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Darfur: impending disaster

September 15th, 2006

The tragedy in Darfur is approaching a crisis point which could lead to genocide on a huge scale. The inadequate peacekeeping force sent by the African Union is about to reach the end of its mission, and the Sudan government is refusing to allow its replacement. Russia and China forced a requirement for Sudan’s agreement into a UNSC resolution on the subject, and so far efforts to secure that agreement have gone nowhere. Even if they are successful, there’s no guarantee that an adequate force will be found.

No one comes out of this terrible story with much credit. China has followed its usual policy of backing dictatorships, and Russia has joined in. The US and, even more, the Europeans have been intermittent, at best, in their attempts to do anything. The Sudanese government has made brutal war on its own people. The Darfur rebels, who seemed to be in a strong position earlier this year, rejected a peace deal that might have prevented the disaster that is now approaching.

But condemnations all around don’t help anything. Sunday 17 September is the Global Day for Darfur, and we should all support it as best we can. I haven’t been able to find out anything happening in Australia, but we can at least provide help to the victims through charities such as CARE or MSF.

Passion of the Present has more, as does Jeff Weintraub.

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  1. observa
    September 15th, 2006 at 09:09 | #1

    Unfortunately for Sudanese the prospects for creating decent civil societies these days have taken a distinct turn for the worse. Australians in particular would be looking at Iraq, Afghanistan, Solomons and East Timor and shaking their heads sorrowfully at Sudan. It would appear to the sensible analyst now, that Sudan needs a firm Saddam, Mugabe, Kim Jong Il, or perhaps a nice Castro to solve its problems now. No doubt that’s what clever Russians and Chinese were thinking with their precondition that the Sudanese govt have the power of veto on any well intentioned intervention by the usual suspects. Having realised the recent long term benefits of dictators themselves they probably want to protect us from short circuiting a necessary historical process.

  2. observa
    September 15th, 2006 at 09:50 | #2

    Given the aforesaid that probably leaves the following options:

    a. Pass more hand wringing motions in the UN deploring the situation.
    b. Threaten the Khartoum govt with shock and awe bombing if they don’t desist from massacring the displaced in the camps and carrying out the threat if they don’t desist.
    c. If b. is too morally unthinkable, help train and arm the displaced to defend themselves.
    d. If c. would only prolong the inevitable and create more suffering in the long term then concentrate on the footy finals.
    e. A nuanced combination of a. and d., etc

    I’d certainly welcome some superior intellectual help and/or moral guidance here folks.

  3. observa
    September 15th, 2006 at 11:19 | #3

    I have observed that wherever there is a localised troublespot or regional hellhole there is a strong negative correlation with elected Anglo Saxons or a positive correlation with Muslims, elected or unelected, but I’m not exactly sure how this helps.

  4. observa
    September 15th, 2006 at 11:48 | #4

    Still, things could take a nasty turn and get really bloody serious. The fooking Crows could win the Grand Final.

  5. Warbo
    September 15th, 2006 at 12:51 | #5

    … a strong negative correlation with elected Anglo Saxons or a positive correlation with Muslims

    That’s a spectacular case of the apple calling the orange black.

  6. September 15th, 2006 at 13:06 | #6

    PrQ,
    This, to me, is another example of where the UN will always fail on matters of internal repression. China can be relied upon to veto any such resolution because of their own repressive policies. Without a UN resolution, and the resulting sanction under international law, there is no chance of getting a proper force together without Sudanese government consent.
    The US would be the only real force capable of doing this sort of thing without consent, but after the political and military mauling they have recieved for Iraq the chances of this happening are, at best, remote.
    The current system does not work to alleviate internal repression, except through moral suasion, and, if there is enough oil in a country or other vital economic interests are threatened, even that becomes muted.

  7. observa
    September 15th, 2006 at 13:43 | #7

    Ahem Andrew, a United Liberal Democratic Nations?

    You got some interesting outliers or finer data correlations on black and orange Muslims there Warbo?

    Cheer up O, hang on tight and something will turn up. God with a skyhook and the Crows go down to the Dockers by a point after a really dodgy free kick to Freo in the goalsquare, right on the death knock. You gotta keep believing good always triumphs over evil in the end.

  8. September 15th, 2006 at 14:30 | #8

    observa – I was wondering when you would bring that one up. The problem is always when do you decide, or who gets to decide, who is liberal and democratic? In all of the hullabaloo after Yeltsin got in, Russia may have been admitted. Would they still qualify and, if not, who would have the balls will to propose they be ejected?

  9. Razor
    September 15th, 2006 at 15:10 | #9

    Good to see the highly valued soft-power of the EU and the UN in action again, JQ. Pretty to watch – so much cleaner than the US method isn’t it?

    Koffi Annan presiding over another genocidal event – now that’s a suprise! Is he deeply concerned?? He normally is.

