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Tuesday, October 19, 2004

Is There No Threshold for Humanitarian Intervention in Darfur? 

Present realities make clear that there is not

Eric Reeves
October 18, 2004

The relentlessly grim news from Darfur, revealing a continuing deterioration in both security and the overall humanitarian situation, puts in final form the question that has been raised in some quarters for well over half a year:

"Are there no circumstances that must compel an international humanitarian intervention that is both adequate to protect all vulnerable civilian populations and capable of providing the transport and logistical capacity that is presently far beyond the UN and other humanitarian organizations operating in Darfur?"

For even a very small measure of the honesty that has too often been denied the people of Darfur must oblige the world to accept that the presently contemplated increase in African Union (AU) deployment is not sufficient to address the challenging and pervasive security issues in this vast region. Nor is there evidence of the capacity to provide, for the foreseeable future, 50,000 metric tons per month of food and critical non-food items for the increasingly desperate populations of Darfur and Darfurian refugees in Chad.

In short, by refusing to plan for or commit the resources necessary to a successful international humanitarian intervention in Darfur---efforts that are nowhere in sight---the world is indicating an acceptance of the genocidal status quo, in which incremental increases in humanitarian capacity are continually outstripped by increasing need. Moreover, extreme levels of insecurity in Darfur are attenuating present relief efforts, and this situation will not improve except in very limited ways even with the belated deployment of an augmenting AU force, which only fitfully moves toward readiness.

We must see in this implicit acceptance of the status quo---by the Bush administration, the UN, and the European Union---the international community acquiescing in ongoing genocide: Khartoum's murderous military actions, as well as those of its Janjaweed proxy, and targeted destruction of the agricultural production and resources of African tribal groups throughout Darfur.

This must be the lens through which we view the alarming new reports from Darfur: UN indications that an additional 220,000 Internally Displaced Persons have been created by recent violence, growing insecurity for humanitarian operations (some of which are now suspended), the threat posed by a polio outbreak, highly inflated food prices in markets (a terrible harbinger of famine, accompanied by the growing threat of a locust plague), growing rage in the camps for displaced, the looting and destruction of huge numbers of essential livestock, and an increasingly threatening situation on both sides of the Chad/Darfur border. The catastrophe is accelerating.

THE CURRENT DIPLOMATIC SITUATION: Naivasha

The early news from the resumed Naivasha talks between Khartoum's National Islamic Front regime and the southern SPLM is extremely poor. Khartoum's lead negotiator (powerful First Vice President Ali Osman Taha) clearly did not come prepared to make any meaningful concessions on the technical issues that are now holding up final agreement; indeed, he attempted to re-introduce issues that had been previously resolved in the various Naivasha protocols.

It now appears that Khartoum is bent on engineering the slow unraveling of the completed agreement (June 5, 2004) by means of intransigence in negotiating the implementing details. After only nine days, Taha has left the talks for the month of Ramadan, presuming that his mere appearance in Naivasha ensures that the Bush administration will certify this week that Khartoum "has engaged in good faith negotiations to achieve a permanent, just, and equitable peace agreement," and has not "unreasonably interfered with humanitarian efforts" (these specific determinations are required by the Sudan Peace Act of October 2002).

Taha's early exit for Ramadan (we should recall his similar exit from Naivasha last January to observe the Hajj) freezes all but the most technical negotiations---and leaves the peace agreement where it was last May, when the last of the protocols on outstanding issues of substance were signed. Without a completed peace agreement, there can be no formal preparation for a UN peace support operation, even as the overall military situation on the ground in southern Sudan becomes increasingly threatening. That Khartoum is using extended diplomatic "deliberation" as an excuse for indefinite delay is clear from a recent comment by Sayid el-Khatib, one of Khartoum's negotiators in Naivasha:

"'On our side, we think that we should exercise maximum prudence and wisdom so as not to alienate anybody,' Khatib said. 'The (rebels) seems to want to go about it aggressively; they want a very short timetable to have this [peace agreement] done.'" (Associated Press, October 16, 2004)

Given the more than two years of arduous and detailed negotiations that have already preceded the current Naivasha session, Khatib's "maximum prudence" is simply another way of declaring maximum delay. Moreover this delay has an ominous context: extremely reliable regional sources report a serious escalation of military conflict in the Akobo and Nasir areas of Eastern Upper Nile, and the Shilluk Kingdom (north of Malakal); large offensives have been initiated by Khartoum's regular and militia forces, even as peace talks are nominally continuing in Naivasha. This provides yet more evidence that Khartoum ultimately seeks to bring Eastern Upper Nile fully under its military control for purposes of securing the rich oil concessions currently being exploited by the state-owned oil companies of China and Malaysia.

