May 05, 2005

Hidden in Plain Sight

Tom Friedman had one of his culture analysis pieces in the Times yesterday, relating the thoughts of a friend of his resident in Cairo about Arab terrorism as

"...the modern incarnation of several deeply rooted and interlocking wars. These are, he said, the war within Islam between Traditionalists and Rationalists, which dates back to Baghdad in the ninth century; the struggle between ardent Sunnis and Shiites, which dates back to succession battles in early Islam; and the confrontation between Islam and the West, which dates back to the Arab conquests of the seventh century and the Crusades."

Yeah, whatever. I mean, I'm sure that in Cairo this is a more politic analysis than the one that ascribes suicide bombings and periodic massacres to the unusually prominent place in Arab culture of simple barbarism or the ease with which Islam lends itself to violence of the most vicious kind. Or both. There is probably some truth in it, too, but before entertaining that possibility I'd like Mr. Friedman to get back to his friend in Cairo with this question:

If this explains terrorism, does it also explain Darfur?

Friedman doesn't mention Darfur in this column. By contrast, his fellow Times columnist Nick Kristof writes frequently about Darfur without mentioning any Arab country or government other than Sudan's. This is a remarkable coincidence, at least to an admitted layman to whom one slaughter looks much like another. Arabs in Darfur seem to use rape as a weapon more often than Arabs from Saudi Arabia or Ramadi, and explosives not as often. But these look like details to me, a case of different people relying on different chapters of The Savage's Handbook.

I know all the likely rebuttals to this deliberately brutal and inflammatory language. None of them explain the Arab genocide in Darfur; the silence of other Arabs about Arab genocide in Darfur; or the Western media's silence about Arabs' silence about Arab genocide in Darfur. Friedman, for example, seems oblivious to the subject. Kristof, who is not, follows the conventional practice of American journalists witnessing something awful. This is to demand that the American government do something about it.

Well, this is fine. We'd all like Washington to put out this particular fire before it burns itself out, and I don't really object to any of the specific steps Kristof recommends in this case. As a practical matter, though, this habitual treatment of every actual or potential disaster around the world as primarily an American problem is a good way to ensure that actual disasters get worse and potential disasters turn into real ones.

We all saw in the last decade how many people in the former Yugoslavia had to die while European powers fiddled around waiting for the Americans. Europe had the means to stop the fighting sooner, but not the will. At least European countries provided relief to the surviving victims of warfare and ethnic cleansing, and eventually sent large numbers of peacekeepers to Bosnia and Kosovo once it was clear the risk of actual combat was low. Also, European media covered the Balkan wars extensively from beginning to end. At the end of it all European governments had the grace to show some sense of guilt and remorse about the whole sorry business.

The Arab world isn't even doing that about Darfur. No peacekeepers, no aid, no media coverage, and for damn sure no guilt. Does Tom Friedman during all his earnest chin-stroking about the problem of terrorism and Arab culture pause to consider that this might be related somehow? Saudi imams get young men inspired to blow themselves up in the middle of Iraqi crowds, but we sure don't hear too many reports of young Saudi men risking death to stand between Muslim villagers in Darfur and the janjaweed.

What about Nick Kristof, who has access to the same maps of Africa that the rest of us do? Does he wonder that the largest Arab country, directly north of Sudan with a large army and an air force hundreds of planes strong, has never made a move toward establishing, say, a no-fly zone over any part of Darfur? Demanded UN sanctions against Sudan, or imposed any of its own? To be honest, I doubt the idea has even crossed his mind.

You don't need to be a master geo-strategist or have a doctorate in comparative anthropology to figure out that a culture and religion indifferent or worse to murder on a large scale is going to be a problem for the civilized countries. Egyptian, Saudi, and other Arab Muslims who object to this characterization of them have it within their power to prove me wrong, or not, by what they finally do about Darfur. Journalists like Friedman and Kristof can make their contribution by writing about it, even if it does mean they have to pick up a few checks the next time they're in Cairo.

Posted by at May 5, 2005 07:59 PM | TrackBack (10)

Great Post. I have been waiting, waiting, and
waiting for the world to take on the Arabs for
Sudan. I have been waiting for African-Americans
to take to the streets by the millions in protest to
the events in Sudan. I am very angry and
the fact that today was Holocaust Remembrance
Day makes me really angry Darfur is happening
right before my eyes. I am ready to take to
the streets in protest...where is everyone else?

