Saturday, April 10, 2010


Religion religion every-bloody-where you look. There is an interesting similarity between the behaviour of Ratzinger, in not acting on revelations about sex abuse within the Catholic Church for the 'good of the universal Church', and that of Boutros-Boutros Ghali when he was head of a different sort of universal church. In his excellent book Eyewitness to a Genocide, Michael Barnett writes that when the UN force commander stationed in Rwanda in the early 1990s, General Romeo Dallaire, requested reinforcements upon receiving intelligence that Hutu militias were about to attack a contingent of largely Belgian peacekeepers with a view to provoking a withdrawal of international forces so as to clear the ground for a 'final solution', Boutros Ghali did not relay the request to the Security Council. Apparently, the reason he failed to do this was because he thought the request for additional troops would be denied by the permanent five - particularly the US, which having just suffered losses in Somalia (remember Black Hawk Down?), would have been loath to send more troops into an African civil war in which it had no interests - and that this in turn would undermine the credibility of the organization and BBG's own position within it. It's interesting, and to me odd, how these guys manage to weigh actual, concrete lives - now scarred or sacrificed - against some abstract notion of moral and political capital. Or perhaps they aren't utilitarians at all, making no attempt to weigh what are admittedly incommensurable values against each other. Deontologists are so much more likely to be fanatics, yes?

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