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Exclusive book excerpt: A manifesto for principled Darfur activism -- and beyond
Below Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal publishes -- with the authors' permission -- an exclusive excerpt from Kevin Funk and Steven Fake's just published book, Scramble for Africa: Darfur Intervention and the USA (Black Rose Books).
In Scramble for Africa Kevin Funk and Steven Fake provide a forensic and astute examination of the Bush administration's politically cynical and opportunist exploitation of the people of Darfur's terrible plight, using them as pawns to regain access to Sudan's oil riches and to promote the self-serving imperialist concept of ``humanitarian intervention''. Funk and Fake reveal the hypocrisy of Washington, which can in the same breathe declare the Sudan regime's slaughter of hundreds of thousands of Darfuris ``genocide'' while -- out of the general public's earshot -- praise and collaborate with the very same butchers as allies in its ``war on terror''. The mainstream ``Save Darfur'' movement's leadership also comes in for a similar investigation for its willingness to allow the interests of the people of Darfur to play second fiddle to Washington's foreign policy double standards.
However, unlike most of the US left, Funk and Fake do not try to prettify the reactionary Sudanese regime and its crimes by placing a plus sign against it where US imperialism places a minus sign. They do not enagage in much of the US left's knee-jerk denial of the humanitarian and political crisis that is underway in Darfur, nor refuse to accept that it needs to be addressed. They offer the principled anti-imperialist left with a ``Manifesto for Darfur activism'' with which to campaign for the people of Darfur and challenge the pro-imperialist direction of the mainstream ``Save Darfur'' leadership and expose US imperialism's hypocrisy.
Had the US left adopted such an approach before now, the right-wing dominance of this movement may have been broken, the genuine activists in the US would have been won to a leftwing perspective and much of the left itself would not -- on this issue -- now be seen as callous apologists of a tyrannical regime.
Thankfully, there is still time
-- Norm Dixon, writer on Sudan, Green Left Weekly.
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Links readers are encouraged to purchase this excellent book, which can be ordered from Black Rose Books (USA), Book & Volume (Australia) and Powell's booksellers. The web site for the book is at http://www.scrambleforafrica.org/
* * *
By Kevin Funk and Steven Fake
As the US is not a proximate cause of the atrocities in Darfur -- though it clearly has played an important background role -- the activist movement surrounding the conflict has managed to attract a somewhat unique constellation of participants. While there is great variance in the ideologies of Darfur activists, on the whole they are likely to have establishment-friendly political beliefs, be they liberal or conservative, rather than a leftist outlook. Amongst other factors, this reflects the left's understandable focus instead on ending the US occupation of Iraq, as well as a division between those who cautiously support a UN presence in Sudan and others who view such an endeavor as imperialistic and can imagine no positive role for the US in resolving the crisis, even under the auspices of the UN.
While we will later discuss the framework in which US-based activists with a legitimate concern for both the human rights crisis in Sudan and principled anti-imperialism can operate, it is fitting to first examine the individuals and groups prominently involved in Darfur activism, paying special attention to the motives, both openly stated and otherwise, that serve as the rationale for their efforts.
The umbrella organization most responsible for the relative visibility of this movement is the Save Darfur Coalition, a collection of well over 100 groups whose membership roles read like a veritable "who's who" of civil society and human rights organizations-Jewish, Christian, Muslim, secular, and otherwise. Amnesty International, the National Association of Evangelicals, American Jewish World Service, the American Society for Muslim Advancement, and the NAACP are all Executive Committee members.
The broad nature of the Coalition's
membership is indicated by the inclusion of both the Anti-Defamation League
(ADL) and the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), organizations which
each have profound suspicions regarding the other's very purpose. The ADL has
accused CAIR of defending Palestinian suicide bombers and being "founded
by leaders of the Islamic Association for
Other curiosities pervade Save
Darfur. Describing the Coalition's composition in regards to a then-upcoming
Little known, however, is that the [Save Darfur] coalition, which has presented itself as "an alliance of over 130 diverse faith-based, humanitarian, and human rights organization" was actually begun exclusively as an initiative of the American Jewish community.
And even now, days before the rally, that coalition is heavily weighted with a politically and religiously diverse collection of local and national Jewish groups....
Besides the Jewish origins and character of the rally - a fact the organizers consistently played down in conversations with the Jerusalem Post - the other striking aspect of the coalition is the noted absence of major African-American groups.
Though there has been some subsequent improvement in the representation of African Americans within the Coalition-the NAACP, as previously stated, is now part of the Executive Committee, and the September 17, 2006 rally featured a more diverse array of speakers -- serious questions remain about the potential sidelining of Muslim and Sudanese groups within a movement that has a strong Jewish (and Evangelical Christian) character.
In what is frequently characteristic of Western movements that tend to view with some amount of condescension the same people they are supposedly seeking to help, the Washington Post reported that the "the original list of speakers [for the April 30 rally] included eight Western Christians, seven Jews, four politicians and assorted celebrities - but no Muslims and no one from Darfur"; organizers had to hurry "to invite two Darfurians to address the rally after Sudanese immigrants objected" to their previous exclusion from the line-up.
CAIR further criticized the Coalition, noting in a letter to the organization that no representatives from Muslim member groups such as itself were invited to speak, and asking that a CAIR spokesperson be included at the event. According to a strongly worded press statement released on the day of the rally, "The Save Darfur Coalition never replied to CAIR's letter, despite the fact that the Washington-based Islamic civil liberties group is an original signatory of the coalition's founding 'Unity Statement.'" CAIR Executive Director Nihad Awad went on to say that the incident "calls into question the coalition's true agenda at the rally."
It is this true agenda, or at least
the speculation that there is indeed an ulterior motive to buttress US foreign
policy designs behind the involvement of many Darfur activist groups, that has
been the subject of much speculation in left-wing discourse. On a grassroots
level, it is not difficult to see why the atrocities in Darfur have resonated
with many. "No one was paying attention and I just wanted to do
something," said Arielle Wisotsky, who has been active on
Of course there is no reason to doubt the sincerity of a group of high school students in aiming to address what is clearly a humanitarian disaster, nor to condemn them for failing to consider the comparable, and yet less publicized crisis in the Congo, the interests of the US in displacing China's foothold in Sudanese oil sources, or how US imperial plans may be furthered by a "humanitarian" intervention.