Posted by: Norm204 at May 6, 2005 03:23 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

actually, I don't think the Euros had the means in the Balkans, which is why they eventually went to the Americans for help.

btw, have you been reading the Egyptian newspapers again?

Posted by: praktike at May 6, 2005 03:33 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Compare the Darfur situation with that of Xugoslavia.

It wasn't the blue-eyed blonde muslims who started serbing christian women, it was the other way around. You want to maybe talk about cultures and religions indifferent to murder on a large scale? We have plenty of examples with white christians.

It took us years for the media to actually start reporting the official rapes etc. Then we dicked around with arms embargoes etc, which mainly served to keep the sides disarmed that didn't already have the armories. We sent in the UN to do various ineffective things. Finally after a very long time we started to do something more-or-less effective, after a whole lot of ethnic cleansing had already been accomplished. Now we're maintaining an unsteady cease-fire. And we had a whole lot of money to put into it. Plus a lot of hi-tech weapons.

A poorer nation that wanted to stop the Sudan air force would more effectively bomb out the sudanese airfields than "establish a no-fly zone". Of course that's an unequivocal act of war. Sensible nations are cautious about starting wars they don't have a plausible path toward stopping.

It isn't clear that the USA ought to be acting like a superpower, given our rapidly-declining strength. I sure don't want to urge that egypt try to act like a superpower. One of the things our iraq experience ought to show us is that we can be the best in the world at destroying hi-tech armies and still not be very good at controlling inland civilian populations without genociding them. Consider the advantages that eventually let us subdue the serbs -- how many of those would work for us in darfur? And you want a country that can't take on israel to go in there and stop the violence?

Posted by: J Thomas at May 6, 2005 03:40 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

J Thomas,

It's a difference of degree. Human rights violations do occur outside of the Islamic world, but all of the very worst human-rights-violating regimes in the world are Islamic. (One exception: North Korea.)

The Euro-American response to Yugoslavia was too little, too late, but at least it was talked about, and we did finally do something. No one ever denied that help was needed, or tried to just ignore it. This compares favorably to the current Islamist response to Darfur, where no one is even pretending to lift a finger about it, and it is not even discussed as a problem.

It may be true that Egypt is not able to enforce a no-fly zone in Sudan. Why, then, don't they ask for help? France has a good air force, and also a historic interest in Sudan. Or for that matter the air forces of Egypt, KSA, and Libya could pool their resources to do it, and by so doing would show their people that they are capable of cooperating for the greater good.

The only possible explanation for the total lack of action or even rhetoric regarding Darfur in the Islamic world is that they truly don't give a shit. We now know, based on observation, that Muslims are perfectly willing to tolerate genocide right next door, as long as the killers are Muslims. It is instructive to compare this situation to the Israeli/Palestinian conflict . . . .

Posted by: Joel at May 6, 2005 01:56 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

J. Thomas,
I hope I'm misunderstanding you, but it appears as though you only offer reasons to do ... nothing. I believe JEB is only asking Arab nations to do something/anything - to recognize that there is a problem, to agree that the problem cannot be allowed to exist, to talk about ways to correct it.

You are right that there are many issues to consider surrounding the who, what and when. There should not be any issues surrounding the why.

Posted by: Charles at May 6, 2005 03:30 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Just because there is a humanitarian component to our intervention in Iraq doesn't mean that we have become the champions of the oppressed around the world. Even our intervention in Kosovo/Bosnia had a national interest component; which was to avert a refugee crisis that would have taxed the economies of neighboring NATO countries.

To his credit Bush has done more than other leaders to alert the world to this latest crisis. Perhaps our hand is stayed because, politically, we can only afford to invade one Arab country at a time.

Posted by: Chuck at May 6, 2005 06:17 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Excellent post.

Posted by: Llegar (tarde) at May 6, 2005 07:02 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Query -- what are non-arab African nations doing/saying about this? Is it the same nothing? What does that say?

(This is not to challenge your post. JEB; you are on an unusually good roll. The only problem that poses is frequently all you can think of to do as a time-challenged commenter is nod your head up and down, or think "I disagree but it's hard to argue with this.")

