America’s Secret Role in the Rwandan Genocide- Helen C. Epstein

America’s Secret Role in the Rwandan Genocide- Helen C. Epstein

When I read this the first time I just underlined and defined the words I didn’t know, and man, I wish I had read the content the first time around because I’m tired now, drinking my 9th shot of espresso this morning (it’s only 9:38 am) and I’m physically incapable of any kind of mental processing. This is going to be rough, y’all.

I think I’m just going to go back through, highlight some stuff, and then transcribe the stuff I thought was important because that’s how to write a good blog post #protip (see featured image)

Page 1

Most of the victims were of minority Tutsi ethnicity; most of the killers belonged to the majority Hutus.
The violence was not spontaneous. It emerged from injustice and brutality on both sides.

Page 2

Hutu anger before independence in 1962 exploded in brutal pogroms against the Tutsi who fled to neighboring countries
Milton Obote ruled Uganda in the 1960s and again in the early 1980s
After Idi Amin overthrew Obote in 1971 Rwandan Tutsis moved out of the border refugee camps
Obote returned to power in the 1980s and stripped the Rwandan Tutsis of their civil rights and ordered them into the refugee camps or back over the border in Rwanda (yikes!)
In response to Obote’s abuses, more and more Rwandan refugees joined the National Resistance Army, an anti-Obote rebel group founded by Museveni in 1981, Museveni’s rebels took power in 1986
Terror within Rwanda because majority Hutus had long feared an onslaught from Tutsi refugees
By the late 1980’s a new generation of refugees represented a potentially far greater threat

Page 3

The RPF’s (Rwandan Patriotic Front) professed aim was refugee rights, but its true aim was an open secret: to overthrow Habyarimana’s (now referred to as H because who has time to spell out his whole name) government and take over Rwanda by force
The Rwandans had come to express their support for a new open borders program s that Rwandans living in Uganda would be allowed to cross over and visit their relatives without a visa
Kiwanuka Lawrence Nsereko (Lawrence bc again ain’t nobody got time for that amirite kids) suspected the Rwandans would use the open borders to conduct surveillance or carry out attacks inside Rwanda
Many Ugandans were eager to see Museveni’s Rwandan officers depart
Paul Kagame has ruled Rwanda since the genocide and was acting chief of military intelligence at the time

Page 4

H was all “Museveni is my friend and would never allow the RPF to invade” but he was bluffing because the open border program was actually part of his own ruthless counter-strategy
The Tutsis inside Rwanda thus became pawns in a power struggle between the RPF exiles and H’s government
Herman Cohen (State Department’s Africa Chief) writes that he now believes that Museveni must have been feigning shock when he knew what was going on all along (oh dear!)

Page 5

When Museveni returned to Uganda he was advised by Americans to stop the invasion at once and ensure that no support flowed to the RPF from Uganda
Museveni had already issued a statement promising to seal all Uganda- Rwanda border crossings, provide no assistance to the RPF and arrest any rebels who tried to return to Uganda. But he proceeded to do none of those things and the Americans appear to have made no objection (THE FUCK AHH)

Page 6

The 1990 Rwanda invasion and the US’s tacit support for it is all the more disturbing because in the months before it occurred, H had acceded to many of the international community’s demands, including for the return of refugees and a multiparty democratic system. So it wasn’t clear what the RPF was fighting for.
Robert Flaten (US ambassador to Rwanda) saw that the RPF invasion had caused terror in Rwanda
Flaten urged George HW Bush’s administration to impose sanctions on Uganda
Sanctioning Museveni might have harmed US interests in Uganda
Far from seeking stability, the US, by allowing Uganda to arm the RPF, was setting the stage for what would turn out to be the worst outbreak of violence ever recorded on the African continent

Page 7

H could distract the disaffected Hutu masses by making them fear the “demon Tutsis who would soon become convenient scapegoats to divert attention from profound socioeconomic injustices
In January 1994, four months before the genocide, the CIA predicted that if tensions were not somehow defused, hundreds of thousands of people would die in ethnic violence (I think it’s important to note here that after this little prediction there’s nothing in this article about the CIA or the US at all doing anything to diffuse the tensions, but, whatever)

Page 8

H’s place was shot down at 8 pm April 6, 1994
Mostly we think that RPF was responsible for the downing of H’s plane
Five studies were conducted about who was responsible; three said RPF and two said Hutu elites and members of H’s own army were responsible
Soon after the plane crash, the genocidaires began their attack against the Tutsis, and the RPF began advancing

Page 9

In the years that followed, Bill Clinton apologized numerous times for the US’s inaction during the genocide. “If we’d gone in sooner, I believe we could have saved at least a third of the lives that were lost.” (Honestly, I feel like saying ‘we could have prevented this huge mass murder thing if we hadn’t been fuckin pussies’ is not the best move but that’s just my HO)
Kagame would have rejected Clinton’s help in any case
As the RPF advanced, Hutu refugees fled into neighboring countries
The UN estimated later that the RPF killed some 10,000 civilians eaCH MONth (jc) during the genocide
The continent’s ignorant peasants belonged under the control of autocrats like himself (roAST HIM EPSTein!)

So I’m almost positive that this doesn’t really count because there’s, like, no analysis and I literally just quoted parts of the reading for this whole post but honestly no one is going to read it so it matters 0%