[The main outstanding issues in Naivasha are: [1] funding of the southern Sudan defense force---clearly an obligation of the "Government of National Unity" previously negotiated; [2] disarming and integrating Khartoum's numerous militia forces in the south, grouped under the SSDF rubric (South Sudan Defense Forces)---this, too, was agreed to by Khartoum in the September 2003 protocol on security arrangements; [3] the deployment of Joint Integrated Units to eastern Sudan. Despite wire reports indicating progress on the latter issue, none was in fact achieved.]

It is increasingly difficult to see how a final peace agreement can be reached with Khartoum in the Naivasha talks, and certainly impossible to see how they can be completed in timely fashion. If, as many have recently argued with Norway's Hilde Johnson, the "road to peace in Darfur leads through Naivasha," then we must draw deeply discouraging conclusions about both a north-south agreement as well as the prospects for a meaningful cease-fire in Darfur.

THE CURRENT DIPLOMATIC SITUATION: Darfur

Peace talks between Khartoum and the Darfur insurgents, scheduled to begin next week in Abuja (Nigeria), offer little hope for diplomatic progress. Though some of this derives from the poor negotiating skills of the insurgency groups and the lack of a fully coherent political agenda, it is primarily a function of Khartoum's ability to substitute intransigence and disingenuous diplomacy for real negotiations.

The regime has certainly been encouraged by this past weekend's summit in Tripoli, bringing together the heads of Chad, Nigeria, Libya, Egypt and National Islamic Front (NIF) President Beshir. Though little help could have been expected from the weak and beholden government of Idriss Deby of Chad, or from Libyan President Muamar Ghaddafi, or Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, it is deeply disappointing that Nigerian president (and Chairman of the African Union) Olusegun Obasanjo is content to declare "in a joint statement issued after the overnight meeting [that] the regional leaders stressed their 'rejection of all foreign intervention in this purely African question'" (Agence France-Presse, October 18, 2004).

This represents Obasanjo's bowing to intense pressure on various fronts from the Arab League, and ultimately his judgment that what has occurred in Darfur is not distinct from other "African problems." In a nasty display of Realpolitik, he is evidently more interested in accommodating the NIF regime than in assessing meaningfully the realities in Darfur. Certainly if we take these various strongmen at their word (Darfur is "purely an African question") we may be sure that the genocide will not be meaningfully constrained. Obasanjo's priority is finally not the people of Darfur, but wielding power through the African Union.

All this occurs as the Khartoum regime that is directly responsible for genocidal destruction in Darfur faces no credible threats or consequences from other international actors. A European Union threat of sanctions was recently issued by Dutch Foreign Minister Bernard Bot (who holds the rotating EU presidency) with a "two-month deadline" (Reuters, October 13, 2004); but this was followed almost immediately by a weak retreat in which Bot asserted that in fact "there is no timetable for sanctions" (Associated Press, October 13, 2004). This irresolute vacillation is of course carefully noted by Khartoum.

Moreover, veto-wielding China has made clear that it will block any UN Security Council resolution that goes beyond the unthreatening resolutions of July 30, 2004 and September 18, 2004:

"China, a permanent council member, said immediately after the vote that it would veto any future resolution that sought to impose sanctions on Sudan." (Associated Press, September 18, 2004)

Vague US and EU threats of an "oil embargo," which China would oppose even more vehemently, are so transparently empty as to encourage Khartoum rather than to deter its genocidal behavior. There is clearly insufficient understanding of China's voracious appetite for imported petroleum (imports have doubled over the past five years, and are up 40% in the first half of 2004). Secure sources of offshore oil are for China a top economic, and thus geostrategic, imperative. Sudan and Darfur are considered solely in this context by the Chinese government.

International weakness and ineptitude have led to the disingenuous suggestion that the only solution to the Darfur crisis is to work with Khartoum. In other words, the international community has managed to convince itself that without Khartoum's "cooperation," the very genocide the regime is deliberately perpetuating cannot be halted. So confident are the genocidaires in Khartoum of this international expediency that they have recently been emboldened to the point of openly sneering at the US, the EU, and the UN.

