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Dealing with the Aftermath of Genocide – “Dancing in the Glory of Monsters”, Jason Stearns

August 19th, 2011 · No Comments · Africa, Congo, Genocide, History, Hypocrisy, Means and Ends, Rwanda, War

Sixteen years after the Rwandan genocide, it remains difficult to write about Rwandan history. For many, the moral shock of the Rwandan genocide was so overpowering that it eclipsed all subsequent events in the region. Massacres that came after were always measured up against the immensity of the genocide: If 80,000 refugees died in the Congo, that may be terrible but nonetheless minor compared with the 800,000 in Rwanda. The Rwandan government may have overstepped, but isn’t that understandable given the tragedy the people suffered? In addition, many argued that accountability would destabilize Rwanda’s fledgling RPF government, so it was better to sweep a few uncomfortable truths under the carpet than undermine its fragile authority. This kind of logic would crop up again and again throughout the Congo war: War is ugly, and you can’t build a state on diplomacy alone. If we push too hard for justice, we will only undermine the peace process. An American diplomat asked me, “Did we have prosecutions after the American Civil War? No. Did the South Africans ever try the apartheid regime? Not really. Why should we ask them to do it here?

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