Science & Tech

U.S. stepped aside during Rwandan genocide

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U.S. government could have saved lives, researcher finds

Samantha Power, executive director of the John F. Kennedy School’s Carr Center for Human Rights Policy, conducted a three-year-long investigation into what the United States government knew, didn’t know, and chose to do during the Rwandan genocide in 1994. Based on hundreds of interviews and hundreds of pages of declassified government documents, Power’s conclusion finds that the government decided to step aside during the mass killings. Among Power’s findings: — Bureaucratic infighting slowed the U.S. response to the genocide. — The U.S. refused to “jam” extremist radio broadcasts inciting the killing because of costs and concern with international law. — Secretary of State Warren Christopher did not authorize officials to use the term “genocide” until six weeks after the massacres began, and even then, U.S. officials waited another three weeks before using the term in public. Power’s report appears in the September 2001 edition of The Atlantic Monthly.