Beyond the abusive rhetoric, however, lies a blunt fact: the international demand that Khartoum disarm its brutal Janjaweed militia allies, and bring their leaders to justice, continues to be treated with contempt, despite the agreement to precisely this demand in a Joint Communiqué signed with Kofi Annan (Khartoum, July 3, 2004) and the subsequent codification of this demand in Security Council Resolution 1556 (July 30, 2004).

Three and a half months after formally acceding to this demand, under UN auspices, Khartoum has done nothing to uphold its commitment. This is so even as humanitarian organizations operating in Darfur universally declare that the greatest obstacle to greater and more effective humanitarian response is the insecurity that is overwhelmingly a function of unconstrained Janjaweed militia presence in the rural areas and camp environs.

UN POLITICAL LEADERSHIP IS FAILING DARFUR

Kofi Annan has recently compounded the difficulty of humanitarian intervention by disingenuously and tendentiously conflating the US-led invasion of Iraq with the possibility of an international effort to protect more than 1 million civilians directly threatened by Khartoum's regular and proxy military forces, and to increase the clearly inadequate capacity for massive, ongoing humanitarian relief:

"The two conflicts [in Darfur and in Iraq] appear to have converged and they [Muslims throughout the world] see this every day on their televisions and tend to think this is an assault on Islam." (PA News [Scotland], October 18, 2004)

Besides the condescending implications of Annan's remarks, he is in fact encouraging the pervasive error that protecting the African tribal populations of Darfur is somehow an "assault on Islam," when of course both Arab and non-Arab populations in Darfur are Muslim. Annan also argues that:

"There is a feeling in the Arab world that one is going to repeat what has happened in Iraq, regardless of the objective and intentions." (PA News [Scotland], October 18, 2004)

Annan's task, however, is not to recycle ignorance and error but to correct it through strong leadership. His task is certainly not to obfuscate and depersonalize ("one is going to...") the arguments for humanitarian intervention---of precisely the sort he himself made on April 7, 2004, the tenth anniversary of the Rwandan genocide. Rather, the task of leadership is to explain what the differences are between Iraq and Darfur. For Annan to accept casually the morally callous and intellectually specious conclusion of the Security Council---"there is this sense among the [UN Security Council] membership that it is best to send in African troops"---evades the responsibilities of leadership, even as it serves his ongoing political agenda vis-à-vis Iraq.

Whatever one thinks of the US-led war in Iraq, Annan's refusal to articulate the differences between this conflict and the urgent needs of Darfur is dismayingly expedient. Frustration over such political expediency is rising among humanitarian organizations operating in Darfur, and is perhaps best gauged by a recent comment from chief executive John O'Shea of the distinguished Irish organization GOAL: "The United Nations should be disbanded unless it can take 'meaningful action' to prevent genocide in Darfur, GOAL's chief executive said yesterday" (Irish Examiner, October 12, 2004).

THE ANSWER FROM THE INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY

These realities make fully clear the answer to any question about whether there will be a robust international humanitarian intervention tasked with saving hundreds of thousands of vulnerable civilians: there will not. This acquiescent decision has been made by political leaders at the UN, in the European Union, and in Washington. Though there has been no fully honest acknowledgement of this decision, it has all too clearly been made.

Certainly if present genocidal horrors are not sufficient cause for intervention, then it is impossible to imagine some future galvanizing development in Darfur that might be the final spur to action. 300,000 have died, and mortality rates are obscenely high; more than 2 million have been displaced within Darfur and into Chad; more than 2.5 million people are now directly affected by the conflict and in need of humanitarian assistance, and this number only grows. The Janjaweed continue their "reign of terror" in the rural areas and in the camps; many of these war criminals have now been recycled into the ranks of "police." Agricultural production is coming ever more fully to a halt, and food is becoming scarcer all the time. The social and cultural destruction of the African tribal groups of Darfur steadily increases, even as camps for the displaced look more and more like human warehouses.

And yet this is not enough to justify humanitarian intervention. That this is so, that massive, deliberate human destruction---animated by ethnic/racial hatred---is insufficient cause for intervention, must be stated fully and explicitly, rather than allowed to slip by as tacit acquiescence in genocide by a morally bereft "international community." Such abysmal failure cannot be judged by history alone: we must say it to ourselves, now.

