April 24, 2007

Sudan, China, and One Last Try for Diplomacy

Today's lead editorial in the Washington Times provides a good opportunity to update the situation with regard to Darfur. What is notable is how the Bush Administration is doing what its critics always want it to do; use diplomacy and international institutions to solve problems. Note also that the policy is having no effect

In a speech last week at the Holocaust Memorial Museum, President Bush stepped up pressure on Sudan to work to end the brutal treatment of civilians in Darfur. Rape, torture and killing that amounts to nothing short of genocide by government forces and government-backed militias has become the abominable status quo.

Mr. Bush said that if Sudanese President Omar Bashir did not comply with the conditions set forth by the United Nations, the United States would implement economic sanctions unilaterally. The United States would strengthen current sanctions, adding 29 companies to the list of people and businesses blocked from doing business in the United States, and it would draft a new Security Council resolution. Before taking this step, however, the Bush administration wants to give U.N. diplomacy another shot.

The problem, though, is that the international community has been down this road before with Lt. Gen. Bashir. What looks to be a small but positive step -- in this case, Lt. Gen. Bashir's apparent acquiescence to 3,000 U.N. forces to support the African Union force -- is later rescinded or disavowed. The progress in this case falls well short of the internationally-preferred AU-U.N. "hybrid" force, which would include non-AU soldiers under U.N. command and which Lt. Gen. Bashir has serially rejected. This problem is compounded because Lt. Gen. Bashir knows that China has promised to use its Security Council veto to shield his country from any serious U.N. action.

By way of background, the government of Sudan is controlled by the National Islamist Front, which is a creation of (or certainly inspired by) the Muslim Brotherhood. The Brotherhood is one of the three branches of the jihad. This is important because it tells is that Gen Bashir has no intention of letting up on his murderous campaign. He and his cohorts believe that they are doing God's work.

The next part of the problem is China.

China's role in enabling the Darfur crisis has been shameful. Sudan's oil resources have attracted substantial capital investment from China, estimated at around $10 billion over the last decade, and Sudan, in turn, now exports around 60 percent of its oil to China. Despite ludicrous claims to the contrary -- one Chinese official in March spoke of his country's "friendship from the bottom of our hearts" -- China's view toward Africa is purely mercantilist, and in the most destructive way. Not only does China provide a diplomatic shield, it sells weapons to Lt. Gen. Bashir's government, which transports those same weapons to murderous militias in Darfur using planes painted white to look like U.N. aircraft. Sudan has denied that practice, but, as another reminder of Khartoum's duplicity, an official U.N. report leaked to the New York Times last week confirms that Lt. Gen. Bashir's government camouflages its planes, which it also uses to conduct reconnaissance and bomb villages.

In addition to its economic motivation, China may simply oppose a U.N. response to a particular nation's human-rights violations, including genocide. A country that refuses to guarantee the basic human rights of its own people, China has also this year vetoed a Security Council resolution addressing the repressive situation in Burma.

Bringing pressure to bear on China is difficult. Chinese President Hu Jintao, visiting Sudan in February, was expected to urge Lt. Gen. Bashir to accept a larger U.N. role in Darfur. The message Mr. Hu delivered wasn't as direct as some had hoped. Advocates are calling for the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing to be used as a platform to highlight China's disgraceful record in Sudan; for the people of Darfur, that may be too long to wait.

China doesn't want to put pressure on the government in Khartoum because it might lose it's lucrative oil contracts. The Chinese leaders are pretty much thugs themselves, having grown up in the party of Mao Zedong, perhaps the greatest mass murderer of the 20th century. They simply don't care.

Further, we also would like China to put more pressure on North Korea to end it's nuclear program.

So what do we do? We only have so much political capital. Sure, we can pressure China to do more about both North Korea and Sudan, but other than verbally berating them we don't have a whole lot of incentives to offer.

We can threaten trade sanctions, as long as we realize that they'll hurt our economy as much as they will China's, and might not even work. It's silly to think that we can use the 2008 Olympic games in any meaningful way, because the media won't go along. No network or news organization is willing to risk getting kicked out of China. The Chinese authorities will make sure that any protesters are quickly rounded up.

