The United States government is widely criticized for not doing more during the 1994 Rwandan genocide that has killed more than one million people to date, while the world was so quick to act as the former Yugoslavia was falling apart. I’m no apologist for the Clinton administration, there is no question that we should’ve done something more other than allow hundreds of thousands of people to die. We had people in Rwanda who where telling us weeks, if not months in advance, that something was going on there. It seems like a crystal clear moral imperative that we should’ve intervened, just on the basis of the principles that we hold as a nation alone, but high sight makes heroes and villains of us all.
Of course, if history allowed the world the opportunity to press the rewind button, Neville Chamberlain British Prime Minister who sought to appease Hitler in the lead-up to World War II would’ve moved against him. Alexander Kerensky- head of the Provisional Government in post Tsarist Russia would’ve moved to arrest Vladimir Lenin and perhaps disrupt the Bolshevik Revolution that gave us Lenin, Stalin, and organized death programs. History grants us the ability to see the past with absolute clarity and creates an
army of arm chair geniuses. Seizing the moral imperative at full speed is a task that few us have the gift and foresight to achieve.
Sadly the black and white moral imperative is often lost to the complicated political world of rational self interests and governing bodies that which to deliberate when the time for deliberation has expired. This moral imperative isn’t perfect either, just because a leader rests firmly on his morals and values does not mean that everything turns out like a Peter Engel teen comedy from the 1990’s. War is an enterprise fraught with unforeseen danger like overcrowded refugee camps, chemical and biological weapons, and insurgencies. Doing the right thing is plagued with political, moral, and human costs that few of us who’ve never sat in the hot seat can’t understand.