Posted by: Appalled Moderate at May 6, 2005 07:13 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Great Post!

Why isn't it fair to expect to see some of this "compasionate Islam" in action in Darfur ( or anywhere else for that matter )

Do we have to continue to call Islam the "Religion of Peace" while ignoring the complete opposite evidence

Posted by: Pogue Mahone at May 6, 2005 07:33 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Appalled Moderate asked:

"Query -- what are non-arab African nations doing/saying about this? Is it the same nothing? What does that say?"

Sudan is a member of the orginization of Islamic states - officially, it's the Organization of the Islamic Conference:

One would think that a genocide in their midst would concern them . . . .

But your question is valid. However, African nations almost never criticize eachother over substantial issues. Indeed, South Africa and Zimbabwe have actually drawn closer in the past two or three years while Zimbabwe has dissolved into chaos and injustice. Congo remains a hell-hole but has (comparatively) good relations with its neighbors. I suppose the reason is that most African nations are too poor and disorganized to aggressively harm eachother, or help eachother, so they tend not to think much about their neighbors. This is in contrast to the Arab world, where war and aggression are routine.

Posted by: Joel at May 6, 2005 08:39 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Good post. Thanks.

One other component not covered: oil.

Posted by: Chrees at May 6, 2005 11:36 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

This isn't just a good post, or an excellent post -- it's a positively brilliant post. I thank you for taking the time to write this. I don't think you can imagine how many others have these same feelings you've expressed. By coming out and formulating them in the way that you do, you afford us all a construct that not only allows all our feelings on this issue, but creatively enables them to expand into a deep perception of what is really going on. It's sad that even in the best newspapers we can't come across this level of synthesis. The level immediately below it, yes, we get, as you point out. But nobody makes the final connection, nobody goes that one level up on this issue that you do to arrive at the obvious.

I found you when Richard who does The Peking Duck blog sent me your equally brilliant entry on Taiwan and China, which exactly mirrored, and I feel improved upon, an article I myself published the previous month over on this side of the world in the South China Morning Post and which Richard posted on his site ( I feel it's amazing you can see so keenly from so far away what so few, even over here in Asia, can. I'll be one of your readers from now on. Thank you for your wonderful site. It's so exciting to discover there's some place like this to go to on the web. Sincerely, Bill in Taiwan

Posted by: William R. Stimson at May 7, 2005 02:24 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Prior to 1956 (or 57), the Sudan was the Anglo-Egyptian Sudan, a joint colonial operation. If they wished to stop the killing in the Sudan, the Eyptians ought to be able to do it quickly. They do have a large army and air force. But they don't have an interest in this sort of caring venture.

Posted by: Peter Rice at May 7, 2005 01:47 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Arabs have oil wealth. The Koran says Muslims are to treat others as second classunless they Submit (Islam- defintion).

Bingo - not good for a weak minority next door.

Posted by: ice eater at May 7, 2005 02:31 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Anyone who believes the US is "rapidly declining" as a superpower, either in absolute or relative terms, loses all credibility concerning their analyses.

Anyways, the issue with Egypt and the other Arab states is not capability. It's intent. Let's say, just for a moment, that the Arab League would vote to censure Sudan and place sanctions, then follow this with a call to the Europeans and Americans to help them craft a no-fly zone, etc.

If they cared about the slaughter in Darfur, they would.

What are their actions? Supporting Sudan for the Human Rights Commission, for one.

Posted by: George Purcell at May 7, 2005 03:05 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Thank you for saying what needed to be said. It needs to be said over and over again.

Posted by: ionstorm at May 7, 2005 03:33 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

While I agree with the analysis of the author (cool, informative blog by the way), I consider all this to be secondary to the main point of all, one enforced even more tragically by the revelations of the past week.

Despite his talk of supporting freedom (and he's done well, in Afghanistan, Iraq, Georgia, Ukraine, etc), Pres. Bush's White House killed the Darfur Accountability Act in the House this week (HR 1424) and has aligned our intelligence agencies into a close operating partnership with the Sudanese intelligence services. Please take note that some of the leaders of those services, sitting across from CIA counterparts, are architects of the genocide, like Sudan's intelligence chief Salan Abdallah Gosh. Yet America has aligned itself with them.