The current diplomatic track seems worthless because Bashir's government won't do anything by itself and China doesn't care enough, no matter how much we pressure them. The only option is unilateral action, whether anyone likes it or not. Sen Biden was on to something the other day when he proposed sending American troops to the region. I don't think we're at that point yet, but we need to start thinking along the lines of unilateral strong-arm tactics.

Of course, even that is not without risk. In the 90s Sudan was a big supporter of terrorism, from what I read now they've largely gotten out of that business because of US pressure. They could easily get back in. China can make things rough for us around the world, both diplomatically and economically.

But as I mentioned in a post last week about moral posturing, nothing worth doing is without risk. I suppose this last diplomatic try is worth doing, but if and when it fails we need to look beyond traditional methods.

Posted by Tom at 7:33 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

May 1, 2006

Sudan Rallies - And The Real Reason We Can't End the Crisis in Sudan

On Sunday there were rallies all around the United States to denouce the mass murder that the government of Sudan is committing in the region of Darfur. From the Washington Times

Religious organizations, political groups and foreign nationals led thousands of people in a rally yesterday on the Mall to urge U.S. leaders to help end the widespread killings in Sudan's Darfur region.

The rally brought together an unusual coalition of about 160 Catholic, evangelical, Muslim and Jewish organizations and Democratic and Republican lawmakers to help stop what many have called "a genocide."

This is good. The first step to doing something about a problem is awareness.

There's also a virtual rally for those who, like me, had committments yesterday that prevented our attending the live ones. Details are at Causes of Interest, but essentially if you go to Human Rights First and sign their petition you'll be participating.

Current Efforts to End the Crisis Stymied

From an AP story reported through Yahoo News

The first day of an extended deadline for reaching a peace deal in Sudan's Darfur region saw no progress Monday, and the State Department said its No. 2 official is flying to Nigeria in hopes of prodding the rival factions.

The government said Sunday it was ready to sign the deal. But the rebels still are pushing the government to add a vice president from Darfur and unite its three states — creating a more autonomous region.

In accepting the draft, the government agreed to disarm a militia it is accused of unleashing on Darfur civilians, commit millions of dollars to rebuilding a region devastated by poverty and war, and compensate victims of the fighting.

The militia referred to in the third paragragh is the Janjaweed, a fairly bloodthirsty outfit. You can find more articles on the Yahoo news page for Sudan.

The Real Reason We Can't End the Crisis

(fyi, background to the crisis in Sudan can be found at the bottom of yesterday's post.)

Here, in short, is why the crisis in the Sudan has not been ended (sorry, but due to time I've got to do this without links/footnotes):

Very few nations have cared one whit about the Sudan. The one that has done more than most is the United States. We would love to get strong UN sanctions passed that would pressure the government to change it's ways. But there are three countries on the UN Security Council that would veto any but the weakest resolutions

France, because is making too much money selling things to the government of Sudan, as I recall aircraft and weapons

Russia, because it too is selling weapons to the government of Sudan

China, because it has a huge oil contract with the government of Sudan and doesn't care about anything but the oil.

Other countries that block our efforts in the UN are

Most Muslim countries because of very misguided notions of "solidarity" with a fellow Muslim nation.

Most African countries because of very misguided notions of "solidarity" with a fellow African nation. "African solutions" and all that.

Get the picture?

Some of the African nations have sent troops under the aegis of the African Union, but predictably they aren't doing much good.

What If We Take Military Action?

Ok, you say, SOMETHING MUST BE DONE.

Right. Sure. I actually agree with you. We ought to take unilateral action, if we absolutely can't get strong action elsewhere.

And it need not be an Iraqi-style invasion. A naval blockade and a fe well-placed JDAMS on government buildings in their capital city would do the trick. A few troops maybe, but even Darfur is a large region.

Liberals, maybe even leftists, would probably even sign on.

But for how long?

My cynical side says for about 3 hours.

That's how long I predict it will take the BBC, Reuters, or CNN to put the first tearful Sudanese woman on TV to tell us that the big bad Americans bombed her village or house and killed her children, animals, and family.

And how will the left react? My cynical side says we'll soon see "US our of Sudan!" protests within a week.

But Really, What Should We Do?

Just as I said; try to get a strong UN resolution, and when that fails try to get a regional consensus for strong action, and when that fails take unilateral action, by which I mean a naval blockade and some well placed JDAMs.

