Darfur redux

Nick Kristof’s recent column discusses the continuing problem of systematic rape and ethnic cleansing in the Darfur region in Sudan, Africa. (Warning: The column is about the continuing genocide, and Kristof’s descriptions are about as graphic as a family newspaper gets).

Kristof writes:

Here in the refugee shantytowns of Darfur, the horrific stories that young women whisper are not of random criminality but of a systematic campaign of rape to terrorize civilians and drive them from “Arab lands” – a policy of rape.
. . .
Gang rape is terrifying anywhere, but particularly so here. Women who are raped here are often ostracized for life, even forced to build their own huts and live by themselves. In addition, most girls in Darfur undergo an extreme form of genital cutting . . . [which] make[s] sexual assault a particularly violent act, and the resulting injuries increase the risk of H.I.V. transmission.
. . .
I’m still chilled by the matter-of-fact explanation I received as to why it is women who collect firewood, even though they’re the ones who are raped. The reason is an indication of how utterly we are failing the people of Darfur, two years into the first genocide of the 21st century. “It’s simple,” one woman here explained. “When the men go out, they’re killed. The women are only raped.”

Kristof suggests that “this policy of rape flourishes only because it is ignored.”

As church members, as Christians, as human beings, we need to take action.

E-mail your Senator.

E-mail the LDS Senators: Utah (Hatch and Bennett), Idaho (Crapo), Nevada (Reid) and Oregon (Smith).

Keep updated. For instance, there are blogs about Darfur that discuss the continuing problems.

Donate to aid organizations, such as those listed here.

Discuss the situation with friends, family, co-workers. Discuss it with your ward members and church leaders. Write about it on your blog.

And pray. Pray for the women and men of Darfur.

67 comments for “Darfur redux

  1. Shame on the western world for letting this happen, again and again.

  2. Kaimi: Agreed, yet probably futile for the reasons listed below; and as discussed at the LDS Liberation Front as mentioned by J. Stapley.

    Sienna: If there is shame to be spread; let’s start in the order of Culpability:

    1. The (muslim) military dictatorship in N. Sudan; flush with oil money used to buy (mainly) Russian tanks & helicopters & old bombers, along with small arms for their (un)official militias who they claim are “independent.”
    2. Countries who don’t pressure Sudan to stop the atrocities because it is in their economic interest (I simplify below for brevity) not to. To whit:
    A. China: State oil company owns one of the largest oil patches in Sudan and is desparate for foreign oil. Wields its influence on the Security Council to block _ANY_ action against Sudan.
    B1. India: State oil company owns one of the larges oil patches in Sudan (w/China) and isn’t about to anger Sudan.
    B2. Various EU/Scandanavian companies: Privately owned oil companies own oil shares in Sudan and pressure their respective governments to delay action vs. Sudan.
    B3. Russia: Lucrative arms trade with Sudanese govt; per above.

    So, please write your Senators. However, know that the Bush Administration (that far too many seem to hate) is the only country willing to take any action against the Sudanese and has expended tons of political capital to get a peace deal brokered over the longer lasting (try the last decade) civil war/war crimes & atrocities committed by the Sudanese against the Southern Sudanese. The will to act isn’t clogged by Bush or the Senate; but by other countries. And no, our involvement in Iraq wouldn’t prevent us from intervening in Darfur if the UN would also participate. Heck, we could probably do it even w/o them…albeit with less efficacy/more lives lost.

  3. Thanks for this post. A post about pictures of women arranging flowers can generate over 300 comments, but it’s hard to know what to say when confronted with a real, brutal tragedy such as the violence in Darfur.

    Meanwhile, the headlines here in Boston are that the Massachusetts legislature is busy debating which vegetable to name the official state vegetable (I think they are leaning towards squash). Talk about misplaced priorities.

  4. Elisabeth: In defense of the vegtable debates, it is generally unconstitutional for state governments to attempt to pursue their own foreign policies. See, e.g., Zschernig v. Miller, 389 U.S. 429 (1968) (striking down an Oregon law that barred probate courts from awarding property to citizens in communist countries).

