Susan Rice and Africa's unholy trinity
By Alemayehu G Mariam
December 12, 2012



Ambassador Susan Rice
Susan Rice, the current U.S. Ambassador to the U.N., has been waltzing (or should I say do-se-do-ing) with Africa’s slyest, slickest and meanest dictators for nearly two decades. More cynical commentators have said she has been in bed with them, as it were. No doubt, international politics does make for strange bedfellows.

Rice’s favorite dictators in Africa are the “Unholy Trinity” — Paul Kagame of Rwanda, Yoweri Museveni of Uganda and the late Meles Zenawi of Ethiopia — all former rebel leaders who seized power through the barrel of the gun and were later baptized to become the “new breed of African leaders” (a phrase of endearment coined by Bill Clinton to celebrate the “Three African Amigos” and memorialize their professed commitment to democracy and economic development).

She has been best friend for life and the acknowledged Guardian Angel, champion, apologist, promoter, advocate, grand dame and matriarch of the trio. She has shielded the “Fearsome, Threesome” from legal and political accountability, deflected from them much deserved criticism and thwarted national and international scrutiny and sanctions against them.

Rice, Rwanda and the Genocide That Was Not

In April 1994, when the Clinton Administration pretended to be ignorant of the unspeakable terror and massacres in Rwanda, Susan Rice — who by her own description “was a young Director on the National Security Council staff at the White House, accompanying the then-National Security Advisor, Anthony Lake” — and currently the putative heir apparent to Secretary of State Hilary Clinton, was unconcerned about taking immediate action to stop the killings. Rather, she was fretting about the political consequences of calling the Rwandan tragedy a “genocide”. In a monument to utter moral depravity and conscience-bending callous indifference, Rice casually inquired of her colleagues, “If we use the word ‘genocide’ and are seen as doing nothing, what will be the effect on the November [congressional] election?” Rice later shed crocodile tears for having made her senseless statement while simultaneously claiming she does not quite remember making it, but regretted “if I said it.” Lt. Colonel Tony Marley, the U.S. military liaison to the Arusha peace process (the Arusha Peace Accords which resulted in the 1993 agreement for power sharing between Hutus and Tutsis in Rwanda) was so baffled by Rice’s statement, he observed, “We could believe that people would wonder that, but not that they would actually voice it.”

In less than 100 days, 800 thousand Rwandans by U.N. estimate had been killed in the genocidal madness. For weeks, Rice, her boss Lake and other top U.S. officials labored and agonized not to call the monstrous Rwandan genocide, a genocide. They continued to play their sinister semantic bureaucratic games to make sure there were no official references to “genocide”, “ethnic cleansing”, “extermination” and the like in connection with the Rwandan tragedy. But far from regretting her role in underrating the Rwandan genocide and the massive and gross violations of human rights, over the past decade and half Rice has turned a blind eye, deaf ears and muted lips to extrajudicial killings, suppression of the press, decimation of opposition parties and imprisonment of large numbers of dissidents in Africa and aided and abetted Africa’s dictatorial trio. She has coddled, pampered, nurtured, protected and sang praises for these ruthless dictators.

U.S. policy in the 1994 Rwandan genocide will remain a testament to shame, diplomatic duplicity, bureaucratic sophistry and plain old fashioned callous deceitfulness. On April 6, 1994, the plane transporting Rwandan President Juvenal Habyarimana, Burindian President Cyprien Ntaryamira and other officials was shot down as it returned from Tanzania. The prime suspects in the assassination are believed to be elements of the Rwandan Armed Forces (RAF) who had rejected a power sharing agreement Habyarimana had reached with the rebel Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) a year earlier. Immediately following Habyarimana’s assassination, RAF members aided by extremist militia elements known as the Interahamwe (which in Kinyarwanda means “those who stand/work/fight/attack together”) went on a rampage indiscriminately killing government officials, ordinary Tutsis and other moderate Hutus.

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