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/
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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.
Save Darfur Coalition: aiding the victims ot the superpower?
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 Palestine, an anti-Semitic organization"; CAIR leadership has denounced the ADL for its "anti-Muslim McCarthyism," and for running a "smear campaign" designed to "exploit and amplify existing anti-Muslim prejudice."
Other curiosities pervade Save Darfur. Describing the Coalition's composition in regards to a then-upcoming April 30, 2006 rally that the umbrella group was organizing in Washington DC, the Jerusalem Post observed that:
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 Darfur and is the teenaged granddaughter of a Holocaust survivor. "This is a systemized killing of a whole group of people-it's no different from the Holocaust"; in response, Wisotsky co-founded Help Darfur Now, a student activist group that raises money for the likes of Doctors Without Borders and the International Rescue Committee.
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 Darfur activist groups, typified by the aforementioned involvement of the ADL, whose record of concern for the welfare of Muslims is less than laudatory.
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 Darfur rally while paying only fleeting attention to the antiwar protest, even as they freely reported its much larger attendance.
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 USA Today's copy was devoted to the antiwar protest. The New York Times exhibited more fairness by having articles of almost equal length on the events, though it relegated its coverage of the Iraq war protest to local/regional news, while covering the Darfur rally in the "national" news section.
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 US invasion of Sudan. Lamenting how the US was "for a long time unwilling to project force" after the war in Vietnam -- true only in the sense that Washington could not be as typically brazen in its support of mass murderers (such as Suharto in Indonesia and Somoza's National Guard in Nicaragua) as it was during the Vietnam era -- the Post called on the US "to avoid succumbing to an Iraq syndrome to match the Vietnam syndrome of the past" and to "prove its continuing readiness to lead in the world," all by pushing for "humanitarian intervention" in Darfur, perhaps even unilaterally -- a chilling possibility which the Save Darfur Coalition has in the past recommended that Washington consider.
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 bloodbath in Iraq, or the Israeli Occupation, fail to attract corporate funding or sympathetic pledges from the Oval Office, and are instead subjected to hostile media coverage, and accusations of "anti-Americanism." Not surprisingly, since these are the same crises that are directly of our own doing, they could be terminated with relative ease by an enlivened US citizenry. Yet in an intellectual and political culture which scorns the elementary principle of first examining our own crimes, those which we have the most power to stop, Darfur advocates are showered with accolades while antiwar activists are seen as quixotic, naïve idealists, or even dangerous ideologues. There is much reason to be "struck," as is Mahmood Mamdani, "by the fact that the largest political movement against mass violence on US campuses is on Darfur and not on Iraq," or that the campaign to "save Darfur," instead of one oriented towards halting US-sponsored crimes, is claimed by its leaders to be the largest "since the campaign against the Vietnam war." The demands being made by this movement provide further cause for concern.
An evaluation of activist demands
As the ranks of Darfur activists include everything from traditional human rights organizations to evangelical Christian groups, there is a marked diversity of opinion amongst them about how to address the crisis. Nevertheless, many of the most vocal and visible organizations working on Darfur, including the Save Darfur Coalition, have adopted common positions which revolve generally around the following themes: a hawkish stance concerning a "humanitarian intervention" (perhaps even unilaterally, if necessary, meaning an invasion) in Darfur, an assumption of humanitarian motives on the part of the US and other Western powers, a sidelining of the AU in favor of the UN (or in some cases NATO, and even unilateral action by Washington), and a focus on advocacy to the point of disregarding aid for the victims, despite their often substantial budgets. Informed by this set of principles and ideological underpinnings, much Save Darfur activism has been directed towards ends that at best comprise a questionable use of time and resources, or at worst have outcomes likely to negatively impact rather than improve the situation in Darfur.
A no-fly zone over Darfur
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, "Khartoum might respond [to the implementation of a no-fly zone] by escalating its actions on the ground against civilians, not unlike what happened in the initial days of NATO's actions in Kosovo in 1999."
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 Sudan specialist Julie Flint argues:
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, Khartoum 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.
The current emphasis on coercive measures conceals the fact that the US and its friends have no clear plan of political action, no sensible project for peace to go hand in hand with pressure on the Khartoum regime.
Yet for all the risks, the potential upshot for a no-fly zone is also remarkably small. Though Khartoum does still attack Darfur from the air, "the vast majority of attacks are executed by forces on the ground." Accordingly, a no-fly zone "would only weaken a very small piece of Khartoum's killing machine." Given the above, and that enforcing a no-fly zone would be "extremely resource-consumptive," advocating such while the UNAMID force on the ground in Darfur is under-resourced represents a severe distortion of activism based on concern for the victims.
Evoking memories of global activism against apartheid in South Africa, the Save Darfur movement is also aiming to address the humanitarian crisis in the beleaguered region by campaigning for divestment from certain companies operating in Sudan.
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 Sudan to progress in ways that divestment from other human rights abusers has not.
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 from US companies operating in Sudan, since they are already prohibited from doing so by US sanctions. Accordingly, the divestment campaign is targeting foreign (mostly Asian) firms, most prominently oil companies such as PetroChina.
While urging individual and corporate investors in the US to sell their holdings in foreign companies because of their links to human rights abuses in Sudan is laudable in principle, it is also, at the very least, convoluted. One issue is simply the practicality of such an aim; in light of the extended degrees of separation of influence between perpetrators and activists, it is not obvious the campaign can be effective. While divestment from South Africa is often cited as a precursor to this divestment movement, it is in reality a poor basis for comparison in this regard, as US companies operated in South Africa without legal impediment for most of the duration of the US-allied apartheid regime, and thus were directly susceptible to pressure from US activists. As noted, this is not the case with Sudan, and the added layer of complexity may render this campaign a waste of time and energy that could be applied to helping the people of Darfur in a more concrete fashion; the same could be said in regards to efforts to boycott the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing.
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 US government, for whose policies US activists bear direct moral responsibility. As an elementary statement of principle, activists concerned with improving the world will focus their efforts where they can most effectively influence change, generally the policies of their own governments. As a thought experiment, one might ask what reaction the West would accord Chinese activists who opted to channel their limited energies into a 'divest from Blackwater' campaign. In such a case, Western opinion makers would have no difficulty perceiving moral truisms, and understanding that the efforts of Chinese activists would be better directed elsewhere. Yet Darfur activists have largely failed to pressure Washington to take even basic steps-beyond ultimately meaningless rhetorical grandstanding-to improve the situation on the ground in Darfur, such as adequately funding peacekeepers.
