Home | Comment & Analysis    Friday 6 August 2004

Silence on Sudan


NEW YORK, Aug 6, 2004 (The Wall Street Journal) — As the killing in the western Sudanese region of Darfur unfolds, there is nothing but chilling silence from Europe’s usually vociferous antiwar crowd.

The conspicuous silence vis-à-vis the killing fields in Sudan betrays more than just the usual selective concern for world peace. Yes, for the progressive left, it is only the participation of the U.S. that makes a war really objectionable. But when the self-declared champions of human rights don’t speak up in the face of what the United Nations calls "the world’s worst humanitarian crisis," then the movement’s moral bankruptcy is fully exposed.

In Sudan, the progressive movement is trapped in the absurdities of its own ideology. Conflicts that involve the U.S. are usually squeezed into a Weltanschauung that sees "American imperialism" as the root of all ills and racism as an exclusively white phenomenon. But not even the most elastic post-colonialist theory can explain the war in Sudan, where Arabs are massacring black Africans.

What’s more, in Sudan Muslims are ethnically cleansing fellow Muslims. How do you explain that if you believe in a conspiracy between a right-wing American President and Christian fundamentalists to launch a crusade against the Muslim world?

Progressives’ usual allies are also only too happy to ignore events in Sudan. The many Islamic organizations that have been collaborating with Europe’s peace movement in the anti-Iraq war demonstrations naturally have little interest in turning the spotlight on an Islamic regime.

Equally, anti-globalization activists have a hard time explaining the Darfur massacre under the template of their bizarre trade theories; nor can they blame it on the spread of U.S. capitalism. Unlike Europe, the U.S. long ago slapped an embargo on Khartoum for its 20-year campaign against African Christians and animists in the south.

So it’s best to ignore the dying or — even better — rewrite history to make it fit the movement’s ideology. And so what’s happening in Darfur is simply the result of a "civil war," for which the regime in Khartoum can’t be held responsible. The real reason for any potential military intervention by the U.S. or Britain would be — you guessed it — to grab Sudan’s vast oil fields.

John Laughland, otherwise famous for defending Slobodan Milosevic and criticizing the revolution that restored democracy in Georgia, was allowed to present this theory Monday in the Guardian, Britain’s flagship paper for opponents of the Iraq war.

"As oil pipelines continue to be blown up in Iraq," he writes, "the west not only has a clear motive for establishing control over alternative sources of energy, it has also officially adopted the policy that our armies should be used to do precisely that." Mr. Laughland’s article has been reprinted on many antiwar and Islamic Web sites.

The prominent "Not In Our Name" antiwar movement has already spoken out against any possible intervention in Sudan. It does not specifically mention oil, but calls on supporters to "resist the U.S. government’s global grab for unlimited power."

"No Blood for Oil" was the antiwar crowd’s rallying cry opposing the liberation of Kuwait during Desert Storm and during the recent Iraq war to dispose of the butcher of Baghdad. It looks like it could also become the slogan of the "peace movement" to prevent the end of a genocide.

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