The lefties will protest anyway, so we might as well do the right thing.

Posted by Tom at 9:38 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

April 30, 2006

Osama bin Laden Supports Genocide in Sudan

In his latest diatribe, released last week, Osama bin Laden put himself on record as supporting mass-murder of Muslims who live in the Sudan.

Walid Phares has the transcript, and even provides the original Arabic, if you're conversant in that language.

Here's bin Laden on the Sudan

"The West tries to seperate the south, attempts to establish an army there, and is supporting (the south) with money and arms and direct them to call for separation from Sudan."

"The US adopted logistical and moral support to this army (SPLA) through its international tools such as the United Nations and pressured the Khartum Government to sign an unjust agreement that allows the south to separate after 6 years."

"Let Bashir (Sudan's President) and Bush know that this agreement has no value whatsoever and does not engage us. No one has to concede any inch of Islamic land and the south will remain an unseparable piece of Islam's land, by Allah, even if wars will continue for decades to come."
...

(Waled Phares: Bin Laden called on the Mujahideen in Sudan and the Arabia Peninsula to prepare for a long war against the Crusader bandits (in Darfur). Our objective is clear, he said:) "It is in defense of Islam, its people, its land, not defending the Khartum Government. We have a great disagreement with this Government: It failed to apply the Sharia and let the south go."

"The (Jihadists) need to scout the area and get ready for fight on the tribal region of Darfur. The rain season is coming forward, which may obstruct movement. Which is why the occupation (Western-UN) postponed its advance for six months. We should take advantage of factor time to provide huge amounts of land mines, snipers and anti-tank launchers. "



In other words, "I'm going to attack the people who are trying to save impoverished Muslims from being mass murdered."

What a guy.

Austin Bay points out that for a guy who claims to fight in the name of Islam, he sure wants to kill a lot of Muslims:

Muslims, however, remain bin Laden's biggest enemy, perhaps not in theory and propaganda, but certainly in the flesh-and-blood world of murder and human massacre. Bin Laden, al-Qaida and its various affiliates have killed more Muslims than any other religious group, and Darfur is an example.

Since early 2003, nearly 200,000 people have died in the Sudan government's war with Darfur rebels. The Sudan government backs a variety of Islamist militias, many of them operating on horseback or in wheeled "technical vehicles" armed with light machine guns and rocket launchers. Darfur's rebels are a mixed bag of farmers, villagers and pastoralists. The rebels are also an ethnic mishmash, though most of them are black Africans. For the most part, they are Muslims, however, with a leavening of tribal animists.

This reminds of of the class on the French Revolution that I took in college. I remember most clearly the day the professor pointed out that once the monarchy had been overthrown, the revolutionaries quickly turned on each other. The Jacobins went after and murdered their political opponents, mostly the Girondists.

The wolves devour each other.

Ok, so Osama hasn't succeeded in overthrowing anyone. But you get my point.

And, to be sure, he isn't on the side of the government. As he says, "Let Bashir (Sudan's President) and Bush know that this agreement has no value whatsoever and does not engage us." The reason for this is that Osama lived in Sudan for many years, with the approval of it's government, and was expelled by that government in 1996 (after President Clinton turned down an offer by "Bashir" to hand him over to us).

A Bit of Background

The United States and the UK have been trying for several years now to put an end to the near-genocide that has been going on in the Sudan. Simply put, the government in the northern capital city of Khartoum is engaged in it's second mass-murder campaign.

Sudan gained its independence from Great Britain in 1956. The country has been rocked by civil wars. The first, an ethnic conflict between northern Arab Muslims and southern Christians and Animists, lasted from 1956 to 1972. This war ended with the south winning the right to self-government. The second civil war, again between the government backed forces and southern rebels, the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM), began in 1983. In January of 2005, the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) and the government in Khartoum reached an agreement to end the war and reform the government and structure of the military. The third civil war started in 2003 as a rebellion in the western province of Darfur. As in the first two wars, the fighting is between northern Arab Muslims and southern Christians and Animists, although the government maintains that the Janjaweed, the Arab militias actively involved, are not operating with government aid or approval. The discovery of oil in the south, and property rights and religious and ethnic race-hatred remain primary causes for the oppression of primarily black Christians and traditional Animists in both the southern portions of Sudan and in Darfur.

