The Macksey Journal


In 1994, over 800,000 ethnic Tutsi and moderate Hutu were brutally slaughtered by ethnic Hutu in Rwanda. This international atrocity challenged the United States’ foreign policy response to humanitarian crises in the post-Cold War era. As the world’s leading superpower, the United States under the leadership of the Clinton Administration faced the choice to intervene on moral grounds or pursue foreign policy based solely on American interests abroad. In a speech at the Naval Academy commencement, President Clinton stated, “as the world’s greatest power, we have an obligation to lead, and at times, when our interests and our values are sufficiently at stake, to act.” Despite knowledge of the ethnic tensions and increased threats of violence in Rwanda, the Clinton Administration pursued a policy of non-intervention. The research paper will review the various factors that influenced how the United States prioritized political and economic interests over moral obligations when electing not to intervene in response to the genocide in Rwanda.