Tuesday, February 01, 2005

Sudan - The Other War Against Insurgents

No one can deny the suffering of the people of Darfur. However it is important for everyone not to get caught up in Bush's strategy on the issue. This was made perfectly clear to me this morning when reading about Bush's use of the Sudan issue in wooing black religious people to their ranks. It should also be abundantly clear to the world now that the lines have been drawn (US versus the world) in how to deal with the issue.

One must understand the United States has a long-standing bias against the present Sudanese Government. We would like to see it's not sufficiently pro-US government gone. This is the reason most of us are spoon-fed simple descriptions of the crisis as a case of murderous government-backed Arab militias, called Janjaweed, slaughtering helpless blacks. It is also the reason Colin Powell came back from Sudan after some refugee interviews with a "genocide" verdict when the rest of the world, after studying more closely, has not come to that conclusion.

The reality is more complex. One must understand the anti-authoritarianism history of the region, as well as the two Darfur-based Civil Wars in the last 30 years backed by pro-US regimes in Chad and Eritrea. One must question where the arms and weaponry came from in the latest salvo of Darfur rebel attacks on Khartoum airports and garrisons - there are reports of CIA involvement. One must also wonder if the Sudan Government's giving in to Southern rebel demands for self-determination and control over resources influenced the Darfur rebel's decision to pick up the fight when it was dying down in the South. Maybe there were real grievances, but is killing 100 police officers as the Darfur rebels did to begin this war, the answer we want to reward?

Far from a case of Arab whites versus African blacks, all concerned are dark-skinned Sudanese Muslims. The main enmity is between rebels, nomads, and farmers, tribes and clans. As in southern Sudan, much of the violence stems from land grabs, banditry, cattle-rustling, women stealing, and local vendettas. This is the Janjaweed - common criminals taking advantage of the impunity of insurrection. Now yes, the government armed some militias in the area because their army is insufficient. There have been abuses that should be punished.

So what can be done? The UN has just finished an impressive report full of undisclosed names along with their alleged criminal activities. Let's arrest them and try ‘em. The obvious venue for such trials is the newly minted International Criminal Court (ICC) in the Hague, which was designed expressly for situations like this. Everyone agrees except (ahem) the US, who doesn't like this plan because we don't want to give the ICC one iota of legitimacy.

So the bankruptcy of the US position becomes clear. We go out of our way to publicize and politicize the disaster in Darfur, but stand in the way of something constructive being done. The contradictions of Empire become clear. We must stand up to this hypocrisy - and stand up for international justice and accountability.


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home