Thursday, December 11, 2008

Will Mia Farrow Invade Sudan?

I was going to write about the policy options of the incoming Obama administration, but let's face it: it's a race. If Mia Farrow can procure the services of Blackwater mercenaries before Obama gets a NATO or UN-led coalition together, then Mia wins. Oliver James points out in one his books that Ms Farrow grew up in a large family, in which love and attention were difficult to obtain. The result, inevitably, is that she seeks a large family herself. The latest service to this psychic dilemma is that she has adopted the whole of Darfur as her own children. And now mother goose is prepared to round up the posse and kick ass to stop her kids being meddled with by troublesome Arabs. She may well succeed. I know for a fact that Erik Prince, the ultra-reactionary catholic potentate of the Blackwater crime syndicate, is interested. He is still outraged that "no one has stood up to" the Janjawid, and believes that his fighting team could turn amateur African Union squaddies into ninja warriors, thus teaching the Janjawid that "their habits are not sustainable".

But Mia now has to race against time, because we know that both Obama and Hillary publicly favour imposing a no-fly zone, the first step on the slippery slope to invasion. Joe Biden wants to get stuck right in there with American power, while Susan Rice, the incoming ambassador to the UN, favours air strikes. Two former Clinton officials, William Cohen and Madeleine Albright, are now heading the Genocide Prevention Task Force which urges Obama to adopt a strong anti-genocide policy, with genocide alert systems and so on. They presumably acquired some of the necessary expertise while imposing genocide on Iraq on the 1990s. Save Darfur recognises the opportunity here, urging Obama and the new liberal Congress to "end the Darfur genocide and prevent the next Darfur from occurring". You may wonder why anyone is talking about genocide at this point. Arguably, over a period of months between 2003 and 2004, the level and manner of killing was sufficient to be called genocide. Alex de Waal breaks down the statistics:

The vast majority of killings occurred between June 2003 and April 2004. Estimates for the total number of people killed in those ten months range from the ICC figure (which is very conservative) of under 30,000 to more than twice that number. The overwhelming majority were civilians killed by militia and army. During the subsequent nine months, perhaps 4,000-7,000 were killed, though data for this period are also poor. The data are much better from January 2005 onwards, with about 9,000 people killed in the last three years and nine months, of which about half were civilians killed by government and pro-government forces. (Mortality from hunger, exposure and disease is not included in these numbers.) After January 2005, not only did the level of killings drop away sharply, but the pattern changed too, with a greater proportion attributable to rebel attacks, banditry and inter-tribal fighting.

The high-end estimate of total murders is 76,000 from June 2003 to the present day, with the vast majority of killing concentrated in the early months of the counterinsurgency. As Alex de Waal points out in an interview in 'Liberal Defense', the murder rate since the peak of the war ended is comparable to that in Washington DC. That is to say, there is no genocide in Darfur to 'end'. There is combat, there is a needful humanitarian situation, and there is a political process, including negotiations, some of which is bearing fruit. Ah, but if this was your line of thinking, you would be missing the point. The US government has already declared the situation in Darfur to be genocide, and there is no statute of limitations on that claim. You may also be wondering how they will manage to retail a military intervention as a 'humanitarian intervention', which is surely the obvious ideological basis on which to launch an attack. After all, one of the contributors to Save Darfur's crisis last year was a scathing critique by coalition of aid groups condemning their calls for a no-fly zone and forced military intervention, saying the proposals would disrupt relief supplies, escalate violence, and result in the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people. Well, there is one possibility. Sabotage the negotiations, make clients of one or more of the rebel groups, pool them together under CIA tutelage if possible, and get the insurgency in full flow again. That would guarantee an extremely violent response by the regime. I am not suggesting that any American government would be so unscrupulous as to actually do such a thing, but - let us say - in an absent-minded way, such a felicitous sequence of events could just 'come about'. Then the colour-coded genocide alerts could be set off, the Oval Office illuminated by flashing sirens, and in goes the Marine Corps.

Hurry, Mia, hurry!