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 Sudan operations, as well as US-based firms such as Berkshire Hathaway and Fidelity Investments which hold stock in such businesses.
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 case of Harvard University. In 2002, in response to a petition to divest the university from the Israeli Occupation, then-Harvard President Lawrence Summers condemned the campaign as "anti-Semitic in effect, if not intent." Yet in April 2005, Harvard became "the first major victory in a national campaign for divestment from Sudan" as it divested from PetroChina. As Summers commented:
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 Cuba's chilling of dissent or China's occupation of Tibet? Why don't they feel a personal stake in getting Jordan, Egypt, and the Philippines to stop torturing people? ... The only reason they feel so strongly about Israel is because it is the Jewish nation.'"
Yet it would be unimaginable for a figure even as crass as Dershowitz to openly condemn Darfur activists for bigotry and failing to "say anything about Cuba." Instead, Darfur activism receives extensive and favorable coverage in the mainstream media, while the voices of opponents of US-Israeli policies vis-à-vis the Palestinians are marginalized and ridiculed, if they are heard at all.
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 Washington in this direction.
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 Darfur, many have arrived in neighboring countries. Chad, which borders Darfur to the west, currently has the largest population of Darfurian refugees, many of whom languish in squalid camps.
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 Egypt." In repeated cases, Egyptian border guards have been accused of shooting or beating to death Sudanese refugees as they attempted to cross into Israel, including a seven-year-old girl.
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 Israel have recognized the propaganda value of taking mild steps to aid Darfurians, Israel's image is the concern, not ameliorating suffering. As Jerusalem Post columnist Larry Derfner writes:
It's hard to escape the impression that the Olmert government is being humane to the refugees from Sudan's Darfur region for appearance's sake only. I say this because the government is being amazingly cruel to the refugees from southern Sudan, 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.
Any pretense of "humane" treatment of Darfurians (or others) fleeing to Israel has since been shattered by the eerily-titled "Prevention of Infiltration Act of 2008," passed by a margin of 21-to-1 in an initial, non-binding Knesset vote. With potential (non-Jewish) refugees, asylum-seekers, and immigrants to Israel in mind, the bill, in the words of a Ha'aretz editorial, is designed "to signal to anyone planning on coming here that their lives are not going to be easy." It goes on to note that:
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 US political establishment.
There are also larger and wealthier countries better suited than Chad, Egypt, or even Israel to taking in large numbers of Darfurians, and it is telling that they have not done so -- especially given their fiery rhetoric on Darfur.
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 Darfur on the grounds that his story conflicted with information available on wikipedia.org.
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 Khartoum describes his treatment at the hands of Sudanese authorities as follows:
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 US' failure to accept more Darfurian refugees is truly glaring, especially in comparison to the British and Israeli press, which have both produced a detectable level of reporting on their countries' own shameful refugee policies towards Darfurians. From what has appeared in the US media, reports indicate that, as of May 2007, a grand total of three Darfurians had been granted asylum in the United States in the preceding four years, one of whom (Daoud Ibarahaem Hari) worked as a translator for the journalists Nicholas Kristof and Paul Salopek, and benefited from "high-level intervention" on his behalf by the U2 rock star and activist Bono, New Mexico Governor and former Democratic presidential candidate Bill Richardson, and the former president Jimmy Carter. As Hari recounts, the hundreds of Darfurian refugees he is aware of in Ghana -- living in "very hard circumstances," and without, one might add, "high-level intervention" from the aforementioned figures -- "they didn't get a chance to resettlement (sic) in [the] United States at all."
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 Darfur activism -- and beyond
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.
Sudan and its Darfur region will not see true and lasting peace and justice unless hegemonic interests-Western, Chinese, or otherwise-cease to treat them as mere pawns on a regional and global chessboard. Whether in peace negotiations or managing relief operations, the people of Darfur must have a dominant voice in running their own lives; in the long term, such empowerment will prove far more effective than "solutions" imposed from without. Activists who are cognizant of these realities will accordingly seek the following:
• Especially in light of the utter failure of many Western advocacy groups to push for a well-funded AU force in Darfur with a strong mandate, the joint AU-UN deployment must not be allowed to suffer the same fate. Increased financial assistance to UNAMID would allow it to more easily gather troops from African and Global South nations, while proper logistical support would ensure that the mission does not suffer from the same resource poverty that was imposed on the AU mission (though the influence of major powers, even through funding, must be carefully circumscribed). Activists cannot sit idly by while UNAMID struggles for months on end to find such basic and necessary hardware as the two dozen helicopters that it has been seeking, in vain, since August 2007.
• Similarly, wealthy nations like the US must provide the missing logistical support necessary for UNAMID. Troops should be drawn from Arab and African nations, as well as the Global South more broadly; whenever possible, countries with a track record of supporting unsavory elements within Sudan, such as the US and China, should be precluded from sending troops, or having any direct involvement with the mission.
• 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.
• Washington must cease to collaborate with Khartoum's security agency and all figures linked in any way to the violence in Darfur, often rationalized as collaboration in the "War on Terror." Instead of enjoying an alliance with the US and in some cases receiving CIA funding and protection, such individuals and groups should face targeted sanctions from the UN and be referred to the ICC (both of these measures are supported by the US public), at least in cases where issuing an arrest warrant is unlikely to further fan the flames of conflict., Washington must cooperate with the court not only on cases like Darfur but also in those involving US crimes-for the sake of Darfurians and the victims of other conflicts around the world.
• Though Darfur already receives comparably high levels of aid vis-à-vis other humanitarian crises around the world, far more can be afforded and is desperately needed both in Darfur and other conflict zones around the world. Aid groups such as Doctors without Borders, Mercy Corps, and Oxfam have been singled out for special praise for their roles in Darfur. Food aid, which is particularly vulnerable to manipulation, must be administered in such a way that it supports, rather than depresses local agricultural prices, and cannot be used as a vehicle for propping up US agribusiness. Wealthy nations should open their borders to Darfurian refugees, and facilitate their entrance.
• As suggested by Human Rights Watch, the UN Security Council should mandate that all oil money flowing into Sudan be paid into a UN-monitored fund. This would not only give the UN leverage over Khartoum, but would also require that a certain percentage of the funds be directed towards humanitarian efforts in Darfur.