However, there are disconcerting and
in some cases racist and imperialist tendencies prevalent amongst some
Recent history, in fact, provides an intimate display of how the ADL reacts when innocent Sudanese are killed by US air strikes rather than by other Muslims-killed, in other words, by acceptable enemies. In a press statement released just eight days after the al-Shifa bombing (whose crushing effects-amongst them an estimated death toll in the "several tens of thousands"-were discussed earlier), the ADL, while not making specific mention of the plant, showered the US with praise for its "decisive action" in response to the embassy bombings. "Decisive" as it may have been in demonstrating brute US power, neither the attack nor the ADL's response showed a single iota of even feigned compassion for the Sudanese people, whose plight now garners such steadfast pretended concern from the ADL and Washington.
Deeper suspicions about the
character of Darfur activism are aroused by the juxtaposition of media coverage
of the April 30 "Save Darfur" rally with that of a much larger
protest against the war in Iraq that had occurred a mere day before in New York
City.* The difference in turnout was clear, even allowing for the ambiguities
of approximating crowd sizes. Organizers for the April 29 antiwar protest
estimated a turnout of "at least 350,000" while most media outlets
vaguely asserted "tens of thousands"; meanwhile, organizers for
the "Save Darfur" rally gave an approximation of 75,000, with the
press mostly referring to it as a crowd of "thousands." Yet major
newspapers across the country prominently highlighted the
The Los Angeles Times featured a nearly 900-word article on the
"Save Darfur" rally, while limiting its coverage of the antiwar
protest to two pictures, and not a single written word aside from the caption. USA Today's Monday, May 1 edition-the
issue of record for both events, as the protest occurred on a Saturday and the
newspaper is not published on weekends-included an article about the "Save
Darfur" rally on the newspaper's second page, previewed by a picture of
attendees on the front. Not an inch of
For its part, the Washington Post bestowed the entirety of its 169 words about the antiwar protest within the confines of its "Nation in Brief" subsection, next to a comedic-relief blurb about an arson squad preemptively blowing up a Mission Impossible III-themed promotional news rack, (incorrectly) suspecting that it contained a bomb. The same day's issue ran an almost 700-word article on the "Save Darfur" rally, which at that time was apparently of more pressing relevance than the antiwar protest that had just occurred, even though the Darfur rally had yet to actually take place; on Monday, the front page glistened with an article about the rally, accompanied by a story on the front page of the Style section on "Darfur is Dying," the video game.
It is not difficult to fathom why Darfur, rather than a war of Washington's own making in Iraq, or the even deadlier yet seemingly easier to mitigate crisis in the Congo -- "the worst haemorrhage of human life in this generation," according to the UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, Jan Egeland -- has resonated so profoundly in the current political climate, beyond even the imperialist lust for natural resources and a desire to repel Chinese influence. There has been a marked tendency by many, if not most groups involved in Darfur activism, to severely misrepresent the entire conflict along politically convenient but misleading racial and ethnic lines. Given the well documented propaganda function played by the commercial press, it is to be expected that in the midst of the "War on Terror," mainstream news sources would reduce the issue to a highly misleading "black/African" versus "Arab" dichotomy. Yet why is the same sort of language written into the official unity statement of the entire Save Darfur Coalition, and what does this proclivity towards blaming "Arabs," as well as the aforementioned focus on Sudan instead of the Congo, say about the worldviews and motives of the movement as a whole?
The Washington Post, representing the liberal extreme of establishment
opinion, hints at one such motive in an editorial supporting a
It is a treacherous tightrope to walk for principled and anti-imperialist US activists who are prodding their government to support measures such as a UN deployment, needing to balance this advocacy with a clear message that whatever action is taken cannot be a vehicle for US geopolitical interests. Given President Bush's overt praise for Darfur activism, the Save Darfur Coalition's curious claim that the Bush administration has done "good work" in resolving the conflict, and the slogan found at rallies of "Out of Iraq, into Darfur" (as if Sudan were merely the next stop on Washington's supposed world liberation tour), it is clearly not a concern for many leaders in the Darfur activist movement.
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It is because the Save Darfur movement's politics are largely rooted in establishment-friendly ideals such as a Western "purity of arms," disregarding prospects for a negotiated settlement in favor of the language of force, and the use of force in this case by self-designated benevolent Westerners to save dark-skinned victims from their Arab and Muslim tormentors, that Darfur activism has thrived in the United States. Accordingly, the Save Darfur Coalition* has been afforded a multimillion dollar budget boosted by donations from Fortune 500 corporations (none of which goes towards humanitarian aid), support from Hollywood stars, and the ear of the White House (according to a White House spokesperson, "The administration listens and speaks regularly to Save Darfur and other groups [active on Darfur]"), and thus, in the words of Alex de Waal, has "done something that none of us thought would ever be possible --to start a mass movement on Sudan."
Efforts to halt Western-backed
humanitarian catastrophes, such as the
An evaluation of activist demands
As the ranks of
Although the idea of establishing a no-fly zone over Darfur has considerable currency amongst activists and politicians, there is little indication that they have given much thought to its probable consequences, beyond the feelings it may inspire of "doing something" to aggressively confront Khartoum.
First, it is important to understand
what is being called for in regards to a no-fly zone. By declaring one, the
responsible party or parties (likely the US and/or France, due to their nearby
air bases) are obliging themselves to shoot down Sudanese planes if they enter
into the restricted airspace, something which may be construed as an act of
war, and would be a "propaganda victory" (Julie Flint) for the Bashir
regime, allowing it to rally nationalist sentiment against 'foreign
aggression.' Aside from the concern that planes being used for humanitarian
purposes could be mistakenly targeted in the no-fly zone, as they are
"indistinguishable" from the aircraft used by Khartoum, the actual
shooting down of one of Khartoum's planes could lead the Sudanese government to
unleash their fury on the peacekeepers in Darfur, and/or Darfurians themselves,
thus deepening the catastrophe. As noted by the International Crisis Group,
A no-fly zone may also very well
pull the plug on Darfur's massive relief operations, and leave Darfurians with
"lethal health and food crises," a possibility over which aid groups
are "quietly appalled." This potential prompted one such
organization, Action Against Hunger, to note that a no-fly zone would "have
disastrous consequences that risk triggering a further escalation of violence
while jeopardizing the provision of vital humanitarian assistance to millions
of people." As the
In the last three and a half years, humanitarian aid has stabilized conditions for the more than 4 million people who currently depend on relief. Mortality and malnutrition have fallen, significantly. If a no-fly zone were imposed,
would not go belly up. It would in all likelihood retaliate by grounding humanitarian flights. Its proxies in the Janjaweed militias would show their displeasure in the only way they know. Relief workers might be expelled or forced to evacuate the region. People who are now being kept alive would die. Khartoum
The current emphasis on coercive measures conceals the fact that the
and its friends have no clear plan of political action, no sensible project for peace to go hand in hand with pressure on the US regime. Khartoum
Yet for all the risks, the potential
upshot for a no-fly zone is also remarkably small. Though
Evoking memories of global activism
against apartheid in
Though there are ample grounds for
criticizing other stances taken (or not taken) by many in the Save Darfur
movement -- such as the failure to put substantial pressure on Washington to
adequately fund the peacekeepers on the ground in Darfur -- the focus on
divestment is not in and of itself objectionable, and to the extent it can aid
efforts to stop the atrocities, it should certainly be pursued. However, it is
important to understand the limitations and potential pitfalls of such advocacy,
as well as the political context that has allowed divestment from
As explained by divestment supporter Eric Reeves, the goals of the movement are as follows:
The divestment campaign targets those companies that list on the New York Stock Exchange and other US exchanges which provide key commercial and capital investments in the economy of Sudan, supporting the National Islamic Front, National Congress Party regime in Khartoum, and insulating them from the consequences of their massive external debt and their profligate expenditures on military weapons and the prosecution of genocidal war in Darfur.
