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Concentrate to annihilate : a strategic analysis of the Rwandan genocide Stonehouse, Jeff


This thesis has two goals. First, drawing upon centuries of strategic theory, I develop an analytical framework called the 'strategy hierarchy'. This heuristic device simplifies the diffuse field of strategic theory by focusing analysis on three interconnected themes: policy, grand strategy and military strategy. I argue that by using this framework it is possible to transfer the contributions of conventional strategic theory to episodes of genocidal violence. Second, I use the 'strategy hierarchy' as a lens through which to base an analysis of the Rwandan genocide of 1994. The 'policy' that preceded the genocide was developed by an entrenched political, economic and social elite called the akazu. In the late 1980s, this group of elites encountered three threats to their continued dominance: calls for multipartyism, an economic downtown and an invasion by the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF). The diverse methods of meeting this threat were the domain of 'grand strategy'. Prior to the outbreak of mass violence, the akazu and their network of supporters tackled these challenges politically, economically, socially, culturally and diplomatically. One of the key processes paralleling this multifaceted assault was the development of a genocidal ideology. According to this belief system, non-violent threats from the political opposition and from the Tutsi ethnicity were conflated with the armed and aggressive RPF. On 6 April 1994, President Habyarimana was assassinated. This 'strategic shock' resulted in a dramatic shift in grand strategic priorities. Pursuing elite policy, 'military strategy' took precedence over non-martial means. Two types of military strategy emerged. The primary strategy targeted Hutu politicians and rival elites. This strategy was largely successful within the first week of the genocide. Then, a new strategy emerged. The organizers of the genocide took advantage of and encouraged the traditional Tutsi practice of converging upon the churches for sanctuary during times of political upheaval. With thousands gathered at public locations, the perpetrators commissioned a series of extensive and high fatality massacres.

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