  5. It’s noble and great to fill up on the righteous indignation towards foriegn governments and Big Oil Conspiracies, but the membership of the Church has a particular obligation to Africa. Missionary work, particularly in the Africa diaspora, continues to explode, yet it seems we’re ignorant of the troubles that churn in that part of the world.

    I am the bishop of a ward in southwest Houston. We average about 50 convert baptisms per year; so far this year, we’re at 36, with five more scheduled for Saturday. Most of the new members are converts from Africa. After two years of hearing stories about the conditions in Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Sudan (among others), I have learned for myself that Garrison Keillor is right: “If we knew the stories of refugees, they would break our hearts.”

    The question is, what do we do? Is the Church prepared, culturally, financially, or legally, to get involved in this issue? Are the individual members of the Church willing to get involved? I’m new to this blogging stuff, but it strikes me that this is not a crowd that’s rushing out to buy the “Sons of Provo” soundtrack. How do you get folks more interested in Bronco Mendenhall’s offensive scheme than in the latest report from Human Rights Watch to become interested in “the wars and perplexities of nations”? Nearly every African member of our ward has lost family members to the violence of their homelands. What is our obligation to them? How do we comfort the mourning and the comfortless when we don’t understand their suffering — after all, the African folks in the Church News all look so happy!

  6. Nate: Yes, well, since when did a federal law ever stop Massachusetts? :) Seriously, like Oregon, the Mass. legislature actually ran into this limitation with their “Burma Law”, which barred companies that conducted business in Burma from receiving state contracts. They didn’t get very far with that attempt, but I thought it meaningful that they were at least making a statement against murderous tyrannical rulers.

    Still, there is little outrage over Darfur, which is especially surprising after the recent publicity castigating the reluctance of the West to get involved in Africa to stop genocide. I guess in another ten years we’ll watch a movie called “Hotel Sudan”, and marvel why no one intervened to save so many innocent people from brutal deaths.

  7. Kaimi, thank you for posting on an issue that deserves much needed attention. When the 10 year anniversary of the Rwandan massacre came around last year, I began to feel especially culpable for all too often turning a blind eye to the enormous suffering that occurs in places like Africa. The situation in Darfur is all the more troubling because we know what has been happening and yet not much has been done. While I agree with Lyle that the United States is the most willing/capable country to intervene in some way, I do not think the situation has been a political priority. It is not simply that “other countries” are clogging action (note that other countries’ opposition didn’t seem to stop us in Iraq), but that there has been a lack of real political action here at home on the matter. Writing Senators can help and may well help spur Congress to make Darfur more of a political priority.

  8. marc: as a participant, albeit at a minor level, in the whole Sudan issue, I beg to differ unless you have better information than I.

    1. Bush has been personally pressed by numberous Evangelicals who are close to him. According to some Liberals, Bush is in their pocket…if true, then something else is blocking U.S. action.
    2. Both political parties want action against Sudan.
    3. The Iraq analogy doesn’t hold water. The UN Security Council passed a resolution that Bush used; rightly or wrongly. He has no such leeway with Sudan & Darfur. Sure, there was opposition, but there was no China Veto _Promise_ as to Iraq as there _is_ with Sudan.
    4. Bush and his administration have used alot of political capital to get a peace deal brokered between N. & S. Sudan. Unless intervention in Darfur would break this deal up and re-ignite open civil war (Darfur is more slaughter than war, whereas the S. largely held its own for 10 years), this demonstrates that Bush is willing to take action in Sudan.

    Finally, to add a more nuanced possible action blocker: there is the war on Terror. Sudan has been fairly cooperative with the U.S.; and this has also been bandied about as a reason why the U.S. hasn’t taken more action vs. Sudan.

  9. “Shame on the western world for letting this happen, again and again.”

    Yes, but first shame on those committing the acts, before shaming those who have not intervened.

    “I began to feel especially culpable for all too often turning a blind eye to the enormous suffering that occurs in places like Africa.”

    I too, at times, feel a sense of helplessness about reaching out. What saddens me most is how much is man-made and, therefore, correctable without outside intervention. The UN is part of the problem. As a peace-keeping body, they have not only failed to mobilize the needed support in those areas over which they claim oversight, some UN workers have engaged in the very practices they’re supposed to be helping fight, i.e. sex trafficking, sexual expliotation of children, etc. Shame on them.