Note that this is divestment from
companies "that list on ... US exchanges" -- it is not divestment
While urging individual and
corporate investors in the
Yet even if the campaign were successful in forcing total US divestment from foreign oil companies operating in Sudan, it is not clear how much pressure these firms would actually feel to pull out of the country, especially since some of them, such as PetroChina, are state-backed, in addition to the fact that the Sudanese macroeconomy is booming. There is, to be sure, no shortage of businesses or governments willing to invest in oil-producing countries without any consideration for human rights (as the US does in Equatorial Guinea, "among the world's worst" dictatorships), and thus any ostensible success in the divestment movement may simply lead to a shuffling of the line-up of investors rather than meaningful pressure on Khartoum.
Just as fundamentally, pursuing a
divestment strategy fails to take into account that the Save Darfur movement
has far greater leverage vis-à-vis the
In no small part because it largely
frees domestic elites of moral culpability by focusing instead on China's role
in perpetuating the crisis in Darfur -- which is substantial, though again,
less subject to pressure from US activists than Washington's own cynical
policies -- the divestment movement has gained significant ground in a
relatively short period of time. Across the country, states, major cities,
presidential candidates, and dozens of universities have moved to discuss
and/or implement varying levels of divestment from companies with
Yet if divestment is a valid tactic for effecting change in a country which seriously violates human rights -- that is, if divestment is supported by the victims of the abuses, and can be "targeted" in such a way that it does not have adverse affects on the general population-then where is the rush to divest from Israel's "war crimes"?
The contradiction is explicit in the
Divestment is not a step that Harvard takes lightly, but I believe there is a compelling case for action in these special circumstances, in light of the terrible situation still unfolding in Darfur and the leading role played by PetroChina's parent company in the Sudanese oil industry, which is so important to the Sudanese regime.
Employing his own perverse logic,
why is this campaign not anti-Chinese, anti-African, or anti-Muslim? As the
Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz asks about those advocating divestment
from the Israeli Occupation, "'Why don't they say anything about
Yet it would be unimaginable for a
figure even as crass as Dershowitz to openly condemn
Accordingly, the campaign of targeted divestment from Sudan owes much, if not all of its 'success' to the fact that it harmonizes with US rhetoric on Darfur and its official desire to weaken Chinese influence.* Divesting from Israel's human rights abuses, substantial as they are, does not accord with establishment prerogatives, and thus this campaign to divest-though longer running-has failed to resonate in the tender hearts of city legislators, state government officials, or the Lawrence Summers of the world (evidently, no small category).
Supporting the victims: humanitarian aid and refugee policies
Peacekeepers in Darfur are not alone
in being underfunded and largely ignored by the benevolent leaders of
civilization; aid groups operating in Darfur continue to operate under severe
financial constraints, and Western (and other) governments have been remarkably
callous in their handling of Darfurian refugees. Remedying both situations is
well within the capabilities of the West, though the Save Darfur Coalition and
many other activist groups have carried out shockingly little advocacy to push
As noted, the Save Darfur Coalition does not dedicate any of its substantial funds to humanitarian aid, instead focusing its efforts on advocacy. While this is not inherently objectionable, the Coalition also has been tepid in its push for Washington to be more generous with relief efforts, instead reserving the thrust of its energies for pushing for a UN intervention, or targeting China's alliance with Khartoum-a questionable use of resources given the much greater leverage which US activists have with Washington instead of Beijing, and the highly important work being done by relief agencies.
It is also questionable in light of the dire financial straits faced by aid groups in Darfur, which have been teetering on the edge of catastrophe and facing increasing levels of attacks and banditry, all while the West proclaims its lofty intentions for the region. As a result of insufficient financial support, services to the displaced victims such as health care have been restricted, "Feeding centers have had to be closed, food cannot be distributed, staff are being reduced, [and] teachers in camps are no longer being paid." At one point, the World Food Program was forced to cut its food rations in Sudan by half, due to a chronic lack of funding for the organization; as noted bitterly by several groups who depend on the World Food Program to help deliver aid, "A service upon which millions of people depend should not have to fear for its future every month." The effects of such recurring funding shortfalls are widespread, as according to the UN, around four million Darfurians depend on aid to survive.
Even with its blustery rhetoric on a UN force in Darfur, Washington "has made only minimal commitments of logistical, transport, intelligence, and medical/medevac resources" for the peacekeepers, which are "the very US military resources," as commented by Eric Reeves, "that will be most needed by any international force deploying effectively to Darfur."
Darfurians who have escaped the
region have often fared little better. With a commonly cited figure of 2
million displaced by the conflict in
Egypt, to Sudan's north, also hosts
a significant number of Sudanese refugees from both Darfur and the country's
south, though many have been subject to widespread discrimination and
mistreatment at the hands of local armed groups and the Egyptian authorities --
a fact over which Cairo's staunch allies in Washington have been silent. In
one incident in 2005, Egyptian police forcefully cleared a refugee camp in Cairo,
killing nearly thirty. As one Sudanese refugee who escaped to Egypt and
then Israel commented, "Egypt was worse than Sudan. We feared for our
lives. We feared for our children. I would rather that the Israeli government
shoot me here, in a clean, humane way, than send me back to
While a number of refugees have been more fortunate and made it into Israel, they have often found themselves unwanted in the country which was founded, as repeated ad nauseam by apologists for Israeli crimes, in the aftermath of the same crime which many of the refugees are said to be fleeing genocide. Steeped as the nation's leaders are in tear-soaked memories of the Nazi holocaust, the leading Israeli newspaper Ha'aretz notes that "it appears that the state and its officials are doing everything in their power to be rid of these refugees," with other news sources paraphrasing the Interior Minister to the effect that "Sudanese refugees trying to get into Israel ... had to be stopped," lest the country be "flooded."
