Dallaire teaches us through his personal struggles that being human is universal. People should not be more prioritized based on their race, gender, religion or culture. Dallaire showed us in his novel “Shake Hands with the Devils”, the failure of humanity that occurred during the civil war and genocide in Rwanda. The book explores Dallaire’s first hand experience in Rwanda as a peacekeeper during the genocide. Dallaire showed how the government, the people of the world and the people of Rwanda didn’t put their differences and desires aside for the lives of hundred and thousands of innocent lives. Complete world power causes civilizations and nations to lose the humanity within them. It fills them with greed and selfishness and create this hierarchy in society for developed western countries.
Dallaire exposed the greed and inhumanity the occurred in Rwanda at cost of thousands of lives. “Rwanda had no natural resources or geographical significance, if the mission were to succeed there would be no political gain for contributing countries; the only beneficiary internationally would be the UN.”1 We see here that Dallaire is trying to show us that no powerful nation had any interest in sending in troops to help this country that is falling apart. He is telling us that the world leaders are basically telling its people and the world that “If helping the Rwandans does not benefit our nation then why I should do it.” Since Rwanda has no resources and is just a poor african nation there is nothing for them to gain.
They think if they spend money to send in troops to help other people they should gain something from that. However, in this Rwanda had nothing to offer. Dallaire is stating on the contrary that, regardless of how little Rwanda has it should not be excluded from help. The people of Rwanda should be treated as equals to the rest of us. No matter what nation you are from.
One may argue that the only countries that did not help out were non-developed countries. However, Dallaire stated “Out of all the developed nations only Belgium wanted to sign up troops.”2 Out of all the developed nations the permanent members of the UN security council did not send a single troop to Rwanda. Which are the USA, China, Russia, United Kingdom and France. Reason being is that they are aloud to essentially veto decisions that the council and UN make. If they don’t want to do something, such as send troops to Rwanda, they don’t have too because they are superpower nations. It is no coincidence that Now that left Canada and Belgium wanting to help out because they looked beyond their self interests. Canada and Belgium are not even the most powerful nations, yet the permanent members of the security council have more responsibility to help with United Nation initiatives and they leave the weaker nations to pick up their slack.
Dallaire is clearly displaying the common patterns between these countries that have a duty to contribute and help solve world issues yet they choose not to. Just because it does not benefit their self interests. Countries self interests really came into play when Belgium and the United Nations tells all of its troops to abandon their mission after 10 of their men were killed in action. “Why send in soldiers in at all if after the first casualties we are told to abandon our mission and protect our hides?”3 Here Dallaire is referring to the Belgians and United Nations decision to abandons its troops. After the soldiers were killed all they cared about were to saving the soldiers over the people of Rwanda. If they really cared about Rwanda and its people they would send more troops to help out to decrease casualties. However to the UN and the other countries involved this was training exercise to them, to help improve missions and military strength, not to stop the bloodshed of the genocide of innocent woman, children and men. Racial issues have divided humans for centuries, and it has not stopped to this day.
The Rwandan genocide was as well a victim of racial discrimination. Dallaire said “The people were not insignificant black mass living in abject poverty in a place of no consequence.”4 Dallaire was trying to communicate to his readers that the Rwandans being a african nation with a high majority of black individuals, the world did not care for them. It was not like the genocide was not gruesome or violent. It came to a toll of eight hundred thousand deaths in one hundred days.
But the world leaders and the UN chose to turn their head away from Rwanda due to its poor, black population. Dallaire really sums up the horror with these words “Suffering, mutilation, rape, and murder of 800,000 Rwandans, with the help of the member nations of the supposedly impartial world body.”5 The cry of help by the Rwandans was not just some hoax it was real people with families and futures, yet no one answered. And it is not far fetched for Dallaire to believe that part of the reason that no one answered was the part it was a black majority african country. The difference of culture and religion has really been the root of issues in all of human history. For example the huge cultural and political clash between english and french canadians since the beginning of Canadian history.
This caused Quèbec to almost split with the rest of Canada on multiple occasions. The Rwandan genocide was no different with its origin starting up from the two tribes Hutus and Tutsis. The mass killings after Juvenal Habyarimana, a Hutu, was killed when his plane was shot down by Tutsis. But when we look at the two tribes there is really no difference.They have the same religion, race and language. The only difference is the tribe name. Dallaire states “Those innocent men, women and children were simply Tutsi that was their crime.”6 Dallaire really hits on the point here of how there is no difference because at the end of the day the Rwandans are all humans.
However, this one difference was cost of innocent lives. Some people in a way try to justify the killings and say that the Tutsi killed over two hundred thousand Hutus in the genocide attack in Burundi in 1972, so this the Hutu revenge. That did happen and many died, but that does not justify another mass killing. The human species separates itself from other other species because of our higher level of intellect, so if the human race continues is road of an eye for an eye what separates us from wild animals? The human race in itself would be inhumane. Dallaire shows this when he says “I rejected the pictures of the genocidaires as ordinary human beings who had performed evil acts. To my mind, their crimes made them inhuman, turned into machines made of flesh that imitated the motions of being humans.”7 To him the acts the Hutus committed were so graphic and gruesome that to them it was not simply revenge it was something darker within human nature.
Dallaire is explaining that this is how dangerous, disgusting and low humanity can get if we don’t start to hold our petty differences against each other. The Hutu and Tutsi genocide got so personal that they started killing each other inside their churches where they left bodies stacked up row by row. Dallaire describes a scene here even worse saying “The Hutus made a habit of killing young Tutsi children, in front of their parents, by first cutting off one arm and then the other…”8 That graphic story is Dallaire reinstating that how dangerous human segregation can be, it causes people to commit the unimaginable.Human society for so long has been built on the differences from each other instead of the similarities we all share as one global community. We do more harms to other and ourselves when we act violently and so animal like when it comes to these differences. That is really what Dallaire wanted to share through this journey of his, where he felt no hope for humanity in this small country in Africa.
And if do not our differences aside Dallaire says “My troops had died, not in the defense of their respective nations and citizenry, but in the defense of decency and human rights. Was this the true price of peace?”9 The only way the human race can survive with dignity and peace is by accepting we are not all the same and there is nothing wrong with that and that the thing should that unify us the most is that we are all equal. We are all universally human. “A person is either your brother in faith or equal in humanity.” – Ali ibn Abi Talib