  10. Thank you, Kaimi. Africa is very close to my heart. I have several posts on my own African experience in the making, but simply have not been able to finish them yet. Partly because I’m struggling to convey the right tone and the right dimension. I worked for a few years as a teacher in a Kinshasa slum, spent time in Burundi and Rwanda with my uncle, a Catholic white father missionary, and will never forget some dreadful experiences we shared.

    I mentioned Darfur in my Auschwitz post five months ago. The horror is similar to the infamous Nazi camp.

    At the same time, our attention seems only drawn to tragedies when the media direct us to them and pictures reach us. Darfur is only one. So many others have never received the international attention they would deserve. East Congo has seen the drama tenfold for many more years. Tens of thousands of women and children have been raped by subsequent militia passing through, between 3 and 4 million (!) people have been killed or have died from starvation – ten times more than in Darfur. And this since 1998: “Yet, despite the scale of the still unfolding tragedy, the human rights crisis has been under-reported and misunderstood, allowing the major protagonists to escape scrutiny” says this AI-report.

    Our first duty is to be informed and inform others.

  11. I said shame on the western world, because if they really do want to spread democracy as many Americans believe, then they would be more worried about helping the starving peoples of the Sudan. Cerrtainly some of the leaders in the Sudan are to blame, but we can sit back and say:

    “The (muslim) military dictatorship in N. Sudan; flush with oil money used to buy (mainly) Russian tanks & helicopters & old bombers, along with small arms for their (un)official militias who they claim are ‘independent.'”

    And then hope that a UN “por favor” will do something. Or expect a country like Russia, which the US complains about not being too democratic, to do anything.

    The worry about saving Iraq is fine, if that is the true intention. And if it is, then that goodwill should easily spread to a situation like the Sudan. However, it doesn’t.

  12. Sienna: I’ve spent two years of my legal career/life working to stop the N. Sudanese government from continuing its violence. I am hardly “sitting back” and “say”ing. Perhaps you have some concrete action you are taking besides sitting back and blog-criticizing? Or do you just have a political ax to grind?

  13. Lyle,

    Yes, I have a political ax to grind, and yes, I have done some concrete action. I have been to Africa, the Sudan among other places, on several occasions to lend medical support. Which is quite difficult when you don’t have the instruments to operate or to examen a child properly. All of which could be better dealt with if the western world could more properly aid poor countries.

    However, I understand your frustration with people on these blogs that talk a lot of talk and walk very like walk.

  14. Sienna: You are more than welcome to come to Philly then…we are host to one of the Live8 concerts (no ticket needed). I even have extra bedrooms.

  15. Lyle,

    Thanks for the invite, but I live in Europe, and I am just not able to make it to the US any time. soon. However, let us keep up the good fight.

  16. Talk about it; discuss it with everyone you know and some your don’t. Africa has so so so so many problems and if they were on the news as often as their magnitude deserves, maybe lay Americans would get educated enough, sick enough of it to make it an issue worth their politicians’ time. I really thought Sudan was getting there at the end of last year, with Powell calling it a genocide, etc. but then the tsunami hit and somehow the American government, politicians, and citizenry had an issue to worry about and collect money for! Why is an Asian disaster more mobilizing than an African one? Because it came to a head faster, rather than the decades of African crisis? Africa breaks my heart. I am an African and an American.

  17. Odhiambo, thanks so much for your comment and your valuable perspective. You raise an interesting question about the tsunami phenomenon and why it was met with such a high pitch of emotion and response (not that it shouldn’t have been). As for your recommendation that we talk about it and then talk some more, well, I’m pretty good at talking, and I intend to adopt your approach! Please keep commenting.

  18. Sienna wrote:
    (1) Shame on the western world for letting this happen, again and again.

    (2)All of which could be better dealt with if the western world could more properly aid poor countries.

    Just what kind of imperialism are you suggesting here? If you are someone who did not cry “imperialism” at the outbreak of the Iraq war, then these statements might make sense. Somehow, however, I suspect otherwise. . . .