Though the Israeli government has claimed that most Sudanese refugees are in Israel for economic reasons rather than because of a fear of persecution, and indeed some undetermined number of them are, this does not justify treating all Sudanese refugees as economic refugees -- nor is there justification for how Israeli authorities have dealt with refugees who have entered Israel to escape destitution.
The Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) dump Sudanese refugees on the streets, "leaving... volunteers and student groups to shelter and feed them." Caught entering Israel from Egypt, there are, at last report, some 200 Sudanese refugees (about seventy of which are from Darfur) being detained indefinitely in Israeli prisons. Others have been placed on kibbutzim while awaiting visas that will "allow them to immigrate elsewhere," presumably to nations that do not mind corrupting their populations with the blood of dark people. As a spokesperson for Prime Minister Ehud Olmert explained, "We don't want to be the Promised Land for African refugees."
As a result, while some 500 Darfurians are being allowed to stay in Israel, Israeli police have raided shelters housing refugees and the army is under orders to use "reasonable force" to repel the "infiltrators" who attempt to cross the Israeli-Egyptian border without authorization; groups of Darfurians and other Sudanese have been "forcibly" returned to Egypt from Israel without any attempt to verify if they were worthy of asylum, while the Israeli government has taken the ludicrous position that all is well because it has diplomatic assurances from the Egyptian government that the refugees' safety will be assured. Indeed, media reports indicate that Egypt has forcibly returned to Sudan some of the refugees who have been expelled by Israel, leading Human Rights Watch to slam "Egypt and Israel's shared disregard for the plight of Sudanese fleeing Darfur." In the words of the leading Israeli newspaper, Tel Aviv is "giving the Egyptians a wink to do our dirty work for us."
Especially righteous critics of Israel's
treatment of Darfurians such as Elie Wiesel, who has been actively calling for
intervention in Darfur and was involved in the founding of the Save Darfur
Coalition, have staked out their moral high ground by only calling on
Israel to accept a "symbolic number" of the refugees. The
photo-op for Israel to look as though it is actually doing something of value
apparently supersedes actual human suffering as Wiesel's primary concern,
unsurprising for a man who has a long record of subservience to the Israeli
state and once declared that "I never criticize Israel when I am not in
Israel." While some in
It's hard to escape the impression that the Olmert government is being humane to the refugees from
's Sudan Darfurregion for appearance's sake only. I say this because the government is being amazingly cruel to the refugees from southern , who are far more numerous than the Darfurians, and who escaped a genocide that took many, many more lives than the one going on in Darfur. Sudan
Any pretense of "humane"
treatment of Darfurians (or others) fleeing to
The provisions of the bill-so "callous" and "cruel" according to a Ha'aretz columnist that it "may be said to constitute a whole new form of Holocaust denial" also include allowing "infiltrators" to be held without arraignment for up to 18 days, and empowering soldiers to force migrants back into Egypt within three days of having crossed into Israel. There would be no judicial process, nor, per usual, any effort to verify the refugee or asylum status of newcomers. One may take some solace in the fact that the bill is so patently outrageous and bad for public relations that it now seems unlikely to pass, at least in its current form, though another Ha'aretz piece reported just a few days prior that Israel was making offers to pay African countries to take Sudanese and Darfurian refugees off their hands. As noted dryly, the scheme "is liable to be viewed negatively in the world," though its designers can surely count on the usual silence from the Save Darfur Coalition and the
political establishment. US
There are also larger and wealthier
countries better suited than
Human rights groups have denounced
Britain for deporting hundreds of Darfurians, under the rubric that "it is
safe to send 'ordinary non-Arab ethnic Darfuris' back to Sudan" -- a
category with less than transparent parameters, as noted earlier. Britain
has denied asylum to more than 100 Darfurians residing in the country; one
Darfurian refugee to Britain, Alnour Fashir, saw the government reject his
asylum claim after just twelve days of consideration. The British government's
Home Office (responsible for internal issues such as crime and security)
claimed not to believe Fashir's account of having been a rebel in
Most shockingly, the British Home
Office is reportedly "collaborating with the Sudanese government to question
asylum-seekers fleeing the violence in Darfur," and has "passed
information about individuals to the Sudanese embassy ..." One Darfurian
refugee attending an appointment at the Home Office regarding his status was
stunned to find himself being questioned in private by a Sudanese embassy
official, remarking "It's like somebody taking you to see your
killer." Though the British government has adopted the tragicomic line
that it is safe to send Darfurians to Khartoum rather than back to Darfur
itself, deported refugees tell a different tale, and unsurprisingly so, unless
one adheres to the British government's purported trust in Sudan's handling of
rejected asylum-seekers. One former Darfurian rebel who had been deported to
The beating and questions went on for days. I was blindfolded most of the time, so I couldn't see what they were using to beat me. Once when the blindfold was off though, I saw a piece of electric cable. My whole body was numb so I couldn't feel anything any more. I was bleeding everywhere, I was soaked in blood. They never let me use a toilet. The room was covered with my faeces and urine. At times I lost consciousness. I was expecting to die.
The nearly total absence of press
reporting on the
Though cruel, there is little reason for surprise at the callousness of Western policies towards refugees. Elsewhere in Sudan, the UNHCR has received only a small fraction of the necessary funds it seeks to provide meager services to Sudanese refugees returning to their homelands from the Congo, to where they had been forced to flee and reside for many years as a result of the north/south civil war-a war for which the US bears significant responsibility.
Even refugees who suffer directly at the hands of Uncle Sam fare little better. Of the over two million refugees from the war in Iraq, in addition to the more than 2.7 million internally displaced persons, the US had as of January 2007 admitted a mere 466 since the invasion in 2003. Meanwhile, the official rogue state Syria has accepted well over a million Iraqi refugees-and it has done so, it should be noted, "without any help from the outside world."
