The Blanket

Snap Shot

Sherry Maguire

I read Anthony McIntyre's article about Rwanda. Why stop at Rwanda? Snap shot: To totally secure Afghanistan alone would effectively require 450,000 ground troops. This would require virtually every deployable Army and Marine Corp member of the US military to go there. We still have over 650,000 troops babysitting places from post WW2 and if we removed troops from these and other hot spots, major wars would flare back up there (particularly in the South China Sea). So, where would these troops come from? NATO? Hell, NATO (absent the US) can barely manage its own back yard (Bosnia and Serbia), which by every measure is far more civilized than Africa. Would we use Middle Eastern, African, Gulf State, Chinese and Latin American troops to acquire the 450,000 needed? Have you checked out the human rights records of these countries (and their militaries - they are nearly as bad as the Afghans in many cases)?

The same guys who call for peace keepers everywhere are the same ones who block the US from doing the tough things needed to complete outstanding missions. Irish republicans would be content to allow the US and Britain to continue babysitting Saddam until he croaks in 30 years. Except that won't be the case. He must go or the Israeli - Palestinian situation will never be resolved.

But why talk just of Rwanda and what Hutus did to the Tutsis? Why not Burundi, where 14% are Tutsis yet they have ruled and oppressed the 85% who are Hutus for years. Since the 70s, the back and forth fighting has killed hundreds of thousands (Hutus and Tutsis) there. The Tutsis invaded Burundi in the 16th century and they have controlled the economic and political system ever since then even though they were a mere 14 percent of Burundi's population. They set up a black-on-black system of apartheid which made South Africa look saintly in comparison. Likewise, the Tutsis also invaded Rwanda in the 15th century and have brutalized the majority who are Hutis ever since then and the Hutus have responded in kind every few decades.

Between 1910 and 1980 a total of 8,000 blacks were killed struggling against the South African government. This is a number surpassed in every other African civil war in a matter of months. Between 1990 and 1993, 53,000 black South Africans died primarily at the hands of other blacks. Where are the "Anti-Apartheid" protesters in any of this black-on-black violence that constitute some of the most brutal and massive human rights violations in history? Why not talk about America, where the number one cause of death for black men between the ages of 15 and 34 is murder, by another black man in 94% of the cases? Where are the civil rights and anti-apartheid crowd while any of this is occurring? They are out looking for the few cases they can find where whites abuse blacks because that is what sells politically. That's where they are.

Gang rapes, stealing 10 year olds for combat, forcing kids to kill family members, slaughtering school children, slicing throats, decapitation, and ripping intestines out of living people etc. are all standard norms of every day warfare in Africa (and Asia) and always have been. Peace keepers are eventually ALWAYS viewed as the enemy and targetted for the same treatment. Moreover, the wars tend to resume as soon as the police (regardless of form) are removed even if decades have gone by. Bosnia was a prime example. The USSR acted as a ruthless cop on the block. When it broke up, pre-WW1 ethnic wars restarted.

What about Uganda? Idi Amin (whom the US initially supported before knowing how insane he was) killed nearly 1 million. When challenged on this, the Organization for African Unity elected Amin as their president!! How about Liberia which even practiced cannibalism in its most recent war. What about Nigeria or Angola? They've both killed hundreds of thousands. Forget choosing sides, as each is generally as bad as the other, as is the case with Tutsis and Hutus - just depends on which country you tune in to watch them in and at what time. Beware of the 30 day snap shot of a long running 400 plus year feud; it will mislead you every time. Don't worry, each side will convince you they are the persecuted in an attempt to get you to fight their enemy. You will be suckered each time. Civil wars are nasty and there is seldom a singular victim. The Hutus fled persecution in Burundi to Rwanda and v/s. What about the civil wars in the Sudan, Uganda, Ethiopia, Chad, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Namibia, Tanzania, Zimbabwe or Somalia, Sierra Leone, Liberia? How about the wide spread slavery still practiced in the Sudan, Mauritania, Senegal, Ivory Coast, Ghana, and Niger?

Fact is, Rwanda reflects most of Africa for most of its history. In fact, the truth is South Africa "under apartheid" (bad as that was) was one of the most successful, peaceful eras in Africa's history (when compared to other countries there and the rest of its history).

