Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Endgame in Darfur

Molara Wood is one of my favorite bloggers and one of my first blogging friends. She is a Nigerian writer and arts journalist, based in London. Her blog is unselfishly used to promote other Nigerian artists primarily. Molara doesn't often write about politics, I think after reading this, we wish that she will more often. I think her post is a good starting point to discuss the Darfur Crisis. Molara's blog is WORDSBODY.



“Never Again” is the mantra we hear over and over again, when people talk of the horror of the 1994 Genocide in Rwanda. Then, the World (and in this sense, the World is the International community and the ones who hold the balance of power, led by the US. The World of course is also the United Nations, which to its eternal shame, was able to do absolutely nothing in Rwanda). Yet the World acted in Yugoslavia. More people were killed in Rwanda in 100 days, than in over 9 years of the Yugoslavia Campaign. As Romeo Dallaire once said: "The World is Racist".

We all know what happened in Rwanda in 1994. I will never forget the television news footage of bloated human bodies floating like mutant mushrooms upon Lake Victoria. So many. So many were they, that one couldn’t even see an inch of water in some places. How can I ever think of Lake Victoria again without re-imagining that nightmarish footage?

Now it is Darfur. The World again is being its (or is it her?) old useless self. The World is being racist again. Not only are the people being killed in Darfur as black as night, they are Africans - a terrible thing to be if you want the World to care about you.

What is more, the Dead, Dying and Displaced of Darfur are Muslims. I don’t know which is the worse thing to be in the current World order - African or Muslim. The people of Darfur have a terrible Double Whammy of an albatross round their necks.

In the last few days, the anxiety over Darfur is choking. Sense of asphyxiation worsened by helplessness and the horror of what we know: that time is running out. And why this anxiety? After all, Darfur has been with us for some time. An estimated 200,000 people have been killed in Darfur since 2003. The World has been busy twiddling its thumbs.

And so the new anxiety. And how inadequate a word is ‘Anxiety’. But what word should we grasp and attempt to speak, to express the unthinkable?

And is the new ‘anxiety’ because Hollywood liberal George Clooney spent 5 days with his father in Darfur in April, and in the last few days urged the US government to do something about “the first Genocide of the 21st century”?

Or is it because earlier today, faith leaders in Britain (remarkable, in light of Pope Benedict’s grossly unwise remarks about the Prophet Mohammed; Pope John Paul II, how irreplaceable you were!) - Anglican (Church of England), Islam, Jewish - led by Cormac Murphy O'Connor (leader of the Catholic faith in Britain) prayed at the door of 10 Downing Street. A prayer/letter was also read on behalf of Archbishop Desmond Tutu - you can’t have more moral integrity than that… [I don’t know whether the last few sentences comply with the rules of composition, but what is composition in the face of genocide?]… All these faith leaders came to express their anxiety at the front door of power in London earlier today. They were met at the door of Downing Street by Baroness Amos (don’t know why Blair himself couldn’t do it). We are told that Blair has written to fellow European powers urging action in Darfur. I don’t know that Blair’s gesture is not just another case of twiddling thumbs.

And the anxiety… African Union Peacekeepers have to leave Darfur by September 30. The Government of Sudan (in effect, an Arab government in the North) has refused to agree to a UN peacekeeping force in the region. They are adamant in this stance.

And the fear now, is that the government and its Janjaweed are planning The Final Solution to the Darfur 'Problem'. Genocide! And the World twiddles its useless thumbs. When it’s all over and done with, the World will again chorus: Never Again.

The World is Racist.
Molara Wood

35 comments:

sonia said...

The World will not act in Darfur.

For at least 6 reasons:

1. Both sides, killers and victims, are dark skinned Muslims. If they belonged to different races and/or religions, the outside world would care more, afraid that such a slaughter might spark a larger conflict. There is no such risk in Darfur.

2. No Western leader will risk his reputation by sending troops, knowing that he will inevitably be accused of 'racism' and 'neo-colonialism' by the very same people who now might be clamoring for intervention. Call it 'Somalia syndrome', another ill-fated 'humanitarian' mission that went tragically wrong.

3. Sudanese leaders, unlike, say, Saddam, are very careful not to provoke the West by invading neighboring countries and trying to assassinate US president's fathers.

