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Darfur background and commentary

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    O ye who believe! If a wicked person comes to you with any news, ascertain the truth, lest ye harm people unwittingly, and afterwards become full of repentance
    Message 1 of 1 , Apr 8, 2007
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      O ye who believe! If a wicked person comes to you with any news,
      ascertain the truth, lest ye harm people unwittingly, and afterwards
      become full of repentance for what ye have done. [Quran 49:6]


      Darfur background and commentary
      http://www.darfurinformation.com/p_looking_beyond.shtml


      The Qur'an is telling us what any truth seeking, scrutinizing person
      must ascertain before accepting any news story as fact coming from
      mainstream media. Let's not ever be naive about who owns and
      controls the media. How many times are we going to allow ourselves
      to be fooled and duped into supporting causes without examining and
      getting real facts? How many times are Muslims going to make
      themselves fools for the enemies of Islam by their blatant ignoring
      of Quranic guidance?

      I find it interesting that there are so many sucker Muslims,
      chosenite Jews like rabbi Lerner, and sweet, white, European and
      American "do gooders" who care sooooo much about the Muslim darkies
      in Darfur . While never visiting Sudan or talking to people from
      Sudan , like I and others have, they pick up pages from a known to
      be lying Zionist media and run with it as gospel truth. They just
      know it is the truth. Of course it has to be!!! But what is
      interesting is when you compare the news given by independent groups
      versus mainstream media about Sudan , it is the Zionist mainstream
      media who are pushing hard the genocide and massacre of the people
      of Darfur by that evil Islamic Sudanese government. Other news
      sources are not calling it genocide and are not blaming the Sudanese
      government for the problems. At the same time it is a fact that
      Sudan has been considered an enemy of the US for several years and
      both the US and Israel have been supporting rebels in an effort to
      overthrow the government. Clinton even launched a missile attack
      that destroyed the El Shifa pharmaceutical plant in Sudan . This
      plant, by the way, was responsible for over 50% of Sudan 's
      medicine. This included 90% of the most critically needed drugs.
      According to research done by Richard Becker, Sara Flounders and
      John Parker:

      Quote:

      ---------------------------------------------------------------------

      "...the bombing will inexorably cause the suffering and death of
      tens of thousands of innocent people all over Africa, many of them
      children, by depriving them of basic medicines against malaria,
      tuberculosis, and other easily curable diseases."

      http://thereitis.org/displayarticle167.html

      ---------------------------------------------------------------------


      Why wasn't this published in the Zionist press for all the sucker
      Muslims, chosenite ! Jews lik e rabbi Lerner, and sweet, white,
      European and American "do gooders" to know? Heavens forbid could
      the Zionist media be selectively exaggerating the situation in
      Darfur for ulterior motives? Nawww, our honest Zionist mainstream
      would never do that, especially since it was never done before as in
      Iraq !

      Jimmy Carter called the US the greatest destabilizing force in
      Sudan . He pointed to US interference as being the greatest source
      of unrest, suffering and obstacle to peace in Sudan . Now why would
      this former president of the US say such a thing and not blame the
      evil Islamic government in Sudan as the sucker Muslims, chosenite
      Jews like rabbi Lerner, and sweet, white, European and American "do
      gooders"? What does he know that they don't know? Didn't he read
      what the Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, NY Times and other
      Zionist media said about Darfur ??? He should forget that he has
      been in Sudan several times and that his Carter Foundation has been
      working in Sudan since 1986. He should throw all of that out because
      it is irrelevant. Only what the Zionist media says is true and I am
      really shocked that dumb Jimmy Carter does not know that.

      Even though there is a flood of information with clear proofs
      showing no genocide in Sudan, the sucker Muslims, chosenite Jews
      like rabbi Lerner, and sweet, white, European and American "do
      gooders" still bull headedly proceed too eager to gobble down
      mainstream media lies. Even the WHO statement as in the following is
      ignored:

      Quote:

      ---------------------------------------------------------------------

      DARFUR, July 29 (IslamOnline.net) - International, western and Arab
      organizations underlined that the situation in Darfur province, west
      of Sudan, does not amount to genocide or ethnic cleansing as claimed
      by western powers, chiefly the US.

      http://www.islamonline.net/English/News/2004-07/29/article03

      ---------------------------------------------------------------------



      But really, we should be after the truth and not repeating and
      pushing Zionist media lies. We should pay close attention to these
      words from the ! Darfur information website:

      Quote:

      ---------------------------------------------------------------------

      There is a crisis in Darfur . The fighting has resulted in a
      humanitarian crisis. And external forces have undoubtedly played a
      part in the development of the conflict.

