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The Teens of Darfur

The Washington Post has a compelling article on rising rebelliousness of teens in Darfur, who have been existing in the dismal conditions of displacement camps.

There are 18 million kids now in the camps. Recently, a few took hostage some international aid workers, who were released three days later, unharmed. But something must be done.

These kids are like animals in a cage," said Bob Kitchen of the International Rescue Committee, who helped negotiate the release of the hostages and now plans to open five centers in Kalma to teach children skills such as mechanics and sewing.

"The children of Darfur were living normally. Then they had guns stuck in their faces and were driven into camps," he said. "Something has to be done. Otherwise, there could be a lot more instances of hostage-taking or worse."

Sen. Barack Obama and Sam Brownback address the crisis in Darfur in this oped. today. You have to get past his praise of Bush to get to his real position.

....large numbers of vulnerable people in Darfur are confined to camps surrounded by a variety of hostile armed elements, with no effective security force or political process in which to invest hope. Absent a drastic change of course, many Darfurians will take up arms, and far more will die.

It is essential that the Bush administration shift its approach to confront the new and mounting challenges. Only the United States, working in concert with key nations, has the leverage and resources to persuade Khartoum to change its ways.

Their recommendations:

First, the administration must help transform the African Union protection force into a sizable, effective multinational force.

...Second, the administration must keep up the pressure on the rebels to unite their negotiating positions, and it must enlist Sudan's allies to increase the pressure on Khartoum to share power and resources.

...Third, the United States and other nations must place additional pressure on key nations -- Chad, Eritrea and Libya -- to stop playing a destructive role in the conflict.

Fourth, the administration needs to place its weight behind the Darfur Peace and Accountability Act, which would impose targeted sanctions on the leading perpetrators of the genocide.

I don't know whether these proposals are enough. I do know that the U.S. should be doing more to stop the genocide in Sudan. Check out Passion of the Present.

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  • Re: The Teens of Darfur (none / 0) (#1)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Tue Dec 27, 2005 at 10:58:23 AM EST
    Only the United States, working in concert with key nations, has the leverage and resources to persuade Khartoum to change its ways. How so? The U.N. doesn't have this kind of leverage? If not, does this mean that the world simply can't get along without the evil U.S.? First, the administration must help transform the African Union protection force into a sizable, effective multinational force. Why "must" it be the U.S.? Are the other African nations and all of Europe and Asia incapable of doing this? If so, what does this say about them, about their committment to anyone's security (including their own), and about the much-reviled (here, anyway) U.S. military? Second, the administration must keep up the pressure on the rebels to unite their negotiating positions, and it must enlist Sudan's allies to increase the pressure on Khartoum to share power and resources. Again, why? Is the U.N. good for nothing at all beyond mismanaging aid programs and giving the wink and nod to blatant corruption? Do none of the surrounding countries find a national interest in the stability of a neighboring nation? If not, how is this of national interest to the U.S.? And why must we force the rebel groups to unite their negotiating positions? Perhaps they don't wish to form a union. Perhpas they don't see their positions as unitable. Who are we to force them into a grouping they do not wish to be in? Third, the United States and other nations must place additional pressure on key nations -- Chad, Eritrea and Libya -- to stop playing a destructive role in the conflict. And what if they ignore us? Will Obama support military strikes to stop their involvement? And what other nations are we talking about? Fourth, the administration needs to place its weight behind the Darfur Peace and Accountability Act, which would impose targeted sanctions on the leading perpetrators of the genocide. You mean like the targeted sanctions imposed on Saddam Hussein at the urging of people like Obama, sanctions which did nothing to stop the violence? I don't know whether these proposals are enough. I do know that the U.S. should be doing more to stop the genocide in Sudan. Why is that? Why is the U.S. responsible for what is happening in Darfur? Why is it responsible for stopping it? And where does this sudden desire to see the U.S. take up its old role of World Policeman come from? Let's say everything Obama asks for is granted and we end up with U.S. soldiers serving as U.N. peacekeepers in Darfur: How many people will have to be shot before you are back here complaining about how "we" are the problem? I would humbly suggest that it's time Africa got it's own act together. Our doing it for them isn't going to resolve anything.

