Wednesday, August 11, 2004

A reader sends me what is supposed to be comforting news

Europe Sees No Genocide in Sudan Region

The European Union said Monday that it had found no evidence of genocide in the Sudanese region of Darfur despite widespread killings, but that there were few indications of government efforts to protect civilians.

The conclusion of a fact-finding mission put Europe at odds with the United States Congress, which has pushed for a declaration that the campaign of looting and burning by government-backed Arab militiamen against black village farmers in Darfur is genocide. ...

But Pieter Feith, who visited Sudan on behalf of the European Union, showed little optimism about the situation, even though he declined to endorse the American assessment.

"We are not in the situation of genocide there," he told reporters. "But it is clear there is widespread, silent and slow killing going on, and village burning on a fairly large scale."

The International Criminal Court defines genocide as the "systematic and planned extermination of a national, racial, religious or ethnic group."

I appreciate the thought, but whether its technically "genocide" or just literally widespread killing is irrelevant. I'm an equal opportunity agitator. My claim is not whether the USA can and should stop "genocide" only in the strictest sense of the term -- an obvious move, I think -- but that the USA should be consistent in its vaunted opposition to terror, genocidal or not, and intervene in Sudan. I may as well be outraged by rape, but apathetic about “statutory” rape. What’s in a name? Not very much compared to what’s actually occurring in Sudan.

As I've said more than once, the Sudanese Janjaweed butchers are walking, talking WMDs. There is no international dispute about whether they exist or whether they pose an immediate and grave threat to the Sudanese people; there is merely a diplomatic squabble about who can best handle removing the Janjaweed. Since when did he USA care so very much about the opinions of Europe or Egypt or Sudan in resolving volatile African and Middle Eastern situations? Since when was Colin Powell anti-US advocate of internationalist politics?

There is such a thing as passive aggression on the political scale. There are such things as political sins of omission. Was Switzerland "guilty" in an active sense of consigning European Jews to death in the Nazi Holocaust? No, not by most accounts. Did, then, Switzerland commit genocide in any strict sense? No. But Switzerland -- or any other country -- does deserve considerable blame both for failing to resist the massacre happening in its backyard and for profiting from *die Schnäppchen der Juden*, from Jewish war booty. I'd rather not have the USA sink into the same bog of passive guilt in this Sudanese situation.

Now, I don't know this, but I am fairly certain my solicitous reader is a confirmed supporter of the War in Iraq. If so, I can’t help but wince at the irony: before Iraq, US warhawks had no quarter for the European naysayers dragging their heels into Iraq. What a bunch of overly theoretical, postmodern, post-Christian won’t-crap-on-the-pot, gun-shy peaceniks, etc. But now, strangely enough, who’s dragging their heels? Colin Powell has made his position clear, and I’d say he speaks very well for the USA: let’s do the right thing and move in. But, oddly, now we’re all ears for any possible reasons mitigating the moral urgency in Sudan. Come on. Pick your post. Is the USA committed to a truly Just War on terror on all fronts, or are we interested only in Justifiable War on certain politically advantageous fronts?

No comments: