Diplomatic Masturbation – the case of Rwanda and Uganda.

If there’s such expression as “Political masturbation” and has been used before as to describe “any political process that serves only as a distraction from more important matters.” https://www.iwnsvg.com/2018/02/01/political-masturbation-in-parliament/, then it mustn’t surely come across as surprisingly and perhaps, unacceptably profane, particularly to the moralist brigade and quasi-moralists, if one, ergo, uses a similar expression “Diplomatic Masturbation“, in this case, to mean a “diplomatic process that serves more to distract from or cover up, than solve real diplomatic issues“. Moreover, done publicly with such shameless pomp. It’s political and/or diplomatic hypocrisy graced with State largesse.

Note: if the expression “Diplomatic Masturbation” doesn’t exist, I am happy to be credited for its invention and the contribution to diplomatic lexicon.

Where is this heading? One might ask.

Well, the clue or rather answer, lies right in the expression itself.

On Monday, 16.09.2019, a commission of both Rwandan and Ugandan government officials dubbed, in political and diplomatic speak, “Ad Hoc Commission” with the task to discuss the implementation of the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) that was recently signed in Luanda, Angola, between both President Kagame of Rwanda and President Museveni of Uganda, met in Kigali, Rwanda.

The meeting of the “Ad Hoc Commission” comes after a recent spate of exchange of bitter, unflattering accusations, some as extreme as of sabotage and espionage activities from both sides, in their respective media outlets. The bitter accusations in the media followed the signing of the MoU in Luanda, Angola.

No sooner had the proverbial ink dried, and both principal signatories had time to reflect on and digest the significance and the historic milestone of the MoU in the attempt to ‘normalise‘ the bilateral relations between the two neighbouring countries that have been dogged with heightened tension since early this year, than a verbal flare up between agitators on both sides started, trading tirades and accusations of all possible manner, sabotage and espionage being the extreme, in their media outlets.

The meeting of the “Ad Hoc Commission” and the subsequent joint press conference between both Rwanda’s and Uganda’s foreign relations representatives was, frankly, no more than an act, a shameless act of public “diplomatic masturbation“.

For it does or did little to address the core issue, but more to demonstrate and prove that, although diplomacy is promoted as an essential instrument of good governance, it is, in fact, an insidious instrument of political diversion.

Diplomacy is pathetically ineffective in resolving/solving serious political and governance matters.

The conflict between Rwanda and Uganda has done more to expose the pathetic ineffectiveness of diplomacy, as to render it irrelevant.

While engaged in a cordial conversation about the meeting and its objective, someone asked, what sounded and I thought was a cogent question: where and when has diplomacy ever resolved serious political conflicts?

I have written before that diplomacy cannot and will not [re]solve the political issues between Rwanda and Uganda, simply because diplomacy has long been seriously compromised, impaired by a series of bitter accusations from both sides.

I have also written that, although the recent MoU between President Kagame and President Museveni was signed in light of bilateral national relations; the issue is much deeper and more historically personal between both men and less, if at all, of a bilateral national issue. This, of course, is not a popular view and will likely be vehemently denied and challenged.

I have further written that, only President Kagame and President Museveni can and have the power to stop the tension, to stop the war of words, to stop the back and forth bitter and serious accusations of sabotage and criminal activities by agreeing to work on mending their personal relations.

On this, I suggested that they consider engaging in a private conversation, without interlocutors, only two of them, look each other straight in the face, and tell and speak truth to each other. This is not to suggest such conversation/meeting has not taken place before. In fact, I was reminded it might have taken place more than once.

However, I maintained that, that is no reason or excuse, because that was then, this is now; a lot has changed, the dynamics have somehow or somewhat evolved.

Consequently, one more such private conversation is due, and it should be given serious consideration by both principal actors.

Hope and salvation for both countries and their relations, lie in that; not in MoUs and joint press conferences at which journalists sound as if they have been pre-selected to ask the “right” questions, upon which people wax lyrical in response, no more than an act of public “diplomatic masturbation“.