“Out of Iraq, Into Darfur”: Humanitarian or Warmongering?
The ongoing campaign for intervention in Sudan has resulted in the reduction of a complex political problem to a morality tale populated by villains and victims. Newspaper and television reports are a pornography of violence; the Sudanese Civil War is called a genocide falsely as the media focuses on the gory details, describing atrocities in gruesome detail and chronicling the rise in their number.
In a world where atrocities mount globally, there now seems to exist villains so evil and victims so helpless that the only possible solution is a “rescue mission” spearheaded by the United States, United Kingdom, Israel, France, Canada and other imperialist powers. Why is the Sudanese Civil War named a “genocide?” Darfur can fit perfectly into the global War on Terror, since Darfur gives a valuable opportunity to demonize the enemy: a genocide perpetrated by Arab Muslims against Christians.
Comparisons to Rwanda
The Save Darfur campaign presents itself as not political but moral, concerned only with the lives of the Sudanese. Only a single-issue campaign such as this could bring together such opposed groups as the Christian right, the Zionist lobby and the university-based anti-war movement. How else could it be that so many that oppose the American and British invasion of Iraq now demand an invasion of Darfur?
The answer lies in plays on emotion: all of the leading organizations in the Save Darfur campaign are motivated by the memories from two events: the Nazi Holocaust and the Rwandan genocide. The Save Darfur campaign has drawn only a single lesson from these two events: the problem was that the United States failed to intervene to stop the genocide quickly enough. This is the wrong lesson. It ignores that the Holocaust and the events in Rwanda cannot be compared to the Sudanese Civil War.
Unlike the Rwandan ethnic cleansing, the Sudanese Civil War is being fueled by conflicts between herders and landowners. There is doubtlessly ethnic violence involved, but this is not the main cause of the conflict. The regime in Rwanda was responsible for the massacre of hundreds of thousands of Tutsis around the year 1994. During the entire operation to kill Tutsis, France backed the government. When the regime fell due to domestic armed struggle, French troops invaded and protected the Hutu regime responsible for the genocide. What does this say about the imperialists’ concern for stopping ethnic violence? The imperialists have stolen whole continents for profit; they have financed death squads, bombed nations to the Stone Age and financed weapons deals with the most bloodthirsty of governments. They have forced the world to destroy itself for their profits and class interests.
A History of Violence
The examples of imperialism on the African continent are endless—just next door to Rwanda lived the autocratic head of Zaire (now the Democratic Republic of the Congo), Mobutu Sese Seko, one of the most infamous, corrupt and shockingly brutal rulers Africa has ever seen. Mobutu’s rule, the result of a CIA-orchestrated coup to remove former anti-colonialist leader Patrice Lumumba, was marked by widespread torture, executions and the starvation of millions of citizens even as he embezzled billions from the Congo. Mobutu received enormous aid from the US, France, the United Kingdom and other imperialist countries for decades.
Connecting the Dots
Behind imperialism lies capitalism and the bourgeoisie. The demand for a key metal (coltan) used in electronic devices such as iPods and PlayStation 2’s was a driving force behind international capital playing different sides off each other in the ongoing wars in sub-Saharan Africa, which have involved eight nations, killed over 5 million people to date and displaced many more. During the war, massive amounts of the rare metal, found predominately in the Congo, were stolen at the price of countless lives.
This is also not to mention the entire history of Africa itself, which is marked by centuries of colonialism, relaxed in only the smallest ways since World War II. History must be looked to—imperialist coalitions once invaded Somalia to “end famine” just like they invaded Haiti to “bring democracy” and Bosnia to be “peacekeepers.” In every instance, the situation was made worse and exacerbated by the presence of foreign powers. Why is this? Is it because the United States is incompetent? Perhaps it is because the United States is simply foolish, or it doesn’t try hard enough? No such magic. The truth is that the United States and other imperialist powers can do no good in these countries because they do not wish to. Western countries have vast material interests in Africa, particularly resources such as oil, copper and diamonds. Powers like the US government have no intention or interest in helping the people of Sudan carry through a genuine solution to the Civil War.
Peace in Sudan cannot be built on occupation—to argue that it can is the talk of imperialists in the West. Every major colonialist intervention in history was built upon the excuse of a “civilizing mission.” Iraq should stand as a warning about the imperial government’s ability to stop ethnic violence. An occupation would certainly spread the Civil War further into the other regions of Sudan and make the entire country yet another victim of the so-called “Global War On Terror.”