June 22, 2000
U.N. peacemaker: Let small countries police
By David Conti
The international community should allow smaller countries to function as world police, a retired lieutenant general of the Canadian armed forces told a political action group Wednesday night.
"Let the middle powers go in," Romeo A. Dallaire said at the World Federalist Association's annual dinner at Station Square, South Side.
"Just provide the weight of true power on the political stage and financial and technical areas."
Dallaire led the United Nations peacekeeping mission to Rwanda from 1993 until a bloody civil war tore the African nation apart in 1994.
The U.N. was heavily criticized for not stepping in to help prevent the massacre of more than 800,000 Rwandans during the war, even though Dallaire warned his superiors that the genocide was coming and asked for permission to intervene.
Dallaire, who retired in April, now lobbies for the creation of a rapid response force that can be quickly dispatched to crises like those in Rwanda, Somalia and Sierra Leone.
But that force should not be led or staffed by the United States, Russia or the other large European powers, as has become common practice in U.N. exercises, he said.
"Holland, Canada, Scandinavia - individually we may not have everything we need to operate," he said. "But we go in with the world powers' overwatch."
Dallaire told the 200 people in attendance that the big powers have become too self-centered, too miserly with their money and too scared of losing a few soldiers to meet the duties of world police.
"Until they are ready to not only throw the bucks, but draw some blood, they should not participate in these missions," he said.
"What is the credibility of the U.N. when they show up, get a bloody nose, and just pack up?" Dallaire said, citing Somalia. The United States withdrew its forces from Somalia in 1995 after 18 soldiers were killed during a U.N. peacekeeping mission.
Dallaire said more attention must be paid to conditions in Africa, where many nations are experiencing growing pains that result in bloody, prolonged wars.
He displayed a picture of the late animal activist Dian Fossey, who fought to save the endangered mountain gorillas of northern Rwanda. He then asked what would happen if a group went to the mountains to exterminate all those gorillas.
"Unfortunately the reaction of the international community would have been much stronger than that which the slaughter of hundreds of thousands of Rwandans created," Dallaire said.