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If genocide didn't exist, empire would have to invent it

By Michael J. Smith on Wednesday July 4, 2007 11:46 AM

My favorite LBO-talk contributor, Yoshie Furuhashi -- who wastes altogether too much of her fragrance on that desert air, I fear -- has once more hit the nail on the head in connection with the recent revelations (in Le Monde here, and Anglo-masticated by The Independent here) of great-power involvement in the Rwanda massacres. (As far as I can tell the US media have maintained perfect radio silence on this story.) Here's Yoshie:



According to the dominant ideology, Rwanda was about nothing but an ethnic genocide, Yugoslavia was about nothing but an ethnic genocide, Darfur in Sudan is about nothing but an ethnic genocide, etc. Imperialism first helps ethnicize politics in reality halfway (by simplifying and hardening formerly fluid tribal formations into often racialized ethnic groups and using one to govern the rest) and then ethnicizes people's understanding of it totally in ideology. If what's happening is an ethnic genocide, there are "good victims" -- the ethnic group subjected to genocide -- and "bad guys" -- the government in the Third World committing genocide. You go in by declaring that what you are doing is to save "good victims" from "bad guys" and end by deposing the government and setting up the "good guys" who say they represent "good victims" in power. The "good guys" then run the country for you. In the process you help sentimentalize and dumb down politics in your own country: realpolitik, the ruling class think, should be reserved for closed meetings of the power elite, for masses don't and shouldn't understand it.

Realpolitik [is what] the French socialist power elite around Mitterand discussed in closed meetings, a glimpse of which is available in the newly declassified documents.... [T]he way they saw it, Rwanda was about a proxy war between the French-backed Mouvement républicain national pour la démocratie et le développement (MRND) government, its Forces armées rwandaises (FAR), and peasant militias loyal to the MRND on one hand and the Front patriotique rwandais (FPR) of Paul Kagame, which was backed by Uganda and the USA, on the other hand. The French understanding of realpolitik is closer to reality than the sentimental ideology of an ethnic genocide, but the French socialist imperialists lost, so they lost the ability to control the narrative, too, which they had already all but lost to the American and Americanized media favoring US imperialists even before their actual defeat.

The Le Monde article that the Independent cites not only claims that what was happening in Rwanda was nothing but an ethnic genocide and but also that the French socialist imperialists should have gotten hints by late 1990 that a genocide was being prepared and should have certainly recognized that a specific plan for it was hatched _between_ the Arusha accords and the assassination of the then Rwandan President Juvénal Habyarimana.*

Notice, however, that the only source of the plan was an anonymous informant, uncorroborated by others. The media, generally devotees of humanitarian imperialism, find it useful, though, because the Arusha accords and the Habyarimana assassination might disrupt their narrative without it for they both might remind some of the reality of the civil war that was an inter-imperialist proxy war.

That said, the Le Monde article has bits that felicitously reveal the line of thinking common to all imperialists when they confront a looming defeat. Here's one from February 1993.

The next day, general Christian Quesnot, Mitterand's own chief of staff, and the number 2 of the Africa group in the [President's office], Dominique Pin, presented different options to [Mitterrand].

The first was to evacuate the French and pull back the Noroit mission. The authors rejected this option out of hand: "It would be checkmate for our presence and policy in Rwanda. Our credibility on the continent would be impaired."

That's how they think -- French imperialists regarding Rwanda and US imperialists regarding Iraq and Iran. So they soldier on . . . till the bitter end that is, alas, bitterer to natives than colonizers.

Comments (1)


its older then
the iroquois huron wars of the 17th century
of course

mexico was "conquered " by spain's few
using such leveraging tactics

aggravated native splits

of course
the I v H war was a direct analogue
with two colliding empires
behind this vicous genocidal
proxy scrap

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