      It is essential to cut away the propaganda that is already clouding
      the Darfur issue. The issue is far too important to leave to
      extremists, propagandists, flawed analysis and those who wish to see
      continued conflict in Sudan . The Sudanese government has spent
      several years successfully normalising its relations with the
      international community and is on the verge of signing a landmark
      peace agreement with southern rebels. Those who claim that the
      Sudanese government has deliberately provoked the conflict with a
      pre-set agenda of "ethnic cleansing" and "genocide" are either naïve
      or malicious.

      The Sudanese government has clearly sought to address Darfur 's
      historical underdevelopment. Khartoum 's record since 1989 speaks
      for itself. While the rebels claim to be fighting for federalism, it
      is clear that Khartoum 's decentralization of power since 1989 has
      itself perhaps led to a slower response to the crisis than might
      have been expected.

      A negotiated settlement of the conflict must be reached.
      International pressure must be brought to bear upon those external
      forces - such as Eritrea - that have been fuelling the fighting. The
      humanitarian needs of those who have been displaced must be met
      until those affected are able to return to their homes. Khartoum
      must address the criminality and armed banditry that has undermined
      law and order in Darfur . Human rights organisations cannot have it
      both ways in criticizing the Sudanese government for inaction and
      then attacking Khartoum for responding firmly to terrorism and
      lawlessness.

      http://www.darfurinformation.com/p_looking_beyond.shtml

      ===
      The Politics of Naming:
      Genocide, Civil War, Insurgency—

      By Mahmood Mamdani
      Dateline: London Review of Books | Vol. 29 No. 5 8 March 2007
      http://www.bestcyrano.org/mamdaniMah.Darfur32307.htm
      CONTROVERSY: Logo for the savedarfur.org, one of several orgs
      demanding intervention in the Sudan by the very people who
      intervened so selflessly in Iraq. Darfur should be a cautionary tale
      for easily misguided liberals, who apparently never learn, while it
      presents an opportunity for business for Western-based, corporate-
      styled human-calamity agencies, such as Save the Children, who find
      a raison d'etre in ministering to the stubborn wounds caused by
      backwardness, and the effects of colonialism and neocolonialism
      inflicted by the very establishments of which they form an integral
      part. And the Darfur tragedy reminds us, once again, how important
      it is to use the right words in a modern world dominated by far from
      impartial powerful propaganda machines.—The Editors

      The similarities between Iraq and Darfur are remarkable. The
      estimate of the number of civilians killed over the past three years
      is roughly similar. The killers are mostly paramilitaries, closely
      linked to the official military, which is said to be their main
      source of arms. The victims too are by and large identified as
      members of groups, rather than targeted as individuals. But the
      violence in the two places is named differently. In Iraq, it is said
      to be a cycle of insurgency and counter-insurgency; in Darfur, it is
      called genocide. Why the difference? Who does the naming? Who is
      being named? What difference does it make?

      The most powerful mobilisation in New York City is in relation to
      Darfur, not Iraq. One would expect the reverse, for no other reason
      than that most New Yorkers are American citizens and so should feel
      directly responsible for the violence in occupied Iraq. But Iraq is
      a messy place in the American imagination, a place with messy
      politics. Americans worry about what their government should do in
      Iraq. Should it withdraw? What would happen if it did? In contrast,
      there is nothing messy about Darfur. It is a place without history
      and without politics; simply a site where perpetrators clearly
      identifiable as 'Arabs' confront victims clearly identifiable
      as 'Africans'.

      A full-page advertisement has appeared several times a week in the
      New York Times calling for intervention in Darfur now. It wants the
      intervening forces to be placed under 'a chain of command allowing
      necessary and timely military action without approval from distant
      political or civilian personnel'. That intervention in Darfur should
      not be subject to 'political or civilian' considerations and that
      the intervening forces should have the right to shoot - to kill -
      without permission from distant places: these are said to
      be 'humanitarian' demands. In the same vein, a New Republic
      editorial on Darfur has called for 'force as a first-resort
      response'. What makes the situation even more puzzling is that some
      of those who are calling for an end to intervention in Iraq are
      demanding an intervention in Darfur; as the slogan goes, 'Out of
      Iraq and into Darfur.'