    Re: The Teens of Darfur (none / 0) (#2)
    by Andreas on Tue Dec 27, 2005 at 11:04:50 AM EST
    US imperialism has its own interests in Sudan. It is a significant part of the problem. Sudan: death of Garang sets back US plans By Chris Talbot, 5 August 2005 WSWS on Sudan

    Re: The Teens of Darfur (none / 0) (#3)
    by soccerdad on Tue Dec 27, 2005 at 11:30:34 AM EST
    What drives Bush's appeasement of the government in Sudan.

    Re: The Teens of Darfur (none / 0) (#4)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Tue Dec 27, 2005 at 12:09:47 PM EST
    Sen Obama should do more research. Sudan is comfortably in China's orbit now and China has quashed any attempt to put UN sanctions on Sudan.
    Sudan is China's largest overseas oil project. China is Sudan's largest supplier of arms, according to a former Sudan government minister. Chinese-made tanks, fighter planes, bombers, helicopters, machine guns and rocket-propelled grenades have intensified Sudan's two-decade-old north-south civil war.
    Another from the Wapo:
    From its seat on the United Nations Security Council, China has been Sudan's chief diplomatic ally. In recent months, the council has neared votes on a series of resolutions aimed at pressuring Sudan's predominantly Arab government to protect the African tribes under attack in Darfur and stop support for militias by threatening to sanction its oil sales. China has threatened to veto such actions while watering down the threat of oil sanctions.
    An article from Human rights watch: CHINA’S INVOLVEMENT IN SUDAN: ARMS AND OIL TL: What do you suggest we do in Sudan?

    Re: The Teens of Darfur (none / 0) (#5)
    by theologicus on Tue Dec 27, 2005 at 12:22:22 PM EST
    Re: The Teens of Darfur (none / 0) (#6)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Tue Dec 27, 2005 at 12:25:44 PM EST
    I don't have any answers except that somehow the genocide has to stop. It's far outside my field of expertise. Over the holiday I watched two movies, The Interpreter and Girl in the Cafe, both of which highlighted the plight of those in Africa. That may be what made me notice these articles today. I guess the first step is to learn more.

    Re: The Teens of Darfur (none / 0) (#7)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Tue Dec 27, 2005 at 12:39:35 PM EST
    Seems like Obama has got the "war president" itch. Oh well. Methinks Sudan would make a *lot* bigger quagmire than Iraq.

    Re: The Teens of Darfur (none / 0) (#8)
    by Andreas on Tue Dec 27, 2005 at 01:40:57 PM EST
    Talkleft might not like it, but the disgusting praise of war criminal and mass murderer George W. Bush by Barack Obama is a significant aspect of his "real position". *** I think it is appropriate to quote a paragraph from a reply of the WSWS to a reader's letter.
    The argument that people are dying, so to “express our common outrage” something must be done, even if it means holding our noses and supporting an imperialist-backed military force, is crass opportunism. “Common outrage” is hardly the basis for sound political judgement, and this type of “must do something” argument is the stock-in-trade of every trade union bureaucrat, bourgeois nationalist and radical demagogue. It always turns into supporting a “lesser of two evils” version of imperialist politics—as was the case in the Balkans and Iraq when a swathe of the ostensibly “liberal” and social democratic “left” lined up behind Bush and Blair. And the same argument is advanced for endorsing Kerry and the pro-war Democrats (as opposed to Bush) in the US presidential elections. It does nothing to advance the interests of working class people. In fact, after experiencing the effect of such opportunist politics, it only encourages disillusionment.
    An exchange on Sudan’s Darfur conflict 11 September 2004

    Re: The Teens of Darfur (none / 0) (#9)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Tue Dec 27, 2005 at 01:53:42 PM EST
    I love it when Andreas posts. I hear terms that went out of style during the Stalin purges.

    Re: The Teens of Darfur (none / 0) (#10)
    by soccerdad on Tue Dec 27, 2005 at 02:23:23 PM EST
    You have to get past his praise of Bush to get to his real position.
    And based on what are we supposed to dismiss his praise of Bush? I predict that the closer he gets to actually running for president, the less progressive and more "centerist" he will become? And if that happens, what are we to assume is real? The DNC and Democratic Big Wigs will never support a true progressive. The Democratic party on the national level has become Republican Lite, i.e corporate sponsered hacks without the extreme foreign policy (maybe).

