Meany is wrong on Darfur

As director of Students Take Action Now: Darfur, and one who cares deeply about stopping the government-perpetrated genocide in Darfur, I feel compelled to refute Jake Meany’s article, “Let the Middle East deal with Darfur.” Reading it, I was struck by how ill-informed and blind to the actual situation he is. This article essentially said that the genocide in Darfur is not the West’s problem; that it is an African problem best dealt with by neighboring Arab nations who, in reality, have no resources to effectively handle this issue. To say that the best solution to stop this genocide is to abandon the Darfuri to the Arab League’s limited capabilities is arrogant. They do not have the military capacity or resources to stop a government policy of extermination. This is an international problem, one that we, as wealthy, resource-rich Westerners have the responsibility to stop. As Martin Luther King Jr. said, “An injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” The Darfuri people themselves are a mix of tribal and nomadic Africans and Arabs. The issue of Africans versus Arabs in this genocide is one constructed by the media and is not actually true to the situation; both Africans and Arabs live together in Darfur and have cohabited for years. For Meany to say that it is essential that the Arab League soldiers move into Darfur to protect civilians, since the Arab-leaning janjaweed militia employed by the government would be less likely to kill them, is wholly uninformed. The janjaweed obviously does not make these religious distinctions as it is currently wiping out Africans and Arabs in Darfur. It is clear that more troops are required in Darfur. The civilians do not currently have adequate protection, nor do the aid workers present in the country. The African Union peacekeeping troops are the only troops present in Darfur, and there are only 8,000 men on the ground. They desperately need the 20,000 troops that the UN has pledged to send. China and Russia did abstain from voting on UN Resolution 1706 – but they did not choose to veto, showing that they do not directly oppose the deployment of troops. However, Sudanese President Omar Al-Bashir does. He refuses to allow the UN into his country and thus requires specific international action to curtail his power. It is necessary to impose economic sanctions upon Sudan and to divest interests from businesses that interact with the government. Doing this would cut off Bashir’s financial appendages, meaning that he could no longer fund the janjaweed militia. Divestment, peacekeeping forces, and peaceful agreements of cease-fire between all those party to the fighting will stop the massacring and displacement of innocent men, women, and children.