Topic: Government & Politics

Sudan
(7/13/2004)

Mass murders…in Germany, China, Russia, Cambodia, Rawanda, Bosnia…keep happening, and the world keeps saying, "Never again." But in Sudan, ethnic Arab militias are burning villages of non-Arab farmers and herders in Darfur, causing more than 30,000 deaths so far with no end in sight. The Sudanese government says that it has no control over the militias, while others say that it is encouraging genocide against black Africans by Sudanese Arabs. Colin Powell, on behalf of the US, has called for immediate action to halt the slaughter, but as days pass and the blood continues pour, nothing is happening beyond words.

The UN's craven preference for kick-backs over enforcing its own resolutions on Iraq should raised questions about its resolve and purpose; if it repeats its handling of the Rawanda massacre here, it is time for even die-hard Woodrow Wilson fans to pronounce the institution dead and worthless. If a world organization like the United Nations should be good for anything, it should be good for protecting innocent populations before they are systematically liquidated. This is an appropriate use of international power. It is an appropriate, indeed a mandatory response to support of universal human rights and values.

As always, it appears that the United States…the much detested, unilateral acting, arrogant, cowboy mannered United States…must lead the way if any international rescue is going to occur.

This mission has no controversial agendas attached to it, unlike Iraq. Critics have stubbornly ignored the steady stream of Saddam's political executions testified to by multiple mass graves and halted by the US invasion, because the US had additional reasons (its own security, violated cease-fire conditions, flawed evidence of WMDs, or, if you are Michael Moore, a desire to create government contracts for Bush and Cheney cronies) for its intervention.

There are no self-serving reasons to intervene in Sudan, and there doesn't need to be. And if, as is likely, the UN refuses to act for its usual combination of politics, greed, confusion and red tape, the United States should once again assemble a "coalition of the willing." Not to do so will confirm the suspicion of many that saving lives was only an afterthought to the Iraq war, and the darker suspicion, sparked by our nation's apathy toward the murders of Pol Pot and fanned to full flame by our failure to act in Rawanda, that only white victims are deemed worthy of military rescue missions.

Sure, there will be critics who ask why we should send soldiers to Sudan, when there is violence elsewhere. But there is no violence as urgent as this, or on such a horrendous scale. And maybe an aspiring Moore acolyte will make a documentary showing Arab militias flying kites before the cruel death-dealing Americans sweep in. Never mind.

When a fellow human being is in peril, and you alone have the power to save him, the only ethical course is to do so. Too many times has the United States huddled inertly with the rest of the world, like the infamous neighbors of Kitty Genovese, as the helpless are murdered.

We should ask, persuade, and demand that the United Nations acts forcefully to stop the death in Sudan. And if it does not, do it ourselves. It is not only the right thing to do, but also the only thing to do, if this country stands for the values it aspires to.

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