• However inadequate the gesture, Washington must pay reparations for past crimes in Sudan, namely its crucial support for Nimeiri and other repressive regimes during the 1970s and 80s, which contributed to around two million deaths, and the bombing of al-Shifa. These funds (perhaps to be administered through the aforementioned UN fund) should be directed towards compensation measures, such as infrastructure reconstruction and the victims and their families.
Other measures, though applicable to Darfur, have much more general relevance:
• The UN should be democratized to dramatically decrease the institutionalized power that the US and the other Security Council members wield, which has the effect of severely hampering the impartiality of UN peacekeeping missions, amongst other deleterious effects. If a sufficient degree of democracy is achieved at the UN, thus lessening the current status of "humanitarian interventions" as a one-way street, member countries can pursue plans to create a standing force to respond to crises such as the one in Darfur.
• 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 Darfur.
• 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.
Far less time and effort have been dedicated to actually engaging with Darfur activists, many of whom no doubt became activists out of a sincere concern for what is truly a humanitarian calamity. Leftists should attempt to work with them on ways to address the crisis, broaden awareness of the sordid history of US-Sudanese relations and understanding of the ways in which the US-and not just China-is responsible for obstructing efforts to end the ongoing crimes in Darfur. Should the left be successful in destroying a myth at the heart of much Darfur activism-that the US Army is "the armed wing of Amnesty International," in the mocking phrasing of the journalist Johann Hari-the Darfur activist movement will become much more effective at promoting justice and an end to the atrocities.
1 Save Darfur, accessed 25 July
2 For the ADL’s claims, see Foxman, Abraham H.,
18 July 2005, accessed 25 July 2006 <http://www.adl.org/media_watch/newspapers/20050718-USA+Today.htm>.
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 Darfur rally planning,” Jerusalem Post,
27 Apr. 2006, accessed 26 July 2006 <http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?cid=1145961241838&pagename=JPost%2FJPArticle%2FPrinter>.
4 Save Darfur, accessed 20 Sept. 2006 <http://www.savedarfur.org/pages/speakers>. For efforts to diversify the then-upcoming Sept. 17 rally, see Silverman, Rachel, “In the Works: ‘More Diverse’ Rally,” Jewish Exponent, 6 July 2006, accessed 26 July 2006 <http://www.jewishexponent.com/article/10064/>.
Nevertheless, the rally also included former US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, whose humanitarian concern is self-explanatory from her reaction to the catastrophically lethal US sanctions against Iraq, about which she infamously commented: “I think this is a very hard choice, but the price—we think the price is worth it.” See Mahajan, Rahul, “We Think the Price Is Worth It,” Extra!, Nov./Dec. 2001, accessed 14 Feb. 2007 <http://www.fair.org/index.php?page=1084>. One may also recall Albright’s role in preventing the UN from halting the 1994 genocide in Rwanda, where she “lead a vigorous movement in the Security Council to literally decimate” the UNAMIR peacekeeping force. See Caplan, Gerald, “From Rwanda to Darfur: Lessons Learned?,” Pambazuka, 12 Jan. 2006, accessed 10 Jan. 2007 <http://www.globalpolicy.org/security/issues/sudan/2006/0112lessons.htm>.
5 Middle East scholar James Zogby, for one, chose to speak at the April 30 rally despite some skepticism about the involvement of “some Jewish groups who had a history of using Sudan as an issue to drive a wedge between Arabs and Africans.” See Zogby, James, “Why I Spoke at the Darfur Rally,” Huffington Post, 8 May 2006, accessed 9 Aug. 2006 <http://www.huffingtonpost.com/james-zogby/why-i-spoke-at-the-darfur_b_20598.html>. There have also been suggestions that some Jewish involvement can be linked to the idea that “mobilizing to end Muslim-on-Muslim violence in Darfur sends a positive message to the Muslim world.” See Perelman, Marc, “Jewish Organizations Plan a Big Push Against Genocide in Darfur,” Forward, 27 Jan. 2006, accessed 9 Aug. 2006 <http://www.forward.com/articles/7262>.
Khartoum, for its part, has at times spoken out, in conspiratorial tones, against the strong Jewish presence in Darfur activism. See, for example, Osman, Mohamed, “Sudan says Jewish groups behind push for UN peacekeepers,” Associated Press, 22 June 2006, accessed 9 Aug. 2006 <http://www.boston.com/news/world/articles/2006/06/22/sudan_says_jewish_groups_behind_push_for_un_peacekeepers/>.
There 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 Post, 27 Apr. 2006, accessed 26 July 2006 <http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/04/26/AR2006042602182.html>. The Evangelist Reverend Franklin Graham, who now professes to “love the Muslim people” after having previously commented that Islam “is a very evil and wicked religion,” has expressed a desire to rebuild churches in Sudan, noting that “There’s a war taking place against the church of Jesus Christ in Africa.” See Associated Press, “Franklin Graham blasts Islam, says will rebuild churches in Sudan,” 10 Oct. 2006, accessed 31 Oct. 2006 <http://www.charlotte.com/mld/charlotte/news/breaking_news/15723359.htm>.
6 See Cooperman; emphasis added. For what looks to be a comprehensive listing of speakers at the rally, see Save Darfur, accessed 26 July 2006 <http://www.savedarfur.org/rally/speakers>.
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 Africa and 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.”
Holt, Kate and Sarah Hughes, “UN staff accused of raping children in Sudan,” Daily Telegraph [Britain], 3 Jan. 2007, accessed 3 Jan. 2007 <http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2007/01/03/wsudan03.xml>.
7 Council on American-Islamic Relations, “CAIR Asks Why No Muslim Groups To Speak At Darfur Rally,” 30 Apr. 2006, accessed 26 July 2006 <http://www.cair-net.org/default.asp?Page=articleView&id=2127&theType=NR>.
8 In addition to what is cited in the preceding
and subsequent paragraphs, see, for example, Flounders, Sara, “The US role in Darfur, Sudan,” Workers World,
3 June 2006, accessed 16 Aug. 2006 <http://www.workers.org/2006/world/darfur-0608/>. Yoshie Furuhashi also has written on the topic; see “‘Save Darfur’: Evangelicals and Establishment Jews,” MRZine, 28 Apr. 2006, accessed 17 Aug. 2006 <http://mrzine.monthlyreview.org/furuhashi280406.html>. Also from the same author: “Who Wants Peace in Darfur?” MRZine, 30 Apr. 2006, accessed 17 Aug. 2006 <http://mrzine.monthlyreview.org/furuhashi300406.html>.
