Saturday, July 02, 2005

Don't Be Like Kofi!

In a documentary made by the BBC Kofi Annan expresses disappointment that the world has barely reacted to the genocide in Darfur. If he was the sort of person in a position to get the world to pay attention, I'm sure he would talk about it every day to whomever would listen and shame the world into do something. As it is, he's just the Secretary-General of the United Nations.

He also points out that the world's response to this genocide proves that we learned nothing from Rwanda. I won't disagree with him on that point. But what I find most interesting about his statement is not that we haven't learned anything from Rwanda, but that most of the world hasn't learned anything about Rwanda. Or at least the genocide that occurred there. Because anyone who knows anything about Rwanda in 1994 knows that while Romeo Dallaire was begging the UN for the power to do something to prevent the slaughter of hundreds of thousands of people, Kofi was urging caution.

In the same documentary, the American Ambassador to the U.N., John Danforth provides excuses as to why the U.S. could not consider military intervention. If Kofi really wanted to see action he would be saying to people like John Danforth every day "11 years ago I was like you, I didn't see the urgency, I watched people die and came up with excuses to not do anything when people were demanding that we stop murder and I have to live with that every day. Don't be like me." But the thing is, despite the fact that he should feel tremendous guilt, I don't get the sense that Rwanda profoundly affected him. If it had, he wouldn't just offer pat phrases like "we learned nothing from Rwanda".

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