Adam Jones on Rwanda and Genocide: A Reply
Adam Jones on
Edward S. Herman and David Peterson
Like Gerald Caplan's hostile "review" of our book, The Politics of Genocide, Adam Jones's aggressive attack on our response to Caplan can be explained in significant part by Jones's deep commitment to an establishment narrative on the Rwandan genocide that we believe to be false—one that misallocates the main responsibility for that still ongoing disaster, but dominates by virtue of political interests and intellectual conformity. Caplan devoted perhaps 5 percent of his "review" to our book, and the remaining 95 percent to an attack on us for our treatment of Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo. But Jones went Caplan one-better, ignoring our book altogether (which at the time of his writing Jones did not appear to have read, despite his great concern with "genocide") while focusing on our response to Caplan. The result was a series of false accusations and emotional insults that—at least in the latter case—we had not seen in Jones's work before.
There are further disagreements between Jones and us that might upset or anger him: His and our moral priorities differ, with Jones's all-too-often fitting well with the priorities of
Jones, Genocide, and Priorities
As regards priorities, the Western establishment has given minimal attention to the “sanctions of mass destruction” imposed on
In the same 2006 textbook, Jones devotes only a little more than one full page to "The US in Indochina" (Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia), even though he acknowledges that "Somewhere between two million and five million Indochinese died, mostly at the hands of the US and its allies," and were subjected to an "historically unprecedented level of chemical warfare" (especially against southern Vietnam), with an estimated "3.5 million landmines and 300,000 tons of unexploded ordinance" left behind by the United States at the time of its withdrawal in 1975.
On the other hand, Jones devotes a full-length chapter to "
Even more notable is the fact that Jones devotes a full-length chapter to "
Jones's chapter on
More important, and no doubt contributing to Jones’s failure to mention this dramatic downward revision in the numbers, is the fact that these numbers are quite small relative to cases that Jones does not feature in his 2006 textbook, but that do not comport well with friendly portrayals of the role of the Western establishment in genocide. Based on Table 1 in our book The Politics of Genocide, we can estimate the ratio of the relative "scale" of Muslim deaths in Bosnia (1992-1995) to deaths in other theaters that Jones does not feature in his 2006 textbook: Assuming Bosnian Muslim deaths = 1, then Iraqi deaths during the sanctions era = 24, Iraqi deaths during the U.S.-U.K. war = 30, and deaths in the DRC = 164. The scale of deaths in Vietnam and Indonesia would yield similar levels that also dwarf deaths in Bosnia. We may recall Jones's reference to Kosovo as Milosevic's "final genocidal act"—a case where the final death-toll among the Kosovo Albanians (through June 1999) was estimated to be 4,000 (or 0.1, on the scale we're using here). Clearly, then, Jones's chapter on "
Jones's assault on our treatment of
Then there is the fact that Kagame's forces went into action within an hour of the shoot-down, and that within 100 days, succeeded in capturing state-power in
Jones claims that Kagame and the RPF did not align with the Tutsi of Rwanda, the invading RPF allegedly having "no connection to, and apparently no particular sympathy for, the Tutsi civilian population of
Jones acknowledges one conclusion drawn by Christian Davenport and Allan Stam from their work on
Jones's objections are ill-informed, even laughable, and they badly misrepresent both
Davenport and Stam argue quite reasonably that if there were approximately 600,000 Tutsi in Rwanda in 1991, as the 1991 census found, and if, "according to the survival organization Ibuka, about 300,000 Tutsi survived the 1994 slaughter," then "out of the 800,000 to 1 million believed to have been killed then, more than half were Hutu," and could not have been otherwise—and were not, as Jones states in his 2006 textbook, "overwhelmingly Tutsi." Indeed, both Jones's and the standard model's contention that the vast or "overwhelming" majority of the likely one million deaths in
Equally important, Jones misrepresents Davenport and Stam's core finding, as expressed in their October 2009 Miller-McCune article, that "not all of Rwanda was engulfed in violence at the same time" in 1994, but that the "violence spread from one locale to another, and there seemed to be a definite sequence to the spread." As they explain the logic behind the sequence of Rwandan political violence:
The killings in the zone controlled by the FAR [Army of Rwanda] seemed to escalate as the RPF [Rwandan Patriotic Front] moved into the country and acquired more territory. When the RPF advanced, large-scale killings escalated. When the RPF stopped, large-scale killings largely decreased. The data revealed in our maps was consistent with FAR claims that it would have stopped much of the killing if the RPF had simply called a halt to its invasion. This conclusion runs counter to the Kagame administration's claims that the RPF continued its invasion to bring a halt to the killings.