For there can be no claim of ignorance or powerlessness. What is occurring in Darfur is all too well known, and the issue of intervention has been defined not by the absence of power but by a lack of will. As the first great episode of genocide in the 21st century grinds mercilessly onward, with ghastly visibility, we must assess all that we know and learn of Darfur in light of this now conspicuous decision not to intervene.

CURRENT DEVELOPMENTS: DETERIORATING SECURITY

It now appears that the current suspension of humanitarian assistance to the Ummbaru region of North Darfur, following the recent deaths of two aid workers for Save the Children (UK), will be temporary; but these tragic deaths powerfully underscore the vulnerability of humanitarian operations. Security issues are already seriously compromising humanitarian capacity in Darfur; additional deaths, accidental or deliberate, could produce a further reduction of aid delivery.

It has long been feared in the humanitarian community and official circles that Khartoum might deliberately orchestrate the killing of aid workers, particularly international ("expatriate") workers, as a means of diminishing the overall international presence in Darfur (where there are now some 700 international aid workers). Last month an expatriate worker for Caritas in Darfur was seriously wounded by unknown assailants. A number of drivers hired for humanitarian deliveries and convoys have been shot. In the wake of the massive destruction orchestrated by Khartoum and its Janjaweed allies, there has been a sharp increase in banditry.

Reuters recently reported on the assessment of the UN Humanitarian Coordinator for Sudan, Manuel Aranda Da Silva:

"Security has deteriorated in Sudan's Darfur region in the past month and violence drove a further 220,000 people from their homes, the UN Humanitarian Coordinator for Sudan said on Tuesday [October 12, 2004]."

"Shortages of funds and resources were the main problems a few months ago in what the UN calls one of the world's worst humanitarian crises. '[But] security is probably becoming the main constraint to the delivering of humanitarian assistance in Darfur,' he told Reuters in Khartoum." (Reuters, October 12, 2004)

The UN News Service recently reported of World Food Program efforts:

"The UN food relief agency warned today that the security situation in Sudan's strife-torn Darfur region is so volatile that is hampering the delivery and distribution of food aid to the vast population of internally displaced persons." (UN News Centre, October 13, 2004)

The same dispatch also noted that "deliveries have been slower than expected because truck drivers are now using longer routes to avoid insecure areas" (UN News Centre, October 13, 2004).

And just today, the spokeswoman for the UN Advance Mission in Sudan declared that the UN,

"had continued to receive reports of attacks against internally displaced persons and harassment of relief workers in the western Sudanese region of Darfur. 'The situation has remained extremely tense over the past days,' Radia Achouri, spokesperson for the UN Advance Mission in Sudan, told IRIN."

"Attacks against IDPs in South Darfur State also seemed to be on the increase. Achouri said she had received a report about an attack on Tasha in South Darfur that took place on 5 October. On Friday [October 15, 2004], UN News had reported an attack against the village of Uma Kasara which took place on 2 October. Three policemen were reportedly killed, while 650 families had to flee as unidentified gunmen burnt their village. It said the IDPs had continued to arrive in Kalma, an overcrowded refugee camp close to the South Darfur state capital of Nyala, which already holds an estimated 60,000 people who fled their homes earlier."
(UN Integrated Regional Information Networks, October 18, 2004)

THE GROWING FOOD CRISIS

As consequential as security issues are, there also appear to be signs of a deteriorating global food supply in Darfur. The International Committee of the Red Cross reports today (October 18, 2004) that:

"The price of basic food staples has risen dramatically. Millet and sorghum, for example, are now worth twice or even three times as much as last year. The decrease in production has led to a net loss of income for the households, making them even less able to deal with the inflation. The end result is that families have had to rely on the gathering of wild food, which in some cases now constitutes 85% of the food intake. This situation exposes the villagers even more to attacks, catching them up in a vicious circle of fear and hunger." (October 18, 2004, ICRC News: Sudan bulletin No. 16, 18 October 2004)

With approximately 2.5 million people in Darfur and eastern Chad increasingly in need of food assistance, inflation in food prices and growing insecurity make even more ominous the recent assessment by William Garvelink of the US Agency for International Development:

"'The crisis in Darfur has not yet peaked. We have not yet seen the worst.' Earlier this year, US AID predicted that between 80,000 and 300,000 people could die if the situation failed to improve in Darfur. 'We're now coming to the high side of that range,' Garvelink told reporters. After months of relying on scarce food handouts---when aid agencies have been able to reach refugee settlements---more than a million people in Darfur face severe malnutrition, Garvelink [said]. 'We're going to see a tipping point in December, January or February.'" (Associated Press, October 4, 2004)

