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Liberal Hawks and Genocide in Darfur

by Ruth Rosen

I keep waiting for the liberal hawks who supported a war against the tyranny of Saddam Hussein to speak out against the genocide in Darfur. But the silence, as they say, is deafening. Where are the liberal hawks, such as New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman, who were (and still are), caught up in their hallucinatory fantasy that George W. Bush would fight their war, for their reasons? I don’t need to publicly humiliate these people; they know who they are. These are the folks who still think the war could have been won, if only the Bush administration had planned and executed it their way.

And what evidence convinced them that this administration was competent? George W. Bush’s deep and comprehensive knowledge about international affairs? The way our leaders read and dismissed the intelligence report about a “determined” plan by terrorists to fly planes into buildings? Their efforts to protect chemical plants, refineries and ports after 9/11? Their deceptive campaign to convince the American people that Iraq had WMDs and that the war against terrorism had to begin there?

Don’t these people read history? Don’t they know what happened to the British? Don’t they know people don’t like to be occupied and that you can’t win a guerrilla war on someone else’s turf? That’s why we, and not the British, won the Revolution.

The liberal hawks say it was never about oil, but about ending a dictatorship and spreading democracy. Well, I might believe that if there were any evidence that George W. Bush or Vice-President Dick Cheney cared about protecting and preserving our democracy at home. Instead, they have eroded some of our most cherished civil rights and civil liberties, condoned and outsourced torture, abolished habeus corpus, and spied on American citizens without warrants.

But it’s perfectly obvious that resource wars for oil and water, as Michael Klare has repeatedly explained to us, are no longer in our future; the scarcity exists right now and the United States is hardly alone in trying to gain control over these precious resources.

Which brings us back to Darfur. Sudan has oil. Sudan also has a government-backed paramilitary, the Janjaweed, whose members have raped and murdered thousands of people and ravaged their villages. The United States has recognized that this constitutes genocide but we send an envoy, not troops. Access to their oil, of course, has nothing to do with our lack of action.

What ever happened to “Never Again?” Born in the aftermath of the Second World War, I imagined the world would never allow genocide to occur again. But I was wrong. In 2002, Nicolaus Mills and Kira Brunner (full disclosure: my stepdaughter) edited The New Killing Fields: Massacre and the Politics of Intervention which described and analyzed the genocides that took place in Cambodia, Yugoslavia, Rwanda, and East Timor. The book rightly argued for international military intervention in the case of genocide. How sad that we never learn and that this book should now include the genocide in Darfur, quickly spreading across the border into Chad.

So where are the liberal hawks when we need them to support military intervention in the name of humanitarian goals? Thomas Friedman keeps writing about how we could have won the Iraq war, if only we had done it his way. By contrast, New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof, who opposed the war in Iraq, repeatedly writes about the tragedy unfolding in Darfur and urges immediate international action and intervention.

I would prefer an international effort to end the genocide in Darfur. But if the United States unilaterally decided to stop these unspeakable murders, genocide, I would still support such an intervention because in Darfur, unlike Iraq, the people would truly greet our troops as liberators.


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