  19. Let me add that I’m not against US aid to Darfur in any way. I firmly believe we must stop such horrible atrocities. But I was sure that made me a paternalistic white male western imperialist in today’s world.

  20. Related topic – has anyone here read “The End of Poverty” by Jeffrey Sachs? I think that he makes some compelling arguments for the U.S. to become more involved and invested in countries like the Sudan. There is so much wealth and talent in the world – I know it’s incredibly naive, but I wish we really did care about these horrible crises of violence and extreme poverty enough to sacrifice some of our own material comforts in an attempt to alleviate such suffering and to create hope for the future.

  21. John Fowles,

    You miss judge me.

    Like I said, I have no problem with you Americans going into Iraq. It was welcomed, I am sure by many. At the time I commented to my husband that if the intentions are noble, there is no problem, that is to say, if it really is about protecting the people(WMD) and Democracy(getting rid of a Dictator), then, if that is America’s vision, then fine. Those are noble things.

    All I am saying is that if the vision is one of helping the world become better, for example, building democracies, then those noble actions should extend to a place like the Sudan, where people are suffering, in many ways, like the Iraqis were suffering.

  22. Achieng wrote: Why is an Asian disaster more mobilizing than an African one?

    I assume you’re implying racism with this question. It might be much more practical than that, though. For example, the governments of countries affected by the tsunami weren’t exactly trying to prevent western aid from reaching the people. The corrupt military government of the Sudan, on the other hand? They might just let plane loads of supplies land and be shipped to Darfur, as well as soldiers to stop the atrocities, but I am skeptical. . . .

    Maybe you are suggesting attacking Sudan to get ride of the corrupt and murderous government there? I’m all for it. . . . except we would have to do it over China’s veto for UN action in the Security Council. If you are one who argued that the Iraq war was “illegal” then how will the Sudan attack be justified when we will similarly have to invade without a UN “mandate”? Invading a country without a UN mandate is illegal except when it’s not?

    Maybe you are suggesting sanctions against Sudan to bring the selfish, corrupt, and oppressive government to its knees and force it to stop the atrocities? I’m all for it. . . . except if you are suggesting this, I hope that you are not one that criticized the sanctions against Iraq and those currently against Cuba. And anyway, I assume you realize that the very people we would be trying to help will ultimately suffer more than the cronies in the Sudanese government, who will keep pocketing foreign aid and oil money from China, getting richer while the victims suffer the punishment.

    Maybe you are suggesting political pressure. I’m all for it. . . . and aren’t we already doing that?

    Let me ask you: why hasn’t the African Union taken the lead, condemned the atrocities, and sent troops in to protect the victims and counter the Janjuweed/government killers? Even though they haven’t acted, the “West”, meaning America, is still at fault for “letting” this happen?

  23. John F,

    Do you think that the West, US and EU, have no responsiblity in the Sudan situation? The US is the world power. That has to stand for something?

  24. This is a no win battle – at least from the U.S. perspective. It’s your fault for letting this happen. However, if you had intervened years ago, when it was just starting, you would have been imperialist.
    This is a ghastly and criminal situatuation that exists in Darfur, the Sudan, etc., but if you want to lay blame, take a long hard look at the left- liberal policies of the European nations that allowed it to happen, and see just how serious they really are about solving the problem.
    Certainly as we show increased public interest in the problem, there will be political action taken. But like Iraq, there has to be local leadership that rises up and takes responsibility to help change circumstances in these nations, or all is in vain anyway.
    Perhaps teaching the Gospel, and providing education, through a perpetual education fund for the youth, will facilitate such a response.

    These are terrific people. I live in a neighbourhood that has a large number of emigres from these countries and I love them. They are gentle, loving people. They do not deserve what is happening to them. They are clean to a fault, and are pleasant to be around.

    They add value to our community, and are not the ones running around in gangs and distributing drugs, and shooting people.

  25. Yes, I hope that my comments have not conveyed the idea that I think that the “West” has no responsibility to help where it can. I believe that the West should help. But that the West is at fault for “letting” this happens implies goes a little too far. It also implies that the West has some kind of control over the Sudan that it, in reality, does not have. Where are all the people decrying interventionism? They only speak up when America attacks Iraq to oust a brutal dictatorship?

