Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Name

Master of Liberal Arts (M.L.A.)

Degree Granting Department

Humanities and Cultural Studies

Major Professor

Edward Kissi, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Abraham Khan, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Earl Conteh-Morgan, Ph.D.


Genocide Studies, Post-Cold War, US Foreign Policy


This thesis analyzes the US response to the 1994 Rwandan genocide. It argues that in 1994, the US was retooling its stance on humanitarian intervention because of the disastrous US-led Operation Gothic Serpent in Somalia in 1993. Therefore, the American response to the genocide in Rwanda became a casualty of Washington’s reassessment of its humanitarian intervention policy in the 1990s. The reason behind the US adoption of a more muscular humanitarian intervention policy was due in part to the end of the Cold War in 1991. Thus, the US was able to focus on other issues in international affairs, such as human security, which became a focal point of George H.W Bush’s New World Order. This policy plan outlined areas in which the US could assist the world with human rights issues through cooperation with the United Nations. In 1993, the Clinton Administration expanded the principles of Bush’s New World Order to create a muscular American foreign policy platform that imposed US domestic ideas of human rights on international affairs. Subsequent polarizing events would force the US to retreat from humanitarian intervention. This resulted in a new, lukewarm approach to humanitarian intervention by the Clinton Administration. The new cautious approach to humanitarian intervention affected the US response to the genocide in Rwanda. This thesis aims to reassess how the US reacted to this particular genocide.