Thursday, March 5, 2009

Darfur - the dogs and demons of war

I see in the world press that the President of Sudan has been indicted for War Crimes in Darfur by the International Criminal Court in the Hague, Netherlands. This is a step in the right direction for the International Global approach to try and put a lid on and discourage future atrocities from happening in Sudan and elsewhere.

Bashir Defies Arrest Order on War Crime Charges

After months of deliberation, the judges charged Mr. Bashir with war crimes and crimes against humanity for playing an “essential role” in the murder, rape, torture, pillage and displacement of large numbers of civilians in Darfur. But the judges did not charge him with genocide, as the prosecutor had requested.

In issuing the order, the three judges put aside diplomatic requests for more time for peace talks and fears that the warrant would incite a violent backlash in Sudan, where 2.5 million Darfur residents have been chased from their homes and 300,000 have died in a conflict pitting non-Arab rebel groups against the Arab-dominated government and its allied militias.

Because of this international indictment, there are likely to be disruptions in humanitarian aid going into the war torn region as written in the following article, along with a synopsis of the political story behind this tragedy.

Graham: Arrest of Bashir Threatens Chaos in Sudan

“Mr. Bashir is rightly accused of great cruelty and destruction,” (Franklin) Graham writes. “But I have been able to deal with him.”

The op-ed was posted just one day before the International Criminal Court issued an arrest warrant for President Bashir for the violence in Darfur. Bashir is charged with seven counts of crimes against humanity and war crimes, including murder, extermination, forcible transfer, torture, and rape, according to CNN.

Violence broke out in the western region of Darfur, Sudan five years ago when ethnically African Darfurians rebelled against the central Arab-dominated Khartoum government. The government, in turn, is accused of unleashing Arab nomads called janjaweed militias on Darfur civilians, resulting in more than 200,000 deaths and the displacement of 2.5 million civilians since 2003.

News of the arrest warrant for Bashir have been met with cheers from human rights groups that have long sought for greater international intervention regarding the Darfur genocide.

Save Darfur Coalition president Jerry Fowler commended the ICC for issuing the arrest warrant and called the act a “game changing moment.”

I, as a common man or global observer, do not completely know what to make of this "man's inhumanity to man" that is going on in place like Sudan. In a 10-15 second sound bite media world it is hard to get the planet’s attention about war, murder, rape, famine, overpopulation and the vestiges of the cold war in the ongoing and lively armament sales industry.

The UN ( United Nations ) is used at times to stand on a dividing line between “us and them” and to distribute basic food stuffs and aid to famine victims and war refugees. The UN can do little else unless empowered by many nations to do something more than just hand out packages after some tragedy has occured.

Under the land that is Africa there is no doubt a lot of minerals and natural resources. It is difficult at times to understand all the sides in a conflict that makes up what seems likes a civil war fighting for, in this case, limited surface resources such as water, food and grass for herding. How can so basic a human right as food and water trigger so many global conflicts and concerns? Where is there decent management and husbandry of the land?

The outside world picks a point of view that suits its own economic, political, ethnic or religious spin. Pick a side or POV. It is too complicated for a convenient ten second sound bite solution.

The people on the ground are suffering and we seem to be in the distance playing at some celestial focus, gazing out on the images of the idiot box in the living room, if we are interested at all - many are not interested sad to say.

I cannot see too clear a picture of this mess other than to agree that it is a tragic mess indeed. The conflicts being played out in Darfur so far from the central capital makes me want to make a few points which may or may not help you in forming an opinion in this human tragedy. It reminds me of the Nicaragua thing of a generation ago.

I never could figure out the linguistics (PC) of Nicaragua in the 1980’s in terms of who we (USA) were backing and who we were opposing. I still could not tell you who or what the Sandinistas or Contras were all about and that I used to watch the “Great Communicator” Ronald Reagan keeps pounding on these sound bites. This must make you think how dumb I must be.

Perhaps I knew that I had nothing to do with U.S. foreign policy in Nicaragua. It was already a crock and was decided or was a legacy going back to 1849 with shipping magnate Cornelius Vanderbilt trying to build a canal to go from the Caribbean to the Pacific ocean. If you are interesting in an offbeat movie on that historic situation, footnote, I recommend “Walker” 1987, Alex Cox Director…

"Walker", 1987, Alex Cox Director

…whereby an American mercenary walked into the civil war involving Vanderbilt, British and internal Nicaraguan interests and got himself “elected” President of the country and recognized by the U.S. government. The US foreign policy has been stuck there ever since.

So too in Sudan and Darfur, the story line must go back decades, generations and centuries and even before the European Colonial Powers started to draw lines on paper maps in London, Paris, Lisbon, and Berlin.

Part of the difficulty and reason for the present war in Iraq goes back to a fcuked up set of map lines dividing the middle east into British and French spheres of influence after the sleazy Treaty of Versailles and following the European World War One.

But Nicaragua and Iraq are not Darfur or the Sudan. I see it as a global formula or equation by which the standards set up by the major world religions - do not live up to these ideals in dealing with global situations wherever they occur. All politics are local, all beliefs are local and sad to say all mercy and justice must be local as well. Humanity is factored out in so many possible win-win global equations of the media, politics, economics etc. - or humanity is used all too often to frame a self interest agenda.

I cannot directly help cure the present Darfur genocide or whatever PC word your government or monied or cultural interests demands that you label it. It is a mess. I am a helpless bystander witness of the world stage and the world’s inability to get a little more human and economically efficient. The future of Africa and the planet may get better only if we start building a future from the zero of now.

What I would suggest in the decades to come to prevent these Keystone Cops, puppet regime forms of government in the Raped Lady = Africa, is to let big one-city countries sprawl and rule and corrupt themselves. Let a more aggressive United Nations or Capitalist Interested Corporation administer all the small towns and villages that do not get aid from any central regime in times of drought and famine.

That investment through capitalist interests in that continent could distribute wealth and profits from exploitation of natural resources and minerals. That roads, clean water and education be given global priority for a couple of decades. Then step back and decide where political and economic lines can or should be redrawn in the capitals of real world power, corporations, and local centers of common human interest.

The feudal way that Africa is still administrating itself is indirectly a threat to future world peace.

Let us start to set long term common goals in the vast regions of the continent of Africa. The age of two bit dictators and two bit capitalism is over I hope. Yeah right.

I can do little more than pray for the victims of war, make a check out to a reputable charity, and write my congressman.

God have mercy on us and God be with us all!