October 12, 2012 by soniauwimana
I have a lot to get through today so I will break this into three posts: The Hege Outburst (this one), The Hege Treatment, and The Hege Implosion.
The second of this trilogy will give you a summary of what one of Washington DC and America’s top lawyers has to say about the metholodological flaws in the work of the Group of the Experts on the DRC.
The final part will address the second component of the same lawyer’s analysis, this time focussed squarely on Hege’s bias and how it means, as the Wall St Journal reported this morning, the man should no longer hold the position he does.
This first part refers to a document which, unlike the other two, I have not personally seen but have only heard whisper about — from numerous sources, mind you. (What I was told about Hege’s self-penned rebuttal to Rwanda’s rebuttal to the original GoE report seemed so unlikely I made several phone calls to make sure my original source wasn’t pranking me, I wasn’t dreaming, or we both weren’t under the influence of alcohol).
It turns out The Hege Outburst is the real deal. This is a document that Hege wrote at the request of precisely nobody. It serves no purpose beyond venting Hege’s ideological rage against Rwanda. It never needed to exist and I would bet anything Hege, in the cold light of day, he now wishes it didn’t. Just as he desperately scrambled to pull the infamous Understanding the FDLR fact-sheet from the file-sharing site where it had been hosted, I bet Hege wishes he could storm into every UNSC member’s office, one by one, and rip the offending document from their hands.
But, just as with the love letter to the FDLR, it is too late to erase the record. His outburst cannot be unburst.
The document will invariably come to light via the UN’s leaky channels but, as I said, I have only had the Outburst characterized to me by a number of individuals who are intimately aware of its contents — both Rwandans and otherwise.
By all such accounts, the Outburst is a stunningly ill-judged exercise. Hege engages in a dozen-plus page ideological rant directed at Rwanda (a UNSC insider put it this way to me: “if you’d told me the Unabomber wrote it, I wouldn’t have batted an eyelid. The man has lost the plot”.
The ostensible purpose behind the document is that Hege is responding to Rwanda’s extensive rebuttal to his original travesty, the infamous addendum to the interim report to the Sanctions Committee. As you will recall, the Government of Rwanda moved heaven and earth to compile a comprehensive, meticulously detailed and precisely crafted response to each and every allegation raised by Hege and his colleagues. Rwanda’s epic rebuttal even earned rave reviews from William Wallis of the Financial Times, hardly known for his pro-Rwanda views especially when the DRC is involved.
But Hege doesn’t really address the substance of Rwanda’s response at all. In fact he just dismisses every single rebuttal point as if he is a burnt-out third grade teacher grading a spelling test. As a Rwandan official said to me:
- “We are a member-state of the United Nations and have been for half a century. He is a poor man’s Jason Stearns. He just paid no attention to a word we wrote. He only cares about his precious narrative that pins blame on Rwanda. Are we really expected to sit here and accept this kind of disdainful treatment from this man that no-one elected or had even heard of six months ago?”.
What surprised everyone I spoke to is that Hege is desperately clinging to every single detail of every single claim in the original addendum, including the ridiculous (Kanombe, boot-tracks, etc.) and the comprehensively disproven like the assertion that Defence Ministry head Jack Nziza was directing military officers when officials were able to produce 400 witnesses who can confirm he was in Kigali the whole time. The same Rwandan official said:
- By refusing to back down even from his obviously false allegations, he has done Rwanda a huge favor. He has demonstrated to the Security Council that the man has zero interest in the truth. He is a political actor operating in pursuit of an agenda that he has clearly spelled out in previous writings. By not demonstrating any good faith in response to Rwanda’s rebuttal, he has confirmed to the UNSC that everything we said about him is true. We couldn’t have done a better job of undermining his credibility if we tried.”
I am reliably informed that Hege dedicates a lengthy section to complaining about attacks directed at him from Kigali.
But apparently, he doesn’t actually raise anything anyone in the government of Rwanda has ever actually said about him. Not a mention of Louise Mushikiwabo eloquent presentation to the UNSC, nor of any other criticism relating to his writings and politics raised by anyone who works for the government. Of course, he doesn’t want to engage with such criticism because that would require him to defend his indefensible anti-Kigali, pro-FDLR views. So, instead, he does what every bully does in an argument: he creates straw men. First, he raises the specter of unnamed people accusing him of arming the FDLR.
(Believe me, few people have been as actively looking for chinks in Hege’s armor as me but I have never heard of such nonsense).
Second, he complains about a blog post and op-ed, the first written in France by a Frenchman and the second by a private Rwandan citizen, that allege that Hege might be involved in murky minerals dealings. Now I had heard these rumors too, but I had never written about them because I felt they lacked factual grounding. I wasn’t convinced.
But, hang on, how on earth is a French-authored blog post and accompanying op-ed evidence that the Government of Rwanda itself is involved in a smear campaign against Hege? It is a revealing leap of logic because it shows the extent to which Hege will pin blame on Kigali for any perceived misconduct by any Rwandan or friend of Rwanda anywhere at any time. It is the same flaw evident throughout the GoE reports.
But, mainly, what a baby!
His reports have led to the suspension of up to $90 million in aid to Rwanda. They have caused untold damage to the country’s reputation (don’t forget, this is the man who wrote that peace in the Great Lakes is only possible “when international opinion eventually sours on the Rwandan regime”).
So he can happily — gleefully, even — dish out mayhem on Rwanda, but a blog post and opinion piece that dares to raise questions about his motives…that is just beyond the pale. Pale being the operative word.