I don't expect the Egyptians, Iranians, Europeans (by and large), Chinese and Africans (except the Rwandans) to give a damn. Their past actions have shown they have little regard for anything not related to them in profit or geopoliticial advantage. They are not the greatest nation on the Earth, the most powerful nation on Earth, and heaven forbid if they ever are. In fact, on most accounts, they're downright insufferable. They'll support tyrants and allow genocide with nary a second thought.

America is different. Very different. A pedigree of opposing tyranny (like that of the Sudanese regime) that is second to none. Abilities second to none. One US Navy missile guided destroyer could fire enough Tomahawk missiles to wipe out the Janjaweed militia camps that are rife with jihadist murderers raping, torturing and slaughtering innocent Darfur inhabitants. One US submarine could effectively shut down all oil traffic in Port Sudan, cutting off all the oil shipments that the regime counts on for money.

And yet we stand silent, our White House killing Congress's (Sens. Brownback (R-KS) and Corzine (D-NJ) bipartisan legislation that demanded the world and the US do something about it. Our intelligence services working together with the men waging genocide. Our diplomats lowballing casualty figures in order to reduce embarassment and outrage. Our conservatives (and liberals) mostly silent, focusing not on a genocide committed by the same jihadist murderers that slaughter Americans, Israelis, Brits, Russians, Indians, Nigerians, Turks, Iraqis and many many more around the world.

You mention it once in a while (and make some valid points). Glenn Reynolds mentions Darfur once or twice a week (must be a conscience thing). Daily Kos mentions it when he can bash George Bush about it. Countless more avoid it like the plague unless its passing reference to Islamic murderers. At our peril. You have the power to raise tremendous awareness about this, but choose not to.

Our "selective" war on terror where we align with certain Arab tyrants and ignore their crimes while we rush after others is a disaster in the making. We win in Iraq today, while jihad triumphs in Chechnya, Sudan, Nigeria and other places on the edge of our attention. Al-Queda might be weakened, but jihad is expanding, proliferating and strengthening every day, while we dawdle.

Posted by: Eddie Beaver at May 7, 2005 04:17 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Superb analysis. Thanks.
Friedman and Kristof are always writing about just one topic: themselves. They use world events to display how compassionate and thoughtful they are, by way of contrast with mean spirited conservatives. They are exquisite representations of narcissistic self-indulgent contemporary Liberalism.

Posted by: Stephen at May 7, 2005 05:06 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink


I'm uncertain of your specific allegations concering the Administration and the US's relationship with the Sudanese intelligence service and, franky, I hope you are wrong.

However, complaining about us waging a "selective" war on terror, certain alliances and dawdling while jihad spreads is naive.

We have limited stomach for this fight (or have you forgotten that nearly 50% of the electorate would just as soon not fight this war?), few allies and a military stretched to capacity. I think Bush is doing just about everything he can within existing political and material constraints. We are essentially in this thing alone, and even at that not all of us here are with the program by any means.

To be sure, there will be a reckoning - but it won't weigh against Bush. It will tax us more than most can imagine, but utltimately we will win and we will destroy the enemy. In the meantime we fight on the offense, as limited as it may be.

Posted by: Tim at May 7, 2005 05:28 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

The arabs in Sudan have been enslaving blacks for about thirteen centuries. What most people forget is that black slavery was reintroduced into the West when the Portuguese took the African slave trade away from the Arabs. (China Gorden was in the Sudan supressing the slave trade prior to his death at Khartoum in 1882 for those you who remember the Charlston Heston movie.) You could still buy black slaves in Saudi Arabia as late 1980. It was sort of like Dog Fighting in Oklahoma, illegal unless you knew who to ask. People usually blame Sir Richard Burton for the racist overtones of his translation of the Arabian Nights but it was already there in Arab culture. Arabs don't care if Arabs kill black Africans. It's tradition.

Posted by: R at May 7, 2005 05:49 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Hey ice eater-

The citizens of Darfur are MUSLIM, making this all the more appalling. Most Arabs are RACIST through and through (or at least the official regimes are)

Posted by: rob at May 7, 2005 05:58 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

I wish I was wrong too. Its sickened me as a supporter and a servicemen to hear about this and then see it in action in the House.

CIA Now Has A Close Relationship With Sudan's Intelligence Services

Sudan's intelligence chief has also talked about this in a recent interview.

