ECLECTIC RANT: Rwanda, a U.S. Friend and Ally--
U.S Realpolitik at Work

Ralph E. Stone
Saturday April 11, 2015 - 03:27:00 PM

On April 7, 2015, President Barack Obama marked the 21st anniversary of Rwanda's 1994 mass killings "that would claim the lives of more than 800,000 Rwandan men, women, and children and mark the beginning of one hundred days of horror for Rwanda’s people." However, President Obama made no mention about Rwandan President Paul Kagame's role in the four-year Rwandan civil war leading up to the civil war and the twenty years after, which include 5 million or more deaths in the Congo and in Rwanda. 


In 2004, my wife and I visited Rwanda, primarily to visit the mountain gorillas in Volcanoe National Park. We did see two gorilla families, each of which had a newborn. Fantastic experience.  

Our Rwandan guide recommended a visit to the Kigali Memorial Centre (the Genocide Museum), a sobering experience. The Museum is set up much like the Holocaust Museum in Jerusalem. A series of panels set forth the events leading up to the Genocide, the Genocide, and its aftermath. There is video footage of Rwandans being murdered, oral testimony of witnesses, and piles of victims' skulls and bones. Outside the museum, a number of concrete vaults hold the bodies of the genocide victims. As bodies are recovered, they are placed in caskets. When a vault is full of caskets, a concrete cover is lowered over the vault and sealed. It is estimated that more than 800,000 Rwandans were murdered over a 100-day period in 1994. The banner over the entrance to the Museum states, "Never Again." It probably should say "Almost Never Again.” 

The 1994 mass killings were horrible, but it was just one episode in a long history of violence in that part of the world. I use the term "mass killings" instead of "genocide" because genocide is the systematic destruction of all or a significant part of a racial, ethnic, religious or national group. In Rwanda, the Kagame/Rwanda official view is that the Hutu ethnic group systematically massacred the Tutsi ethnic group. In truth, just as many or even more Hutsis than Tutsis died. 

The U.S. and Kagame keep focusing on the 1994 mass killings, but neglect to put it in context. If they did, their complicity in the mass killings would be revealed. For a version of the 1994 Rwanda Genocide closer to the truth, I recommend the BBC documentary “Rwanda: The Untold Story" and “Rwanda Genocide: Honoring the Dead Without Honoring the Lies" by Ann Garrison (

The Hutu-Tutsi rivalry was used deliberately in the pursuit of U.S. strategic and geopolitical objectives by establishing a U.S. sphere of influence in Central Africa, a region historically dominated by France and Belgium. What was at stake? The region's vast geostrategic mineral wealth, i.e., cobalt, oil, natural gas, copper, uranium, tin, coltan, cassiterite, gold, and diamonds. 

Kagame's government has maintained political power and manipulated public sympathy by promoting a highly politicized ideology of the 1994 mass killings. Anyone who challenges the official story is branded a "genocide negationist," a "genocide revisionist," or "killers of remembrance" by the Kagame regime. Even the Genocide Memorial Centre promotes his version of the genocide. 

Kagame is one of the most violent and repressive dictators in the world, but nevertheless has become a U.S. friend and ally. Why? Because ”Rwanda is a strong U.S. partner for peacekeeping operations, and one of the largest and most effective contributors of troops and police to United Nations and African Union peacekeeping missions," according to a State Department official. "We believe it is in the interest of U.S. national security to continue to support Rwanda’s role in peacekeeping.” This is an excellent example of U.S. realpolitik at work. 

Will the U.S.'s friendly dictator ever be prosecuted? Vey unlikely; we love our African dictators and human rights violators.