4. There is no oil in Sudan.

5. If Western troops are sent, some people will inevitably claim that more Sudanese people died at the hands of the Western troops than at the hands of Janjaweed. Call it the 'Kosovo syndrome'...

6. There are actually very few press articles about Sudan (as compared to Iraq, for example). Why ? If George W. Bush cannot be blamed, the liberal press quickly looses interest. And without press coverage, there is no public opinion's pressure to act.

The Pagan Temple said...

I thought the janjaweed were Arabs. If that's true, and they are killing dark skinned Muslims as well as other Africans, that says a lot about them, what i've heard so far has been more than fucking enough to turn my stomach.

GraemeAnfinson said...

The AU is staying longer now at least. This is positive. I am trying to find something positive going on in the world so I will leave it at that

Redwine said...

Excellent post, excellent blog. Read it yesterday. However, Sonia; the fact that the world reacted as it did re Kosovo for example, is not promising at all. I hate blind pacifists in such cases: they already did too much harm.
As for the liberal press, there is a reason not to admit that Darfur is a priority, and has been for long..

the flying monkeys said...

Sonia said: "There is no oil in Sudan"

Sudan is actually China’s largest overseas oil project and it does not surprise me, the violations are linked to the oil. Whereever there is oil, we find the curse.

btw: Good reprint Ren. Excellent commentary by Sonia, pagan temple, GraemeAnfinson and REDwine

the flying monkeys said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
jams o donnell said...

An excellent post from a blog I like too read regularly. Sadly, I hold out no hope that there will be any relief for the people of Darfur.

troutsky said...

Blame the liberal press, how convenient. And simple.And baseless.The right wing has emasculated the UN (as Chavez stated so well), it has no permanent force,and security council veto power by the permanent members(in this case China) insures nothing gets done.

MarxistFromLebanon said...

Sadly the people suffer the decisions of the leaders.

Great article to place comrade Renegade. For starters, finally me and Sonia also agree on several points as well.

Except for the Western Troops. Western Troops are sent as a symbolic buffer. Over here, all presidents and authorities concerned expressed that the moment there is trouble in S. Lebanon , they are all withdrawing their troops. Bush also stated that UNIFIL forces are just there to report (15,000 to report). So, I can deduce that the situation is the same over there. Kozovo syndrome was more political and had US foreign policy interest in the matter as it revealed that the Second strongest nation is a crippled nation with no comparison to US military might.

MFL

roman said...

Molara Wood's piece is very powerful indeed.

The world seems to be waiting for the most obvious solution to this problem in Darfur. The Sudanese government is useless. Their inaction in this genocide speaks volumes. All they care about is selling more and more oil to China. They are criminally responsible. The Sudanese government must be replaced.
Who is going to do this?
The UN is impotent and can't get out of it's own way. The "western" powers could get the job done but are currently paralyzed into inaction by pressure from Muslim hardliners everywhere to stay out of "their" affairs. The only hope is for the AU forces to be strenghtened and made more robust so that they can affect real change.

beatroot said...

Molara Wood is just parroting the usual neo-leftist liberal bullshit.
.
More people were killed in Rwanda in 100 days, than in over 9 years of the Yugoslavia Campaign. As Romeo Dallaire once said: "The World is Racist".

The Yugoslavian campaign, in case Wood missed it, entailed white NATO bombing innocent Serbs in places like TV studios. Very racist!

I notice too that Wood reaches for the ‘genocide’ word – essential when privileging one nasty civil war against another one. As usual, a gross simplification of what is, like Rwanda, a very complex situation, not between races, but between tribes, political groups, ethnicities…

But that kind of subtlety is wasted on the liberal interventionists. Do they never sit down and think about how western intervention actually prolongs conflicts?

In May, Darfurian rebel groups initially held back from signing a draft agreement with the Sudanese government, even though the agreement gave the rebels ‘most of what they went to war for’. Why? Because they know that they have the West on board and can keep pushing for more and more. Thereby, of course, prolonging the conflict.

Same thing happened in Bosnia. The Bosnian Muslims, under advice from the Clinton administration and encouraged by widespread Western support, continually held out for better and better deals in the Bosnian war in 1994 and 1995, which made that bloody conflict drag on for months longer than it needed to.

Same thing happened in Kosovo. Kosovo Albanian forces are alleged to have staged a massacre, by manoeuvring dead bodies, in order to encourage intervention over Kosovo in 1999. This, too, was ‘strategic victimhood’, a performance for Western humanitarians.

The consequence of Western liberal campaigning over humanitarian crises is all too often more war, more bloodshed, deeper divisions and less democracy at the end of it. Turning civil wars into international spectacles prolongs them and makes them even more horrendously violent.

Stop thinking these conflict are about Good and Evil – they are much too complicated for simpletons like Woods to understand, maybe.

And then, in a prize piece of gibberish, this post asks why everyone is getting excited about Darfur now.

Or is it because earlier today, faith leaders in Britain (remarkable, in light of Pope Benedict’s grossly unwise remarks about the Prophet Mohammed; Pope John Paul II, how irreplaceable you were!) - Anglican (Church of England), Islam, Jewish - led by Cormac Murphy O'Connor (leader of the Catholic faith in Britain) prayed at the door of 10 Downing Street…

Excuse me while I go and get a bucket…..

furtherleft said...

Complex huh? Nothing complex about dead. You are or you are not.

ramo said...

Nobody usually comes for help unless there is something in it for them. Like Iraq was pure oil. Although Sudan has but not that much. Besides Sudanese are playing the muslim victim card very well by asking for Arab solidarity. Arab solidarity is a joke but in current scenario, nobody wants to open another front on muslims.

And about that "Never Again" thing, I am amazed how people buy such arguments in first place. These are PR tricks of consolation. It is no doubt sad what is happening in Darfur. Africans have to help themselves here. AU should increase force and get equipment and training support from West and show leadership.

beatroot said...

furtherleft Complex huh? Nothing complex about dead. You are or you are not.

If that's a debating point then the capitalist class must be quaking in its boots!

Nico Niveo Solón said...

added you to our links keep up the good work comrade

Nico Niveo Solón said...

Linked you to the site,, keep up the good work Comrade

Unsane said...

Good post.

LeftyHenry said...

That's a good article. Good post

troutsky said...

In one sense beatroot is correct about the compexity of the issue, but notice all we get is criticism and no constuctive proposal. He doesnt define genocide, or identify what objective conditions make it complex other than mentioning ethnicity, tribes, etc.

How do we bring a region quickly from a post-colonialist past to a modern developing future? And do it quickly? We don't.It takes time and LOTS of resources and a committment to deep structural change in the way development occurs worldwide.

As for short term protection for innocents, create a robust, truly international(non-US) independent force under UN, international criminal courts,and send tons of development aid.With mixed race force and no majority of ex-colonialist power forces we could avoid Sonias "Somalia syndrome".

sonia said...

Troutsky,

With mixed race force and no majority of ex-colonialist power forces we could avoid Sonia's "Somalia syndrome"

You should ask the Congolese people about it. They might tell you a thing or two about 'peacekeepers' from 'non-colonialist' countries...

politiques USA said...

Unfortunately it won't the last genocide; I always wondered if genocides are not linked to globalization exchanges: we supported and still support dictators without moral restriction. The worse one was in Indonesia in 1965 with the killing of more than 1,000,000 human lifes. If globalization exchanges bring misery and poverty then I think i am better off supporting the International Human Bank from Hugo Chavez instead of the IMF or the Worldbank.

Free trade isn't free.

troutsky said...

Sonia, I wish I did know more about what the Congolese think, and for that matter, what people on that continent in general think.Are there "peoples" in the political sense? In the sense of modern western political models?Is there any kind of consensus among African civil society? I admit my ignorance and at the same time condemn our (West) collective ignorance.But all this intellectualizing is a luxury, people are dying, what should the world do ,Sonia?

sonia said...

Troutsky,

what should the world do Sonia?

I am glad you asked.

The world should do only one thing:

1. Only recognize democratically elected leaders. Treat unelected dictators as war criminals and arrest them the moment they leave their countries and execute them for crimes against humanity.

