Inaction in Darfur

This article was forwarded to me a bit ago by a friend of my wife’s. She’s a friend of the author, having grown up with him. I’ve been remiss about reading this and posting about it, but after finding some time tonight, I need to get this off my chest now.

Through lens in Darfur, ‘I was a witness to genocide’ is a USAToday.com article detailing a ex-Marine’s story about his job in Darfur as a monitor, armed only with a Canon. We need more people like him, willing to harm his career and put himself in danger to shed a little more light on the cockroaches of Sudan.

He became increasingly frustrated with the AU’s impotence. By charting Janjaweed attacks, movements and motives, “We got to where we knew where the next attack would be,” he says. “But I couldn’t stop the attacks I was predicting.” Some attacks were deterred by the AU observers’ presence. The top commanders, however, refused to systematically place teams in the way of attacks.

Steidle says he knew why. The AU was in Darfur with the government’s permission, and anything that antagonized Khartoum — especially taking sides against its Janjaweed proxies — threatened the AU’s ability to function. “The attitude was, ‘We gotta tread lightly,’ ” Steidle says.

It’s incredible to me that there are still passionate defenders of the United Nation’s supposed mandate to be a vehicle to stop these human catastrophes. Not this time. This horrible theater has revealed itself over a period of years, giving the world plenty of time to react. Instead of actually stopping the slaughter, the international community has acted with half-measures and lots and lots of very concerned words.

I can only conclude that the world, as a whole, doesn’t really care all that much, and that’s sad. The United States doesn’t have the resources to mount the entire operation by itself while trying to bring two other parts of the world into the community of modern nations. Europeans are too wracked by colonial guilt and too wrapped up in their vision of a post-modern world to be bothered to doing anything substantive. Japan’s only has a defensive military force (for now). Russia and China couldn’t care less what happens in Africa, as long as it doesn’t affect their resource acquirement plans.

All these reasons and excuses are all true, but that doesn’t matter. Each one of the countries or groups that I mentioned could stop this with minimal effort — right now. But they don’t. If anything, the United Nations is acting as a enabler of their actions, by giving these leaders and diplomats an excuse for not getting involved at any personal or national risk.

When systems obviously don’t work, it’s time to reconsider their existence.

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