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The failure to intervene in Rwanda was one of the greatest foreign policy mishaps of Bill Clinton's presidency. In March 1998, Clinton made an extended tour of the African subcontinent with a stop in Rwanda. During his brief visit, the president attempted to repair the image of the United States among Rwandans and the broader international community. Clinton used three primary image repair strategies: democratization of blame, corrective action, and transcendence. Despite his emphasis on the important lessons that the world could learn from the Rwandan genocide, we argue that his rhetorical choices ultimately undermined his larger mission and led to the mixed response he received from pundits, politicians, and policymakers.

Original Citation

Edwards, J.A. & Shaw, T. (2013). A Superpower Apologizes? President Clinton’s Address in Rwanda. Communication & Theater Association of Minnesota Journal, 40, 20-31.