Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Shake Hands with the Devil

I'm currently reading this book, and it's just so powerful that it deserved its own post instead of being lumped in with my trivia about my family.

For anyone who's not familiar with it, it's the story of the genocide in Rwanda in 1994, written by the Canadian Lt-general who was commander of the UN peacekeeping mission in Rwanda. Obviously you're not going to have actual pictures in a book of this type, but believe me, Romeo Dallaire creates incredibly vivid images with just words. There was one line I read today in a description of the aftermath of an attack that just disturbed me to no end, to the point where I was scooping up my little baby and kissing her and telling her how much I love her. I won't even repeat the line here, because I think it might be that upsetting to some people (but if you have a strong constitution and you're curious, ask me about it in the comments or in an email)

Reading today about how Dallaire desperately needed troops and supplies and got neither because no one was interested in Rwanda made me stop and think. However unpopular the decision to send Canadian troop to Afghanistan (or anywhere else) may be, once that decision has been made and Canadians have been deployed, we have a responsibility to them. It just boggles my mind that the UN decided it was worth sending peacekeepers to Rwanda but then was unwilling to provide them with the support to carry out their mission. That member countries refused to send troops when the genocide started and the Belgian troops were ordered to withdraw. It's a little late now to get upset and say that governments and organizations could/should have done more, but maybe there's a lesson that can be learned from that terrible, terrible situation.

I'm also left wondering why I didn't know more about this when it happened. I know I was in first year university, and was quite submerged in my own little world, but is that the only reason? Or were we just not being given the whole story?

My thoughts on this book and this story are a little incoherent. Maybe I'll post again when they're a little clearer.

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