  26. John, you make a fair point, but as you certainly know, the objections to intervening in Iraq involve more than abstract concerns about interventionism generally. Some folks, myself included, would be willing to support limited interventionism after a full and honest public debate as to the reasons for doing so. Criticising the Bush administration for intervening in Iraq on false pretenses while hoping for more aggressive action in Darfur seem to me to be entirely consistent positions (whether or not you agree with them).

  27. Randy B.

    The invasion into Iraq was not on false pretenses. Only about 18 words in a presidential speech is used by the press as justification, and if that ain’t turning Americans into a bunch of sheep, nothing Bush does could ever match it.

    If the U.S. were to assist these nations in their hour of need, I can assure you that the press, and their fellow travellers, would find some way to turn it into a wicked deed.

  28. If I had the definitive answer to that, I wouldn’t be writing this dang brief . . . (scurries back to work).

  29. Randy, my point was kind of a query as to whether there actually is anything that we can do that we are not already doing by condemning the atrocities and trying to convince the Sudanese government to stop the atrocities, trying to convince the African Union to intervene, talking with allies about it, etc. Darfur is roughly as big as France, so sending in troops, although it sounds like a nice (albeit expensive) solution, might be just a little more complicated than it seems.

  30. Larry,

    My point is that the positions are consistent — whether or not you agree with them. I see you don’t. Fair enough, but that’s beside the point. (In any event, I really do have to get back to work.)

  31. Come on, John. I didn’t say it would be easy, I only said it would be worth it . . . . ;>)

    Out for now.

  32. Randy B.

    Get back to work. :) Just remember that one can be consistent, but consistently wrong.

  33. John: FYI, the African Union does have troops currently in Darfur. However, they are far too few and have little power to do anything other than run convoys which foreign aid workers use as protection when trying to help the people. There are plans to increase the # of AU troops to 8,000 (currently 4,000 I believe). Again, this is a tiny # of troops, for a huge land area, and the Sudanese arab militias are far better armed to boot.

  34. (Back in the a.m.).

    Larry, I’m not taking the bait, at least not today. Let’s just say there are some things we seem to agree on, and others we don’t. I suppose that means that neither of us are consistently wrong. How’s that?

  35. Larry, I used to think in the same terms as you mentioned: “… take a long hard look at the left-liberal policies of the European nations that allowed it to happen”.

    I have learned to stop speaking in those terms. It’s too easy and it’s not fair any more. There are sources blaming the U.S. for most of the trouble in Africa just as well. We can continue to lay guilt on the West and on our colonial history. To what avail? We’re dealing now with independent nations where many have no notion of democratic principles, where tribal reflexes call the shots, where corruption is rampant and savagery not extinct. When I worked in Africa, the plea I often heard from peaceful people was: we pay the price for an independence we’re not ripe for. I have no answer to that dilemma, but I have stopped blaming the West. And I would certainly not point at “left-liberal” as the source of today’s evil in Africa.

    But that something must be done, by all means, is obvious.

  36. Lyle, I have appreciated your comments.

    My heart goes out to all the oppressed peoples of the world. I can write letters, I can talk to my neighbors, but my actual ability to effect change is probably very limited.

    I believe that because we are an affluent and powerful country, we have a responsibility to help the rest of the world, but we can’t do it all and we can’t do it perfectly.

    I don’t think we, America, I mean, deserve the bad rap we usually get. We try and sometimes we succeed, but there are certainly, as Lyle points out so well, other factors in this country that are working against us.

  37. The African Union is in the lead for the conflict in Darfur. Chairman Alpha Konaré recently met with NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer and with the European Union’s foreign policy chief Javier Solana in Addis Ababa to discuss assisting the AU with logistics. There are several articles about this on NATO’s excellent website:


    You can also google the search terms: NATO “African Union” Darfur

  38. Another NATO webpage with info on the Sudan conflict:


    The Press point with Secretary General, Jaap de Hoop Scheffer and the Chairperson of the Commission of the African Union, Mr. Alpha Oumar Konaré is especially enlightening:


    NATO (which, if memory serves, has grown to 26 nations) is absolutely clear on the following point: The aid is logistical only–no NATO boots-on-the-ground in Darfur.

