Sunday, April 30, 2006

Weichegud! ET Politics: 'Never Again' to 'Yet, Again'

Weichegud! ET Politics: 'Never Again' to 'Yet, Again': "Darfur is probably not the sprightliest subject to discuss while breaking the Easter fast, but there you go. That’s politics for you. It insinuates itself even in between ambitious gurshafulls of delectable doro weT.

Darfur came about because we had started talking about Rwanda—yet another rosy subject that should not be discussed at a celebration marking the resurrection of our Lord. But there you go.


I ran across an entry from a journal I kept about this time in 1994 that I oft time wish I had not kept. Some of my entries are frantic epistles about the Rwandan genocide we were all aware was becoming an absolute horror.

Most of us, deservedly, excoriated the Clinton administration for its absolute incompetence in handling Rwanda.

At a State Department briefing, spokesperson Christine Shelley is asked, 'How many acts of genocide does it take to make genocide?'

'That's just not a question that I'm in a position to answer.'

'Well, is it true that you have specific guidance not to use the word 'genocide' in isolation, but always to preface it with these words 'acts of'?'

'I have guidance which I try to use as best as I can. There are formulations that we are using that we are trying to be consistent in our use of. I don't have an absolute categorical prescription against something, but I have the definitions. I have phraseology which has been carefully examined and arrived at as best as we can apply to exactly the situation and the actions which have taken place ... '

She said that not in April 1994, but on June 10, 1994. Close to 800,000 people had already been slaughtered.

When you read the chronology of events of the Rwandan genocide, you are left with a sense of disgust and shame. Sure the West failed, but as Africans, we failed even more. Whatever the West could have done, it could not make us not want to machete our neighbors to death because of something as inconsequential as ethnicity and color of skin."

Annan is on the second genocide of his watch. Even though the Bush administration learnt from Clinton and was early to call Darfur ‘genocide’, and although Condi Rice was dispatched to Sudan to discuss this matter (both much more than what Clinton ever did), Darfur is a reminder that we as Africans are failing Africa more than the West can possibly.

No, they are not. The African Union went in with such limited mandate into Darfur that it barely rises above Meter Maid status in law enforcement. Just yesterday, more Darfuri were displaced and we saw on TV AU troops take down stories and drive away into the sunset. The AU has extended its pitiable stay in Darfur until September, and that has delighted the Sudanese government. Whatever treaty it signed in Addis to entertain replacing AU forces with UN forces is so laden with preconditions that the likelihood of UN peacekeepers in Darfur is no likelihood at all.

But Annan is floating on Cloud Nine.

Eric Reeves has an excellent analysis that is a must read, African Union Decision on Darfur Mission Fails ‘Rwanda Test.”

Knowing full well the consequences of leaving humanitarian personnel and vulnerable civilians without protection, the international community has nonetheless disingenuously welcomed the African Union decision to retain control of the Darfur mission---suggesting that somehow this decision represents either a triumph of tactful diplomacy or, at worst, the innocuous preservation of a status quo that couldn’t be fundamentally changed in any event.

Such dishonesty will be recorded by history as the defining moment of the Darfur genocide, inaugurating what will become the greatest cycle of human destruction. It no longer matters what happens in Abuja (Nigeria): peace has been irretrievably lost on the ground and only exhaustion through destruction will bring an end to the killing and dying.

Excuse me. 400,000 people have died. When do we start getting a little less trite?

Darfur happened because we, as Africans, were unable to stand up to a government that thinks nothing of raiding and raping its own people.

Sure, the West can give more money, more aid, more troops. But what the West cannot do is make us not want to kill each other. We do that to ourselves with the kind of efficiency and adeptness of a well-run death factory.

I am sick of it. And I am sickened that the Ethiopian government has been using ‘genocide’ so lightly and cynically to silence its opponents. As Africans we should be enraged that the Ethiopian government has cheapened the meaning of genocide. When the Prime Minister of Ethiopia casually and appallingly lobbed the charge of “interhamwe” at its unarmed opposition, the African Union stayed mum.

If we don’t take genocide seriously, why should the rest of the world? The Prime Minister has yet to apologize for his gratuitous showboating, and has in fact repeated the charges. Yet we point the finger at DC and ho-hum what’s in our backyard.

On Sunday, April 30, thousands will march in DC to bring awareness to the situation in Darfur. The world seems to be saying, “Never again.” The whole world, except Africa.

Sign the petition. Tell a friend.

Enough is enough.

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