Posts Tagged ‘Rwanda

07
Apr
09

On This Day, April 7: Rwanda

April 7, 1994

Civil war erupts in Rwanda

On this day in 1994, Rwandan armed forces kill 10 Belgian peacekeeping officers in a successful effort to discourage international intervention in the genocide that had begun only hours earlier. In approximately three months, the Hutu extremists who controlled Rwanda brutally murdered an estimated 500,000 to 1 million innocent civilian Tutsis and moderate Hutus in the worst episode of ethnic genocide since World War II.

The immediate roots of the 1994 genocide dated back to the early 1990s, when President Juvenal Habyarimana, a Hutu, began using anti-Tutsi rhetoric to consolidate his power among the Hutus. Beginning in October 1990, there were several massacres of hundreds of Tutsis. Although the two ethnic groups were very similar, sharing the same language and culture for centuries, the law required registration based on ethnicity. The government and army began to assemble the Interahamwe (meaning “those who attack together”) and prepared for the elimination of the Tutsis by arming Hutus with guns and machetes. In January 1994, the United Nations forces in Rwanda warned that larger massacres were imminent.

On April 6, 1994, President Habyarimana was killed when his plane was shot down. It is not known if the attack was carried out by the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF), a Tutsi military organization stationed outside the country at the time, or by Hutu extremists trying to instigate a mass killing. In any event, Hutu extremists in the military, led by Colonel Theoneste Bagosora, immediately went into action, murdering Tutsis and moderate Hutus within hours of the crash.

The Belgian peacekeepers were killed the next day, a key factor in the withdrawal of U.N. forces from Rwanda. Soon afterward, the radio stations in Rwanda were broadcasting appeals to the Hutu majority to kill all Tutsis in the country. The army and the national police directed the slaughter, sometimes threatening Hutu civilians when persuasion didn’t work. Thousands of innocent people were hacked to death with machetes by their neighbors. Despite the horrific crimes, the international community, including the United States, hesitated to take any action. They wrongly ascribed the genocide to chaos amid tribal war. President Bill Clinton later called America’s failure to do anything to stop the genocide “the biggest regret” of his administration.

It was left to the RPF, led by Paul Kagame, to begin an ultimately successful military campaign for control of Rwanda. By the summer, the RPF had defeated the Hutu forces and driven them out of the country and into several neighboring nations. However, by that time, an estimated 75 percent of the Tutsis living in Rwanda had been murdered.

Civil war erupts in Rwanda [Internet]. 2009. The History Channel website. Available from : http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=4900 [Accessed 7 Apr 2009].

On This Day

1652 – The Dutch established a settlement at Cape Town, South Africa.

1712 – A slave revolt broke out in New York City.

1798 – The territory of Mississippi was organized.

1862 – Union General Ulysses S. Grant defeated Confederates at the Battle of Shiloh, TN.

1922 – U.S. Secretary of Interior leased Teapot Dome naval oil reserves in Wyoming.

1933 – Prohibition ended in the United States.

1940 – Booker T. Washington became the first black to be pictured on a U.S. postage stamp.

1945 – The Japanese battleship Yamato, the world’s largest battleship, was sunk during the battle for Okinawa. The fleet was headed for a suicide mission.

1953 – IBM unveiled the IBM 701 Electronic Data Processing Machine. It was IBM’s first commercially available scientific computer.

1963 – Josip Broz Tito was proclaimed to be the leader of Yugoslavia for life.

1971 – U.S. President Nixon pledged to withdraw 100,000 more men from Vietnam by December.

1980 – The U.S. broke diplomatic relations with Iran and imposed economic sanctions in response to the taking of hostages on November 4, 1979.

1990 – At Cincinnati’s Contemporary Arts Center a display of Robert Mapplethorpe’s photographs went on display. On the same day the center and its director were indicted on obscenity charges. The charges resulted in acquittal.

2000 – U.S. President Clinton signed the Senior Citizens Freedom to Work Act of 2000. The bill reversed a Depression-era law and allows senior citizens to earn money without losing Social Security retirement benefits.

April 7, 1954

Eisenhower gives famous “domino theory” speech

President Dwight D. Eisenhower coins one of the most famous Cold War phrases when he suggests the fall of French Indochina to the communists could create a “domino” effect in Southeast Asia. The so-called “domino theory” dominated U.S. thinking about Vietnam for the next decade.