The government has committed terrible attrocities in all of the above wars. Directly or indirectly, it is engaged in mass-murder.

And Osama is effectively on the side of the murderers.

Posted by Tom at 8:52 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

May 28, 2005

Sudan, Mass Murder, and the War on Terror

Nat Hentoff provides enlightenment as to why the Bush Administration has not been even more forthright on Sudan. It's basically a deal with the devil, he says. According to Henthoff, Ken Silverstein of the Los Angeles Times has revealed close intelligence ties between the two countries:

"The Sudanese government, an unlikely ally in the U.S. fight against terror, remains on the latest U.S. list of state sponsors of terrorism. At the same time, however, it has been providing access to terror suspects and sharing intelligencedata withtheUnited States." The Los Angeles Times' substantially and carefully documented report makes clear that this collaboration between our CIA and the Mukhabarat, the Sudanese equivalent of the CIA, has produced very important results in our war against terrorism. For instance "A U.S. source familiar with Sudan's cooperation said, 'They've not only told us who the bad guys were, they've gone out and gotten them for us.'"

Furthermore, a Muslim intelligence agency like the Mukhabarat "can 'get firsthand information, while we get 10th-hand information,' said Lee S. Wolosky, a former National Security Council staffer in the Clinton and Bush administrations." Accordingly, in countries where barbaric jihadists organize and plan against us and where the CIA has very limited contacts, Sudan's intelligence agents can be of considerable,andpossibly life-saving, help.

Ugh.

I guess I shouldn't be surprised. This is the type of thing that separates the 'real world' from pure idealism. In a perfect world we would unilaterally condemn countries like Sudan without regard to such...complications. Unfortunately it doesn't always work out so neatly.

So What to Do?

Readers of this blog will know that I've recommended strong action against Sudan in the past.
I've gone so far as to say that we ought to bomb government buildings if that's what it takes to persuade their leaders to stop their mass murders. We did it in Kosovo, why can't we do it here?

Because we would lose a valuable source of intelligence, we're told. And those who make this argument should not be dismissed. One can be a human rights absolutist like Jimmy Carter, and look where it got him: he lost Iran and Nicaragua to dictatorships worse than the ones they replaced.

But the difference was that Carter pontificated about human rights without being willing to back up his words with action. He mussled our military. All his talk achieved was to alienate traditional allies. He undermined odious regimes without providing an alternative.

George Bush has so far not made this mistake.

My Recommendation

It's easy for me to talk, since I do not have access to the intelligence that Sudan is passing us. It may be good stuff, it may not. My position is that it had better well better be super-hot if its going to keep us from taking action against the Sudanese government for their continued mass murders in Darfur.

Posted by Tom at 10:32 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

October 13, 2004

The Harmful UN

I used to describe the United Nations as "Useless", as in "The Useless UN". Although the titles rhymed and sounded nice, a more apt description is of that organization is harmful. This story in yesterday's paper sent me over the edge

U.S. officials are accusing the U.N. refugee agency of a "whitewash" for failing to act against three employees accused of failing to prevent the sexual exploitation of Bhutanese women and children in Nepal two years ago.

Representatives of several other countries including Canada, Norway and Australia joined in criticizing the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees for failing to act against the three supervisors despite a recommendation of disciplinary action from the agency's inspector general.

And John Kerry wants us to put more trust in this organization. From the first debate Kerry lectured us that
You don't help yourself with other nations when you turn away from the global warming treaty, for instance, or when you refuse to deal at length with the United Nations.
Would this be that same organization that is credibly accused of whitewashing the abuse of Bhutanese women and children? Or maybe the one that refuses to deal with the horrors unfolding in Sudan?

We will recall some years ago the knashing of teeth over the failure of the failure to stop the genocide in Rwanda, where some 800,000 Tutsi's were slaughtered. "Never again", we said, would we let such a tragedy occur. While the numbers killed in Sudan are not those of Rwanda, the situation is only different in scale, not in kind. Nobel Peace Prise laurete and UN Secretary General Kofi Annon told us that The silence that had greeted genocides in the past must be replaced by a global clamour" President Clinton said that "The international community must bear its share of responsibility for this tragedy,"

Where is the clamor over the massacres in the Sudan? Is the "international community", of which Senator Kerry makes so much, living up to their responsibilities this time round?

