Thursday, January 11, 2007

You'll want to read this article, from the Guardian, of all places, on French complicity in the Rwanda genocide of 1994. The author charges that France was so obsessed with the grandeur of la Francophonie and its own status as central African hegemon that it aided and armed the pro-French Hutu government while the killings were happening.

One caveat here: You may know that Iberian Notes is pretty sensitive to anti-Americanism, and the standard I use to define it is: Does the speaker or writer show bias against the whole society or just opposition to some American government policy? Does he who judges the US show balance by pointing out the good as well as the bad, or does he portray everything as bad because it's American and so it must be?

Well, while reading this, my anti-American sensors went off, except this time what I detected was anti-Frenchness. The writer of this article clearly doesn't believe that France ever does anything right.

However, if what he reports is even half true, French conduct in Rwanda was despicable.

Key paragraph:

As the French left, years of anger among Rwanda's Tutsis spilled out over the price they believe they have paid for Paris's unique view of its place in post-colonial Africa - a role critics say is shaped by an obsession with the influence of its language and culture that led Paris to support a murderous regime because its opponents spoke English. France went on backing the killers even as the bodies piled up in the streets, churches and football stadiums. "France wants to blame us, the ones whose families were murdered, the ones who put a stop to the murderers; they want to blame us for the genocide because they cannot face their own guilt," says Rwanda's foreign minister, Charles Murigande. "The French armed the killers and they trained them even when they were saying they were going to kill the Tutsis, and France supported the genocide regime right up until the end, even helping the killers to escape." Why? "Because they have this obsession with Anglo-Saxons."

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