White House Lobbies For Darfur Accountability Act (HR 1424 in the House) To Be Killed

It did not make it out of the House committee reviewing it as part of the 82 billion dollar war legislation for Iraq/Afghanistan/Tsunami relief.

It passed the Senate after being co-sponsored by my favorite Senator (Sen. Brownback- KS (R) and Sen. Corzine (the rich liberal from NJ)

Along with Zoellick intentionally lowballing the casualty figure and then backing it up with a disgraceful, dishonest report from the State Dept. that flies in the face of fact, all of this represents the Bush administration turning its back on Darfur for whatever reason it has.

Please note that our tax dollars intended (graciously) to help feed and support the people of Darfur are now being essentially wasted. We're paying money to keep a people on the run alive, while supporting the government that is trying to kill them. Hmm....

Posted by: Eddie Beaver at May 7, 2005 06:28 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

On being "naive", I don't see that.

I see Saudi Arabia destroying Al-Queda while continuing to prop up more fundamentalist groups as long as they support the royal family, as well as continuing to export Wahabbi Islam around the world with violent effect. What are we doing to stop this?

I can talk about countless other examples of us not paying attention, not doing enough, not realizing the danger, etc etc. Of course a kerry admin. would have been far worse, but we need a better strategic vision than this. Winning In Iraq and Afghanistan is fantastic, but just battles in a long hard war against militant Islam.

As we let militant Islam spread into places like Nigeria, thrive in Sudan and reassemble in places like Saudi and Pakistan (among the general populace no less), we endanger ourselves.

I'm not demanding invasions but we should do more, especially in assisting those under direct attack from the jihadists, like the people in Southern Sudan and Darfur. We don't have to send American troops en masse but we can help train, equip and support them in the future. We're all in the same fight for our lives, in this case its just them dying instead of us at the hands of jihad.

Posted by: Eddie Beaver at May 7, 2005 06:34 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink


Yes, I suppose we could do more - and I certainly wish we would - but I'm not there making the decisions, and I have to believe they deals they're cutting aren't for their own sake, but as part of a larger strategy for winning the larger war. So maybe naive is too strong a term, but I do believe they are fighting this the best way they know how.

Posted by: Tim at May 7, 2005 08:09 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Maybe I'm a warmonger in my thinking but I'm kind of surprised the Egyptians didn't use Darfur as a pretext to take over Sudan and it's oil wealth. It's not like there isn't a history of Arab on Arab war (Libya vs Chad, Iraq vs Kuwait) and lack of actual resources is something Egypt cries about a lot and a Humanitarian move would have given them all the cover they needed.

To be honest I'm still scratching my head why Egypt didn't smash the crap out of Quadaffi and take his oil in the name of some quasi United Arab Republic. Egypt has the population and even during the cold war had a sort of balancing act going so they could have politically gotten away with it

The only real answer is that even with decades of peace the Egyptians just can't take their eyes of of Israel.

Posted by: rjschwarz at May 8, 2005 02:40 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Keep in mind that Arab regimes mistreat their own people to such an extent that it would threaten their home stability to go out saving others. Holding Islam responsible is a mistake, it is more human nature and the natures of dictatorships to keep their press from reporting on human rights atrocities (unless it serves their own purposes, ie Israel). Also realize that America has a very large influence on Arab policy, as in we could almost dictate it, if we had the will. Not only are the majority of Arab regimes upheld through oil revenue, of which which we are the principle source, but Egypt also receives the second largest amount of US foreign aid behind Israel (not including Iraq/Afghanistan). Thus, we, as the powerful democracy, are the people who should take action, however cautious, against both Sudan and these various Arab oil states.

Posted by: William at May 8, 2005 04:46 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Eddie, if the bill never got out of committee, then perhaps you can explain why you are blaming the White House.

You should have learned in fifth grade (or earlier) that the Congress and White House are seperate entities.

I suppose its possible that you mean that the WH was manipulating the Congress thru Eeevil Karl Rove Mind Rayz, but if so you haven't bothered to even allege it, much less prove it.

If any of the above confuses you, ask a teacher or your daddy.

Posted by: Ryan Waxx at May 9, 2005 02:48 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

NM, I reread and do see the allegation (though it is behind a dead link).