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 <http://www.dailyrecord.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20051107/NEWS01/511070318/1005>. These sentiments are representative of many of the students and other ordinary people engaged in Darfur activism.
10 Anti-Defamation League, “ADL Commends US for ‘Decisive Action’ Following Bombings in Africa,” 28 Aug. 1998, accessed 26 July 2006 <http://www.adl.org/PresRele/terrorismintl_93/3226_93.asp>. For “proof” of the ADL’s newfound commitment to viewing the Sudanese as worthy of humanitarian concern – still not applicable to Palestinians – see Anti-Defamation League, accessed 26 July 2006 <http://www.adl.org/sudan/>.
11 Organizers’ estimates are from “United for Peace,” accessed 9 Aug. 2006 <http://www.april29.org/article.php?list=type&type=97>.
For press estimates, see, for example, Butler, Desmond, “Tens of thousands in New York march against the war in Iraq,” Associated Press, 30 Apr. 2006, accessed 10 Aug. 2006 <http://www.boston.com/news/nation/articles/2006/04/30/tens_of_thousands_in_new_york_march_against_the_war_in_iraq/>. Also, Confessore, Nicholas, “Tens of Thousands in New York March Against Iraq War,” New York Times, 30 Apr. 2006, accessed 10 Aug. 2006. <http://www.nytimes.com/2006/04/30/nyregion/30protest.html?ex=1155355200&en=44750b213430f744&ei=5070>.
12 Estimates from the organizers come from Silverman, Rachel and David Silverman, “‘Never Again, Again,’ Say Jews at Darfur Rally,” Jewish Telegraphic Agency, 30 Apr. 2006, accessed 9 Aug. 2006 <http://www.jta.org/page_view_story.asp?intarticleid=16559&intcategoryid=3>.
Press estimates are from, amongst other accounts, Chmela, Holli, “Thousands Rally in Washington for More US Aid to Darfur,” New York Times, 1 May 2006, accessed 9 Aug. 2006 <http://select.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=F70A14FC3A5B0C728CDDAC0894DE404482>. Also, White, Elizabeth, “Thousands Urge End to Sudan Genocide,” Washington Post, 1 May 2006, accessed 9 Aug. 2006 <http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/04/30/AR2006043000808.html>.
13 Reuters AlertNet, “DRC: Sexual abuse a ‘cancer’, says Egeland,” 17 Sept. 2006, accessed 17 Sept. 2006 <http://www.alertnet.org/thenews/newsdesk/IRIN/725aa921720ba705feec26642c2a5cf2.htm>.
14 Agence France-Presse, “Western activism on Darfur could hamper solution,”
25 June 2007, accessed 22 Oct. 2007 http://www.taipeitimes.com/News/world/archives/2007/06/25/2003366789:
The spectacular popular mobilization seeking an end to conflict in Sudan’s Darfur region 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 Darfur issue become so prominent in the US, de Waal said…
“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,” accessed 3 Oct. 2006 <http://www.savedarfur.org/pages/unity_statement>.
16 Washington Post, “The Stakes in Darfur,” 22 July 2004, accessed 10 Aug. 2006 <http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A4334-2004Jul21.html>. Some in the federal government have clearly contemplated going it alone, evidenced by the unanimous passage of House Resolution 467, which included a provision that “urges the Administration to seriously consider multilateral or even unilateral intervention to stop genocide in Darfur, Sudan, should the United Nations Security Council fail to act.” For the text of the bill, see House of Representatives, “H Con Res 467 Declaring Genocide in Darfur / 07-22-04,” accessed 4 Dec. 2006 <http://www.beaboutpeace.com/archives/2005/07/h_con_res_467_d.html>.
Writing in the Boston Globe, John Shattuck, a former Clinton administration official, makes a similar argument, noting that the crisis in Darfur represents “an opportunity for the United States to begin to reestablish its role in the world as a defender of human rights.” See his “US Can Help End Darfur Genocide,” Boston Globe, 15 July 2004, accessed 17 Feb. 2007 <http://www.commondreams.org/views04/0715-02.htm>.
Indeed, a common theme in liberal commentary on Darfur is lamentation that the US has lost its “moral leadership” in the world because of the publicity nightmare in Iraq. See for instance Samantha Power’s observation that the “US capacity for moral leadership [is] at its lowest point in history.” Power, Samantha, “The Void: Why the Movement Needs Help”, New Republic, 15 May 2006, accessed 22 Oct. 2007 <http://www.ksg.harvard.edu/ksgnews/Features/opeds/050806_power.html>. The victims of US sponsored violence the world over might be surprised to learn that Washington ever had a “capacity for moral leadership” to lose.
17 Associated Press, “Advocacy Grps Urge US
Hearings On Sudan Intervention,”
19 Jan. 2007, accessed 19 Sept. 2007 <http://www.refugeesinternational.org/content/article/detail/9809>.
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,” 28 Apr. 2006, accessed 10 Aug. 2006 <http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2006/04/20060428-5.html>.
19 Save Darfur, accessed 15 Sept. 2007 <http://www.savedarfur.org/pages/faq/#0>. Eric Reeves expands on the nature of the Save Darfur Coalition’s relationship with the US government, whose actions:
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 Darfur advocacy in the US. 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.
Reeves, Eric, “Khartoum Accommodated: US ‘Lowers the Bar’ for Regime’s Génocidaires,” 21 Feb. 2007, accessed 9 July 2007 <http://www.sudanreeves.org/index.php?name=News&file=article&sid=154&theme=Printer>.
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 Darfur,” Council on Foreign Relations, 25 Apr. 2007, accessed 22 Oct. 2007 <http://www.cfr.org/publication/13171/negotiating_peace_in_darfur.html?breadcrumb=%2Fpublication%2Fpublication_list%3Ftype%3Ddaily_analysis>.
21 Birnbaum, Jeffrey H., “Saving Darfur, Multiple Steps at a Time,” Washington Post, 1 June 2007, accessed 6 July 2007 <http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/05/31/AR2007053102184.html>.
22 Agence France-Presse, “Western activism on Darfur could hamper solution,”
25 June 2007, accessed 22 Oct. 2007 <http://www.taipeitimes.com/News/world/archives/2007/06/25/2003366789>. Mamdani’s quote is from: Democracy Now, “Mahmood Mamdani on Darfur.”
