You (and I) got Darfur Wrong

 Mahmood Mamdani
Mahmood Mamdani

From Open Source with Chris Lydon:

Who can imagine that a Save Darfur coalition vocally including Al Sharpton (”we know when America comes together, we can stop anything in the world”), Mia Farrow, the US Conference of Catholic Bishops, Elie Wiesel (”Darfur today is the world’s capital of human suffering”), Nat Hentoff, Bob Geldof, George Clooney, Angelina Jolie, Harold Pinter, Oprah Winfrey, the gold-medal speed skater Joey Cheek, Tony Blair and Dario Fo might be profoundly shallow in its reading of the brutal warfare in Sudan five years ago… and just as wrong-headed in its drum beat for an American intervention?

Mahmood Mamdani can. We are talking here about his book Saviors and Survivors and his argument that the Darfur rescue campaign, which became a sacred cause of our civil religion, was not so much the moral alternative to Iraq, the Bush “war on terror,” and Cheney-think as it was a variation and extension of the same toolkit. I begin with a sort of confession that I may be a sample of Mamdani’s problem — having drenched myself in Nicholas Kristof’s New York Times columns and largely absorbed the common framework that Darfur was about Arabs slaughtering Africans, and that somebody had to something about it.

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In Pakistan, an exodus that is beyond biblical

Saima is one of 37 refugees now sharing the house of a stranger. Their host, Rizwan Ali, 59, says: 'It would be easier to die than to ask displaced people to leave for the camps'
Saima is one of 37 refugees now sharing the house of a stranger. Their host, Rizwan Ali, 59, says: 'It would be easier to die than to ask displaced people to leave for the camps'

‘Locals sell all they have to help millions displaced by battles with the Taliban’, Andrew Buncombe reports. This is in stark contrast to how Punjab and Sindh reacted. Both have restricted entry of refugees into their territory. In the latter MQM organized two strikes, the first one with the support of the ruling PPP, and Pakhtun property was destroyed, two people burnt alive. It is already generating resentment in the NWFP with more and more coming to see this as a war on the Pukhtuns, as Rustum Shah Mohmand argues here. The response of the non-Pakhtun provinces to the refugee crises has done little to disabuse them. Meanwhile this displaced mass of humanity survives on the generosity of the type described in the caption above. I avoid indulging in any type of group chauvinism but for once, I’m proud of my people.

The language was already biblical; now the scale of what is happening matches it. The exodus of people forced from their homes in Pakistan’s Swat Valley and elsewhere in the country’s north-west may be as high as 2.4 million, aid officials say. Around the world, only a handful of war-spoiled countries – Sudan, Iraq, Colombia – have larger numbers of internal refugees. The speed of the displacement at its height – up to 85,000 people a day – was matched only during the 1994 genocide in Rwanda. This is now one of the biggest sudden refugee crises the world has ever seen.

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Kenyan victims of British brutality

Johann Hari writes that We owe it to do right by the Kenyan victims of British brutality.

In a few weeks, a group of quiet, dignified elderly men and women will arrive in London to explain how the forces of the British state crushed their testicles or breasts with pliers. It was part of a deliberate policy of breaking a civilian population who we regarded as “baboons”, “barbarians” and “terrorists”.

They will come bearing the story of how Britain invaded a country, stole its land, and imprisoned an entire civilian population in detention camps – and they ask only for justice, after all this time.

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Jim Lobe on Antiwar Radio

jim_lobeJim Lobe interviewed by Scott Horton on Antiwar Radio. His analysis in this particular interview is rather unimpressive. While Lobe’s reporting over the years has been indispensable, he is too optimistic in his analysis. Since at least the autumn of 2003 he has been announcing the demise of the neocons. Here as well his reading of the Obama-Netanyahu summit is overly positive. For a reality check see this interview with Jeff Blankfort.

Jim Lobe on Antiwar Radio (26:11): MP3

Jim Lobe, Washington Bureau Chief for Inter Press Service, discusses Hillary Clinton’s emphatic rejection of any kind of Israeli settlement growth, the Obama administration’s (first in a generation) hard-line on Israel, the low probability of a Palestine/Israel 2-state solution even with a settlement freeze and allegations that Netanyahu sees Iran as Amalek – eternal biblical persecutor of Jews.

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Jeff Blankfort on AIPAC and Jinsa

jeffreyBlankfortJeff Blankfort on Flashpoints Radio examining the recent letter to Obama that exposed the hand of AIPAC, and the neocon Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs (JINSA) essay calling for US military attacks on ‘partisan’ media.