  39. Just to be clear, in case people aren’t aware, the United States is a member of NATO so that means no US boots-on-the-ground in Darfur–unless the US goes it alone. As far as I know, all NATO member states have agreed that they will assist with logistics only (Canada being the largest monetary contributor so far).

  40. Wilfried,

    Thank you for responding to my comment. Your point is well made, and you certainly have the experience to back it up.
    But as you look at the problems of Africa, were not most of the leaders educated in Europe, and would you not classify most European elite universities as liberal left in terms of politics and economics?
    I recognize the immense problems that African society presents. There are the wealthy and the poor. There seems to be a very small, if it exists at all, middle class that has any economic influence.
    Consequently, there is no drive to improve ones self economically because it is not in their psyche. The lack of a middle class would seem to be the reason that freedom struggles in that land.
    I don’t know if that begins to touch the problem, but they reflect thoughts I had years ago, after reading Carroll Quigley’s book – Tragedy and Hope.

  41. You guys, I am reading this book called “Acts of Faith” by Philip Caputo. It is about the problem in Sudan, just coincidentally picked it up at the library. I want to share a couple of things from the first few pages:

    “…he tells his visitor that there is no difference between God and the devil in Africa. Whoever understands that in his blood and bones and guts, where true understanding resides, will swim in its treacherous currents; whoever doesn’t will drown.”

    “…the word of Africa’s Supreme Being is to be found not in the writings of prophets, but in its great rivers.”

    “I guess I should pass judgment on Africa. She isn’t kind to people with good intentions, never has been.”

    I think I’m getting the picture from this book that the Muslims from the north were sort of the villains, preventing aid from coming in to help the people of Darfur, because they wanted them to die.

    (I read a book yesterday called Pretty Birds, about the Bosnian conflict, where the Muslims were the ones being killed–interesting how the Muslims are sort of central to a lot of conflict in that part of the country, one way or another).

    But as this author believes, perhaps there is a bigger problem than individuals in putting roadblocks in the way of those who would help. Perhaps Africa itself has a soul, a personality, if you will, that prevents well meaning people from doing as much as is needed.

    I have a friend whose father was an unapologetic racist (he was also a Mormon bishop for years). He read Mein Kampf, all that good stuff. He indoctrinated his children with the idea that those countries where the people had darker skins were less developed and progressive and enlightened. When she told me that, I was livid. But as I think about it, there is a grain of truth in that.

    We can make the argument that America is a rich country, but why is it? Africa has many more resources than we have–their people could do the same thing we have done.

    So yes, we have a responsibility, but I am coming to believe that this is so much more complicated than evil people and lack of aid from the west. Wilfried, Jim, I’m sorry, but there appears to be a national identity which makes it more difficult for aid to come in there.

    And, totally as an aside, from the other book about Bosnia, I’ve learned that Muslims have been murdered and treated terribly, as well as the Jews. When my neighbor kills my child, I will want to kill my neighbor’s child. And the killing never ends. It seems impossible to achieve peace when grieving parents are out of their minds with that grief and hatred takes over and peace takes a back seat to retribution. Bitterness simmers and erupts. Just like in the Sudan.

    I believe this is part of the last days and that Satan is raging in the hearts of man.

  42. Suzanne, I really wonder how realistic the hope of NATO sending anything more than logistical aid to Sudan even is. Given the pressure the U.S. had to exert on France and others to persuade NATO to intervene in Eastern Europe ten years ago, it seems unlikely now, in the wake of bitter disagreement with many NATO nations over the U.S. invasion in Iraq, that NATO could be persuaded to intevene in Sudan. Especially when you consider how much closer to home the conflict in Eastern Europe hit many of nations who dragged their feet on NATO action in the mid-nineties. What are your thoughts?

    #45 John, I think Steve posted the article (which I thought was sadly entertaining) to highlight how Darfur seems to have slipped off the mainstream media screen. It is obviously still being discussed in blogs and on more specialized news sites like the NATO webpages Suzanne posted links to.