    Re: The Teens of Darfur (none / 0) (#11)
    by Quaker in a Basement on Tue Dec 27, 2005 at 02:30:44 PM EST
    Why "must" it be the U.S.? Yes, all that talk about "spreading Democracy" and "opposing evil tyrants" is soooo last year.

    Re: The Teens of Darfur (none / 0) (#12)
    by swingvote on Tue Dec 27, 2005 at 02:49:55 PM EST
    Yes, all that talk about "spreading Democracy" and "opposing evil tyrants" is soooo last year. As, apparently, is all that griping about it from the "progessives". I expect this kind of language from the "compassionate-conservatives", and I expect the kind of hyperbole Obama is spouting from the "liberal progressives", but is it really too much to ask for an honest argument or explanation as to why it "must" be the U.S.? Whatever happened to all those cries for multilateralism? What about all that invective against unilateral action on the world stage, not to mention the arrogance of an administration that sees itself as indispensable? I guess that was all just so much hot air and partisan whining after all, aye Quaker?

    Re: The Teens of Darfur (none / 0) (#13)
    by soccerdad on Tue Dec 27, 2005 at 03:03:19 PM EST
    Whatever happened to all those cries for multilateralism?
    JP in his rush to offer his invective filled rant forgets that the Repubs are in power. We could call ofr multilateralism till hell froze over, so what. Continuing with his never ending list of strawmen:
    What about all that invective against unilateral action on the world stage,
    No one said it had to be unilateral.
    not to mention the arrogance of an administration that sees itself as indispensable?
    Dont follow this, this admin thinks it owns the world's resources but hey it can't go after it all. Its tied up in the ME, South American and in many republics of the former USSR. So much oil so few troops.

    Re: The Teens of Darfur (none / 0) (#14)
    by Quaker in a Basement on Tue Dec 27, 2005 at 03:12:51 PM EST
    I dunno, jp. Let's review what the proposals were:
    First, the administration must help transform the African Union protection force into a sizable, effective multinational force. ...Second, the administration must keep up the pressure on the rebels to unite their negotiating positions, and it must enlist Sudan's allies to increase the pressure on Khartoum to share power and resources. ...Third, the United States and other nations must place additional pressure on key nations -- Chad, Eritrea and Libya -- to stop playing a destructive role in the conflict. Fourth, the administration needs to place its weight behind the Darfur Peace and Accountability Act, which would impose targeted sanctions on the leading perpetrators of the genocide.
    I see plenty of multilateralism in there. What I don't see is a lot of blowing stuff up. That seems to be what revs the motors of conservatives.

    Re: The Teens of Darfur (none / 0) (#16)
    by Quaker in a Basement on Tue Dec 27, 2005 at 03:30:10 PM EST
    Or even a "coalition of the willing"?
    Sounds like that's what he's proposing to me. I think you'll find that those of us on the left hold great enthusiasm for the U.S. being involved in the international arena. Just not so much on the explosives.

    Re: The Teens of Darfur (none / 0) (#17)
    by soccerdad on Tue Dec 27, 2005 at 03:33:26 PM EST
    When cornered JP just ignores the points by Quaker and repeats what he said ealier As to this: Another "progressive" who can't get his head out of his ass long enough . What about it TL, Goose gander. You know being fair and all that. Of course JP doesn't consider himself arrogant for doing what he accuses us of.

    Re: The Teens of Darfur (none / 0) (#15)
    by swingvote on Tue Dec 27, 2005 at 03:38:23 PM EST
    Quaker, If it's all going to be multilateral, why must it be the U.S. that does all these things, as per Obama? Why not the U.N.? Or the EU? Or even a "coalition of the willing"? deleted, commenter warned.