A manifesto for
There are many measures that could and should be advocated by Darfur activists, demands that will help to mitigate not only the crisis in Darfur, but also to target the conditions, often imposed by the West, which provide much of the impetus for this and other conflicts worldwide. Paramount in these considerations should be promoting measures which will most likely create the conditions for peace in Darfur, and without serving to advance Western economic and political interests in the region (or the thesis of a global "Clash of Civilizations," inspired by rhetoric of Sudan's war between "Arabs" and "Africans"), which serve to erode sovereignty and prevent economic development. Also foremost must be the previously mentioned principle that activists should generally use their limited resources to effect change where they are most likely to be able to make a meaningful impact; especially for citizens of the world's superpower, this often, though not always, means confronting the policies of their own governments, whose machinations they have the most power to change.
• Especially in light of the utter
failure of many Western advocacy groups to push for a well-funded AU force in
• Similarly, wealthy nations like
• Of extreme importance for the prospects of long-term peace in Darfur, activists must push for their governments to exert full diplomatic energy and dedicate funds towards rebel unification, and peace negotiations leading to a political solution to the crisis. As is, the DPA is "unworkable," and must be renegotiated or scrapped for something new; negotiations must be participatory in nature, in stark contrast to the US-dominated process leading to the DPA.
• As suggested by Human Rights
Watch, the UN Security Council should mandate that all oil money flowing into
• However inadequate the gesture,
Other measures, though applicable to
• The UN should be democratized to
dramatically decrease the institutionalized power that the
• Activists must oppose the
imposition of structural readjustment policies and neoliberalism in general,
which have generally impoverishing effects on the targeted country's
population, and serve to further concentrate wealth and power in the hands of a
small elite sector of society (as noted, Sudan's macroeconomy is booming, with
IMF approval, though ordinary Sudanese are seeing few, if any of the benefits).
As such, these policies are crucial contributing factors to calamitous
situations in impoverished regions like
• Washington's policies of forming alliances with unsavory regimes (as done with Nimeri in the past, or the Obiang dictatorship in Equatorial Guinea currently), and militarizing vast swaths of the world through policy plans such as the opening of a new Africom center or the Trans-Saharan Counterterrorism Initiative, need to be vociferously opposed.
That these demands range from the ignored to the politically unthinkable in mainstream discourse is an indictment of both the Save Darfur movement-for its naïve credence in Western benevolence and general failure to promote sensible solutions to the conflict-as well as the left, which has done little more than scoff at Darfur activists for their insufficient ideological and historical grounding and criticize their aims without supplying any of its own.
time and effort have been dedicated to actually engaging with
2 For the ADL’s claims, see Foxman, Abraham H.,
those of CAIR, refer to Council on American-Islamic Relations, “National Muslim
groups condemn ADL ‘Anti-Muslim McCarthyism,’” 8 June 2001, accessed 25 July
and, Council on American-Islamic Relations, “ADL attempts to defame Florida
19 Aug. 2003, accessed 25 July 2006 <http://www.cair-net.org/default.asp?Page=articleView&id=1021&theType=NR >, respectively.
3 Beckerman, Gal, “US Jews leading
the rally also included former
has also been controversy about the presence in the Save Darfur movement of
Evangelical Christian groups, one of which has openly stated ambitions to
convert Muslims to Christianity. See Cooperman, Alan, “Groups Plan Rally on
Mall To Protest Darfur Violence,” Washington
6 See Cooperman; emphasis added. For what looks
to be a comprehensive listing of speakers at the rally, see Save Darfur,
an example of this condescension, see the reaction by James Ellery, British
regional coordinator for UNMIS, to claims of sexual abuse against
children by UN forces in the South:
“I will refute all claims made on this issue,” he said in an interview last May. “We investigated all allegations made and no evidence was forthcoming. None of these claims can be substantiated. This is the most backward country in
Africaand there are lots of misunderstandings as to the UN’s role. Over 90 per cent of people here are illiterate and rumours therefore spread very quickly.”
Kate and Sarah Hughes, “UN staff accused of raping children in
7 Council on American-Islamic Relations, “CAIR
Asks Why No Muslim Groups To Speak At Darfur Rally,”
8 In addition to what is cited in the preceding
and subsequent paragraphs, see, for example, Flounders, Sara, “The US role in
9 Wisotsky, along with others, is quoted in
Bruno, Laura, “Morris march calls on US to halt Sudan genocide,” Morris County Daily Record [New Jersey],
7 Nov. 2005, accessed 26 July 2006
These sentiments are representative of many of the students and other ordinary
people engaged in
10 Anti-Defamation League, “ADL Commends US for
‘Decisive Action’ Following Bombings in
11 Organizers’ estimates are from “United for
press estimates, see, for example,
12 Estimates from the organizers come from
Silverman, Rachel and David Silverman, “‘Never Again, Again,’ Say Jews at
Darfur Rally,” Jewish Telegraphic Agency,
estimates are from, amongst other accounts, Chmela, Holli, “Thousands Rally in
13 Reuters AlertNet, “DRC: Sexual abuse a
‘cancer’, says Egeland,”
14 Agence France-Presse, “Western activism on
The spectacular popular mobilization seeking an end to conflict in
’s Sudan Darfurregion could damage efforts to stop the bloodshed at a time when real progress might be within reach, experts say.
An interpretation of the conflict as one between Arabs and Africans or even between moderates and Islamist extremists has helped mobilize the worldwide campaign, said Alex de Waal of the Social Science Research Council in
. New York
“It’s easy to take this simplified construct of Arabs and Africans and turn it into something that’s meaningful, even though it may not be ethnographically or historically correct,” he said....
The simplification of the conflict in the media and by pressure groups has helped the
Darfurissue become so prominent in the , de Waal said… US
“In the case of
Darfur, where the situation is not only complicated but has changed hugely in the last three years, that simplification can be very problematic,” de Waal said.
