While wealthy nations continue to apologize for prior genocides in the past centuries, real genocides are still occurring today. Apologies and nations like Germany pledging money seem to be too little too late. Nations need to move on and fix their nations instead of obsessing over genocide. Nothing can be done to change the past, but the future can be changed.
In Rwanda on Thursday, French President Emmanuel Macron acknowledged France’s “terrible responsibility” in the 1994 genocide, but without offering a formal apology or financial compensation. French forces played no direct role in the attacks that killed hundreds of thousands of Rwandans, but as Mr. Macron acknowledged, they supported the “genocidal regime” that carried out the murders. A French inquiry acknowledged in March what had been well-known to observers for decades: “French officials armed, advised, trained, equipped, and protected” the Rwandan government that prepared and carried out one of the most horrific actions by any non-Communist government since World War II.
But even the compensation France pledged to the Rwandans is not enough. Rwandan genocide survivors have stated that Macron did not explain in enough detail what he meant. Germany similarly committed extremely dark acts of genocides well beyond Jewish communities. Recently the Greek government demanded Germany pay more than $300 billion as compensation for what the Nazis did to the country during World War II. In addition, there is still disagreement between Japan and South Korea over what Japan did when it colonized its neighboring country until 1945.
Interestingly, the conflict with China and the genocidal actions it carried out in Xinjiang, seems to be fading from view. Not only has Myanmar been rocked by a political coup, but it also slaughtered many people of the Rohingya region. The conflict between Azerbaijanis and Armenians risks another potential genocide over the murder of Armenians. These issues seem to have become forgotten in the face of the new Covid-obsessed world.
In the 1990s, many believed that the fall of the Soviet Union would bring a new world order free of conflict. Many people believed that the new liberal world order would bring about the end of history. By that they meant a world free of war, sickness and suffering. In the 1991 Gulf War, George H.W. Bush received UN Security Council approval to protect Kuwait from Saddam Hussein’s invasion. Many thought this would be the standard of all future conflicts.
Since the end of the Cold War, the international community has been weak. Political divisions have grown enormous in developed countries. The past 30 years have been a disaster for American nation-buildings in the Middle East. Obama’s Responsibility to Protect in Libya was also a disaster. The leading nations of the world have brought genocide awareness to almost the entire world. But that is not enough. The United States and its allies need to start taking action when the time is right.