In our book The Politics of Genocide, we point out that "Davenport and Stam's work shows convincingly that the theaters where the killing was greatest correlated with spikes in RPF activity (i.e., with RPF 'surges', in their terminology), as a series of RPF advances, particularly in the month of April 1994, created roving patterns of killing;" elsewhere we state that whenever and wherever the RPF advanced, a lot of Rwandans died, and whenever and wherever the RPF halted its advances, fewer Rwandans died. In our book, moreover, we write that "Davenport and Stam shy away from asserting the most important lesson of their work" (which we've just summarized), and are "inconsistent on the question of likely perpetrators, with their evidence of likely RPF responsibility contradicted by assertions of primary responsibility on the part of the FAR." We make these criticisms on pages 58 and 59, and in endnote 129 (pp. 132-133); anyone who wants to learn about how we actually use Davenport and Stam's important, if sometimes hesitant and even contradictory, work, should turn there rather than to Jones.
This pattern of RPF-bloodbaths from April through July 1994 did not terminate when the RPF seized Rwandan state-power in July, but continued throughout the remainder of 1994 and well into 1995 (recall the findings of the September 1994 State Department memorandum), and later was extended to vast territories of neighboring Zaire (now the Democratic Republic of Congo). Jones grossly misrepresents this second, much larger phase of the RPF's rolling genocides across
But as the 2002 report of the UN Panel of Experts on the Illegal Exploitation of Natural Resources and Other Forms of Wealth of the Democratic Republic of Congo made abundantly clear, although "Rwanda’s leaders have succeeded in persuading the international community that their military presence in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo protects the country against hostile groups in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, who, they claim, are actively mounting an invasion against them," the "Panel has extensive evidence to the contrary"—the "real long-term purpose is, to use the term employed by the Congo Desk of the Rwandan Patriotic Army, to 'secure property'." In short, once the RPF controlled the Rwandan state, it immediately turned its prodigious killing-machine towards
The UN Panel's 2002 report ended its section on
René Lemarchand uses the phrase "politically correct interpretation of the genocide" to refer to what we call the standard model of the "Rwandan Genocide," which the majority of historians defend even in the face of massive evidence to the contrary. Among the relevant facts that this "politically correct interpretation" downplays or suppresses are the overwhelming significance of the October 1, 1990 invasion of Rwanda by the RPF under U.S. and Ugandan sponsorship, a war of aggression (not a civil war) the immediate goal of which was the ouster of the Habyarimana - Hutu majority government and the capture of state-power by this foreign proxy; the RPF's responsibility for the assassination of Habyarimana, the "triggering event" of the April - July 1994 bloodshed, and the evidence (which all-too-few scholars are willing to examine) that it was in fact the actions of the RPF from this moment onward that drove the carnage, with the RPF's longer-term goal of deepening and expanding its own (and U.S.) influence in Central Africa. In the real world, the "Rwandan Genocide" (i.e., the deaths of perhaps one million Rwandans from April through July, 1994) occurred within this historical context—as have the far greater bloodbaths that Kagame's and Museveni's national armies, proxies, "elite networks" and collaborators unleashed against the DRC since 1994 in an effort to capture its natural resources, with uninterrupted U.S. support through the present day.
There is no doubt that Lemarchand's warning makes a sound critical point about the dominant historiography on Rwanda—a great deal of fear haunts the halls of "Genocide Studies." The devastation in these tragic Central African theaters of conflict has been greatly facilitated by the political triumph of the "correct interpretation," and the rejection of the kind of "revisionism" and "denial" that would call the Western-supported aggressions and the rolling genocides of Paul Kagame and Yoweri Museveni by their proper names.
