Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Genocide in Darfur

Nicholas Kristof has written a compelling column about the ongoing genocide in Sudan. He recounted the experiences and observations of Brian Steidle, a former U.S. Marine officer who worked with the African Union monitoring team in Darfur. While virtually everyone else was prohibited from seeing what Sudan forces and the janjaweed militia they sponsor were doing, Mr. Steidle had a front-row seat.

"Every single day you go out to see another burned village, and more dead bodies," he said. "And the children - you see 6-month-old babies that have been shot, and 3-year-old kids with their faces smashed in with rifle butts. And you just have to stand there and write your reports." ...

So is it really genocide?

"I have no doubt about that," Mr. Steidle said. "It's a systematic cleansing of peoples by the Arab chiefs there. And when you talk to them, that's what they tell you. They're very blunt about it. One day we met a janjaweed leader and he said, 'Unless you get back four camels that were stolen in 2003, then we're going to go to these four villages and burn the villages, rape the women, kill everyone.' And they did." ...

When Sudan's government is preparing to send bombers or helicopter gunships to attack an African village, it shuts down the cellphone system so no one can send out warnings. Thus the international monitors know when a massacre is about to unfold. But there's usually nothing they can do. ...

President Bush is pushing for sanctions, but European countries like France are disgracefully cool to the idea - and China is downright hostile, playing the same supportive role for the Darfur genocide that it did for the Khmer Rouge genocide. ...

At one level, I blame President Bush - and, even more, the leaders of European, Arab and African nations - for their passivity. But if our leaders are acquiescing in genocide, that's because we citizens are passive, too. If American voters cared about Darfur's genocide as much as about, say, the Michael Jackson trial, then our political system would respond.

Given the ineffectiveness of the African Union, it's hard to understand why the international community doesn't do something forceful to stop this outrage. It's as though we learned nothing from Rwanda. Are we so passive because we expect little from African peoples, and with Arabs thrown into the mix, even less? Or is it because the people dying are black?

It's intolerable for the civilized world to sit back passively and watch yet another genocide happen. Will another President of the United States have to go there in a few years and apologize to another million ghosts?


Blogger Kevin said...

Fantastic post, Tom.

It is intolerable for the civilized world to look the other way yet again. I personally would take that further and question whether people who deliberately look the other way while genocide is going have a legitimate claim to being civilized people.

For me this isn't about politics or ideology. It's about plain old common decency and our common humanity. What springs to mind is the parable of the Good Samaritan from the Bible. Which is to say that in my eyes it's very much a moral issue.

Again... fantastic post. The timing is interesting 'cause I'm just putting the polishing touches on a post for PK about my parent's experiences surviving the Rwandan genocide.

6:52 PM, March 02, 2005  
Blogger USMC_Vet said...

I'm with Kevin. Simply fantastic post.

I can add nothing but an inbound link.

Nothing. Well done, sir.

7:37 PM, March 02, 2005  
Blogger MaxedOutMama said...

Amen to this, Tom. If this isn't genocide than what is? One of the reasons for my loyalty to NPR and public TV is that they do cover these issues.

Never again?

It is precisely the unwillingness of the UN to concede that this is genocide (because under the rules then they would have to take action) that is so disturbing.

So once again, either the US, UK and Australia must act alone and "illegally" or it appears nothing will be done.

8:42 PM, March 02, 2005  
Blogger Der Tommissar said...

Actually, there's a ton of oil in the Sudan. A big part of the reason France is doing nothing on this is because they don't want to screw up their oil contacts with the Sudanese government.

Hmm, where have I heard that one before? Why does France sitting on the sidelines and allowing a despot slaughter his own people in order to keep their shady oil deals intact? I could have /swore/ I've heard that tune before. Say it ain't so, France; you paragon of virtue.

And why on earth would you blame the Bush administration? Because they're not "doing enough"? What should we do, send in troops? It's a total damned if you do/damned if you don't situation. Ten minutes after the first marine sets foot in Khartoum, you'll have those green bumperstickers out in force. Then you'll have every whackjob and his mother talking about how due to the US occupation, one billion trillion Sudanese infants die each second. Then every night there will be some news talking head talking about how "stable" the Sudan was before we arrived.

It's like a broken record, it is.

12:01 AM, March 03, 2005  
Blogger Esther said...

Let me echo everyone else and say fantastic post, Tom!

I can't believe the UN (well, yes, of course I can but still....) is once again sitting by and watching genocide. What the hell are they for then if they can't help out in instances like this?

2:07 AM, March 03, 2005  
Blogger Tom Carter said...

Kevin, your post on Rwanda is very interesting, and very sad. I'd recommend everyone read it at Preemptive Karma.

