Of all the world’s dictators, Sudan’s Gen. Omar Al-Bashir is the most unfailingly duplicitous and murderously arrogant. His government was one of the first to welcome our new president with the hope that the slogan of President-elect Barack Obama – “change” – “would (bring) some real change between Sudan and the United States.”
Obama knows better. As the Paris-based Sudan Tribune website reports (Nov. 6): “During his campaign, Senator Obama pledged ‘unstinting resolve’ to end the crisis in Darfur, and stated ‘there can be no doubt that the Sudanese government is chiefly responsible for the violence and is able to end it.’”
In what Bashir assumed Obama would consider a welcome move, Sudan’s genocide president, on Nov. 12, announced “our immediate unconditional cease-fire” that would include the disarmament (which he has often pledged) of his most ruthless killers and rapists, the Janjaweed militia.
As is Bashir’s custom, he followed the cease-fire by two days of multiple attacks by his army and Russian antonov gunships and bombers on rebel forces (Sudan Tribune, Nov. 15).
The blame for the continuing atrocities against Darfur’s black African Muslims is not only Bashir’s; but, as Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice belatedly said in a New York Times Sunday Magazine interview (Nov. 16), the United Nations Security Council has continually failed to impose strong enough sanctions on Bashir.
“I think,” she said, “it (the genocide) has been an enormous embarrassment for the Security Council.” Not at all embarrassed are China, the Arab states and Russia, among other U.N. members, who protect Bashir at the United Nations – and in China’s case, heavily invest in Sudan’s economy and provide bountiful arms to its army and the Janjaweed.
In her interview, the soon departing secretary of state made a bitter comment that I hope she will amplify once she is out of office:
“I think we thought ‘the responsibility to protect’ meant something. In the Darfur case, it has turned to be nothing but words.” She was referring to what seemed to be a historic commitment by the United Nations, in 2005, named The Responsibility to Protect “populations from genocide, ethnic cleansing, war crimes and crimes against humanity … in an international commitment by governments to prevent and react to grave crises, wherever they may occur.”
R2P, as it is called, also declared, for the first time in U.N. history, that “states have a primary responsibility to protect their own populations” and that “the international community has a responsibility to act when these governments fail to protect the most vulnerable among us.” In that case, national sovereignty is not absolute.
Bashir’s government is still a member of the United Nations in good standing, as are other countries that terrorize their own people.
As a citizen of the United States, I increasingly regret that our taxpayers’ dollars form a considerable percentage of the U.N.’s finances. John McCain’s vital contribution to making an international responsibility to protect more than, as Rice says, “nothing but words,” was his proposal for “a league of democracies” to rescue populations attacked by their own leaders.
Does President Obama have the insight and courage to work with McCain on the beginning steps to build “a league of democracies”?
In quoting Rice’s burst of sunlight on the immeasurable darkness of abandoned peoples due to the U.N.’s incompetence, the Sudan Tribune ended its story: “U.N. experts estimate some 300,000 people have died and 2.5 million have been driven from their homes” by Sudan, a sovereign U.N. member nation. And there is a postscript to the story:
“Sudan blames the Western media for exaggerating the conflict and puts the death toll at 10,000.” In another repellent trait, Bashir also blames Jews in the media and other places of influence for maligning his rule.
At least, however, the United Nations, in addition to its useless resolutions to end the genocide in Darfur, does put out some reports on what it has done nothing substantial to stop on the ground.
An October report on Darfur by U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon noted that attacks by Sudan forces – and the rebels – on humanitarian workers in Darfur have exceeded those of the past two years, forcing two aid organizations to suspend their operations in Darfur that helped a half-million refugees. (Those figures are understated.)
The secretary-general’s report continued: “So far this year, 208 humanitarian vehicles have been hijacked, 155 aid workers abducted … and 123 premises broken into.” And the understaffed African Union-United Nations hybrid force (UNAMID) documented “16 cases (hugely understated) of rape and sexual assault against women of Darfur – including by government forces,” some “in military uniform.”
By the way, on Nov. 12, Ki-Moon praised Bashir’s declaration of a cease-fire – without waiting to see whether it was nothing but words. In a refugee camp where there are mass graves, Darfur survivors said they need not peace – but justice!
To be continued.