23 Flint, Julie, “In Sudan, Help Comes From Above,” New York Times,7 July 2007, accessed 7 July 2007 http://www.zmag.org/content/showarticle.cfm?SectionID=2&ItemID=13239:
Khartoum 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…
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 Sudan’s response to UN force in Darfur: “Not satisfactory,”” Sudan Tribune, 17 Mar. 2007, accessed 11 July 2007 http://www.sudantribune.com/spip.php?article20825:
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. Khartoum 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.
25 International Crisis Group, “Getting the UN into Darfur,” Africa Briefing N°43, 12 Oct. 2006, accessed 6 Dec. 2006 <http://www.crisisgroup.org/library/documents/africa/horn_of_africa/b043_getting_the_un_into_darfur.pdf>.
26 Flint, “In Sudan, Help Comes From Above”:
Aid agencies are quietly appalled by the prospect of a no-fly zone. They believe Khartoum 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.
In the event of heightened military activity on the ground, Darfurians would be caught in the crossfire. The people of Kosovo and Bosnia had easier access to neighboring host countries. Darfur is vast and dry. Its people would not be able to easily flee to safety.
Today, as Khartoum’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 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 Darfur,” Los Angeles Times, 24 June 2007, accessed 22 Oct. 2007 <http://www.latimes.com/news/opinion/commentary/la-op-rieff24jun24,0,4792540.story?coll=la-news-comment-opinions>.
28 Flint, Julie, “Good, and unworkable, ideas
in Darfur,” Daily Star [Lebanon],
11 June 2007, accessed 22 Oct. 2007 <http://www.dailystar.com.lb/article.asp?edition_id=10&categ_id=5&article_id=82881>.
29 Prendergast, John and Julia Spiegel, “Khartoum Bombs and the World Debates: How to Confront Aerial Attacks in Darfur,” Enough Project, accessed 22 Oct. 2007 <http://www.enoughproject.org/reports/noflyzone_20070724.php>.
30 Reeves, Eric, “Ban Ki-Moon on Sudan’s response.”
31 PBS (transcript), “Professor Recommends Targeting Sudan Through Economic Means,” 23 Nov. 2006, accessed 22 Oct. 2007 <http://www.pbs.org/newshour/bb/africa/july-dec06/darfur_11-23.html>.
32 Reuters, “American Jewish World Service Launches National Targeted Divestment Initiative Against Sudan,” 21 Feb. 2007, accessed 22 Oct. 2007 <http://www.alertnet.org/thenews/fromthefield/219556/117226694157.htm>.
33 On PetroChina’s stock price, see McGregor, Richard, “Buffet sells entire PetroChina stake,” Financial Times, 19 Oct. 2007, accessed 22 Oct. 2007 <http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/21375009/>. McGregor reports that “The disinvestment campaign has had no discernable negative impact on PetroChina’s share price, which has risen sharply in both Hong Kong and New York, where it is listed.”
According to the New York Times, Sudan has “one of the fastest growing economies in Africa — if not the world.” Gettleman, Jeffrey, “War in Sudan? Not Where the Oil Wealth Flows,” New York Times, 24 Oct. 2006, accessed 22 Oct. 2007 <http://www.nytimes.com/2006/10/24/world/africa/24sudan.html>. For more on the Sudanese economy, see Sanders, Edmund, “Sudan just shrugs off sanctions,” Los Angeles Times, 18 Aug. 18 2007, accessed 24 Aug. 2007 http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/world/la-fg-sanctions18aug18,0,1029379.story?coll=la-home-center:
Ten years after the US imposed an economic boycott against what is territorially Africa’s largest country, it’s hard to see much effect on the streets of Khartoum, the capital. Unlike the case of Iraq, which was crippled by United Nations sanctions in the 1990s, Sudan has blossomed economically since the sanctions were put into place in 1997 because of its alleged support of terrorism and attacks against southern rebels.
34 On Equatorial Guinea, see Silverstein, Ken, “US Oil Politics in the ‘Kuwait of Africa,’” The Nation, 4 Apr. 2002, accessed 22 Oct. 2007 <http://www.thenation.com/doc/20020422/silverstein>.
35 Amnesty International, “Israel/Occupied Territories: Deliberate attacks a war crime,” 30 June 2006, accessed 22 Oct. 2007 <http://web.amnesty.org/pages/mde-150612006-eng>.
36 Bombardieri, Marcella, “On Campuses, Critics of Israel Fend Off a Label,” Boston Globe, 21 Sept. 2002, accessed 22 Oct. 2007 <http://www.commondreams.org/headlines02/0921-03.htm>.
In a memorable putdown, Cornel West called Summers “the Ariel Sharon of American higher education.” West, Cornel, interview, Tavis Smiley Show, 15 Apr. 2002, accessed 21 Apr. 2008 <http://www.npr.org/about/press/020415.cwest.html>.
37 “US: Harvard Divests from PetroChina,” Associated Press, 7 Apr. 2005, accessed 22 Oct.2007 <http://www.corpwatch.org/article.php?id=12065>.
39 Apiku, Simon, “Violence cuts aid to 500,000 in
Darfur: U.N. official,” Reuters, 31
accessed 23 Sept. 2007
Also, Gettleman, Jeffrey, “Concern Rises About Reports of New Fighting in Darfur,” New York Times,
11 Aug. 2007, accessed 23 Sept. 2007 <http://www.nytimes.com/2007/08/11/world/africa/11darfur.html?_r=1&oref=slogin>.
40 Wadhams, Nick, “U.N.: Sudan Relief Efforts Could Collapse,” Associated Press, 19 May 2006, accessed 19 May 2006 <http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20060519/ap_on_re_af/un_sudan_1;_ylt=AuCmdFfQ_Jcy5K0lZc_Rrc1n.3QA>.
41 World Food Program (press release), “Sudan again faces food ration cuts: will Darfur be put back on a diet?,” 16 Aug 2006, accessed 20 Feb. 2007 <http://www.wfp.org/english/?ModuleID=137&Key=2214>. Fortunately, food levels were then raised to near the appropriate level, though this and other aid programs are constantly on the brink of major funding shortages.
For numbers on US support, refer to State Department (fact sheet), “Humanitarian Situation in Darfur,” 8 May 2006, accessed 1 June 2007 <http://www.state.gov/r/pa/prs/ps/2006/65971.htm>.
42 Reuters, “Hollywood stars help sustain Darfur aid flights—WFP,” 28 Mar. 2008, accessed 1 Apr. 2008 <http://africa.reuters.com/top/news/usnBAN854566.html>.