A massive failure in humanitarian capacity is all too clearly in prospect, as suggested by UN spokeswoman Achouri:

"'If the situation continues like this we cannot keep up with this. We cannot keep up with the level of needs,' [UN spokeswoman Radhia Achouri] told reporters in Khartoum. The UN has said it has received just a little over half the required funds to meet the needs of the 1.5 million displaced in Darfur. More than 200,000 have also fled to neighboring Chad, encamped in the desolate eastern desert." (Reuters, October 6, 2004)

DEATH AND LOOTING OF AGRICULTURAL ANIMALS IN DARFUR: LONGER-TERM THREATS TO AGRICULTURE AND PEACE

There have been several recent reports on yet another extremely ominous development in the Darfur crisis, the high rate at which agricultural animals are dying. This augurs extremely poorly for resumed agricultural production. Today's Mail and Guardian (South Africa), citing wire reports from Deutsche Presse Agentur and the South African Press Agency, offers this grim picture:

"New arrivals in the remote area of Wad al-Bashir, where camps host more than 80,000 displaced people, say they are alarmed by the mounting number of animals dying there every day, especially donkeys. Every day more than 150 donkeys are dying in al-Fashir and Kabkabia provinces in northern Darfur, said Fatima Haroun and Adam Abakir, a middle-aged couple who arrived from the town of al-Fashir a week ago. [ ] Fatima said in Wad al-Bashir camp on Monday that of the family's 50 goats and 10 donkeys, all of the goats and five of the donkeys were taken away by the notorious Janjaweed militia. Donkeys are economically vital for the impoverished people of Darfur."

"Staff of an international NGO have also expressed alarm at the rising number of donkey deaths at the Abu Showk camp, which is situated outside al-Fashir town in northern Darfur state. Jeremy Hulme, a member of Spana, a society for the protection of animals, said that more than 8,000 donkeys have died recently in Darfur, something he attributed mainly to a lack of grazing land." (Mail and Guardian [South Africa], October 18, 2004)

The Washington Post reports today (dateline: Moyashwa Market, Nyala [South Darfur]) on a different aspect of the problem, viz. the huge numbers of cattle that have been looted, depriving displaced people of food security and wealth accumulated over generations. The consequences of Janjaweed looting of cattle from African tribal villages will be ongoing cycles of retribution throughout Darfur if the issue of compensation is not addressed:

"Another crime being committed in the [Darfur] region may prove just as difficult to reconcile: the widespread looting of livestock. Stolen animals worth millions of dollars have flooded markets like this one in Nyala, the capital of South Darfur province, according to international organizations and independent Sudanese investigators. At refugee camps [ ] threats of reprisals are openly discussed. Without a government willing to compensate them for their lost wealth, village elders said, revenge will become the only way to reclaim it."

"Most [looted cattle] have wound up in large markets across Darfur, including a massive slaughterhouse in El Obeid, the capital of the neighboring state of North Kordofan, investigators said."

"International aid organizations and a Sudanese group are investigating the thefts and trying to trace the profits to determine whether they have reached high levels of government. But many victims and traders said the money has largely stayed in the hands of the Janjaweed."

"'Janjaweed and Janjaweed leaders are getting rich off of this,' said Adam Azzim Mohamed, a professor at the University of Khartoum. 'There is an expression in Darfur that says, "A man is powerless without his herds." What people outside Sudan may not realize yet is how important the reprisals regarding these animals may be. There will not peace until the government sorts out this. Otherwise it can be very dangerous.' But so far, there are no signs that international pressure has stopped the livestock thefts."

"Government officials said police in Darfur were investigating reports of stolen herds and that victims would be compensated if their claims were proved. But human rights advocates and villagers said they saw no evidence of such an investigation. They countered that the Sudanese government has failed to hold anyone accountable for crimes, creating an atmosphere of impunity." (Washington Post, October 18, 2004)

The "climate of impunity" in Darfur that has recently been remarked by Louise Arbour, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, obtains not only in the camps for the displaced in Darfur, but in the rural areas and among those increasingly few villages that have managed to escape the savagery of Janjaweed assaults and looting. Khartoum has done nothing to change this "climate of impunity" (the phrase was used by Arbour in her September 30 briefing of the Security Council)---and gives no sign of doing so. Even Kofi Annan has been forced to declare:

