|The U.N. is hopeless|
By Nat Hentoff
The genocide in Rwanda was over before most of the world knew it was happening. But now that the media is covering the black African victims of the genocide by the government of Sudan and its murderous Arab Janjaweed accomplices, few can claim ignorance of these crimes that do not spare the youngest children. And the United Nations, as usual, folds its hands.
President Bush at the United Nations, and Secretary of State Colin Powell before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, have officially called these horrors genocide. But on Sept. 18, a timorous U.S. resolution â€?watered down to prevent China from vetoing it â€?was passed by the U.N. Security Council. It said that the Security Council "shall consider" possible oil sanctions on Sudan â€?but included not a word about any sanctions on the crimes against humanity by Khartoum's leaders.
Professor Eric Reeves of Smith College in Massachusetts has spent the past six years documenting atrocities in Khartoum, and after that pitiful Security Council resolution, Mr. Reeves said of Sudan's rulers: "The regime seems to be banking on an eventual drifting of international attention away from the catastrophe in Darfur which will become simply a chronic 'humanitarian problem'."
They expect that the ongoing killings, rapes, epidemics and starvation in Darfur will fadefromthe American media. In the Sept. 8 New York Sun, columnist Alicia Colon asked: "New Yorkers care about the homeless, animal rights and other causes, but what aboutchildren dying unless it's our own?" The question can be posed to the rest of this nation. At the time, Ms. Colon was writing about the slaughter of Russian children in Beslan, but she was also referring to the crimes against black African children in Darfur. How many of us really care, or will care in the months ahead?
Can anything be done to stop this genocide now? In the Sept. 25 National Journal, a journalist asked Charles Snyder, the State Department's senior representative on Sudan: "Isn't there a possibility international or U.S. ground troops might be necessary?"
"That's not in the cards right now," Mr. Snyder answered. "But the truth of the matter is, if this got much more horrific, everybody would have to take another look at it... The last thing you want to do is to stage an intervention that gives the other guy a chance to kill 250,000 people. It's a delicate line we're walking here."
There is nothing delicate about the ongoing genocide in Darfur. How much more horrific can it get before an armed intervention? Even if that were planned, the United Nations â€?as usual in the face of genocide â€?will be useless. China, Russia, and probably others on the Security Council will veto any armed action.
The African Union is willing to send troops â€?not only monitors. But even if those nations were to send 4,000 or more troops, the African Union doesn't have the logistical or transportation capacity to undertake that degree of meaningful intervention.
In the Oct. 4 issue of Time magazine, Samantha Power,winnerofthe Pulitzer Prize for her invaluable 2003 book about genocide, "A Problem from Hell," says: "The only hope for peace is an international protection force." As for the troops that Nigeria, Tanzania and Rwanda have offered, Ms. Power points out that those "won't deter attacks unless the soldiers are equipped and paid for by the major powers, are given a mandate to protect civilians and are eventually reinforced by 10,000 additional troops from other nations."
Yet she ominously continues, "amid all the talk of oil embargoes, travel bans and asset freezes, no statesman â€?not Mr. Powell and not [U.N. Secretary-General Kofi] Annan â€?has attempted to rally the money, troops and political cooperation needed for such a force."
And even if Mr. Powell and Mr. Annan â€?in the wee hours of the night â€?are haunted by the genocide in Rwanda and Hitler's Holocaust and are moved to action â€?there would be vetoes in the Security Council.
As happened when Mr. Bush and the "coalition of the willing" put an end to the mass graves and torture chambers in Iraq, the only likelihood of hope for the black African survivors in Darfur would be an independent international protection force. With our commitment in Iraq far from over, the United States should at least help organize and finance such a force â€?regardless of what the United Nations does.
Who would join it? All over the world, people said, "Never again," after the Nazis. And it was said after Rwanda. But just saying that chilling word "genocide," as Mr. Bush, Mr. Powell and others have done, doesn't make it disappear.