This was written up in the run up to the “nationwide and global demonstrations on the weekend of April 28, 2007, directed by the national Save Darfur Coalition”. It raises points that continue to be relevant today.
Large numbers of people around the world, including many Black people in the U.S., are justifiably disturbed by the situation in the Darfur region of Sudan, which has left hundreds of thousands dead and turned many more into refugees.
Their despair has caused many of these well meaning people to line up behind the forces calling for intervention in Darfur, but as we’ll point out, such an intervention can only lead to increased agony for the Sudanese people.
The nature of the conflict
Many of those calling for intervention in Sudan describe the situation there as a “genocide” of Black Africans by Arab Muslims. As horrendous as the situation is the Sudan is, what is occurring there is not genocide. Rather, it is a civil war between groups of Black Muslim nomads backed by the government, and groups of Black Muslim farmers in the South, with both sides carrying out numerous atrocities.
The ‘Save Darfur Coalition’
The list of organizations that originally came together to form the ‘Save Darfur Coalition’ – which has called this and other demonstrations – reads like a who’s who of reaction. Christian fundamentalist groups like National Association of Evangelicals and ‘Sudan Sunrise’ (who seek to convert the people of Sudan to their particular religious doctrine) joined together with the pro-Iraqi war, neo-conservative Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Zionist Anti-Defamation League to form this coalition, while groups like the NAACP and Africa Action were originally excluded. In fact, many of the earlier rallies called by the ‘Save Darfur Coalition’ did not have a single Sudanese or Muslim speaker!
The reactionaries behind this coalition are now joined by a coalition of prominent liberals, Democratic and Republican politicians, labor organizations, and celebrities like George Clooney and Mia Farrow.
The one thing these organizations and individuals have in common is their call for intervention in Sudan; but this is something even George W. Bush and Tony Blair have gotten behind! Both of these war criminals called for a UN “peacekeeping operation” to back up an already existing African Union (AU) force of 7,000 at the UN General Assembly in late 2006.
So, what is the solution to the conflict in Sudan: the intervention of U.S. forces, a U.S.-led UN peacekeeping force, or a “multinational peacekeeping force” as the organizers of this march have called for? None of the above!
It is beyond absurd to appeal to the same government that left thousands of poor Black people to die in New Orleans in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina to save poor Africans in Sudan. The politicians in the U.S. government represent the rich and their drive for infinitely increasing profits. They have absolutely no interest in the well being of the people of Darfur. This is the government of U.S. capitalism – which was built up on the backs of kidnapped African slaves – that we’re talking about!
It’s not just Bush
Some in the U.S. still harbor illusions that the Democrats will bring an end to the Iraq war and create a “peacekeeping force” to be sent to Sudan, but this ignores a fundamental reality: the Democrats serve the interests of the same rich elite as the Republicans, just in a different way.
Indeed, a key criticism of the Bush administration by the Democrats has been that its policies in the Middle East have limited the ability of the U.S. government to invade other countries like Iran!
The last time the U.S. carried out a “humanitarian mission” in Africa was under Democratic President Bill Clinton in 1993. While ostensibly in Somalia to “help out,” U.S. forces massacred over a thousand Somalis who opposed their presence. Not long after, in 1998, Clinton ordered U.S. forces to bomb Afghanistan and Sudan for supposedly “harboring Al-Qaeda terrorists.” The only thing they blew up were several civilians and the only pharmaceutical factory in Sudan.
While it’s true that some 300,000 Sudanese people have lost their lives in this civil war, it’s also the case that over 600,000 are dead as a result of the U.S.-led invasion and occupation of Iraq, which was backed by both the Democrats and Republicans. Calling for the U.S. imperialists to intervene to stop the civil war in Sudan is like calling on a group of rapists to stop a rape!
Even if the rich capitalist elite that rules the U.S. decides to send troops into Sudan, it will not be a result of popular pressure. It took years of constant and intense struggle by people in the U.S. and an unbeatable enemy to force the U.S. rulers to withdraw their forces from Viet Nam. A few small protests will never force them to send their troops in anywhere! No, if the U.S. rulers decide to send troops into Darfur, it will be because they perceive it to be in their interests, and they will do it in a way that they see fit!
And indeed, the U.S. government is already intervening to an extent in Sudan, and has been for some time. It is a documented fact that the U.S. government has funded “rebel” militias in Sudan since the late 70’s, with the aim of overthrowing the Sudanese government, which supports the Palestinian people’s struggle against the Israeli occupation, and has established strong economic ties with China. These “rebel” militias have carried out numerous war crimes, and have often refused to sign any peace treaties. They are no friends of the Sudanese people.
What about the UN and AU?
There are many who place their hopes in a “multinational peacekeeping force” to end the carnage in Darfur, but the reality is that such a force will only deepen the misery of the already suffering Sudanese people. The UN itself is dominated by the U.S. government and the imperialist governments of Britain, Germany and France – which are the very governments that have historically exploited Africa, through colonialism, neo-colonialism, slavery, etc., for their own gains. The current civil war in Sudan itself, like those that have preceded it, was born of divisions between the north and south of the country that British colonizers created in the first place!
The “fig leaf” of the UN is in reality a blood soaked whip. Several murderous campaigns – from Korea to Haiti – have been carried out under what revolutionary Ernesto ‘Che’ Guevara called “the discredited flag of the United Nations.”
Currently, an “international peacekeeping force” is carrying out the bloody occupation of Haiti, where a coup orchestrated by the U.S. government ousted democratically elected president Jean-Bertrand Aristide in 2004. These “peacekeepers” have repeatedly attacked unarmed men, women and children, killing hundreds, and have prevented thousands from reaching the polls in local and national elections.
The last thing the people of Sudan need is a similarly vicious armed force in their country, whether it carries out its occupation under the flag of the UN or the AU, or both!
What can we do?
The key task of those in the United States today is the fight for an immediate end to the decimating occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan, and the prevention of any future attacks on Iran. The best thing those in the U.S. can do for their brothers and sisters in Darfur is to fight against “their own” rulers in Washington. Regime change begins at home!
More Sudanese people are currently dying from easily preventable causes, like disease and hunger, than from bullets. The same system that spawned the civil war in Sudan keeps the people it effects most poor and hungry!
Then there is the crisis in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, which has raged on for years, leaving almost four million dead. This conflict – the bloodiest since World War II – is almost never mentioned in the mainstream capitalist press.
The only lasting solution for the misery and poverty that hundreds of millions of Africans are forced to dwell in lies in revolution – to oust the rich parasites, from Khartoum to Washington, who live off of the exploitation of the toiling masses, and reorganize society to meet human need.
No to imperialist intervention! UN “peacekeepers” out of Haiti! U.S./UN/AU hands off Sudan!