Thursday, April 21, 2005

Roméo Dallaire

General Roméo Dallaire appeared on The Charlie Rose Show Wednesday evening. (Also appearing was Nancy Soderberg, who shared some of her own keen observerations on international relations). General Dallaire was the leader of the United Nations Assistance Mission to Rwanda, 1993-94, which really didn't do a whole lot to assist the victims of Rwanda's genocide, as recounted in Dallaire's memoire Shake Hands with the Devil: The Failure of Humanity in Rwanda. The failure did not occur at one point, but was distributed throughout the framework of international relations, from the leaders of the world's military powers, through industrialized world leaders that Dallaire calls the middle powers (Germany, Japan...), through the United Nations under Secretary Boutros Boutros-Ghali, through the Security Council, through the Department of Peacekeeping Operations headed by Kofi Annan, down to Dalliare himself and others. Auxillary institutions such as humanitarian agencies, churches and news media also failed.

Naturally, as Hannah Arendt had occasion to note (in "Personal Responsibility Under Dictatorship," which will be the subject of a blog posting here before long), if everybody's responsible, nobody can be held responsible. Dallaire's argument hardly makes such an error, for in his analysis there are definite levels of repsonsibility, and particular decisions that can be pointed to as leading to a failure of humanity in Rwanda. And we can see these points of failure also in similar cases of egregious crimes against humanity such as are presently being committed in the Darfur region of Sudan. As much as these failings would appear to be endemic to the international body politic, Dallaire remains optimistic--his choice of words-- that over the next hundred years or two we can collectivity place a concern for humanity at the center of international relations.

I'm not sure about whether or how the Charlie Rose Show makes its transcripts or recordings freely available--they seem to have changed policies in recent months. If you can catch the show, do. In any case Dallaire has given many interviews which are widely available online. I've made a list of some with brief excerpts that highlight Dallaire's perspective on conflict resolution in the present era, exploring the moral imperatives and dilemmas of preventing crimes against humanity, and offering practical guidance for future missions.

In no particular order:

posted by Fido the Yak at 10:34 AM.


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