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Can Drag Queens and Hired Guns Save Darfur?

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Posted on Jun 28, 2007
AU soldier
AP Photo/Abde Raouf

African Union peacekeepers stand guard in Darfur.

By Sarah Stillman

(Page 2)

Of Drag Queens and Citizen Movements

Alongside celebrities, the second faction of the 21st century peacekeeping trio is grass-roots activists.  From Omaha to Hartford, “everyday” people are the ones who’ve thrust Darfur onto the world stage, forming one of the most extensive social movements since the anti-apartheid struggles of the 1980s and early 1990s.  This month alone, the Save Darfur Coalition offers opportunities to Bake for Darfur; Dance for Darfur; Dunk for Darfur; and Buy Adorable Purple Panties for Darfur.  Previously, you could Stroll for Sudan in Beloit, Wis., or attend a Peace Jam in Fulton, Mo.  In fact, one might easily wonder whether Americans are having a bit too much fun with a distant genocide—who knew you could earn Instant Karma by buying a “Save Darfur” musical compilation from Amazon.com?  But the outcomes of all this labor speak for themselves: student and community groups now contribute more to the African Union Mission in Sudan—financially and politically—than most world superpowers.

Recall the teenage cross-dressers in Minneapolis.  They’re just one spoke in the massive hub of the Genocide Intervention Network, a nonprofit started by fresh-faced Swarthmore grads in October 2004.  The group has raised more than $350,000 to support AMIS civilian protection initiatives—with donors ranging from a Salt Lake City piano teacher (who donated two weeks’ earnings) to an eager philanthropist (who dashed off a check for $25,000).  This spring, the group’s representatives traveled to Darfur to learn more about civilians’ needs firsthand; in one displacement camp, a local woman explained: “The AU is only for observation.  They will watch us like cinema if we are attacked.  They just write reports.”  In response, GI-Net has begun working with community leaders, regional experts and women in the camps to enhance AMIS firewood patrols and other civilian security measures.  Along with these efforts abroad, the group runs a hodgepodge of domestic programs: divestment initiatives, educational campaign and creative lobbying schemes such as the Darfur Scorecard.

And then there’s the wider citizens’ movement, which extends from Mongolia to Rwanda.  It includes some 10,000 Sudanese aid workers, and also local Darfuri journalists like the remarkable 24-year-old Awatif Ahmed Isshag, known for her political newsletter that she posts on a tree outside her home in El Fasher (no, really).  Sudanese students have risked much to join the outcry; according to several Gambian AMIS soldiers, government police unleashed tear gas and bullets on young protesters at El Fasher University when they rallied in favor of U.N. intervention last year, seriously wounding two.  Activists throughout Sudan risk being blacklisted, arbitrarily arrested or even killed, and yet they continue to speak up.

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But let’s be blunt: the root failures of the international community are not solved by the burgeoning anti-genocide movement so much as laid bare.  Must AMIS really rely upon cross-dressing youth groups, piano teachers and endangered local journalists to support its civilian protection efforts?  Ultimately, the trendiness of the “Save Darfur” movement in the U.S. must be understood as a warning call about the collapse of global governance.  After all, celebrities and students aren’t the only ones who’ve stepped in to fill Washington’s moral vacuum on Darfur; the third member of America’s new “peacekeeping” gang is decidedly more ominous: private military contractors.

The Privatization Agenda: Hired Guns and Darfur

The U.S. under the Bush administration has served up more money for Darfur than any other country has to date.  But when President Bush announces that he’s giving an impressive $10 million a month to AMIS, as he did in one of his innumerable Darfur press releases last year, where do all those greenbacks actually go?  The answer may surprise readers who are unfamiliar with the modern cash cow of private security contracting.  Much of it is channeled to Pacific Architects and Engineers (PAE)—an L.A.-based subsidiary of Lockheed Martin, the world’s largest defense contractor.  Another significant portion goes to the L.A.-based DynCorp International, a name you may recognize from the child sex trafficking scandal in Bosnia, or the alleged beatings of journalists in Haiti, or the toxic crop-spraying in Colombia.  No individual DynCorp employee has been prosecuted in any of these cases.  To the contrary, DynCorp went on to win more lucrative contracts in Iraq and Afghanistan ... and, yes, Darfur.