15 An excerpt reads: “A government-backed Arab
militia known as Janjaweed has been engaging in campaigns to displace and wipe
out communities of African tribal farmers.” See Save Darfur, “Unity Statement,”
in the Boston Globe, John
Shattuck, a former
a common theme in liberal commentary on
17 Associated Press, “Advocacy Grps Urge US
Hearings On Sudan Intervention,”
18 In a meeting with “Darfur advocates,” Bush
heaped praise on rally organizers and hailed the countrywide rallies as an
effort to “urge the world to unite with the United States” – apparently, in
avoiding doing anything substantive to bring an end to the conflict, rhetorical
flourishes aside. See White House, “President Meets with Darfur Advocates,”
should give pause to those who have heretofore been willing to give the benefit of the doubt to the Bush administration. This is perhaps especially true of the gullible and excessively financed Save Darfur Coalition, which has become the unfortunate “default” bureaucracy for
Darfuradvocacy in the . A number of well-placed sources have confirmed to this writer that the administration’s priority is politically “managing” the American Darfur advocacy movement, particularly the Save Darfur Coalition (SDC), rather than responding to advocacy demands—-demands that are in any event typically impoverished on the part of SDC. US
Eric, “Khartoum Accommodated: US ‘Lowers the Bar’ for Regime’s Génocidaires,”
20 For instance, a demand for diplomacy to
further peace negotiations is “noticeably missing” from the Save Darfur
Coalition website. See Hanson, Stephanie, “Negotiating Peace in
21 Birnbaum, Jeffrey H., “Saving
22 Agence France-Presse, “Western activism on
claims that international aid organizations are agents of hostile Western governments whose ultimate goal is regime change. Already, threats of coercive military action are giving oxygen to regime hard-liners. A military strike during enforcement of a no-flight zone would most likely hand President Omar Hassan al-Bashir the same kind of propaganda victory he scored when American cruise missiles knocked out a pharmaceutical factory in Khartoum in 1998… Khartoum
The humanitarian’s first obligation is to do no harm. Talk of coercive military action must end. A no-flight zone would be recklessly dangerous and would not address the real problems in
Darfur. To endanger the region’s humanitarian lifeline is not simply wrong-headed. It is inhumane.
24 Reeves, Eric, “Ban Ki-Moon on
The key challenge in enforcing a No Fly Zone would be distinguishing humanitarian aircraft from military aircraft. For example, the Anonov cargo planes that do so much of the heavy lifting for humanitarian organizations are indistinguishable from Antonovs that drop bombs on innocent civilians.
has in the past painted its military aircraft the white color of the AU and humanitarian organizations; it would certainly do so again if confronting a No Fly Zone. Moreover, the regime would certainly attempt to engineer a mistake in identity so as to provoke the shooting down of a humanitarian Antonov, perhaps by forcing a re-routing of humanitarian flight paths. Khartoum
25 International Crisis Group, “Getting the UN
Aid agencies are quietly appalled by the prospect of a no-fly zone. They believe
would respond by grounding humanitarian aircraft and, at worst, by forcing aid agencies to leave. Even if Khartoum didn’t ground flights, the United Nations most likely would, for fear of sending its planes into a potential combat zone. Without humanitarian air access, Darfurians would soon suffer lethal health and food crises. Khartoum
In the event of heightened military activity on the ground, Darfurians would be caught in the crossfire. The people of Kosovo and
had easier access to neighboring host countries. Bosnia Darfuris vast and dry. Its people would not be able to easily flee to safety.
’s janjaweed militias turn against each other, rebel movements fragment and banditry rages, millions of Darfurians who depend on humanitarian assistance can be reached only by air. United Nations and African Union traffic accounts for 9 of every 10 flights in Khartoum Darfur. Some agencies deliver as much as 90 percent of their supplies using aircraft. The collapse of the humanitarian apparatus would be a death sentence for Darfurians, especially those in camps who rely on aid agencies for food, clean water and shelter.
27 Rieff, David, “Good vs. good in
29 Prendergast, John and Julia Spiegel, “Khartoum
Bombs and the World Debates: How to Confront Aerial Attacks in
30 Reeves, Eric, “Ban Ki-Moon on
31 PBS (transcript), “Professor Recommends
Targeting Sudan Through Economic Means,”
32 Reuters, “American Jewish World Service
Launches National Targeted Divestment Initiative Against Sudan,”
33 On PetroChina’s stock price, see McGregor,
Richard, “Buffet sells entire PetroChina stake,” Financial Times,
to the New York Times,
Ten years after the
imposed an economic boycott against what is territorially US Africa’s largest country, it’s hard to see much effect on the streets of , the capital. Unlike the case of Khartoum , which was crippled by United Nations sanctions in the 1990s, Iraq has blossomed economically since the sanctions were put into place in 1997 because of its alleged support of terrorism and attacks against southern rebels. Sudan
35 Amnesty International, “Israel/Occupied
Territories: Deliberate attacks a war crime,”
36 Bombardieri, Marcella, “On Campuses, Critics
of Israel Fend Off a Label,” Boston Globe,
a memorable putdown, Cornel West called Summers “the Ariel Sharon of American
higher education.” West, Cornel, interview, Tavis
37 “US: Harvard Divests from PetroChina,”
39 Apiku, Simon, “Violence cuts aid to 500,000 in
40 Wadhams, Nick, “U.N.: Sudan Relief Efforts
Could Collapse,” Associated Press,
41 World Food Program (press release), “
42 Reuters, “
43 UN News,
“4 million people in
Schlein, Lisa, “UNHCR Running Out of Money in
The UN refugee agency says it may have to scale down its operations in
West Darfurbecause it is running out of money. The UNHCR says it is facing a shortfall of more than $7 million needed to assist more than two million internally displaced people and thousands of refugees from and the Chad . Lisa Schlein reports for VOA News from UNHCR headquarters in Central African Republic . Geneva
The UN refugee agency says it is hard to believe it has to appeal for money when the misery of millions of people in
Darfuris constantly in the news. It says cuts will have to be made in its protection and assistance programs to compensate for the lack of funds.
UN refugee spokeswoman, Jennifer Pagonis, says many of the 2.5 million displaced people and about 30,000 refugees from Chad and the Central African Republic will suffer from these cut backs.
44 Reeves, Eric, “Understanding Genocide in
45 There are over 200,000 Darfurian refugees in
details on the camps, see Ghuneim, Mona, “US Delegation Says Darfur Refugees
Experiencing Slow-motion Genocide,”
46 There are an estimated 2 to 5 million Sudanese
47 Frenkel, Sheera Claire with Ilana Diamond and
JPost staff, “Sudanese allowed to stay - for now,” Jerusalem Post,
48 Associated Press, “
49 Frenkel, Sheera Claire with Ilana Diamond and JPost staff, “Sudanese allowed to stay -
for now,” Jerusalem Post,
Sudanese refugee comments, “‘It is not like they will put me in jail if I go
50 See Jewish Telegraphic Agency, “Sudanese
“Asylum for genocide refugees,” accessed
52 Hirschberg, Peter, “Holocaust Memories Hover
Over Sudanese Refugees,” Inter Press Service News Agency,
[The academic] Ahmed Karadawi had often pointed to the Ethiopian Jews as another case of Western hypocrisy, noting that US and Jewish charities raised $300 million to finance Operation Moses, the most dramatic of the Israeli airlifts, and care for its 8,000 beneficiaries-ten times the amount raised in the United States at the height of the famine to care for 600,000 refugees remaining in the Sudan.