Hardly.

Since early 2003, some 50,000 Sudanese have been killed, and another 1.5 million turned into refugees, according to a Fox News Series on the crisis. Secretary of State Powell has labeled the situation "genocide". The Janjaweed, a shadowy militia, has committed most of the atrocities. Although the government claims that it is an independant army that it cannot control, most observers think otherwise. Even Kofi Annon has admitted that the government of the Sudan is doing nothing to alleviate the crisis.

So how has the UN responded?

The Security Council has passed a resolution "to consider" sanctions if the government there does not act to end the killing. China and Pakistan, who have long opposed any action at all against Sudan, abstained from even that vote. Even the threat of sanctions was too much for them. China, you see, has major oil interests in the country.

There are some peacekeepers from the African Union around Darfor, but they don't appear to be doing much. And given the nature of most African governments, we shouldn't expect much from them.

The Bottom Line

This is how the UN is not merely "useless", but is positively harmful: By working through this organization, we ignore other, possibly more productive methods. We are wasting time while thousands die. We dither about, negotiating with dictators who really see nothing wrong with what's happening in Sudan. Just as many in the world who opposed our invasion of Iraq were different from Saddam in degree, not in kind, China, and to a lesser extent Pakistan, are not exactly concerned about human rights, except where the Palestinians are concerned.

As I have said before, we need to explore alternate organizations of "like minded" nations if we are ever to effectively deal with situations like the Sudan or Rwanda. This is something that I am going to study over the next few months, and if any readers have suggestions, please leave them in the comments section. I am not suggesting that we become a "global policeman", but something other than the UN is needed.

So once again the world dithers while thousands die. The next time you hear someone talk about how we need to work with "international institutions" or the "international community", ask them what it's doing about Sudan.

Posted by Tom at 11:17 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

July 31, 2004

The Useless UN

As if we needed more proof that the UN is an utterly useless organization when it comes to protecting human rights and enforcing security, we have the case of the Sudan.

For some time now the Sudanese government has been engaged in a campaign of genocide in their own country. The Muslim government in the north has been systematically murdering Christians and Animists in the south. The government in the north gets away with it because most of those committing the murders are "militias", not regular army troops. The government claims that they just can't control these militias. Right.

And of course let's not forget about the slavery that exists in that country. To this day.

Sounds like an easy one for the UN, right? Should be a no-brainer to at least immediately impose sanctions, right? After all, the atrocities have been well-documented. We've even got satellite photos showing villages where mass murders have been committed. Evidence is not a problem.

But here's how the UN operates:

The U.N. Security Council adopted a U.S.-drafted resolution yesterday that gave Sudan 30 days to disarm Arab militias blamed for killing thousands in the Darfur region or else face diplomatic and economic punishment. Sudan rejected the resolution.
I'm sure the Sudan is frightened.

But everyone on the Security Council went along, right?

The resolution was adopted with 13 votes, with China and Pakistan abstaining despite U.S. efforts to overcome objections by deleting the word "sanctions" from the text.
Why?
China said it abstained because it believed the Sudanese government has been cooperating with efforts to end the violence and would continue to do so.
Cooperating? They've been cooperating in killing their own citizens, that's what they've been doing. Of course, coming from a communist totalitarian country that has murdered millions of it's own, such a statement is not really surprising.

This is what you get, folks, when you depend on the UN. They will do nothing about the Sudan. If we continue down this path look for nothing to improve. These people cannot even impose sanctions, let along real action.

What we should be doing is gathering (heck we should have done this two years ago) a group of "like minded" nations to take care of situations like these. Trust me, a few bombs on key government installations in Khartoum would change the right minds real fast. Blockade their ports and they'll come around. No I'm not advocating full-scale military action everytime there's a humanitarian crisis, or against every government that does "bad things" to their citizens. But we promised that we would not let another Rwanda occur, and if we mean what we say, we cann't depend on the UN.

Update

Check out this site for more articles and information on the Sudan.

Thank you to Jane at Armies of Liberation for finding it.

Posted by Tom at 9:50 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack