MERE DALLAIRE MYTH MAKING
To Orwell Today,
re: MYTH OF SAINT ROMEO
Dear Jackie Jura,
I commend you for such a well done site. It's well structured and nice to look at. I am also a giant fan of Orwell.
I am writing to you for the purpose of asking you to reconsider your stance on Romeo Dallaire. If you are truly an investigator like you claim then you will be able to consider these few points with an open mind. I understand that being, to some degree, a conspiracy advocate, it may be hard for you to retract a juicy and controversial stance but I hope you will listen.
Even if you are not persuaded, my ultimate goal is to prompt you to remove the slanderous comments made by the retired col. Ron Coleman. This will be beneficial to you because his points are weak and by citing his article you reduce your credibility. For your convenience I'll repeat it here and then provide a few points.
"The myth of Saint Romeo", Dallaire's failure as a commander,
by Ron Coleman, Colonel, (retired),
letter-to-editor, National Post, Apr 14, 2005"
"Upon reading Romeo Dallaire's book Shake Hands With The Devil, any military
strategist would immediately conclude that he failed miserably as a
commander. First he accepted a third-level bureaucrat's instruction to
terminate his plan to seize weapons caches and thereby expose an informer to
* That's just silly. That "third-level bureaucrat" is Kofi Annan himself, on a cable from him signed by Iqbal Riza. To ignore the direct command of the UN would have been career ending, foolish, and a major breech of command. A soldier's job is to follow orders. (and while this is just my opinion, any military strategist who immediately concludes anything without reflection isn't a very good strategist). Dallaire's actions as recorded by the UN prove that he his, at least, a capable field commander with ability to run an HQ and coordinate the movements of 2,500 people.
"Second, he complained repeatedly about the sole radio station in Kigali fomenting hatred.
He could have sent out a squad to destroy it, at any time, but did not..."
* That radio station was government controlled and pro-Hutu. If the UN made a strike against the sole radio station they would cease to be an impartial force, giving up their only real protection. The backlash would have been easy to predict.
"He was a general with no UN experience, and should not have been put in
charge by the Canadian government..."
* At the time of his instillation, the Arusha Accords were about to be signed. A pretty easy assignment. And to point out, the real leader of the mission was Jacques-Roger Booh-Booh. Dallaire was only the force commander.
"Moreover, when it was clear that he was mentally depressed he should have been removed..."
* He was.
"Gen. Dallaire alone must accept responsibility for his failures, rather than accepting
the accolades of a government and media that seem intent on inventing Canadian heroes
rather than celebrating real ones..."
* Did this guy actually read the book? Gen. Dallaire takes full responsibility throughout the whole book. In fact, through most of the book he feels enormous guilt.
And a side note. The devil he refers to is not the president but actually the three members of the Interahamwe, the brainwashed youths that were responsible for the slaughter.
So those are my points. Is Dallaire a hero? It's hard to say. He's never claimed to be and writes in his book that his purpose is only to bear witness. It's easy for us to judge and consider while we sit in the relative safety of our comfort zones and homes, but showing unflinching resolve in the face of danger, threats to persons, and in combat, I think, requires some respect.
If you haven't, I urge you to read the book in its entirety, as it's a fascinating trip through the horrors that happened in a land you've seen with your own eyes. Perhaps your opinion hasn't changed, but at least you can see the merit in removing that ill considered editorial.
Thank you for your time,
I have read Romeo Dallaire's book SHAKE HANDS WITH THE DEVIL in its entirety and even own a copy. I quote extensively from it in my recent article THE INFORMER AND TEN BELGIANS which, if you haven't read, I suggest you do. It covers the points you discuss and contributes to how I arrived at my opinion which I see no reason to change, even though you request that I reconsider my stance on Dallaire.
Why do you say that the comments made by Colonel Coleman are slanderous when everything he said was accurate, even according to the points you make after his comments.
*1) He says Dallaire listened to a "third-level bureaucrat" which is what Iqbal Riza technically was. Boutros Boutros-Ghali as Secretary General is first-level; Kofi Annan as head of the Security Council is second-level and Riza, his deputy, is therefore third-level.
You say Dallaire's job was to follow orders but actually, as Dallaire said himself, he didn't need orders from the UN to act on the informant's information as it was in his mandate to destroy the weapons caches because they went against the Arusha Accords.
You also say that Dallaire "immediately concluded without reflection" that the informant's information was accurate when in fact by the time he sent the fax to the UN he had reason to believe its reliability and had no intention of acting before definitely determining that it was reliable, which he subsequently did determine, ie the informer showed weapons in weapons caches.
*2) Colonel Coleman says that Dallaire complained about the Hutu Radio Station fomenting hatred against the Tutsis and yet did nothing to shut it down. That's a true statement but you defend Dallaire for not doing so. Once again he followed insane UN orders - asking their permission first - and then abiding by their flimsy "neutral" excuse when in fact by enabling Hate Radio they were in effect accomplices. The USA had the technology to scramble but used the excuse that it didn't want to "interfere in a sovereign nation's airwaves", also wanting to remain neutral. I think Dante's adage "the hottest place in Hell is reserved for those, who in time of crisis, remain neutral" applies here and throughout other aspects of the Rwanda genocide.
As an aside, the Rwandese Patriotic Front (RPF) attacked the Radio Station and put it out of order for a while but it started-up again from a new location very shortly after and continued lashing the masses into genocidal frenzy, itself offering proof of the informer's reliability.