    Re: The Teens of Darfur (none / 0) (#18)
    by swingvote on Tue Dec 27, 2005 at 04:48:53 PM EST
    Fair enough TL. As for why SD is suddenly so worthy of respect or consideration: I'll leave it to you. I'll just go back to ignoring him full time as the worthless waste of bandwidth he is. Quaker, The question still remains why it "must" be the U.S. I'm not saying the things Obama has listed as desirable are not in fact desirable. I'm simply asking why it "must" be the U.S. that undertakes these things. Is there no one else on the planet with the capacity to push these ideas? Is Obama saying that Kofi Annan and the rest of the U.N. are so worthless that they can't even work toward a multilateral force to strengthen the ongoing efforts in Darfur? Does he, and TL, believe that in the EU and all of Asia there is no military or police force capable of assisting the African force in training for its mission? Or is this in fact a claim that the U.S. has a national interest in Darfur that is strong enough to require this action? If so, what is it? Have "progressives" gotten so lazy they can't even bother to make an argument anymore?

    Re: The Teens of Darfur (none / 0) (#19)
    by soccerdad on Tue Dec 27, 2005 at 05:35:21 PM EST
    as JP must realize by now, Obama never said it had to be the US alone. I don't see anyone saying it has to be the US alone. The US wants to be the sole superpower as stated by the neocons and Bush has endorsed the position of the US as being singuarly important, especially in the spread of democratic principles throughout the world. So the question becomes why Iraq not Dafur. Why does he favor appeasment towards the rulers of Sudan? Continuing to rant about a straw man argument that you made up in order to to try and discredit everyone here does not reflect well on your abilities. And you have the nerve to call us lazy. Just because you construct this self-serving argument to your liking doesn't mean we have to play along.

    Re: The Teens of Darfur (none / 0) (#20)
    by Ernesto Del Mundo on Tue Dec 27, 2005 at 10:16:45 PM EST
    Wile...China owns the U.S. along with Sudan, so get over it. And you have nerve to critique Andreas while spouting your vintage 1949 Red Scare vignettes.

    Re: The Teens of Darfur (none / 0) (#21)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Wed Dec 28, 2005 at 02:42:59 AM EST
    Ernie: If you don't mind, got a link showing me what the US owns in Sudan. It seems to me that China should take the lead in Sudan after reading the HRW report. Agree?

    Re: The Teens of Darfur (none / 0) (#22)
    by Che's Lounge on Wed Dec 28, 2005 at 01:21:07 PM EST
    Paging Hugo Chavez. The Darfurians do not trust anyone from the Sudanese Govt. or the UNHCR (innefective). Venezuela would be an excellent choice in that: 1. The Darfurians and the SLA seem to want a type of government that is remarkabley similar to Chavez's, and 2. Venezuela has so much oil that they would have no self interest in helping to negotiate a new government in the Sudan. Just my 2 cents.

    Re: The Teens of Darfur (none / 0) (#23)
    by Aaron on Thu Dec 29, 2005 at 09:12:34 AM EST
    Sleepless in Sudan. Uncensored, direct from a dazed & confused aid worker in Darfur, Sudan As has been reported for for some time now by aid workers and observers in the region, the African Union troops are little more than observers who often find themselves hardly better off than the Darfur refugees themselves. Government-backed Sudanese militias simply either avoid AU forces when convenient to do so, or kill them when they get in the way. Their presence is little more than a token, a token that adds to the death toll and provides the governments in Africa, Europe and the Americas with the opportunity to look at each other across a table and say, yes we are doing something. Simply put its crap, crap that's starting to stink so bad that everyone can smell it. Right now there are 16,000 combat ready Marines sitting inside Iraqi bases doing nothing, waiting to be called out in case of some major emergency within the country, an emergency that's never going to come because the reality is there just isn't anybody for them to fight. Geographically speaking, these troops are hardly removed from the Sudan at all. Assault teams designated to provide security for these camps could be dropped in within a matter of hours. We have the means to airlift this entire force and their support structure into the Darfur region within a matter of weeks and make a real difference. But of course that will never happen because America under the Bush administration talks about democracy and freedom for the Middle East and Africa, but that's as far as it goes... talk. Here we have a historic opportunity to finally change things in this part of the world for the betterment of everyone, but does anyone see it? We apparently reserve the right to take action only when it serves our self-centered political interest of the moment, and not the interests of democracy, justice or what we know to be moral and right. How telling it is of our society that we make such a great show of promoting these values only when it's expedient and convenient to do so. The fact is, that to take no action is an action, and one day soon we are going to pay the price for our shortsighted failure to act.