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January 5, 2009

Part of today's email to me from General Romeo Dallaire. Posted with Gen Dallaire's permission.

"--With Col Bagasora (former highest authority in Rwanda's Defense Ministry who ordered the murders of Prime Minister Agathe Uwilingiyimana and the 10 Belgian UN peacekeepers who had been guarding the Prime Minister. He is also guilty of the mass murder of Tutsis in Kigali and Gisenyi. He was finally convicted of genocide on Dec 18th by the ICCR-international Criminal court of Rwanda) found guilty, in part, and going off to jail for the rest of his life, there is a certain closure finally. This being the 15th anniversay year of the genocide, his going to jail does ease the memories that come back nearly daily as I walk through the pre-genocide events and keep reliving too many of them in slow motion and digitally clear after all this time.

I have just listened to the tape of the Munk Debate that you participated in with Gareth (Evans) and others. Although the "con" side did raise reality facts about what is actually going on in national capitals and the UN Sec Council, they miserably failed to articulate an argument why we should accept this state of affairs and simply stay home. They themselves projected no desire to sort things out to ultimatly prevent mass atrocities and genocide.

Yes in the end some people die doing the tasks of advancing peace, conflict resolution, intervention and maybe even prevention, humanitarian relief and human rights. So! Is it not the responsibility of nation states that have the capability to resolve these crises to do so and is it not the price that we must be prepared to pay, not only cash, but blood also at times for the protection and security and advancement of other human beings like us. Yes like us, equal as human beings on this earth. The argument of any action dependent on self-interest of nation states and individual citizens is a gross abandonment of all the human rights initiatives over the decades since at least WW2. Nation states with power have the responsibility to make it available to other states and their citizens to advance their plight from poverty reduction, to solving pandemics, to conflict resolution, to the establishment of rule of law and democracy adopted to their differences. When we were worried about our security in the Cold War, we found the troops, by the millions, to protect our hides. Where have they all gone? Is the result of the Peace Dividend the lack of capability to advance peace, good governance, and conflict prevention in imploding nations around the world. Have we remained at this basic level of self-preservation only? If one looks at the continued modernization of nuclear weapons and the failure to prevent proliferation let alone attempts at disarmament, one might believe so. Hillier (General Rick Hillier-the highest ranking position in the Canadian forces.) may be right that I might have needed more than 5,000 troops to stop the genocide in its tracks. However, just being able to tell the Rwandans that my contingency plans were being put into formal plans for implementation in countries like yours and mine, would have thrown off the extremists and put enough doubt in many of them that would have assuredly saved tens of thousands of lives. Black human lives that yes count just as much as white lives in the developed world.

You were right on when you said that you must continue at the grass roots level to summon the political will to intervene by all possible means, including, in extremus, force. The under 30 in the developed world seem far more prepared to be activists and go beyond self-interest than their elders. All they need is a vision and a focus I assure you --"
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