A Cry for Who to Intervene?

Here in Washington, DC there was a march this past weekend on the White House. It was modest in scope, a few hundred at most, calling on the Bush administration to “Stop the genocide! Break the deadlock! Protect the people.” The gathering was organized by Africa Action, who planned the rally to coincide with the release of their new report, “A Tale of Two Genocides: The Failed US Response to Rwanda and Darfur.” The report (funded in large part by the American Jewish World Service and the indomitable Ruth Messinger) explores the similarities and differences in how US policymakers responded to the genocides in Rwanda and Darfur. The report, poignantly, was released on September 9 to mark the two-year anniversary of the Bush administration’s acknowledgement that what is happening in Darfur constitutes a genocide.

As my partner recently pointed out, the situation in Darfur has reached a crescendo of horror. The worst case scenarios that were for too long blithely dismissed as, well, worst case scenarios are in fact coming to fruition. The Abuja peace accord, brokered with American assurances and American pressure, has crumbled. It is yet another example of how America’s role in the world is so compromised at the present moment. The very idea of American resolve seems farcical in the present context. The Dinner Jacket sees this as clearly as I do (or at least as clearly as a delusional man can gauge any situation. And I am increasingly of the mind the Dinner Jacket is delusional like a fox. That or he is the crazy pawn on the backroom Mullah’s chessboard).

The mendacious government in Khartoum is asking for the tiny, ineffectual (though valiant) African Union force to leave Darfur. One Darfurian told Lydia Polgreen of The New York Times, “We beg the international community, somebody, come and save us. We have no means to protect ourselves. The only thing we can do is run and hide in the mountains and caves. We will all die.” Meanwhile, Kofi Annan – ineffectual and not valiant – warned the Sudanese government that they will be “held collectively and individually responsible for what happens to the population in Darfur.”

There are plans for large-scale rallies this weekend in New York City. A number of months back there was a similar demonstration on the Mall in Washington. The crowd on that sweltering afternoon seemed an interesting mosh of Africanists and human rights advocates. Though the organizers worked to keep the affair apolitical, the general ideological temperature of the audience (judging by the signs, conversation, and common sense) was decidedly liberal. I would guarantee you that there were a mere handful of Iraq War supporters (and even fewer out and out Bush supporters) in that audience. I was most troubled by the fact that the calls for action were all ambiguous, almost delusionally ambiguous. The most often-repeated refrain was “Not on My Watch!” But there was little rhetorical consideration offered by those at the podium as to what American would in fact have to do to ensure that this does not occur on our watch. I wanted to ask these passionate, heartfelt protesters, whether they support stopping this at all costs. In short, do they support American boots on the ground? Less dramatically, do they support American planes administering a no-fly zone?

Now, many months and deaths later, with no diplomatic option on the horizon, will the speakers at the rally this weekend resort to the same platitudes? More to the point, will President Bush take the opportunity of a speech next month at the General Assembly of the UN to publicly shame and admonish the Sudanese government? Will he call out, specifically, the Sudanese representative who will be sitting in that chamber on that day?

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Explore posts in the same categories: Africa, Darfur, Intervention

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