.comment-link {margin-left:.6em;}

Wednesday, July 07, 2004

If yesterday's posting wasn't depressing enough for you, I'm carrying the theme on today. (Thanks to Mick Hartley for the links on Sudan.) In the Lebanese Daily Star there's this report:
With the Hussein plan, if it is implemented, the government of Sudan would complete its redrawing of the ethnic map of Darfur. African farmers burned out of the countryside by the army and the Janjaweed would be herded into unnatural concentrations where they would exist as a slave underclass under permanent threat of arms. Reports from inside Darfur already indicate that Arabs from Sudan and neighboring countries are being moved into areas that have been emptied of their original, African inhabitants.
In the week in which another Hussein - Saddam Hussein - was accused of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity, Hussein's plan for Darfur cannot but bring to mind elements of Saddam's Anfal campaign against Iraqi Kurds in 1987-88.
In a different place in Africa more of this goes on too:
Minority Rights Group International say they have gathered evidence of mass killings, cannibalism and rape.
. . .
One witness they spoke to survived the late night massacre of an entire village. He said that everyone was shot and hacked to death and the huts were burnt.
"This level of quite horrific violence which has been perpetrated against the pygmies is part, or was part, of a campaign aimed at exterminating them," he said.
He identified the rebel group, the Movement for the Liberation of Congo, which is part of the transitional government and still controls much of the north, and their allies, as being behind much of the violence against the pygmies.
It seems unlikely that anything will really happen in either case, as Mick Hartley quotes the Wall Street Journal on Sudan:
The real problem, as everyone knows but no one will admit, is Sudan's murderous regime. But Mr. Annan and company can't abide regime change, and in any case the U.S. military is too preoccupied to make that happen.
Like so often in history the most promising action to end the crimes - a Western military intervention - will probably not happen. The best-known case of this is of course the failure by the Allies to bomb the railroads to Auschwitz. This week the most serious proposal to do so has its sixtieth anniversary:
Thanks in part to Akzin's persistence, the WRB continued to press the War Department on the bombing issue in the months to follow. But each time Pehle presented a bombing request, it was rejected on the grounds that the department had already conducted a "study" and found that it was not militarily feasible. That claim was false. No such study had been done.
. . .
This policy was in accord with the policies of president Roosevelt and his State Department, who feared that saving Jews would create pressure to bring them to the United States. One internal State Department official specifically warned against the "danger" that the Nazis "might agree to turn over to the United States and to Great Britain a large number of Jewish refugees."
Ironically, beginning in August 1944, US bombers repeatedly bombed German synthetic oil factories in the Auschwitz complex, including some that were less than five miles from the gas chambers. Dropping a few bombs on the mass-murder machinery was certainly militarily feasible, but the Roosevelt administration considered it politically undesirable.
Today such missions have become ever more militarily possible, lowering the risk to our servicemen and the likelihood of accidental civilian deaths immeasurably. They should also have become politically more possible.

Another thing that this brings up, is something that annoyed me today in class, when one of my "colleagues" argued against humanitarian interventions on the grounds that the evidence for the crimes were flimsy, referring to the Racak massacre in Kosovo, of which he says it wasn't actually a massacre. I'm not up to date on that specific case, so he may be correct, but it's irrelevant in the bigger picture. This is a point I made in one of my earliest blog postings, namely that when in doubt intervene militarily:
. . . evidence and arguments are always ambiguous. A quick glance through 20th century history shows that this was the case for example for the Armenian genocide, the Holocaust and and the rampage in Rwanda. In all these cases there was evidence that proved to the outside world what was really going on, but there was also a lot of unclear and contradictory information. In historical hindsight of course we can clearly see that those who warned of grave crimes were right and those who denied or downplayed them were wrong. In Kosovo and perhaps Iraq, hindsight suggests we were wrong. To those who disagree I say, just imagine Milosevic really was about to unleash a fullly fledged genocide upon the Albanians and we just stood aside and did nothing. . . . Given the stakes though, it is clearly more prudent to intervene in such unclear cases.


<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?