      What would happen if we thought of Darfur as we do of Iraq, as a
      place with a history and politics - a messy politics of insurgency
      and counter-insurgency? Why should an intervention in Darfur not
      turn out to be a trigger that escalates rather than reduces the
      level of violence as intervention in Iraq has done? Why might it not
      create the actual possibility of genocide, not just rhetorically but
      in reality? Morally, there is no doubt about the horrific nature of
      the violence against civilians in Darfur. The ambiguity lies in the
      politics of the violence, whose sources include both a state-
      connected counter-insurgency and an organised insurgency, very much
      like the violence in Iraq.

      The insurgency and counter-insurgency in Darfur began in 2003. Both
      were driven by an intermeshing of domestic tensions in the context
      of a peace-averse international environment defined by the War on
      Terror. On the one hand, there was a struggle for power within the
      political class in Sudan, with more marginal interests in the west
      (following those in the south and in the east) calling for reform at
      the centre. On the other, there was a community-level split inside
      Darfur, between nomads and settled farmers, who had earlier forged a
      way of sharing the use of semi-arid land in the dry season. With the
      drought that set in towards the late 1970s, co-operation turned into
      an intense struggle over diminishing resources.

      As the insurgency took root among the prospering peasant tribes of
      Darfur, the government trained and armed the poorer nomads and
      formed a militia - the Janjawiid - that became the vanguard of the
      unfolding counter-insurgency. The worst violence came from the
      Janjawiid, but the insurgent movements were also accused of gross
      violations. Anyone wanting to end the spiralling violence would have
      to bring about power-sharing at the state level and resource-sharing
      at the community level, land being the key resource.

      Since its onset, two official verdicts have been delivered on the
      violence, the first from the US, the second from the UN. The
      American verdict was unambiguous: Darfur was the site of an ongoing
      genocide. The chain of events leading to Washington's proclamation
      began with 'a genocide alert' from the Management Committee of the
      Washington Holocaust Memorial Museum; according to the Jerusalem
      Post, the alert was 'the first ever of its kind, issued by the US
      Holocaust Museum'. The House of Representatives followed unanimously
      on 24 June 2004. The last to join the chorus was Colin Powell.

      The UN Commission on Darfur was created in the aftermath of the
      American verdict and in response to American pressure. It was more
      ambiguous. In September 2004, the Nigerian president Olusegun
      Obasanjo, then the chair of the African Union, visited UN
      headquarters in New York. Darfur had been the focal point of
      discussion in the African Union. All concerned were alert to the
      extreme political sensitivity of the issue. At a press conference at
      the UN on 23 September Obasanjo was asked to pronounce on the
      violence in Darfur: was it genocide or not? His response was very
      clear:

      Before you can say that this is genocide or ethnic cleansing, we
      will have to have a definite decision and plan and programme of a
      government to wipe out a particular group of people, then we will be
      talking about genocide, ethnic cleansing. What we know is not that.
      What we know is that there was an uprising, rebellion, and the
      government armed another group of people to stop that rebellion.
      That's what we know. That does not amount to genocide from our own
      reckoning. It amounts to of course conflict. It amounts to violence.

      By October, the Security Council had established a five-person
      commission of inquiry on Darfur and asked it to report within three
      months on 'violations of international humanitarian law and human
      rights law in Darfur by all parties', and specifically to
      determine 'whether or not acts of genocide have occurred'. Among the
      members of the commission was the chief prosecutor of South Africa's
      TRC, Dumisa Ntsebeza. In its report, submitted on 25 January 2005,
      the commission concluded that 'the Government of the Sudan has not
      pursued a policy of genocide . . . directly or through the militias
      under its control.' But the commission did find that the
      government's violence was 'deliberately and indiscriminately
      directed against civilians'. Indeed, 'even where rebels may have
      been present in villages, the impact of attacks on civilians shows
      that the use of military force was manifestly disproportionate to
      any threat posed by the rebels.' These acts, the commission
      concluded, 'were conducted on a widespread and systematic basis, and
      therefore may amount to crimes against humanity' (my emphasis). Yet,
      the commission insisted, they did not amount to acts of
      genocide: 'The crucial element of genocidal intent appears to be
      missing . . . it would seem that those who planned and organised
      attacks on villages pursued the intent to drive the victims from
      their homes, primarily for purposes of counter-insurgency warfare.'

      At the same time, the commission assigned secondary responsibility
      to rebel forces - namely, members of the Sudan Liberation Army and
      the Justice and Equality Movement - which it held 'responsible for
      serious violations of international human rights and humanitarian
      law which may amount to war crimes' (my emphasis). If the government
      stood accused of 'crimes against humanity', rebel movements were
      accused of 'war crimes'. Finally, the commission identified
      individual perpetrators and presented the UN secretary-general with
      a sealed list that included 'officials of the government of Sudan,
      members of militia forces, members of rebel groups and certain
      foreign army officers acting in their personal capacity'. The list
      named 51 individuals.

