Rwanda: Installing a US Protectorate
in Central Africa
The US was behind the Rwandan
The civil war in Rwanda and the
ethnic massacres were an integral part of US foreign policy, carefully
staged in accordance with precise strategic and economic objectives.
by Michel Chossudovsky
www.globalresearch.ca/, May 2000
[Originally written in May 2000,
the following text is Part II of Chapter 7 entitled "Economic
Genocide in Rwanda", of the Second Edition of The Globalization
of Poverty and the New World Order, Global Research, 2003. This
text is in part based on the results of an earlier study conducted
by the author together with Belgian economist and Senator Pierre
Galand on the use of Rwanda's 1990-94 external debt to finance
the military and paramilitary. ]
From the outset of the Rwandan civil war
in 1990, Washington's hidden agenda consisted in establishing
an American sphere of influence in a region historically dominated
by France and Belgium. America's design was to displace France
by supporting the Rwandan Patriotic Front and by arming and equipping
its military arm, the Rwandan Patriotic Army (RPA)
From the mid-1980s, the Kampala government
under President Yoweri Musaveni had become Washington's African
showpiece of "democracy". Uganda had also become a launchpad
for US sponsored guerilla movements into the Sudan, Rwanda and
the Congo. Major General Paul Kagame had been head of military
intelligence in the Ugandan Armed Forces; he had been trained
at the U.S. Army Command and Staff College (CGSC) in Leavenworth,
Kansas which focuses on warfighting and military strategy. Kagame
returned from Leavenworth to lead the RPA, shortly after the 1990
Prior to the outbreak of the Rwandan civil
war, the RPA was part of the Ugandan Armed Forces. Shortly prior
to the October 1990 invasion of Rwanda, military labels were switched.
From one day to the next, large numbers of Ugandan soldiers joined
the ranks of the Rwandan Patriotic Army (RPA). Throughout the
civil war, the RPA was supplied from United People's Defense Forces
(UPDF) military bases inside Uganda. The Tutsi commissioned officers
in the Ugandan army took over positions in the RPA. The October
1990 invasion by Ugandan forces was presented to public opinion
as a war of liberation by a Tutsi led guerilla army.
Militarization of Uganda
The militarization of Uganda was an integral
part of US foreign policy. The build-up of the Ugandan UPDF Forces
and of the Rwandan Patriotic Army (RPA) had been supported by
the US and Britain. The British had provided military training
at the Jinja military base:
"From 1989 onwards, America supported
joint RPF [Rwandan Patriotic Front]-Ugandan attacks upon Rwanda...
There were at least 56 'situation reports' in [US] State Department
files in 1991 As American and British relations with Uganda and
the RPF strengthened, so hostilities between Uganda and Rwanda
escalated By August 1990 the RPF had begun preparing an invasion
with the full knowledge and approval of British intelligence.
Troops from Rwanda's RPA and Uganda's
UPDF had also supported John Garang's People's Liberation Army
in its secessionist war in southern Sudan. Washington was firmly
behind these initiatives with covert support provided by the CIA.
Moreover, under the Africa Crisis Reaction
Initiative (ACRI), Ugandan officers were also being trained by
US Special Forces in collaboration with a mercenary outfit, Military
Professional Resources Inc (MPRI) which was on contract with the
US Department of State. MPRI had provided similar training to
the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) and the Croatian Armed Forces
during the Yugoslav civil war and more recently to the Colombian
Military in the context of Plan Colombia.
Militarization and the Ugandan External
The buildup of the Ugandan external debt
under President Musaveni coincided chronologically with the Rwandan
and Congolese civil wars. With the accession of Musaveni to the
presidency in 1986, the Ugandan external debt stood at 1.3 billion
dollars. With the gush of fresh money, the external debt spiraled
overnight, increasing almost threefold to 3.7 billion by 1997.
In fact, Uganda had no outstanding debt to the World Bank at the
outset of its "economic recovery program". By 1997,
it owed almost 2 billion dollars solely to the World Bank. 22
Where did the money go? The foreign loans
to the Musaveni government had been tagged to support the country's
economic and social reconstruction. In the wake of a protracted
civil war, the IMF sponsored "economic stabilization program"
required massive budget cuts of all civilian programs.
