View Full Version : The World Ignores Rwanda's Lessons

04-09-2006, 05:33 AM
9 April Wall Street Journal commentary - Darfur (http://www.opinionjournal.com/extra/?id=110008204).

History shows us that genocides can happen only if four important conditions are in place. There must be the cover of a war. Ethnic grievances must be manipulated and exaggerated. Ordinary citizens must be deputized by their government to become executioners. And the rest of the world must be persuaded to look away and do nothing. This last is the most shameful of all, especially so because genocide is happening again right now in the Darfur region of Sudan, and the world community has done precious little to stop the killings.

What is happening in Darfur is exactly what happened in my home country of Rwanda, which was left to choke on its own blood from April to July of 1994.

The United Nations took virtually no action during the genocide. A detachment of well-equipped peacekeepers, made up of less than one-twentieth of the American troops now stationed in Iraq, could have easily stopped the killings without risk and sent the powerful message that the world would no longer tolerate mass murders of civilians, a real expression of the phrase "Never Again." But this simple act was deemed, then and now, to be somehow beyond the power of the United Nations, the United States, NATO, the European community and everybody else with the real power to stop another holocaust...

Merv Benson
04-09-2006, 04:17 PM
I am not sure what the author means by "cover of war." The goverment in Sudan has been waging war with Christians in the south and black Muslims in Darfur. The famine is man made genocide on the cheap. A similar famine was generated in Somalia and Afghanistan to get rid of the enemies of radical Islam.

Intervention in Darfur will mean going to war with the goverment of Sudan. No one sees that as in their strategic interest, and some see it in their strategic interest to oppose going to war with that goverment. That is why nothing is happening to help the unfortunate people who are the victims of this brutal regime. Since Sudan is not a threat to outsiders, these people appear to be victims of the Treaty of Westphalia, and to paralysis at the UN where China opposes effective action.

04-09-2006, 09:58 PM
And after all, European oil contracts were signed as late as last year, we would not want to mess that up, would we?


04-10-2006, 07:51 PM
Worth reading a long article in The Guardian (London), by Paul Moorcraft, an accomplished war correspondent, who knows Darfur personally:


Somehwere I've seen comments that the AU intervention force has suffered from members being kidnapped and murdered.

Tom Odom
04-10-2006, 08:40 PM
My own experience in Darfur and Kordofan was in 1984 as a FAO trainee working unofficially with USAID to get in drought relief. Ethiopia was in its famous drought at that time; Sudan was just as bad but Khartoum did not want its rep as a paradise besmirched in the world press. So we operated on low key fashion.

Sudan is in a word HUGE and Darfur is one of the largest provinces. The terrain is Martian in its hospitality and to make it truly wonderful it has also been known to flood and suffers periodic locust storms. The challenges to any PKO will be comms and transport (with supporting log).

I too doubt that a "military solution" is in the cards. But I believe that Dr. Moorecraft is putting too much stock in a purely negotiated peace like the North-South Agreement. That road has also been traveled before; a previous 14 year peace agreement fell apart in 1984. While UN "troops" may be too hard to do, better support of the AU contingent should be doable. Whether or not "genocide" is being committed, we have said it is--and so has the AU.

Moorcroft's cautions over hostile reactions to "Western UN" troops are probably on the mark. Kordofan and Darfur were the regions where Mahdist rebellion boiled over in the 19th century. In may ways, the Mahdi predated and outshone Osama by more than a century. He successfully twisted the British Lions' tail when the Empire was at its height. Only the "competition for Africa" with the French and to a lesser degree the Germans would prompt the UK to reconquer the Sudan. My Sudanese army buddies--one's great great grandfather was Yaquob a key Mahdist general--looked on Kariri (The 1898 Battle for Omdurman) as a current event.

Still there are some differences between Iraq and Sudan that Moorcraft glosses over. While it is true that Jihadists would be drawn to the area, Sudan has but one "urban area" it is nearly a thousand miles from Darfur. El Fasher and Jebel Mara are the only "urban centers" and they are tiny. A UN protection mission for the AO could mounted but it would have to be sustained by air and that is always expensive. Still that was how the relief efforts were mounted in southern Sudan for decades. Mounting such an effort from Chad would be easier than doing the same from Sudan. Keep in mind that from Port Sudan on the Red Sea to Khartoum is a road trip of 750 miles while it is another 1500-2000 miles to the western edge of Darfur along the Chadian border--and there are no roads to speak of. Kitchener paced his march south from Egypt by building a railroad for good reason.