A lot of readers, especially Canadians, have taken exception to what they perceive as a slight of General Dallaire's mission in Rwanda. The post in question says this:
Dallaire's statement is astounding on three counts. First, it is a candid admission that the United Nations Peacekeeping Mission was wholly unprepared to fulfill its mission. Even had he been prepared to disobey the United Nations instructions to sit on his hands, Dallaire is arguing he did not have the military means to be more than a sacrificial force. The second is that he accepted this lunatic mission, by his own description little more than an imposture or a fraud, and reposed on it the credulity of an entire African nation. The third is his revelation that criminal responsibility lies, not with the men who shot, hacked and stabbed thousands to death, but with the American taxpayer who did not do enough to restrain them, as those who are responsible for naughty children. That said, Dallaire has admitted that he unit he commanded could not and it would not fight. It would be cruel to compare this hapless man, left to finger his peace medal in lieu of a reputation, by comparing him to military worthies of the past. There is no point. But if the 800,000 deaths and General Dallaire's humiliation are to mean anything then at least the world should never again commit the mistake of entrusting the survival of a country to the United Nations.
It makes three points, which I will attempt to justify. Dallaire undertook a mission which had no hope of succeeding. The mission gave a false assurance to the Rwandans. Dallaire claims that the responsibility for the debacle lies with the Great Powers, who did not provide the means for him to carry out his mission, instead of the Rwandans themselves. Here's a link to the Canadian Conference of Defense Associations Site, which analyzes Dallaire's mission very sympathetically.
Belgian commanders refused to comply with Dallaire's orders. Concentrating soldiers, even in company locations, would require quartering them in tents. Belgian field living standards demanded that their soldiers be put up in hard shelters. With no extra UN funds to provide accommodation large enough to house a Belgian company, they instead dispersed themselves in platoon strength or less around the city. Each small position required its our security detail further reducing the already minimal UNAMIR capacity to conduct any kind of pro-active operations.
Given the reduced strength of the Belgian contingent with its light vehicles, Dallaire's only other option was to designate a Bangladeshi company as his reaction force. The ill-trained and equipped Bangladeshi's did possess eight armoured personnel carriers and were thus suitable for containing the frequent civilian riots in Kigali. However, they were less than ideal for carrying out offensive operations against an armed aggressor.
In particular, it deals with his handling of the Belgian paratroops, who captured by the Rwandans, were subsequently hacked to death in a slow and tortuous fashion.
Some Belgian military officials asserted that they knew what was about to happen. During Marshal's court-martial, it was revealed that Belgian authorities had an elaborate intelligence network set up in Rwanda. Information from these sources was passed to Brussels, but not to the UN Force Commander. ...
Dallaire's critics must also be unaware that his jeep had been stopped at an RGF roadblock near the city centre early in the day. Risking his own safety he continued on foot until the RGF commander ordered him into a car and had him driven to a meeting of senior Hutu RGF officers. It was at this point that Gen. Dallaire noticed the two Belgians in the courtyard. Upon spotting them, Dallaire ordered the driver of his vehicle to stop -- in no uncertain terms. The officer driving the car, fearing his own safety from the enraged off duty soldiers in the camp, flatly refused and proceeded to the meeting point. With no clear picture yet of what was happening, Dallaire could only hope to find answers at the meeting.
As for the prospects of a rescue mission, some have claimed that it would have taken only minimal force to crack open the largest RGF military compound in the city to free the Belgian troops. In particular, these charges were made by Capt. Yves Theunissen, second in command of the Belgian company closest to the massacre site. At the court-martial Theunissen was identified as the least credible witnesses called by prosecution lawyers.
Largely on the basis of Theunissen's word, Dallaire's critics claim that Camp Kigali was manned by logistics types and some second rate material that would break under any real military pressure. In truth, the compound held an elite recce battalion and elements of the Presidential Guard, all manning well-fortified bunkers and entrenchment's.
To attack such a position with a handful of trained soldiers, no secure startline, no artillery, and a shortage of machine-gun ammunition would most certainly have failed. In addition, it would make every isolated and undergunned UNAMIR position in all Rwanda a target for Hutu attacks. General Dallaire made a difficult decision that day, but in my opinion, he took the only option open to him.
The report depicts Dallaire in command of little more than a rabble. He had insubordinate soldiers, intelligence never reported to him, no logistics, no ammunition and scattered deployments. How he could have withstood the humiliation of accepting such a farcical command is the first and most fundamental question. It is abundantly clear that taking this circus into Kigali, far inland, without any prospect of reinforcement, was probably an act of military folly, or at least so events proved. One of the fundamental tests of command must be a reluctance to lead your men into an ambush. The report goes on to relate how Dallaire personally pleaded with the Rwandans for the Belgian paratroops, who were by then hanging like meat from the wire. It recalls Lord Elphinstone's pleadings with the Afghans during the horrible British retreat from Kabul.
I will make the three points again. Dallaire's recent statements in Kigali amount to this. "First, it is a candid admission that the United Nations Peacekeeping Mission was wholly unprepared to fulfill its mission. Even had he been prepared to disobey the United Nations instructions to sit on his hands, Dallaire is arguing he did not have the military means to be more than a sacrificial force. The second is that he accepted this lunatic mission, by his own description little more than an imposture or a fraud, and reposed on it the credulity of an entire African nation. The third is his revelation that criminal responsibility lies, not with the men who shot, hacked and stabbed thousands to death, but with the American taxpayer who did not do enough to restrain them, as those who are responsible for naughty children." I don't think these coments are unjust.
Today there are calls for more UN peacekeeping in the Sudan. If Rwanda teaches anything it must be that "Never again" means "Never again under the UN".