CNN’s ‘Puff Piece’ on Rwanda with Bill Clinton Falls Short

In 1998, Bill Clinton apologized on behalf of the American people to the Rwandans for not doing enough to stop the 1994 genocide in their country. Fast forward fourteen years. Bill Clinton, now in his capacity of the head of the Clinton Global Initiative, returns to Rwanda where he is interviewed by CNN.

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President Clinton, a long-time friend of Rwanda President Paul Kagame, told CNN that “he blew it here” and that outside intervention by the U.S. and its allies could have saved a third of the people who died in the genocide. He talked about Rwanda’s  economic success story, their “good roads” and “good farms” and the overall cleanliness of the country. No questions were asked Clinton about Rwanda’s well-documented profiteering off of Congo’s conflict minerals.

CNN reporters also focused on mountain gorillas that “end up in the crossfires” of the Eastern Congo conflict.  While gorillas are marvelous animals and need to be protected with all endangered species, we were astounded that CNN reporter Erin Burnett asked no questions about Rwanda’s role in the Eastern Congo. She didn’t mention the latest wave of tens of thousands of Congolese refugees fleeing the violence. She asked no questions about evidence that Rwanda is providing support to Congolese rebel groups that are stirring up the violence.

Rwanda’s disruptive role in mineral rich Eastern Congo is no secret. Take a look at The Atlantic article The U.S. Ally That Brings Violence to the Congo and Gets Away With It. And for more depth, consider the many reports by United Nations researchers and human rights organizations. And now it looks like the U.S. State Department is finally beginning to put some pressure on Rwanda in regards to the Congo. Here is an excerpt from a recent statement:

“In light of information that Rwanda is supporting armed groups in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), the Department of State has decided it can no longer provide Foreign Military Financing (FMF) appropriated in the current fiscal year to Rwanda, considering a restriction imposed by the 2012 appropriation act.

“As a result, we will not obligate $200,000 in Fiscal Year 2012 FMF funds that were intended to support a Rwandan academy for non-commissioned officers.  These funds will be reallocated for programming in another country.

“We will continue to provide assistance to Rwanda to enhance its capacity to support peacekeeping missions.

“The Department continues to assess whether other steps should be taken in response to Rwanda’s actions with respect to the DRC.

“The United States government is deeply concerned about the evidence that Rwanda is implicated in the provision of support to Congolese rebel groups, including M23.” Read entire statement on Jason’s Stearn’s blog.

CNN, in their Rwanda reporting, obviously didn’t do their homework. They are apparently more concerned about telling a feel good story with an international celebrity than getting to the roots of the ongoing violence in the region. As for Clinton, you would think that a former U.S. president, husband of the current secretary of state, and global philanthropist would assume some role in bringing peace to neighboring Congo. After all, the Democratic Republic of Congo has seen more than five million deaths since the violence in Rwanda spilled over into their country.

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