The Fayette Citizen-Opinion Page
Wednesday, June 30, 1999
How can Americans 'rescue' Kosovo, but ignore Rwanda?

Genocide and other abused of political and military power are not by and means newcomers to the world. From biblical times to Nazi Germany to the present, we have been given countless horrific examples of how the powers that be are again and again able to get away with the murder of thousands or even millions of people. Genocide surfaces from the depths of evil blindly; it is not forbidden to any cultures or class. We cannot explain why it happens, but we can only be shocked that it was allowed to happen. Adolph Hitler raising an army against the Jewish people is not as appalling as the fact that millions of Germans allowed it to happen.

We look back on these events as isolated nightmares, and we promise ourselves not to allow such atrocity to again walk across the Earth's stage. When the Serbs began killing off ethnic Albanians, American forces quickly moved in and crushed the threat of genocide. Yet what about the rest of the world? CNN broadcasts daily detailed information about the ethnic cleansing in Kosovo, and as a nation we are shocked and outraged that a modern government is still capable of such brutality. Therefore, we send in NATO to crush Milosevic and his murderous campaign against ethnic Albanians. Yet, where is NATO in Rwanda?

For the past five years, Rwanda has been the scene of the worst and most brutal genocide the world has seen since the Holocaust. Rwanda is composed mostly of two groups, the Hutu and the Tutsi. The Tutsi make up a little under 20 percent of Rwanda's population, and are hated by the Tutsi, much like the Jews in Germany during the 1930s.

In 1994, Rwanda's longtime Hutu dictator Juvenal Habyarimana was assassinated, and his military men who came to power immediately blamed the Tutsi. Only hours after Habyarimana's death, Hutu soldiers, police, and even citizens began indiscriminately killing their Tutsi neighbors.

In 1994 alone over 1 million Tutsi's where killed because of who they where. There have been horror stories of doctors killing patients, and even schoolteachers killing pupils. Even the countries surrounding Rwanda ignored the killings, at least until the rivers downstream from Rwanda began to dam with bodies. Millions have died in Rwanda, but why is there no sense of urgency or duty towards the Tutsi?

How can we ignore millions of Africans being murdered? We yield all of our political and military forces to aid Kosovo, while over 200 times more people have been killed off in Rwanda? The answer is chillingly simple. U.S. peacekeepers do not act for the benefit of humanity, or to oppress political evil. Their sole concern is protecting the U.S. pocket book. It is easy to ignore the well-being of a people who are not tied to you financially, and even easier when they are not tied to you culturally.

Ever since Somalia, the U.S. has taken a “hands-off” approach to Africa. Madeleine Albright has consistently ducked the emergency in Rwanda, and has tiptoed around the word “genocide” in order to keep America's hands clean from the dirt of Africa. The death toll leaped from tens of thousands, to hundreds of thousands, and then to the millions range, yet our hands stayed clean. We continue to support the French, who shamelessly feed the Hutu power with weapons and money. They give the Hutu guns, which are immediately then pointed at the Tutsi.

If the U.S. is to be the peacekeeper and force of good, which it claims to be, it must not wear the cloth of race and finance cloaked around its eyes. We must not lend all of our support to a people because they look and live like us, and at the same time ignore the deaths of people who do not.

I understand that it is better to help few than help none, and it is also true that the U.S. cannot solve all of the problems of the world. Yet the American people must not sit back and allow their news to be filtered by the media, who gives us endless details about a sexual encounter in the Oval Office, yet not a word about millions being murdered half a the world away. We must demand the truth, uncensored and unfiltered. We cannot sit back any longer and be shocked by the slaughter of millions 60 years ago, while we allow it to happen today.

Christopher Armstrong

Fayette (

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