Shake Hands with the Devil

I seldom review movies on this blog. . .

This little piece is not meant to be construed as a review. Yet I urge everyone to go see Shake Hands with the Devil. Based on Lieutenant General Roméo Dallaire's bestselling novel of the same title, it depicts the events that led to the genocide in Rwanda. And since the producers kept Dallaire as a consultant, you truly get the feeling that you are seeing a genuine dramatization of the atrocities which occurred in that small African country.

I was afraid that the producers would try to sugarcoat it, which would have ruined the movie for me. Fortunately, they go ahead and point a finger toward those who deserve the blame, as well as the shame that is associated with it. Unless you like to bury your head in the sand and pretend that everything is peaches and cream, it showcases the travesty that the United Nations can be. It demonstrates just how inadequate and what a disgraceful mockery the Security Council can be. It shows (but they let him off the hook too easily for my taste) how Kofi Annan refused to act and attach any sort of importance to the massacres that were taking place. That merry bunch of idiots failed to qualify these horrible acts as a "genocide," for they would have then been forced by international law to intervene.

So they stalled for time, while over 800,000 Tutsi were exterminated by the Hutu, all in about 100 days. And I was extremely glad when I discovered that the producers didn't pull any punches and laid the blame of that blatant inaction on those who are worthy of infamy for allowing a genocide to occur during their watch: The international community in its entirety is to blame, of course, but France and the USA could have put a stop to the atrocities before it became wholesale slaughter. And Belgium deserves its share of the blame for withdrawing its Peacekeepers in the middle of the conflict.

Needless to say, Shake Hands with the Devil is a powerful film. Shot on location in Rwanda for the most part, it certainly makes you stop and think about just how incompetent and incapable the UN is when it's dealing with that sort of crisis. . . This is no big budget, feel good flick, so I figure it won't remain in theaters for long.

Do yourself a favor and go see it.:-) The truth of what took place in Rwanda is ugly, but I believe it should be seen and understood. . .

10 commentaires:

Stormy70 said...

I will look for this movie.
The UN should be disbanded, look at their fecklessness in the face of Burmese monks being slaughtered by the military junta. The UN is a failed idea and deserves the fate of the League of Nations.

Ron said...

Okay, so the US gets blamed if we intervene and blamed if we don't.

What do you want from us?

Patrick said...

Ron: The USA will always get blamed, somehow. It's unfair and I agree with you.

But in this instance, they sat on their asses while nearly a million people were slaughtered.

I'm habitually a staunch defender of the US in this province of American haters, yet Clinton should have sent troops in Rwanda, especially since there were American soldiers stationed nearby...

But the same can be said of the French and the British, as well as a dozen other countries...

Just go see the movie!

Ed S. said...

Speaking specifically about the situation in Burma only and specifically a response to comments above from "stormy70":

I think most people are rather ignorant about the limitations of the United Nations. There are articles in the UN charter which specifically forbid interference in the domestic jursidiction of any state and civil unrest in Burma is a domestic issue. And yes there are also contradictory articles talking about the need for humanitarian interference but when the shit hits the fan no country wants to give the UN the right or ability to unilaterly walk into a sovereign country without its permission and sort out some mess because every country is scared to death that they could end up being their borders crossed next time. This is generally why the UN has to be "invited" by the government in power to enter a country to help with some situation. Of course this is not going to happen in places like Burma.

And that brings up the other point which is that the UN does not have an army of its own - and no country wants it to have one - and must rely on member countries to supply troops for any peacekeeping mission. You'll note that in spite of all the moral outrage over the situation in Burma not one single country has made the slightest suggestion that they would be willing to supply any troops to force change in Burma. Of course considering that Burma has a 400,000 man army it's probably just as well that no one's in any rush to forcibly "liberate" the country. Isn't that about the same size as Saddam Hussein's army when the US "liberated" Iraq? And how is that working out????

Permanent change in a country has to come from within. You can speed up the process somewhat through organizations like the UN by putting diplomatic, economic and trade pressure on a country like Burma. Internal change is painfully slow but it will eventually happen. The worst thing you can do is adopt a cowboy mentality and think that the UN can rush out (with its non-existant army and non-existant troops from member countries) to invade some brutal dictatorship to bring "democracy". Iraq has proven the foolishness of this course of action.

Itkovian said...

Well, AFAIK, Belgium had troops there, but they were undermanned, pathetically armed, and had to respond to (iirc) conflicting orders. 10 troopers were slaughtered, not allowed to defend themselves.

I think the entire UN idea is just dumb, if you see that a single country can veto anything, and yet break any rule the UN can impose (read: the USA). It's just a travesty. But then, I don't believe for a second politics are the solution for the worlds problems. We need en enlightened despot IMO.

Stormy70 said...

ed s,

How does your comment change the fact that the UN is indeed useless to stop a genocide or massacre from happening. The UN wrings their hands, and nothing changes, so why bother? It should be disbanded, period.

Countries will always act selfishly in the Great Game. This will never change, and the UN does nothing but soak up money that could be used elsewhere.

Anonymous said...

The greatest tragedy about Rwanda is that everyone knew it was happening but it didn't appeal to any nation's self-interest enough for them to intervene. The world has not yet arrived (and may never) at the fantasy novel vision of doing what is right because it is the right thing to do. Is it any wonder we love our genre so much?

Better than see the movie, I recommend reading the book written by Dallaire himself. The movie (according to another reviewer I respect) dwells too much on the man and not enough on his message.

Adam Whitehead said...

Interestingly I saw Hotel Rwanda for the second time just a few days ago, another powerful account of the genocide seen from another perspective.

Ron said...

What makes the US issue interesting, IMO, is that when the Republicans are in power, we mobilize troops and get attacked for it. When the Democrats are in power, we do not mobilize and get attacked for it.

Maybe we keep voting backwards?

Jebus said...

Check out "Shooting Dogs" (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0420901/) as well which focuses on a specific event and features the always brilliant John Hurt.

Also maybe try and find "The Night of Truth" (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0424318/) which is from Burkina Faso and is a fictionalised portrayal of the leaders of both tribes coming together to try and find peace, it was based on the Rwandan events and I highly recommend it. I found it very Shakespearean in its themes that were totally applicable to current events.