"Not one of us is more human than the other..."

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Photo: Romeo Dallaire
Source: pbs.org

Knowing something of Romeo Dallaire's story, I know that his convictions are born out of a first-hand, 'in-your-face' kind of experience with the horrors that humans are capable of committing against one another. This is why I sense the sincerity of his recent pleas to collectively arrest yet another tragedy in the Third World. What got my attention was the urgency in his voice (for anyone who heard him on televised or radio news) which was significantly different in tone than the 'urgency' we hear from various politicians or radical activists. He's warning us not to commit the mistakes of our recent past; he knows we're capable of letting that happen, but he also knows that there is still a ray of hope. Although, it must be frustrating, even infuriating, to try to reason with some of the world's top governments about an issue involving life and death, an issue that has exposed their hypocrisy in the past, and one that may very well do so again.

Retired Canadian general Romeo Dallaire blasted the U.S. and Canada yesterday for failing to rally the world and provide the political will to save people in Darfur. The reason so many people have been allowed to die in Sudan already, Dallaire told a Senate subcommittee, is simple. "There's no self-interest. Who cares about Darfurians? They're sub-Saharan Africans. They're like Rwandans."

"(It's) the fear of casualties in a country that doesn't count in an area that doesn't count," he said. "Not one of us is more human than the other. [...] Why did the Yugoslavians count when we poured in tens of thousands of troops and billions of dollars? Why do others count and why do these Africans in Darfur not count?"

Dallaire also said it's not up to the United States to send troops to end the genocide in Sudan. "Why do you always want to set yourselves up?" asked Dallaire, who led the United Nations peacekeeping mission in Rwanda in 1994. "Why should you necessarily have to commit all those capabilities? Why can't the Chinese provide (soldiers)? They've got them."

Dallaire, who pleaded unsuccessfully for 5,000 UN troops to stop the Rwandan genocide that killed some 700,000 people, was hailed by Senator Dick Durbin as a 'hero.' "If more people had listened to him, maybe things could have been different in Rwanda. I hope people listen to him now." Durbin, a Democrat, chairs a new Senate subcommittee on human rights, a first for the country.

While U.S. President George W. Bush was quick to call the Darfur violence genocide, little has been done to quell it. The United Nations says more than 200,000 people have been killed and 2.5 million driven from their homes in four years of fighting, rape and plunder.

Durbin introduced legislation yesterday authorizing state and local governments to divest funds from businesses working in Sudan. He noted that Bill Clinton has said his inaction on Rwanda was the worst foreign policy mistake of his presidency. "Now that we have acknowledged for more than four years that this horror is happening on our watch, we must summon the courage and act to stop this carnage."

Canadian Press. (2007, February 7). Dallaire pleads to U.S. for Darfur. KW Record, p. ?.