Whereas the lack of accountability for hired guns in America’s current wars has proved to be one of the major stories of the past few years (think Blackwater in Fallujah, or Titan at Abu Ghraib), there’s been hardly a peep about U.S. defense contractors on the ground in Darfur.  When I asked a senior official from CARE—a major humanitarian group working throughout Sudan—about the phenomenon, she replied: “Our people are not aware of private contractors in Darfur.  Some in Khartoum, but not Darfur.”  This oversight is difficult to comprehend, given that the vast majority of AMIS projects in Darfur are managed by PAE and DynCorp employees, from the building of barracks to the provision of strategic transport.

It’s worth noting that the people who’ve been most vocal about private contractors hustling into Sudan are, well, enthusiastic private contractors.  A massive mercenary trade organization known as the International Peace Operations Association—an Orwellian name if there ever was one—launched a loud and public bidding war to get its foot in the door of peacekeeping operations throughout the Horn of Africa.  It has boasted of satellite-guided weapons, armored vehicles, helicopter gunships and more.  “In the time that it takes to put an internationally recognized body unit on the ground,” Blackwater Vice President Chris Taylor asserted on NPR, “I can be there in a third of that time and I will be 60 percent cheaper.”  The U.N. and NATO weren’t buying it.  But the U.S.—in a scaled-down version—was: more than $40 million worth of “indefinite delivery, indefinite quantity” contracts with PAE and DynCorp.  Although their employees in Darfur work primarily as construction supervisors, engineers, managers and military observers (rather than as armed fighters), numerous corporations are lobbying to extend involvement to more aggressive operations.

Analysts across the political spectrum warn against this approach.  Contractors lack public accountability.  They lack transparency.  They answer to no chain of command and sign no oath of office.  These structural flaws have worrisome implications for local civilians, but they’re also alarming for contracted employees themselves, who share few of the protections afforded to official participants in conflict zones.  When two PAE drivers were fatally shot in southern Darfur by rebel insurgents, their deaths were met with silence.  No front-page story; no government survivor benefits for the families left behind.  As one U.S. Army captain told me from Iraq, “Contracting is a common way to mask the scope and cost of foreign wars,” including body bags.

But there’s another angle to the problem.  Brian Steidel, a thoughtful ex-Marine who served in Darfur as a contracted military observer in 2004, doesn’t waste much time worrying about the morality of private defense contracting.  He notes that corporations like PAE were the only ones to provide essential services to AMIS, including human rights documentation, while the international community dallied (and he’s right).  Nor does he believe that shifting U.S. donations directly to the African Union would do much good, despite countless reports of the organization’s funding crisis;  “Everyone in AMIS could be eating off of gold plates, and the problem still wouldn’t be solved—that’s just not the root of it,” he says.  Steidel’s real concern is that no amount of military muscle, not even the world’s best army-for-hire, has the power to solve a complicated resource war with deep historical roots.  An end to the violence will materialize only when effective global pressure is leveraged against Khartoum, he insists.

Steidel speaks from experience.  He knows the urgency and complexity of the conflict because he traveled through the decimated villages of Labado and Um Ziefa.  He heard what he thought was the buzz of a high-voltage power line outside Alliet, only to discover as he walked closer that it was actually the sound of flies descending on a village of dead people and animals.  Soon thereafter, he decided to leave Darfur, convinced that he could be more effective not as a military observer but as a political witness—speaking publicly about the failures of international diplomacy to protect civilians from slow-motion atrocities.  His recent documentary, “The Devil Came on Horseback,” is a painful reminder that private contractors may be making millions off far-away conflicts, but they will never be able to stop the bloodshed.  That is the work of the negotiating table. 


