Dallaire, Roméo 1946- (Romé A. Dallaire, Romeo Dallaire)

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Dallaire, Roméo 1946- (Romé A. Dallaire, Romeo Dallaire)


Born June 25, 1946, in Denekamp, Netherlands; son of Roméo Louis and Catherine Dallaire; married Elizabeth Roberge, 1976; children: Willem, Catherine, Guy. Education: Royal Military College of Canada, B.Sc., 1969; attended Canadian Land Forces Command and Staff College and United States Marine Corps Command and Staff College.


E-mail—[email protected]


Military leader, government official, and writer. Joined Canadian army, 1964; rose through ranks and served as commander, 5e Régiment d'artillerie légère du Canada, Valcartier, Quebec, 1983-1985; promoted to colonel, 1986, and appointed director of land requirements for Canadian Land Force and director of artillery; promoted to brigadier-general, 1989, and assumed command of Collège militaire royal de Saint-Jean; appointed commander, 5e Groupe-brigade mécanisé du Canada, Valcartier, Quebec, 1991; appointed commander of United Nations Observer Mission—Uganda and Rwanda, and of United Nations Assistance Mission for Rwanda, July 1, 1993; promoted to major-general, January 1, 1994; returned to Canada, 1994, and appointed commander, 1st Canadian Division, and deputy commander, Land Force Command; promoted to lieutenant-general; appointed assistant deputy minister, human resources, Department of Defence, 1998; appointed part-time senior adviser on officer professional development to Chief of Defence Staff Maurice Baril, 1999; took early retirement from military, April 18, 2000; appointed special adviser to Canadian government on war-affected children, September, 2000; hired by Department of Defence to offer advice on stress disorders and other mental health issues within Canadian Armed Forces, 2002; received fellowship, Carr Center for Human Rights Policy, John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University, to pursue research into conflict resolution; serves as adviser, Genocide Watch; appointed to Canadian Senate, 2005—. Also member of Veterans Affairs-Canadian Forces advisory council, Minister of National Defence's Education advisory board, Royal Military College of Canada board of governors, Canadian War Museum advisory council, and National Police Services advisory council. Military service: Canadian Army, achieved rank of lieutenant-general.


Meritorious Service Cross, 1994, for fearless leadership; Vimy Award, Conference of Defence Associations, 1995; Aegis Award on Genocide Prevention, Beth Shalom Holocaust Centre of Great Britain, 2002; Order of Canada, 2003; Arthur Kroeger College Award for Ethics in Public Affairs, 2004; Shaughnessy Cohen Prize for political writing, Writer's Trust of Canada, 2004, for Shake Hands with the Devil; Libris Author of the Year Award, 2004, for Shake Hands with the Devil; Best Nonfiction Book Award, Canadian Booksellers Association, 2004, for Shake Hands with the Devil; Governor General's Literary Award, nonfiction, 2004, for Shake Hands with the Devil; Prix du grand public salon du livre de Montréal/La Presse, 2004, for J'ai serré la main du diable (French edition of Shake Hands with the Devil); Distinguished Humanitarian Award, International Rescue Committee, 2004; Distinguished Canadian Leadership Award, University of Ottawa, 2004; Grand Officer of the National Order of Quebec, 2005; Pearson Peace Medal, United Nations Association of Canada, 2005; holds honorary degrees from universities, including St. Francis Xavier University, University of Western Ontario, McMaster University, Royal Military College of Canada, University of Ottawa, York University, Queen's University and University of Calgary.


(With Brent Beardsley) Shake Hands with the Devil: The Failure of Humanity in Rwanda (memoir), Random House Canada (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 2003, Carroll & Graf (New York, NY), 2004.

Also author of the documentary film Shake Hands with the Devil: The Journey of Roméo Dallaire, 2004.


Shake Hands with the Devil was adapted as a feature film of the same title in 2007.


Roméo Dallaire spent most of his life in a military environment. His father was a non-commissioned officer in the Canadian military, and Dallaire grew up on army bases near Quebec city and veterans' housing in Montreal. Setting his sights on a military career while still a boy, Dallaire served in the Army cadets as a teenager and joined the Canadian armed forces in 1964. Over the years, he rose through the military ranks and assumed increasingly responsible commands, eventually becoming a brigadier general and overseeing the Collège militaire royale de Saint-Jean. However, a 1993 assignment with the United Nations would change his life forever. Dallaire viewed his assignment to command the United Nations Assistance Mission in Rwanda as a golden opportunity for advancement, never thinking that it would lead him to confront the horrors of genocide involving the slaughter of thousands. His experience led to a mental breakdown and a decision to commit suicide.