  43. To reiterate Kaimi’s original point. We should all e-mail our Senators. Specifically on a piece of legislation called the Darfur Accountability Act (S. 495 – It can be found on http://thomas.loc.gov/). It was introduced in the Senate on March 2, 2005, and calls for several measures aimed at ending the crisis in Darfur. Specifically, the bill seeks a new UN Security Council resolution with sanctions, an extension of the current arms embargo to cover the government of Sudan, the freezing of assets and denial of visas to those responsible for genocide and war crimes, accelerated assistance to the African Union mission, a Presidential Envoy for Sudan, and a military no-fly zone in Darfur.

  44. Agreed. I think it will do wonders for the world when China uses its veto to stop the Security Council resolution. However, because measures that are already ‘known’ to be in line for a veto are almost never brought up for a vote…

    And besides, this is one instance where the War on Terror should take a back seat to the War on Terrorists & Dictators, right? Why cooperate with the Devil of N. Sudan just for the intelligence tips it feeds us? While they might prevent another 9-11, America is just too dang prideful and needs to help the world more…its worth the risk of lessened intelligence in order to take out another dictator.

  45. Marc,

    Um, it isn’t a matter of persuading NATO–or for that matter the EU, Canada, the US, or any other international force/peacemakers–to intervene in the Sudan.

    Folks don’t seem to understand:

    1) The African Union is in charge. The African Union has the lead and the only assistance the African Union has requested is logistical aid.

    2) Sudan won’t allow anyone in the country but African Union Forces.

    3) The African Union, who is in the lead, has requested logistical support from NATO and the EU. NATO and the EU have already agreed to provide logistical support. NATO, the EU and the AU met recently in Addis Ababa to discuss what it is the AU requires.

    If you look at today’s NATO Ministers of Defence press conference, Jaap de Hoop Scheffer gives an update. He says:

    “Ministers [He’s referring to NATO Ministers of Defence–I see Rumsfeld was in attendance, Canada’s Bill Graham, France’s Michèle Alliot-Marie… looks like the ministers of all 26 nations made it.] reconfirmed on what it’s going to provide to the African Union, which will be support for a strategic and tactical airlift and training as well. We’ll help lift the AU troops into Darfur, as does, by the way, the European Union. You know we have a combined cell under African Union leadership in Addis Ababa. The AU has the lead, African Union has the lead; nor NATO, nor the European Union, and we have done that, and are doing that in full cooperation and transparency with the European Union.

    “The cell in Addis, as I mentioned, will be an air movement coordination cell. In brief, we have to pick up the troops when they are ready, and where they are ready, transport them to the right airfield, and ensure the necessary support equipment. And as I said, NATO and EU will provide staff to support this African Union coordination cell in Addis Ababa. But the AU is in control.
    Let me stress, side-by-side with the European Union, it is important. These people need help, these people need help. The people in Darfur need help and the African Union is providing the help, so NATO and the EU are doing everything we can to answer the request by the African Union.”

    Source: http://www.nato.int/docu/comm/2005/0609-nato/050609.htm

  46. Sorry, have not been able to follow the thread for a few days, but I do appreciate all the previous comments and insights added.

    Larry in #49 asked me the question: “But as you look at the problems of Africa, were not most of the leaders educated in Europe, and would you not classify most European elite universities as liberal left in terms of politics and economics?”

    As to education of Africans in Europe, the matter is complex. Certainly quite a few have been to universities abroad (but also including former communist Russian and Chinese universities). How many of those became political leaders and to what extent their education had a direct impact on their political behavior has probably been studied, but I would tend to say that the realities (instability, corruption, tribal allegiances, foreign interference, egotism…) would overshadow principles, intentions and planning.

    Next, tendencies in European universities. Again, a wide variety of ideological mainstreams, usually with a diversified representation in departments of political science and economics themselves. Pluralism has been a trademark of European ideological structures. So I would not easily identify “liberal left” as the basic trend. Moreover, the term covers different meanings according to countries and backgrounds. I realize this is not much help in sorting out the matter, but becoming conscious of the complexities is a necessary step.