Diplomacy Needs a Makeover

June 25th was supposed to be a hopeful day for Darfur.  Leaders from the U.S., China and France gathered in Paris for a two-day strategy session on the region, pledging to no longer pass the buck.  The Save Darfur Coalition hoped for a policy breakthrough, deeming the talks an “unprecedented opportunity” to push China into a diplomatic troika to pressure Khartoum.  But what resulted instead were more vague promises of “support” for peacekeeping efforts—and a few charming photo ops outside the twinkling Elysee Palace.  “I do not think that the international community has really lived up to its responsibilities [on Darfur],” noted U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.  “We really must redouble our efforts, and I think that that was the spirit of today’s conference.”  But what if “our efforts” amount to a string of empty speeches and flimsy sanctions?  In that case, the mere act of redoubling reminds me of the rug salesman in Morocco who once offered me a lovely summer carpet with—wink, wink—the reverse side for free.

To be fair, there is no quick fix for Darfur.  As academic Mahmood Mamdani notes, it’s a conflict that bears an eerie resemblance to the insurgency/counterinsurgency in Iraq: In both instances, the killers are mostly paramilitaries, closely linked to the official military; in both instances, the victims are primarily identified as members of groups, rather than targeted as individuals.  In this context, activists who marched in Washington chanting “Out of Iraq and Into Darfur” epitomized the progressive community’s unresolved tensions around the politics of humanitarian intervention.  But three simple points remain clear on Darfur.  Peace talks must be privileged over military muscle.  The perpetrators of war crimes must be held legally accountable.  And immediate efforts to protect civilians and aid workers—everything from firewood patrols to camp security—must receive the support they so desperately need.

In the interim, Americans should begin an honest public dialogue about our nation’s 21st century peacekeeping threesome: Hollywood stars with mega-watt visibility, citizen activists with chutzpah, and hired guns with profit motives.  For too long, this de facto model for conflict resolution has picked up the slack for global diplomats as they’ve extracted various goodies from Khartoum (oil for China, arms sales for Russia and “counter-terrorism” intelligence for Washington). This blueprint has also encouraged the pop culture construction of “trendy” and “untrendy” atrocities; if your nation’s conflict isn’t accessible to Oprah or lucrative for Dyncorp, God help you.  Consider the orphan cause of Congo.  As Darfur gets adopted as “the worst humanitarian crisis of the century,” three times as many people die daily in the conflict next door; the body count exceeds 4 million since 1998, and yet the silence deafens.

The diplomatic community needs an extreme makeover.  But in the meantime, Cpl. Buju Ceesay encourages the young people in the group in Minneapolis to keep jiggling their hips in red sequin gowns, and crosses his fingers that Angelina will sustain her mighty heart and mightier bank account.  “Someday,” he wants to tell the displaced families he served in Darfur, “we will do better.”


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By personal loans, April 24, 2012 at 3:34 am Link to this comment
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By Doug Brooks, July 18, 2007 at 12:29 am Link to this comment

In response to StaceyW,

Thanks for the comments.

For some reason my name gets changed from Brooks to Brown in the post – for the record, it is Brooks.  That is actually the very first time I have been confused with Gordon Brown, but I will add it to my resume under ‘highlights.’

In terms of accountability and transparency for private contractors – if the UN/US/AU/EU is writing the contract, the UN/US/AU/EU can writein whatever level of transparency and accountability is desired.  Companies that don’t like that won’t bid on this contract.  But there is no shortage of ethical and professional firms that are interested in doing humanitarian security that have no problem with effective transparency and accountability.  The Darfur situation is significantly easier and far less risky that most of the security work in Iraq, and there would be no problem finding experienced personnel interested in helping to end the human carnage in Darfur.

