"Realism" triumphs in Darfur (Christopher Hitchens)
Posted Monday, Nov. 7, 2005, at 6:05 PM ET
Realism in Darfur
Consider the horrors of peace.
By Christopher Hitchens
It looks as if the realists have won the day in the matter of Darfur. Or, to phrase it in another way, it looks as if the ethnic cleansers of that province have made good use of the "negotiation" and "mediation" period to complete their self-appointed task. As my friend Johann Hari put it recently in the London Independent: "At last, some good news from Darfur: the genocide in western Sudan is nearly over. There's only one problem—it's drawing to an end only because there are no black people left to cleanse or kill."
By some reliable estimates, the Sudanese government or "National Islamic Front" has slain as many as 400,000 of its black co-religionists—known contemptuously as zurga ("niggers")—and expelled perhaps 2 million more. This appalling achievement has been made possible by a very simple tactic: The actual killers and cleansers, the Arab janjaweed militias, are a "deniable" arm of the Sudanese authorities. Those authorities pretend to negotiate with the United Nations, the United States, and the African Union, and their negotiating "card" is the control that they can or might exercise over said militias. While this tap is turned on and off, according to different applications of carrot and stick, the militias pretend to go out of control and carry on with their slaughter and deportation. By the time the clock has been run out, the job is done.
[....] In other words, a Rwanda in slow motion, and in front of the cameras and the diplomats. What was all that garbage about "never again"? What was the meaning of Clinton's apology to the Rwandans? What did Colin Powell mean when he finally used the word "genocide" to describe the events in Darfur, just before resigning as secretary of state and becoming an advocate for more realism all round? [....] Meanwhile, the State Department has upgraded Sudan's status on the chart that shows "cooperation" in the matter of slave-trafficking. Apparently, you can be on this list and still be awarded points for good behavior. A hundred-plus congressmen recently signed a statement accusing the administration of "appeasement," which seems the only appropriate word for it.
[....] Nonintervention does not mean that nothing happens. It means that something else happens. Our policy in Darfur has not just failed to rescue a stricken black African population: It has actually assisted the Sudanese Islamists in completing their policy of racist murder. Thank heaven that we are tough enough to bear the shame of this, and strong enough to forgive ourselves. [....]