Tom, thanks for the correction about oil. Problem of writing fast and thinking slow, I guess. I've removed that phrase. The record of my goof will be here!

4:15 AM, March 03, 2005  
Blogger Cheryl said...

I hope that doing nothing because they are "black" or "muslim" has nothing to do with it.

Sounds like the oil and France are key AND the UN is under such scandal now
1) The Oil for Food Program
2) FOX is reporting on rape of many young girls in "Rawanda" (I believe, I just saw the first report late last night)
3) Kofi, et al's poor response to the Tsunami victims

None of these are adequate excuses, it just shows how useless the UN is. I'd like to see the US stop paying our dues and kick the UN out of the US to say, Brussels or maybe Paris....

Thanks for bringing to our attention. If enough bloggers write about this horror, the MSM is bound to follow -- that's all their good for now......


8:34 AM, March 03, 2005  
Blogger Kevin said...

The honest truth about the UN is that it is as weak or strong as it's members allow it to be.

The recent fighting in the Congo is a perfect example of this. A week ago something like 9 UN peacekeeping troops were killed in an ambush. Previous UN forces in the region had been helpless to stop the raping and murdering of civilians. Why? Because the UN Security Council mandate only allowed them to use force to protect themselves. They weren't allowed to use force to stop rape, looting or murder. Their orders were to stand by and observe. Orders which originated in the UN Security Council.

So a number of them got killed and the Security Council was asked to give the UN forces some teeth. They belatedly did and the other day a small force of Pakistani UN troops administered what can only be described as a serious ass-kicking to the rebels believed to be responsible for the earlier UN deaths.

While we lollygag around here complaining about how the UN forces don't do anything... the reality is that their hands are often tied by the same Security Council which our own government has enormous levels of influence in.

I don't know about anyone else, but I never heard word one from this Administration about how the UN peacekeeping troops in the Congo needed a more effective mandate.

So... we sit around ignorantly casting aspersions on the big bad boogeyman (aka the UN) when our own government is as much at fault for our own inaction on the Security Council.

10:16 AM, March 03, 2005  
Blogger Gindy said...

One of the least talked about and most ignored genocide.

11:15 AM, March 03, 2005  
Blogger Kevin said...

I agree with all of you about this. I am a little dismayed though that anyone could defend the UN. The UN although a great idea is not the force for good that it preposes to be.

I think that yet again it probably will be the U.S., who has to do something and then it will yet seem again that we are attacking a poor helpless Islamic nation.

I think that it is hightime for Europe to do something. If the Europeans want to matter in the world then they need to start mattering.

Europe will one day understand that they have the perfect opportunity to let their actions speak louder than words.

But I don't have that much faith in our European allies; Sudan ain't a clean place and the only exit strategy is to just jump into the crap and get the job done.


11:22 AM, March 03, 2005  
Blogger Esther said...

"I think that it is hightime for Europe to do something. If the Europeans want to matter in the world then they need to start mattering."

Did they ever say they want to matter? Actions speak louder than words and if they do want to matter, they have a real lousy way of showing it.

2:05 PM, March 03, 2005  
Blogger Kevin said...

The Europeans have acted. Not always according to our wishes. But, that cuts both ways.

The French acted in Ivory Coast. I believe they've still got troops there. And the Belgians sent troops to Rwanda on their own. In fact it was Belgian troops who rescued my parents from Rwanda.

The sad reality is that for every example you can name of a European country not acting I can give you an example of our own government not acting. Likewise, for every example of our government acting, a similiar case can be cited for a European government acting. And if you want to be honest with yourself, you could do the same.

Is the UN perfect? Not by any stretch of the imagination.

Are the Europeans perfect? Not by any stretch of the imagination.

Are we perfect? Not by any stretch of the imagination.

That's the unvarnished truth of the matter.

4:34 PM, March 03, 2005  
Blogger Pliny said...

And do you blame President Clinton for the 1 million deaths in Rawanda, or President Carter when he sat around and watch Pol Pot kill a million of his own countrymen, or Truman for the 4 million deaths in the Ukraine under Stalin, or FDR for the six million Jewish deaths when his government refused to accept any Jewish refugees from Hitler's Germany at a time when Hitler was trying to GIVE them away?

If your answer is no, then quit your whinning about Bush. If your answer is yes, then get used to it. As you can see from history, if the U.S. doesn't do it, no one does it.

7:38 PM, March 03, 2005  
Blogger Kevin said...

Heck Yeah,

The Europeans want to matter that is why they have stood up to the U.S. Jugernaut. They have picked their battles very well and when we were watching during the Clinton Administration they became the United States of Europe.

Get this, they are a single economic entity and 12 countries in the United Nations. How many of them would balk if we took 50 seats in the UN. I guess we would always get our way.

10:45 PM, March 03, 2005  
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