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Iran, Darfur & O.J. Simpson Crisis Update 9-19-07: What Does CNN's Anderson Cooper See in the Mirror?
By Richard Power
On my way to the gym, I was pondering the drive to war with Iran.
Bush, Cheney, Lieberman, the Cult formerly known as the Republican Party and others who share their pathology want it bad (Telegraph/UK, 9-16-07), including their "Sweet Little Neo-Con," Nicholas Sarkozy, the French Giuliani (Agence France Press, 9-17-07). (Oh, the world will miss Chirac, even more than Schroeder.)
By making progress in negotiations with Iran, Mohamed El Baradei, head of the U.N.’s International Atomic Energy Agency, and winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, has infuriated those who do not want a peaceful resolution to the crisis. (Think Progress, 9-17-07)
Is there any sane person in the world who would want the Iranian mullahs to have nuclear weapons? Of course not. But that's the wrong question. The right question is "What will be the consequences of launching a military attack?"
And just as El Baradei was spot on about Iraq, he is spot on about Iran.
War is not the answer to either question.
In the ramp up to the invasion of Iraq, the wrong question was asked, i.e., "Would the world be better off without Saddam Hussein?"
The right question would have been, "What will be the consequences of launching a military attack?"
We know the answers to both questions now.
The world is not better off with Saddam Hussein gone, and the consequences of our military attack have been catastrophic.
In my mind, as I unpacked my gym bag, I was struck by the contrast in the level of engagement concerning Iran and Darfur.
Despite lip-service to the contrary, Bush, Cheney, Lieberman, Sarkozy and the others show no such appetite to confront those who are committing crimes against humanity in Darfur; an operation which would cost far less in blood and treasure, but alas has less strategic significance (at least for now).
As I punched in my cardio program, I caught Larry King on a bank of TVs.
Iraq? Iran? Darfur? Global Warming? Bill of Rights? Nah. O.J. Simpson.
I shrugged it off. Well, it's Larry King.
But then, an hour later, as I hit the shower, I glanced around the locker room, there were a dozen or so men, mostly white, from twenty-something to fifty-something, staring up at the TV monitor, in rapt attention, as if Anderson Cooper was telling them something important.
Iraq? Iran? Darfur? Global Warming? Bill of Rights? No, just more O.J. Simpson.
That's right, wall to wall O.J. Simpson on prime-time CNN.
Indeed, I would not be surprised if CNN's entire coverage of crisis in Darfur for the last year could fit inside the time alloted to O.J. Simpson in this one twenty-four news cycle, and still have room for their coverage of Chad, the Congo and more.
So, tell me, what does CNN's Anderson Cooper see when he looks into the mirror?
Cooper could have highlighted an open letter from 26 prominent women, including actress Cate Blanchett, supermodel Elle MacPherson, former Irish president Mary Robinson, author Germaine Greer, and of course, the indefatigable Mia Farrow, calling on world leaders to step up their efforts to end the violence in Darfur. The Australian, 9-15-07
Cooper could have focused on the upcoming Darfur mission of Desmond Tutu, Jimmy Carter and Graça Machela and a group of other "Elders" recruited by Nelson Mandela. BBC, 9-17-07
Cooper could have featured Lt. Gen. Romeo Dallaire, a former U.N. commander whose warnings of Rwandan genocide in the early 1990s went unheeded, and who has "advised the newly appointed leader of U.N. forces in Darfur to expect little backing from his political masters as he struggles to halt mass violence" Washington Post, 9-18-07
Cooper could have drawn attention to a new UN report on Darfur that says violence is increasing in the camps, which is making it harder to carry out humanitarian aid work to help the thousands of newcomers arriving each week. Reuters, 9-17-07
Cooper could have interviewed Luis Moreno-Ocampo, prosecutor of the Hague-based International Criminal Court (ICC), who has renewed his call for the arrest of indicted Darfur war criminals, e.g., Ahmad Harun, a former Interior Minister, alleged to have organised a massacre of civilians in Darfur.Afriquenligne, 9-7-07
Cooper could have a TV screen full of talking heads debating whether or not U.S.-based Franklin Templeton Investments, JPMorgan Chase, Capital Group's American Funds, Fidelity Investments, and Vanguard Group should sell their shares in PetroChina and the firm from which it was spun off, the China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC), in the hope that, in turn, the Chinese would use their weight as the largest buyers of Sudanese oil to press for peace in Darfur. Inter Press Service, 9-5-07
For spectacular visual impact, Cooper could have turned to Google Earth's joint project with the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, i.e., "a virtual programme that maps the earth by superimposition of images obtained from satellite imagery, and enables Internet users look at more than 1,600 destroyed villages and towns in northeast Africa, pictured before and after attacks"; and also Amnesty International's "Eyes on Darfur" which uses its own web-based service of satellite imagery "to monitor 13 villages in Darfur and eastern Chad considered at risk."Inter Press Service, 9-4-07
Yes, I know he did a feature on Darfur -- one year and many thousands of murders and rapes ago. So tell me, what do you think he sees when he looks in the mirror, after a day and night of all O.J. all the time?