      The commission's findings highlighted three violations of
      international law: disproportionate response, conducted on a
      widespread and systematic basis, targeting entire groups (as opposed
      to identifiable individuals) but without the intention to eliminate
      them as groups. It is for this last reason that the commission ruled
      out the finding of genocide. Its less grave findings of 'crimes
      against humanity' and 'war crimes' are not unique to Darfur, but fit
      several other situations of extreme violence: in particular, the US
      occupation of Iraq, the Hema-Lendu violence in eastern Congo and the
      Israeli invasion of Lebanon. Among those in the counter-insurgency
      accused of war crimes were the 'foreign army officers acting in
      their personal capacity', i.e. mercenaries, presumably recruited
      from armed forces outside Sudan. The involvement of mercenaries in
      perpetrating gross violence also fits the occupation in Iraq, where
      some of them go by the name of 'contractors'.

      The journalist in the US most closely identified with consciousness-
      raising on Darfur is the New York Times op-ed columnist Nicholas
      Kristof, often identified as a lone crusader on the issue. To peruse
      Kristof's Darfur columns over the past three years is to see the
      reduction of a complex political context to a morality tale
      unfolding in a world populated by villains and victims who never
      trade places and so can always and easily be told apart. It is a
      world where atrocities mount geometrically, the perpetrators so evil
      and the victims so helpless that the only possibility of relief is a
      rescue mission from the outside, preferably in the form of a
      military intervention.

      Kristof made six highly publicised trips to Darfur, the first in
      March 2004 and the sixth two years later. He began by writing of it
      as a case of 'ethnic cleansing': 'Sudan's Arab rulers' had 'forced
      700,000 black African Sudanese to flee their villages' (24 March
      2004). Only three days later, he upped the ante: this was no longer
      ethnic cleansing, but genocide. 'Right now,' he wrote on 27
      March, 'the government of Sudan is engaged in genocide against three
      large African tribes in its Darfur region.' He continued: 'The
      killings are being orchestrated by the Arab-dominated Sudanese
      government' and 'the victims are non-Arabs: blacks in the Zaghawa,
      Massalliet and Fur tribes.' He estimated the death toll at a
      thousand a week. Two months later, on 29 May, he revised the
      estimates dramatically upwards, citing predictions from the US
      Agency for International Development to the effect that 'at
      best, "only" 100,000 people will die in Darfur this year of
      malnutrition and disease' but 'if things go badly, half a million
      will die.'

      The UN commission's report was released on 25 February 2005. It
      confirmed 'massive displacement' of persons ('more than a million'
      internally displaced and 'more than 200,000' refugees in Chad) and
      the destruction of 'several hundred' villages and hamlets
      as 'irrefutable facts'; but it gave no confirmed numbers for those
      killed. Instead, it noted rebel claims that government-allied forces
      had 'allegedly killed over 70,000 persons'. Following the
      publication of the report, Kristof began to scale down his
      estimates. For the first time, on 23 February 2005, he admitted
      that 'the numbers are fuzzy.' Rather than the usual single total, he
      went on to give a range of figures, from a low of 70,000, which he
      dismissed as 'a UN estimate', to 'independent estimates [that]
      exceed 220,000'. A warning followed: 'and the number is rising by
      about ten thousand a month.'

      The publication of the commission's report had considerable effect.
      Internationally, it raised doubts about whether what was going on in
      Darfur could be termed genocide. Even US officials were unwilling to
      go along with the high estimates propagated by the broad alliance of
      organisations that subscribe to the Save Darfur campaign. The effect
      on American diplomacy was discernible. Three months later, on 3 May,
      Kristof noted with dismay that not only had 'Deputy Secretary of
      State Robert Zoellick pointedly refused to repeat the
      administration's past judgment that the killings amount to
      genocide': he had 'also cited an absurdly low estimate of Darfur's
      total death toll: 60,000 to 160,000'. As an alternative, Kristof
      cited the latest estimate of deaths from the Coalition for
      International Justice as 'nearly 400,000, and rising by 500 a day'.
      In three months, Kristof's estimates had gone up from 10,000 to
      15,000 a month. Six months later, on 27 November, Kristof warned
      that 'if aid groups pull out . . . the death toll could then rise to
      100,000 a month.' Anyone keeping a tally of the death toll in Darfur
      as reported in the Kristof columns would find the rise, fall and
      rise again very bewildering. First he projected the number of dead
      at 320,000 for 2004 (16 June 2004) but then gave a scaled down
      estimate of between 70,000 and 220,000 (23 February 2005). The
      number began once more to climb to 'nearly 400,000' (3 May 2005),
      only to come down yet again to 300,000 (23 April 2006). Each time
      figures were given with equal confidence but with no attempt to
      explain their basis. Did the numbers reflect an actual decline in
      the scale of killing in Darfur or was Kristof simply making an
      adjustment to the changing mood internationally?

