Malaysian Air - MH370 - even the call sign has become a ubiquitous part of our pop culture consciousness. 227 passengers and a crew of 12. For cable news, this has been the story that, even when it doesn't have legs, refuses to go way. What happened? Why are 239 people missing? How many tens of thousands of hours have gone into the reporting and searching for this aircraft?
If you asked most Americans what the biggest news story was in 1994, they would probably remember Nancy Kerrigan/Tonya Harding debacle (It was rehashed again for this year’s Olympics).
This month marks the 20th Anniversary of the Rwandan Genocide.
For 3 months, beginning in April 1994, approximately 800,000 Rwandans were killed in a genocide, while the rest of the world looked away. To put it in an American 9/11 perspective, that's nearly 3 World Trade Centers a day for 90 consecutive days. Timeline of the events in Rwanda
Romeo Daillaire was the Canadian Commander of United Nations peace keeping troops in Rwanda. For those who think the U.N. is capable of a one-world government, I suggest you read his account of trying to get the U.N. to do something in Rwanda while he watched the genocide unfold. (It’s a book you’ll never forget).
The United States is a signatory of the Genocide Convention, the U.N. treaty adopted after the Holocaust. The State Department spend much of the spring of 1994 parsing the difference between ‘genocide’ and ‘acts of genocide', because to recognize that a genocide was taking place would obligate the United States to act. The United States still remembered the 1993 unsuccessful intervention in Somalia, and many were afraid to act.
Documents obtained under the Freedom of Information Act show that the C.I.A. was well aware that there was a genocide occurring, and the President’s daily intelligence reports gave Clinton ample knowledge of what was happening.
When a Czech ambassador to the United Nations compared what was happening to the holocaust, he was taken aside by the U.S. and British ambassadors and told not to use such inflammatory language.
Bob Dole told CBS news "I don't think we have any national interest here, I hope we don't get involved.”
Rwanda is a landlocked African country, possessing little strategic value.
So why the comparison to Malaysian Air Flight MH370? I’m just struck by the amount of attention given to 237 people who crashed in an airplane compared to the amount of attention that was given to 800,000 people who died in a genocide.
Two of the most unforgettable books I have read:Shake hands with the Devil
- Romeo Daillaire . Daillare was the U.N. peacekeeping commander on the ground during the genocide. He later suffered a nervous breakdown.We Wish to Inform You That Tomorrow We Will be Killed With Our Families: Stories from Rwanda
by Phillip Gourevitch
Also recommended: The Bone Woman: A Forensic Anthropologist's Search for Truth in the Mass Graves of Rwanda, Bosnia, Croatia, and Kosovo
- Clea Koff