Joseph Biden writes that one of the most important foreign policy issues facing the U.S. Congress in the 1990s was the American involvement in Bosnia and other war-affected parts of the former Yugoslavia. “Helping Bosnia create a viable multi-ethnic, free-market democracy sends a critical message to other would-be ‘ethnic cleansers’ that a repeat of such carnage will not be tolerated elsewhere in Europe.”
We cannot tolerate wars in Europe, but we can ignore millions of innocent victims in Africa. Talking about Rwanda, the French President Francois Mitterand said that “genocide is not too important in such countries.” He explained that brutal killings are a way of life in Africa, an African tradition.
In the documentary film Shake Hands with the Devil, Canadian General Romeo Dallaire, the commander of the UN peacekeeping force in Rwanda, says that “superpowers had no interest in Rwanda. They were interested in Yugoslavia.”
“Thousands upon thousands soldiers were sent there. And here [in Rwanda] I had barely 450 troops. The guiding principle was that in Rwanda it was tribalism, it was history repeating itself.”
“In Yugoslavia, it was different – it was 400 years of historic conflict between great religions of the world. It was European security. It was whites! Rwanda was black. It was in the middle of Africa. It had no strategic value,” says Dallaire.
In 1999, Western countries claimed that up to 10,000 Albanians were killed in Kosovo by the Serbian security forces and that the world had to intervene immediately.
They quickly decided to launch air strikes, using over 1,000 airplanes in their bombing campaign.
After the short war, 2,100 people were confirmed to be killed in Kosovo by the Serbian forces before the air strikes, while another 2,000 were still missing.
Back in 1994, 1 million dead Rwandans in only three months were not enough to influence Western countries to intervene.
Today, the UN and aid agencies estimate that around 200,000 people have died in Darfur since 2003, while over 2 million people are living in refugee camps after fleeing fighting in the region.