Joel Mowbray, writing a column using information culled from former Israeli Amb. Dore Gold’s new book, Tower of Babble (I link to a review here), focuses on Kofi Annan’s unconscionable passivity in the face of word that the Hutus were planning on slaughtering the Tutsis.
Mowbray, almost kindly, seems to let Annan off the hook as just another passive UN operative. My feeling, after reading the following, is that Annan was so passive as to be complicit — and one has to wonder what his motive was in essentially authorizing (by inactivity) one of the worst mass slaughters in the 2nd half of the bloody 20th Century:
Gold’s heavily researched and copiously footnoted book is solid throughout, but by far the best chapter is “Impartial to Genocide,” which serves as a damning indictment of Kofi Annan.
The most startling revelation: Despite having credible advance warning that a genocide was imminent, Kofi was the man who spearheaded the UN’s unconscionable position of “neutrality” as Hutu militias murdered thousands of Tutsis per day.
On January 11, 1994—three months before the genocide began—Major General Romeo Dallaire, head of the original UN peacekeeping unit in Rwanda, sent a secret cable to UN officials in New York warning that a “very, very important government politician” had put him in touch with a Hutu informant who warned that Hutu malitias were planning the “extermination” of minority Tutsis.
No alarm bells went off at the UN, even though, as Gold writes, “Warning signs of an impending massacre were everywhere.” The man running the relevant division at the time, the Department of Peacekeeping Missions, was Kofi Annan. Actually, alarm bells didn’t necessarily have to go off, as Gen. Dallaire offered a silver lining: He knew the location of the Hutus’ weapons cache, and he was planning to seize it and stop the slaughter before it started.
But his plan to save hundreds of thousands of lives was short-circuited by Kofi Annan, who didn’t want to upset the sitting Hutu government or in any way appear to be taking sides. Not only did Kofi not do anything to prevent genocide, but his actions almost assured that the Security Council wouldn’t either.
According to various accounts cited by Gold, including the UN’s own post-debacle report, Security Council members complained that Kofi’s department kept them in the dark, not revealing the true nature and full extent of the genocide. Kofi’s caution could not be chalked up to doubts about the accuracy of the warning.
The UN secretary general’s personal representative investigated the matter. Despite his well-documented pro-Hutu leanings, he wrote back to the UN that he had “total, repeat total confidence in the veracity and true ambitions of the informant.” In other words, not only did Kofi and the UN have a Hutu informant who gave them advance notice of the genocide, but they were able to verify the veracity of that informant.
Still Kofi insisted on doing nothing. Once the slaughter started and tens of thousands had been murdered, Kofi acted—just not the right way. To make sure that Gen. Dallaire’s men were not trying to stop the genocide, he instructed the commander in Rwanda to “make every effort not to compromise your impartiality or to act beyond your mandate.”
Kofi’s advocacy for “impartiality” no doubt helped lead the Security Council to slash the already small peacekeeping contingent almost 90%.
Posted by Tom Ndahiro from here