A bad answer to the world’s problems

While trying to avoid doing so, “Hotel Rwanda” makes U.N. ineptitude painfully obvious.

In my effort to see all the major Oscar contenders before the Academy Awards ceremony, I saw two films Friday. One was a disappointment, as the fervor over “The Aviator” is quite overblown, but one was a simple delight, “Hotel Rwanda.”

In 1994, the U.N.-mediated peace agreements between the Hutu and the Tutsis in Rwanda failed. The Hutu in Rwanda rose up as an unregulated militia and proceeded to commit genocide against the Tutsi minority. Before the slaughter ended, the Hutu had killed somewhere in the neighborhood of 1 million Tutsis. During the slaughter and chaos, one man, a hotel manager in Kigali, risked his life to save approximately 1,200 Tutsi and Hutu refugees. Unbelievably, the story told in the movie is true.

The man’s name was Paul Rusesabagina; he was in fact a Hutu, but had a Tutsi wife. He was employed at an upper-class hotel that housed a number of foreign nationals. Rusesabagina is played by Don Cheadle, whose performance in the film earned him an Oscar nomination. Another important character in the film is the overstressed, overworked U.N. military commander played by Nick Nolte. Nolte, an actor I don’t have an excessive amount of respect for, really brings out the frustration and helpless feelings the French-Canadian colonel must have felt as his soldiers were forced to stand by and let the slaughter go on.

At one point, there is jubilation among the 1,200 refugees in the hotel as a larger force of U.N. coalition forces arrives, but the jubilation is for naught; they are only there to pick up foreign nationals, most of whom are white. That is the underlying theory behind why the United Nations stood by and allowed Rwandans to massacre themselves; it was a matter of race. No one cares enough about blacks to prevent genocide. I take exception to this point in the film; I believe the United Nations is simply inept.

Just ask the people of Tibet. Where was the United Nations when the Chinese invaded? Just ask the Christians of Sudan, who are being killed to this day as the United Nations sits on the sidelines. There are more: Somalia, Kosovo, Cyprus and Lebanon, among others. Even so-called U.N. successes were because of U.S. leadership. It was the United States that battled communists in Korea, which led the coalition to remove Saddam Hussein and his troops from Kuwait. It is the United States that funds more than a third of the U.N. budget. Maybe it is time we stopped paying for ineptitude.

I don’t think the purpose of the film was to be hard on the United Nations. U.N. troops died in Rwanda, and many showed bravery in trying to evacuate some Tutsis to rebel-controlled areas of the country. This movie was deservedly nominated for three Academy Awards, including best actor and best supporting actress. Unfortunately, Oscar competition is going to be stiff. While Cheadle is superb in his subtle portrayal of Rusesabagina, Jamie Foxx is just too good in “Ray” to be beaten. But, I highly recommend “Hotel Rwanda.”

Movies aside, I believe the case is clear, the United Nations is anemic, and the United States needs to stop funding it. Try asking those million dead Rwandans how effective the United Nations is, or ask Rusesabagina.

Marty Andrade welcomes comments at [email protected].