First Lady Michelle Obama walks out with her dogs Bo and Sunny, to welcome the Official White House Christmas Tree. This year’s White House Christmas tree, which will be on display in the Blue Room, was presented by Jay Bustard, left, and his brother Glenn Bustard, center, from Bustard’s Christmas Trees in Lansdale, PA
I have been spooked these last 10 days by the insanity that erupted here in the US since the Paris terrorist attacks. I wanted to give words to my thoughts. But I froze. Then I rediscovered this piece I began writing in April 2013, but had abandoned for being too alarmist! If only I knew….
Here is the piece completed with a few edits…
Rwanda: A Haunting Lesson
April 6 marked the (21st) anniversary of the launch of the genocidal nightmare in the central African country of Rwanda that ended 100 days later with 800,000 people dead, and a nation scarred deeply. That was 11.4% of the total population of 7 million. Nearly three-quarters of those massacred were Tutsis who comprised 14% of the entire population.
The word “anniversary” seems inappropriate because although it is technically a neutral term it still invokes positive associations and anticipation. No one should anticipate a genocide nor look forward to marking milestones in its aftermath. Yet mark, we must. The lessons are not simply framed in dog-eared history tomes or award winning films about a bygone tragedy. The lessons are here. With us. Today.
In societies wracked by mass economic, social and political faultlines the signs are always there for a Rwanda Redux, or a Srebrenica. Hate Radio. Divide and conquer. Nihilism. Opportunistic politicians and cultural loudmouths. Group resentment. Grievance. Silence and apathy from the majority population. Now, all of these do not a genocide trigger. But they exist to be manipulated if conditions ripen.
“The Rwandan genocide resulted from the conscious choice of the elite to promote hatred and fear to keep itself in power. This small, privileged group first set the majority against the minority to counter a growing political opposition within Rwanda. Then, faced with RPF success on the battlefield and at the negotiating table, these few power holders transformed the strategy of ethnic division into genocide. They believed that the extermination campaign would reinstate the solidarity of the Hutu under their leadership and help them win the war, or at least improve their chances of negotiating a favorable peace. They seized control of the state and used its authority to carry out the massacre. (UnitedHumanRights.Org)”
On This Day: Malia Obama pats a turkey named ‘Courage’ as her sister Sasha and Walter Pelletier, Chairman of the National Turkey Federation, look on during a presidential pardon at the North Portico of the White House, November 25, 2009
Today (all times Eastern)
10:45: President meets with his national security team
2:45: Pardons the Thanksgiving turkey
4:0: The First Family participate in a service event, Washington area
Vladimir Putin’s Excellent Syrian Adventure was all fun and games so long as he was hitting Bashar al-Assad’s enemies (which rarely meant Daesh until that group downed a Russian airliner) and those enemies couldn’t fire back.
However, Russian pilots had the unfortunate habit of straying into Turkish airspace. This was understandable, as the air space in the war zone was rather tight. But the Turks warned Russia after the last incident that another violation of their airspace would bring about a response.
Today, a Russian jet again strayed into Turkish airspace. According to Turkey and the coalition command in Baghdad, Turkey warned the Russian plane ten times to leave its airspace. The Russians either didn’t hear the warnings, or ignored them, at which point Turkey downed the Russian jet. The pilots ejected, but didn’t survive. (The details of their deaths are still sketchy, but it seems that Syrian rebels shot them down.)