Why I haven't been writing about Darfur

Because I have nothing to say, and I can't think of how to help the situation, aside from giving money. (There are appropriate spiritual responses as well, but despite pro-forma, one-off resolutions from various rabbinic groups, I haven't heard of any massive Tehillim rallies on behalf of the Darfurians. I guess only Gush Katif merits a psalm or two.)

Somini Sengupta reports in the Times that, despite a small diplomatic advance (an increase in the number of African Union personnel allowed into Darfur to monitor the ceasefire), the Janjaweed -- the militia responsible for civilian massacres -- operates with impunity, sponsored, aided, and abetted by the Sudanese government.

What can one do? How can one exert pressure?

The indefatigable Nicholas Kristof castigates the so-called international community -- and us:
[W]hat I can't fathom is our own moral choice, our decision to acquiesce in genocide.

We in America could save kids like Abdelrahim and Muhammad. This wouldn't require troops, just a bit of gumption to declare a no-fly zone, to press our Western allies and nearby Arab and African states, to impose an arms embargo and other targeted sanctions, to push a meaningful U.N. resolution even at the risk of a Chinese veto, and to insist upon the deployment of a larger African force.

I do feel responsible, or at least guilty. But I would ask of Kristof: what am I supposed to do to accomplish these things? Carry a sign with the words "I insist upon the deployment of a larger African force"? (Perhaps this last has indeed been accomplished with the increase in AU monitors alluded to in the Sengupta article. But I wouldn't be surprised if the Sudanese government's agreement were in name only.)

I might be able to exercise some (miniscule) pressure through my vote, but here too there doesn't seem to be much to vote about. The New Republic has eloquently urged both Bush and Kerry to show leadership on Darfur (though placing most of the blame at the feet of the current president):
During the [first] debate, Kerry suggested he would be willing to send troops "if it took American forces to some degree to coalesce the African Union." In so doing, he made an important moral and political point. Emphasizing his willingness to intervene in Darfur without U.N. approval would help deflect Bush's criticism that a Kerry presidency would be a slave to international opinion, allowing foreign leaders to determine U.S. national interests and policy agendas. And, by hammering home this message, Kerry would show how absent Bush has been. After all, it is Bush, not Kerry, who is now presiding over 6,000 to 10,000 Darfurian deaths each month. It is up to Bush, as president, to stop the genocide.

Unfortunately, neither candidate has let the word Darfur pass their lips, beyond those brief mentions made in the first debate. Where do we go from here? I have no idea.

No comments:

Post a Comment