President Kagame's statement on the Iraq declaration at the Africa-France
President Kagame made the following statement to members of the French
media regarding a declaration on Iraq issued at the Africa-France summit in
Question : The 22nd Africa-France Summit issued a declaration on Iraq. Did you
sign it ?
Answer : There wasn't a debate on such an issue. Thank you for providing me
with the opportunity to debate it now !
This is a matter that is already in the hands of the UN Security Council. Looking
at it broadly, if you were to choose between war and peace, the natural choice
is to have peace. But in my thinking, when you do not have war, it does not
necessarily mean that you have peace.
And if there are justified reasons for war, as was the case in Rwanda during
genocide, then wars can be waged. That is, if firstly war is the only
alternative, and secondly, if war is waged to create peace.
Sometimes when people think about war, they only see its implications. But
there are other situations which amount to the same thing despite the absence
of war. If for example you have to choose between war and weapons of mass
destruction (to use other people's terms) in the hands of someone who can use
them, and if this war is aimed at disarming, what would you choose between
the two ? The choice here is not between war and peace. The choice in the
context of the UN Security Council and Resolution 1441 is between war and
weapons of mass destruction, and not between war and peace.
This is my understanding. If it was simply a choice between war and peace,
then the automatic choice is peace. But if it is a choice between war and
weapons of mass destruction, there to be used by anyone who has them in
their hands, then I would say that war is a better evil than the alternative.
That is my thinking and I am saying that based on my own experience:
between war and genocide, I would choose war. I would wage a war to deal
with genocide. And perhaps that is one of the failures of the International
Community. They went into semantics and just used words, but they did not
come up with an accurate description of what was happening in Rwanda. They
wasted so much time using nice words while genocide was going on, and we
lost one million people. People had enough time to keep debating, which word
to use to describe what was happening in Rwanda, whether to send there
troops or whether to send observers, NGOs, and in the process we lost one
million people. I am talking from my own experience.
I could be wrong, but the debate is being distorted. When the Security Council
sat down and put in place Resolution 1441, what did they have in mind? What
was it about in the first place? For us we are just onlookers. I have never been
to Iraq; I do not know Iraq; I do not know what they have; I do not know
what they do not have. But the Security Council sits and says there are
weapons of mass destruction in Iraq and we should pass a resolution to disarm
So the issue becomes disarming Iraq. Now sometimes they shift from disarming
Iraq to how long the inspections should take, war, peace and the whole thing
gets mixed up and perhaps people lose track of what they are supposed to do.
I have seen people demonstrating. Are they demonstrating about the choice
between peace and war, or are they demonstrating about the choice between
war and weapons of mass destruction? I wish the same people had
demonstrated when genocide was taking place in Rwanda and when everybody
was asking about which word to use to describe how the Rwandans were
If you had asked me then whether I had to go to war to stop the genocide or
to give time to NGOs and inspectors to go and see whether people were
actually dying, I would have told them that they were wasting time. You have
to be sure that this is happening and then you have to act, or you simply say
that I am not going to do anything about it. It is as complex as that but if I
had the opportunity to argue my point, this is what I would have said.