Saturday, April 11, 2009

Tom Odom's excentric views on Rwanda

Thomas P. Odom assisted the U.S. ambassador in Rwanda and served as the principal military advisor on Rwanda to the U.S. Department of Defense and National Security Council throughout his time in Rwanda from 1994 to 1996. He served as the U.S. Defense Attache in Zaire from 1993-1994. He wrote a review of Gerard Prunier's new book "Africa's World War", which was used by the editors of the website of The New Times today because it is clearly in defense of the current regime in Kigali. The New Times is a Rwandan newspaper that has a reputation of only publishing articles in favor of the current regime. It started, for example, a smear campaign against Paul Rusesabagina in 2006, as the washington post reported at the time in the article "Smearing a Hero" by Terry George (the director of the movie "Hotel Rwanda").

Thomas P. Odom, a retired Lieutenant Colonel, is one of the staunchest supporters of the current regime in Kigali. He has been active in accusing many of Kagame's critics of spreading consipiracy theories. People like Keith Harmon Snow, Wayne Madsen, Robert Philpot, Cynthia Mckinney and now Gerard Prunier. November third 2008 Tom Odom has written on the forum of smallwarsjournal:
"The only way to disarm the FDLR is to hunt them down until they either die or they give up their leaders and their arms. The realist in me recognizes that is unlikely although I do wish it would happen, and soon."
To which I responded:
"There is an element missing from the solution you offer to the current situation in eastern Congo: a truth and reconciliation committee for Rwanda, which Robert Krueger, former US ambassador to Burundi has been advocating."
To which he replied:
"Ambassador Krueger has many opinions; he was US Ambassador to Burundi for part of the time I was in Rwanda. He sometimes offered opinions on Rwanda that were pure conjecture and bordered on hysteria. I personally heard him accuse the UNAMIR 2 Deputy Force Commander of assisting the RPA in covering up an incident of which Ambassador Krueger had only 3rd hand information through Hutu refugees. He writes of that meeting in his book as do I.

As for a truth commission, perhaps. Rwanda is already using gacaca for all its faults as a form of localized truth commission. But if Ambassador Krueger expects President Kagame to accept such a recommendation perhaps speaking of Kagame as a Svengali or Mephistopholes as Ambassador does in his book on page 109 is not likely to win points for the idea in Kigali.

finally I did not lay out a solution for the Congo; I said that I agreed with the analysis that stated any solution must address the Hutu militias.

I would suggest that if you want to offer an opinion, that you:

a. Not put words in my mouth.

b. introduce yourself with your background here


To which I replied, after the Dutch government decided to suspend budgetsupport to Rwanda:
"So, as a result of Laurent Nkunda's campaign of murder and rape we have gained a great deal of information during the last couple of weeks, let me give two essential pieces of the puzzle:

Former MONUC Force Commander, General (generaal-majoor der mariniers b.d) Patrick Cammaert, was interviewed recently on dutch tv concerning the war in Congo. He said: "The problems have to be solved politicallly. That is true also concerning the genocidal hutus. President Kagame is strongly (involved) in that. The president of Rwanda sees the genocide-hutus as a threat to his country, I don't agree with that, I don't think that those genocide-hutus represent a threat to his country at all. However, that is what he says."

The Dutch government has decided to suspend budgetary support to Rwanda as a result of UN findings concerning the military, logistic and financial backing of the CNDP by the Rwandan administration."

To which he replied:
"Interesting but not really anything new. The proxy war has been going on the eastern Congo in all its forms since 1994. Kagame is quite adept at this game. It should also be noted that so are the Hutu militias. This is not simply a fight for money and exploitable resources. It is a blood fight that will not be talked away regardless of specious comments by MONUC that Hutu militias are not a threat to Kigali. They are not a conventional threat; they are a long term and very serious irregular threat."

This last answer shows clearly that Thomas P. Odom is out of touch not just with those who in his eyes deny the genocide in 1994, but also with the former MONUC commmander Patrick Cammaert.

Instead of launching an attack on Gerard Prunier on a dubious Rwandan website, I would have appreciated it, if this retired lieutenant Colonel had written an article that would have given some credibility and substance to his claim that the FDLR "are not a conventional threat; they are a long term and very serious irregular threat."

Disagreeing with Patrick Cammaert and other MONUC military specialists on this issue is no sin, but has to be explained and further developed and discussed in public to be taken seriously. He owes this as a military professional to those who have been and are working as part of MONUC on a daily basis.

The following might explain Tom Odom's zeal in defending the current regime in Rwanda and his hostility towards the former Senator for Texas and US ambassador to Burundi in 1994 and 1995. Robert Krueger writes on page 106 of his book "From bloodshed to hope in Burundi" that the US Defense Department attaché from the embassy in Kigali (Thomas P. Odom) refused to cooperate in the investigation of a massacre by RPA (Rwandan People's Army led by Paul Kagame) soldiers near the Burundian border. Robert Krueger left with a terrible question in his mind: "what the U.S. military had to hide?". Robert Krueger also writes on page 110 of his book:
"How U.S. military leaders had become so enamored of Paul Kagame I could not fully fathom....I was appalled that these skills had so successfully overshadowed his obvious preference for dictatorship over democracy, and his tolerance, or perhaps appetite, for vengeful ethnic slaugheter, yet he was invited to the United States to be feted at the Pentagon. In time, I was sure that the truth about the RPA would come out. But how many lives would be lost, how much suffering endured, how much fear and despair would be borne in the interim?"

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Don't waste your energy on the likes of LtCol Odom. He was and is a small fry in the Big Picture of the Enablers of Kagame dating 1990 and earlier. What a price Rwadans have paid in the jousting for geopolitical spaces. That Kagame is hailed as a saviour today is nothing new, "victors" get to impose their history. Today he is afraid to leave power and is again backed by same external enablers to have the constitution chaged to allow him to stay in office. Oh Hubris, thine is thy name. The day of unravelling and the truthful version of the History will come (Kibeho et al). As day follows night.