"It was very much presented as a classic chapter-six mission, which meant that both sides of belligerents had agreed to stop fighting and sign the peace agreement," Dallaire recalled in an interview with Jeff Fleischer in Mother Jones. "Their troops were in their trenches with a demilitarized zone. They just needed a referee to make sure that everyone was advancing according to the rules, so it was fairly upfront." As it turned out, however, the real carnage was just about to begin. After the Rwandan president's plane was shot down in 1994, a militant group within the Hutu population set out to assassinate government officials who favored the truce and a moderate approach to governing. As a result, radical leaders urged the Hutu population to pick up axes, machetes, and anything else on hand and slaughter their Tutsi neighbors. The result was a genocide that would ultimately lead to more than 800,000 Rawandan Tutsis and moderate Hutus being killed in a little more than three months.

In his book Shake Hands with the Devil: The Failure of Humanity in Rwanda, written with Brent Beardsley and first published on the tenth anniversary of Dallaire's arrival in Rwanda, Dallaire provides a first-hand account of the genocide and an exploration of everything that went wrong, from betrayals and the naïveté of world leaders and the United Nations, to the deep-rooted racism in Rwanda and the intrigue of international politics. For example, the author recounts his request to seize weapons that the Rawandan government had purchased but was refused by Kofi Annan, who was then Secretary General for Peacekeeping Operations. Shortly afterwards, he became aware that a genocide had begun and asked for 5,000 troops to stop the killing. Once again, he was denied by Annan, who, according to the author, was following a request by the administration of then President Bill Clinton not to intefere.

Shake Hands with the Devil also recounts Dallaire's own difficulties in facing up to his inability to stop the genocide and his metamorphosis from a confident military man to an individual consumed by self-doubt to the point that he ultimately tried to commit suicide. In his preface, Dallaire also reveals how he came up with the title for his book. A retired army chaplain asked if he still believed in God after witnessing the horrors of genocide in Africa. "I know there is a God," he replied, "because in Rwanda I shook hands with the devil."

Although Shake Hands with the Devil received widespread critical acclaim in Canada and elsewhere, it received much less attention in the United States. Writing in the African Studies Quarterly, Tony Waters noted: "Dallaire weaves his personal story with the recent history of Rwanda. He describes well the various personalities involved in the genocide and its aftermath." Naval War College Review contributor Robert C. Whitten wrote: "Shake Hands with the Devil is an important book and should be read by every military officer and senior noncommissioned officer."



Dallaire, Roméo, and Brent Beardsley, Shake Hands with the Devil: The Failure of Humanity in Rwanda, Carroll & Graf (New York, NY), 2004.


Africa News Service, August 1, 2006, "Romeo Dallaire Movie Premiere for August 07"; August 7, 2006, "Film on the Experiences of a Canadian General in Rwanda"; November 27, 2006, "Assassination of Habyarimana—It Is Necessary to ‘Let the Investigations Be Conducted,’ Dallaire Says"; November 27, 2006, "Dallaire Targeted during Massacre"; January 19, 2007, "France Implicated in 1994 Rwandan Genocide"; July 2, 2007, "Boutros-Ghali ‘Connived’ with France during Genocide—British Researcher"; July 23, 2007, "Ex-UN Force Commander Says the World Has Failed Child Soldiers"; September 26, 2007, "French Distributors Shun Romeo Dallaire Film"; October 2, 2007, "Romeo Dallaire—Figure of the United Nations Failure in Rwanda."

African Studies Quarterly, spring, 2007, Tony Waters, "Identifying the Limits to Humanitarian Intervention: Echoes from Rwanda—A Review Article."

Anglican Journal, June, 2006, Francie Healy, "Dallaire Reminds West of Its Obligations," p. 12.

Books in Canada, December 2004, Gwen Nowak, "Hell on Earth," p. 11.

Book World, February 6, 2005, Madeleine K. Albright, "The Hapless General," p. 6.

Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, April 17, 2007, "Canada Should Take Lead in Nuclear Talks: Dallaire."

Canadian Corporate News, September 15, 2006, "Media Advisory: Romeo Dallaire, Bedouin Soundclash, Justin Trudeau to Headline Darfur Rally in Toronto, September 17"; July 16, 2007, "L-Gen. Romeo Dallaire and UNICEF Helping Child Soldiers; Canada Leading International Team in Ghana to Help End Use of Child Soldiers."

Canadian News Facts, November 1, 1998, "Romeo Dallaire Placed on Indefinite Mental Leave," p. 5774; April 1, 2000, "Lt.-Gen. Romeo Dallaire, Head of the U.N. Peacekeeping Mission in Rwanda, Retires," p. 6040; July 1, 2000, "Dallaire ‘Only Hero’ in Rwanda," p. 6088.

Catholic New Times, May 9, 2004, Kevin Spurgaitis, "A General's Mea Culpa, Rwanda Genocide Remembered," p. 8.