43 UN News, “4 million people in Darfur now need humanitarian aid, top UN relief official says,” 20 Nov. 2006, accessed 2 Dec. 2006 <http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=20658&Cr=sudan&Cr1=>.
Also, Schlein, Lisa, “UNHCR Running Out of Money in Darfur,” Voice of America, 25 Sept. 2007, accessed 21 Oct. 2007 http://www.voanews.com/english/2007-09-25-voa46.cfm:
The UN refugee agency says it may have to scale down its operations in West Darfur because 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 Chad and the Central African Republic. Lisa Schlein reports for VOA News from UNHCR headquarters in 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 Darfur is 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 Darfur: The View from Khartoum,” Sudan Tribune, 26 Jan. 2007, accessed 31 Jan. 2007 <http://www.sudantribune.com/spip.php?article19956>.
45 There are over 200,000 Darfurian refugees in Chad. See Agence France-Presse, “France calls for protection force in Darfur neighbors,” 19 Sept. 2007, accessed 21 Oct. 2007 <http://afp.google.com/article/ALeqM5jYDfHNZbkEDqYMapJ99GdtJsY5zw>.
For details on the camps, see Ghuneim, Mona, “US Delegation Says Darfur Refugees Experiencing Slow-motion Genocide,” 25 Aug. 2007, accessed 22 Oct. 2007 <http://www.voanews.com/english/2007-08-25-voa2.cfm>.
46 There are an estimated 2 to 5 million Sudanese in Egypt, including around 13,400 with refugee status (some 60,000 have applied for this status between 1996 and 2005). The majority are from southern Sudan, though many Darfurians have ended up in Egypt also. See Sharp, Heather, “Sudanese gangs afflict Cairo streets,” BBC, 25 July 2007, accessed 22 Oct. 2007 <http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/6915187.stm>.
47 Frenkel, Sheera Claire with Ilana Diamond and JPost staff, “Sudanese allowed to stay - for now,” Jerusalem Post, 8 July 2007, accessed 29 July 2007 <http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?cid=1183459221786&pagename=JPost%2FJPArticle%2FShowFull>.
48 Associated Press, “Darfur refugees arrested trying to enter Israel from Egypt,”
2 Feb. 2007, accessed 5 July 2007 <http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/865940.html>. In a move described as “absurd” by human rights groups, the police officers were exonerated by the Egyptian government. See Agence France-Presse, “Rights groups slam Egypt probe into Sudan refugee deaths,” 29 Dec. 2007, accessed 2 Jan. 2008 <http://news.yahoo.com/s/afp/20071229/wl_africa_afp/egyptrightssudanjustice_071229111339>.
49 Frenkel, Sheera Claire with Ilana Diamond and JPost staff, “Sudanese allowed to stay - for now,” Jerusalem Post, 8 July 2007, accessed 29 July 2007 <http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?cid=1183459221786&pagename=JPost%2FJPArticle%2FShowFull>.
Another Sudanese refugee comments, “‘It is not like they will put me in jail if I go back to Egypt or Sudan, they will kill me,’ said Aida, 28, a Sudanese Christian who slipped into Israel nearly two years ago with her husband and young child.” See Lefkovits, Etgar, “Sudanese refugees fear deportation,” Jerusalem Post, 20 Aug. 2007, accessed 27 Aug. 2007 <http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?cid=1187502427038&pagename=JPost%2FJPArticle%2FPrinter>.
50 See Jewish Telegraphic Agency, “Sudanese Refugee Killed,” 22 July 2007, accessed 23 Sept. 2007 <http://www.jta.org/cgi-bin/iowa/breaking/103176.html>. Also, Associated Press, “4 Sudanese refugees killed at Israeli border by Egyptian troops,” 2 Aug. 2007, accessed 23 Sept. 2007 <http://www.sudantribune.com/spip.php?article23110>.
51 Ha’aretz, “Asylum for genocide refugees,” accessed 27 July 2006 <http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/pages/ShArt.jhtml?itemNo=722009&contrassID=2&subContrassID=4&sbSubContrassID=0&listSrc=Y>.
52 Hirschberg, Peter, “Holocaust Memories Hover Over Sudanese Refugees,” Inter Press Service News Agency, 15 June 2006, accessed 26 July 2006 <http://www.ipsnews.net/news.asp?idnews=33628>. Needless to say, no similar concerns were expressed about Beirut’s ability to absorb the significant portion of the Lebanese population that was driven out of the country’s southern region in 2006 by Israel, as the US and Britain stalled any international diplomatic moves to halt the wanton Israeli bombardment.
In other instances, Israel was more willing to accept newcomers. One may recall Operation Moses from 1984-5, when some 8,000 Ethiopian Jews were airlifted in a US-Israeli operation to Israel from Sudan, then suffering the effects of a severe famine, though one the US long denied. As the journalist Deborah Scroggins cites (p. 66):
[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, 8 July 2007, accessed 29 July 2007 <http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?cid=1183459221786&pagename=JPost%2FJPArticle%2FShowFull>. For more background on Israeli treatment of Darfurian refugees, see Ravid, Barak and Mijal Grinberg, “Foreign Ministry working on plan for more humanitarian aid to Darfur,” Ha’aretz, 25 Apr. 2007, accessed 22 Oct. 2007 <http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/852309.html>.
54 Barkat, Amiram, “Yad Vashem visit reminds Darfur refugees of own genocide,” Ha’aretz, 18 Mar. 2007, accessed 29 July 2007 <http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/837182.html>. Also, Patience, Martin, “Darfur Refugees seek Israeli home,” BBC, 14 Mar. 2007, accessed 22 Oct. 2007 <http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/5155370.stm>.
For an update on Israeli policy, see IRIN, “ISRAEL-SUDAN: Government reverts to detention policy for Sudanese refugees,” 27 June 2007, accessed 26 Nov. 2007 <http://www.irinnews.org/Report.aspx?ReportId=72957>.
55 Uchitelle-Pierce, Ben, “Darfur refugees establish bond of suffering
in Yad Vashem visit,” Jerusalem Post,
12 Mar. 2007, accessed 11 July 2007
56 Wheeler, Carolynne, “Israel detains Darfur refugees in desert ‘prison’,” Telegraph, 15 July 2007, accessed 20 July 2007 <http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2007/07/15/wcamp115.xml>.
