Date of Award

Spring 2000

Document Type

Restricted Thesis

Terms of Use

© 2000 Hugh M. Weber. All rights reserved. Access to this work is restricted to users within the Swarthmore College network and may only be used for non-commercial, educational, and research purposes. Sharing with users outside of the Swarthmore College network is expressly prohibited. For all other uses, including reproduction and distribution, please contact the copyright holder.

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts


Black Studies Program, Political Science Department


Between April 6 and July 18, 1994, an estimated 800,000 Rwandans were slaughtered in a genocide of proportions unparalleled since the era of Nazi Germany. In less than one hundred days, using machetes and barbed sticks, soldiers and citizens conducted one of the most efficient and widespread mass killings of the last century against their countrymen, neighbors, and even family members. Due to lack of resources within Rwanda and the brutal nature of the crime, an accurate count of the victims is impossible to determine. During the one hundred days of terror, the United States repeatedly created barriers to international action. Despite being a signatory to the Genocide Convention of 1948, the United States refused to recognize the clear signs of Genocide within Rwanda. Evert as the death tolls rose at a mind-boggling pace, the United States refused to officially acknowledge the severity of the situation that was taking place. Press secretaries and reporters were quick to frame this political conflict as a "tribal violence," despite expert knowledge that this was not the reality. Some may even argue that the timing of PDD 25 was directed at a desire to avoid entry into this conflict in the country of Rwanda. Public reports and military inquiries now suggest that the United States had the capabilities to stop this political explosion at the beginning, saving hundreds of thousands of lives. Why did the United States use all means necessary to avoid intervention? Why did its leaders go out of their way to keep other nations out of the region? Why did they ignore a mountain of reports and renege on their obligation to defend victims of genocide? This thesis examines these questions and more.


genocide, U.S Foreign Policy, United Nations, news media, Rwanda