Monday, July 26, 2004

The shame of Darfur continues 

Since the start of the Darfur conflict (although it's pretty obscene to call something this one-sided a conflict), about 30,000 non-Muslim Sudanese are estimated to have been killed by the Arab militias; about 1 million have been displaced from their homes by the ethnic cleansers and a further 2 million people are in desperate need of food (other reports put the number killed at 50,000 and displaced at 1.2 million).

Meanwhile, this strong 
response of the world community:

"The United States and Europe on Sunday stepped up warnings of sanctions unless Sudan halts a conflict in its Darfur region."
Didn't step us action, didn't even step up sanctions - stepped up warnings of sanctions. That should do the trick. Mind you, the usual war-mongers among the international community are again showing some spine: "Australia is looking to send troops to restore peace to Sudan" - but the "Sydney Morning Herald" just can't help itself - "more than a century after 750 New South Welshmen arrived in the west African nation as Australia's first military expeditionary force." As if the intervention in Darfur to stop the humanitarian catastrophe there would be some sort of a neo-imperial adventure. Great Britain, which - God help us - has a much more extensive colonial history in Sudan, is also prepared to send in troops.

Just in case the world community (aside from Australia and Great Britain) gets some strange ideas about actually doing something, as opposed to stepping up warnings, the government in Khartoum has this to say (in the words of
Ibrahim Ahmad Omar, secretary-general of the ruling National Congress):

"Anybody who contemplates imposing his opinion by force will be confronted by force. Any power that intervenes in Darfur will be a loser."
So far the only losers are the non-Arab and non-Muslim Sudanese being ethnically cleansed by the "militias", which have absolutely nothing to do with the radical Islamic government in Khartoum. But that's probably the point:

"Sudanese President Omar al-Beshir has brushed off mounting international concern over the humanitarian crisis in Darfur, accusing the West of using the issue to 'target Islam'...

"Mr Beshir said the 'real aim' of such moves was to stop the spread of Islam in the northeast African nation... He said his national 'salvation' Government, as its supporters refer to it, would continue to adhere to Islamic law, 'set an example for social cohesion and bring humanity out of darkness to the light of Islam'."
I'm all for freedom of religion as well as freedom of missionary activity (including Muslim missionary activity), but I tend to draw the line if the attempt to achieve "social cohesion and bring humanity out of darkness to the light of Islam" involve 50,000 violent deaths and over a million refugees. Call me intolerant.

And as always, you can't go wrong reading this column by
Mark Steyn in today's "Australian":

"I see the next decade's 'Never again' story is here. Just as we all agreed the 1994 Rwandan genocide should never be allowed to happen again, so - in a year or two - we'll all be agreed that another 2004 Sudanese genocide should never be allowed to happen again.

"But right now it is happening, and you can't help wondering where all the great humanitarians are. Alas, Sudan doesn't seem to have much appeal to them, lacking as it does the crucial Bush angle and affording little opportunity for use of words such as 'neocons' and 'Halliburton'."
But Mark, you spoke too soon: there is a Bush angle - but this time it's "inaction":

"The Bush administration has resisted calls to declare Arab militia attacks on African villagers in Sudan genocide, a label that would pressure the United States to do more to stop the violence."
Bush, of course, can't win internationally, whether he does something (Iraq) or doesn't do something else (Darfur). The genocide reference, by the way, is to the fact that under the 1948 UN convention on genocide the signatories are obliged to intervene to stop it. But even if the situation in Darfur is so designated, don't hold you breath waiting for the left to urge the United States to intervene militarily. I certainly won't.


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