53 Frenkel, Sheera Claire with Ilana Diamond and JPost staff, “Sudanese allowed to stay -
for now,” Jerusalem Post,
54 Barkat, Amiram, “Yad Vashem visit reminds
an update on Israeli policy, see IRIN, “ISRAEL-SUDAN: Government reverts to
detention policy for Sudanese refugees,”
55 Uchitelle-Pierce, Ben, “
56 Wheeler, Carolynne, “
57 Ben-David, Calev, “Analyze this: The African
exodus is more than a borderline problem,” Jerusalem
58 Macintyre, Donald, “Plight of the refugees
locked out of the ‘promised land’,” Independent,
59 Human Rights Watch, “
61 See, respectively, Wiesel, Elie, “On the Atrocities in Sudan” (transcript), American Jewish World Service, 14 July 2004, accessed 26 July 2006 <http://ajws.org/index.cfm?section_id=8&sub_section_id=14&page_id=285>; and, Save Darfur, accessed 25 July 2006 <http://www.savedarfur.org/about/>.
62 See Kraft, Dina, “
63 For more on Wiesel, see for instance Finkelstein, Norman, The Holocaust Industry: Reflections on the Exploitation of Jewish Suffering, second ed., Verso, 2003.
(editorial), “Israeli help for
An Israeli supporter of the
Darfurrefugees in said Monday that a ban on the refugees would be “a PR catastrophe” for the state of Israel . Israel
“All the refugees who are returned to
- whether to Sudan Darfuror to South Sudan- will be executed on arrival,” said Eytan Schwartz, spokesperson for The Committee for Advancement of Refugees from Darfur.
director of the Los Angeles-based Israel said Monday he supported the government’s decision to stop the entry of refugees into Simon Wiesenthal Center . “This is not a question of saving people from genocide, but about economic refugees who come here to improve the quality of their life,” said the organization’s chief Nazi-hunter Efraim Zuroff. He added that Israel ’s decision to let 500 refugees remain in the country was “an important symbolic gesture” of humanitarian aid based on the past history and suffering of the Jewish people... Israel
65 Derfner, Larry, “Rattling the Cage: An
improper Zionist response,” Jerusalem
67 Burston, Bradley, “
69 UPI, “
… Dr. Halima Basheer, 27, who says she was gang-raped by Sudanese soldiers for telling aid workers about the rapes of more than 40 schoolgirls,
’s Sunday Telegraph said. London
She learned about the rapes because the girls were taken to her clinic, she said.
After telling the aid workers, Janjaweed militia soldiers went to her office, she said.
“They said to me: ‘You told those people about the rape at the school. Why did you do that? You are always talking about rape, but you don’t know what it is. We will teach you a lesson about what rape is.’”
The soldiers took her to a secluded hut and raped her, she said.
70 Thomas, Kate, “Last-minute reprieve for
71 Ahmed, Samira, “Forced to return to
72 Russell, Ben, “Home Office ‘collaborating with
73 For this and other similarly harrowing
stories, see Russell, Ben, “Immigrants ‘tortured’ after return to
Now, “Displaced, Imprisoned Darfurian Refugee Daoud Ibarahaem Hari On His
75 UN News,
“Ending visit to
76 New York
77 Putz, Ulrike, “An Emerging Iraqi Refugee
North, Andrew, “
78 See Tirman, John (director of the Program on
Global Security & Cooperation at the Social Science Research Council in
In varying degrees, Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Congo—altogether, places where millions of people have been killed in the last 20 years—are consequences of a global economic system that has, in effect, favored a form of warlordism (often exercised from the capital) over governance in which strong States, via government bureaucracies, can deliver services and are accountable. The mechanism by which global economic forces lead to warlordism appears to be fairly direct in some cases: the IMF (or an individual donor government) demands that State enterprises be sold, reducing patronage and income; a foreign investor both cuts services and is lured into paying protection to an emerging warlord, who trades on the State’s decline and deals in drugs and guns, which then become new sources of social dislocation and the only viable economic activity. It is easy enough (and partially true) to say that the real problem lies with corrupt political leaders. But weak States tend to be more corrupt, and opportunities and incentives for corruption are multiplied by the system of privatization in particular.
79 On the state of rebel disunity, which shows
few signs of improving, see for instance McDoom, Opheera, “
International Crisis Group has put together a sensible proposal for how the
international community can further negotiations. See International Crisis
Ismail of the
Until the rebel groups achieve a greater degree of political cohesion, there simply will not be a workable peace process. Poor rebel leadership is part of the problem, but the international community’s efforts to forge rebel unity have been uncoordinated, sporadic, and are unlikely to work until it aggressively pursues a common approach. Toward that end, the United States, African Union, and EU should assemble a team of diplomats based in Chad and Darfur and dedicated to the task.…
The rebel leaders we spoke to in Chad are serious about peace, but until the international community gets serious about peacemaking, this conflict will drag on and consolidate the government of Sudan’s ethnic cleansing of Darfur.
Ismail, Omer and Colin Thomas-Jensen, “Nations must enforce
81 As the International Crisis Group pithily recounts, “The DPA has failed because it did not adequately deal with key issues, too few of the insurgents signed it, and there has been little buy-in from Darfur society, which was not sufficiently represented in the negotiations.” See International Crisis Group, “Darfur: Revitalising the Peace Process,” Reuters, 30 Apr. 2007, accessed 23 July 2007 <http://www.alertnet.org/thenews/newsdesk/ICG/9bac7aaf58d8fafffe433781fc123476.htm>.
82 On UN sanctions, see International Crisis
Group, “Getting the UN into
It is instructive (and unsurprising) to note that the Bush administration has acted to protect top-level Sudanese officials from UN sanctions with nary a whisper of protest from the Save Darfur movement.
In regards to US public opinion on UN sanctions and ICC referral, see Genocide Intervention Network, “Darfur remains major issue of concern for Americans—Poll,” 2 Feb. 2007, accessed 22 Oct. 2007 <http://www.sudantribune.com/spip.php?article20063>.
83 Julie Flint has singled out Oxfam, Mercy Corps
and Doctors Without Borders as aid groups deserving of particular credit, while
noting that they maintain a “13,000-strong army of relief workers 90 percent
of them Sudanese.”
