Friday, September 08, 2006

Hard Rain Journal 9-8-06: Sudanese Bomb Civilians & Mass Troops, But US Media Highlights Release of Salopek

The Bush administration has argued that it has provided the lion’s share of humanitarian aid in Darfur, and it has, and that it has urged stronger resolutions, and it has. But until a full set of sanctions are pressed against the leaders of Sudan, until the United States cooperates fully with the ICC to bring indictments against all of them, and until the U.S., France, the United Kingdom and other European countries make clear that no other interest trumps ending the atrocities—perhaps by expressing a willingness to commit significant numbers of their own military to form part of that U.N. peacekeeping force—the killing in Darfur will go on. China and Russia will go along but only when the die is cast. And the government of Sudan will agree only when there is no other option. Mark L. Schneider, The U.N.'s Darfur Moment, Tom Paine, 9-6-06

Hard Rain Journal 9-8-06: Sudanese Bomb Civilians & Mass Troops, But US Media Highlights Release of Salopek
By Richard Power

Today, Darfur made it into the headlines in the USA.

Not because of the massing of Sudanese government troops in Darfur, or the indiscriminant bombing of civilians, or the United Nations High Commissioner's warning of an imminent catastrophe....

Darfur made it into the headlines of the US mainstream news media today because one US journalist, Paul Salopek of the Chicago Tribune, who had been arrested on espionage charges is going to be released.

Of course, I am relieved that Salopek is going to be released, and proud of Gov. Bill Richardson (D-NM), whose intercession led to Salopek's release. (Richardson, a former Cabinet member and UN ambassador in the Clinton-Gore administration, is both a better person and far more competent statesman than anyone "serving" on the Bush-Cheney national insecurity team. If Richardson had been responsible for US policy on Darfur, as he probably would have been if either Gore or Kerry had been allowed to take the office they won, Richardson might have been able to save more than just Salopek; working with statesmen from the other great nations, he might have been able to save the people of Darfur as well.)

But the most telling part of this story is that it made the headlines in the US mainstream news media.

There are very few issues more important than the right of journalists to do their job without fear of murder or false imprisonment, but genocide is one of them. Salopek's release should be little more than a delightful footnote in today's coverage of this sweeping failure of the human spirit.

Here are three news stories that should have preceded that footnote on Salopek's release:

Sudan's conflict-ridden Darfur region faces a humanitarian "catastrophe" without rapid action to improve security and get aid to those in need, the head of the U.N. refugee agency said on Friday. The warning by United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) Antonio Guterres followed a cry of alarm by the top U.N. humanitarian official Jan Egeland late last month. "Hundreds are still dying amid ongoing violence, and thousands are being forcibly displaced ... If things do not improve, we are heading for a major catastrophe," Guterres said in a statement. The Sudanese government rejects U.N. plans to deploy 20,000 troops and police to Darfur by year-end, likening it to a Western invasion that would attract jihadi militants and create an Iraq-like quagmire. Khartoum has deployed thousands of troops to the region to confront rebels who refused to sign a May peace accord. The UNHCR said this had triggered fears of a major military offensive that could create yet more refugees. Warning of "catastrophe" in Darfur, Reuters, 9-8-06

The Sudanese government is indiscriminately bombing civilian-occupied villages in rebel-held Darfur, a leading human rights group has said. Sudanese government forces on Aug. 28 launched a major offensive believed to involve thousands of troops backed up by bomber aircraft and helicopter gunships in a bid to flush out rebel strongholds in the troubled western region. "Government forces are bombing villages with blatant disregard for civilian lives," said Peter Takirambudde, Africa director at Human Rights Watch. "A penalty for indiscriminate bombing in Darfur is UN Security Council sanctions, which should be imposed now," he said. Human Rights Watch said that firsthand sources report flight crews rolling bombs out the back ramps of Antonovs, a means of targeting that was often practiced by government forces in their 21-year civil war with rebels in southern Sudan. This method is so inaccurate that it cannot strike at military targets without a substantial risk of harm to civilians, the New York-based rights group said in a statement posted on its Web site late on Wednesday. "Deliberately attacking civilians is in all circumstances prohibited and a war crime," it added. Sudan bombing civilians, rights group says, Taipei Times, 9-8-06

“Responsibility to Protect” provides that diplomatic and other peaceful tools are tried first to bring the violations to an end, but where “national authorities manifestly fail to protect their populations from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity,” the U.N. Security Council could put a Chapter VII military force on the table. With the combination of that action and the adoption of the treaty establishing the International Criminal Court to hold individual leaders responsible, it was hoped that mass killings, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity would become relics of a violent past.…What is clear, however, is that the international community cannot ignore what is occurring there based on the sovereign authority of the government of Sudan, particularly its dangerous decision to send its army troops and planes into Darfur in violation of the Darfur Peace Agreement and Security Council resolutions. The “Responsibility to Protect” is today part of an agreed international body of norms. In fact,the latest Darfur resolution adopted on Aug. 31 by the Security Council specifically refers to that justification for U.N. action. It would be a fitting and overdue anniversary celebration of the adoption of the “Responsibility to Protect” if members of the Security Council are able to put it into practice with peacekeeping “boots on the ground” in time to save the lives of those still at risk in the displaced persons camps of Darfur—and to prevent that conflict, which already has crossed the border in Chad, from widening further. Mark L. Schneider, The U.N.'s Darfur Moment, Tom Paine, 9-6-06


GS3 Thunderbolt 8-30-06: Urgent Action is Needed on Darfur, US's Security Council Proposal is a "Sham

Hard Rain Journal 8-24-06: Updates on Darfur & Katrina, Failures of the Human Spirit

Hard Rain Journal 8-3-06: Darfur is A Mirror Held Up to the Souls of the Great Nations, & What It Reveals is Hideous

Words of Power #25: Lost Symbols, Part II -- The Rainbow Serpent Hisses, Lessons about Sustainability & Survival from Darfur, Senegal and Ecuador

Words of Power #12: The Fallen Tree (Spiritual Challenges of the 21st Century Global Security Crisis, Part II)

Richard Power is the founder of GS(3) Intelligence and His work focuses on the inter-related issues of security, sustainability and spirit, and how to overcome the challenges of terrorism, cyber crime, global warming, health emergencies, natural disasters, etc. You can reach him via e-mail: For more information, go to

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