Thursday, May 31, 2007

Darfur

I thought I'd do a little more serious post regarding the civil war in Sudan, specifically a region called Darfur. I'm guessing some of you have heard about it already, but if you haven't here's a pretty good link with some general information from the BBC.


Much like the Rwandan civil war in the 90's there are some pretty horrible things going on in Sudan. I think everyone agrees that something needs to be done. The "what" is where things start to get complicated. The first logical step after recognizing the problem is putting pressure on the U.N. to act, something President Bush spoke about last week. But what happens if the U.N. is reluctant to act. Activists advocate U.S. military presence only as a last resort and in only with the support of other nations. Sound a little familiar? Its ironic that these same people who are calling the government to action in Darfur are the same ones who are demanding that U.S. troops leave Iraq as soon as possible.

Now here's the real dilemma. Regardless on your feelings about Iraq it is understood that when the U.S. leaves the violence will escalate and it will basically be another civil war, and level of bloodshed will rival what is going on in Sudan. Further complicating the issue is that restoring the peace in Sudan will be very difficult and costly. Although there is public outcry right now because the government isn't doing anything, I'm forced to wonder how people will react if they are asked to finance another military campaign where American soldiers are dying.

At this point I think everything possible needs to be done to bring Darfur to the forefront of public consciousness, even if the attention comes from hypocritical activists. If enough people realize what is going and demand action, our government and other developed countries will be forced to do something. I'm not going to pretend that I have an answer to the problem....I don't even know if there is an actual "answer" right now. Putting pressure on the U.N. and funding the peacekeeping African Union would be a good start, but only a start.

Hopefully this will do a small part (ok very small) in bringing some attention to this issue and I look forward to hearing your guys' opinions.

5 Comments:

Buzzsaw said...

There is a big difference between a genocide and a civil war. When we leave Iraq there will be a civil war to decide who will rule, in Darfur there is no opponent, it's just innocent people being slaughtered. In Iraq there will be different cultures fighting but I'm assuming they won't all of a sudden try to wipe their enemy out after power is obtained, especially with the US looking over the Iraqi government's shoulder.

Logan said...

It is a civil war in Darfur. The rebel groups are fighting against the Sudanese government as well as the Janjaweed militia. The government claims no ties with the Janjaweed because of their actions, but evidence shows otherwise.

No one can say what will happen in Iraq when we leave, but the Sunni and Shia hatred runs pretty deep. The Shia have not forgiven the Sunni for the persecution they were subjected to under Saddam and the Sunni have performed suicide bomb attacks on Shia civilians. As far as genocide is concerned, there is no way of knowing if it will occur after we leave but it definitely occurred previously under Saddam.

Anyway, my point wasn't to say the two situations are exactly the same, because they obviously are not. I just wanted to show that there are some similarities between the two situations and point out there are some potential problems in the consistency of our foreign policy.

Buzzsaw said...

People aren't talking about Darfur because there is a civil war going on, they talk about it because it is genocide. That's why we know about it, there are a bunch of wars going on that no one talks about.
Any war within a country is a civil war, so yes, that it is. However, almost 500,000 people have died and it's basically arabs killing blacks with the arabs being supported by the government.
I wouldn't say the US foreign policy is inconsistent at all. Sure, Iraq had ridiculous human rights violations (and WMD's, haha), but they had oil so we "liberated" them. Darfur has hundreds or attrocities per day but no oil, so we don't "liberate." Pretty simple. If America could get anything out of intervention in Darfur other than a clean conscience I think we'd have already stepped in.

Daris said...

Log, I am loving the b(log). I was entirely too focused on Iraq, but my conclusion about the difference between the two conflicts seems rational.

The UN choose not to support the War in Iraq because they didn’t have enough solid evidence to say that Saddam Hussein (SH) had WMD. The UN wanted to make sure that SH truly was an international threat. Remember, the US, initially, wanted support from the rest of the world not to liberate the Iraqi people, but rather to ensure international security. We knew that SH had killed hundreds of thousands of people, and had done nothing about it for years! (see link: http://www.fas.org/news/iraq/2000/09/iraq-000918.htm)

Our security was the issue, not the Iraqi people. SH was a security threat and the Iraqi people were an afterthought. I don’t think that point can be debated. President Bush realized that the UN wasn’t going to budge and decided that he might be able to gather more support if he made it a liberation movement. His position may have changed, but his reasons for invading Iraq remain(ed) the same. I don’t argue “oil” like most others. I truly believe he thought SH was a threat to intl securty, but he was dead wrong. He just needs to admit it.


Log, you are correct in saying that our exit from Iraq will create bloodshed that might be comparable to that in Sudan. Moreover, some similarities between the two conflicts exist, but the more important issue is how they are different.

We created the situation in Iraq. We didn’t create the situation in Darfur.

Every informed person predicted a long drawn-out civil war in Iraq. Consequently, our leadership needed to make sure that SH was so serious a threat as to merit the creation of the aforementioned war. I was happy the day we invaded Iraq. I thought SH was a serious threat to societies everywhere. I’m not privy to the information our leadership uses to make our intelligence decisions, so I have to trust that they have done their homework. I supported our invasion of Iraq not only because I wanted to liberate the Iraqi people, but because I wanted my own liberties safeguarded! I knew that Iraq would be hell for years down the road, but it was our only viable option. We don’t go around the world playing peacemaker for any old reason, so let’s not act like this was in any way, shape, or form about the Iraqi people initially. I agree that we have to stay in Iraq. We can’t leave now or anytime in the near future because of the potential repercussions, but its just a damn shame the whole thing had to start. Not finding any weapons has made it very hard to swallow. Of course the people you refer to as “hypocritical activists” are going to look ridiculous saying that we have to leave a situation that could turn into mass genocide. However, anyone who cares about the greater good is going to be pissed at the situation, and can that person really be blamed for feeling that way?


No one in their right mind would look back and say the Iraqi people today have it better then when SH was in power. Did the Iraqi people even want us in Iraq? I think that’s still being debated.

More importantly, I hate to use the lesser of two evils argument, but it seems logical here. Let’s suppose its 5 years ago, and our gov’t decides to invade Iraq because of its government’s human rights violations. Let’s also suppose that we know this invasion will result in utter chaos and civil war. Should we still go through with the invasion? If a situation is terrible, and you have a reasonable expectation of making it even worse, do you still go through with it?

The situation in Darfur is starkly different mainly because it cannot get any worse. In addition, one can only predict the final outcome in Iraq, whereas the situation in Sudan is drawing to an abrupt conclusion. We don’t need to make predictions about the struggle in Africa. It’s going to end with millions of innocent people dead; that is 100% guaranteed. The losses are staggering, and continue to climb at a sickening rate. I know my argument almost seems to lose its congruency, but Iraq does have a chance of becoming stable without a US presence. That chance might be a tenth of a tenth of a percent, but it exists nonetheless. The same cannot be said for Darfur.

The United States needs to be involved. We cannot sit back as millions of people are raped and killed. The US should leave Iraq if it means saving more lives in Darfur. Purely utilitarian I know, but what else makes sense, both logically and morally?

It is late and I am going to bed. Editing is for losers. I hope this makes sense.

d-wizzle

Medicine said...

Putting pressure on the U.N. and funding the peacekeeping African Union would be a good start, but only a start. The Shia have not forgiven the Sunni for the persecution they were subjected to under Saddam and the Sunni have performed suicide bomb attacks on Shia civilians.