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Nicholas Kristof writes powerfully on the genocide that the UN refuses to recognize underway in Darfur. He accurately depicts the intentional slaughter of tribal Africans by the Arab-dominated Sudanese government and their Janjaweed terrorist militia and rightly calls the world to action. Unfortunately, Kristof calls for the same kind of pointless actions that allowed Saddam Hussein to continue his genocides against the Marsh Arabs and Shi'a for a dozen years before the West acted to stop it.
Let's start with what Kristof does right. He bucks the UN and Kofi Annan's miserable cowardice in playing word games in avoiding the term "genocide" by playing word games right back:
The [African Union] archive also includes an extraordinary document seized from a janjaweed official that apparently outlines genocidal policies. Dated last August, the document calls for the "execution of all directives from the president of the republic" and is directed to regional commanders and security officials.
"Change the demography of Darfur and make it void of African tribes," the document urges. It encourages "killing, burning villages and farms, terrorizing people, confiscating property from members of African tribes and forcing them from Darfur." ...
Certainly there's no doubt about the slaughter, although the numbers are fuzzy. A figure of 70,000 is sometimes stated as an estimated death toll, but that is simply a U.N. estimate for the deaths in one seven-month period from nonviolent causes. It's hard to know the total mortality over two years of genocide, partly because the Sudanese government is blocking a U.N. team from going to Darfur and making such an estimate. But independent estimates exceed 220,000 - and the number is rising by about 10,000 per month.
The document Kristof cites gives direct evidence of deliberate "ethnic cleansing", to use the bloodless term for genocide made popular in the Balkans last decade. If this had floated out of Serbian archives, the world would have demanded immediate action to recuse the (white European) innocents victimized by such a strategy of annihilation. Kristof acknowledges that the document has not been fully authenticated, but does the best he can do. The bigger question isn't whether Kristof can authenticate it, but why the UN hasn't even tried to do so?
Kofi Annan has sat on his hands during the Darfur genocide, in part to mollify the Arab nations that oppose any action against Islamists anywhere in the world, but also in part to avoid giving the United States an excuse to target the Janjaweed. We have our hands full at the moment, but we also know that the Europeans do not. They may not have a lot of military capability, but they have plenty to stack against the Sudanese. The Europeans, who also have deafened the world with their relative silence on Darfur, simply don't want to get involved in military operations against Islamists, regardless of whether that pertains to Iraq, Afghanistan (where they went very reluctantly) or in North Africa.
Unfortunately, neither does Nicholas Kristof. Instead of calling for direct action to save lives immediately, Kristof argues for the same, tire, and discredited methods of showing Western disapproval:
So what can stop this genocide? At one level the answer is technical: sanctions against Sudan, a no-fly zone, a freeze of Sudanese officials' assets, prosecution of the killers by the International Criminal Court, a team effort by African and Arab countries to pressure Sudan, and an international force of African troops with financing and logistical support from the West.
But that's the narrow answer. What will really stop this genocide is indignation. Senator Paul Simon, who died in 2003, said after the Rwandan genocide, "If every member of the House and Senate had received 100 letters from people back home saying we have to do something about Rwanda, when the crisis was first developing, then I think the response would have been different."
A no-fly zone? Do the Janjaweed castrate men and rape girls by flying jets above them? I didn't realize that the Sudan had such an advanced Air Force. Sanctions have been in place against the Sudan, which has the added genocidal benefit of denying food and medicine to the same people the government allows to be slaughtered by the Janjaweed. We can freeze the Sudan's assets as best we can in the West, but they have likely already transferred their funds to Eastern banks, especially in Arab nations, that remain friendly and open to Sudan's policies in Darfur.
The only option mentioned by Kristof that even begins to approach a direct solution -- one that actually stops the genocide rather than act as a fine for misbehavior -- is his last, a multinational armed force invading the Sudan and killing off the Janjaweed. Perhaps that can even comprise African armies, instead of the West. However, the UN's recent experience in marshaling armies in the Congo show that introducing them into Darfur will probably just create the same problem going in the opposite direction, or even worse, create even more trouble for tribal Africans in the region. The UN's leadership of peacekeeping forces show both cowardice under fire and systematic rape and plunder during peacetime, especially in Africa.
The only solution to an ongoing genocide is direct, disciplined military intervention conducted by people who have the will to succeed at it. The world waited until Rwanda's genocide was almost complete before even addressing the issue. The UN stood by its sanctions regime for a dozen years while Saddam systematically slaughtered hundreds of thousands of Shi'a (National Geographic estimated millions) and drained the wetlands to kill or disperse the Marsh Arabs that had lived there for centuries, if not millenia. Only direct military action removing Saddam from power stopped the genocide.
Kristof wants us to get indignant, and we should, but indignation by itself solves nothing. Our indignation should lead to deadly resolve to take on Islamofascist genocide and terror against the Sudanese in Darfur. If we can't muster the will to fight terrorists where they slaughter innocents by the thousands as Kristof so rightly points out, then all that indignation is just a cowardly and petty way to feel good about one's self without the messiness of actually doing something to fight the evil it underscores.Sphere It View blog reactions
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