“Never Again”? OR, “Only Occasionally”?

Posted November 18, 2006 on 6:56 pm | In the category Africa, China, DARFUR, Genocide | by Jeff

The linked story from the BBC updates the naïve reports in major Western media to the effect that Sudan had agreed to a joint United Nations/African Union peacekeeping force. The stories that appeared in major U.S. papers including the NY Times and Boston Globe (see earlier post on this blog) reported Kofi Annan’s comments to the effect that an agreement had been reached. Alas, some deals are not real, after all. According to the BBC report, immediately after Annan’s comments, Sudanese Foreign Minister Lam Akol said that “there should be no talk about a mixed force” and that there would be no UN troops in Darfur. Mr. Akol said that the UN would simply provide technical support.”
There are reports today that Sudanese forces are once again on the attack, working with Arab Janjaweed militia in destroying villages. UN humanitarian chief Jan Egeland has been forced to leave Darfur by veiled threats from the Sudanese government and is publicly wondering why the world is watching while Darfur burns.

The last fifteen years have seen two major genocides preceding the one in Darfur. The Rwanda genocide was more efficient: 800,000 to 1,071,000 ethnic Tutsis and moderate Hutus killed in 100 days. Individual nations, including the Western powers did not find it in their interest to intervene and the UN maintained that it had to follow its rigid rules of engagement, which were in reality rules of nonengagment. The leader of the U.N. mission, Canadian General Romeo Dallaire suffered major depression and was hospitalized over the failure to act and wrote movingly of the Rwanda genocide in his book, Shake Hands With the Devil (read an excellent interview with Dalliere here).

The Bosnia Genocide was less efficient but equally ghastly – it took from 1992-95 for the Serbs to kill over 200,000 Bosnian Muslims. A watershed of sorts – perhaps “bloodshed” should be the term – occurred at Srebrenica when the UN’s 400 Dutch peacekeepers watched as over 8000 Bosnian males were systematically murdered over a period of ten days in July 1995. Once again, the UN forces asked for permission from UN headquarters to use force to resist the genocide and permission was denied.

These examples seem likely to predict the future for Darfur – and the lessons from them do not lead to optimism. Based on recent history and the quality of current leadership, the major powers are unlikely to intervene until it is far too late for effective action (what is too late? 200,000 lives? 500,000?, one million?); some countries (esp. China) will assist Sudan in resisting UN force implementation; and if and when UN forces are there they are likely to be ineffective. Hope I am wrong.

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Baffled by Silence

Posted November 17, 2006 on 6:56 pm | In the category China, DARFUR | by Kiwi

Where is the outrage?

Why doesn’t Darfur bring activists to the streets? Why doesn’t China enabling oppression inspire a popular reaction? Why is the UN’s impotence ignored?

In Myanmar, according to the NY Times, there is yet another immediate case of China’s support of cruelty and corruption :

“…attempts at outside pressure to prod the government to address its people’s needs and curb abuses have faltered, in large part because China’s thirst for resources has undermined nearly a decade of American economic sanctions.”
The Chinese are happy to supply the arms Myanmar needs to oppress its people in return for access to Myanmar’s natural gas.

“What can we do about it?” said a well educated man here, when asked about the plans to sell the gas abroad in the face of the deprivation at home. “What good would it do to protest, what would we get?” People were too afraid of the 400,000-member strong army supplied by China, Russia and Ukraine to complain, he said.

Perhaps these people could take hope from the UN. Unfortunately the Times story isn’t encouraging on that :

“The United Nations under secretary general, Ibrahim Gambari, met with the junta leader, Gen. Than Shwe, on Nov. 11 in Myanmar and urged the government to mend its ways on forced labor and political prisoners. The meeting ended inconclusively, United Nations officials said.”

The US intends to push for further sanctions in next week’s Security Council meeting. The US is trying to gather support for sanctions at this weekend’s meeting in Viet Nam.

Let’s do the obligatory : it is Bush’s fault. Yes, Bush is inept in Viet Nam. He is off message. Instead of drawing attention to the Myanmar peoples’ plight he draws attention to his stupidity by making an inane comment comparing the Viet Nam and Iraq wars.

