Ghosts of Rwanda - The international abandonment of Darfur (Eric Reeves)
Posted by: ereeves on Nov 13, 2005 - 11:16 PM
News An international abandonment of the “Responsibility to Protect” (Part 1 of 2)
November 13, 2005
The ghosts of Rwanda are stirring ever more ominously in Darfur. Differences in geography, history, and genocidal means do less and less to obscure the ghastly similarities between international failure in 1994 and the world’s current willingness to allow ethnically-targeted human destruction to proceed essentially unchecked. To be sure, the Hutu genocidaires in Rwanda accomplished their frenzied destruction of perhaps 800,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus in approximately 100 days; the genocidaires in Khartoum’s National Islamic Front have been more patient, more calculating, more willing to accomplish their goals through “genocide by attrition.” But their savage equivalent to the Hutu Interahamwe---the Arab tribal militias that have come to be called the Janjaweed---are no less efficient or relentless in their human destruction. And as the death toll in Darfur now likely exceeds 400,000, with human mortality poised to increase significantly in coming weeks and months, there is no clear evidence that Rwanda’s unspeakable slaughter will not eventually be numerically surpassed.
In 1994 the international community knowingly abandoned the clear targets of genocidal destruction, leaving in place only a hopelessly inadequate remnant of the UN Assistance Mission for Rwanda (UNAMIR), led heroically in failure by Lt. General Romeo Dallaire. Dallaire’s unsparing account of this international failure (“Shake Hands with the Devil: The Failure of Humanity in Rwanda”) gives us what is in many ways the most relentlessly insightful chronicle of the decisions, equivocations, mendacity, and cowardice that left hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians to die by machetes, small arms, and innumerable other acts of individual and collective savagery.
In Darfur, we are witnessing an equivalently dishonest and cowardly failure. [....] We have learned nothing.
Posted by: ereeves on Nov 20, 2005 - 06:15 PM
News An international abandonment of the “Responsibility to Protect” (Part 2 of 2)
November 20, 2005
Darfur is slipping yet deeper into catastrophe before the very eyes of an unmoved international community. The radical inadequacy of the African Union Mission in Sudan (AMIS) daily becomes more grimly apparent. The increasingly desperate security tasks in Darfur---protecting both acutely vulnerable civilian populations and equally vulnerable humanitarian operations---are clearly far beyond the capability of AMIS, now or in the foreseeable future. International willingness to accept these terrible threats to human security in Darfur, as well as the accompanying disingenuous characterization of AMIS abilities, ensures that no adequate or timely protection resources will be provided in Darfur.
We will see, as a consequence, the continuing attenuation of relief efforts, including evacuations, severe travel restrictions in moving humanitarian supplies and personnel, and even the withdrawal of international workers from Darfur. Because insecurity makes it impossible to see an end to the crisis, funding for humanitarian operations is now beginning to wither, with some aid organizations “starting to reduce aid” and “already phasing out their activities”---at the very moment civilians are most vulnerable. An ominous Reuters dispatch (“Donor fatigue threatens aid to Darfur refugees”) was recently filed by Opheera McDoom from South Darfur; McDoom is currently unrivaled as a journalist, and witness, in reporting on the crisis in Darfur (see Reuters, November 16, 2005, http://www.alertnet.org/thenews/newsdesk/L16570163.htm).
In such a context it is the height of mendacity for US Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Jendayi Frazer, in testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, to declare: “The African Union effort in Darfur has demonstrated why deployment of African troops is a viable option” (Statement before the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, Africa Subcommittee, November 17, 2005). This is not simply transparently dishonest: it is dishonesty in expedient service of a desire to forestall meaningful discussion of what is truly required for human security in Darfur. [....]
To be sure, the AU for its part itself makes such mendacity and disingenuousness all too easy. AU Special Representative to Darfur, Baba Gana Kingibe, recently (August 2005) declared: “We stand or fall in Darfur. If we fail here, nobody is going to look to the AU for a solution to other conflicts on the continent” (BR page 25). It is an irony beyond tragedy that Kingibe speaks more truly than he knows; for one of the greatest costs of AU failure in Darfur will indeed be a terrible loss in credibility for an organization that deserves the strongest possible international support. That the still fledgling AU cannot presently undertake the enormous challenges of human security in Darfur says nothing about its future critical importance as a source of peacekeeping and human protection in Africa.
Still, we must accept that the AU is not ready for the challenges of Darfur, militarily or politically. Indeed, the ominous prospect of an AU summit hosted by Khartoum’s genocidaires calls into question whether the African Union has fully surmounted the political challenges of replacing the corrupt and self-serving Organization of African Unity (OAU).
For its part, the international community may choose to accept honest, well-researched assessments of AU limitations, political and military---or it may accept with Jendayi Frazer the shameful pretense that the AU can somehow avert ongoing genocidal destruction in Darfur.
The choice gives all evidence of having been made; the ghosts of Rwanda continue to stir.