Darfur

by Chris Bertram on May 20, 2004

In today’s Financial Times William Shawcross and Emma Bonino have a worthwhile piece on the murders, rapes and village-burnings being committed in Darfur by the Sudanese government.

{ 15 comments }

1

Dave 05.20.04 at 3:51 pm

Why isn’t anyone doing anything about this?

And…

Why isn’t anyone commenting on this? The death of ten or twenty civilians during an armed skirmish in Gaza is getting loads of comments. This is a genocide perpetrated against thosands, and very few people seem to care.

2

jdsm 05.20.04 at 4:28 pm

Indeed. It’s shaping up to be another Rwanda. Remember, the one the international community agreed they would never allow to happen again.

3

The International Community 05.20.04 at 4:32 pm

Indeed. It’s shaping up to be another Rwanda. Remember, the one the international community agreed they would never allow to happen again.

Yeah, but we had our fingers crossed.

4

Richard Bellamy 05.20.04 at 4:41 pm

I think there is a disconnect between the attention paid by human rights groups and the extent of the horror.

I certainly do not defend the Iraqi torture (I definitely think, at the least, Rumsfeld should resign, if not be prosecuted) and I do not defend the Israeli shelling in Gaza (if it was not an accident, which it may have been).

But there are only limited resources to expend on Human Rights advancement, and why are they not being expended in the regions of the world where most of the human rights abuses take place?

“Since early last year, this vicious campaign has claimed an estimated 30,000 civilian lives; international aid agencies say that over 1.2m people have been displaced within Sudan and at least 120,000 have fled to neighbouring Chad, making Khartoum’s conduct a grave threat to regional as well as internal stability. USAID estimates that another 350,000 could die due to the desperate situation in Darfur.”

Even assuming all anti-US and anti-Israeli claims are true, this still towers over Iraqi torture and Palestinian civilian deaths by orders of magnitude! Is not the front page of Amnesty Internation a crime of misdirected resources?

5

Jack 05.20.04 at 4:58 pm

It is worse that Rwanda because there is no excuse for being caught by surprise.

I imagine that Amnesty put the story third on their front page because that’s the order it came up in, it is not a new story after all.

I’m not sure that it isn’t a wste of resources to spend time calling Amnesty to account for putting the story only third on their front page today and not to call those who have spent $200bn plus solving smaller problems elsewhere.

In any case it is not orders of magnitude worse than Iraq where at least 10,000 civilians have died plus a lot of soldiers. Worse probably, but not by orders of magnitude.

6

Richard Bellamy 05.20.04 at 5:13 pm

I’m not so sure. With Iraq and Israel, we are invited to “Take Action!” With Sudan, we are invited to “Find out more.”

In Israel, the headline reads, “Stop destruction of homes and land by Israeli army.” Iraq leads with “Civilians killed” and leads with a dead child.

In Sudan, the over a million displaced and the 120,000 crossing the border are echoed, as in the FT article. The number of killed is never mentioned or implied, just that there have been some “killings.” We don’t take sides, here, though, merely calling for “all parties involved in the Darfur conflict to immediately end human rights violations.” We are not told how we can “Take Action.”

Also, while some reasonably object to all killings in Iraq, the Human Rights groups only focus on “War Crimes.” There are nowhere near 30,000 dead as a result of war crimes in Iraq or Palestinian territories.

7

Jonathan Edelstein 05.20.04 at 5:25 pm

Why isn’t anyone commenting on this? The death of ten or twenty civilians during an armed skirmish in Gaza is getting loads of comments. This is a genocide perpetrated against thosands, and very few people seem to care.

I’ve discussed Darfur a fair bit on my blog. I’ve also written my senators, not that it’s done any good.

8

Timothy Burke 05.20.04 at 6:23 pm

Working on something about it. Let me put it this way: anybody who takes the Samantha Power line on Rwanda had better speak up now, or be prepared to shut up forever. On the other hand, this is a good demonstration of why the Iraq conflict is a tremendous folly not just for Iraq but elsewhere: an evolving post-Rwanda consensus on the necessity of possible interventions in Rwanda-like cases is now completely off the table both as a practical matter (with the US military massively overextended) and as a political possibility (with no one at all in the world interested in or able to build domestic consensus for more interventions of any kind).

9

Barry 05.20.04 at 7:05 pm

Be silent, all of you Bush-haters! Undoubtedly, even now, tens of thousands of US troops are en route to the Sudan, to give that regime a terminal change. Probably they’ll be reinforced by tens of thousands of Free Iraqi Army troops.

On the other hand, of course, this so-called ‘genocide’ is not really happening. It was probably dreamed up by the Evul PC Librul Meedya to divert attention from all of the school openings in Iraq.

10

Jack 05.20.04 at 7:20 pm

Richard,
getting pedantry in first, orders of magnitude usually means a factor of a hundred or more and I’m not sure we can manage ten.

More substantially there is no hope of a substantial state lead effort to help the people of Sudan as a direct opportunity cost of the intervention in Iraq. We do not have hte attention span or the the plausible military threat to bring pressure on the Khartoum regime or the backers of the Janjawid. I put it to you that this is a more serious resource allocation problem than the precise order of precedence on Amnesty’s homepage.

11

Jimmy 05.20.04 at 7:23 pm

Hundreds of thousands in mass graves in Iraq, and perhaps millions killed by muslims in Sudan.

One dictator’s genocidal excesses led to an invasion, but the other dictator is still practicing genocide.

Sudan is part of Africa, which means the news media can safely ignore just about everything bad that happens there. Because, forgive me, but who cares? Fellow africans certainly do not care–they voted to keep the genocidal Sudanese on the Human Rights committee.

12

Donald Johnson 05.20.04 at 8:59 pm

I’ve seen Darfur mentioned all over the place in the past month or so. I see Palestine mentioned in many more places. I also see a great many stories about suicide bombing raids against Israel, which typically kill ten or twenty. I see very few stories on the increase in malnutrition in Palestinian children or about the public health situation in Iraq.

From this I could conclude all sorts of things, but one thing stands out–getting a lot of press attention or a little press attention doesn’t mean a whole lot if nothing constructive is ever done.

13

Gwydion 05.21.04 at 3:46 am

In the aftermath of the Iraq debacle, we cannot expect that any western state will intervene militarily to put an end to this particular chapter of human misery. Nor can we count on any form of non-military multilateralism to be of much help. Sanctions, anyone? So what is to be done? My suggestion is that we rely upon private military contractors. While PMC’s have been controversial in Iraq, not least because of their role in Abu Ghraib, their is no reason to think that, if properly controlled, they cannot be used for humanitarian purposes. Why don’t liberal humanitarian interventionists simply club together, raise the cash, and send a bunch of PMCs over to Dafur to protect women and children from the Janjaweed currently butchering them? Doubtless the wishy-washy liberals will object. But in the future PMCs will probably be our only option for projecting power abroad for humanitarian purposes. The Iraq debacle certainly brings to an end the brief period in the 1990s when humanitarian intervention was advertised as a central component of a new global order.

14

Conrad Barwa 05.21.04 at 12:23 pm

Let me put it this way: anybody who takes the Samantha Power line on Rwanda had better speak up now, or be prepared to shut up forever.

This is me speaking up.

15

pepi 05.21.04 at 1:07 pm

Why isn’t anyone commenting on this? The death of ten or twenty civilians during an armed skirmish in Gaza is getting loads of comments. This is a genocide perpetrated against thosands, and very few people seem to care.

Because people are shocked and/or care about something only if they comment about it on the internet? Please…

And why does it always have to be about measuring and comparing what is worse and what gets more media coverage or public attention or whatever.

Now let’s find something involving more carnage than Sudan, and complain that people are not even devoting to it half the attention Sudan gets, not to mention the Gaza “skirmish”, so that everything can be put into perspective, ie. equally ignored and nothing done about it.

Is that how the outrage meter works?

What does it matter anyway, how much something gets talked about? words are just words.

The most relevant questions is not who among the public or media or weblogs is talking about Sudan and where, but which political entities (nations, organizations, UN, US, EU, whatever) can/should intervene and how, and what action is being advocated if any, and what interests they have.

Because I hate to be so disillusioned, but I don’t think anyone is going to even start considering possible kinds of intervention unless they have political/strategical and/or commercial interests in the area. So it’s not suprising no one at higher level is giving much attention to this.

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