So next week the Security Council will talk about a US resolution to increase pressure on the Myanmar regime and China will assure that nothing real happens.

OK. Such are the ways of the world. But where are the activists? Where is the outrage? The activist community in the past has supported efforts to force Myanmar’s release of dissident San Suu Kyi so maybe there’s hope? Will we see some pickets at the Chinese Embassy on Connecticut Ave? Probably not.

Bush has used up our outrage. It is in deed Bush’s fault. So in 2 years it will all change for the better. When Bush is gone Darfur and Myanmar will be safe from the Chinese energy-for-opression foreign policy. Thank Dog for that.

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Sudan To Choose Who “Intervenes” in Their Crimes?

Posted November 17, 2006 on 3:24 pm | In the category Africa, China, DARFUR, Genocide, Uncategorized | by Kiwi

Roll over George Orwell, newspeak has reached a new high.

Earlier today the Chinese government said that it was up to the Sudanese if the UN would be permitted to prevent the Sudanese government from prosecuting its genocide in Darfur. If that weren’t sufficiently perverse, the Chinese added that Beijing promised to use its seat on the UN security council to “continuously play a constructive roll” in Darfur.

Now the Sudanese are so confident of their oil-for-genocide pact with the Chinese that they have just suggested negotiations begin for “…all financial, material, logistic or technical assistance from the UN in order to strengthen the AU mission in Darfur.”

Confused? Well, don’t be. The Organization of African Unity mission is unlikely to do anything to interdict the Sudanese government so why not make them comfortable? The Sudanese Foreign Minister has made it clear that “there should be no talk about a mixed [UN/AU] force”.

He also wants to discuss the AU missions size and composition. There is no agreement on anything until he’s satisfied. He told the BBC there would be no UN troops.

To drive home the point the Sudanese Defense Minister, Abdel Rahim Mohamed Hussein, said Darfur would become an “invaders’ graveyard” if a UN peacekeeping force was sent there.

Well, surely the UN won’t tolerate being instructed by the very government it seeks to constrain? Yeah, right. It is a good bet that the UN will do the rolling over in this situation. They will try to put a good PR face on this and kick the can a further few months down the road.

Think not? Well, the UN’s head-dude-on-the-scene is no longer on the scene : “UN humanitarian chief Jan Egeland has cut short his trip to Darfur after Sudan’s government told him it would be too dangerous for him to travel outside the region’s major towns.” according to the BBC.

And in a few months the death toll will be up from the current 200,000-plus and the refugee count will be more than the present 3,000,000-plus.

And the new UN Secretary General will announce that he is getting up to speed on what’s happening in Darfur.

Orwellian or what?

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UN : No Stronger than its Weakest Link

Posted November 17, 2006 on 1:10 am | In the category Africa, China, DARFUR, Genocide | by Kiwi

For the last 36 hours the UN Secretary General has been urging a “hybrid force” of African Unity and Blue Helmut troops be cautiously deployed in Darfur. This measured 3-step intervention was designed to end the Sudan government’s use of Islamist Arab janjaweed murderers as it slaughters the black muslims in Darfur and– more recently—in Chad.

This blog has taken an interest in the conflict and was hoping to applaud the Security Council’s endorsement of this too-modest but long sought relief from Darfur’s suffering. There are many who have been skeptical of China’s role in the Sudan and indeed in the entire African continent. Worry has been expressed that China would continue its refusal to permit any interference with the Sudanese –who supply China with oil.

A few hours ago the Chinese confirmed that once again it would frustrate the UN with impunity. The story is here. Read it and weep for the hapless peoples of Africa. In the words of the Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson :

“The deployment of UN peacekeepers in Darfur should first have the consent of the Sudanese government.”

Of course the Sudanese government had already said that it would permit no such deployment. The Chinese are protecting their oil contracts and reminding the world that:

“As a permanent member of the UN Security Council, China will continuously play a constructive role in solving the Darfur issue. ”

The world is at risk when the UN pretends to play a protectorate role but is neutered by its self-dealing impudence. The wrath of citizen activists– so recently unleashed on other member states who frustrate the UN’s peaceful intentions– should once again be inflamed and then directed at the Chinese who are behind the second African genocide in a dozen years.

