Total Drek

Or, the thoughts of several frustrated intellectuals on Sociology, Gaming, Science, Politics, Science Fiction, Religion, and whatever the hell else strikes their fancy. There is absolutely no reason why you should read this blog. None. Seriously. Go hit your back button. It's up in the upper left-hand corner of your browser... it says "Back." Don't say we didn't warn you.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Staying the night

Last night I finally saw Hotel Rwanda. For all sorts of reasons I was very keen to see it in spite of/because of the decidedly traumatic topic. It must be my war movie time - I just saw Jarhead as well, and I strongly recommend both movies. You know, being Belgian is usually pretty innocuous. Nonethelss, there are two good ways to embarrass a Belgian - they're called Congo and Rwanda. That was an obvious reason to want to see this movie about the genocide in Rwanda. I don't know how news reporting was done in the rest of the world, but in Belgium I think we always feel a little closer to the issue than the rest of the world. Belgium was, as far as I know, the only country to make any real statements to try to get a western intervention to Rwanda. Don't get me wrong - it doesn't makes us better; it just means we have a worse consience about it. I remember the news that ten of our peacekeepers had been killed. They were butchered like the rest of that million, though not with machetes. They were simply rounded up and shot. We never understood where all this hatred came from, and with the rest of the world we watched it happen, wondering what had gone wrong, what we had done wrong.
But that is a long story.

I can't say that I know what should have been done. Maybe someone has ideas. Something, yes, surely something should have been done - surely something must be done about, not just Rwanda, but all of our current embarrassments. How do you keep a peacekeeping mission from becoming a colonial invasion though? What country will volunteer hundreds of thousands of lives for someone else's country? Any volunteers for, say, Chechnya? Should we have intervened there? 200.000 dead.

Read the excellent Wikipedia entry on the subject. It gives a pretty good idea of the situation. Maybe some of you know all that already, but too few of us know about the mechanics of it (I didn't), I think, though most of us are aware that almost a million people died in those 100 days. Watch the movie too, not for its optimism (and it has perhaps too much of that, being a slightly Schindler-esque story), but for the constant fear it transmits and engenders.

I'd love to hear your opinion.


Blogger Nicholas said...

"Belgium was, as far as I know, the only country to make any real statements to try to get a western intervention to Rwanda."

ummm canada too, or at least this canadian guy, Romeo Dallaire, head of the UN peace forces in Rwanda at the time. the genocide still gets quite a bit of coverage in canada (assuming you actually watch the CBC) - dallaire has become something of a national hero with some really great documentaries made about him and the book he wrote concerning his role, and how he tried to help during the disaster. belgian press and officials tried to eat him alive during a tribunal held after the conflict. He’s a hero, but a flawed hero, and I guess there is something very canadian and very romantic about that – he still blames himself for a lot of what happened. (he’s made several attempts on his own life, though things seem to have calmed down for him in recent years.)

the portrayal of him in hotel rwanda wasn’t that great (he’s depicted as the army general guy, played by nick nolte). he has mentioned that he felt sort of slighted because no one had bothered to approach him during its making. nonetheless, it was a very good movie, and was received well by canadians.

more about dallaire on wikki:

also, if you ever have the opportunity, check out this heartfelt documentary: "Shake Hands With The Devil: The Journey Of Roméo Dallaire" You’ll learn a lot about Dallaire but also a lot about the role of the international community (as independent nations and as players in the UN), and the political and cultural intricacies of the conflict one the ground.

many canadians including myself share dallaire’s shame. the blood of rwanda is on all our hands: canadians, belgians, and everyone else – these things don’t happen over night.

Thursday, January 19, 2006 1:22:00 AM  

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