Steve Wehling's Reviews > Shake Hands with the Devil: The Failure of Humanity in Rwanda

Shake Hands with the Devil by Roméo Dallaire
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Feb 15, 08

bookshelves: misc-non-fiction

An excellent chronological view of the Rwanda genocide as seen by the Canadian general in charge of UN security in the country. Ostensibly this assignment was for him to take a skeletal force of UN troops from a few nations and provide security for the implementation of a peace agreement and the installation of a transitional government. A great keyhole view into the problems of UN peacekeeping. I admire his tenacious adherence to his duty in light of absolute chaos and terror going on around him, and the courage of his troops that were ridiculously outnumbered and under-equipped. The book makes a strong case that France, Belgium, the UN and the US could have easily taken actions that might have prevented the genocide (if the UN mission had been properly organized and equipped with the soldiers, supplies, vehicles, and perhaps most importantly, the correct mission parameters), or squelched it soon after it began instead of letting it run its bloody course. It also outlines several twists of fate that contributed to the circumstances of the genocide, such as the US involvement in Somalia which curbed US interest in getting involved in central African conflicts, or the rotation of the Rwandan ambassador to the UN onto the Security Council just at the moment when the Security Council needed to have an independent, objective, viewpoint of Rwandas situation. Rwanda signaled that world powers will not intervene (at least not quickly) into these conflicts. A lesson not lost in Sudan or the DRC today.
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