Thursday, May 20, 2004
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It gets worse in Darfur
I've blogged about the atrocities taking place in the Darfur region of Sudan before here and here. A few days ago, the Los Angeles Times' Robyn Dixon reported on the growing humanitarian crisis in Sudan:
Be sure to read the whole thing.
This was probably not the best week for the Bush administration to take steps towards lifting the arms embargo on the Sudanese government.
This is the kind of goof that someone responsible for public diplomacy -- like an Undersecretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs, let's say -- could have caught. Oh, wait....
UPDATE: It should be noted that despite the PR screwup I alluded to earlier in this post, Human Rights Watch -- not exactly the most Bush-friendly organization -- has praised U.S. behavior on this front:
posted by Dan on 05.20.04 at 10:45 AM
Well, we're committed to toppling dictatorships around the world, right? Let's get going!posted by: goethean on 05.20.04 at 10:45 AM [permalink]
Here's an idea: why don't NGOs like Human Rights Watch get together and mount an international fundraising campaign that completely circumvents the UN, NATO and every other useless bureaucratic institution that claims to be opposed to genocide but in fact watches helplessly from the sidelines as it occurs. With the money collected, they may either hire mercenaries to defend Sudanese villagers against government and Arab incursions (what, doesn't anyone watch "The Seven Samurai/Magnificent Seven" anymore?) or arm volunteers to go do it themselves.
I'm quite serious. I'll chip in $500 bucks to get the ball rolling.posted by: Kelli on 05.20.04 at 10:45 AM [permalink]
Damn. Isn't this worse than Saddam at his worst?
“Here's an idea: why don't NGOs like Human Rights Watch get together and mount an international fundraising campaign that completely circumvents the UN, NATO and every other useless bureaucratic institution that claims to be opposed to genocide but in fact watches helplessly from the sidelines as it occurs.”
Many of our so-called allies are lazy, selfish, and parasitical. They have no interest in doing anything which might upset their wimpy lifestyles. We should hold them in contempt. Unfortunately, the silly second raters at Harvard University and the other “elite” schools constantly make excuses for them. Somehow the Bush administration is responsible for their reluctance. That’s right, if there are any problems in the world, it supposedly is the fault of President Bush.posted by: David Thomson on 05.20.04 at 10:45 AM [permalink]
I've seen a number of reports about these horrific atrocities in the Sudan. What I haven't seen is much in the way of suggested responses. Is there anything we an do to stop this? Can anyone do anything?posted by: Doug Turnbull on 05.20.04 at 10:45 AM [permalink]
In Africa and the middle east, dictators and atrocities are a dime a dozen. Why waste your time pointing out genocides and massacres in Sudan and Ethiopia, and engineered famines in Zimbabwe, when you could be talking about prison guards making prisoners go naked?
What is the UN for? Whatever its job is, the UN spends more time enriching its top officials through corrupt deals than in promoting decent governance. The US should not have to run around the globe toppling dictators.posted by: Blythe on 05.20.04 at 10:45 AM [permalink]
"What is the UN for?"
That's a helluva good question. If it is not what its Kerryite defenders suppose it to be, i.e. a proto-global governing body (shudder...) there is only one thing it can be: a cartel of sorts in which participating governments pretend to regulate the "international community" (guffaw) while in fact protecting the one thing they all have a stake in--their monopoly right to legitimate violence. Think about it. If the UN did not exist, yet there were true outrage over atrocities such as the current one in Sudan, the world would be faced with two options: either individual states would have to intervene (hello, Washington? sorry, that line is indefinitely busy) or non-state actors would be tempted to intervene in one way or another, thereby threatening the monopoly on legitimate force held by govts.
The only other groups attempting to usurp the state's exclusive right to action are a) terrorists and b) separatist movements (not always mutually exclusive, I know). NGOs' stock in trade is to complain loudly to a largely receptive audience via a wholly uncritical western media. However, in terms of getting results, they usually fail miserably. What I am suggesting is that they put results ahead of PR, change strategy, forego the hand-wringing and ACT.
After all, when the US was preparing to invade Iraq, hundreds (if not thousands) of do-gooders flew to Saddam's defense as "human shields." Why do they not do the same today in Sudan? Perhaps someone should tell them that the CIA is behind the ransacking and murders of a large swath of Sudan. That would load the planes from New York and London to Dar es Salam.posted by: Kelli on 05.20.04 at 10:45 AM [permalink]
At the risk of sounding like a right-wing troglodyte, let me state the obvious. Black African victims, Arab perpetrators, no obvious connection to George Bush, it just doesn't have the right script. Central casting should change things around.
Now let's get back to Valerie Plame.
Watching the various cable news and analysis shows last night this is what I saw:
1. endless coverage, condemnation and hand wringing about the most recent Israeli actions in Gaza that killed about a dozen people, and
2. No coverage at all about what's going on in Darfur even though the magnitue of atrocities has to be orders of magnitude beyond anything that has ever happened in the entire history of Israel.
I don't mean to excuse or downplay what Israel is doing in Gaza. That subject is a giant black hole that sucks intelligent discussion into the abyss. But I wonder why we in the west have such a double standard when it comes to coverage of these sorts of events.
When it is Arabs committing the atrocities we mostly just shrug and write it off as "it's Africa" or "that's the way it's always been". But when it's Jews there is always white-hot media spotlight and worldwide condemnation.posted by: Kent on 05.20.04 at 10:45 AM [permalink]
Policy recommendations and Pronouncements are no substitute for armed resistance to criminal predations. Put up or shut up oh much ballyhooed international community.posted by: Kelli on 05.20.04 at 10:45 AM [permalink]
Point taken about public diplomacy, but at the end of the day, the President is the public-diplomat-in-chief, with an entire administration at his(/her) beck and call. My guess is Bush would have just ignored Mr. or Ms. Undersecretary of State for Public Diplomacy the same way he ignores Mr. Secretary of State. At that rate, it may be simple thrift and prudence not to staff the position.posted by: Thomas Nephew on 05.20.04 at 10:45 AM [permalink]
Dan, you forgot to close 2 blockquote tags.posted by: fling93 on 05.20.04 at 10:45 AM [permalink]
What I haven't seen is much in the way of suggested responses. Is there anything we an do to stop this? Can anyone do anything?
I have thought about this tragedy long and hard, and have concluded that the only short term solution is to persuade or if necessry force the Israeli armed forces to go into Darfur and, assuming there are any Darfurians left alive, shoot one or two (they don't even have to kill them).
The media will quickly do the rest.posted by: Barry Meislin on 05.20.04 at 10:45 AM [permalink]
I've seen a number of reports about these horrific atrocities in the Sudan. What I haven't seen is much in the way of suggested responses. Is there anything we an do to stop this? Can anyone do anything?
Yes. We - the United States - could put a stop to this if we chose to, just as we did in Kosovo.
But we won't, because no one - liberals, conservatives, libertarians - no one cares one whit about the people of the Sudan. Just look at the asinine comments on this thread. Darfur is nothing more than a rhetorical club to beat your ideological opponents with.posted by: Biff on 05.20.04 at 10:45 AM [permalink]
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