That isn’t any more likely than that the UN–in its current form– will be a meaningful force for world security. Good luck Darfur. Good luck to us all.

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Genocide and the Myth of ‘Never Again’

Posted November 4, 2006 on 12:06 pm | In the category DARFUR, Genocide | by Jeff

The Atlantic Monthly online edition has a short piece that accurately and depressingly describes the world’s response to genocides since the Holocaust and the development of the “never again” hypocrisy. It provides some possible insight into the lack of effective response to the Darfur genocide while increasing our discomfort with the world’s inaction.

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China’s “Public Diplomacy” in China

Posted November 3, 2006 on 6:53 pm | In the category DARFUR, Genocide, Public Diplomacy | by Kiwi

Chinese – Sudanese oil, arms, and political protection deals are sustaining the 2nd African genocide of our generation. But that is just the starting point. China has been using the Sudan as a test bed, proving and improving the beta version of mass market neo-colonialism.

It is a terrific success. No real detractors. The UN rolled over and played as dead as a Darfur baby trampled under janjaweed hooves. Oh, the US muttered a bit but then decided best not to piss off their Chinese bankers. All is going as the Chinese had hoped and now its time to go into production with a continent-wide roll out. If you liked Darfur get ready Angola. Heads up DR Congo. The good times they are just startin’ ta roll.

Click here for the story as reported in today’s NY TIMES:

More than 80% of African heads of state are lining up in Beijing to cut their own deals on the Sudanese pattern. They will get the small arms they need to oppress their domestic populations and they’ll get the buy off cash to pass around amongst themselves and argue over in civil gang fights. China will get the oil iron and cotton it needs and— as a bonus– a market for the cheaper trinkets of Chinese low paid labour. But wait, there’s more. If the Africans sign up now there is a premium to be had in the UN market place. It is a fantastic market–the UN. A place where- to quote Catch 22’s Milo Minderbinder,–everybody has a share. Well, every government has a share. Well a vote, then. What those governments do to their populations is up to them. China will see to that.

Mutual UN backscratching under the ultimate protection of China’s Security Counsel seat/veto. What a deal. Easy money for corrupt governments in exchange for rights to rape environments and plunder raw materials. It is a sweet one.

Nobody gonna mess with this.

Hey,where the fuck’s Bob Geldolf?

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The British Press, Darfur and the Bush Prism

Posted October 24, 2006 on 11:38 am | In the category DARFUR, Genocide, Press, U.S. Foreign Policy | by Jeff

Much of the British press gave up on the United States when the Bush administration invaded Iraq, with Tony Blair’s support and blessing. Given the deception used to justify the invasion and the incomprehensible incompetence of the Iraq adventure this made some certain sense. The problem for journalism is that when reporters see everything through the prism of Bush’s obvious inadequacies, they can become blinded to other realities.

A case in point is Peter Beaumont, Foreign Affairs Editor of the Guardian who actually wrote in the fall of 2004 a piece claiming that problems in Darfur were being hyped by the Bush administration and that there was no real evidence of a coming genocide.

Beaumont used the classic journalistic ploy of assigning what was surely his own opinion to unnamed “international aid workers”. Bush, USAID head Andrew Natsios, and Secretary of State Powell were all blamed in Beaumont’s article for exaggerating the seriousness of the situation to suit their political agenda for Sudan.

Journalists make mistakes and of course it is not possible to always see into the future – but in the fall of 2004 there was ample evidence of the coming catastrophe and Beaumont was guilty of ignoring those realities and hyping his own theory that Darfur was a product of George Bush’s imagination.

Last month, the Guardian reported the estimated death toll in Darfur – some two years later – to be between 200 and 300 thousand. When does a “hype” become genocide?