The World Bank was responsible for monitoring
the Ugandan budget on behalf of the creditors. Under the "public
expenditure review" (PER), the government was obliged to
fully reveal the precise allocation of its budget. In other words,
every single category of expenditure --including the budget of
the Ministry of Defense-- was open to scrutiny by the World Bank.
Despite the austerity measures (imposed solely on "civilian"
expenditures), the donors had allowed defense spending to increase
Part of the money tagged for civilian
programs had been diverted into funding the United People's Defense
Force (UPDF) which in turn was involved in military operations
in Rwanda and the Congo. The Ugandan external debt was being used
to finance these military operations on behalf of Washington with
the country and its people ultimately footing the bill. In fact
by curbing social expenditures, the austerity measures had facilitated
the reallocation of State of revenue in favor of the Ugandan military.
Financing both Sides in the Civil War
A similar process of financing military
expenditure from the external debt had occurred in Rwanda under
the Habyarimana government. In a cruel irony, both sides in the
civil war were financed by the same donors institutions with the
World Bank acting as a Watchdog.
The Habyarimana regime had at its disposal
an arsenal of military equipment, including 83mm missile launchers,
French made Blindicide, Belgian and German made light weaponry,
and automatic weapons such as kalachnikovs made in Egypt, China
and South Africa [as well as ... armored AML-60 and M3 armored
vehicles.23 While part of these purchases had been financed by
direct military aid from France, the influx of development loans
from the World Bank's soft lending affiliate the International
Development Association (IDA), the African Development Fund (AFD),
the European Development Fund (EDF) as well as from Germany, the
United States, Belgium and Canada had been diverted into funding
the military and Interhamwe militia.
A detailed investigation of government
files, accounts and correspondence conducted in Rwanda in 1996-97
by the author --together with Belgian economist Pierre Galand--
confirmed that many of the arms purchases had been negotiated
outside the framework of government to government military aid
agreements through various intermediaries and private arms dealers.
These transactions --recorded as bona fide government expenditures--
had nonetheless been included in the State budget which was under
the supervision of the World Bank. Large quantities of machetes
and other items used in the 1994 ethnic massacres --routinely
classified as "civilian commodities" -- had been imported
through regular trading channels. 24
According to the files of the National
Bank of Rwanda (NBR), some of these imports had been financed
in violation of agreements signed with the donors. According to
NBR records of import invoices, approximately one million machetes
had been imported through various channels including Radio Mille
Collines, an organization linked to the Interhamwe militia and
used to foment ethnic hatred. 25
The money had been earmarked by the donors
to support Rwanda's economic and social development. It was clearly
stipulated that funds could not be used to import: "military
expenditures on arms, ammunition and other military material".
26 In fact, the loan agreement with the World Bank's IDA was even
more stringent. The money could not be used to import civilian
commodities such as fuel, foodstuffs, medicine, clothing and footwear
"destined for military or paramilitary use". The records
of the NBR nonetheless confirm that the Habyarimana government
used World Bank money to finance the import of machetes which
had been routinely classified as imports of "civilian commodities."
An army of consultants and auditors had
been sent in by World Bank to assess the Habyarimana government's
"policy performance" under the loan agreement.28 The
use of donor funds to import machetes and other material used
in the massacres of civilians did not show up in the independent
audit commissioned by the government and the World Bank. (under
the IDA loan agreement. (IDA Credit Agreement. 2271-RW).29 In
1993, the World Bank decided to suspend the disbursement of the
second installment of its IDA loan. There had been, according
to the World Bank mission unfortunate "slip-ups" and
"delays" in policy implementation. The free market reforms
were no longer "on track", the conditionalities --including
the privatization of state assets-- had not been met. The fact
that the country was involved in a civil war was not even mentioned.
How the money was spent was never an issue.30
Whereas the World Bank had frozen the
second installment (tranche) of the IDA loan, the money granted
in 1991 had been deposited in a Special Account at the Banque
Bruxelles Lambert in Brussels. This account remained open and
accessible to the former regime (in exile), two months after the
April 1994 ethnic massacres.31
In the wake of the civil war, the World
Bank sent a mission to Kigali with a view to drafting a so-called
loan "Completion Report".32 This was a routine exercise,
largely focussing on macro-economic rather than political issues.
