Darfur

As diplomats debate whether or not the atrocities being committed every day in the Darfur region of western Sudan officially rate the designation of "genocide", people around the world wonder why it is that something more effective can’t be done to stop the killing, raping, starvation, and the disease that has already begun to follow? While the Sudanese government claims to be reining in the violence, its military not only seems to be unable stop the aggression but is even deeply involved in it. Meanwhile, due to restrictions placed in their way by the Sudanese government, various international aid agencies have only been able to reach some of the refugee camps, while a small number of African Union troops for the most part are unable to do much other than stand by to make sure the refugees in some of the largest camps are not attacked again.

In the face of all this, what have we done, we who claim to be the leading country in the world when it comes to championing freedom and human rights? So far the US has argued for economic sanctions against Sudan, but this has been blocked by four out of five of the major veto-holding members of the UN Security Council. Meanwhile efforts to indict the leaders of the Sudanese government before the International Court of Justice have been stymied by the US government’s refusal to recognize the court. So while economic sanctions might help some (they did to some extent cause the Sudanese to become more cooperative in the US war against terror) so far the renewed threat of sanctions seems to have done nothing to curb Sudanese terrorism against their own citizens in Darfur ¾ any more than did a decade of sanctions against Iraq prevent Saddam Hussein and his cronies from abusing the Iraqi people.

What then is to be done? Experts who have studied the situation say that two things are necessary. One is that an effective protective force has to be deployed immediately to prevent further bloodshed. The African Union forces are willing to do what they can, but without much more international help and logistical support, little more can be accomplished.

Thus, the second thing, and probably the most necessary in the long run, is to put some teeth into international law. If we were living in a country where the rulers considered themselves as being above the law and able to flaunt it with impunity, would we not be doing everything we could, even to the point of revolt, to remedy the situation? Yet this is similar to the situation that still exists in on the international scene, largely due to a few countries such as our own, who (like the Sudanese) continue to plead immunity from any world court on the basis of "national sovereignty".

On the other hand, if really believe that our Judeo-Christian ethical system, even without an international court system, somehow guarantees our moral superiority, how explain, after nearly a quarter million deaths in Darfur, our failure to do anything effective? The same Bible that forbids murder also commands us to "Judge your fellow men justly" and demands that "you shall not stand by idly when your neighbor’s life is at stake" (Leviticus 19:16-17 – New American Bible translation). And after what Jesus taught us, who can claim that the people of Darfur, or any other people in today’s world, are not our "fellow men" and "neighbors?"

R W Kropf 3/21/05 Darfur.doc 05-03-21.html