By early 1954, it was clear to many U.S. policymakers that the French were failing in their attempt to re-establish colonial control in Indochina (Vietnam), which they lost during World War II when the Japanese took control of the area. The Vietnamese nationalists, led by the communist Ho Chi Minh, were on the verge of winning a stunning victory against French forces at the battle of Dien Bien Phu. In just a few weeks, representatives from the world’s powers were scheduled to meet in Geneva to discuss a political settlement of the Vietnamese conflict. U.S. officials were concerned that a victory by Ho’s forces and/or an agreement in Geneva might leave a communist regime in control of all or part of Vietnam. In an attempt to rally congressional and public support for increased U.S. aid to the French, President Eisenhower gave an historic press conference on April 7, 1954.

He spent much of the speech explaining the significance of Vietnam to the United States. First was its economic importance, “the specific value of a locality in its production of materials that the world needs” (materials such as rubber, jute, and sulphur). There was also the “possibility that many human beings pass under a dictatorship that is inimical to the free world.” Finally, the president noted, “You have broader considerations that might follow what you would call the ‘falling domino’ principle.” Eisenhower expanded on this thought, explaining, “You have a row of dominoes set up, you knock over the first one, and what will happen to the last one is a certainty that it will go over very quickly.” This would lead to disintegration in Southeast Asia, with the “loss of Indochina, of Burma, of Thailand, of the Peninsula, and Indonesia following.” Eisenhower suggested that even Japan, which needed Southeast Asia for trade, would be in danger.

Eisenhower’s words had little direct immediate impact–a month later, Dien Bien Phu fell to the communists, and an agreement was reached at the Geneva Conference that left Ho’s forces in control of northern Vietnam. In the long run, however, Eisenhower’s announcement of the “domino theory” laid the foundation for U.S. involvement in Vietnam. John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson both used the theory to justify their calls for increased U.S. economic and military assistance to non-communist South Vietnam and, eventually, the commitment of U.S. armed forces in 1965.

“Eisenhower gives famous “domino theory” speech,” The History Channel website, http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=2630 (accessed Apr 7, 2009).

Advertisements
16
Mar
08

On This Day, 3-16-08: My Lai

My Lai massacre takes place in Vietnam

On this day in 1968, a platoon of American soldiers brutally kill between 200 and 500 unarmed civilians at My Lai, one of a cluster of small villages located near the northern coast of South Vietnam.

During the Vietnam War, U.S. troops frequently bombed and shelled the province of Quang Ngai, believing it to be a stronghold for forces of the National Front for the Liberation of Vietnam, or Viet Cong (VC). In March 1968, a platoon of soldiers called Charlie Company received word that Viet Cong guerrillas had taken cover in the Quang Ngai village of Son My. Led by Lieutenant William L. Calley, the platoon entered one of the village’s four hamlets, My Lai 4, on a search-and-destroy mission on the morning of March 16. Instead of guerrilla fighters, they found unarmed villagers, most of them women, children and old men.

The soldiers had been advised before the attack by army command that all who were found in My Lai could be considered VC or active VC sympathizers, and told to destroy the village. Still, they acted with extraordinary brutality, raping and torturing villagers before killing them and dragging dozens of people, including young children and babies, into a ditch and executing them with automatic weapons. The massacre reportedly ended when an Army helicopter pilot, Warrant Officer Hugh Thompson, landed his aircraft between the soldiers and the retreating villagers and threatened to open fire if they continued their attacks.

The events at My Lai were covered up by high-ranking army officers until the following March, when one soldier, Ron Ridenhour, heard of the incident secondhand and wrote about it in a letter to President Richard Nixon, the Pentagon, the State Department, the Joint Chiefs of Staff and various congressmen. The letter was largely ignored until later that year, when investigative journalist Seymour Hersh interviewed Calley and broke the story. Soon, My Lai was front-page news and an international scandal. In March 1970, an official U.S. Army inquiry board charged 14 officers, including Calley and his company commander, Captain Ernest Medina, of crimes relating to My Lai. Of that number, only Calley was convicted. Found guilty of personally killing 22 people, he was sentenced to life imprisonment. Upon appeal, his sentence was reduced to 20 years, and eventually to 10. Seen by many as a scapegoat, Calley was paroled in 1974 after serving just one-third of his sentence.