It has always seemed odd to me that few people have problems when for-profit private security is utilized to protect THINGS like mines, oil facilities, warehouses, UN offices and the such, but God help us if the same security is used to protect PEOPLE. 

Yes, IPOA is funded by member companies – see our web site for more information about this unique organization at http://www.IPOAonline.org.  The goal from the beginning has been to support international efforts in peace and stability operations with effective and ethical private sector services including logistics, demining, security, aviation, medical services, training and much more. 

Also, readers might want to check out our Journal of International Peace Operations at http://www.PeaceOps.com which carries articles related to the industry and to this topic in particular.

And IPOA has always had an open door policy with journalists.

Finally, regarding the comment, “the bloodshed in Darfur will only stop when the U.S., the Europeans, and the UN put the muscle behind the effort to negotiate a diplomatic solution there.”

- Greater Western support would be wonderful, and IPOA fully supports such efforts.  Don’t hold your breath though. 

Millions died in Eastern Congo (and continue to die) with no significant or sustained Western military effort to support that UN operation.  Finding the political will to deploy Western troops to conflicts that have little threat or impact on the West is increasingly difficult, no matter how dire the humanitarian cost.  Average UN deployment times to conflicts where the key issue is humanitarian rather than strategic are stretching out longer than a year, and the overwhelming bulk of the troops who do end up deploying come from the less developed countries of the world, lacking the equipment, training and support that Western militaries enjoy. 

In the mean time ethical private firms could be on the ground in Darfur doing humanitarian security in a matter of days. 

Your call.

-Doug Brooks

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By StaceyW, July 17, 2007 at 6:40 pm Link to this comment

I wonder if Doug Brooks, who apparently works for the trade association of military private contractors, actually read the article he is criticizing.
  The point Truthdig was making is that the U.S. government and others have shirked from meaningful actions to halt the Darfur genocide.  If the Bush Administration, Tony Blair-Gordon Brown, and others had truly engaged in an all-out effort there, thousands of lives could have been saved.
  Instead, Bush has sent in the hired guns…the same private contractors that are all over Iraq.  As Sarah Stillman points out, these contractors in the Darfur area aren’t really publicly accountable, lack transparency, and are there to make a profit.  Certainly there may be some good people on the ground and they may do some good work….BUT the point is that the U.S. and the Europeans need to do more about Darfur than just writea check.
  Does this Doug Brown really think that “Once folks like Ms. Stillman recognize that humanitarian security has value, we can stop slaughters like the one in the Darfur-Chad region.”  What Brownie seems to be saying here is that “humanitarian security” can only be provided by private, for-profit military contractors who presumably pay their dues to his trade association of mercenaries.
  No…the bloodshed in Darfur will only stop when the U.S., the Europeans, and the UN put the muscle behind the effort to negotiate a diplomatic solution there.

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By Chris Taylor, July 12, 2007 at 2:58 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Since I was quoted in Ms. Stillman’s article, I feel compelled to comment on some of what she wrote.  I am no longer with Blackwater and my comments are my own.

Over the course of recent history in the 20th and now 21st centuries the world has been confronted by atrocities that most do not imagine until they appear on the Internet or on the evening news. In fact, history shows that really, really, smart people, in really, really powerful positions consistently cannot wrap their minds around the fact that something really, really bad is about to happen.  This is one of the many takeaways from Samantha Power’s book, “A Problem From Hell; America in the Age of Genocide”.

Whether from a lack of moral courage, an ignorance for the importance of all human life, or simply because it’s not an election issue, leading governments in the world have egregiously negelected their inherent collective responsibility;  the “responsibility to protect”. 

Developed nations and international organizations have become so captivated by process that they sometimes forget they are supposed to be saving lives and assuaging human suffering.  There are enough white papers, enough checks written, and enough weak mandates;  what the defenseless people of the world need is action. Is it any wonder that the private sector has stepped up when nobody else will? Interestingly, the Genocide Intervention Network solicited proposals from PSCs for Darfur support.

