There are few people who know more about genocide than Canadian Senator Roméo Dallaire. As the Force Commander of the United Nations Mission in Rwanda in 1994, he did his best to protect the country’s Tutsi minority from a rising tide of Hutu hatred. Yet his small force, hobbled as it was by the UN’s limited rules of engagement, could not prevent the carnage that unfolded. Over three months, 800,000 Rwandans were hacked to death amidst scenes of medieval-style bloodlust.
And so you might think that Sen. Dallaire would be an active proponent of large-scale military intervention in Syria, where more than 30,000 people already have died violently over the last 18 months. But the man’s views on this subject actually are quite nuanced. His experiences have led him to believe that the best time for the world community to act is early in a crisis. As the Iraq War shows, once the slaughter begins, it is difficult for even advanced Western armies to stanch the flow of blood.