*3) Colonel Coleman says Dallaire was a general with no UN experience, and should not have been put in charge by the Canadian government. You don't deny Dallaire had no experience but justify Canada sending him by saying that no experience was needed, it being "an easy assignment".
In fact, Rwanda wasn't "an easy assignment" as France was backing the tyrannical government to the hilt, and the head of the United Nations - Boutros Boutros-Ghali - was good friends with the Hutu Government of Habyarimana. Before being appointed Secretary General of the United Nations Boutros-Ghali had been Egypt's Foreign Affairs Minister and had been selling Egyptian-made weapons to Rwanda for years, and was knowledgeable about their continued import of weapons in defiance of the Arusha Accords. I learned this in the latest book I read on the genocide entitled A PEOPLE BETRAYED by Linda Melvern.
Booh-Booh, who, as you say, was in charge of the UN Mission in Rwanda was actually Boutros-Ghali's deputy and he had been putting stumbling blocks in Dallaire's path for three months - not allowing him to go after the "hidden force" that was commiting mini-genocides and political assassinations up in the Gisenyi area and elsewhere. Booh-Booh's excuse was he didn't want to punish Hutu Habyarimana's government in case they accused him of being on the side of the Tutsi Rwandese Patriotic Front - their avowed enemy.
Dallaire started going around Booh-Booh and directly to UN headquarters in New York because of his previous lack of support from Booh-Booh who, as the informer had told Dallaire, had a French-Rwandese Hutu Power secret agent in his office. Booh-Booh took advantage of his position in Rwanda. He used all the perks of a diplomat - servants, fancy cars, 9-5 working hours with long lunch - lived in a fancy, heavily-guarded (by UN troops) house. When the going got tough after the start of the genocide he moved into the top floor of Hotel Rwanda until he quit his job when it became obvious the RPF would win the war.
*4) Colonel Coleman said that Dallaire should have been removed from his command when it became clear that he was mentally depressed and you respond by saying that he was removed, which is true. But that was after everything was all over and the French were flying their flag in parts of southwest Rwanda, pretending to be providing "humanitarian aid" to Rwandans, when in fact they were aiding and abetting genocidaires. Perhaps Coleman means Dallaire should have left earlier. In fact, in his own words, Dallaire said "the bastards should have pulled us out" way back in April when the UN withdrew the majority of its soldiers, leaving him a mere semblance of a force.
*5) Cololnel Coleman says "Dallaire alone must accept responsibility for his failures, rather than accepting the accolades of a government and media that seem intent on inventing Canadian heroes rather than celebrating real ones" and you respond to that by saying that Dallaire HAS taken full responsibility by admitting that he's guilty of failure and is not a hero.
That is exactly Coleman's point. He criticises the government of Canada for making a hero out of a man who wasn't a hero, admits he wasn't a hero, and yet accepts the benefits of being a hero. Dallaire says that to this day he has mental problems that require him to take vast quantities of psychological drugs in order to remain stable and yet he has been appointed to positions of influence as a Canadian Senator and a Genocide Advisor to the United Nations. He is no longer at all impartial or neutral and is presently telling Canada's youth to "get off their butts" and go fight in Darfur. See DALLAIRE MYTH BASHING
I agree that Dallaire named his book SHAKE HANDS WITH THE DEVIL after the three Interahamwe youth leaders and not President Habyarmina but it has always seemed strange to me that he didn't have any derisive remarks about shaking the hands of the Hutu hardliners Bizimana, Bizimungu or Bagosoro - masterminds of the genocide who he had meetings with on a regular basis - even during the time some of his own UN soldiers were next door being attacked.
I will not, as you request, remove Colonel Coleman's editorial from my website as you have not given any proof for your claim that it is slanderous. On the contrary, you have agreed with everything he's said, but at the same time justified Romeo Dallaire's actions or inactions. It's okay if he's your hero - we're all entitled to our own opinions. Just don't expect everyone who doesn't consider him a hero to be some sort of "conspiracy theorist". There is no conspiracy against Dallaire here, just a differing opinion on his role in Rwanda.
All the best,
PS - I notice in today's news that last week Dallaire received yet another honour from Canada related to his actions in Rwanda:
Dallaire named Senior Fellow (will speak to students about combating genocide). Concordia Journal, Sep 14, 2006
Senator Roméo Dallaire will become a working partner of the Concordia-based Montreal Institute for Genocide and Human Rights Studies (MIGS), under the leadership of history professor Frank Chalk. Dallaire is now working for the United Nations Advisory Office on the Prevention of Genocide, and in that role, he will make use of the scholarship of MIGS and occupy an office at Concordia. He will have as his research assistant Major Brent Beardsley, who was with him on the ill-fated UN mission to Rwanda in 1994. In return, Sen. Dallaire will give public lectures and share his vast expertise in the field with Concordia students. At a press conference on Sept. 8, Dallaire issued a passionate call for increased involvement by Canada and the UN in the beleaguered Darfur region of Sudan, where three million non-Arab Sudanese citizens live in fear and abject poverty...History Professor Chalk talked at the press conference. He said the Sudanese government is giving its citizens the impression there is a "Western colonial Zionist-Masonic" conspiracy against them. Concordia will sponsor a rally to support the Darfurians this Sunday at 2 pm, starting at the green space at Guy St. and de Maisonneuve Boulevard. Participants are asked to wear blue hats like the blue helmets of UN forces.
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