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Revisiting the linkage: PDD 25, genocide in Rwanda and the US peacekeeping experience of the 1990s

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)792-813
Number of pages22
Issue number4
Published8 Aug 2018

King's Authors


After the successful US–UN action in Operation Desert Storm in 1991, by the mid-1990s Washington’s enthusiasm for multilateral action had already faded away. This was evident after the ‘Black Hawk Down’ disaster of the US Mission in Somalia in October 1993 and the release of a much more restrictive peacekeeping policy in May 1994 (PDD-25). The US inaction during the following Rwandan genocide in spring 1994 was then seen as the obvious consequence of the American ‘trauma’ in Somalia, as well as the symbol of Washington’s withdrawal from peacekeeping commitments. However, in the light of new archival documents a different scenario emerges. This article shows that the consequential link, often stressed by the literature, between the Somali disaster, the release of PDD-25 and American inaction in Rwanda is much less straightforward. This suggests that the policy in Rwanda was not just a consequence of the Somali debacle and that the reasons for US inaction toward the genocide must be gauged within a broader set of factors. The study of Washington’s policy in Rwanda thus becomes a significant case to investigate some broader patterns of post-Cold War American foreign policy and to re-evaluate the US peacekeeping experience of the 1990s.

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