      In the 23 April column, Kristof expanded the list of perpetrators to
      include an external power: 'China is now underwriting its second
      genocide in three decades. The first was in Pol Pot's Cambodia, and
      the second is in Darfur, Sudan. Chinese oil purchases have financed
      Sudan's pillage of Darfur, Chinese-made AK-47s have been the main
      weapons used to slaughter several hundred thousand people in Darfur
      so far and China has protected Sudan in the UN Security Council.' In
      the Kristof columns, there is one area of deafening silence, to do
      with the fact that what is happening in Darfur is a civil war.
      Hardly a word is said about the insurgency, about the civilian
      deaths insurgents mete out, about acts that the commission
      characterised as 'war crimes'. Would the logic of his 23 April
      column not lead one to think that those with connections to the
      insurgency, some of them active in the international campaign to
      declare Darfur the site of genocide, were also guilty
      of 'underwriting' war crimes in Darfur?

      Newspaper writing on Darfur has sketched a pornography of violence.
      It seems fascinated by and fixated on the gory details, describing
      the worst of the atrocities in gruesome detail and chronicling the
      rise in the number of them. The implication is that the motivation
      of the perpetrators lies in biology ('race') and, if not that,
      certainly in 'culture'. This voyeuristic approach accompanies a
      moralistic discourse whose effect is both to obscure the politics of
      the violence and position the reader as a virtuous, not just a
      concerned observer.

      Journalism gives us a simple moral world, where a group of
      perpetrators face a group of victims, but where neither history nor
      motivation is thinkable because both are outside history and
      context. Even when newspapers highlight violence as a social
      phenomenon, they fail to understand the forces that shape the agency
      of the perpetrator. Instead, they look for a clear and uncomplicated
      moral that describes the victim as untainted and the perpetrator as
      simply evil. Where yesterday's victims are today's perpetrators,
      where victims have turned perpetrators, this attempt to find an
      African replay of the Holocaust not only does not work but also has
      perverse consequences. Whatever its analytical weaknesses, the
      depoliticisation of violence has given its proponents distinct
      political advantages.

      The conflict in Darfur is highly politicised, and so is the
      international campaign. One of the campaign's constant refrains has
      been that the ongoing genocide is racial: 'Arabs' are trying to
      eliminate 'Africans'. But both 'Arab' and 'African' have several
      meanings in Sudan. There have been at least three meanings
      of 'Arab'. Locally, 'Arab' was a pejorative reference to the
      lifestyle of the nomad as uncouth; regionally, it referred to
      someone whose primary language was Arabic. In this sense, a group
      could become 'Arab' over time. This process, known as Arabisation,
      was not an anomaly in the region: there was Amharisation in Ethiopia
      and Swahilisation on the East African coast. The third meaning
      of 'Arab' was 'privileged and exclusive'; it was the claim of the
      riverine political aristocracy who had ruled Sudan since
      independence, and who equated Arabisation with the spread of
      civilisation and being Arab with descent.

      'African', in this context, was a subaltern identity that also had
      the potential of being either exclusive or inclusive. The two
      meanings were not only contradictory but came from the experience of
      two different insurgencies. The inclusive meaning was more political
      than racial or even cultural (linguistic), in the sense that
      an 'African' was anyone determined to make a future within Africa.
      It was pioneered by John Garang, the leader of the Sudan People's
      Liberation Army (SPLA) in the south, as a way of holding together
      the New Sudan he hoped to see. In contrast, its exclusive meaning
      came in two versions, one hard (racial) and the other soft
      (linguistic) - 'African' as Bantu and 'African' as the identity of
      anyone who spoke a language indigenous to Africa. The racial meaning
      came to take a strong hold in both the counter-insurgency and the
      insurgency in Darfur. The Save Darfur campaign's characterisation of
      the violence as 'Arab' against 'African' obscured both the fact that
      the violence was not one-sided and the contest over the meaning
      of 'Arab' and 'African': a contest that was critical precisely
      because it was ultimately about who belonged and who did not in the
      political community called Sudan. The depoliticisation,
      naturalisation and, ultimately, demonisation of the notion 'Arab',
      as against 'African', has been the deadliest effect, whether
      intended or not, of the Save Darfur campaign.