The report acknowledged that "the war effort prompted the
[former] government to increase substantially spending, well beyond
the fiscal targets agreed under the SAP.33 The misappropriation
of World Bank money was not mentioned. Instead the Habyarimana
government was praised for having "made genuine major efforts--
especially in 1991-- to reduce domestic and external financial
imbalances, eliminate distortions hampering export growth and
diversification and introduce market based mechanisms for resource
allocation..." 34, The massacres of civilians were not mentioned;
from the point of view of the donors, "nothing had happened".
In fact the World Bank completion report failed to even acknowledge
the existence of a civil war prior to April 1994.
In the wake of the Civil War: Reinstating
the IMF's Deadly Economic Reforms
In 1995, barely a year after the 1994
ethnic massacres. Rwanda's external creditors entered into discussions
with the Tutsi led RPF government regarding the debts of the former
regime which had been used to finance the massacres. The RPF decided
to fully recognize the legitimacy of the "odious debts"
of the 1990-94. RPF strongman Vice-President Paul Kagame [now
President] instructed the Cabinet not to pursue the matter nor
to approach the World Bank. Under pressure from Washington, the
RPF was not to enter into any form of negotiations, let alone
an informal dialogue with the donors.
The legitimacy of the wartime debts was
never questioned. Instead, the creditors had carefully set up
procedures to ensure their prompt reimbursement. In 1998 at a
special donors' meeting in Stockholm, a Multilateral Trust Fund
of 55.2 million dollars was set up under the banner of postwar
reconstruction.35 In fact, none of this money was destined for
Rwanda. It had been earmarked to service Rwanda's "odious
debts" with the World Bank (--i.e. IDA debt), the African
Development Bank and the International Fund for Agricultural Development
In other words, "fresh money"
--which Rwanda will eventually have to reimburse-- was lent to
enable Rwanda to service the debts used to finance the massacres.
Old loans had been swapped for new debts under the banner of post-war
reconstruction.36 The "odious debts" had been whitewashed,
they had disappeared from the books. The creditor's responsibility
had been erased. Moreover, the scam was also conditional upon
the acceptance of a new wave of IMF-World Bank reforms.
Post War "Reconstruction and Reconciliation"
Bitter economic medicine was imposed under
the banner of "reconstruction and reconciliation". In
fact the IMF post-conflict reform package was far stringent than
that imposed at the outset of the civil war in 1990. While wages
and employment had fallen to abysmally low levels, the IMF had
demanded a freeze on civil service wages alongside a massive retrenchment
of teachers and health workers. The objective was to "restore
macro-economic stability". A downsizing of the civil service
was launched.37 Civil service wages were not to exceed 4.5 percent
of GDP, so-called "unqualified civil servants" (mainly
teachers) were to be removed from the State payroll. 38
Meanwhile, the country's per capita income
had collapsed from $360 (prior to the war) to $140 in 1995. State
revenues had been tagged to service the external debt. Kigali's
Paris Club debts were rescheduled in exchange for "free market"
reforms. Remaining State assets were sold off to foreign capital
at bargain prices.
The Tutsi led RPF government rather than
demanding the cancellation of Rwanda's odious debts, had welcomed
the Bretton Woods institutions with open arms. They needed the
IMF "greenlight" to boost the development of the military.
Despite the austerity measures, defense
expenditure continued to grow. The 1990-94 pattern had been reinstated.
The development loans granted since 1995 were not used to finance
the country's economic and social development. Outside money had
again been diverted into financing a military buildup, this time
of the Rwandan Patriotic Army (RPA). And this build-up of the
RPA occurred in the period immediately preceding the outbreak
of civil war in former Zaire.