  47. Still reading that book, carefully. It seems, well, from this work of fiction, that the UN is not a very good resource to help those people, either.

  48. Dear John,

    I never blamed America for “letting” anything happen. I recognize, as does everyone, I think, that most of the ills Africa currently suffers are indeed perpetuated by Africans. And I was not getting at racism when I compared the American response to Asain and African problems; I suspect that you are correct in saying the problem is more practical. It IS much easier to assist after a natural disaster than during a man (let us stress MAN, not human)-made disaster. We all would agree, I hope that assisting with the easy problems does not absolve us from working on the harder ones. African problems are hard! African leaders make them even more so–most Africans would be quick to admit that.


  49. Agreed, Achieng!

    Of course, since the tendency has been to exonerate the West a little, let us not forget one other side: who is selling arms to Africa?

  50. Just as a side note to Wilfried’s statement about who has been supplying the gov’t’s with guns, could this be a wake up call to those who call for gun control.

    If the average citizen in Africa had the same weaponry as the soldier or rebel who comes to destroy him/her, is it possible that the amount of displacement and torture would be greatly reduced? Just a question.

  51. In the most recent period for which records are available (1999-2002) the biggest suppliers of arms to Africa were Germany and Russia. Most of the other sales were by other European countries — see page 26 of the following report:


    Although the US was responsible for only 1 per cent of sales, a lot of US weapons trickle down through other countries, and the US is the leading supplier of arms to developing countries generally. This can come back to haunt the developed countries in many ways; for one example among many, the missile systems used by Iraq to fire at pilots patrolling no-fly zones were obtained from China who obtained them from Israel, which has had the habit of buying US equipment, reverse engineering it and then selling it to developing countries.

  52. Larry, there is no shortage of weapons in Africa, and I doubt that gun control is the reason that an average citizen can or cannot defend himself. More likely poverty.

  53. Bill: Your guess is patently false; at least as far as the situation in S. Sudan and Darfur is concerned. However, Larry’s point is muted by the fact that the most critical arms discrenacy is that the N. Sudanese have tanks & attack helicopters.

    Suzanne: Yes, Sudan only wants the AU present. Which is why the UN should declare Sudan an illegitimate government and send real troops in. As I’ve already pointed out, the AU doesn’t do much good; except to provide cover for aid workers; i.e. they are “on top of it,” but only in a way so ltd as to be next to worthless.

  54. Lyle, since the N. Sudanese have tanks and helicopters, gun control or its absence will obviously make no difference. The US also has helicopters and tanks which it trains on its citizens only in the rarest of circumstances. Gun control or its absence makes little difference here either. The point is that gun control as we think of it in largely peaceful societies is a matter of law enforcement and not war-making.

    This situation in Sudan is slightly more reminiscent of Bosnia, where, before they had weapons, the people were being massacred, but after they had weapons, the field was still not level, but at least the massacres stopped. Access to weapons in these cases is a matter of war and foreign policy, not gun control.

  55. Weapons in the hand of people in Africa is a totally different situation than in countries with proper law enforcement and with decades if not centuries of maturity in handling weapons. I can recommend Kourouma’s Allah is not obliged to get an idea of the horror when gangs of African children have kalashnikovs available to them.

  56. Lyle: Yes, Sudan only wants the AU present. Which is why the UN should declare Sudan an illegitimate government and send real troops in. As I’ve already pointed out, the AU doesn’t do much good; except to provide cover for aid workers; i.e. they are “on top of it,” but only in a way so ltd as to be next to worthless.

    Suzanne: Only because they are so few and that’s about to change. Firstly the AU is being trained and second, airlifting them in when they are ready. NATO and the EU hope to start airlifting AU Forces into Sudan (optimistically begining in July), increasing AU Forces to 7,000 initially and up to 12,000 if required.

    Today’s NATO press conference touched on Darfur again but the transcript isn’t up yet.. it was a good Q&A.

    Besides with the upcoming elections (September?) in Afghanistan wouldn’t international forces be spread too thin to start another campaign in the Sudan?? Even without the elections there is still a lot left for them to do in Afghanistan. Then there is Uzbekistan, not sure what’s happened(ning) there…

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