      The depoliticisation of the conflict gave campaigners three
      advantages. First, they were able to occupy the moral high ground.
      The campaign presented itself as apolitical but moral, its concern
      limited only to saving lives. Second, only a single-issue campaign
      could bring together in a unified chorus forces that are otherwise
      ranged as adversaries on most important issues of the day: at one
      end, the Christian right and the Zionist lobby; at the other, a
      mainly school and university-based peace movement. Nat Hentoff of
      the Village Voice wrote of the Save Darfur Coalition as 'an alliance
      of more than 515 faith-based, humanitarian and human rights
      organisations'; among the organisers of their Rally to Stop the
      Genocide in Washington last year were groups as diverse as the
      American Jewish World Service, the American Society for Muslim
      Advancement, the National Association of Evangelicals, the US
      Conference of Catholic Bishops, the US Holocaust Memorial Museum,
      the American Anti-Slavery Group, Amnesty International, Christian
      Solidarity International, Physicians for Human Rights and the
      National Black Church Initiative. Surely, such a wide coalition
      would cease to hold together if the issue shifted to, say, Iraq.

      To understand the third advantage, we have to return to the question
      I asked earlier: how could it be that many of those calling for an
      end to the American and British intervention in Iraq are demanding
      an intervention in Darfur? It's tempting to think that the advantage
      of Darfur lies in its being a small, faraway place where those who
      drive the War on Terror do not have a vested interest. That this is
      hardly the case is evident if one compares the American response to
      Darfur to its non-response to Congo, even though the dimensions of
      the conflict in Congo seem to give it a mega-Darfur quality: the
      numbers killed are estimated in the millions rather than the
      hundreds of thousands; the bulk of the killing, particularly in
      Kivu, is done by paramilitaries trained, organised and armed by
      neighbouring governments; and the victims on both sides - Hema and
      Lendu - are framed in collective rather than individual terms, to
      the point that one influential version defines both as racial
      identities and the conflict between the two as a replay of the
      Rwandan genocide. Given all this, how does one explain the fact that
      the focus of the most widespread and ambitious humanitarian movement
      in the US is on Darfur and not on Kivu?

      Nicholas Kristof was asked this very question by a university
      audience: 'When I spoke at Cornell University recently, a woman
      asked why I always harp on Darfur. It's a fair question. The number
      of people killed in Darfur so far is modest in global terms:
      estimates range from 200,000 to more than 500,000. In contrast, four
      million people have died since 1998 as a result of the fighting in
      Congo, the most lethal conflict since World War Two.' But instead of
      answering the question, Kristof - now writing his column rather than
      facing the questioner at Cornell - moved on: 'And malaria annually
      kills one million to three million people - meaning that three
      years' deaths in Darfur are within the margin of error of the annual
      global toll from malaria.' And from there he went on to compare the
      deaths in Darfur to the deaths from malaria, rather than from the
      conflict in Congo: 'We have a moral compass within us and its needle
      is moved not only by human suffering but also by human evil. That's
      what makes genocide special - not just the number of deaths but the
      government policy behind them. And that in turn is why stopping
      genocide should be an even higher priority than saving lives from
      Aids or malaria.' That did not explain the relative silence on
      Congo. Could the reason be that in the case of Congo, Hema and Lendu
      militias - many of them no more than child soldiers - were trained
      by America's allies in the region, Rwanda and Uganda? Is that why
      the violence in Darfur - but not the violence in Kivu - is named as
      a genocide?

