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Tuesday, April 06, 2004

Horror in Sudan 

The ever-depressing Samantha Power (author of this must-read book on genocide) has an opinion piece in today's NY Times (registration required, but there is NO NON-PARANOID REASON not to register) about what's going on right now in Sudan:
The horrors in the Darfur region of Sudan are not "like" Rwanda, any more than those in Rwanda were "like" those ordered by Hitler. The Arab-dominated government in Khartoum has armed nomadic Arab herdsmen, or Janjaweed, against rival African tribes. The government is using aerial bombardment to strafe villages and terrorize civilians into flight. And it is denying humanitarian access to some 700,000 people who are trapped in Darfur.

The Arab Muslim marauders and their government sponsors do not yet seem intent on exterminating every last African Muslim in their midst. But they do seem determined to wipe out black life in the region. The only difference between Rwanda and Darfur, said Mukesh Kapila, the former United Nations' humanitarian coordinator for Sudan, "is the numbers of dead, murdered, tortured, raped."
The BBC is now reporting that the UN has started a 10-day mission, which appears to consist of interviewing refugees and politely asking the government to admit inspectors.

Like Rwanda, this would seem to be a case where the UN, or NATO, or somebody should step up and violate sovereignty norms in pursuit of the greater goal of preventing genocide. I wonder if this is more or less likely in the wake of last year's international arguments about multilateralism, collective security, and the rights of Muslim countries. I'm not too optimistic.

UPDATE: For the Ride... has some readings on genocide 10 years after Rwanda, including a quote (and link) from a piece harshly critical of Samantha Power for her advocacy of "ventur[ing] abroad in search of monsters to destroy." Worth a look.

UPDATE: Explananda says Sudan is a great opportunity for European opponents of Gulf War II to show they're not just wimpy, hand-waving, fair-weather human rights advocates.

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