Rwanda Leader Sees Logic of Iraq War Without U.N.

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Rwandan President Paul Kagame, whose nation saw 800,000 people slaughtered in a 1994 genocide, said on Saturday that nations must sometimes intervene militarily even if the United Nations disagrees.

In an interview with Reuters, Kagame drew on Rwanda's experience as an example of what not to do as countries consider whether to wage war on Iraq.

"They should act when they are right to act because the Security Council can be wrong. It was wrong in Rwanda," said Kagame, a tall, lanky man whose straightforward, mild manner belies his status as a powerful national leader who spent years as a guerrilla fighter.

"The Security Council was wrong in Rwanda, about the genocide, and we lost one million people," he said at a downtown San Francisco hotel.

"I do not know whether you have to wait until Kuwait is taken over by Iraq or Saudi Arabia is overrun by Iraq in order to act," he added.

Kagame, who lived most of his life in Uganda, founded the Rwandan Patriotic Front and entered Rwanda in 1990 to fight the Hutu government. He became vice president in 1994 after a genocide in which extremist Hutus killed some 800,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus.

"Even if there was a resolution telling me not to fight to save my people, I would have simply ignored them, yes, because they were wrong and did not know what was happening," he said. "For me, saving my people outweighs simple obedience to a wrong Security Council."

Kagame remains bitter that the United Nations did not stop the bloodshed in Rwanda in 1994.

"In the case of Rwanda, very clearly I think it was sheer failure of the international community," he told Reuters. "It was a terrible failure indeed."

"Even after failing to prevent it, what excuse is there that even when it was happening they failed to do something to stop it?"

"You might avoid war and have a worse situation," he said. "That is why I was giving a comparison with our case. People avoided a war or doing very much and it ended up with a genocide."

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