Of course, that won't prevent all genocides. Some genocides might still be committed by freely elected demagogues who will convince the majority to exterminate a minority. But it's a start.

Jim Denham said...

Thanks, renegade for republishing that powerful and timely staement from Molara: it says most of what needs to be said at the present time. Here in the UK the mainstream media/press gives Darfur very little coverage, in comparison with Iraq and Lebanon.: despite the fact that the casualty rate is much higher. Those columnists who *do* comment upon Darfur, mainly pour their scorn upon the so-called "something-must- be-done brigade", while these wise-asses proclaim 'nothing can be done'. This conclusion comes from two quite distinct (but increasingly difficult-to-distinguish) sources: the isolationist right and the "anti-imperialist" "left". A leading example of the former is Simon Jenkins, a Tory and former editor of the (London) 'Times': he rants about the "the inhumanr folly of our interventionist machismo", in his column in the 'Guardian' (sept 19); just like in 1994, when he wrote in the 'Times': "Leave Rwanda Alone".

Amazingly, the day after Jenkins' right wing, isolationist rant, another 'Guardian' columnist, the "left-wing". "anti-imperialist", Jonathan Steele, came up with exactly the same comclusion: "..the last thing Darfur needs is western troops". So isolationaist right and "anti-imperialist" "left" arrive at the same conclusion: let the African Muslim and Christian peoples of Darfur alone to face the tender mercies of the janjaweed and the Sudanese regulars: an academic debate over what is, or is not, "genocide" is more important than the facts of 300,000 dead and 2 million ethnically "cleansed". There is a legitimate debate to be had about whether an openly "UN" force is the best way of dealing with this, or whether the UN presence should be under the nominal auspices of the AU; that is a secondary, tactical matter. the important point is that genocide must be prevented. And I find it appaling that not just the isolationist couldn't-give-damn right are against doing anything: so is the smug, isolationist, anti-internationalist "anti-imperialist" "left", who have reified non-intervention into an ahistoric absolute. and so justify genocide.

beatroot said...

How do we bring a region quickly from a post-colonialist past to a modern developing future?

How do ’we’? Troutsky, it is not your country, or even your continent, to bring modern development to. That will be done by Africans. If the west just butted out, and gave them fair terms of trade, then they would do it themselves.

‘We’. Imperialist.

mullet said...

'But all this intellectualizing is a luxury, people are dying, what should the world do ,Sonia'?

Yes...

What exactly is the point? might as well be playing a game of balderdash.......all makes for a good ephitah...'he talked - a lot'

appreciate the blog, renegade eye.

MarxistFromLebanon said...

Sonia, you can't expect Democracy as the an end in itself, it is a means to an end.

We have debated this a zillion times. What about economy, what about transnationals sucking the blood out of Africa? and you can't expect something to jump to your prototype, legitimate leaders are relative when economy situation and extreme nationalism increases.

MFL

sonia said...

Marxist From Lebanon,

What about economy Strangely enough, democratic countries have better economies than dictatorships. So don't use that as an excuse.

what about transnationals sucking the blood out of Africa? Bullshit! Transnationals don't suck the blood out of Iceland. Do you know why ? Because Icelanders don't let them ! Stop blaming others and look in the mirror.

David Broder said...

I don't think that the UN/Nato/USA can be relied on to save the situation at all. If they didn't have any strategic interest, they wouldn't bother, and previous "interventions" have not exactly gone well. Of course, it shows their hypocrisy in going on about human rights abuses and undemocratic practice in countries they're more willing to invade.

However, it is appalling that so many on the Left have chosen to wash their hands of the whole issue, simply saying that imperialism is bad, and that what the Janjaweed does is ultimately the fault of the USA.

Through the scary door and so on display a total indifference to the suffering going on there, pretending it's not so bad, so they don't have to criticize Islamists. But anyone who calls themselves a socialist absolutely has to care about what's going on.

beatroot said...

isolationist right and the "anti-imperialist" "left". A leading example of the former is Simon Jenkins, a Tory and former editor of the (London) 'Times': he rants about the "the inhuman folly of our interventionist machismo".