      It seems that genocide has become a label to be stuck on your worst
      enemy, a perverse version of the Nobel Prize, part of a rhetorical
      arsenal that helps you vilify your adversaries while ensuring
      impunity for your allies. In Kristof's words, the point is not so
      much 'human suffering' as 'human evil'. Unlike Kivu, Darfur can be
      neatly integrated into the War on Terror, for Darfur gives the
      Warriors on Terror a valuable asset with which to demonise an enemy:
      a genocide perpetrated by Arabs. This was the third and most
      valuable advantage that Save Darfur gained from depoliticising the
      conflict. The more thoroughly Darfur was integrated into the War on
      Terror, the more the depoliticised violence in Darfur acquired a
      racial description, as a genocide of 'Arabs' killing 'Africans'.
      Racial difference purportedly constituted the motive force behind
      the mass killings. The irony of Kristof's columns is that they
      mirror the ideology of Arab supremacism in Sudan by demonising
      entire communities.[*]

      Kristof chides Arab peoples and the Arab press for not having the
      moral fibre to respond to this Muslim-on-Muslim violence, presumably
      because it is a violence inflicted by Arab Muslims on African
      Muslims. In one of his early columns in 2004, he was outraged by the
      silence of Muslim leaders: 'Do they care about dead Muslims only
      when the killers are Israelis or Americans?' Two years later he
      asked: 'And where is the Arab press? Isn't the murder of 300,000 or
      more Muslims almost as offensive as a Danish cartoon?' Six months
      later, Kristof pursued this line on NBC's Today Show. Elaborating on
      the 'real blind spot' in the Muslim world, he said: 'You are
      beginning to get some voices in the Muslim world . . . saying it's
      appalling that you have evangelical Christians and American Jews
      leading an effort to protect Muslims in Sudan and in Chad.'

      If many of the leading lights in the Darfur campaign are fired by
      moral indignation, this derives from two events: the Nazi Holocaust
      and the Rwandan genocide. After all, the seeds of the Save Darfur
      campaign lie in the tenth-anniversary commemoration of what happened
      in Rwanda. Darfur is today a metaphor for senseless violence in
      politics, as indeed Rwanda was a decade before. Most writing on the
      Rwandan genocide in the US was also done by journalists. In We wish
      to inform you that tomorrow we will be killed with our families, the
      most widely read book on the genocide, Philip Gourevitch envisaged
      Rwanda as a replay of the Holocaust, with Hutu cast as perpetrators
      and Tutsi as victims. Again, the encounter between the two seemed to
      take place outside any context, as part of an eternal encounter
      between evil and innocence. Many of the journalists who write about
      Darfur have Rwanda very much in the back of their minds. In December
      2004, Kristof recalled the lessons of Rwanda: 'Early in his
      presidency, Mr Bush read a report about Bill Clinton's paralysis
      during the Rwandan genocide and scrawled in the margin: "Not on my
      watch." But in fact the same thing is happening on his watch, and I
      find that heartbreaking and baffling.'

      With very few exceptions, the Save Darfur campaign has drawn a
      single lesson from Rwanda: the problem was the US failure to
      intervene to stop the genocide. Rwanda is the guilt that America
      must expiate, and to do so it must be ready to intervene, for good
      and against evil, even globally. That lesson is inscribed at the
      heart of Samantha Power's book, A Problem from Hell: America and the
      Age of Genocide. But it is the wrong lesson. The Rwandan genocide
      was born of a civil war which intensified when the settlement to
      contain it broke down. The settlement, reached at the Arusha
      Conference, broke down because neither the Hutu Power tendency nor
      the Tutsi-dominated Rwanda Patriotic Front (RPF) had any interest in
      observing the power-sharing arrangement at the core of the
      settlement: the former because it was excluded from the settlement
      and the latter because it was unwilling to share power in any
      meaningful way.

      What the humanitarian intervention lobby fails to see is that the US
      did intervene in Rwanda, through a proxy. That proxy was the RPF,
      backed up by entire units from the Uganda Army. The green light was
      given to the RPF, whose commanding officer, Paul Kagame, had
      recently returned from training in the US, just as it was lately
      given to the Ethiopian army in Somalia. Instead of using its
      resources and influence to bring about a political solution to the
      civil war, and then strengthen it, the US signalled to one of the
      parties that it could pursue victory with impunity. This
      unilateralism was part of what led to the disaster, and that is the
      real lesson of Rwanda. Applied to Darfur and Sudan, it is sobering.
      It means recognising that Darfur is not yet another Rwanda.
      Nurturing hopes of an external military intervention among those in
      the insurgency who aspire to victory and reinforcing the fears of
      those in the counter-insurgency who see it as a prelude to defeat
      are precisely the ways to ensure that it becomes a Rwanda.
      Strengthening those on both sides who stand for a political
      settlement to the civil war is the only realistic approach.
      Solidarity, not intervention, is what will bring peace to Darfur.

