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April 19, 2007

Sudan's Bashir Knows No Bounds
Posted by Jeremy Broussard

A leaked United Nations report claims that Sudan is flying heavy weapons into Darfur, in direct violation of UN Resolution 1556.  To add insult to injury, the Sudanese government has painted these transport aircraft white, giving them the appearance of a UN aircraft to the untrained eye.  Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir has done this while simultaneously delayed allowing a larger UN peacekeeping force to accompany the African Union forces ostensibly patrolling Darfur.

President Bush has threatened to tighten the financial sanctions already in place against Sudan, but it's doubtful that much will come of it.  Sitting on a proven reserve of 1.6B bbls of oil, Sudan is just too tempting for some nations with an growing energy demand (read China) to present a unified global front.  In fact, recent arms sales to Sudan only feed the beast and cause further regional instability, especially in neighboring Chad.

Bush also proposed a no-fly zone--a la pre-"liberation" Iraq--to eliminate the air support Bashir's military gives the Janjaweed militia who attack the black Sudanese in Darfur.

Enough is enough.  Over 200,000 Sudanese civilians have been killed in Darfur, twice the number killed in 1994 when NATO intervened in the Bosnia-Herzegovina.  Over 2.3 million have been made refugees, many internally-displaced.  Frankly, the U.S. is not in a position militarily or diplomatically to take direct against against the Bashir government, but our NATO allies should.  More importantly, the African Union should show true leadership and stop one of the worst genocides in Africa from continuing.

As we commemorate Holocaust Remembrance Day this week, we must not let the words "never again" be hollow rhetoric. 


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Enough is enough. Over 200,000 Sudanese civilians have been killed in Darfur, twice the number killed in 1994 when NATO intervened in the Bosnia-Herzegovina. Over 2.3 million have been made refugees, many internally-displaced....As we commemorate Holocaust Remembrance Day this week, we must not let the words "never again" be hollow rhetoric.

Say, I know a country where 4 million citizens have been displaced and approximately 650,000 people have been killed. If only we could intervene there. Oh wait...

I do wish we could stop the genocide in Sudan, but it's not clear that humanitarian intervention will be effective, since it has failed in both Iraq and Afghanistan. We would also be intervening on behalf of Sudan's reactionary Islamists, at least in part.

"Never again" is already hollow rhetoric. What does young Mr. Broussard think has been going on in Darfur for the last four years?

I'm glad Darfur is on the radar screen of someone at DA. It's about time. Some realism about what it is possible to do there is called for, however. NATO countries, individually or collectively, will never act even on much more manageable crises than this one without American leadership. The African Union has already suffered several thousands of its member states' soldiers to be marooned in Darfur, without logistical, air or heavy weapons support -- the only peacekeeping force the Khartoum regime that is responsible for the war would accept. The AU does not have the resources to do more than it is doing, inadequate though that is.

The American government's diplomatic efforts in the first three-odd years of the conflict came to nothing. Isolation of the Sudanese government, which throughout the course of the Darfur genocide has enjoyed the full support of its fellow Arab governments and a near-total silence about Darfur in the Arab press, was never attempted. We are left with options including sanctions of very limited scope that the United States and other western countries can apply against Sudan's leadership and financial institutions, and a campaign led by figures in the entertainment industry that seeks to embarrass China into withdrawing its opposition in the UN to the concept of reinforcement of the overwhelmed AU peacekeeping force now in Darfur.

These are exceedingly weak reeds to lean on (just imagine trying to interest Chinese Communists who came of age during the Great Leap Forward and the Cultural Revolution about the human rights of black Africans!). But we have little choice. The Sudanese government having waged its war against Darfur's civilians has now succeeded in spreading the conflict into Chad and the Central African Republic. The metastasizing conflict is driving humanitarian agencies unable to protect their workers out of the region, removing the lifeline for hundreds of thousands of displaced people. The crisis that began in Darfur could potentially go on for years and blight a wide area of northern Africa, already one of the poorest places on earth.

So, in addition to whatever sanctions on Sudan that America and its allies can apply, the "Hollywood option" of trying to shame the Chinese before the 2008 Beijing Olympics must be attempted. It will have to be led from outside the American and allied governments, and even so risks bringing us down a road that under less dire circumstances I would dearly like to avoid, one involving the entanglement of our relations with China in an African conflict that does not bear directly on vital American interests. At this point it is either risk that or continue to bluster ineffectually as genocide becomes a state of permanent regional war.

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