Quick Hits

Since I haven’t been blogging, I thought these links might be useful to people. They are not related in anyway, but they are links I’ve come across, or have been sent, and thought they were interesting and worth sharing. I can’t speak on the content of all of them (meaning I’m not really promoting them), and if you have any feedback on any of them, it’s most definitely welcome.

The Real McCain:

There’s no question John McCain is getting a free ride from the mainstream press. But with the power of YouTube and the blogosphere, we can provide an accurate portrayal of the so-called Maverick. We can put the brakes on his free ride!

Since we first released The Real McCain a year ago, our REAL McCain series has garnered close to 2 million views, with over 13,000 comments and tens of thousands more in petition signatures! Clearly, John McCain’s record is something the public wants to discuss, and yet the corporate media is doing NOTHING to present the truth. We feel obliged to continue countering the mainstream media’s love of McCain. And so we thought it was high time for a sequel: The Real McCain 2.

Rwandan Documents Project:

The Rwanda Documents Project was started by Professor Peter Erlinder of William Mitchell College of Law in St. Paul, Minnesota as a result of his work as a defense attorney at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda. The goal of the Project is to collect and make available primary source materials from international and national agencies, governments, and courts that relate to the political and social history of Rwanda from 1990 to the present.

Explaining the Ultimate Escalation in Rwanda: How and Why Tutsi Rebels Provoked a Retaliatory Genocide:

The field of genocide studies has tended to focus on explaining the actions of the perpetrators and to ignore the role of victim groups and third parties. This paper, prepared for a meeting of the American Political Science Association, attempts to rectify the current bias by re-examining the roots of the 1994 genocide in Rwanda. It highlights the strategic interaction of ethnic groups and the international community.

The stated intention is not to excuse or justify the Rwandan genocide, but to better understand its causes. A series of interviews with former Tutsi rebels backs up the claim that the Tutsi-led Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) threatened Rwanda’s Hutu regime to such an extent that it retaliated with genocide. The RPF’s actions were supported by the international community. Although the rebels received growing indications that Tutsi civilians would be targeted in mass killings, they continued with their military offensive. Moreover, they refused to make compromises in peace talks that could have avoided the killings. The evidence suggests that they expected their challenge to provoke genocidal retaliation, but viewed it as an acceptable cost of attaining power.

The paper traces the developments leading to the birth of the Ugandan-based RPF in 1987 and the unfolding of its military offensive in the early 1990s. The main evidence cited to support the premise that the RPF was aware of the possibility of genocide and did not try to avert it is that:

* Former senior rebels conceded that, even before the 1990 RPF invasion, they expected the Hutu government to respond with reprisals against Tutsi civilians.
* Prior to the offensive, there was no real threat to the Tutsi population of Rwanda or neighbouring countries. Thus it cannot be argued that the rebels expected Tutsi to suffer irrespective of military action.
* Earlier in the conflict, the rebels avoided massacres by scaling back their advance and demands for political power. But during and after peace talks, they did not make sufficient compromises to prevent genocide.
* The RPF pursued a strategy designed to produce the best military outcome, not to save lives. They also refused to accept cease-fire offers in the first two-and-a-half weeks after the killing started.
* The prolonged refugee experience of many in the RPF weakened their kinship with Rwandan Tutsi and created distrust. This could help explain why the rebels tolerated the killing.

The genocide was foreseeable and might have been avoided if the RPF had been put under greater pressure to compromise. Key policy lessons for the international community are that:

* It pressured the Hutu government to share power by threatening sanctions, and in doing so tacitly supported the rebels’ intransigence.
* The Arusha peace accords amounted to a transfer of political and military power to the rebels and their Rwandan political allies – unacceptable to Hutu government extremists.
* Replacing French military intervention by a United Nations presence in late 1993 may have left Hutu extremists feeling abandoned, and encouraged them to prepare for genocide.
* International actors miscalculated the danger and, through their actions, helped trigger the genocidal backlash. Once it started, they were powerless to stop it.
* To prevent reoccurrences, scholars and policymakers must appreciate the complex interplay of factors that can fuel genocide, and learn from the mistakes that were made in Rwanda.

What Kind of Card is Race by Tim Wise, below is an excerpt:

Occasionally, white denial gets creative, and this it does by pretending to come wrapped in sympathy for those who allege racism in the modern era. In other words, while steadfastly rejecting what people of color say they experience–in effect suggesting that they lack the intelligence and/or sanity to accurately interpret their own lives–such commentators seek to assure others that whites really do care about racism, but simply refuse to pin the label on incidents where it doesn’t apply. In fact, they’ll argue, one of the reasons that whites have developed compassion fatigue on this issue is precisely because of the overuse of the concept, combined with what we view as unfair reactions to racism (such as affirmative action efforts which have, ostensibly, turned us into the victims of racial bias). If blacks would just stop playing the card where it doesn’t belong, and stop pushing for so-called preferential treatment, whites would revert back to our prior commitment to equal opportunity, and our heartfelt concern about the issue of racism.

Enjoy reading!!!

7 Responses

  1. no one’s familiar with any of it and can share some insight and analysis?

  2. I can discuss the Rwandan Documents Project if you would like.

  3. please do! you don’t even have to ask. 🙂

  4. Without knowing what you wish to discuss specifically, I can only further describe what the Project is. Mr. Peter Erlinder has put roughly 3,000 UN documents online for viewing, most of them from 1994-1995. Most of the documents are cables sent between UNAMIR and UN headquarters in NY. The more familiar one is with the events from that time, the more useful the project is because it is much easier to know what to look for.

  5. Can you describe the trends found in those documents during that time? What have you observed and what’s the significance of it?

  6. The value of Mr. Erlinder posting these documents publicly is they provide physical evidence one can compare to the “official” story to look for consistency/contrast depending on your approach. Personally, I thought the cables relating to the infamous Gersony Report were quite interesting. It is also clear the international human rights groups were well aware of RPA massacres quite early (June 94) on and did not let on publicly, but in private, sent a letter to General Kagame about it. Some of the important individual arguements that are claimed in the “official” story are refuted, which are very important finds, but as a whole the documents also raise more questions as well. Keep in mind these are only the official UN cables and documents, not the transmissions from the individual embassies or private cables. In terms of importance, that depends on the individual facts themselves. Some are extremely important, others less so. Often, it is only a very small detail in a document that makes all the difference. That is why I said earlier that the more someone is familiar with the case, the more they will get out of the documents. It is quite easy to miss important details if there is no context to recognize them. However, It should be noted that I have not even come close to looking over every single document, as there is an awful lot to go through.

  7. I’ll be back with more questions. I’m just busyish. But can you give specific examples of claims that are refuted, and if you can, what dates and documents should people be looking at specifically?

    Questions that arise are such as?


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