Rwanda, a success story

After researching your archives, I felt compelled to respond to the 21 September 2007 article by Rwembeho Stephen entitled, Rwandan revolutionists to command UN forces. 

After researching your archives, I felt compelled to respond to the 21 September 2007 article by Rwembeho Stephen entitled, Rwandan revolutionists to command UN forces. 

In the article, Stephen argues that the current professional success of the Rwandan Defence Force is based on the providence surrounding its RPF/RPA revolutionary foundation. 

I was interested in the substance of Stephen’s article, but it was his tone that moved me to write this letter.

  In my recent studies I have come to recognise that same tone in the work of other campaigners who seek a common goal:  the just representation of Rwanda’s revolutionary success.

 I “discovered” the Rwandan story in 2004 while studying at the Marine Corps University in Quantico, Virginia.  Dr. Paolo Tripodi, an ethics professor from the university’s Command & Staff College, presented a lecture and ethical decision exercise on the Rwandan genocide. 

Dr. Tripodi’s lecture outlined the history of the conflict and the ultimate failure of the United Nations Peacekeeping Mission in 1994.

His exercise focused on the moral context of a Belgian Lieutenant’s decision to withdraw his unit from the Ecole Tecnique Officielle (ETO) Don Bosco in Kigali on 11 April 1994; a trusted sanctuary where hundreds of civilians were left to perish so that a few soldiers might live.

The dilemma Dr. Tripodi presented in the exercise was infinitely complicated and thoroughly convincing. 

It was painful to face a situation in which a soldier’s actions could be legally sound, but morally bankrupt.  I marvelled at the distress the exercise created among my classmates. 

We were well versed in the Law of War and understood our legal responsibilities on the battlefield, but the concept of moral liability that Dr. Tripodi introduced was new to our American military minds. 

I went on to expand my understanding of Rwanda.  Not just the genocide, but also the general history of your country and the region of Africa it so greatly influences.  This year, I have been fortunate enough to attend the Marine Corps Command & Staff College and to study under Dr. Tripodi.  With his guidance and inspiration, I have begun a full examination of the Rwandan revolution.

  I am now working diligently towards publishing a thesis on the principles that guided the superb performance of the Rwandan Patriotic Army and successfully shaped it into one of Africa’s most capable peacekeeping forces. 

If my fortune continues I will complete a requested research trip to Kigali in early 2008 so that I can record the your success with my own eyes and ears.

 Thanks to the patient resolve of Rwanda’s leadership, the tragedy and success of the revolution is progressively being recognized as a model case study for leadership and morality. 

As a result of your work, there are now a growing number of officers who hope to incorporate the Rwandan story into the United States Marine Corps’ leadership development program.  Dr. Tripodi is fond of an Old Italian proverb; Dropping water makes the rock hollow, not by its force, but by constant action. 

The revolutionary drops have certainly hollowed the rock and time is now on the side of Rwandan Unity.   If you enjoy Frank Herbert’s classic novel Dune, you will understand that for Rwanda, “The sleeper has awakened.”
Major Robert B. Rehder
United States Marine Corps

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