57 Ben-David, Calev, “Analyze this: The African exodus is more than a borderline problem,” Jerusalem Post, 23 Mar. 2008, accessed 1 Apr. 2008 <http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?cid=1205420760133&pagename=JPost%2FJPArticle%2FShowFull>. Also, Bekker, Vita, “Israel gets tough on Sudanese refugees,” Los Angeles Times, 12 July 2007, accessed 29 July 2007 <http://www.latimes.com/news/printedition/asection/la-fg-refugees12jul12,1,4101538.story?coll=la-news-a_section>. Finally, Nasr, Joseph, “Israel orders crackdown on African migrants,” Reuters, 29 Feb. 2008, accessed 1 Apr. 2008 <http://africa.reuters.com/wire/news/usnL28835902.html>.
58 Macintyre, Donald, “Plight of the refugees locked out of the ‘promised land’,” Independent, 22 Aug. 2007, accessed 27 Aug. 2007 <http://news.independent.co.uk/world/middle_east/article2883860.ece>. Also, Knickmeyer, Ellen, “A Crisis of Conscience Over Refugees in Israel,” Washington Post, 25 Aug. 2007, accessed 23 Sept. 2007 <http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/08/24/AR2007082402163.html>.
59 Human Rights Watch, “Egypt: Do Not Return Detained Sudanese,” 3 Nov. 2007, accessed 1 Apr. 2008 <http://hrw.org/english/docs/2007/11/03/egypt17233.htm>.
60 Ha’aretz (editorial), “Darfur is our problem, too,” 1 July 2008, accessed 1 July 2008 <http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/997299.html>.
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, “Israel imprisons Darfur refugees - Jewish state hit for not helping genocide survivors,” New York Times, 9 June 2006, accessed 26 July 2006 <http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2006/06/09/MNGFHJBB491.DTL&hw=darfur&sn=003&sc=480>. For a similar statement, expressing that Israel should free the refugees – Sudanese, not Palestinian – already in the country’s jails, but only as a “symbolic gesture,” see Jerusalem Post, “Refuge from Darfur,” 28 June 2006, accessed 26 July 2006 <http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?cid=1150885874606&pagename=JPost%2FJPArticle%2FShowFull>. Of course, there are countries better able absorb refugees en masse – for instance, the United States – yet this in no way lessens the utter moral depravity of Israel’s stance.
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 Darfur,” 24 Apr. 2007, accessed 29 July
<http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/851081.html>. And Lefkovits, Etgar,
“Sudanese refugees fear deportation,” Jerusalem
Post, 20 Aug. 2007, accessed
27 Aug. 2007 http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?cid=1187502427038&pagename=JPost%2FJPArticle%2FPrinter:
An Israeli supporter of the Darfur refugees in Israel said Monday that a ban on the refugees would be “a PR catastrophe” for the state of Israel.
“All the refugees who are returned to Sudan - whether to Darfur or to South Sudan - will be executed on arrival,” said Eytan Schwartz, spokesperson for The Committee for Advancement of Refugees from Darfur.
But, the Israel director of the Los Angeles-based SimonWiesenthalCenter said Monday he supported the government’s decision to stop the entry of refugees into Israel. “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...
65 Derfner, Larry, “Rattling the Cage: An improper Zionist response,” Jerusalem Post, 4 July 2007, accessed 29 July 2007 <http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?cid=1183459197497&pagename=JPost%2FJPArticle%2FShowFull>.
66 Ha’aretz, “Darfur is our problem.”
67 Burston, Bradley, “Israel’s own version of Holocaust denial,” Ha’aretz, 15 June 2008, accessed 15 June 2008 <http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/992389.html>.
68 Ha’aretz, “Israel offers to pay African states to take in Sudan refugees,” 12 June 2008, accessed 15 June 2008 < http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/992254.html>.
69 UPI, “Britain expelling Darfur refugees,” 3 Dec. 2006, accessed 3 Dec. 2006 <http://www.upi.com/NewsTrack/view.php?StoryID=20061203-114005-7652r>. Amongst the deported is:
… 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, London’s Sunday Telegraph said.
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 Darfur refugee,” Independent, 18 May 2007, accessed 29 July 2007 <http://news.independent.co.uk/world/africa/article2556474.ece>.
71 Ahmed, Samira, “Forced to return to Sudan?,” Channel 4 News [Britain], 20 Jan 2007, accessed 1 Feb. 2007 (as of this date, the video is viewable from the page linked to here) <http://www.channel4.com/news/special-reports/special-reports-storypage.jsp?id=4419>.
72 Russell, Ben, “Home Office ‘collaborating with Sudan over refugees’,” Independent, 13 Apr. 2007, accessed 17 July 2007 <http://news.independent.co.uk/uk/politics/article2444456.ece>. See also BBC, “’Torture Awaits’ Darfur Deportees,” 4 Oct. 2007, accessed 22 Oct. 2007 <http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/7027622.stm>.
73 For this and other similarly harrowing stories, see Russell, Ben, “Immigrants ‘tortured’ after return to Sudan,” Independent, 4 Oct. 2007, accessed 10 Oct. 2007 <http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/immigrants-tortured-after-return-to-sudan-395911.html>.
74 Democracy Now, “Displaced, Imprisoned Darfurian Refugee Daoud Ibarahaem Hari On His Return to Darfur to Help Expose the World’s Worst Humanitarian Crisis,” 15 May 2007, accessed 15 May 2007 <http://www.democracynow.org/article.pl?sid=07/05/15/1515223>. The “high-level intervention” phrase is Amy Goodman’s.
75 UN News, “Ending visit to Sudan, UN Security Council mission heads to Chad,” 9 June 2006, accessed 22 Oct. 2007 <http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=18813&Cr=sudan&Cr1>.
76 New York Times, “Editorial: Iraq’s Refugees,” 31 Jan. 2007, accessed 31 Jan. 2007 <http://www.nytimes.com/2007/01/31/opinion/31wed2.html?th&emc=th>.
77 Putz, Ulrike, “An Emerging Iraqi Refugee Crisis,” Spiegel, 15 Mar. 2007, accessed 22 Oct. 2007 <http://www.spiegel.de/international/world/0,1518,471728,00.html>. One Swedish town in 2006 received “twice as many Iraqi refugees as the entire United States.” Ekman, Ivar, “Sodertalje Journal; Far From War, a Town With a Well-Used Welcome Mat,” New York Times, 13 June 2007, accessed 13 June 2007 <http://www.nytimes.com/2007/06/13/world/europe/13sweden.html?_r=1&ref=world&oref=slogin>.
