Right now, if you're in development in Britain or America, Rwanda is a good place to be. Please note I'm not talking about economic growth or political stability (though it has both of those), but things like NGO presence, media attention, politicians visiting to show they care. If you have ever read accounts of the Rwandan genocide, or remember those dark days in 1994, Rwanda's peaceful reconstruction is surely something to celebrate. It even has the ultimate capitalist accolade: a business-school case study.
Unfortunately, there is a dark side to Rwanda: its role in the never-ending conflict in Eastern Congo. This disturbing account comes from the New York Times. Notice that the Rwandan officials do not deny that Rwandan citizens are crossing into DRC to fight, merely that their government is encouraging or paying them. But then who needs pay when mineral riches await?
I know very little about Congo and would not dare to take sides or argue that Rwanda's fears about Hutu extremists hiting in the jungle are unjustified. But I still feel wary about a country celebrated as a model of enlightended leadership in a troubled region intervening in its neighbour's affairs militarily. Yes, Congo is a threat to regional stability; yes, the Congolese government has failed to gain control of Eastern Congo or disarm the Hutu militia; but that is still not a pretext for unilateral military intervention, even by proxy. (As this guy, or this one, could tell their Rwandan friends).
It may suit Western governments to continue supporting President Kagame's regime (except for France); it may well be the best regime for Rwandans as well. But let's not allow the West's failure to prevent the Rwandan genocide become a pretext for inaction in the Congo, or get caught up in some stupid neo-colonial rivalry. We need a united approach and we need it now.