Civil War in the Congo
Following the installation of a US client
regime in Rwanda in 1994, US trained Rwandan and Ugandan forces
intervened in former Zaire --a stronghold of French and Belgian
influence under President Mobutu Sese Seko. Amply documented,
US special operations troops -- mainly Green Berets from the 3rd
Special Forces Group based at Fort Bragg, N.C.-- had been actively
training the RPA. This program was a continuation of the covert
support and military aid provided to the RPA prior to 1994. In
turn, the tragic outcome of the Rwandan civil war including the
refugee crisis had set the stage for the participation of Ugandan
and Rwandan RPA in the civil war in the Congo:
"Washington pumped military aid into
Kagame's army, and U.S. Army Special Forces and other military
personnel trained hundreds of Rwandan troops. But Kagame and his
colleagues had designs of their own. While the Green Berets trained
the Rwandan Patriotic Army, that army was itself secretly training
Zairian rebels. [In] Rwanda, U.S. officials publicly portrayed
their engagement with the army as almost entirely devoted to human
rights training. But the Special Forces exercises also covered
other areas, including combat skills Hundreds of soldiers and
officers were enrolled in U.S. training programs, both in Rwanda
and in the United States [C]onducted by U.S. Special Forces, Rwandans
studied camouflage techniques, small-unit movement, troop-leading
procedures, soldier-team development, [etc] And while the training
went on, U.S. officials were meeting regularly with Kagame and
other senior Rwandan leaders to discuss the continuing military
threat faced by the [former Rwandan] government [in exile] from
inside Zaire Clearly, the focus of Rwandan-U.S. military discussion
had shifted from how to build human rights to how to combat an
insurgency With [Ugandan President] Museveni's support, Kagame
conceived a plan to back a rebel movement in eastern Zaire [headed
by Laurent Desire Kabila] ... The operation was launched in October
1996, just a few weeks after Kagame's trip to Washington and the
completion of the Special Forces training mission Once the war
[in the Congo] started, the United States provided "political
assistance" to Rwanda, An official of the U.S. Embassy in
Kigali traveled to eastern Zaire numerous times to liaise with
Kabila. Soon, the rebels had moved on. Brushing off the Zairian
army with the help of the Rwandan forces, they marched through
Africa's third-largest nation in seven months, with only a few
significant military engagements. Mobutu fled the capital, Kinshasa,
in May 1997, and Kabila took power, changing the name of the country
to CongoU.S. officials deny that there were any U.S. military
personnel with Rwandan troops in Zaire during the war, although
unconfirmed reports of a U.S. advisory presence have circulated
in the region since the war's earliest days.39
American Mining Interests
At stake in these military operations
in the Congo were the extensive mining resources of Eastern and
Southern Zaire including strategic reserves of cobalt -- of crucial
importance for the US defense industry. During the civil war several
months before the downfall of Mobutu, Laurent Desire Kabila basedin
Goma, Eastern Zaire had renegotiated the mining contracts with
several US and British mining companies including American Mineral
Fields (AMF), a company headquartered in President Bill Clinton's
hometown of Hope, Arkansas.40
Meanwhile back in Washington, IMF officials
were busy reviewing Zaire's macro-economic situation. No time
was lost. The post-Mobutu economic agenda had already been decided
upon. In a study released in April 1997 barely a month before
President Mobutu Sese Seko fled the country, the IMF had recommended
"halting currency issue completely and abruptly" as
part of an economic recovery programme.41 And a few months later
upon assuming power in Kinshasa, the new government of Laurent
Kabila Desire was ordered by the IMF to freeze civil service wages
with a view to "restoring macro-economic stability."
Eroded by hyperinflation, the average public sector wage had fallen
to 30,000 new Zaires (NZ) a month, the equivalent of one U.S.
The IMF's demands were tantamount to maintaining
the entire population in abysmal poverty. They precluded from
the outset a meaningful post-war economic reconstruction, thereby
contributing to fuelling the continuation of the Congolese civil
war in which close to 2 million people have died.
The civil war in Rwanda was a brutal struggle
for political power between the Hutu-led Habyarimana government
supported by France and the Tutsi Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF)
backed financially and militarily by Washington. Ethnic rivalries
were used deliberately in the pursuit of geopolitical objectives.
Both the CIA and French intelligence were involved.
