Archive for July 1st, 2004

On Darfur and Sudan: Labels do matter. We need to trigger a positive cascade by recognizing our genocide for what it is.

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1.  The last few days have seen new and powerful political
communities joining the fight for Darfur and Sudan.  MoveOn.org
has mobilized its mailing list.  The Congressional Black Caucus
has become much more visible and intent, and Nancy Pelosi and the DCCC
are taking action.  This is good, and they join the long-time
coalition of communities that have kept Sudan alive–African-American
leaders, midwestern and western conservative Christians, and Jews who
have a deep concern for stopping Holocaust-like genocides.  
We are now seeing a coalition the likes of which seldom emerge. 
Friends are being made across traditional political lines.  This
is good for Darfur and Sudan and, if I may say so, this sort of thing
is good for America and the American political culture.  It
happens too rarely.  We need to keep it up.  We are tackling
a task so difficult that we need all the power of shared purpose we can
muster.

2.  In biology and complexity theory there is great power in
“cascades.”  Cascades are actions that if taken trigger others,
which in turn trigger more, and so on.  Some of the most advanced
work in drug evaluation is in modeling drug-induced cascades. 
Epidemiology is essentially the practive of anticipating and
intervening to stop epidemics cascading through societies.

Genocide is a cascade.  As Samantha Power wrote in her book A Problem from Hell: America and the Age of Genocide
(which won the Pullitzer Prize for non-fiction this year), Samantha
explains that genocide is a cascade–where the hate crimes based in racism and ethnocentrism, fed by political
leadership, take on societal scale.  America has never intervened
to stop a genocide.

I would like this time, our time, “our genocide”–the Darfur genocide
of 2004–to be the first time America intervenes.  This would be a
historic accomplishment for the people of the world.  Intervention
can be triggered by a single event: the labeling of the Darfur
situation a genocide.  Colin Powell and Kofi Annan both keep
saying “we will take care of the problem and worry about labels later”
as if the label doesn’t matter.  But under international law the
label does matter.  If this is a genocide, most of the world’s
major nations are bound by treaty to protect the innocents–bound by
treaty to intervene with whatever means are necessary.

This is why we need to insist that “our genocide” be called what it
is.  The Darfur genocide needs to be recognized as such now;
not–like the genocide in Rwanda–only in retrospect.

[More information is available at http://passionofthepresent.org]

July 1 morning press: Assessing the impact of Colin Powell’s and Kofi Annan’s visits to Darfur Sudan

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style=”font-family: times new roman;”>Most mainline
press have stories this morning on the Powell and Annan trips to Sudan
(Thursday, July 1).  It is worth reviewing them for what they
indicate about the impact of the trip–both on the Sudanese and on
Powell, Annan, and plans for the UN Security Council proceedings of the
next week.

The USA Today reporter Barbara Slavin captured the perspective of camp members present for Secretary Powell’s visit.

But Leila and thousands of other refugees who chased after
Powell as he walked among them and mobbed his entourage in 100-degree
heat did not know who he was — only that he was someone important who
might finally bring help.

Christopher Marquis and Marc Lacey writing in The New York Times conveyed the atmosphere of the crowded scene:

During Mr. Powell’s quick visit to northern Darfur, youths
eager for a look at him climbed atop pallets of American-donated wheat
and vegetable oil, only to be shooed off by a soldier flailing a whip.
Women draped in veils herded wide-eyed children chasing Mr. Powell’s
group. Young men sidled up to reporters to confide their disdain for
the government — and their fear of it.

“We want this government out,” whispered one man, who said he had
lost 14 relatives to the violence. “They kill our families.” He
disappeared as quickly as he had surfaced, saying, “They watch me,”
before melting into the crowd.

Also good are those in the Guardian, Financial Times.

On the diplomatic level there seems to be a
stalemate.

The Sudanese government denies its guilt. Both the US and
the UN talk tough but ultimately dance around the genocide issue in
hopes of getting the Sudanese government to help its own people.

The US is circulating a draft UN Security Council resolution placing
sanctions on the Arab militias, and mandating review of the situation
in 30 days if the “atrocities” are not stopped. Unfortunately, the
proposed UN draft does not call the situation “genocide,” does not
address the complicity of the Sudanese government, and does not call
for a UN peacekeeping force to protect the victims. According to USA Today:

U.S. officials began circulating a draft United Nations
resolution Wednesday that would impose an arms embargo and travel ban
on the Janjaweed. But while the measure vaguely threatens more
widespread sanctions if the situation in Darfur does not improve, it
does not take any action against the oil-rich Sudanese government, as
some human rights groups and Africa analysts have urged. And there is
resistance from security council members such as China, which has investments in Sudan’s oil fields.

Meanwhle the Guardian reports that Kofi Annan expressed optimism.

“I think we should be able to make some real progress in the next 24 to
48 hours,” Mr Annan told senior Sudanese ministers yesterday.

It is hard to understand Mr. Annan’s point of view.

Perhaps the most compelling closing statements are those of Sudanese who are writing on the http://passionofthepresent.org blog.

John Ukec Lueth wrote the following yesterday:

A government that has unleached such terror can not be
pressured to undo what they created. It was easy to arm [the janjaweed]
but it will be very difficult to disarm the janjaweed even if the
Government is serious to stop the genocide.

Since 1955 Southern Sudanese have been crying loud and the World
never heeded to our cries.Time has come that for a military presence in
both Darfur and Southern Sudan to put an end to Arab genocide of the
Africans…

Colin Powell’s muted pressure is taken lightly by NIF. It is
frustrating that Annan and Powell–Sons of Africa and of African
origin–are unable to stop this genocide. Send troops now!!! That is
the only action that will stop the killing, rape and terror.

Another person writing on the blog yesterday, identified only as “a Sudanese” had this to say:

The regime in Sudan is very unpopular and dangerous. It is
true that they respond, sometimes, to pressure from the international
community. But they are still an Islamist regime that is bent on ruling
with an iron fist.

Sudan is a very rich country. The majority of Sudanese people are
moderate muslims, and harbour great respect for America and the west in
general. They have no quarrel with Western/Universal values of freedom
and opportunity.

This is why the International community and the USA should interfere
as soon as possible to save the lives of people in Darfur region, and
to exert more pressure on the regime to change forever, or be changed
for good. The world can not afford another failing state in the heart
of Africa and the Middle East and the Red Sea.

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