Jeff Blankfort – Flashpoints Radio (18:25): MP3

Mirrors: Eduardo Galeano speaks

Mirrors by Eduardo Galeano

The great Uruguayan writer Eduardo Galeano joins Democracy Now for an hour to discuss literature, politics and much more. (The rest of the videos are below)

Fresh Off Worldwide Attention for Joining Obama’s Book Collection, Uruguayan Author Eduardo Galeano Returns with “Mirrors: Stories of Almost Everyone”

We spend the hour with one of Latin America’s most acclaimed writers, Eduardo Galeano. The Uruguayan novelist and journalist recently made headlines around the world when Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez gave President Obama a copy of Galeano’s classic work, The Open Veins of Latin America. Eduardo Galeano’s latest book is Mirrors: Stories of Almost Everyone. We speak to Galeano about his reaction to the Chavez-Obama book exchange, media and politics in Latin America, his assessment of Obama, and more.

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France: ‘Defying Rules on Arms Sales to Israel’
Sarkozy and Olmert

IPS’ David Cronin reports on French arms sales to Israel, which are “in total contradiction” to European Union rules on the defence industry according to a new study.

Between 2003 and 2007 France issued licences worth more than 446 million euros (623 million dollars) for arms exports to Israel. This made France by far the largest supplier of weapons to Israel in the EU.

Patrice Bouveret from the French Centre for Research on Peace and Conflicts (CRDPC) in Lyon says that these sales are at variance with the Union’s decade-old code of conduct on weapons exports. Formally declared legally binding by EU governments last year, the code forbids weapons sales in cases where they may exacerbate regional tensions or where there is a strong likelihood they will be used in violation of human rights.

Speaking at the launch Thursday of his new report on Israel’s involvement in the arms trade, titled ‘Who Arms Israel and Hamas?’, Bouveret dismissed repeated assurances from the French government that the exports in question are generally only components of military goods rather than complete weapons systems. “Even if they are only components, they are used directly by the Israeli army,” he added.

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Busted, Pentagon

Abu Ghraib (Fernando Botero)
Abu Ghraib (Fernando Botero)

Why The Photos Probably Do Show Detainees Sodomized and Raped. Naomi Wolf explains:

(MIA: I am not quite sure why this is being treated as new information when Seymour Hersh had reported on the videos of Iraqi children being sodomized soldiers five years back, and again three years later in his profile on Gen. Antony Taguba Hersh revealed that there were cases of rape, and that Taguba had seen ‘a video of a male American soldier in uniform sodomizing a female detainee’. It was likewise revealed in an earlier investigation that an investigator from the mercenary firm Titan Corp., named Adil Nakhla was charged with sodomizing an Iraqi boy).

The Telegraph of London broke the news – because the US press is in a drugged stupor — that the photos Obama is refusing to release of detainee abuse depict, among other sexual tortures, an American soldier raping a female detainee and a male translator raping a male prisoner. The paper claims the photos also show anal rape of prisoners with foreign objects such as wires and lightsticks. Major General Antonio Taguba calls the images `horrific’ and `indecent’ (but absurdly agrees that Obama should not release them – proving once again that the definition of hypocrisy is the assertion that the truth is in poor taste).

Predictably, a few hours later the Pentagon issues a formal denial.

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Palestine Festival of Literature: The Authors Speak

Michael Palin
Ex-Python Michael Palin with Munzer Fahmy at the Palestine Festival of Literature

From the Authors’ blog:

25 BethlehemMichael Palin

We’re now on the fourth day of Palfest. The skies have cleared, its as hot as I always thought it would be here, out here in lands I know only from the picture-books of the Bible.

So, its my first time in this part of the world – despite having been to over 90 countries, the Middle East has been a stranger to me.

When I left London I had a very clear idea of where or what Palestine consisted of. This trip has made me understand that though Palestine may not exist as a country on a map, it is a reality in the minds of 5 million people.

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20000 Killed While The World Wasn’t Watching?

As the London Times reports that its investigations into the final three weeks of fighting in Sri Lanka’s civil war yield a shocking figure of claiming more than 20,000 civilian lives, a UN official tells the paper the actual figure is “Higher. … Keep going.”  The three-week bombardment may have ended the 26-year war but what atrocities were committed during the final weeks when the Sri Lankan government kept out journalists and aid workers?

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