"Today, still increasing numbers of the population of Darfur are exposed, without any protection from their Government [the Khartoum regime], to hunger, fear, and violence. The numbers affected by the conflict are growing and their suffering is being prolonged by inaction. In a significant proportion of the territory security conditions have worsened. In the month of September the Government has not been able to fulfill its responsibilities and commitments to protect the people of Darfur." (Report of the Secretary-General to the UN Security Council, pursuant to Resolutions 1556 and 1564; October 4, 2004)

Despite this, Annan---who shamefully refuses to declare the direct responsibility of the Khartoum regime for the realities he deplores---disingenuously acquiesces before the wishes of a Security Council defined by the wishes of China, Pakistan, Algeria, Russia, and by strong Arab League lobbying. When Annan uncritically asserts "there is a sense among the [Security Council] membership that is it is best to send in African troops [to Darfur]," he has made himself complicit in the decision to consign Darfur to its genocidal fate.

DEPLOYMENT OF THE AFRICAN UNION FORCE

For there simply can be no denying that the AU force now contemplated is terribly inadequate to the critical security tasks at hand. Even Jan Pronk, Kofi Annan's special representative for Sudan, has recently admitted as much:

"Jan Pronk warned that a much larger force [than the proposed AU force] was needed to end the violence in the western Sudanese region. [ ] Mr Pronk told the BBC that the [AU] peacekeeping mission was a step in the right direction, but too small to oversee a faltering ceasefire. He said its priority should be to protect civilians in Darfur from continuing attacks by pro-government militias. 'They have to be stopped by a force which can act as a buffer,' he said." (BBC, October 16, 2004)

Even an augmented AU force cannot serve as such a "buffer. Indeed---critically---this force is being deployed without having secured a peacekeeping mandate from Khartoum. The acute numerical limitations of the force are revealed in details of an AU deployment document obtained by Reuters:

"A working paper circulated by AU officials at a meeting in the Ethiopian capital acknowledged that the current mission of 150 ceasefire monitors and 300 AU troops was too small to provide effective cover of a region the size of France. The paper, obtained by Reuters, proposed boosting the force by around 3,300 staff, comprised of 2,341 military personnel, 815 civilian police, 132 other civilian support staff and 32 staff to be stationed at AU headquarters in Addis Ababa." (Reuters, October 8, 2004)

This augmentation of the current force by 3,300 (and only 2,341 military personnel) is already significantly smaller than the 4,000 additional troops Nigerian president Obasanjo spoke of last week. Nothing in the planning document obtained by Reuters suggests how this force, without a peacekeeping mandate, can possibly take on the essential tasks in providing security within Darfur: [1] protecting vulnerable civilian populations in camps for the displaced and in rural areas; [2] providing security for humanitarian personnel and their transport corridors; [3] providing safe passage for starving civilians in vulnerable rural areas trying to reach humanitarian aid sites; [4] disarming the Janjaweed (this was explicitly demanded of Khartoum by UN Security Council Resolution 1556 [July 30, 2004]; the regime has made no effort to comply, as both Kofi Annan and Jan Pronk have recently reported to the UN).

To suggest that even an expanded African Union force can achieve any of these goals in a region the size of France---let alone all of them---is yet another way of acquiescing in genocide. A force at least five to ten times the size of what the AU has proposed is required. Again, this much is clear even to Jan Pronk:

"Jan Pronk warned that a much larger force [than the proposed AU force] was needed to end the violence in the western Sudanese region." (BBC, October 16, 2004)

Does this basic truth matter to those who speak as though an expanded African Union deployment obviated the need for urgent humanitarian intervention? Perhaps we should credit Kofi Annan with speaking at least a partial truth when he declares that "the international community has been reluctant to send another force to Sudan, another Islamic country" (PA News [Scotland], October 18, 2004). But this reluctance cannot be explained simply as hesitation to intervene in the wake of Iraq, though Annan's disingenuous conflation of Iraq and Darfur seeks to provide an excuse to the UN. Ultimately, the refusal to mount a humanitarian intervention that might save hundreds of thousands of lives in Darfur tells us most about how these lives---African, Muslim, geopolitically inconsequential---are valued.

In seeking to understand genocide in Darfur, and the international refusal to begin humanitarian intervention, this must be our fundamental point of reference.

Eric Reeves
Smith College
Northampton, MA 01063
ereeves@smith.edu


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