wed Aug 28, 2013, 10:35 AM

7. That's right, Belgium and before that Germany


I certainly didn't say otherwise. So I don't know why your title line should imply I did.

Germans were the first European imperialists to colonize Rwanda, in the late 19th C., and the Belgians took over after World War I. The racially obsessed, controlling, census-taking European administrations forced a solidification of the previously porous and flexible categories of "Hutu" and "Tutsi"; another way in which the eventual genocide was the product of direct European intervention (rather than indifference or failure to intervene, as the modern-day liberal imperialists would have it).

In the post-colonial era Rwanda was mainly a French client state, as I wrote, and as your long quoted text confirms.

Thank you for posting that, it's very interesting. You bolded a passage about the French military invasion. Their intervention indeed set up a zone in which civilians were relatively protected, though there is no way to confirm the self-serving French claims of how many lives therefore were saved. What is certain, however, is that the French military invasion allowed the retreat from the advances of the RPF of the actual genocidaires, the Hutu Power forces -- the French allies! What is also certain is that as a result, the Interahamwe remnants were able to set up new bases in the Congo, from which they continued to attack Rwanda, setting off a very bloody series of consequences. So I have to call bullshit on the claim that there was any noble intent behind the French military intervention, and assess its purpose (as we should generally judge these things) by its actual effect, which was to support the genocidaires.

In Germany at the time, a broad spectrum of political opinion viewed the French intervention as an unacceptable imperial adventure, leading to an break of consensus in the usual German-French unity on foreign affairs. It was German influence that may have prevented the French plans for an expansion of their intervention.

I was in Germany in 1994 and their mainstream press covered the French military intervention in Rwanda on behalf of the Hutu Power forces, very thoroughly.

Here's an expose on the French role from an implicitly pro-US position, found on an anarcholibertarian site. It is an excellent and yet totally one-sided history of how France intervened in Rwanda to assist the genocide:

"1990-1994: The genocide and war in Rwanda"

It's one-sided because the RPF is presented as the good guys who happened to wander in from Uganda. The U.S. role in creating the RPF in the first place is cut out altogether.

For a one-sided version of the U.S. role, deemphasizing the (greater) French role in the crime, see here:

"The US was behind the Rwandan Genocide:
Rwanda: Installing a US Protectorate in Central Africa"

by Michel Chossudovsky

I do not agree with that headline.

The truth is, the two powers are both responsible for aspects of what happened in Rwanda -- both France and U.S. intervened, both exacerbating the situation, and neither cared for stopping the genocide. Both acted only on behalf of imperial interests. This is as one might expect, given the prior history of the Great Powers.

I shall quote from the first account, because it already suffices to demolish the myth of "Western indifference" at what happened in Rwanda.

France intervened in 1994 to help the Interhamwe militias, after already doing much to prop up the Habyarimana government in its former colony:

France arms and trains the killers

Habyarimana would soon have fallen to the the well armed and trained RPF but for French military intervention. In October 1990 French forces seized Rwanda's international airport and turned the tide against the rebels. The battle with the RPF was used as a pretext to arrest up to 8,000 people in the capital Kigali, mostly Tutsis, and to launch pogroms in the countryside.

“There were beatings, rapes and murders. Rwandan intelligence distributed Kalashnikovs to municipal authorities in selected villages. They gathered with ruling party militants, most of whom carried staves, clubs and machetes... they went from field to field in search of Tutsis, killing thousands... "Civilians were killed, as in any war" said Colonel Bernard Cussac, France's ranking military commander in Kigali.” (Frank Smyth, The Australian 10.6.94)

French arms and military advisors poured into the country. In the following two years the Rwandan army grew from 5,000 to 30,000. The BBC's Panorama program said that the Rwandan Government 'thanked France for help which was "invaluable in combat situations" and recommended 15 French soldiers for medals after one engagement in 1991.' (Reuters World Service 21.8.95)

Then, in 1994:

In 1994 the Rwandan regime was rapidly crumbling before a rebel army – the Rwanda Patriotic Front (RPF) - which, as it advanced, was putting a stop to the genocide in one region of the country after another. The speed of the rebels' advance meant life or death for tens of thousands of Tutsis. France intervened to create 'safe havens', supposedly to protect the lives of civilians from the majority Hutu group from Tutsi revenge. In reality they were attempting to slow the rebels' advance and protecting the remains of the Rwandan regime from them.

As it turned out the French could not save the regime but did save the organisers of the genocide from capture. The 'safe havens' became a base from which these people engineered the flight of almost two million Hutus into neighbouring countries, where they have since languished in disease-ridden squalor under the control of the soldiers and militias of the fallen Government.

In Germany at the time, I remember it was specifically the German uproar within the EU at what France was doing not to stop but to *extend* the genocide in Rwanda that led to the withdrawal of the French force, albeit too late to prevent the next chapter of the tragedy, in Congo.

The Hutu Power militias continued to raid Rwanda from the Congo, until Rwanda invaded and backed the Kagame overthrow of one of the worst of all dictators, Mobuto (who had been put in power by the US, Belgium and France in the early 1960s after the overthrow and assassination of Lumumba, and who had been plundering ever since).

This set off the Congo wars that have killed so many since.

In short, portions of the U.S. imperial apparatus had a war by proxy in the 1990s against France and French interests, all over Africa, continuing to this day in the Congo.

I'm sure in 1994 Mitterand knew all about what French imperialism was up to - small-time powers like France need to keep a tighter and more centralized control over their operations. And it's not like French Socialists had not already been part of coalitions that supported genocide as a response to the aspirations for independence of the Vietnamese and Algerian peoples. So the decades of merely propping up the old regime in Rwanda may have seemed minor by comparison.

Of course, Mitterand as the C-in-C would have had to give direct approval on the order to INTERVENE in 1994 with actual French troops on BEHALF of the Hutu Power forces that are accused of COMMITTING the genocide. (Sorry, this stuff requires caps, because although it was all over the European press at the time, for some reason a different history has been written about "how the West stood by."

Kagame's official site reads:

"He served as a senior officer in the Ugandan army between 1986 and 1990 during which time he attended a staff and command course at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, USA. In October 1990, Paul Kagame returned to Rwanda after thirty years in exile to lead the Rwandan Patriotic Army (RPA) in the struggle for the liberation of Rwanda."


His opposition agrees:

* Link now dead *


"In October 1990, while Kagame was participating in a military training program at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, the RPF invaded Rwanda. Only two days into the invasion, Rwigema was killed, making Kagame the military commander of the RPF. Despite initial successes, a force of French, Belgian, Rwandan, and Zairan soldiers forced the RPF to retreat. A renewed invasion was attempted in late 1991, but also had limited success."

Um, hm, Kansas? Does this sound like the U.S. was supporting the RPF? Of course. In 1990 and until 1994, is the U.S.-backed RPF fighting the French-backed Rwandan government? Why, yes.

So what do you call that? A proxy war.

Was the incoming Clinton aware of this small portion of U.S. worldwide operations? Dunno. It's not like presidents have actually been responsible for most of foreign "policy" (operations of war and plunder) since, oh, I'll be charitable and say Nixon. Clinton's a smart guy and I'm sure by the time of the genocide he figured what a few of the heads on the far-reaching U.S. octopus had been doing in Africa.


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JackRiddler Aug 2013 OP
Democracyinkind Aug 2013 #1
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Pretzel_Warrior Aug 2013 #3
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PETRUS Aug 2013 #5
TorchTheWitch Aug 2013 #6
LineLineReply That's right, Belgium and before that Germany
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