My proposal was never about a stand-alone operation, rather, it was based on supporting the AU logistically, with training, and operationally to allow both the AU and humanitarian and other organizations to fully comply with their mandates and mission statements, but in a safe environment.  Brian Steidel’s comment about the root causes and how military muscle is not the sole solution are spot on, but stopping the violence is a necessary first step.

I applaud Don Cheadle, George Clooney, Angelina Jolie and others for using their celebrity to bring to the forefront these tragedies, but sadly, their efforts still have not triggered the international response necessary to change the momentum.

Ms. Stillman is correct when she says there must be a national debate about how to better perform in and positively influence 21st-century peace operations, but we will always be limited by capacity and bureaucracy and will necessarily have to look to the private sector for innovative solutions.

I am happy to discuss those solutions with her at her convenience.

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By Doug Brooks, July 12, 2007 at 12:34 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I’m rather appalled by the mindless attack on contractors in this story.  Leave aside the fact that Ms. Stillman made no attempt to contact us at IPOA before trashing our organization in this article. It is contractors that are holding together humanitarian peace operations from Haiti to Somalia - largely because the West has abandoned peace operations in places we don’t care about – we prefer to rely on militaries from the poorest countries in the world to do the international community’s heavy lifting.  Would Ms. Stillman advocate not supporting them at all?

Peace operations have been revolutionized because private firms are willing to step in to the vacuums left by Western moral cowardice.  Western nations are simply unwilling to risk their militaries no matter how high the human slaughter.  In Darfur, every African Union base is built, managed and supplied by contractors – there would be no peace operation without these robust private companies. 

Once folks like Ms. Stillman recognize that humanitarian security has value we can stop slaughters like the one in the Darfur-Chad region.  There are limits - even if we do finally provide private security to protect lives in the region – it will still take political efforts from governments, NGOs and international organizations to broker long term peace.

But to dismiss the most capable and willing people that do actually help end mass slaughter as Ms. Stillman does in this article is a technique some call ‘ruthless humanitarianism.’

Apologies for the soap box speech, but if we have a humanitarian bone in our bodies we really need to move beyond ideology and find practical solutions.

-doug brooks

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By denk, June 29, 2007 at 9:06 pm Link to this comment

sorry,
didnt mean to double post,
i thought the first time my post didnt go thru….

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By denk, June 29, 2007 at 8:58 pm Link to this comment

so uncle sham wants to set up a “no fly zone” in sudan, kinda like the one he imposed on iraq before the invasion—a private firing range for uncle sham and friends to do some firing practice??

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By denk, June 29, 2007 at 8:44 pm Link to this comment

i heard uncle sham wants to set up a “no fly zone” in sudan, kinda like the one he imposed on iraq before the invasion, a private firing range for sham and buddies to do some target practice..?

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By denk, June 29, 2007 at 8:09 pm Link to this comment

“Indeed, the Darfur crisis is following a pattern which is so well-worn now that it has almost become routine. Saturation reporting from a crisis region; emergency calls for help broadcast on the electronic media (such as the one recently on the BBC Radio 4 flagship ‘ Today’ programme); televised pictures of refugees; lurid stories of “mass rapes”, which are surely designed to titillate as much to provoke outrage; reproachful evocations of the Rwandan genocide; demands that something must be done (“How can we stand idly by?”, etc.); editorials in the Daily Telegraph calling for a return to the days of Rudyard Kipling’s benevolent imperialism[6] ; and, finally, the announcement that plans are indeed being drawn up for an intervention.”
...................
“Intervention will allow Western forces to control an oil rich region, and perhaps to expel the present holders of concessions. The fact that the biggest of these is China, and that America’s other foreign adventures also seem to have as their goal the control of energy supplies to that strategic rival, only adds further piquancy to what is, otherwise, an all too banal case of modern imperialistic meddling”

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By Spinoza, June 29, 2007 at 2:42 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Seems like more right wing crap in support of American Imperialism.

