Friday, April 17, 2015

annex to the clinton plan for africa...,

FP |  In the end, the fate of Rwanda’s victims hardly figured at all in U.S. calculations about the international community’s response to what turned out to be the worst mass killing since the Holocaust, according to hundreds of pages of internal White House memos.

On the contrary, Richard Clarke, a special assistant to President Bill Clinton on global affairs in the NSC and Rice’s boss, had already been looking for a way out of Rwanda for months. Rwanda’s descent into mass killing, paradoxically, provided a fresh opportunity.

“We make a lot of noise about terminating U.N. forces that aren’t working,” Clarke wrote on April 9, just three days after the genocide started. “Well, few could be as clearly not working. We should work with the French to gain a consensus to terminate the U.N. mission.”

The Clinton administration’s failure to muster a credible international response to Rwanda’s mass murder has been amply documented over the past two decades. President Clinton and his key aides — including National Security Advisor Anthony Lake, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Madeleine Albright, and Rice, who has since risen to become President Barack Obama’s top national security advisor — have all publicly expressed regret that they didn’t do more to stem the killing.
But the recently declassified documents — which include more than 200 pages of internal memos and handwritten notes from Rice and other key White House players — provide a far more granular account of how the White House sought to limit U.N. action. They fill a major gap in the historical record, providing the most detailed chronicle to date of policy instructions and actions taken by White House staffers, particularly Clarke and Rice, who appear to have exercised greater influence over U.S. policy on Rwanda than the White House’s Africa hands.

The National Security Archive and the Holocaust Memorial Museum’s Simon-Skjodt Center for the Prevention of Genocide obtained the documents during a two-and-a-half-year effort to amass long-secret records of internal deliberations by the United States, the U.N., and other foreign governments. They add to a collection of some 20,000 declassified documents from Britain, France, New Zealand, the Czech Republic, and the United States. They were m available exclusively in advance to Foreign Policy before their public release Thursday, which is Holocaust Remembrance Day.

The White House documents, which were secured through Freedom of Information Act requests, largely confirm previous accounts that portray the Clinton administration as reluctant to play the role of global police force, stung by peacekeeping setbacks in Bosnia and Somalia and faced with a hostile Congress bent on cutting funding for new U.N. adventures.

But these documents also alter the public record. It was the White House, not a beleaguered Belgian government that had just suffered the brutal murder of 10 of its soldiers, that was the first to advocate a pullout of U.N. blue helmets from Rwanda during the genocide, where they served as a last line of defense for tens of thousands of terrified Tutsi civilians.

A midlevel crisis
The documents provide few fresh insights into the thinking of President Clinton, Secretary of State Warren Christopher, or other top officials, reinforcing indications that Rwanda policy was left to midlevel bureaucrats. They place Clarke and Rice — who were overseeing a far-reaching review of U.N. peacekeeping — at the crux of American efforts to limit U.N. involvement in Rwanda in the face of mounting congressional pressure to rein in U.N. peacekeeping costs. The death of 18 U.S. Rangers in Mogadishu while participating in a raid on a Somali clan on Oct. 3, 1993, less than six months before the genocide began, only hardened the administration’s resolve to say no to an ambitious new peacekeeping operation in a country with few historical links to the United States.


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