The article “America’s Secret Role in the Rwandan Genocide” by Helen Epstein provides a completely different perspective about the Rwandan genocide than that provided by Gourevitch in We Wish To Inform You That Tomorrow We Will Be Killed With Our Families. Instead of focusing on how the genocide was perpetrated from within Rwanda and what the victims experienced, this articles focuses on the United States’ and Uganda’s involvement in Rwanda’s affairs that contributed to the start of the genocide. Gourevitch focused very little on Uganda’s involvement, and talked about the U.S.’s part in a different way than Epstein.
I thought that this article was very well written, summed up the timeline of events that led to the Rwandan genocide, and provided a good argument about how Uganda and the United States were a lot more involved in the genocide than it often appears. I had no idea that Uganda’s role was so prominent in helping out the RPF. And the United States did not really help; it mostly just watched and failed to intervene. While reading, I picked up on Epstein’s bias against the RPF. She was highly critical of the force and talked about it in a negative way for the most part. Not to say that the actions of the RPF that she brought to light were incorrect; there was just an obvious bias against them.
Despite the potential bias, I think that Epstein’s argument is an important one that touches on something that is overlooked regarding the Rwandan genocide. I never knew that Uganda helped out so much in the RPF’s invasion of Rwanda. This article was easy to read because it was not overloaded with excess details and it was very interesting. The presentation of foreign involvement in the genocide as a journalistic argument was a writing style that we do not encounter a lot in this class. Overall, this was a useful supplementary reading that went well with Gourevitch’s book.
1. What are the possible reasons for Helen Epstein’s bias against the RPF?
2. How did Uganda’s government seek to benefit from supplying arms to the RPF?
3. How large of a role did propaganda play in the start of the Rwandan genocide? Why was the propaganda within Rwanda not observed by foreign nations and taken as a warning for coming violence against Tutsis?