Haggis_McMutton wrote:Perhaps there should be a follow up here regarding the reasoning of the decision.
(1) What is the reason people think it would be a good idea to allow hundreds of thousands of civilians be killed when it could be stopped with little cost to the already existent state apparatus?
(2) Is it fear of being dragged in some kind of prolonged conflict or some other pragmatic reason?
(3) Or is it some philosophical notion that "it's none of our business" ?
Ah, the fun questions have arrived!
(1) Three points: "good idea," "allow" and "little cost."
Is always intervening to prevent conflict a good idea? (Not always, so in x-amount of cases, it's a good idea not to intervene).
By 'allow', it seems that you're saying one is somehow responsible for remote conflicts, and/or that one has some obligation to intervene. Suppose there's some gang war occurring on the other side of your country. Was that your fault? Are you at all obligated to intervene in any way?
No, if it's some semblance of an equal fight the pros and cons of intervention should be thought about carefully. However the tile says "Rwanda". And in Rwanda what we had was a bunch of thugs killing a million civilians with machetes while the actual conflict with the rebels was occurring in a different part of the country (until the rebels got there anyway).
I wouldn't say you're"responsible", but it's pretty akin, in my mind, to walking down an alleyway one night, seeing a crackhead committing a brutal rape and you continuing to walk and whistle unconcerned in your path cause "it's not your problem". You aren't responsible as in you couldn't be jailed for it, but it is a morally reprehensible act.
Btw. I'm gonna refer to the Rwandan example for the rest of this post as well.
BBS wrote:And regarding little cost, what do you mean? To each taxpayer, a war may be cheap in the short-run, but overall it's costly. A war/intervention can also be wasteful considering what else could've been produced/invested/consumed instead of the resources for intervention. An intervention can be especially wasteful if it becomes counter-productive because it could fail to resolve the systemic problems of the foreign conflict, or it could increase the genocide/conflict since the repressive government/rebels are being subsidized.
Again, in some other scenario this may be the case, but I don't think it was the case in Rwanda.
I couldn't find the figures on exactly how many men Dallaire had left in his peacekeeping mission, but here's what wikipedia says:
Following the withdrawal of Belgian forces, whom Dallaire considered his best-trained and best-equipped, Dallaire consolidated his contingent of Pakistani, Canadian, Ghanaian, Tunisian, and Bangladeshi soldiers in urban areas and focused on providing areas of "safe control" in and around Kigali. Most of Dallaire's efforts were to defend specific areas where he knew Tutsis to be hiding. Dallaire's staff — including the U.N.'s unarmed observers — often relied on its U.N. credentials to save Tutsis, heading off Interahamwe attacks even while being outnumbered and outgunned. Dallaire's actions are credited with directly saving the lives of 32,000 persons of different races
So, with the troops he had left and without any international support he managed to cordon off entire sections of the capital and keep 30k people safe.
I'm no strategist, but it seems like a real army shouldn't have had too much trouble taking control of the whole area.
Finally, supporting a pattern of interventions maintains the "military-industrial-congressional complex" (MICC
), which arguably costs too much, doesn't keep the citizens secure efficiently, and causes much harm instead of good.
Sure. No disagreement there.
However, not intervening in extreme genocides like Rwanda for that reason is like witnessing said brutal rape while holding a pistol and deciding you're not gonna do anything cause you don't believe citizens should own pistols. As long as you already have the damn thing, you might as well actually use it in the small number of cases that actually warrant it.
BBS wrote:(2) Sometimes, but it's not just fear. It is also knowing one's constraints (and the constraints of a government). We can conceive of problems where one jumps into a situation without understanding what's going on and without having the requisite social networks/organizations which can alleviate that lack of understanding (knowledge problem). That kind of intervention can be well-intended yet problematic. Also the intervention occurs through an incentive structure which is not quite capable of actually resolving the conflict or even fixing the systemic problems (e.g. the US/NATO intervention in AFG, Iraq, Libya, and all the lovely examples of failed 'democracies' and sustained dictatorships through US/NATO intervention).
Yep. I agree that trying to impose a democracy in a country that isn't ready for it is a sticky business. But that's not what we're talking about here.
The Rwandan genocide lasted 100 days. ~1,000,000 civilians were killed by a couple thousand militia men, most of which were equipped only with machetes. After 100 days, the rebel army reached the capital and put a stop to it. I'm not saying Kagame, who has been president since, is all that swell, but nothing remotely comparable to the scale of the genocide has taken place since.
Additionally, there was no confusion regarding what was happening in Rwanda. The thing had pretty much been planned openly by the local political power. The UN peacekeeping mission actually managed to identify the main cache of weapons before the genocide.
wikipedia wrote:On January 12, 1994 Canadian Lieutenant General Roméo Dallaire (United Nations Force Commander in Rwanda) notified Military Adviser to the Secretary-General, Major-General Maurice Baril, of four major weapons caches and plans by the Hutus for extermination of Tutsis. The telegram from Dallaire stated that a top-level Interahamwe militia trainer directed demonstrations a few days before, to provoke an RPF battalion in Kigali into firing upon demonstrators and Belgian United Nations Assistance Mission for Rwanda troops into using force. The Interahamwe would then have an excuse to engage the Belgian troops and RPF battalion, killing Belgian citizens and causing the withdrawal of the Belgian contingent, the backbone of UNAMIR. The Tutsis would then be eliminated.
According to the informant, 1,700 Interahamwe militia were trained in governmental forces camps, and he was ordered to register all the Kigali Tutsis. Dallaire made immediate plans for UNAMIR troops to seize the arms caches and advised UN Headquarters of his intentions, believing these actions lay within his mission's mandate. The following day, headquarters responded that his outlined actions went beyond the mandate granted to UNAMIR under United Nations Security Council Resolution 872. Instead, he was to notify President Habyarimana of possible Arusha Accords violations and his concerns and report back on measures taken. Dallaire's January 11 telegram was important in later review of what information was available to the UN prior to the genocide. On February 21, extremists assassinated the Minister of Public Works, and UNAMIR was unable to gain UN approval to investigate the murder.
This was in January. The genocide wouldn't start till April.
BBS wrote:(3) So, (2) is the political economic approach. With philosophy, if one is libertarian, you'd be against coercing people to extract funds in order to pay a government-provided service to invade another country, which did not initiate conflict against you. Government-funded subsidies (e.g. foreign aid) are unacceptable as well. Of course, there's many other doctrines which can either reject or support intervention, but if they don't address the issues of #2, then those doctrines can become counter-productive (i.e. cause more harm than good).
Sure, but the gun analogy seems apt here again. If the state apparatus needed for intervention is already present and being used frequently, I don't think you can really claim intervention shouldn't happen in cases like Rwanda because the military-industrial complex needs reducing.
BBS wrote:So, in short, it is reasonable and a completely good idea to not intervene in some cases. Sometimes, we don't know what is best for others in particular situations, and even if we envision what is best (e.g. "world peace"), we don't know how to attain that goal of peace. In many cases, the well-intended means won't attain the goal. Sometimes, the well-intended voters are simply manipulated into supporting a particular foreign policy (e.g. fearmongering, guilt-tripping), and other times, the voters are completely removed from the foreign policy process after they cheered on the politicians but then change their minds (or simply lose interest).
I agree with all of that. But, as far as I can see, Rwanda was pretty much as clear-cut a case for intervention as you're ever going to have.
And yet, everyone dropped the ball.