I think the best thing one can do to understand how the French have deeply, terribly screwed things up in Africa is to read this.
The French were more interested in saving the Embassy's dog than they were in saving the Tutsis that had worked with its own diplomats for years.
And this is, for me, the key quote:
As the French left, years of anger among Rwanda's Tutsis spilled out over the price they believe they have paid for Paris's unique view of its place in post-colonial Africa - a role critics say is shaped by an obsession with the influence of its language and culture that led Paris to support a murderous regime because its opponents spoke English. France went on backing the killers even as the bodies piled up in the streets, churches and football stadiums. "France wants to blame us, the ones whose families were murdered, the ones who put a stop to the murderers; they want to blame us for the genocide because they cannot face their own guilt," says Rwanda's foreign minister, Charles Murigande. "The French armed the killers and they trained them even when they were saying they were going to kill the Tutsis, and France supported the genocide regime right up until the end, even helping the killers to escape." Why? "Because they have this obsession with Anglo-Saxons."
Because of this obsession with Anglo-Saxons. Sort of explains French opposition to US foreign policy as well: a severe case of NIH, Not Invented Here. And what was France doing, inviting and meeting with the architects of the massacres, who were later convicted of genocide in the Haague?
And there is this, indicative of the imperial nature of French foreign policy:
Africa has traditionally been considered such a special case in Paris that France's policy is run out of the presidency. At the time, the "Africa cell" was headed by Mitterrand's son, Jean-Christophe, a close friend of the Habyarimanas. He later said that there could not have been a genocide because "Africans are not that organised". France's president did not deny what had happened, but took a view no less racist: "In such countries, genocide is not too important."
There's that old saying of Eldridge Cleaver: If you're not part of the solution, you're part of the problem. I think you have to extend that even further: if you've caused the problem, then you better be part of the solution.
But to support genocide in order to preserve the sanctity of a language?
The RPF's invasion of Rwanda in 1990 rang all the alarm bells about encroaching Anglo-Saxon influence. The rebel front was dominated by Tutsis whose families had been driven into exile by wholesale massacres around the time of Rwanda's independence from Belgium in 1962. Many families settled in neighbouring Uganda where their children grew up speaking English, joined Yoweri Museveni's rebel movement that seized power in Uganda in 1986 and then began to plan an assault on their homeland. Kagame was among them.
France immediately sent troops and weapons to defend Habyarimana's regime. Politicians and the military top brass cast the conflict as between Francophone Hutus and invading Anglo-Saxon Tutsis - though 15% of Rwanda's population were Tutsis who had not left the country. Some in the French military talked of the RPF as wanting to destroy the Hutus, calling the rebels the "Black Khmers". Despite the growing evidence of a genocide in the making during the early 1990s, and the excesses of Habyarimana's regime in assassinating opponents and organising periodic massacres of Tutsi civilians, France's support did not waver.
This cries of fatal conceits and sheer incompetence of corruption. But it gets worse: the French bear a grudge. Against the Tutsis and the Rwanda government, it bears a grudge against those who survived:
Rwanda's foreign minister, Murigande, accuses France of spending more than a decade punishing the RPF for its victory: "In all international forums - the World Bank, the IMF - France not only voted against any development programme that these institutions would want to undertake in Rwanda but it even went out of its way to mobilise other countries to vote against them." Before the genocide, France was the largest donor of any country to Rwanda. Today, it is the smallest.
And this is the country that is supposed to serve as an example of enlightened use of power?