Friday, November 05, 2004


The international attention of the United States has been focused on areas such as Afghanistan and Iraq in recent days. No one doubts that the events of September 11th are largely responsible for this (although it should not be assumed that there is a connection between Iraq and the attack on September 11th). In both of the previous nations in particular it is interesting to note what the discussion focuses on. The great humanitarian benefits which have resulted because of the United States' military action is widely advertised. In Iraq, these discussion seem to be cited now as the primary reason for the war, possibly to shift attention to the bad intelligence initially used to justify the war. While the motives of those who now seem to focus exclusively on the humanitarian concerns with Saddam's regime might be suspect; it is neither right nor proper to minimalize or ignore the gross abuses which occurred in Iraq.

With all the media's attention focused on Iraq, Americans seem little concerned with other areas of the world which are in danger. The recent events in Haiti barely made B-roll on American media, and we sent peace-keeping forces as a last resort. Of greater concern are the events which are occurring in the Darfur region of Sudan. Since early 2003, 1.5 million people have been displaced, and 70,000 people have been killed. The only mention of this crisis was brief when Secretary of State Powell used the ominous word "genocide."

It is estimated that 250,000-300,000 people died under Saddam's rule, which began in 1979. No one doubts he sought to wipe out the Kurds in the north, and the United States with the United Nation responded with a strong military presences to protect this oppressed people. The other abuses by the Baath regime are well documented, and denied by none. The abuses in Afghanistan were also well publicized after the war. The oppression of women and any who did not hold to their stringent form of Islam and the public executions were frequently mentioned in the media. It is not like would be a surprise, since once again the Taliban's abuses were well-documented before 9-11, but consistently ignored in the United States (except of course when they destroyed the giant Buddha statues).

What then does this have to do with Sudan? It is a sad observation that our society is culpably ignorant of and unconcerned for other nations and cultures different from our own. If it were not for September 11th, I am sure the Taliban would still be in power. While the connection between September 11th and Iraq is tenuous at best, I am sure the same could be said. Humanitarianism did not inspire our actions in those nations. However, if humanitarian motives are now becoming (and I would heartily rejoice if they were) a justification for using military force, why not Sudan. Didn't the West pledge after 800,000 died in Rwanda in 1994 that we would never let it happen again? In 1995 the United States with other NATO countries sent troops to Bosnia as a response to a genocide there where 20,000 had been killed. Since there is precedent, why did both President Bush and Senator Kerry dismiss the notion of sending troops? The President has already broke his contention that the military should not be used for nation-building. Why are the American people not outraged at the apathetic response from the media and the government? Could it be that our pledge to never let another Rwanda happen was empty? Or maybe we are eager to stop a genocide when we can, but just not in Africa.

For a Christian, this must not be an issue to which we are neutral or indifferent, even if the rest of our society and our government is.