TOPICS : Where are the antiwar activists in Darfur?
To anyone who didn’t know better, it might seem that the world is finally getting serious about stopping the genocide in the Darfur region of Sudan, which over the past two years has claimed at least 300,000 lives and displaced at least two million people. After months of huffing and puffing, the UN Security Council finally agreed to freeze the assets of war-crimes suspects, impose a travel ban on them, and refer them for trial to the International Criminal Court. The latter resolution was the subject of tortuous negotiations between the US, which loathes the ICC, and other Security Council members who argued, correctly, that an ICC proceeding would be the most expeditious way to get the gears of justice turning. But, important as the war crimes resolution is, who will deliver the bad guys to court? Not the Sudanese government, which is in cahoots with the Arab Janjaweed militia committing atrocities against blacks in Darfur, who happen to be fellow Muslims. The Islamist regime in Khartoum has been responsible for mass murder not only in western Sudan but in the south, where victims have been black Christians and animists. The Security Council voted to send 10,700 peacekeepers to southern Sudan, but even if they’re competent, who will bring peace to Darfur in the west? At the moment, there are just 2,000 lightly armed peacekeepers from the African Union covering all of Darfur, a region the size of France. And they have no authority to stop rape, pillage, or murder; they’re only supposed to monitor a meaningless cease-fire proclaimed last year between Khartoum and two rebel groups.
The only way to save Darfur is to dispatch a large and capable military expedition. But Security Council members France, China, and Russia have blocked a UN decision on armed intervention because they covet trade ties with Sudan. That still leaves the possibility of civilised states acting independently of the UN, as they did in Kosovo. But the only nation with a serious military capacity, the US, is overstretched in Afghanistan and Iraq. The EU should step into the breach. Its economy is as big as that of the US and its population is even bigger. But it has chosen to spend its euros on extravagant handouts for its own citizens rather than on the kind of armed forces that might bring a ray of hope to the “heart of darkness.” lthough the NATO members have more ground troops than the US — about 1.5 million soldiers — only about six per cent are readily deployable abr-oad. They can scrape together the 25,000 to 50,000 soldiers it would take to pacify Darfur, but it would be a stretch for them, given their existing commitments, and not one they’re willing to make. Even if they’re not willing to send their own troops, the US and the EU could offer to provide much more logistical support to allow the African Union to dispatch more of its own peacekeepers to Sudan. That’s not asking a lot, yet it’s more than anyone has been willing to do so far. Remember how exercised everyone around the world was about crimes committed at Abu Ghraib? Infinitely worse deeds are being done in Darfur daily. The silence of the “antiwar” masses speaks volumes about their priorities: They don’t object to war crimes as long as they’re not committed by Americans. — The Christian Science Monitor