chapter  8
14 Pages


The sheer evilness of the Rwandan drama still remains to be explained. Thorough investigation of the UN’s performance, however, has revealed another, perhaps even greater, evil pertaining to the deep structures of our society that regulate conflict management. Although the extent and intensity of the genocide, and the UN’s failure to prevent it, have shocked international society, these structural ‘dysfunctions’ persist and have the potential to produce ‘other Rwandas’ at any moment, on an even greater scale. Aristotle’s metaphor seems apposite here: anything with reason that is accounted for in terms of its potentiality has also a potentiality for opposites. Medicine is a potentiality for both sickness and health (Metaphysics, Book Theta, Ch-2, 1046b). ‘The serious in actuality’, Aristotle continues, ‘is both better and more worthy of reference than the serious in potentiality’ (Metaphysics, Book Theta, Ch-9, 1051a). In the same way, what is worse and logically more disconcerting than the UN’s past shortcomings in Rwanda and Darfur (‘the serious in actuality’) is the fact that the propensity to produce similar outcomes remains (‘the serious in potentiality’) because of certain ‘troublemaking’ mechanisms still residing in institutional and other social structures. The evil was present when the UN stood by while rural people in Rwanda were efficiently mobilised, grabbing their ‘tools’ – hoes, axes and machetes – and ‘working’ for the common aim by hacking down their compatriots as if harvesting the crop. However, the evil persists today in an unexpected place, namely in international bureaucracies and in government offices where decision-makers are conducting their daily routines; we all play a part in reproducing the same Western prejudices and biases in our everyday lives, generating devastating consequences for those excluded from the concern of international society through our actions and inaction. The meanings of the terms ‘good’ and ‘evil’ applied by Aristotle have naturally evolved since the times of Ancient Greece, but the Aristotelian philosophy reveals two important aspects often overlooked in current conflict management. First, actualised events always form merely a tip of the iceberg of reality.