By Dr Rukundo G Rugari
I have actually been able to read the entire article; a very difficult job, when one considers the entry point of analysis which I find heavily based on personal feelings than on any one tool of international relations analysis.
I love teaching and I have, in the past, given students full marks whenever they showed they prepared for their presentations.
But I have always failed to tolerate students who fail to sepate topic frameworks from what a common man on the street would say about any subject, from medicine to history to philosophy, to law and now to international relations.
Had Andrew Mwenda been in my class, he would have earned a stern warning and the very last lenient pass mark.
May be it’s me with a problem for taking these issues too academic, but while analysing state to state relations, it’s a crime to use words like “I”, “he”, much less complain about not understanding the motive of a head of state.
Millions of dollars are spent on intelligence, counter intelligence and espionage simply to read the mind of statesmen.
Few countries ever achieve this.
How then does Andrew hope to study and understand M7 or PK’s motives without any tool of analysis?
It’s not possible at anyone given time to read the mind of a Statesman because he may also not understand why he does the things he does. This is because heads of States are only driven by national interest when they are dealing with other states. This is true for both democrats and dictators.
The State of Rwanda is one that had and continues to premise her foreign policy on classical realism and they have been very proud to pronounce that and act within this framework by the different belligent acts in the region which they called pre-emptying defense.
It’s this policy that has seen the region get ravaged by war, (DRC), coups, (Burundi) and assassinations( all over Africa but recently Uganda).
It’s now clear that classic realism was never a good idea for Rwanda in the long run.
As for President Museveni, he refused to pick on any of the Western generated theoretical frameworks on Uganda’s foreign policy and he instead built his own brand that only he can explain.
He has baptised it #PanAfricanism, although he has to articulate it better for our understanding since its may not be similar to the global Pan-African movement. However, this theory, if I may call it one, is there to serve Uganda’s Foreign Policy, not that of the region, Rwanda included.
It’s therefore wrong to make an argument that seems to suggest President Museveni, while negotiating with Paul Kagame, should consider any other interest other than that of Uganda. He has to drop the regional lens and use the Ugandan one exclusively.
That’s how states are made to operate.
Therefore, the Pan-African speech that President Museveni made recently was purely to serve Uganda’s interests, not any other state.
On the other hand, however, there is no question that M7 combines Marchiavelism, mostly domestically and a more liberal form of foreign policy except when it comes to Western countries where you see structural realism in play. ( He lets his national strength speak for him – He has used the UPDF to conduct his foreign policy relations with the West excellently.
I say liberal because Rwanda and Uganda’s relations collapsed in 1998, and it has only been maintained through M7’s detente, majorly through the EAC. President M7 never even attempted deterrence which would have sparked a poor man’s arms race.
It’s the reason today, tension has always been caused by actions from Rwanda, not Uganda.
The Kisangani massacre of UPDF was a well orchestrated and planned move that took advantage of the old camaraderie between UPDF and RDF.
I don’t know why no one wants to talk about political assassinations in Uganda, sponsored by Rwanda, and an attempt on the life of President M7 himself.
Because PK ursuped power in Rwanda and purged all powerful voices of reason of both Hutu and Tutsi, the Arusha consensus broke down and was replaced by the most violent repression in the history of any African state.
#Kami, #Kwagacinya, #Gabiro, #Kanombe #Kanombe #Garrison, #Gako#Kumurindi…. are some of the most notorious places where all Rwandans know one has little chance of surviving once they entered those places on any charges.
People like Alexis Kanyarengwe, Bihozagara, Patrick Mazimpaka, Seth Sendashong( assasinated in Nairobi in broad day light- Kaweesi style), Col Lizinde also assassinated in Nairobi , Asiel Kabera, assasinated in Rwanda, recently Karugarama ( living but sidelined) . In the military; Cols Ndugute, Nyamurangwa ( Living), Birasa, Cyiza, Ngoga, Birasa, Alex Ruzindana, Major John Sengati, Major Kayitare( PK’s driver), All the above assasinated; then Col Patrick Karegyeya and an wisdom.
Having known that power is the currency of exchange in international politics, then it should be easy to understand why M7 is behaving the way he does towards Rwanda and we must also accept that his action is rational.
The genesis of differences between PK and M7 can be traced back in 1997 – 2000 when PK decided to remove Bizimungu against M7’s advice.
Was Uganda interested in who should be President in Rwanda? Of course. Was that interest a personal M7 feeling? Never!
States simply have interests that transcend any one individual, including the President.
These interests are expressed in terms of power.
The moment PK ousted President Bizimungu against M7’s advice meant Uganda’s foreign interests had been undermined. Now, states are not humans to let go of their interests or ignore losses, much less forgive.
PK, instead of remedying the situation, he made it worse each time.
I think what we should drop is to think egos of both leaders of Uganda and Rwanda are the reason we have this very tense situation.
No leader has ever been able to get above his/her national interest to cause war between his country with another.
Hitler was not a mad man. The Versailles treaty which was weighing heavily against Germany was the real problem.
Of course the resulting carnage caused the Holocaust – a crime against humanity. Even here, we know in Hitler’s mind, this was a rational act since he had declared total war. ( Mobilizing everything, anything and everyone against anything and everyone considered an enemy).
Had Germany won WWII, no one would be talking of the Holocaust.
A statesman can miscalculate and lose allies or cause and lose a war. But he is never acting outside his national interest.
Domestic politics is of course not entirely removed from what finally defines national interest, especially where states are weak, failing or failed. However, any leader of any country decides which course to take in relation to other states.
PK chose to define Rwanda’s alliance with Uganda as one of equals and later elevated this relation by making Rwanda superior to Uganda and many commentators believed this, including Ugandans.
Consequences have been very devastating and will continue to worsen going forward.
In reality, Rwanda has been punching way above her weight at an international level and her citizens have paid the price in full measure.
If it should happen and PK losses power in Kigali, and in my own judgement he has already lost the strategic phase, the world will be shocked at what he has been doing in and to Rwanda.
I play we recognize both states as separate with core interests that have not been largely shared. I didn’t think Rwanda was interested in the EAC for example, beyond having it as a club of neighbors.
(Louise Mushikiwabo is Secretary General of Organisation internationale de la Francophonie -OIF; an organization Rwanda takes more seriously in my opinion).
There are many other examples that I will not go into now, but Rwanda has been travelling a road opposite to that of Uganda for a long time now.
Therefore my friend Andrew, your mediation should have been to address the issue of interest of both countries and not to make the Presidents become friends. A President of a country needs allies and the alliance must be based on national interests and how much power each nation holds.