The French Betrayal of Rwanda

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The French Betrayal of Rwanda

By Daniela Kroslak
Indiana University Press, 2007
322 pp. $24.95
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What is France's responsibility for the Rwandan genocide of 1994? Kroslak's study of the relationship between the Habyarimana regime and the French government between 1990 and 1994 uses a lot of circumstantial evidence and first-hand accounts from the time to argue that the French government possessed a good deal more information than it has been willing to admit about the increase in violence against Tutsis in the months before the genocide and that it enjoyed close relations with the regime and in particular with the political leaders who were personally responsible for planning and carrying out the genocide. Kroslak offers no evidence for the most damning accusation, which has been made by others: that the French military provided logistical support to the Interahamwe, the Hutu nationalist militia, after the genocide began. On the other hand, her book does offer support for the view that Operation Turquoise, the un-approved French military intervention in the summer of 1994, after the genocide had begun, could have done much more to stop the killings and protect Tutsi populations. (Instead, it seems to have focused more on protecting the old regime's dignitaries.) To explain these errors of judgment, Kroslak argues that long-standing ties between the French military and the Rwandan government blinded France to the regime's nature. She also makes clear that the French military mission in Kigali acted with little institutional oversight from Paris, which was probably not always well served by the intelligence it received from Kigali. Kroslak offers little new evidence for these claims, but she expertly marshals the evidence she does present, and she has provided a valuable contribution to the study of the events of 1994.