Posted by: Ryan Waxx at May 9, 2005 02:54 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

I read your 'proof', Eddie. The heavily Left-leaning Prospect is basing it on a letter they allegedly have but won't publish, and an unnamed source that won't even confirm the information, just reports a RUMOR:

"We are hearing that House Republicans will try to pull it out of conference,"

Well, I 'heard' that someone on this thread is trying to shove doggie doo down readers' throats. How do ya respond to that ironclad evidence, Eddie?

Posted by: Ryan Waxx at May 9, 2005 03:01 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Eddie Beaver - Concerning Darfur: your missing a big piece of the puzzle.

There is tremendous political will in the US to solve issues in Sudan. Christian groups within the United Sates where specifically concerned with stopping the use of slavery and war against the Sudanese Christians in the south. To this effect, Pres Bush was able to negotiate a cease fire and a peace treaty.

It is unlikely that these groups are willing to sacrifice the Christians in the south to save the Muslims in the west. Baring a US military invasion, it really does seem like an either / or choice.

Posted by: james at May 9, 2005 07:01 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

There are three points that you are not paying enough attention to. One (as someone else also noted) we are stretched very thin, and do not need additional loads on the military at the moment. Two, in addition, as we have all seen with over the past 10 years, individual air strikes/missile strikes do not solve the problem. Unless you happen to get REAL lucky, you a) have minimal impact on the low-tech group you are targeting, b) cause innocent casualties, which ends up being a PR problem (see below) and c) for these to be effective you need to have good intel, on the ground. Any bets on how reliable our human intel is in that area? Three, the U.S. attacking an African nation like you suggest would end up being a PR nightmare for us with the Islamic world, as it would end up being turned around on us. And that would make things worse in the long run, for both us and the people we are trying to help.

Posted by: exhelodrvr at May 9, 2005 08:17 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

While I agree that this is partly due to the nature of the dictatorships in the region, I disagree with the below:

"Holding Islam responsible is a mistake,"

The Islamic religious leaders are not clamoring for intervention, unless I have been missing something. So I think that you can hold Islam responsible, to a significant degree.

Posted by: exhelodrvr at May 9, 2005 08:20 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

I must say that although I do not wholly agree with the post, it was great all the less and this is a really important conversation to be having.
These leaders that are not clamoring are dictators first, Muslims second.
On the Islamic issue, you must realize that it is not the religion that is in charge, but to the contrary these various oil-regimes whose main goal is self-preservation. They view Islam as a tool with which to perpetuate their regimes, not a philosophy to diligently follow. Case in point, Suddam began out as a purely secular dictator yet later realized the power of Islam and became more and more "religious". Although there are many purported Muslims who say multitudes of inhumane things, you will notice that they almost all have a vested interest other than religous fealty, and it is these often oil-funded cronies that mobilize the less savvy multitudes to actually take action on what they hold to be religious fealty.

Posted by: William at May 10, 2005 02:52 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Ryan Waxx,
Call the staff of Sen. Brownback (R-KS) at his Washington office (do I need to post the number or do you know how to Google?) and ask them what happened to the Darfur Accountability Act (HR 1424) in the House last week. They will tell you it was pulled out of committee (killed) and does not even show up on the conference reports.
Now let's look at some numbers and try to see what happened.
How does a piece of legislation that is passed by the Senate (98-0 vote) and co-sponsored by 4 leading majority Republican senators (Brownback, Talent, DeWine & Coburn) go to the House and not even make it to a vote? Why would the House Republicans (men like Rep. Tancredo, Pitts, Diaz-Balart, etc etc) suddenly turn on the bill they co-sponsored in the House? In fact, where are their public statements expressing dismay over it not even being considered?
I don't want to believe that the same president who liberated Afghanistan and Iraq, spread freedom to Serbia, Ukraine and Georgia and justly uses the military unlike his predecessor is the same president who has decided to support a genocidal regime that is already so far in China's pocket there is little chance we will be able to get them over to our side.
Yet I am left with no other explanation. How does legislation so widely supported by so many in power in Congress suddenly die? The Republicans are in power in Congress and the White House. Yes they are seperate branches but the politics are by and large the same. This was not some wacked out Democrat legislation trying to blame America for this mess or asking to send American troops.
It asked for a no-fly zone, going to the UNSC and demanding oil sanctions and taking a greater moral leadership role on the issue. No invasion, no intervention. Just leadership and a little bit of well-placed outrage.

