Confirming the report of the shooting down of the presidential airplane in Kigali, Prudence Bushnell, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary, Bureau of African Affairs sent a memorandum to Secretary of State Warren Christopher on April 6, 1994 warning him that there is a “strong likelihood that widespread violence could break out” in Rwanda and that the “military intended to take over power temporarily” and that they are “very resistant to working with the current (interim) Prime Minister” The Prime Minister was Agathe Uwilingiyama and she was assassinated by members of the Presidential Guard the following day.
The declassified documents taken together not only showed that the United States knew about the genocide but it further evidenced that it actively blocked efforts of any intervention in Rwanda. While the genocide has spread to the countryside, a cable from the US Department of State was sent on April 15, 1994 to the US Mission to the United Nations in New York stating that “there is insufficient justification to retain a UN peacekeeping presence in Rwanda and that the international community must give highest priority to full, orderly withdrawal of all UNAMIR personnel as soon as possible.
” Further, it states that the recommendation did not need a UN Security Council resolution and that “we will oppose any effort at this time to preserve UNAMIR presence in Rwanda. ” While intelligence reports were coming in during the crisis, the international media started picking up the genocide story. Human rights advocates and non-government organizations started to lobby hard for intervention in Washington. It cannot be denied that Rwanda was on the papers while the administration officials were still even debating whether to use the term genocide.
In connection to the term, it is important to note that the United States is a signatory to the 1948 Convention Against Genocide, the international law that “obliges contracting parties to prevent and punish the crime of genocide. ” But the word genocide was sensitive to the United States. A document shows that officials were warned to “be careful” to invoke the term for it might obligate the government to actually “do something. ” It is thus clear that the United States did not intend to play a significant role in the ongoing massacre until it was too late.
Warren Christopher, an accomplished lawyer and then Secretary of State, directed his staff to keep clear from calling the Rwanda crisis genocide and to say that “acts of genocide may have been committed. ” The possibility of intervention going dim, there were those who suggested to jam the blatant extremist radio broadcasts of Hutus calling for the death of Tutsis. In a memo dated May 5, 1994 to the National Security Council President, the number three official of the Pentagon, Frank Wisner that to “jam” the radio would be “ineffective and expensive” and a “wiser” activity would be to assist the “relief effort.
” As the carnage progressed, the Clinton administration through the President’s special assistant, Richard Clarke of the National Security Council, was trying to speed up the creation of a formal U. S. peacekeeping policy. It was later released a year after the Rwanda genocide. However, the provisions in the directive coupled with the negative outlook of the United States with peacekeeping missions greatly influenced the shape of Rwanda policy at its most crucial hour. This directive came to be known as Presidential Decision Directives – 25 (PDD-25)
“U. S. Policy on Reforming Multilateral Peace Operations” was signed by President Clinton on May 3, 1994. Contained in the document are factors to be considered in relation to peacekeeping operations: “sixteen factors that policymakers needed to consider when deciding whether to support peacekeeping activities; seven factors if the United States was to vote in the UN Security Council on peace operations carried out by non-American soldiers; six additional and more stringent factors if U. S. forces were to participate in UN peacekeeping missions, and three final factors if U. S. troops were likely to engage in actual combat. ”
This was an output of the skeptical Richard Clarke, an effective bureaucrat who was listened to despite his lack of knowledge of Africa. Representative David Obey (Wis. ) remarked that the narrow insular list was done to appease Americans’ intention for “zero degree of involvement, and zero degree of risk, and zero degree of pain and confusion. “