Projecting Ignorance

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Projecting Ignorance

Over the last year and more that I have been posting on Darfur on a daily basis, I have seen my share of columns, op-eds, and blog posts written by people who obviously have, at best, a superficial understanding of what is going on, but nonetheless sanctimoniously bemoan the lack of action or interest in the issue.

For instance, take this column from The Raw Story
Perhaps there is nothing more tragic than watching history repeat itself threefold. On Sunday, thousands of people congregated in Washington, D.C. to protest the United States' lackadaisical approach to yet another human rights atrocity. In Darfur, the western region of Sudan, 400,000 people have died since 2003, when two groups, the Sudan Liberation Movement Army (SLA) and the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) attacked existing military bases. Responding to the attack, independent militias, known as Janjaweeds, were sanctioned by the government to remove and slaughter civilians from areas they considered disloyal to the Sudanese government.

What resulted was not only a mass-killing of genocidal level but also a country left to grapple with famine and disease. Sudan has not even come close to recovering, and as the website attests, "3.5 million people are now hungry, 2.5 million have been displaced due to violence, and 400,000 people have died in Darfur thus far." What's worse, the United States is doing nothing to help.
First of all, there is no such thing as the Sudan Liberation Movement Army - there is the Sudan Liberation Army and there is its political wing, the Sudan Liberation Movement. Secondly, it is Janjaweed - singular - not Janjaweeds.

These are small points, but if you are going to write something where you are going to claim that "the United States is doing nothing to help" you ought to know what you are talking about. Especially when the "US has provided $1.9 billion in humanitarian and development assistance to Sudan, with $638 million for humanitarian assistance to Darfur alone" and has been deeply involved in the peace talks.

I don't like Bush either, but people need to stop trying to score partisan points by slamming his response to Darfur, because it has been far better than Clinton's utter non-response to Rwanda and a hundred times better than the response from any other leader in this entire world.

In absolute terms, I would give Bush a "C" for his efforts - but if we are grading on a curve, he deserves an A++.

Liberals only talk about Darfur to the extent that it serves their purpose of blaming Bush for not doing more, whereas conservatives only talk about it in order to badmouth the UN and accuse liberals of being hypocrites for not supporting the war in Iraq.

If you want to place blame, blame Khartoum and the increasingly intransigent rebels - but please stop citing Darfur merely as a means to advancing your own political agenda, because everyone has failed on this issue: Democrats, Republicans, The United States, France, Canada, The UN, NATO.


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