According to the author of the opinion-page article ``US Might Have Avoided Rwanda Tragedy,'' Aug. 9, the ``hundreds of thousands [of Rwandans] that died while the US dithered'' could have been saved by some sort of vigorous United States action, or by US support of United Nations peacekeepers. This is a very naive view of both military operations and world politics.
The author seems to believe that a few thousand peacekeepers could have made a difference during the complete disintegration of order in Rwanda, when 500,000 people were slaughtered by 100,000 of their countrymen. A credible effort to stop that sort of chaos would have required a full-scale invasion and the imposition of martial law. Neither the US nor the UN was inclined to undertake such a foolish operation, and with good reason.
Contrary to the author's assessment, the American people understood that there was little we could do while violence raged in Rwanda. Now that the situation has stabilized, the US is undertaking an unprecedented airlift operation to provide relief to the refugees in Rwanda and Zaire. I find no appalling policy failure, but the sensible restraint of an administration that understands the limits of peacekeeping and realizes the folly of sending troops into the center of a civil war. E.B. Adder, Goodfellow AFB, Texas
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