Sunday, July 10, 2005

Darfur: And the Money Goes to...

The Darfur conflict is an ongoing conflict in the Darfur region of western Sudan, mainly between the Janjaweed, a government-supported militia recruited from local Arab tribes, and the non-Arab
peoples of the region. Note that both sides are largely black in skin tone, and the distinction between "Arab" and "non-Arab" common in western media is heavily disputed by many people, including the Sudanese government. Moreover, these labels have been criticized for sensationalizing the conflict into one of racial motivations, when in fact the causes have more to do with competition between tribes for scarce resources.—Wikipedia
The nations attending the G8 Conference, expressing concern about Darfur and the killings and displacement of people from their homes (more than 1.8 million), still leave the area to its own fate. According to an article highlighted in the Huffington Post today, U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Robert Zoellick says there will be no troops sent to the region to aid in stabilizing a truce.

Zoellick said he was happy with a 3,000-strong African Union force monitoring a shaky ceasefire in Darfur, and saw no need for Western troops to deploy there.

"The role of NATO is one of transportation and logistics (in Darfur)," he told reporters in Khartoum. "There's been no interest in NATO and no interest in my country of having Western forces on the ground."—Yahoo News July 9, 2005

Further, Zoellick says that even with a new “unity” government in Sudan, he does not see any lifting of sanctions which are in place due to Sudan’s past ties with terrorists, specifically Osama Bin Laden.

Zoellick attended the swearing in on Saturday of former southern rebel chief John Garang as first vice president, marking a new era after two decades of north-south civil war.

But he said a southern peace deal signed in January needed to extend to a separate conflict in the western region of Darfur.
Yahoo News July 9, 2005

The Bush administration begins to sound truly concerned and humanitarian considering this revelation of aid manipulation based on human rights issues. That is, if you don’t know the whole story, and there is a missing piece that isn’t told in the Reuters article. In the Newsweek issue that comes out tomorrow, Christopher Dickey and Michael Hirsch discuss plans of western nations to put together resources to add to intelligence on terrorists. Certain measures the Bush administration uses to promote an unfriendly soil in other countries for terrorists to gain footholds include the following about Sudan and the Darfur region:

Today, in dealing with Iran and Syria, Washington often seems to teeter between impotence and escalation. But in less-publicized areas it has found quieter means of encouraging governments to turn their backs on terrorists. Sudan was a major haven for Osama bin Laden in the early 1990s and was attacked with cruise missiles by the Clinton administration in 1998. This year, however, despite its crimes in Darfur, the Sudanese government saw American aid rise from $630
million to $1 billion. And Al Qaeda is no longer welcome there.[emphasis added]--Christopher Dickey and Michael Hirsch, Newsweek, July 18, 2005

Zoellick says for the record the US won’t lower sanctions on Sudan until they clean up their act, while the Bush administration—using quieter means--gives double the amount of money, in the hundreds of millions of dollars, to the Sudan government so they won’t harbor Bin Laden or his ilk anymore.

Who is suffering from the sanctions, and who is getting the inflow of US cash? While Bush and his team claim they are protecting American citizens, they are squandering taxpayer money without helping Africans build a better life, which ultimately could benefit all of us.

Jeffrey D. Sachs wrote in the L. A. Times June 12 about this very issue, and was quoted in this blog. According to Sachs, the argument for not providing US monetary aid to Africa--that the money will wind up in the wrong hands, and not where it will benefit the poor and sick—is self-defeating:

If the administration were more than modestly interested in helping Africa, it could learn about the huge gains made possible by Blair's plan to provide about $50 billion a year to Africa by 2010 — with the U.S. kicking in $15 billion to $20 billion. With that money, Africa could control killer diseases, triple food production and cut hunger, and improve transportation and communications.

These steps, incidentally, would accelerate the continent's transition to lower fertility rates and slower population growth because they would contribute to a lower child mortality rate and economic gains, which would help persuade couples to have fewer children.--Jeffrey D. Sachs, L. A. Times June 12, 2005

That which benefits millions of Africans in turn benefits us at home in America. The international intertwining of economics, politics, and even the spread of disease, actually makes US policy of bearing the responsibility of helping others a self-interested motive. And this road will lead more surely to diminishing terrorism than any so-called “War on...”

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