Posted by: Eddie Beaver at May 11, 2005 12:42 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink


1- Where did I ask for thousands of ground troops and dozens of aircraft? No one has asked for that, not the leading senators, activists or op-ed writers.
We're not being unrealistic, we're just asking for our great nation to lead on this issue.

2- The situation in Darfur is different. While it is not the most attractive scenario, it is possible to conduct a pinpoint strike against the Janjaweed. These are not well-trained terrorists, these are a bunch of jihadists enjoying the rape, plunder and sport of killing at the government's request. Satellite and African Union monitor photographs exist of their camps that show hundreds of them, lounging around, waiting for the next town to ravage.

3- Yes it would be bad for PR. So yea, it would probably never happen. I submit it for debate and discussion. At some point though (as in Iraq), we have to quit worrying about world opinion and just do the right thing.

... I would personally hope that Pres. Bush would do a Reaganesque move... arm and train the rebels, who are the closest thing to freedom fighters we'll find in Sudan. We should not let the jihadists crush them and their people.

Posted by: Eddie Beaver at May 11, 2005 12:49 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

If that was the case why are leading evangelical politicians and groups demanding America and the world take action on Darfur? Why is Sen. Brownback, perhaps the leading evangelical leader in Congress, the co-sponsor of the now killed Darfur Accountability Act?
The political will exists to take leadership on the issue and at least pressure the Sudanese regime with oil sanctions and other methods.
Some have suggested that in lieu of the ticking time bomb in the peace agreement (the independence vote after 6 years of shared political union between North and South), we should train the rebel forces in the South and Darfur to help them defend against the future aggression of the regime in Khartoum.

Posted by: Eddie Beaver at May 11, 2005 12:55 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

The fact that they are not a well-trained military force is exactly why you would not be able to do a pinpoint strike against them. They are not going to be located in easy-to-target barracks/bases like the Republican Guard during Desert Storm. How are you going to do a "pinpoint strike" against people who are intermingled with their victims, without reliable assets on the ground? Reliable assets meaning U.S. personnel? Which I am almost positive do not currently exist there.

From a PR standpoint, I was referring to how it would be used against us by other Muslim entities during our struggle against terrorism. PR is huge in that arena, and we have not done a good job in that aspect yet. And like it or not, American security (in this case, that means our involvement in the WOT) takes precedence.

If we couldn't get involvement from the U.N./NATO to oust a butcher like Saddam, there is no way that we would be able to get involvement in this issue. That means that we would need to do it on our own, and we don't have the resources to do it properly at this point. And doing that type of thing half-assed almost always ends up being worse than not doing it at all.

And when we act without allies, there are potential long-term consequences that may impact when we will need them more. In this case, absent some easily bombed, identifiable, high-value janjaweed target, we are better off not doing this on our own. I am sure that the President would be willing to provide some amount of limited air support in conjunction with other nations involvement.

Posted by: exhelodrvr at May 11, 2005 01:25 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Welcome to the future, we will not be able to rely on the UN or probably even NATO for our future conflicts and interventions. Coalitions of the willing are for better or worse the face of how we fight today.
Your points are valid, though I don't believe the janjaweed are intermingled with their victims in their own camps and hideouts. We also have a valuable rebel presence on the ground that could give us intel.
Needless to say, we're not asking for or expecting an American invasion. Again, what would be most helpful, in light of what will almost certainly be another series of mass murders and pillaging in the rebellious Eastern provinces of Sudan in the coming future would be to train the rebel forces.
That's doubtful as well though. We're content to align ourselves with a jihadist regime for 'intel' purposes. I hope that intel saves a lot of American lives and treasure in the end, because the price for it is very steep in Darfur's blood.

Posted by: Eddie Beaver at May 11, 2005 05:30 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

I realize that, which is why we have to be even more careful about committing ourselves to actions like this. Because the former allies/partners are not held together by the threat of the Soviets, they are not necessarily going to automatically back us if we think it necessary to do something like this. We have seen that in Iraq. And that lack of backing can potentially have long-term consequences, which might cause more problems in Africa/the MidEast than this action solves. The world is a much more complex beast since 1989.

Posted by: exhelodrvr at May 11, 2005 11:46 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink
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