Visiting Lecturer Educates Students on Rwanda

Posted: April 11, 2006 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

By Nicholas Zinzer

“No one in the U.S. government anticipated the scope of the Rwandan genocide,” said Matthew Levinger, director of the Academy for Genocide Prevention at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum. Levinger presented “Lessons of the Rwanda Genocide for U.S. Foreign Policy” last week at the Arlington Campus.

The 1994 Rwandan genocide left upwards of 800,000 Rwandans dead over the course of 100 days. The date of Levinger’s lecture coincided with the 11th anniversary of the start of the genocide.

“In retrospect, it appeared evident that there was a warning sign about the genocide before the killing began,” said Levinger. Indications of violence were “brewing and dated back to 1993.” But the international community largely ignored those ominous signs.

“Days before the genocide, the U.S. ambassador to Rwanda sent a cable expressing hope and fear about the situation in Rwanda.”

According to Levinger, genocide in foreign countries poses a threat to U.S. interests and should be taken more seriously. “We need the political will and the resources.”

Students attending the lecture expressed their own thoughts on the situation based on their unique backgrounds. “To assume the United States will bear the brunt [of intervention] is false,” said Luis Garzon, an undergraduate majoring in global affairs. Garzon grew up around violent civil conflict. He moved to El Salvador in the early 1990s when the country was in civil war.

The most sensible move to prevent genocide in the future, he said, is for countries to reach out to the global community instead of waiting for a single nation to take unilateral action. “Any kind of intervention has to depend on multilateralism.”

Bosco Munga, a real estate agent who emigrated from Rwanda in 1991, attended the lecture to get a fresh perspective on the Rwandan genocide and add his personal narrative to the discussion. He was critical of individuals who believe the U.S military should intervene in conflict-ridden areas of the world, such as Rwanda.

“It is not the role of the U.S. military to police the world,” said Munga.

Write to at