Belmont Club looks at the mortar attack on the mess hall in Mosul, and the media and European inclination to misrepresent, and in some cases ignore wholesale the nature of the Islamofascist enemy and the deeds of Saddam's regime. The goal of the enemy in Iraq is to reduce our will to fight and push for the withdrawal of American troops, and the media's portrayal of the Islamofascists as a legitimate 'resistance' only helps their cause by weakening support for the Iraqi people both domestically and internationally.
The price American would pay for abandoning Iraq would be steep; however the Iraqis would pay an even greater price - the destruction of any hope of creating a free nation and the ensuing violence as the Islamofascists prey upon the weak. History is filled with examples of the resulting outcome when nations reject their security commitments. Betsy Newmark points to a New York Times movie review of Hotel Rwanda, which was viewed and discussed with Anthony Lake, President Clinton's National Security Advisor during the slaughter in the African nation. The interview describes what happens when the United Nations places the interests of its members over the interests of a people they were charged to protect. It also demonstrates how weak leadership can lead to unimaginable horrors.
In Rwanda, the United States did not simply not intervene. It also used its considerable power to discourage other Western powers from intervening. At the height of the carnage, when Belgium lost 10 peacekeepers, the United States demanded a total United Nations withdrawal. Some African countries objected, and eventually Washington settled for a severe cutback in the 2,500-man United Nations force. The commander of the force in Kigali, Maj. Gen. Roméo Dallaire of Canada, who had asked for 5,000 troops, was left with 270.
The reasons for the Clinton administration's failure in Rwanda are twofold: to provide cover for Belgium's withdrawal from Rwanda, and to prevent a similar outcome to the U.N. mission in Somalia, the infamous Black Hawk Down incident where 18 American soldiers were killed and dozens of soldiers wounded in the hunt for Somali warlord Mohamed Farrah Aidid. After Mogadishu, a casualty-adverse foreign policy became the cornerstone of American foreign policy during the Clinton administration, which fueled al Qaeda's perception of a weak America. Mr. Lake recalls the thought process with respect to Rwanda.
"My retrospective anger and dismay is not that we made a wrong decision," he said, "but that we didn't make any decision." There never was a "principals' meeting" - at the level of cabinet officers - to discuss Rwanda, he said. Nor did he energize his staff to look at various options and make a policy recommendation to President Clinton.
"I'm not blaming my staff," he continued. "I could have and should have said: Tell me more. What's going on? Why can't we do more?" Instead, he said, he was obsessed with other crises in Bosnia and in Haiti. And the conventional wisdom was that humanitarian intervention was unthinkable because only months before, 18 American soldiers had lost their lives in Somalia.
But why insist that the United Nations force be cut back? "What I believe happened," Mr. Lake said, "and I was told this later, I don't know if I was involved in it - was the Belgians came to us and said please help us get our folks out of there. They had just had 10 killed. It was their Somalia." He said United States diplomacy was providing "protective cover."
The Journal of Humanitarian Assistance confirms Mr. Lake's account, and states the failure in Rwanda can be traced back to indifferent nations unwilling to commit resources. Instead, withdrawal was the order of the day, and troops were committed to evacuating their own countrymen.
Having decided to withdraw its own contingent, Brussels lobbied hard to persuade Council members that conditions in Rwanda necessitated withdrawal of UNAMIR as a whole. The stance was widely seen as an attempt to legitimize its own withdrawal, but the Belgians were pushing on an open door. They were strongly backed by the Americans; the UK and France, though less vocal, also favored withdrawal. No country came forward with troop contributions, and the Secretariat claimed later that informal canvassing at the time had produced negative results. It was obviously not a question of capacity; collectively or individually, several UN members had the means to intervene decisively, as France and Belgium had shown by their efficient airborne operations to evacuate expatriates.
The results of the Belgian's fear of taking casualties, the Clinton administration's ability to "feel the pain" of the Belgians, and the intransigence of the United Nations in Rwanda (no other nation on the Security Council rose to speak for the Rwandans being murdered) were catastrophic. Belgian troops knowingly left the civilians to die. The United Nations and the Belgian government's need to save face and prevent casualties to U.N. troops outweighed the need to protect those clearly in danger. The act of withdrawing the U.N. security contingent spurred on the slaughter, as the murderers knew that nothing and no one stood in their way. In the end, over 880,000 Rwandans were killed in the massacre that ensued.
The Security Council and the Secretariat saw withdrawal as a means to salvage a UN peacekeeping operation that had been tailored to a situation that no longer existed. But by largely absenting itself from the conflict, the UN simultaneously lost leverage to influence its future course - on the ground and diplomatically. External conflict management essentially came to a halt. When the UN subsequently reversed itself, re-entry proved slow, difficult and fundamentally too late.
The civilians, thousands of whom were being killed daily, were largely abandoned to their fate. A symbolic presence at key points in the Kigali area enabled UNAMIR to provide protection for an estimated 20,000 persons (at the Amahoro stadium, the Hotel Mille Collines, the Méridien Hotel and the King Faysal Hospital). Initially, a Belgian platoon effectively protected several thousand persons at the Ecole Technique Officielle; as soon as it was withdrawn, the killers closed in.
The liberal intelligencia and the media blinked at the results in Rwanda. The proclamations of "Never Again" by the United Nations and the apology of President Clinton put the matter to rest in their eyes. About 880,000 killed in Africa and the United Nations did nothing to stop it, or even worse, exacerbated the problem? Where was the media outcry? Where were the liberal humanists and their outrage at the United Nations for failing to prevent this horror?
Today, we have a situation in Iraq where a group of killers no less able than the Hutus in Rwanda wishes to slaughter as many innocents as possible, and practices their craft daily by killing Iraqis willing to risk their lives to provide the means for a better Iraq. These same murderers deliberately target wounded soldiers and civilians, and yet there is not an ounce of condemnation from our liberal elite or the mainstream media. Even worse, these two groups paint a picture of a valiant resistance fighting the evil American occupying power that is only interested in - predictably - oil. They portray efforts to restore order and build the Iraqi government as a failure, and advocate the withdrawal of American forces from Iraq, ignorant of the historical results that ensue from leaving the weak in the lurch. Or perhaps, like in Rwanda, they just don't care.