84 UN News,
“Third of Global Food Aid ‘Wasted’ Due to Donor Countries’ Requirements—UN
One third of the global food aid budget, or some $600 million annually, is wasted due to conditions tying it to processing and shipping by national carriers of donor countries, and such in-kind aid should be replaced by cash payments that boost production in recipient states, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) said today.…
The report noted that as much as 90 per cent of all food aid resources may be tied to some specific conditions, often making it difficult for implementing agencies to use the aid in the most efficient way and ensure that it effectively reaches the people who need it most.
The world’s leading food donors spend as much as half of their food aid budgets on domestic processing and shipping by national carriers, according to research quoted by the report, with one third of global food-aid resources wasted by such requirements.
Megan Tady usefully surveys the politics surrounding US food aid:
Last month, in a move that shocked observers, CARE, one of the world’s largest humanitarian organizations, rejected $45 million in
food aid, shining a spotlight on a practice the group says may hurt starving populations more than help them. Complaining that US food aid policy is inefficient, unsustainable and perhaps even detrimental to combating food insecurity, CARE believes “enough is enough,” according to Bob Bell, director for CARE’s Food Resource Coordination Team. The decision comes at a time when other humanitarian and food advocacy organizations are calling on members of Congress to rewrite food aid policy that puts starving populations first when they authorize this month’s 2007 Farm Bill. US
The United States is the world’s largest provider of international food aid, supplying more than half of all food aid designated to alleviate hunger, about four million metric tons of food per year. As currently implemented, US food aid lines the pockets of American agribusiness and the shipping industry. Under existing rules, at least 75 percent of food aid has to be grown and packaged in the United States, and shipped using US flag-bearing vessels. Unlike most countries that donate food, the United States sells a portion of its food aid, either by selling it to recipient governments, or allowing it to be monetized, a process where food aid is sold to generate cash for development projects. And while most donor countries provide cash as food aid, the United States insists on giving in-kind donations.
Tady, Megan, “Who Does US Food Aid Benefit?” In These Times, 12 Sept. 2007, accessed 21 Oct. 2007 <http://www.inthesetimes.com/article/3342/who_does_us_food_aid_benefit/>.
85 Human Rights Watch, “HRW Letter to the UN
Security Council on Darfur,”
31 May 2007, accessed 22 Oct. 2007 <http://hrw.org/english/docs/2007/05/31/sudan16037_txt.htm>.
86 The importance of activists holding Washington
accountable for its actions is clear. See, for example, Akuetteh, Nii, “Darfur
and History,” TomPaine.com,
20 July 2006, accessed 30 Nov. 2006 <http://www.globalpolicy.org/security/issues/sudan/2006/0720reagan.htm>.
Washington is playing a leading role in the unfolding drama in Darfur. So we have an obligation to know about the history of United States policy in the neighborhood. Not long ago, Ronald Reagan’s policy in neighboring Chad deepened a longstanding crisis and scuttled a chance for peace. This may be a cautionary tale for Darfur, where US President George W. Bush proposes humanitarian intervention to end the suffering.…
Enter newly elected
president Ronald Reagan. He declared US a major foreign policy priority and said the right words — neutrality, peaceful solutions and no foreign meddling. Actions, however, told a different story. The Reagan administration brushed aside the hard-worn African consensus, branded Libya’s troops occupiers and insisted they leave. To sugarcoat its demands, Washington promised to fund a replacement Inter-African Force (IAF). The Libyans withdrew in November 1981 and 4,800 IAF troops arrived in Chad in December. Requested to honor its pledge, Washington became stingy—it provided 8 cents of every dollar the IAF needed. This, combined with mandate disagreements, kept the IAF toothless. Chad
Having deceived the Africans, the Reagan administration rapidly implemented its real agenda. The goal was to overthrow the consensus GUNT government and replace it with Washington’s favorite Chadian warlord, Hissene Habre—the same renegade warlord condemned to death by his former colleagues. The
covertly showered cash, arms and equipment on Habre. Rejuvenated, his militia roared in from Darfur and took Ndjamena, Chad’s capital, on June 7, 1982. As a direct consequence, the OAU became acrimoniously split; the IAF peacekeepers withdrew; the GUNT formed a government in exile; and its militias re-entered Chad as a two-pronged armed rebellion that soon threatened Habre’s grip on power. US
Reagan hastily leaped to Habre’s defense. He first informed Congress and invoked the War Powers Act. Next, he sent two sophisticated surveillance planes to Habre, followed by other military aircraft, Redeye missiles, sundry war materiel and even American “advisors,” whose number may have reached 500. In July and August 1983 alone, new US military aid for Habre totaled $25 million.…
Protected by Reagan, Mitterrand, and other friends, Habre tyrannized Chad with impunity until 1990, when an aide, Idriss Deby, overthrew him. Uncovered documents and other evidence now suggest Habre probably murdered 40,000 political opponents—after the war. Weeks ago, on July 2, in Gambia, the African Union joined the UN and the EU in ordering Senegal, where Habre lives in exile, to put him on trial.
87 Upon returning from a trip to Darfur, Shane Bauer commented:
After such up-close experience with revolution and genocide in
Darfur, returning to the and seeing how activists here deal with the issue has been disheartening. As soon as I arrived, the tragedy, passion, and dedication that I witnessed in US Darfurand was reduced to simplistic liberal pseudo-solutions or jaded radical dogma that merely sees Chad Darfuras an issue of imperialism. US
Shane, “Intervention and the Politics of Solidarity in
At its worst, the leftist reaction to Darfur activists reminds one of a memorable exchange from Monty Python’s Life of Brian:
Brian: Excuse me. Are you the Judean People’s Front?
Reg: Fuck off!
Brian: Excuse me?
Reg: Judean People’s Front. We’re the People’s Front of Judea! Judean People’s Front. Cawk.
Brian: Can I... join your group?
Reg: No, piss off.
Brian: ...I hate the Romans as much as anybody.
People’s Front of Judea: Shhhh. Shhhh. Shhh. Shh. Shhhh.
Judith: Are you sure?
Brian: Oh, dead sure. I hate the Romans already.
Reg: Listen. If you really wanted to join the P.F.J., you’d have to really hate the Romans.
Brian: I do!
Reg: Oh, yeah? How much?
88 See Hari, Johann, “Interview from the Leeds Student: Part One,” as published on JohannHari.com, 27 Nov. 2005, accessed 22 Oct. 2007 <http://www.johannhari.com/archive/article.php?id=733>.