Apparently willing to ignore the reprisal atrocities perpetrated by RPF forces against civilians across the country between 1995 and 1998, Bill Clinton and Tony Blair have publicly led the defense of Kagame’s team as visionary reconciliators.
The unwillingness of outside actors to critically examine their wishful thinking about Rwanda has historically proved embarrassing. But it’s also led to terrible mistakes, including the inability to prevent the genocide that killed at least 800,000 people.
However, the problem is not just that Rwanda has been imagined as a non-existent African Shangri-La. It’s also that some armchair critics have often gone so over the top in demonizing the RPF – seldom based on any thorough, on-the-ground research – that the movement handily dismisses essentially legitimate concerns as baseless accusations. One Rwandan diplomat called the leaked UN report “an amateurish NGO job.”
It was once mandatory to demand “empathy” for the war-ravaged country’s authoritarian government. Today it is becoming fashionable among some to blame the regime – and Kagame himself – for almost all Central Africa’s wrongs. Desiring to denounce the RPF as the brilliantly evil organization “you love to hate,” too many commentators are now recklessly amalgamating charges of human rights violations, corruption, and bad policy.
Some are coming dangerously close to embracing revisionism about the 1994 crimes, too.