If you want to help save Darfur, here are sites that will show you how:
Genocide Intervention Network
Enough: The Project to End Genocide and Mass Atrocities
Click here for a Words of Power Archive of posts on the Crisis in Darfur
Click here for a Words of Power Archive of posts on the Corporate News Media Complicity, Power of Alternative Media, Propaganda & Freedom of Press
Here are brief excerpts from the Darfur stories referenced, with links to the full texts:
PROMINENT women from around the world including Cate Blanchett and Elle MacPherson, today called on world leaders to step up their efforts to end the violence in Darfur ahead of a day of action to support the troubled Sudanese region.
In an open letter, 26 women, including actresses Blanchett and Mia Farrow, academic Germaine Greer, supermodel MacPherson and former Irish president Mary Robinson, welcomed a recent United Nations resolution.
But they said the agreement in July to bolster an African Union force had "changed nothing" on the ground, as it was unlikely to be fully deployed for another 12 to 18 months.
"Insecurity continues; more people than ever in Darfur and Chad are in need of aid, and aid agencies are finding it harder than ever to keep them alive", they wrote in the letter, to be published in newspapers. ...
"As women from four continents, we urge world leaders to step up the pressure on all parties in the conflict to agree to an immediate ceasefire," said the women, including Body Shop founder Anita Roddick, who signed before her death this week. ... Famous women urge Darfur ceasefire, Australian, 9-15-07
Archbishop Desmond Tutu will lead a delegation of influential elder statesmen to Sudan in the latest initiative to bring peace to Darfur.
The "Elders" will travel to Khartoum at the end of the month to meet representatives from all sides.
They will then go to Darfur to talk to local community leaders and some of the displaced people now living in camps. ...
Lakhdar Brahimi, Jimmy Carter and Graça Machel will be among the influential former world leaders taking part. ... The group of retired elder statesmen, independent of any government or international organization, came together at the invitation of Nelson Mandela to find ways to tackle some of the world's toughest problems, such as HIV-Aids, poverty and conflict. BBC, 9-17-07
Retired Canadian army Lt. Gen. Romeo Dallaire, a former U.N. commander whose warnings of Rwandan genocide in the early 1990s went unheeded by U.N. leaders, advised the newly appointed leader of U.N. forces in Darfur to expect little backing from his political masters as he struggles to halt mass violence.
Dallaire, a Canadian senator who led U.N. forces in Rwanda in 1993-94, sent a letter congratulating Nigerian Gen. Martin L. Agwai on his appointment as commander of the joint U.N.-African Union peacekeeping force for Darfur, a region in western Sudan where as many as 450,000 people have died from violence and disease and about 2.5 million have been displaced since an armed secessionist revolt began there in 2003. But he warned Agwai to prepare for the worst.