The problem in Darfur is Malthusian in nature. The desert is growing at kilometers per year and people have no food, agricultural land and water. What is needed is economic development. Sending UN troops is bullshit as it helps no one except the USA in its fight with China over resources If they were honest,they would help pay for the African Unions troops instead of insisting on UN troops. The request for UN troops is purely political in support of the USA and Israel.  Please note it is Israel and the USA and particularly Jewish groups that are supporting the outcry in the Sudan. The Sudan is considered an enemy of Israel.

What is needed is more aid and water and reforestation. This will cost less than the UN troops that the USA wants to put in.  China is quite clear that they are willing to give aid to the Sudan and solve the real problems. The liberals again are on the wrong side on political and economic issues.

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By Max Shields, June 29, 2007 at 12:24 pm Link to this comment

Joseph Conrad

I concur - per my post below. The simple question WHENEVER the buzz hits the MSM - WHY? WHY DARFUR? Why everytime, Palestine comes up, the likes of Dershowitz are so quick to say - pay no attention - look at the “genocide” in Darfur.

Your right though the issues in Darfur are complex and has nothing to do with genocide. This is about scarcity of sustenance. The “good guys” are every bit as guilty of atrocities as the “bad guys”. In other words, no good/bad guys.

But this issue hits upon the very core of how humanitarian interventionism has been the faux reason for much of the historical justifications for empires. In this case, it is not entirely clear what kind of mischief is going on with the CIA, but they know that this is NO genocide. That’s a meaningful legal word that’s getting tossed around by totally ignorant souls.

Last evening the whole crew of Dems on a PBS/Travis Smiley PBS forum were ready to “invade” Darfur to just DO SOMETHING to stop this faux Genocide. No one, not a one put their hands up and said - Why Darfur? What Genocide? The audience mostly African Americans have had the whole thing framed as White people don’t care about non-white Africans. The same people who applaud getting out of Iraq (a real genocide created and sustained by US military actions), give the same hoot and holler for creating “no fly zones” - an act of aggression, that would create the beginning of a new quagmire.

Read people, study, learn, use your brains, question. Stop buying the simple rhetoric. Ask why would THEY want us to intervene in Darfur when there are 10 times worse going on else where most of it US created?

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By Joseph Conrad, June 29, 2007 at 11:34 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

AMERICANS MUST KEEP THEIR EYES ON THE BALL! Darfur is NOT about genocide because the conflict is first and foremost like that of the Old West - settlers vs. cattlemen, only the settlers don’t have guns in Darfur.

The Bush Administration is so obvious in this instance of political deviousness. Keeping the phoney Genecide Issue alive in Darfur keeps peoples’ minds off of the US Evil of Iraq, the US-supported Evil in Chad& Nigeria & Ethiopia & Guinea Bissau & Angola & NIMIBIA & DR CONGO (4 Million deaths/yr. the last 2 years largely as a result of Bush Admin. funding of Uganda and Ruwanda started by Clinton).

Americans are such SUCKERS! The real issue facing the US as a Democracy is ‘Are we going to take care of our OWN NATION RIGHT NOW OR are we going to CHANNEL SURF while it goes down the twallet?’ Hmmm. let me think? Do I watch Paris Hilton or Bill Moyers on the US in Africa??

US citizens better wake up! China’s coming to Africa BIGTIME with a comprehensive, rational development and trade strategy. WHAT HAS THE US GOT GOING IN AFRICA? Let’s see… Almost 50 YEARS OF BACKING DICTATORS, KILLING ELECTED LEADERS SUCH AS PATRICE LUMUMBA, CREATING A SAD LITANY OF ‘FAILED STATES’ & LOOTING/PILLAGING THEIR REOUSRCES THRU SURROGATES.
The list of African Failures for the US is LONG & GETTING LONGER!