In the words of former Cooperation Minister
Bernard Debré in the government of Prime Minister Henri
"What one forgets to say is that,
if France was on one side, the Americans were on the other, arming
the Tutsis who armed the Ugandans. I don't want to portray a showdown
between the French and the Anglo-Saxons, but the truth must be
In addition to military aid to the warring
factions, the influx of development loans played an important
role in "financing the conflict." In other words, both
the Ugandan and Rwanda external debts were diverted into supporting
the military and paramilitary. Uganda's external debt increased
by more than 2 billion dollars, --i.e. at a significantly faster
pace than that of Rwanda (an increase of approximately 250 million
dollars from 1990 to 1994). In retrospect, the RPA -- financed
by US military aid and Uganda's external debt-- was much better
equipped and trained than the Forces Armées du Rwanda (FAR)
loyal to President Habyarimana. From the outset, the RPA had a
definite military advantage over the FAR.
According to the testimony of Paul Mugabe,
a former member of the RPF High Command Unit, Major General Paul
Kagame had personally ordered the shooting down of President Habyarimana's
plane with a view to taking control of the country. He was fully
aware that the assassination of Habyarimana would unleash "a
genocide" against Tutsi civilians. RPA forces had been fully
deployed in Kigali at the time the ethnic massacres took place
and did not act to prevent it from happening:
The decision of Paul Kagame to shoot Pres.
Habyarimana's aircraft was the catalyst of an unprecedented drama
in Rwandan history, and Major-General Paul Kagame took that decision
with all awareness. Kagame's ambition caused the extermination
of all of our families: Tutsis, Hutus and Twas. We all lost. Kagame's
take-over took away the lives of a large number of Tutsis and
caused the unnecessary exodus of millions of Hutus, many of whom
were innocent under the hands of the genocide ringleaders. Some
naive Rwandans proclaimed Kagame as their savior, but time has
demonstrated that it was he who caused our suffering and misfortunes
Can Kagame explain to the Rwandan people why he sent Claude Dusaidi
and Charles Muligande to New York and Washington to stop the UN
military intervention which was supposed to be sent and protect
the Rwandan people from the genocide? The reason behind avoiding
that military intervention was to allow the RPF leadership the
takeover of the Kigali Government and to show the world that they
- the RPF - were the ones who stopped the genocide. We will all
remember that the genocide occurred during three months, even
though Kagame has said that he was capable of stopping it the
first week after the aircraft crash. Can Major-General Paul Kagame
explain why he asked to MINUAR to leave Rwandan soil within hours
while the UN was examining the possibility of increasing its troops
in Rwanda in order to stop the genocide?44
Paul Mugabe's testimony regarding the
shooting down of Habyarimana's plane ordered by Kagame is corroborated
by intelligence documents and information presented to the French
parliamentary inquiry. Major General Paul Kagame was an instrument
of Washington. The loss of African lives did not matter. The civil
war in Rwanda and the ethnic massacres were an integral part of
US foreign policy, carefully staged in accordance with precise
strategic and economic objectives.
Despite the good diplomatic relations
between Paris and Washington and the apparent unity of the Western
military alliance, it was an undeclared war between France and
America. By supporting the build up of Ugandan and Rwandan forces
and by directly intervening in the Congolese civil war, Washington
also bears a direct responsibility for the ethnic massacres committed
in the Eastern Congo including several hundred thousand people
who died in refugee camps.
US policy-makers were fully aware that
a catastrophe was imminent. In fact four months before the genocide,
the CIA had warned the US State Department in a confidential brief
that the Arusha Accords would fail and "that if hostilities
resumed, then upward of half a million people would die".
45 This information was withheld from the United Nations: "it
was not until the genocide was over that information was passed
to Maj.-Gen. Dallaire [who was in charge of UN forces in Rwanda]."
Washington's objective was to displace
France, discredit the French government (which had supported the
Habyarimana regime) and install an Anglo-American protectorate
in Rwanda under Major General Paul Kagame. Washington deliberately
did nothing to prevent the ethnic massacres.
When a UN force was put forth, Major General
Paul Kagame sought to delay its implementation stating that he
would only accept a peacekeeping force once the RPA was in control
of Kigali. Kagame "feared [that] the proposed United Nations
force of more than 5,000 troops [might] intervene to deprive them
[the RPA] of victory".47 Meanwhile the Security Council after
deliberation and a report from Secretary General Boutros Boutros
Ghali decided to postpone its intervention.