Chatelaine, October, 2000, Judith Timson, "The Night of the General," p. 44.

CNW Group, September 17, 2006, "Masses Scream for Action at Toronto Global Day for Darfur Rally Headlined by Senator Romeo Dallaire, Bedouin Soundclash, and Justin Trudeau."

Commonweal, September 10, 2004, Peter Kavanagh, "To Hell-not Back," p. 32.

Daily Variety, March 16, 2005, Brendan Kelly, "Banff Fest Keys Up Ex-U.N. Official," p. 23.

Elm Street, November, 2003, Brett Grainger, "The General's War," p. 78.

Esprit De Corps, October, 1997, "Dallaire and the Bakovici Sex Scandal: General Flip-Flop," p. 19; January, 1998, "More Belgian Waffling: Dallaire Grilled Again over Rwanda," p. 11; March,1998, "Command Responsibility: Dallaire's Promotion Draws Fire," p. 7; June, 1998, "Opinion—Romeo Dallaire: Unprepared," p. 12; August, 2002, "Loss of Martial Ethos," p. 2; April, 2004, "Rwanda Ten Years Later: A Responsibility to Act," p. 6; June, 2005, "Romeo Dallaire Adds Senator to His List of Credits," p. 12.

Hollywood Reporter, February 22, 2005, Etan Vlessing, "To Hell and Back: Films Recount One Man's Journey," p. 14; March 16, 2005, "Banff Keynote," p. 6.

Inroads: A Journal of Opinion, summer-fall, 2004, John Matthew Barlow, "Hero, Eyewitness and Accountant of the Rwandan Slaughter," p. 140.

Maclean's, March 9, 1998, "A General's Anguish," p. 37; April 24, 2000, "A Casualty of Rwanda," p. 30; July 10, 2000, "Medical Attention for Dallaire," p. 25; September 25, 2000, "A Plea for Children," p. 33; September 27, 2004, "To Hell and Back: A Decade after the Genocide, Romeo Dallaire Writes about His Uneasy Return," p. 38; March 12, 2007, "‘Once You Put an AK-47 in Their Hands, Child Soldiers Can Mutilate, Kill. I've Seen a 14-year-old Commanding 30 or 40 Kids,’" p. 14.

Morning Edition, June 1, 2004, "Interview: Lieutenant General Romeo Dallaire Talks about His Experiences during the Genocide in Rwanda."

Mother Jones, January 25, 2005, Jeff Fleischer, "Shake Hands with the Devil: An Interview with Romeo Dallaire."

Naval War College Review, winter, 2006, Robert C. Whitten, review of Shake Hands with the Devil, p. 141.

New York, February 21, 2005, Keith Gessen, "Atrocity Exhibition," p. 74.

New York Review of Books, November 18, 2004, Samantha Power, "A Hero of Our Time," p. 8; May 26, 2005, "Sorrows of a Hero," p. 35.

New York Times, July 15, 2001, Barbara Crossette, "Front Line of U.N. Effort to Take Guns from Children," p. 4; November 16, 2005, Marc Lacey, "World Briefing Africa: Sudan: U.N.'s Rwanda Commander Sees Darfur," p. 9.

Philadelphia Inquirer, February 19, 2007, Carolyn Davis, "Ex-Peacekeeping Leader Bemoans Indifference on Africa."

Reader's Digest, January, 2006, Liz Crompton, "Soldiering on for Peace. Romeo Dallaire," p. 63.

Spectator, March 19, 2005, Caroline Moorehead, "Policemen Who Didn't Keep the Peace," p. 34.

Time International, March 9, 1998, "Arusha," p. 12.

Times Higher Education Supplement, November 11, 2005, Margaret Anstee, "Unheeded Cries of a Haunted, Helpless Witness," p. 22.

Washington Post, September 18, 2007, Colum Lynch, "Bleak Advice for U.N. Darfur Commander," p. 15.

Weekend Edition Saturday, February 5, 2005, "Interview: Romeo Dallaire Discusses His Book ‘Shake Hands with the Devil’ and the Situation in Darfur."


Canadians.ca,http://www.canadians.ca/ (November 26, 2007), brief profile of author.

International Movie Database,http://imdb.com/ (November 26, 2007), information on author's film work.

Parliament of Canada,http://www.parl.gc.ca/ (November 26, 2007), brief profile of author.

PBS.org—Frontline,http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/ (November 26, 2007), interview with author.

Senate of Canada,http://sen.parl.gc.ca/ (November 26, 2007), profile of author.

Third World Traveler,http://www.thirdworldtraveler.com/ (November 26, 2007), Terry Allen, "The General and the Genocide."

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Dallaire, Roméo 1946- (Romé A. Dallaire, Romeo Dallaire)

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Dallaire, Roméo 1946- (Romé A. Dallaire, Romeo Dallaire)