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Where Were You on Darfur?

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Where Were You on Darfur?

Post by Mazy on Thu Sep 05 2013, 09:18

The places that I made bold are more links on the original, that gives more explanations

TUE SEP 03, 2013 AT 04:00 PM PDT
Where Were You on Darfur?

As the debate over what is best to do in Syria continues to rage, many within the Democratic Party and the political left are split on what to do.  Many diarists here at DK are against intervention under any circumstances, though not everyone here thinks the same way.

As Sahil Kapur reports in TPM, there are multiple sides to the argument, to include "liberal interventionists":

A faction of liberals has long supported limited, targeted U.S. interventions in war-torn places to advance humanitarian goals. And various Democrats, including the party’s congressional leadership, see the Syria mission in this light: a move to stand up for an oppressed people against a mass-murdering tyrant who has crossed a red line by, according to U.S. intelligence, employing chemical weapons to kill his own people.

In yesterday's Plum Line from WaPo, Alex Seitz-Wald discusses the split among liberals over what to do in Syria and brings up what Keith Ellison had to say:

Meanwhile, both sides are aware that if the White House loses the authorization vote in Congress, it could weaken the president and thus make it harder for him to push other progressive agenda items and draw a hard line with Republicans in upcoming fiscal battles. Indeed, White House aides were shocked when Obama decided Friday night to seek congressional approval, we learn today from the Wall Street Journal’s Carol Lee.

This split has been present since the beginning of the Syria conflict. “We are of two minds, as a group, about this,” Democratic Rep. Keith Ellison, who chairs the House Progressive Caucus, told me over a year ago. “One is human rights: When I went and got arrested in front of the Sudanese Embassy [protesting the genocide in Darfur]… it was progressives who were standing there next to me getting arrested, too.”

“On the other hand… our military engagements in the past has been sullied by questions like this, to the point ”where many progressives just don’t even believe it if the U.S. government says we’re there for humanitarian reasons, he added.

Which poses a very difficult question--what is a good intervention?  Even if the UN comes out and says it has incontrovertible proof that the Syrian government used chemical weapons, is that good enough?  

But, before replying, ask yourself what you wanted when the Darfur genocide was raging. Why is that situation different from what has been happening in Syria?

Remember Darfur?  That stretch of western Sudan where the Islamist government of Omar al-Bashir (who has an outstanding arrest warrant to appear before the ICC for war crimes and genocide) essentially aided and abetted (if not ordered) Islamist militias called janjaweed to attack the villages in the region.  

In the ongoing genocide, African farmers and others in Darfur are being systematically displaced and murdered at the hands of the Janjaweed. The genocide in Darfur has claimed 400,000 lives and displaced over 2,500,000 people. More than one hundred people continue to die each day; five thousand die every month. The Sudanese government disputes these estimates and denies any connection with the Janjaweed.

For 10 years the genocide continued and the situation is still bad.
President Obama had pledged to pressure
the Sudanese government to allow for a third party intervention to end the violence, yet little has been done to alter the situation on the ground.

Of course, the Sudanese government's best buddies are China and Russia.
The major international human rights organizations lamented the lack of action by the international community:
Human Rights Watch: Failing Darfur
Oxfam: Marking 10 Years of the Darfur Conflict
Amnesty International: International Community Fails to Protect Darfur

And liberals/progressives in the West?  Articles like" US Must Assert Leadership on Darfur" appeared in publications like The Progressive, Common Dreams, and The Nation.  Some, like The Nation article highlighted the fact that Sudan's oil was preventing US intervention.

Mark Fiore skewered the lack of involvement and interest.
Campus progressives asked why nothing was being done.
“If this was happening to your neighbor, or to someone in another state, would you do something?” Saturing asked. “Why is it that distance is the determining factor when is comes to helping people?”

What did we think here at Daily Kos?  Do a search for "Darfur" on the DK search engine.  Over 100 diaries mention if in 2004, including those by some current FPers.  265 in 2005, including one by then Sen. Corzine on The Darfur Accountability Act.  Sen. Corzine got 195 recs and 75 comments after writing this:

Our failure to intervene in Rwanda eleven years ago only taught warlords around the world that what they do to their own people may cause hand-wringing in the West, but nothing more.  This act, if it is included in the final version of the supplemental appropriations bill, will begin to undo that morally perverse lesson.

At the same time, acting on this matter is good for our national security.  Failed states are fertilizer for terrorism and instability, and can only be fixed with the type of global engagement and cooperation this act implies.  Additionally, potentially catastrophic problems, such as global warming, new diseases of epidemic proportions, and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, can only be addressed within a global context.  Like the moral travesty of not acting to prevent genocide in Darfur, these problems are nonpartisan and affect every person on the planet.  It is especially heartening therefore that there is bipartisan support for this bill - my cosponsor in passing this legislation was Senator Sam Brownback.  President Bush's second term carries with it the opportunity for us to work with the international community on a range of critical issues, including the genocide in Darfur.  Whether we as a global community can do so will determine whether this young century is one of prosperity or one where we seek to manage the horrific consequences of the global catastrophes that today we may be allowing to spiral out of control.

Take a look at who recced that diary and the lack of dissent amongst the commenters.
2006? 711 diaries.  2007? 829.  2008: 615.  2009: 264.  2010: 194.  2011: 82.  2012: 47.  2013: 17.
So, back to Syria.  Why is Keith Ellison asking why some were willing to intervene or, at least "do something" in Darfur then, but not Syria now?  

NOTE:  I have a bunch of stuff to do that requires my attention, but I wanted to put this out there sooner than later.  As a result, I am not going to stick around for comments this evening, but will check in tomorrow to see what folks had to say.  Please be civil!

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