Tim Blair


New Criterion



Monday, July 26, 2004
IF IT WEREN'T SO SERIOUS,  it would be a joke.

That is, the embarrassment of those multilateralists who would have just loved to knock off  Saddam Hussein, if only Jacques and Pooty had been persuaded to agree to it.

They hated cruelty and viciousness just as much as any neocon war-monger, but hated illegality more.

Now here's another test, the latest Rwanda, taking place before our eyes in the Sudan.

What to do?

First option, ignore the causes of the problem. Take
today's coverage on Radio National.

Auntie has sent Africa correspondent, Sally Sara, to Sudan's border with Chad.

we've got at the moment more than a million people who are displaced ... More than 100,000 have come across the border into Chad. Many hundreds of thousands more have been displaced in Sudan
she reports, or, more likely, repeats from other reporters. What are the causes?
It seems the weather is to blame.

And it's been difficult enough so far for the aid agencies to find and reach these people, let alone to then set about the task of trying to organize some shelter and some food and some water to look after these people. And that's difficult enough now, and what's happening is the rainy season is reaching its peak and once roads start getting cut off and people start becoming isolated, it will become even more difficult for the aid agencies to get in and try and help the people who have really almost literally nothing at all.
  Not a trace of politics here. What the US Congress has labelled an act of genocide on the part of the government of the Sudan, Sally Sara finds to be a civil war made intractable by the weather:

There's a lot of tension in Darfur. What's been happening is there were some local rebel groups which were very dissatisfied with the Government, they felt that the Government were neglecting the people of Darfur. The Government moved in to deal with the perceived security threat regarding those groups and since then we've had the militias that have come in, chasing the rebels, but also terrorising the civilians. These Arab militia known as the Janjaweed are those that have been blamed for forcing so many people to flee from their homes. A lot of refugees are saying also that their villages were bombed by Government Antonov aircraft as well...

So it's really difficult to get a sense of what's going on, but there's very little goodwill and very little room for negotiation between those rebel groups and the Government, the relationship is extremely brittle at the moment.

The fact is, it's not just the weather that is condemning the people of Dafur to death or the living death of refugees, it's the policies of governments.
The Sudanese government has initiated an ethnic cleansing and refuses permits for aid agencies to operate on their territory.
The governments of Africa, including South Africa (where Sally Sara is based), refuse to countenance foreign intervention against African tyrants. For that reason, Robert Mugabe remains in power and the two million Zimbabwean refugees in South Africa lack even the status of refugees under the UN. It can hardly be labelled racist, but it it certainly monstrous.
Auntie's commentariat ignores it.

Are these people going to stop the Sudanese government?
Will Chirac and the other multilateralists insist on military action when it will cost them goodwill among their Arab customers?
Will Lord Bob-Brown of the Greens, the Democrats, and Labor's Kevin Rudd, all calling for UN action,  insist that a coalition of the willing take action when the UN proves impotent, before it's too late?
As usual, Princess Trashy sets the right tone:
NATASHA STOTT DESPOJA: Certainly the Australian Democrats passed a motion in the Senate in the last parliamentary session urging our Government to initiate discussions for resolution through the United Nations Security Council.
Or will they use the UN's machinations as an excuse for standing aside while hundreds of thousands are ethnically cleansed from the Sudan, and many of them die in squalor in Chad?
It's gruesome, and you can watch it all happening in real time.