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Table 1. Rwanda's national population as of 1991, broken-down by its two largest ethnic groups 
 Adapted from Table 4.2, "Répartition (en %) de la population de nationalité rwandaise selon l'ethnie, la préfecture ou le milieu de résidence," in Recensement general de la population et de l'habitat au 15 aout 1991, Service National de Recensement, Republique Rwandaise, p. 124. Table 4.2 reported the national population of
 Note that although we've omitted separate columns for the Twa and Other ethnic groups that were listed in Table 4.2 (1991), our Totals column here includes the totals for Twa and Other.
 Note that
---- Endnotes ----
 For the relevant texts, see Edward S. Herman and David Peterson, The Politics of Genocide (New York: Monthly Review Press, 2010), especially the section "Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo," pp. 51-68 (reprinted as "Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo in the Propaganda System," Monthly Review 62, no. 1, May, 2010). Also see Gerald Caplan, "The Politics of denialism: The strange case of Rwanda. Review of 'The Politics of Genocide'," Pambazuka News (No. 486), June 17, 2010; Edward S. Herman and David Peterson, "Genocide Denial and Genocide Facilitation: Gerald Caplan and The Politics of Genocide," MRZine, July 4, 2010; and Adam Jones, "On genocide deniers: Challenging Herman and Peterson," Pambazuka News (No. 490), July 15, 2010.
 Adam Jones, Genocide: A Critical Introduction, (
 See Adam Jones, "Key Instances of US Involvement in Mass Violence against Civilians since 1953," the table's entry for
 Jones, Genocide: A Critical Introduction, "The US in
 See the treatment of
 Jones, Genocide: A Critical Introduction, Ch. 7, "
 For two fine exposés of the Western media's willingness to accept the worst propaganda claims about Bosnian Serb-run "rape camps" and use of rape as a "war strategy," see Diana Johnstone, Fools' Crusade: Yugoslavia, NATO and Western Delusions (New York: Monthly Review Press, 2002), pp. 78-90; and Peter Brock, Media Cleansing: Dirty Reporting. Journalism and Tragedy in Yugoslavia (
 Jones, Genocide: A Critical Introduction, Ch. 8, "
 See, e.g., see David Owen, Balkan Odyssey (New York: Harcourt Brace and Company, 1995); Susan L. Woodward, Balkan Tragedy: Chaos and Dissolution After the Cold War (Washington, D.C.: Brookings Institution, 1995); Robert M. Hayden, Blueprints for a House Divided: The Constitutional Logic of the Yugoslav Conflicts (Ann Arbor, MI: University of Michigan Press, 1999); David Chandler, Bosnia: Faking Democracy After Dayton (Sterling, VI: Pluto Press, 1999); David Chandler, "Western Intervention and the Disintegration of Yugoslavia, 1989-1999," in Philip Hammond and Edward S. Herman, Degraded Capability: The Media and the Kosovo Crisis (Sterling, VA: Pluto Press, 2000), pp. 19-30; Johnstone, Fools' Crusade: Yugoslavia, NATO and Western Delusions; Michael Mandel, How America Gets Away With Murder: Illegal Wars, Collateral Damage and Crimes Against Humanity (Ann Arbor, MI: Pluto Press, 2004), Brock, Media Cleansing: Dirty Reporting. Journalism and Tragedy in Yugoslavia; and Edward S. Herman and David Peterson, "The Dismantling of Yugoslavia," Monthly Review, 59, no. 5, October, 2007.
 Jones, Genocide: A Critical Introduction, "What This Book Tries To Do, and Why," p. xxi, emphasis added.
 Jones, Genocide: A Critical Introduction,
 See Ewa Tabeau and Jakub Bijak, “War-related Deaths in the 1992–1995 Armed Conflicts in Bosnia and Herzegovina: A Critique of Previous Estimates and Recent Results,” European Journal of Population, Vol. 21, June, 2005, pp. 187-215. In section 3.3., "Overall Numbers" (pp. 205-207), they estimated 102,622 total war-related deaths on all sides, of which 55,261 (54%) were civilians at the time of death, and 47,360 (46%) were military or combatants (p. 207).
