essay originally appeared in the June 1994 issue of The
mass butchery in Rwanda provides several important and instructive
lessons to the American people, lessons which – surprise,
surprise! – are emphatically not being pointed out
by our beloved media.
the first place, we see starkly revealed the idiocy of the New
World Order and the attempt of our global social democrats to
impose “democracy,” multiculturalism and multiethnicity on the
entire world. The blue-helmeted troops of the United Nations,
mainly French and Belgians as a legacy of Belgian imperialism
in Rwanda and neighboring Burundi, have had to stand by helplessly
while the massacre proceeded, and some of them were even cut down
in the crossfire. So, what next, Slick Willie? Shall it be the
usual American “solution”: air strikes against Hutu and/or Tutsi,
or maybe send in a few hundred thousand ground troops to establish
“free elections” and “human rights” in Rwanda and Burundi? Lotsaluck.
dealing with crime, liberals like to concentrate on “root causes”
rather than on crime, whereas conservatives want to zap the criminals.
The two concerns are not really mutually exclusive, however; the
real problem is that the liberals are concentrating on the wrong
“root causes.” That is, on “poverty” or “child abuse” instead
of a rotten immoral character and the factors that may give rise
to such a character, e.g., lack of respect for private property,
unwillingness to work, and emphasis on short-run “kicks” instead
of forethought about the future. In the Rwanda massacres, liberals
are again unwilling to face the root causes: clashing tribes in
a fairly small territorial area.
to myth about the “overpopulated” Third World, African density
is generally very low compared to the rest of the world. The reasons
are not difficult to figure out: if there is little or no capital
equipment or economic development, the African land area will
only support a small population. Before the European imperialism
of the nineteenth century, then, various African tribes had a
considerable amount of room to roam around in, without getting
in each other’s hair. European imperialism, however, – British,
French, German, Belgian, Portuguese – carved out and conquered
land areas, creating various phony “countries,” with total disregard
for the integrity of the various tribes, most of whom, as in the
Balkans, the Caucasus, and nearly everywhere else, have little
or nothing in common and hate each other’s guts. European imperialism,
however, artificially incorporated various clashing tribes into
one “country,” and, on the other hand, split up the same tribes
imposing artificial “borders” within their territory. Setting
the stage, of course, inevitably, for bitter conflicts and warfare
after the imperialists pulled out after World War II. The manner
of pulling out made things worse: for the retiring European empires
turned over these “countries” to Marxoid bureaucratic elites who
had been detribalized and had been educated – or better,
“trained” – in the Marxist-dominated elite universities of
the imperial capitals: London, Paris, Brussels, or Lisbon.
ethno-racial clashes between African tribes have been particularly
murderous in Rwanda and Burundi because these two small areas
are the densest in Africa. Rwanda, for example, has about seven
million people in an area the size of Vermont – not a lot
by Western European standards, but very dense for Africa. In this
relatively small area there have lived for centuries, side by
side and at each other’s throats, two very different racial tribes:
the Hutu and Tutsi. The Tutsi are familiar to all those who saw
the grand epic movie, King
Solomon’s Mines (the 1950 version with Stewart Granger
and Deborah Kerr); they are a tall, slender, graceful, noble-looking
tribe, there called the Watusi. The Tutsi are an Ethiopid, Nilotic
people. The Hutu, on the other hand, are short, squat Bantu, a
closer approximation to what used to be called “Negro” in America.
“Negroes” are now called “black,” but the problem here is that
the skin color of both the Tutsi and the Hutu are much the same.
The real issue, as in most other cases, is not skin color but
various character traits of different population groups.
crucial point is that, in both Rwanda and Burundi, Hutus and Tutsis
have coexisted for centuries; the Tutsi are about 15 percent of
the total population, the Hutu about 85 percent. And yet consistently,
over the centuries, the Tutsi have totally dominated, and even
enserfed, the Hutu. How are we to explain this consistent pattern
of domination by a small minority? Could it be – dare I say
it – that along with being taller, slimmer, more graceful
and noble-looking, the Tutsi are far more i-n-t-e-l-l-i-g-e-n-t
than the Hutu? And yet what else explains this overriding fact?
Note: as a libertarian, I neither advocate nor condone the centuries-old
pattern of domination by Tutsi over Hutu. I would love to see
them coexist peacefully, participating in a division of labor
joined together by a free market. But there is not a chance of
a whoop in Hell for such a coexistence to take place. Or do you
think that the UN or the U.S. or NATO or some other super-coercive
force, should march into Rwanda and Burundi with millions of highly
armed troops to impose a “free market” on these people, or even,
God forbid, social democracy? Again, lotsa luck.
of armies and intelligence, it is a remarkable fact that the current
race war was touched off by the assassination of the two Hutu
presidents of Rwanda and Burundi, who were flying in a plane over
the Rwanda capital – and that this assassination was perpetrated
by a Tutsi rocket fired from the ground, blowing up the plane.
Now here we have a fascinating high-tech innovation in assassination
theory and practice.
heads of state are killed by rifle or revolver; or, sometimes
by a bomb placed in a plane. But to assassinate by rocket! Wow!
Looking at the recent exploits of our trillion-dollar Pentagon:
dropping dud bombs on a Serbian truck, and shooting down our own
helicopters over northern Iraq, maybe we should cut the military
budget a lot more, and import some Tutsi engineers!
N. Rothbard (1926–1995) was the author of Man,
Economy, and State, Conceived
in Liberty, What
Has Government Done to Our Money, For
a New Liberty, The
Case Against the Fed, and many
other books and articles. He
was also the editor – with Lew Rockwell – of The
Rothbard-Rockwell Report, and academic vice president of
the Ludwig von Mises Institute.