Syria has recently taken moves to tighten its border, a fact which reflects worse on the refusal of donor nations (and especially the United States) to help Syria than it does on the Syrian government itself.
BBC, “Syria visas ‘halt fleeing Iraqis’,” 11 Sept. 2007, accessed 23 Sept. 2007 <http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/6989789.stm>.
Also, North, Andrew, “Syria struggles with Iraqi influx,” BBC, 11 Sept. 2007, accessed 23 Sept. 2007 <http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/6989795.stm>.
78 See Tirman, John (director of the Program on Global Security & Cooperation at the Social Science Research Council in Washington, D.C.), “The New Humanitarianism: How Military Intervention Became the Norm,” Boston Review, Dec. 2003/Jan. 2004, accessed 15 Jan. 2007 http://www.globalpolicy.org/empire/humanint/2004/01newhumanitarianism.htm:
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, “Darfur peace mission stumbles, envoys criticized,” Reuters, 7 July 2007, accessed 22 Oct. 2007 <http://africa.reuters.com/wire/news/usnB383497.html>.
80 Flint, Julie, “Good, and unworkable, ideas
in Darfur,” Daily Star [Lebanon],
11 June 2007, accessed 22 Oct. 2007 http://www.dailystar.com.lb/article.asp?edition_id=10&categ_id=5&article_id=82881.
The International Crisis Group has put together a sensible proposal for how the international community can further negotiations. See International Crisis Group, “Darfur: Revitalising the Peace Process,” 30 Apr. 2007, accessed 5 July 2007 <http://www.crisisgroup.org/home/index.cfm?id=4769&l=1>.
Omer Ismail of the CarrCenter for Human Rights at HarvardUniversity, and Colin Thomas-Jensen of the International Crisis Group, summarize the state of international efforts at fostering rebel unity thus:
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.
See Ismail, Omer and Colin Thomas-Jensen, “Nations must enforce Darfur peace agreements,” Boston Globe, 10 Feb. 2007, accessed 12 Feb. 2007
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 Darfur,” Africa Briefing N°43, 12 Oct. 2006, accessed 6 Dec. 2006 <http://www.crisisgroup.org/library/documents/africa/horn_of_africa/b043_getting_the_un_into_darfur.pdf>.
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.” Flint, Julie, “In Sudan, Help Comes From Above,” New York Times,7 July 2007, accessed 7 July 2007 <http://www.zmag.org/content/showarticle.cfm?SectionID=2&ItemID=13239>.
84 UN News, “Third of Global Food Aid ‘Wasted’ Due to Donor Countries’ Requirements—UN Report,” 24 Jan. 2007, accessed 25 Jan. 2007 <http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=21318&Cr=food&Cr1=>. The UN reports:
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 US 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.
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 US president Ronald Reagan. He declared Chad 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.
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 US 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.
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 US 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 Darfur and Chad was reduced to simplistic liberal pseudo-solutions or jaded radical dogma that merely sees Darfur as an issue of US imperialism.
Bauer, Shane, “Intervention and the Politics of Solidarity in Darfur,” Left Turn, Jan./Feb. 2007, no. 23, p. 12.
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>.
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Darfur book launches in the United States
Please direct invitations for speaking engagements, store appearances, and book signings, to thescrambleforafrica (at) gmail.com
|Oct. 25, 2008
|Peace Action Maine/The Meg Perry Center
644 Congress Street
Portland, ME 04101
|Oct. 26, 2008
|Lucy Parsons Center
549 Columbus Ave.
Boston, MA 02118
|Oct. 27, 2008
|Boston Public Library
Central Library - Copley Square
700 Boylston Street
Boston, MA 02116
|Oct. 28, 2008
|The Harvard Coop Bookstore
1400 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02238
|Oct. 29, 2008
25 Elliot Street
Brattleboro, VT 05301
|Oct. 31, 2008
172 Allen Street
(Lower East Side of Manhattan)
New York, NY 10002
|Nov. 1, 2008
108 South 13th Street
Philadelphia, PA 19107
Showing of “All About Darfur”
|Nov. 2, 2008
|Wooden Shoe Books
508 South 5th Street
Philadelphia, PA 19147
with author John Ghazvinian
|Nov. 3, 2008
|York College of Pennsylvania
441 Country Club Road
York, PA 17403
|Nov. 4, 2008
|Barnes & Noble - Power Plant
601 E. Pratt Street
Baltimore, MD 21202
|Nov. 5, 2008
|Nov. 5, 2008
|Busboys and Poets
1025 5th Street NW
Washington, DC 20001
(202) 789-BBAP (2227)
Sponsored by IPS
|Nov. 6, 2008
|Borders - EastSide Pittsburgh
5986 Penn Circle South
Pittsburgh, PA 15206
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Nepalese police officers boost UN mission’s presence across Darf
20 October 2008 – Over 100 Nepalese police officers have arrived to serve with the United Nations-African Union peacekeeping mission in Darfur (UNAMID), the operation has announced, as it continues to deploy uniformed personnel across the war-wracked Sudanese region.
The officers arrived yesterday to start a year-long tour of duty, UNAMID reported from Nyala, the capital of South Darfur state. Nearly 40 more officers will also join UNAMID tomorrow to form a 147-stong Nepalese formed police unit (FPU).
FPUs are specialized, self-sufficient and fully mobile rapid reaction police units that are entirely composed of police officers from a single contingent, with expertise in crowd management and other police tactical operations.
The Nepalese officers may be required to engage in high-risk assignments and the protection of people in imminent danger, preventing attacks and curbing threats against civilians.
Some 300,000 people are estimated to have been killed across the impoverished, arid region in Darfur since fighting erupted between rebels, Government forces and allied militiamen in 2003. Another 2.7 million people have been displaced from their homes.
The FPUs will monitor and provide security and protection to Darfur internally displaced person (IDP) camps, threatened villages, and migration routes.
Besides providing security, the FPUs will also assist national authorities and UN agencies in delivering humanitarian assistance in times of need and conducting escort duties in order to build the confidence of the local population in the rule of law.
Members of the FPU will work with a team of police advisers to carry out the patrols in line with the mandate of UNAMID, which is trying to quell violence and humanitarian suffering across the conflict torn region.
The Nepalese FPU is the third country-based unit to be deployed – following in the footsteps of Bangladesh and Indonesia – out of 19 such units mandated by the Security Council resolution creating UNAMID.
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"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
Thanks for the excellent comment Norm. And for the superb article, probably the best thing that has been written on this issue anywhere on the left.