Darfurred 'til later
It is certainly a jarring thing to see George Bush rallying activists and protesters, and I'm sure the irony of his words was lost on him:
President Bush met Friday with activists and urged greater involvement by international peacekeeping troops to stop the bloodshed.He was not speaking about anti-war protesters, of course, or immigration protesters or any of a number of other groups who protest his administration or congressional ineptitude. He was issuing the call to protest arms for the upcoming marches scheduled in Washington tomorrow over the Darfur debacle. This, oddly enough, after five members of Congress were arrested by his very own Secret Service for protesting the Darfur situation in front of the Sudanese Embassy in DC.
"There will be rallies all across the country," Bush said at the White House. "And for those of you who are going out to march for justice, you represent the best of our country. We believe every life is precious, every human being is important. And the signal you send to the world is a strong signal, and I welcome your participation."
Bush's summons for "justice," as he calls it, is also puzzling and one has to wonder just what on earth he is talking about given that the UN World Food Program has just halved the food rations in Darfur because donor countries have generally reneged on pledges of support. Refugees in Darfur will now have to survive on 1,050 calories a day. For young children, this caloric level will lead to malnutrition, which in turn will cause both mentally and physically stunted growth, if not outright starvation. Donor countries had pledged some $745 million dollars in aid while only delivering on less than one third of that. Meanwhile, the Bush administration, sounding as bitchy as ever, hissed that the US already provides 85% of that aid and that other weathy nations must start to kick in. This is not entirely wrongheaded and others should be doing more but considering the relatively paltry sum involved here (recent numbers indicate that the US is now spending close to $10 billion per month in Iraq), it is simply ludicrous that the US alone cannot feed those desperately afflicted people. If the White House really wants to demonstrate American exceptionalism, feeding Darfur refugees would be the arena to do that.
Further demonstrating a disconnect from their own past actions, the Bush administration refuses to support a proposed UN peacekeeping effort to insert 20,000 UN troops into Darfu to try and halt the insane carnage, claiming that such a move -- opposed by Khartoum -- would rightly be viewed as "an invasion." Yes, suddenly the Bush adminstration is balking at the thought of an invasion meant to bring about an end to real strife, while they continue to insist that the invasion of Iraq was meant to bring about an end to real strife. Although, considering how the Iraq experiment has turned out, maybe an invasion isn't the solution. At least, it likely wouldn't be if were Rummy in charge.
If the situation in Darfur demonstrates anything, it is that the world's powers, still cowed by US interests, continue to adopt an utterly feckless repose when it comes to real humanitarian crises in regions of the globe that are not of much geopolitical significance. Like Rwanda ten years ago, the United Nations, led by the US, dither and wring hands while innocents die. Meanwhile, the UN spares no effort thwarting the figment threat of Iran, as drummed up by the White House. The UN position is fixed and dilated: they will do nothing stop the government-sponsored mayhem unless the Sudanese government agrees to let the UN stop the mayhem. Now, how likely does that seem?
But by all means protest the appalling story of Darfur. Though he likely will do nothing much about the behaviour of the Sudanese, George Bush encourages you to raise your voice, while his remains essentially mute.