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Genocide for Oil

Posted October 23, 2006 on 10:01 pm | In the category DARFUR, Genocide, U.S. Foreign Policy, Uncategorized | by Kiwi

A serious diplomat, Jan Pronk, seeing the genocide around him— and knowing history will rightly convict him of facilitating genocide—has done the minimum and spoken out about the Sudanese government’s disintegration, and the desperation that will lead to a renewed wave of janjaweed “cleansing attacks” on the minority populace.

The UN, and most particularly Kofi Annan knows this is genocide because we have experienced an earlier one nearby.

But the UN cannot even give the pogrom its proper name–genocide–because of Chinese support for their Sudanese oil suppliers. The Sudanese are now trying to distract the world community with assertions that the UN is being misled by a Jewish conspiracy.

Claims against Jews and their “American toadies” are now the cover for this new genocide. (See this Sudan Tribune piece)

The UN is failing to stop the second African genocide in a generation and now the perpetrators and their enablers are blaming those who would stop them as puppets of a Zionist plot. Americans might dismiss such an outrageous claim, but it is one that is allowed to take root in much of the rest of the world.

We can lament that American credibility is so diminished and its moral authority so wasted that this is allowed to happen. But that does not exempt Americans from doing at least as much as Jan Pronk has done to bring pressure on the world to intervene. This is an issue on which President Bush has spoken forthrightly. See his statement on the White House website.

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The Press and Darfur

Posted October 23, 2006 on 9:51 pm | In the category DARFUR, Genocide, Press | by Jeff

The west is very slowly gaining awareness of what can certainly be characterized as genocide in the Darfur region of Sudan. It will be another terrible reminder of the ability of the international community to watch while hundreds of thousands – even millions – are butchered as innocent victims of fights for political power. There is enough blame to go around on this one –many, if not most, of the member states of the UN – and therefore the UN itself – can share in it, as they did in Rwanda.

Warnings of what was to come in Rwanda began to surface in 1993 and included requests for assistance and permission to take preventive action from Major General Roméo Dallaire, U.N. force commander in Rwanda. Kofi Annan, then head of UN Peacekeeping Forces, refused those requests. Six months later 800,000 Rwandans were dead. But the list of responsible leaders is long enough to include virtually every Western leader, including President Clinton and Secretary of State Albright. The western response to the genocide in Bosnia was similarly late – although it eventually arrived, at least partly because it was occurring in Europe and easier to place in terms of the national interest of the Atlantic alliance.

The genocide in Darfur is approaching the dimension and dementia of Rwanda and we will in a few years be wringing our hands again and saying “never again” — again. But the warnings are there now and the opportunities to do something are there now and China’s oil is there now and the U.S. ability to act is hobbled now and as you read this people in Darfur are being slaughtered now.

Genocide in Darfur is also a reminder of how difficult it has become for mainstream Western press to pay substantial, ongoing attention to crimes of this dimension when they occur in remote countries with non-Western populations. A quick search of keywords and titles in LexisNexis for “Darfur” AND “genocide” for the past month gives 52 hits – 20 of them from non-U.S. sources. A similar search for “Foley” and “page” gives 568 hits. Recognizing this is a soft statistic, a disgraced Congressman’s dirty emails got roughly ten times the media attention received by a genocide responsible for hundreds of thousands of dead Sudanese – with more on the way. The press could do more if they chose to put resources into the story but when Congressman Foley is playing with pages, well…

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Darfur campaign cuts Sudan money

Posted October 9, 2006 on 8:29 pm | In the category DARFUR, Economy, Genocide | by Jeff

There is an active effort to put pressure on Sudan over its policies in Darfur which is exemplified by California’s passing laws limiting investment with Sudan’s government.

I have always been concerned that sanctions end up punishing the people who most need help but this effort to reduce investment in Sudan – investment that never finds its way to the people – is worthwhile.
Governor Schwarzenegger of California signed the Darfur Peace and Accountability Act last week; the bill requires the state’s pension funds to sell their investments in companies trading with Sudan. The Governor urged President Bush to follow the same path.

“With a stroke of your pen, you can do far more than any one state to ease the suffering of millions in this war-torn region,” he wrote.

To learn more about how you might influence investment go to this link.

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