Do you have a few million men you could send to police Africa? I'm sure you would not mind it that soon after your idealistic arrival, you would be viewed as the enemy. Your mates would be taken hostage, drugged to their deaths, chopped into pieces and thrown back at you while you were attempting to feed them in a soup line (as occurred to Americans in Somalia). You could then enjoy being spat upon by those you try to feed whom refuse to eat your food from any place but the trash cans (after hours). Your crime would have been attempting to take away their arms which they had been using to deny their fellow countrymen access to food. Of course their fellow country men would hate you as well for feeding their enemy. In fact hatred of you might be the only thing which unites them.

Till then, they can always feed outlandish lies about you to the press in attempt to run you off and your so called friends can always be depended upon to circulate them as truths regardless of how outlandish or unsubstantiated they are.

While not as bad, you might spare a 100,000 troops to police Latin America as well. What do you mean Ireland can't supply a few hundred thousand troops who are willing to be treated like dirt and killed to stop people they've never met from killing each other! So, you might try and find a half way decent group of combatants to support and train to fight their own wars so the war could be ended. But in that case beware, because your so-called friends in Europe will then claim you "started the war" and write all sorts of cute bedtime stories about how once upon a time there was this magical kingdom until Ireland sponsored a war there. Moreover, beware of "half way decent combatants" in foreign countries because they can turn out to be some truly rabid dogs.

Now, if you decide to skip the military aid and just provide humanitarian assistance, beware, in virtually every case crooks will distribute it there ... 2 for them ... one for their country .... then you will be accused of supporting a dictator there by friends who know little about it but should know you better than to spread the sort of crap Europeans (and Ireland) spread in their press about the US.

You might want to send millions of dollars to Ethiopia as the US did in the 1980s during their war induced famine. Then be criticized for not sending more by their president (Mengistu), who expects you to pay the 100 million dollar tab for his 10th anniversary celebration of their socialist revolution. What about Nigeria, which is the world's seventh largest oil producer yet due to massive corruption they are one of the world's poorest nations? Their government even stole money given to them to repair their four major oil refineries. The refineries remained down for months and Nigeria was unable to even supply its own countries oil needs. This describes pretty much every country in Africa. They are run by military dictatorships and self appointed presidents for life. In spite of being blessed with natural resources the GDP of the entire continent of Africa is less than Germany's.

Of course, Europe tends to respond to things like Rwanda, Sierra Leone, and the Sudan, by supporting their appointments to sit on the UN Human Rights Commission and International Courts so they can pass their values on and sit in judgement of countries which actually have fairly good human rights records! European sophisticates will tell you they believe treating these leaders as if they are normal will induce them to conduct themselves normally. Well, there is a 60 plus year record of trying that method through out the cold war. Africa, Asia, and Latin America still have the human rights records from hell and totally flunking economies. At what point do you reconsider a failed policy?

Finally, you might get smart and when there is not a real combination of national interests involved keep out of the fray by developing the "wild cat" syndrome. I rescue wild cats, tame them, nurse them to health and find them homes. However, in a few cases the cat claws the shit out of me one time too many (out of fear), and I just have to declare that one "coyote bait" (coyotes come into the town in the fall and eat any cats they find).

If I ever support the deployment of any American peace keepers to Africa again, the rules of the game will have to be rewritten to show the international community takes the human rights of non-whites seriously beyond scoring a few political points here and there and occasionally requesting a fireman to put out fires. They could start by demanding democracy and a restructure of their governments rather than celebrating cultural differences as a thin cover for the support of dictators. They could hold their leadership just as accountable for their actions as white leaders are held for theirs. Human Rights organizations could at
least make half the effort to condemn the Rwandans as they do a few beards being shaved at Guantanamo. To date that has not occurred.




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We can chart our future clearly and wisely only when we know the path which has led to the present.
- Adlai Stevenson

Index: Current Articles

28 July 2002


Other Articles From This Issue:


Strategy of Threat

Anthony McIntyre


E.U. Surveillance of Telecommunications

Aine Fox


Can't Teach An Old Dog New Tricks

Davy Carlin


Snap Shot
Sherry Maguire


25 July 2002


How the Peace Process Divided Ireland

Brendan O'Neill



Anthony McIntyre


Death Walks Our Streets Again

Davy Carlin


Uninvited Guests Become Neighbours
Sam Bahour


Two Notices from Anti-Fascist Action, Ireland


Moving Along
Brian Mór


The Belleek Solution
Brian Mór


Moving Statue

Brian Mór




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