Monday, October 04, 2004

Genocide in Darfur: an invention of Washington? [essay]

The Observer is one of at least a few to report claims that downplay the extent of the crisis in Darfur, eastern Sudan. American warnings that Darfur is heading for an apocalyptic humanitarian catastrophe have been widely exaggerated by administration officials, it is alleged by international aid workers in Sudan. Washington's desire for a regime change in Khartoum has biased their reports, it is claimed, writes the British paper.

This is odd since most humanitarian aid organizations have been screaming at the top of their lungs to sensitize people to the disaster in Darfur.

It's part of the knee-jerk mentality of some people that whatever the US government advocates is automatically wrong. I'm as critical of the Bush administration as anyone but in this particular case, they happen to be right. Right to condemn genocide. Right to denounce ethnic cleansing. Right to try to help avert a famine. Right to deplore a man-made humanitarian catastrophe.

Some people hate President Bush so much that, in their minds, agreeing with him on anything is tantamount to endorsing his election bid. But I don't see how any self-described progressive could have a problem with condemning any of those things. Especially since it's usually progressives most voiceferously trying to bring attention to those things.

And even if you mistrust the intentions of the Bush administration, how do you explain the findings of the United Nations (with whom the Bush administration has had strained relations)? The UN called it "the world's worst humanitarian crisis" not long ago. How do you explain Amnesty International's findings? How do you explain Human Rights Watch's findings? What about The International Crisis Group? The BBC found an aid worker who came to different conclusions then the ones cited by The Observer.

Maybe they're all in collusion.

Or maybe the BBC news department wants Sudan's oil too!

Or maybe you should instead ask yourself how these diverse organizations, who rarely agree on anything, came to the same conclusions on Darfur.

The Observer continued: The nutritional survey of Sudan's Darfur region, by the UN World Food Programme, says that although there are still high levels of malnutrition among under-fives in some areas, the crisis is being brought under control. 'It's not disastrous,' said one of those involved in the WFP survey, 'although it certainly was a disaster earlier this year, and if humanitarian assistance declines, this will have very serious negative consequences.'

If the crisis is indeed being brought under control, then perhaps it's precisely BECAUSE of drum beating by Washington, the UN, HRW and many others. Should an entity be criticized because its screaming may have prevented an even greater catastrophe? I think not.

If you think the genocide in Darfur and resulting man-made humanitarian crisis might be an invention of Washington, click here.


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