“My Lai massacre takes place in Vietnam.” 2008. The History Channel website. 15 Mar 2008, 12:37 http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=52554.

1190 – The Crusaders began the massacre of Jews in York, England.

1521 – Portuguese navigator Ferdinand Magellan reached the Philippines. He was killed the next month by natives.

1621 – Samoset walked into the settlement of Plymouth Colony, later Plymouth, MA. Samoset was a native from the Monhegan tribe in Maine who spoke English. He greeted the Pilgrims by saying, “Welcome, Englishmen! My name is Samoset.”

1802 – The U.S. Congress established the West Point Military Academy in New York.

1850 – The novel “The Scarlet Letter,” by Nathaniel Hawthorne, was published for the first time.

1883 – Susan Hayhurst graduated from the Philadelphia College of Pharmacy. She was the first woman pharmacy graduate.

1926 – Physicist Robert H. Goddard launched the first liquid-fuel rocket.

1935 – Adolf Hitler ordered a German rearmament and violated the Versailles Treaty.

1939 – Germany occupied the rest of Czechoslovakia.

1964 – Paul Hornung and Alex Karras were reinstated to the NFL after an 11-month suspension for betting on football games.

1978 – Italian politician Aldo Moro was kidnapped by left-wing urban guerrillas. Moro was later murdered by the group.

1998 – Rwanda began mass trials for 1994 genocide with 125,000 suspects for 500,000 murders.

First liquid-fueled rocket

The first man to give hope to dreams of space travel is American Robert H. Goddard, who successfully launches the world’s first liquid-fueled rocket at Auburn, Massachusetts, on March 16, 1926. The rocket traveled for 2.5 seconds at a speed of about 60 mph, reaching an altitude of 41 feet and landing 184 feet away. The rocket was 10 feet tall, constructed out of thin pipes, and was fueled by liquid oxygen and gasoline.  “First liquid-fueled rocket.” 2008. The History Channel website. 15 Mar 2008, 12:44 http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=6838.

Goddard’s research goes largely unnoticed in the United States, however Wernher von Braun, a young German scientist, would continue Goddard’s research, developing the German V-2 rocket during World War II.  After World War II von Braun went to work for the United States, making an instrumental contribution to US efforts to land a man on the moon.

Germany during World War II developed many rocket type weapons.  Pictured below is the JB-2 (Loon) an American copy of the German V-1 surface to surface pilot-less rocket.  The V-1 rocket was used to terrorize London and later Antwerp after the Allies had landed in France and pushed toward the German border.  The second picture is a wire-guided missile dubbed the Fritz-x — officially known as Ruhrstahl SD 1400 by the Germans.  The Germans hoped to use the Fritz-x against Allied warships and developed the smaller Henschel Hs 293 for attacking merchant vessels.  The HS 293 struck a devastating blow against Allied war efforts when one missile attack sunk the HMT Rohna.  Of the 2000 military personnel on board the Rohna 1138, of which 1035 were Americans, perished.  The US military did not want the Germans to know how successful their attack had been so the story was classified “top secret” and not released to the public until 1967.  For more information about the Rohna disaster please see: http://www.rohna.org/

V-1

Missile

Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity; and I’m not sure about the universe.
– Albert Einstein

The story is that Albert Einstein’s driver used to sit at the back of the hall during each of his lectures, and after a period of time, remarked to Einstein that he could probably give the lecture himself, having heard it several times.
So, at the next stop on the tour, Einstein and the driver switched places, with Einstein sitting at the back, in driver’s uniform.
The driver gave the lecture, flawlessly. At the end, a member of the audience asked a detailed question about some of the subject matter, upon which the lecturer replied, ‘well, the answer to that question is quite simple, I bet that my driver, sitting up at the back, there, could answer it…’

“I want to know God’s thoughts,….. the rest are details..” — Albert Einstein




October 2019
S M T W T F S
« Sep    
 12345
6789101112
13141516171819
20212223242526
2728293031  

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 281 other followers

Advertisements