 For the later of the two studies, see Patrick Ball et al., Bosnian Book of the Dead: Assessment of the Database, Research and Documentation Center, Sarajevo, June, 2007, Table 23a, "Victims Reported in BBD by Status in War," p. 30. At the time this study was released, Ball et al. estimated 96,895 total war-related deaths, of which 56,662 were soldiers at the time of death (58.5%), and 40,233 were civilians or policemen (41.6%). Here we'd like to emphasize that earlier drafts of this work were in circulation since 2005 (see, e.g., "Research halves Bosnia war death toll to 100,000," Reuters, November 23, 2005); in citing the June 2007 draft, we do not imply that Adam Jones could have cited it in his 2006 textbook.
 See Herman and Peterson, The Politics of Genocide, Table 1, "Differential attributions of 'genocide' to different theaters of atrocities," p. 35.
 In each case, the formula for these simple calculations takes the estimated death tolls in Iraq during the sanctions era (800,000), in Iraq under the U.S.-U.K. war and occupation (1,000,000), and in the Democratic Republic of Congo (5,400,000) since the first invasions of this country by Rwandan and Ugandan forces in 1996, and divides these numbers by the Bosnian Muslim civilian death-toll during that conflict (33,000), adopting the Bosnian Muslim total as 1.
 See Affidavit of Michael Andrew Hourigan, International Criminal Tribunal for
 Judge Jean-Louis Bruguière, Request for the Issuance of International Arrest Warrants, Tribunal de Grande Instance de Paris, November 17, 2006, p. 12 (as archived by the Taylor Report website).
 George E. Moose, "Human Rights Abuses in Rwanda," Information Memorandum to The Secretary, U.S. Department of State, undated though clearly drafted between September 17 and 20, 1994. This document is archived at the Rwanda Documents Project at William Mitchell College of Law,
 See Christian Davenport and Allan C. Stam, "What Really Happened in Rwanda?" Miller-McCune, October 6, 2009.
 Jones, Genocide: A Critical Introduction, Ch. 9, "Holocaust in
 Herman and Peterson, The Politics of Genocide, p. 58. Here quoting Christian Davenport and Allan Stam, Rwandan Political Violence in Space and Time, unpublished manuscript, 2004 (available at Christian Davenport's personal website > "Project Writings"). This 2004 analysis is by far the more important of the two.
 Herman and Peterson, "Genocide Denial and Genocide Facilitation: Gerald Caplan and The Politics of Genocide," MRZine, July 4, 2010.
 Herman and Peterson, The Politics of Genocide, pp. 58-59.
 In their October 2009 article, Davenport and Stam recount the lack of cooperation they faced when, although hired by the Office of the Prosecutor at the ICTR to research "all deaths that had taken place," it quickly became problem when they started identifying the RPF among the perpetrators. Then cooperation ceased, and the ICTR prosecutors "let [
 Jones, Genocide: A Critical Introduction,
 Mahmoud Kassem et al., Report of the Panel of Experts on the Illegal Exploitation of Natural Resources and Other Forms of Wealth of the Democratic Republic of Congo (S/2002/1146), UN Security Council, October, 2002, especially section IV, "Rwanda-controlled area," para. 65-96; here para. 65-66. As this report continues: "[T]he Panel is in possession of a letter, dated 26 May 2000, from Jean-Pierre Ondekane, First Vice-President and Chief of the Military High Command for RCD-Goma, urging all [Rwanda Patriotic Army] units to maintain good relations 'with our Interahamwe and Mayi-Mayi brothers', and further, 'if necessary to let them exploit the sub-soil for their survival'" (para. 66). "On the basis of its analysis of considerable documentation and oral testimony, the Panel holds the view that the rationale for Rwanda’s presence is to increase the numbers of Rwandans in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo and to encourage those settled there to act in unison to support its exercise of economic control….Economic exploitation in its various forms will continue, relying on a less conspicuous armed force and alternative strategies for carrying out the exploitative activities" (para. 69).
 Ibid, para. 12.
 René Lemarchand, The Dynamics of Violence in Central Africa (
 Kassem et al. (S/2002/1146), "Armed conflict and its consequences," para. 90-94, and "Malnutrition and mortality," para. 95-96; here para. 96.
 See Benjamin Coghlan et al., Mortality in the Democratic Republic of Congo: An Ongoing Crisis, International Rescue Committee - Burnet Institute, January, 2008.
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