Nigeria has lots of Oil, RIGHT? Well since it was first discovered 50 YEARS AGO, the leaders we’ve backed have LOOTED OIL REVENUES & ‘FOREIGN AID’ TO THE TUNE OF $30 BIL.! Why did Administrations like Mr. Bush’s let that stuff occur? EXXONMOBIL, BP, SHELL, SUNOCO & UNOCAL gave HUGE campaign donations.
Mr. Bush doesn’t care about genocide in Darfur because he’s too busy funding outright in the Congo & total CHAOS in Nigeria’s Niger Delta! Hey, you gotta pick fights you can win, right? Hence Iraq…

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By Max Shields, June 29, 2007 at 7:18 am Link to this comment

It seems to me that Darfur has become a large media spin. So large, in fact, that facts allude us and the issue is to intervene or somehow stop the killing. While killing is always something that needs to be stopped, the world is filled with killing, starting with our very own in Iraq and Afganistan - mostly innocent civilians.

But if we want to really talk genocide how about the Congo where the number of mass killings are truly enormous and have been growing for some time. But nerry a peep. And then there’s Palestine. But the connection between Palestinian genocide seems to allude those who are so fervant about Darfur - where there is an acknowledged civil war. A war where there are no simple “good” VS “evil” and where the UN and the EU have concluded there is no genocide, as defined by international law, happening in Darfur. Yet, daily Darfur is refered to in the media as in a state of genocide. Hillary Clinton is ready to crate a no fly zone and forefully intervene. And where are the peace makers in response? Silence.

It’s fair to say intervention is needed, but that it should be through fully supporting the African Union, providing them with the essential resources coupled with continued political resolutions. This is clearly, for anyone who studies this problem, not Rwanda, nor Iraq, nor Palestine nor the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

So I ask: why has Darfur become the pivotal point on humanitarian intervention?

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By Scott, June 28, 2007 at 8:02 pm Link to this comment

Actually I think a boycott of the Olympics and China in general is the way to go. I hope pressure is brought to bear on athletes and countries to show some moral backbone and let China bask in the shadow of its own shame.

I don’t trust the soft approach, it smacks of the old mantra that maintains trading with nations like China will make their societies more democratic. As far as I’m concerned the opposite has been happening. Instead of our leaders influencing regimes like China’s, they’re coming away with a diminshed sense of the importance of human rights if not an appreciation for the benefits of being more authoritarian.

So much for China’s principle of non-interference in the internal affairs of others. I guess China must have learned something from our leaders after all.

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By Roy Eidelson, June 28, 2007 at 2:04 pm Link to this comment

Thank you for this very timely and informative analysis. In your category of “citizen activists” on Darfur, I’d like to alertreaders to the new “24 Hours for Darfur” grassroots video advocacy project (http://www.24hoursfordarfur.org) started by a group of students at Yale University. Their goal is to collect very brief (e.g., 30-second) clips via webcam or video camera that will be combined to create a full 24 hours of footage for presentation at the UN and elsewhere. The website also includes valuable background information and links about the conflict. I encourage everyone to take a look—and contribute a video!

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By Eliza, June 28, 2007 at 9:07 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Indeed, diplomacy is no longer the job of governments - it has been left in the hands of the individual.  But, in this case the individual can have an impact. 

Because of China’s extensive economic interests in Sudan, leaders in Beijing are in a unique - indeed unrivaled - position to persuade Sudan to consent immediately to a true and robust U.N. operation in Darfur.

Beijing is also the host of the 2008 Summer Olympics, an event that stands for peace and brotherhood.  As the Games approach, advocates for security in Darfur have an extraordinary opportunity to reach out to the Chinese government, in its role as host, to urge Beijing’s leaders to use their considerable influence with Sudan.

To learn how you can urge China to put pressure on Sudan to accept a robust civilian protection force in Darfur, visit http://www.DreamforDarfur.org.

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