never let the natives see you bleedSomewhere, tucked in the seatback pocket of an MD-11, someone is going to find a half-read copy of Romeo Dallaire's book about the genocide in Rwanda. It's a shame to have lost it; I was marking up the pages in anticipation of a long blog post, or something like that. It's a remarkable book.
But the thing that I remember most clearly, aside from example after example of the general uselessness of the United Nations, was the revelation about the Belgians refusing to sleep in tents. Dallaire, as the commander of UN peacekeeping forces in Rwanda, developed a plan that placed Belgian troops in key locations throughout the country. Upon arrival, the Belgian Army commanders refused to go to those locations -- since there were no buildings there for them, and their soldiers were forbidden by national policy to sleep under canvas. Dallaire demanded to see a copy of the regulation in question, and the Belgians promptly complied. The regulation, in turned out, had nothing to do with the comfort or well-being of the soldiers; rather, Belgian national policy forbade the quartering of troops in tents in Africa, for the explicit reason that it was important to maintain a proper posture in front of Africans.
We are not yet really in a position to talk about the legacies of colonialism.
Anyway, if you have further questions about the book, you may take them up with the passenger in aisle 12, seat b.