      The dynamic of civil war in Sudan has fed on multiple sources:
      first, the post-independence monopoly of power enjoyed by a
      tiny 'Arabised' elite from the riverine north of Khartoum, a
      monopoly that has bred growing resistance among the majority,
      marginalised populations in the south, east and west of the country;
      second, the rebel movements which have in their turn bred ambitious
      leaders unwilling to enter into power-sharing arrangements as a
      prelude to peace; and, finally, external forces that continue to
      encourage those who are interested in retaining or obtaining a
      monopoly of power.

      The dynamic of peace, by contrast, has fed on a series of power-
      sharing arrangements, first in the south and then in the east. This
      process has been intermittent in Darfur. African Union-organised
      negotiations have been successful in forging a power-sharing
      arrangement, but only for that arrangement to fall apart time and
      again. A large part of the explanation, as I suggested earlier, lies
      in the international context of the War on Terror, which favours
      parties who are averse to taking risks for peace. To reinforce the
      peace process must be the first commitment of all those interested
      in Darfur.

      The camp of peace needs to come to a second realisation: that peace
      cannot be built on humanitarian intervention, which is the language
      of big powers. The history of colonialism should teach us that every
      major intervention has been justified as humanitarian, a 'civilising
      mission'. Nor was it mere idiosyncrasy that inspired the devotion
      with which many colonial officers and archivists recorded the
      details of barbarity among the colonised - sati, the ban on widow
      marriage or the practice of child marriage in India, or slavery and
      female genital mutilation in Africa. I am not suggesting that this
      was all invention. I mean only to point out that the chronicling of
      atrocities had a practical purpose: it provided the moral pretext
      for intervention. Now, as then, imperial interventions claim to have
      a dual purpose: on the one hand, to rescue minority victims of
      ongoing barbarities and, on the other, to quarantine majority
      perpetrators with the stated aim of civilising them. Iraq should act
      as a warning on this score. The worst thing in Darfur would be an
      Iraq-style intervention. That would almost certainly spread the
      civil war to other parts of Sudan, unravelling the peace process in
      the east and south and dragging the whole country into the global
      War on Terror.
      Footnotes

      * Contrast this with the UN commission's painstaking effort to make
      sense of the identities 'Arab' and 'African'. The commission's
      report concentrated on three related points. First, the claim that
      the Darfur conflict pitted 'Arab' against 'African' was facile. 'In
      fact, the commission found that many Arabs in Darfur are opposed to
      the Janjawiid, and some Arabs are fighting with the rebels, such as
      certain Arab commanders and their men from the Misseriya and
      Rizeigat tribes. At the same time, many non-Arabs are supporting the
      government and serving in its army.' Second, it has never been easy
      to sort different tribes into the categories 'Arab'
      and 'African': 'The various tribes that have been the object of
      attacks and killings (chiefly the Fur, Massalit and Zeghawa tribes)
      do not appear to make up ethnic groups distinct from the ethnic
      groups to which persons or militias that attack them belong. They
      speak the same language (Arabic) and embrace the same religion
      (Muslim). In addition, also due to the high measure of
      intermarriage, they can hardly be distinguished in their outward
      physical appearance from the members of tribes that allegedly
      attacked them. Apparently, the sedentary and nomadic character of
      the groups constitutes one of the main distinctions between them'
      (emphasis mine). Finally, the commission put forward the view that
      political developments are driving the rapidly growing distinction
      between 'Arab' and 'African'. On the one hand, 'Arab' and 'African'
      seem to have become political identities: 'Those tribes in Darfur
      who support rebels have increasingly come to be identified
      as "African" and those supporting the government as the "Arabs". A
      good example to illustrate this is that of the Gimmer, a pro-
      government African tribe that is seen by the African tribes opposed
      to the government as having been "Arabised".' On the other hand,
      this development was being promoted from the outside: 'The Arab-
      African divide has also been fanned by the growing insistence on
      such divide in some circles and in the media.'


      M.mamdaniMahmood Mamdani (b. 1947 in Kampala, Uganda) is the Herbert
      Lehman Professor of Government in the Departments of Anthropology
      and Political Science at Columbia University. He is also the current
      President of the Council for Development of Social Research in
      Africa (CODESRIA) Dakar, Senegal. One of his best known books is
      When Victims Become Killers: Colonialism, Nativism and the Genocide
      in Rwanda (Princeton University Press, 2001). Mamdani's reputation
      as an expert in African history, politics and international
      relations has made him an important voice in contemporary debates
      about Africa. His book Citizen and Subject: Contemporary Africa and
      the Legacy of Late Colonialism (Princeton University Press, 1996)
      won the prestigious Herskovits Award of the African Studies
      Association of the USA (1998).

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