Sorry, I don’t care if he is left or right (a boring catagorization in UK these days) it’s simply correct. He is one of the best commentators about the ‘war on terror’ in the British MSM. Another is the spiked blog (ex-left wing). And don’t lump us in with Galloway types – there is an alternative argument.

Interventions by westerners looking for a cause to feel good about make things worse for the recipients of the moral posing.

And the Left these days seem to think that the world is full of weak victims that need their protection.

They don’t. The left is imperialist as the right these days. Same difference.

thepoetryman said...

Western policy is in near despair over Darfur, and governments are turning to Russia and China to see if they can put pressure on the Sudanese government to accept a UN peacekeeping force.
"There is a critical period now when the whole
international community has to use its influence on Sudan,"
the British Minister for Africa Lord Triesman told reporters.

DARFUR DOWN

The plains are quiet under the forlorn Sudan
The people wilt like flowers planted beneath the sand
From rape and murder and starvation

Of unfed mouths
Unfed hope
Love
Care
Humanity

Consumed by the Janjaweed
Ravaged by the Baggara
Descendents of grand tribes
Lost
And moving
Down
Roving the sands
And hopeless sun
Stopping only to
Plant gardens
Down
Push the black seed
Down
Into the empty guts
Of Darfur
Down
Again
Darfur
Down

The hunters raid
The rapists thieve
The murderers slay
Lacerating fatality
Down
Upon the child’s teeth
Down
Upon the mother’s bones
Down
Upon the father’s strapped back
Trickling
Down
Oozing
Down
A growing loss
Infection
The seeds of genocide
Blooming
Down
Flowering
Down
The zenith of rot
Rising down
Now a wailing
Weeping
Desperate
Sobbing
Fearful
Bawling
Hopeless
Howling
O! Baggara!
O! Janjaweed!
O! America!
O! World!
Tempests of butchery
And burials
Burials don’t rise
Burials don’t sprout up like flowers
Blooming to fragrant air
Burials grow
Down
Descending
Down
Into the dark
Seeking
The deep fetid dwelling
Of hopelessness
Of greed
Of starvation
Of shrieking hell
Of the decomposing stench
Heaving Heaving Heaving
Down Down Down
Swelling upon the child’s lips
Down
Across the mother’s breasts
Down
Through the father’s hands
Down
Over the nation’s love
Down
Upon the world’s hope
Down
Down
Down
Down
Down
Down
Down
Down
Down
Down
Down
Down
Down
Down
-Stop-

MarxistFromLebanon said...

Really Sonia

Your lack of information surprises me.

Then how come top 100 Corporations got budgets (seperately) to equate the whole governmental budgets of Africa or Africa and most of Asia combined? Where that money came? Democracy?

As for Democractic? It is not a sign for better economy (again your lack knowledge). Take a look a USA's little puppy Saudi Arabia, U.A.E., and Qatar... tends to contradict your "democractic" by all means (even on the behalf of children) to get it right?

MFL

/me shrugs

thepoetryman said...

The world should do only one thing:
1. Only recognize democratically elected leaders. Treat unelected dictators as war criminals and arrest them the moment they leave their countries and execute them for crimes against humanity.
Of course, that won't prevent all genocides. Some genocides might still be committed by freely elected demagogues who will convince the majority to exterminate a minority. But it's a start.


That's going to be one busy world wide execution chamber...

sonia said...

MFL,

USA's little puppy Saudi Arabia

More like the other way around (seen Fahrenheit 911 ?)

how come top 100 Corporations got budgets (seperately) to equate the whole governmental budgets of Africa

Because some governments in Africa used to be (and some still are - Zimbabwe) run by ruthless psychopatic dictators who rob their people blind. That's why! And everybody tries to run away with his money and invests it in those Western corpations. When Idi Amin chased away East Indian merchants from Uganda, they took their money and invested it in those corporations. Money always flees from dictatorship and towards democratic institutions.

The Poetryman,

one busy world wide execution chamber

Not really. There are 192 countries in the world and less than 10 are hard-core totalitarian dictatorships (i.e. countries where oppressive governments controls EVERYTHING, including the economy, the press, religion, education etc.): North Korea, Syria, Libya, Belarus, Cuba, Burma and Zimbabwe, while Venezuela is slowly heading in that direction.

Anonymous said...

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