Friday, March 6, 2009

Sigh [Embarrassing Update Below]

So Abu Dabi's world famous newspaper The National features a review of Prunier's treatise on the Congo wars by Sasha Polakow-Suransky, said to be an editor at Foreign Affairs in New York. I checked--yes, that Foreign Affairs. His bottom line: Prunier's book is manifestly biased because he gave financial support to an armed rebel movement led by Seth Sendashonga. Polakow-Suransky knows this because he read the footnotes:
Prunier’s scathing attacks on Kagame and his western patrons are undermined, however, by his apparent admission – buried in a footnote – that he was directly involved in raising funds for a new armed group led by Seth Sendashonga, a Hutu RPF minister who fled into exile after clashing with Kagame. “I have in my possession a letter from Seth addressed to me from Nairobi on 4 May 1998,” writes Prunier. The letter reads: “With very limited means we carry on our fight...I hope that you keep up with your search for funds and that you can get us some small support. I beg you not to neglect any effort because we are so hard up. It has reached such a point that we have barely enough money to send our mail.”
Perhaps he was thrown off by Seth's use of the word "fight." This is the kind of mistake one might have forgiven in the pre-internet age, even though it completely undermines his argument. But google Sendashonga, and the first hit you come up with is a statement from HRW:
Human Rights Watch and the International Federation of Human Rights Leagues (FIDH) deplore the assassination on May 16 in Nairobi of the outstanding Rwandan political leader Seth Sendashonga.

A man of principle and courage, Sendashonga was widely hailed as a leader of moderation. A second person, an unidentified driver, was slain at the same time.
Hello? Sasha? Foreign Affairs? Post Editors? Sendashonga was a leader of the non-violent kind and a hero to many. Try using the Internets!

Which reminds me that I should be finishing my review of Prunier soon.

[Update 3/7: In an earlier version, I referred to Sasha as a female. In fact, Sasha is a male, which I would have known had I used the Internets! It shows you how easily mistakes can creep into copy. Fortunately, in my case, the mistake only required me to update the pronouns--whereas Sasha's entire argument rests on a false assumption.]

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