"You can anticipate being let down by everyone on whom you depend for support, be that troops, funding, logistics or political engagement," Dallaire wrote. "Only by shining a spotlight on those failures in every possible way can you mobilise the attention necessary to get the action you need. Bear in mind that whoever fails you will, in the end, be the most active in blaming you for whatever goes wrong." ... Colum Lynch, Bleak Advice for U.N. Darfur Commander, Washington Post, 9-18-07
Violence is increasing in camps for displaced people in Darfur, where nearly a quarter million people have been displaced so far this year, a U.N. report said on Monday.
The United Nations said rising violence in the overcrowded camps of the remote region of western Sudan was making it harder to carry out humanitarian aid work to help the thousands of newcomers arriving each week.
"Over 240,000 people have been newly displaced or re-displaced during 2007," the U.N. report said. "In many IDP (internally displaced people) camps, armed elements are present, and violent incidents are increasing."
"During August, humanitarian activities had to be suspended in several camps due to insecurity," the report added. Simon Apiku, U.N. says violence increasing in Darfur camps, Reuters, 9-17-07
Prosecutor of the Hague- based International Criminal Court (ICC), Luis Moreno-Ocampo, has renewed his call for the arrest of indicted Darfur war criminals.
Moreno-Ocampo made the call ahead of the premiere of a film titled: "Darfur Now'' billed for screening Sunday at the Toronto International Film Festival. ... the documentary described the case against Ahmad Harun, a former Sudan's Interior Minister, who was alleged to have organised a massacre of civilians in Darfur.
Harun was also accused of using Janjaweed militia to force more than 2 million people out of their villages and into camps.
"Ahmad Harun is a wanted criminal, yet he is now Minister for Humanitarian Affairs and in-charge of the camps for displaced people,'' Moreno-Ocampo said.
"He (Harun) removed people from their villages and now he controls them. I hope 'Darfur Now' can raise awareness about this unacceptable situation," the prosecutor said. Int'l Court prosecutor urges arrest of Darfur criminals, Afriquenligne, 9-7-07
Activists have launched a bid to shame some of the world's largest mutual fund companies into dumping Chinese oil majors they accuse of complicity in what the U.S. government calls genocide in western Sudan's Darfur region.
"The American people do not want to invest in genocide," Zahara Heckscher, divestment campaign manager at the Save Darfur Coalition, said Wednesday as coalition members said they would target five investment firms with a mix of negative advertising, protest, and investor pressure.
Activists want U.S.-based Franklin Templeton Investments, JPMorgan Chase, Capital Group's American Funds, Fidelity Investments, and Vanguard Group to sell their shares in PetroChina and the firm from which it was spun off, the China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC).
The activists said they hope that, in turn, the Chinese would use their weight as the largest buyers of Sudanese oil to press for peace in Darfur. Abid Aslam, FINANCE: Darfur Groups Ask U.S. Funds to Drop Chinese Oil Majors, Inter Press Service, 9-5-07
The project in Darfur, Sudan, by Google Earth, a virtual programme that maps the earth by superimposition of images obtained from satellite imagery, has brought a new dimension to public monitoring of abuses. ... The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum teamed up with Google’s mapping service in April to track violence in the region. The initiative called ‘Crisis in Darfur’ lets Internet users look at more than 1,600 destroyed villages and towns in northeast Africa, pictured before and after attacks, and hear testimonies collected by the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum and other groups along the Chad border. ...
To track attacks as they happen, Amnesty International has launched its own web-based service in June called ‘Eyes on Darfur’, which uses satellite imagery to monitor 13 villages in Darfur and eastern Chad considered at risk. Users can zoom in on pictures of the villages and read accounts from residents who explain why they are at risk. Sabina Zaccaro, Keep Watch from Space
: The use of satellite images earlier this year to document human rights violations in Darfur has strengthened interest in wider use of satellites for humanitarian purposes, Inter Press Service, 9-4-07
Darfur, Africa, Mia Farrow, O.J. Simpson, Desmond Tutu, Lt. Gen. Romeo Dallaire, Anderson Cooper, CNN, ICC, >, Iran, Amnesty International, Google, Genocide, Iraq, Sudan, UN, Richard Power, Words of Power