Saturday, December 13, 2008

Quote of the Day

The 1972 genocide in Burundi received little attention while it was taking place and has received even less since. It gets cursory treatment in Samantha Power's history of US responses to genocide, for example, although she notes that the State Department's response was typically underwhelming. But one notable figure did respond with outrage. After receiving a bland, non-committal memo on the killings from Henry Kissinger, who observed that since neither the Soviets nor the Chinese were involved, the issue posed no threat to US interests, Nixon exploded:
This is one of the most cynical, callous reactions of a great government to a terrible human tragedy I have seen. When the Paks try to put down a rebellion in East Pakistan, the world screams. When Indians kill a few thousand Paks, no one cares. Biafra stirs us because of the Catholics. the Israeli [Munich?] Olympics because of the Jews; the North Vietnam bombings because of Communist leanings in our government. But when 100,000 are murdered, we say and do nothing, because we must not make blacks look bad... I do not buy this double standard. Tell the weak sisters in the African bureau of State to give a recommendation as to how we can at least show moral outrage. And let's begin by calling our Ambassador immediately for consultation. Under no circumstances will I appoint a new ambassador to present credentials to these butchers.
Who'd of thunk it? The master of realpolitik turns out to have been the only US president ever to have had a recognizably human reaction to genocide.

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