Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Why did the American people not demand intervention in Rwanda? 
Cori Dauber poses that very question on Rantingprofs.com (sorry, Cori, I can't link to you from this machine). A commenter argues that the U.S. simply didn't have any vital interests in the region.

The lack of vital interests is just one part of the equation, but that doesn't explain the complacency on the part of the American electorate. The U.S. had no vital interests in Kosovo, either, but we intervened there.

There's an old adage among salesmen: "There's nothing so good it doesn't have to be sold." And Bill Clinton did not try to sell an intervention. The American people may have supported it if he did, but absent that political leadership, it just wasn't going to happen. Remember, the U.S. was still smarting from Mogadishu, and there was a sizeable element of "to hell with ALL the Africans" in the zeitgeist of the day.

Logistically, a sizeable intervention would have been difficult logistically to carry out. It's a landlocked country, so no carrier helicopter support, and modern airfields capable of supporting military strategic airlift were rare. I don't know if they have anything approaching Kabul airport, which is still a vital logistical hub in military operations there. And any intervention would have had to carry weight in the countryside. Which meant that US power would have to be projected a long way from the base.

We did that in Afghanistan, of neccessity. But the risk-averse Clinton Administration did not have the military imagination to conceive of the Afghanistan model. And maybe the W. Bush Administration would not have had the imagination to do so, either, but for the intervening neccessity of 9/11, and the fact that NOT attacking was almost inconceivable, except for a very few on the cowardly Left, which forced the Pentagon to figure out a plan, and quickly, and they rose to the occasion.

Another more cynical observation is that it was black people getting raped and murdered in Africa and it was white people getting raped and murdered in Bosnia and Kosovo. I don't know if I'd characterize it as callousness or use as virulent a term as "bigotry," but at the very least, people find it easier to empathize with people who look like them.

The end result, however, is the same for this purpose: Apathy. It was enough for the Rwandan thugs to ply their butchery and get away with it, and it's enough for the Sudanese.

Splash, out


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Semper Fi!

Bill Adams
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