Friday, November 11, 2011
But What If I Am Wrong?
This may not come as a surprise to you, but there are some words I really love. Words you’ll find here and there. Words I overuse, misuse and probably to some extent recklessly abuse. One of them is hope. And promise. And possibility. And I also routinely love adding –ness to words. Like endlessness. Reasonableness. Happiness. And I love the words magic and dreams. Since I use Bosnia and Rwanda as my case studies, lately my daily schedule includes sifting through tribunal documents and anything that’s related to these two conflicts. And I developed a bit of a frantic schedule because I am trying to defy the odds that I may not make my deadline. So, my routine usually includes ending my day with reading Samantha Power’s A Problem From Hell. As I mentioned before it’s about the (most recent) history of the failure of U.S. foreign policy to react to genocide. To these horrific atrocities we humans commit and do to each other for the sake of hm… power? So last night I picked up the chapter about Srebrenica, a former Muslim safe haven protected by UN peacekeepers during the Bosnia madness. The Serbs eventually rolled into the UN protected enclave, separated the men from women and children and systematically executed the men in soccer fields. I caught myself gasping at these two sentences and a picture of a woman, a 22-year-old Muslim refugee, who hanged herself with a torn blanket in despair. I put the book aside. Then picked it up again. To read about the Canadian General Romeo Dallaire, the commander of the UN peacekeeping forces in Rwanda during the 1994 genocide. This heroic man, who just couldn’t persuade the UN, the U.S., the international community to give him more troops (there is a very powerful Frontline documentary about him and the genocide). In 2000, he was found unconscious on a park bench in Quebec, “drunk and alone. He had consumed a bottle of scotch on top of his daily dose of pills for post-traumatic stress disorder.” But Dallaire continued to believe in peacekeeping and in human rights and for Canada (and other "Western" nations) to be expected “by the less fortunate of this globe to lead the developed countries beyond self-interest, strategic advantage, and isolationism.” Yes. Guilty as charged. I love the word hope. And words like a perfectly blue sky, a warm autumn sun, sprawling emerald-green fields. To make sense amid all the senselessness. I guess. But what if I am wrong?