Tuesday, November 07, 2006


The scene - Madeleine Albright posing for a photo opportunity at Kigali airport in 1996. An intrepid reporter offers this observation:

I couldn't help wondering to myself what [the Rwandans] were making of this scene, which represented America at its best: the spirit of community, the melting pot, the willingness to help faraway strangers in need, the freedom and opportunity for each indiviudal to work his way to the top and, most important, a concept of citizenship based on allegiance to an idea, not a tribe. As a picture, it represented everything that Rwanda was not. Rwanda had just emerged from an orgy of tribal warfare - Rwandan Hutus against Rwandan Tutsis - in which a million people were killed, some of them brutally hacked to death with machetes. Rwanda was all olive trees and no Lexuses, a country that was all gnarled roots choking one another, and no flowering branches.

Thomas Friedman, closing chapter of The Lexus and the Olive Tree.