Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Nation Building / Peace Keeping

Paul Rusesabagina spoke at UVSC on Friday afternoon, my friend Krista and I went to hear him speak. It was amazing. Rusesabagina is the manager depticted in "Hotel Rwanda." I love hearing foreign speakers when they put on forumns because I love the "un-American" perspectives they have on things. One of the things that struck me the most, was his perspective on the United Nations pulling out of Rwanda in 1994 (?) Rwanda felt abandoned and ignored by the international community. We left them to be slaughtered by their own people. I know we discuss the ethics of being in Iraq and "X" number of other countries, doing nation building, and peace keeping, but when you hear a person say, Why are you leaving? why did you leave us? Why are you ignoring us? You are abandoning us to genocide, it really makes you think differently. Granted as SJ pointed out to me, we didn't have any economic interests in Africa, so why would we stay? (This was not her opinion p.s.), but it makes me sick really. I know we cannot be everywhere, helping everyone all of the time, but can we ethically, as the largest, most powerful country in the world ignore the cry for help?

He talked about how the 60th anniversay of the Holocaust has recently past, and how the most "abused" words in the commemorative news program were "never again." Rusesabagina said, we tout, "never again," but it is happening again today in Africa, in several of the African Nations. Granted, it is not one lone evil dictator, putting citizens in gas chambers, but it is literally millions of people being slaughtered.

Interestingly, I was at the gym the night before and FOX 13 was interviewing members of the Utah (?) military troups that just got back from Iraq. Several of them interviewed said, We were over there for a good reason, doing the right thing, we were proud to be in Iraq, our country is doing good in being there. You may tell me this is "propoganda" on the part of the news station, but it struck me as I was listening to Rusesabagina the next day, that so much of the media is focused on how we shouldn't be in Iraq, we shouldn't be going into these countries, we shouldn't be risking American soilder'f lives in these forgein countires, and I am not promoting the death of our soilders, but these people want to be there, and can see that we are doing good, and people like Rusesabagina, and I am sure people in Iraq as well, (I know these are not identical situations) want us there, and need us there.

6 comments:

Scully said...

While I understand your perspective, I have to politely disagree. The situations are completely different. First of all, the entire United Nations backed out of Rwanda. So the blame lies with the US, with the EU, with a lot more major players. Secondly, the UN LEFT Rwanda after the violence started. They didn't invade under false pretenses, oust the dictatorship, and then pull out because it was unpopular. I agree we have to stay in Iraq, because we created this mess, but I don't have to support the decision-making that went into making that mess. Rwanda was a great tragedy and the world will be held responsible for turning a blind eye. It unmasks our true priorities, not the spreading of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, but rather the maintainence and insuring of OUR life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness.

Esperanza said...

I agree with what you are saying, and did note that I understand that the situations are different in my blog, I just think that, we have a moral responbsibility in Iraq, (even in going there, maybe not with the hidden, "we think you have a bomb" but to get Sadam out), which I know you disagree with, but that we also had a moral responsibility in Rwanda, I guess I would love us to have unlimited time, money and ect., to help everyone in the world who needed helping, which I know is, very impossible. He also wasn't bitter against the US per say, but at the internation community, he also said the peace keepers did nothing while they were there, so basically why did they come at all if they had no power to help. I did disagree with the fact that he wanted the UN to have more power, because I think that is dangerous, because it could create a world army and get way out of hand in the wrong hands.

Scully said...

Just to play devil's advocate, do you really think the UN would become that efficient? Even if given more power (what were his proposals for doing so?) we would still have an organization governed by nations with vastly differing priorities, opinions, agendas etc. What kind of power structure could be organized in the UN that would allow one individual to terrorize the world? I've never understood the fear of the UN, simply because it is completely inefficient and pretty ineffectual and no country would give up enough of its sovereignty to an outside organization. Look at the headache that was and is the creation of the EU.

Esperanza said...

He didn't have a fear of a greater UN, I do. He called for simply a restructuring of it, with different priorites ect., he didn't per say have a mapped out agenda. I gathered the idea that he believes they should have some sort of "army" or power to enforce. I just personally worry about something like that becoming a world army type situation. He was really interestingly, talking about how when they were trapped in their house, they had armed mobs outside, and he called the peace keepers, who they were told would help them, and asked for an escort to the hotel, and the peacekeepers said they couldn't get inovovled and he was like, I just need an escort for my family, there are armed mobs outside, and they were like, I'm sorry we can't help you. So his point was that the UN sent them in, but because of not wanting to really get involved while there, they were just observers and not peace keepers, were not able to facilitate at all, primarily due to lack of power.

Esperanza said...

And I think part of the power of the UN could be, ideally the idea of a united front, so that the big countries like US were not always going in as an individual force, and seen as the good/bad guys, "evil consigned twins," that the world sees us as. Probably a really effective UN is a pipe dream.

Scully said...

Especially when the the President assigns a man who avowedly hates/mistrusts/wants to see the end of the UN as the US Ambassador to the UN.