The 1994 Rwandan "genocide"
served strictly strategic and geopolitical objectives. The ethnic
massacres were a stumbling blow to France's credibility which
enabled the US to establish a neocolonial foothold in Central
Africa. From a distinctly Franco-Belgian colonial setting, the
Rwandan capital Kigali has become --under the expatriate Tutsi
led RPF government-- distinctly Anglo-American. English has become
the dominant language in government and the private sector. Many
private businesses owned by Hutus were taken over in 1994 by returning
Tutsi expatriates. The latter had been exiled in Anglophone Africa,
the US and Britain.
The Rwandan Patriotic Army (RPA) functions
in English and Kinyarwanda, the University previously linked to
France and Belgium functions in English. While English had become
an official language alongside French and Kinyarwanda, French
political and cultural influence will eventually be erased. Washington
has become the new colonial master of a francophone country.
Several other francophone countries in
Sub-Saharan Africa have entered into military cooperation agreements
with the US. These countries are slated by Washington to follow
suit on the pattern set in Rwanda. Meanwhile in francophone West
Africa, the US dollar is rapidly displacing the CFA Franc -- which
is linked in a currency board arrangement to the French Treasury.
Notes (Endnote numbering as in the original
Written in 1999, the following text is
Part II of Chapter 5 on the Second Edition of The Globalization
of Poverty and the New World Order. The first part of chapter
published in the first edition was written in 1994. Part II is
in part based on a study conducted by the author and Belgian economist
Pierre Galand on the use of Rwanda's 1990-94 external debt to
finance the military and paramilitary.
Africa Direct, Submission to the UN Tribunal on Rwanda, http://www.junius.co.uk/africa-
Africa's New Look, Jane's Foreign Report, August 14, 1997.
Jim Mugunga, Uganda foreign debt hits Shs 4 trillion, The Monitor,
Kampala, 19 February 1997.
Michel Chossudovsky and Pierre Galand, L'usage de la dette exterieure
du Rwanda, la responsabilité des créanciers, mission
report, United Nations Development Program and Government of Rwanda,
Ottawa and Brussels, 1997.
ibid, the imports recorded were of the order of kg. 500.000 of
machetes or approximately one million machetes.
Ibid. See also schedule 1.2 of the Development Credit Agreement
with IDA, Washington, 27 June 1991, CREDIT IDA 2271 RW.
Chossudovsky and Galand, op cit
World Bank completion report, quoted in Chossudovsky and Galand,
See World Bank, Rwanda at http://www.worldbank.org/afr/rw2.htm.
Ibid, italics added
A ceiling on the number of public employees had been set at 38,000
for 1998 down from 40,600 in 1997. See Letter of Intent of the
Government of Rwanda including cover letter addressed to IMF Managing
Director Michel Camdessus, IMF, Washington, http://www.imf.org/external/np/loi/060498.htm
Lynne Duke Africans Use US Military Training in Unexpected Ways,
Washington Post. July 14, 1998; p.A01.
Musengwa Kayaya, U.S. Company To Invest in Zaire, Pan African
News, 9 May 1997.
International Monetary Fund, Zaire Hyperinflation 1990-1996,
Washington, April 1997.
Alain Shungu Ngongo, Zaire-Economy: How to Survive On a Dollar
a Month, International Press Service, 6 June 1996.
Quoted in Therese LeClerc. "Who is responsible for the genocide
in Rwanda?", World Socialist website at http://www.wsws.org/index.shtml
, 29 April 1998.
Paul Mugabe, The Shooting Down Of The Aircraft Carrying Rwandan
President Habyarimama , testimony to the International Strategic
Studies Association (ISSA), Alexandria, Virginia, 24 April 2000.
Linda Melvern, Betrayal of the Century, Ottawa Citizen, Ottawa,
8 April 2000.
Scott Peterson, Peacekeepers will not halt carnage, say Rwanda,
rebels, Daily Telegraph, London, May 12, 1994.