    The US could probably go in a fix this fairly quickly, but suprise suprise, given the boiling hate that their efforts to remove some of the most horrible regimes in the world, why the firetruck would the bother sticking their necks out again?

    Let’s see the EU sort this one out, somehow I doubt it.

  10. observa
    September 15th, 2006 at 15:37 | #10

    “observa – I was wondering when you would bring that one up. The problem is always when do you decide, or who gets to decide, who is liberal and democratic?”

    We eventually decided how it was going to work with the League of Nations, a la Security Council, veto power and so on. If any club is too big and cumbersome, or fails to meet the expectations of a significant number of the members, then its always available to those members to hive off on their own with a new constitution and ideals. We could always offer non-voting associate membership to those who are in the process of meeting the new membership criteria. Those who don’t wish to can form their own club, with their own rules or run with the current one. Please themselves who they prefer to align with. Our club wouldn’t guarantee sound decision making, but it would unload some awfully cumbersome baggage and speak with one voice more easily. We also need to be able to move quickly to decide when to intervene with oppressive regimes to protect the group from what is becoming a major problem for us all, namely refugees from these regimes. We can keep up the UN refugee facade now, while each pursuing tougher individual homeland security to push the problem down the road. I also note how well cutting off cash to Hamas has had a positive effect. A ULDN would speak softly, carry a big stick and some powerful cash incentives much better than the UN today. We need the EU, US, Anglos, Japan, India to start the ball rolling and define the new rules and obligations. We’ll see then who wants to sit on the outer and with whom.

  11. observa
    September 15th, 2006 at 16:03 | #11

    Lets face it Andrew we’re talking essentailly here about the ‘West’ and the question is would Russia today prefer themselves to be outside our group? You’re right though, the group needs to be able to admonish a votiing member back to associate, or worse, if a constitutional majority decide they’re not toeing the club line. That’s a major failing of the current UN.

  12. September 15th, 2006 at 16:21 | #12

    “It would appear to the sensible analyst now, that Sudan needs a firm Saddam, Mugabe, Kim Jong Il, or perhaps a nice Castro to solve its problems now”

    Sudan needs a Saddam? The most evil man in the world, according to recent accounts (see Bush G & Cheney R, various publications, Oct 2001 – Nov 2004)?

    Observa, when your analyis begins with endorsing genocidaires to run a country, I don’t think you have any right to use the word ‘sensible’. Certainly the problem is China here, so I’m not sure how endorsing the spread kind of this kind of regime elsewhere is exactly productive.

  13. September 15th, 2006 at 17:02 | #13

    The problem with Darfur is that nobody, John included, appears to have learned the lesson of other mass killings in this century, which is that in a civil war there is no way to simply stop bad things happening. The only thing you can do is pick one side or the other and help it to win. The only choice you get is which side.
    It’s not that the area needs a Saddam; it simply needs a clear winner. If you don’t like either the government or the rebels, there’s simply nothing you can do except stand around. There are no other players.

  14. observa
    September 15th, 2006 at 20:46 | #14

    “Sudan needs a Saddam?”

    Well there’s some considerable thought doing the rounds that as far as nation building goes in Iraq at present, Saddam was really the best option, all things considered. I was just applying that same logic to Sudan, but perhaps I’m overstating the ‘impending disaster’ a bit and we can safely use Afghanistan as the model? Trouble is with a veto from China, that means no UN mandate, which might make intervention more like the Iraq thingy again. Oh damn, it’s all too confusing and besides the footy’s on now. Email the Sudanese and copy me when you’ve worked it all out .

  15. Paul Walter
    September 16th, 2006 at 01:32 | #15

    Is not this region in general supposed to be in strife at the mo?
    On another tack, the lonely and hapless figure of Kofi Annan, in a facical and paranoid allegation on this thread, said to be somehow deiberately and maliciously “presiding over another a disaster”.
    Annan is only the reluctant MC to a tragedy involving the US neo-con trashing of international relations norms.
    The UN tried to influence, in its limited way, international affairs toward a more ethical basis. But the money that could have lubricated change and good will; the $trillions (Stiglitz) that could have been employed for the benefit of all people, was squandered by the Neo-con control-freak nutters on their rotten, genocidal, profiteering adventures in the middle-east.

  16. melanie
    September 17th, 2006 at 14:32 | #16

    I’m in Vietnam at the moment and one of the 50 or so TV channels I have available had a program the other night about the economic boom in Sudan, the flood of foreign investment, the skyscrapers going up in Khartoum, the latte society, etc. I’m pretty sure it wasn’t CCTV – which never has anything so interesting.

  17. Paul Walter
    September 19th, 2006 at 22:46 | #17

    Yet, somewhere on radio today, yet more talk about the strife Darfor (200,000 dead and counting) is in, and more stuff about UN?
    This must that human life that is only some animal species, that does not count except as collateral damage; exists beyond the dress-circle of the westernised cities and given latte locations, or am I supposing only a western yuppie attitude, as to that outlook?

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