Tuesday, August 08, 2006

After Darfur's Ceasefire

The BBC reports that eight humanitarian aid workers were killed in Darfur in July, more than in the previous two years combined. It is becoming painfully obvious that the ceasefire agreement signed in May, flawed from the start, is almost completely undone. In fact, the Guardian notes that more than 50,000 people have been forced from their homes since the ceasefire took effect.

Nicholas Kristof, writing in today's New York Times (behind the Times Select wall), draws attention to some very obvious but commonly ignored double standards:

This is the tale of two military interventions, of which one happened and the other didn't.

Three weeks ago, with President Bush supplying the weaponry and moral support, Israel began bombarding Lebanon. The war has killed hundreds of people, galvanized international attention and may lead to an international force of perhaps 20,000 peacekeepers.

Three years ago, Sudan began a genocide against African tribes in its Darfur region. That war has killed hundreds of thousands of people, and it is now spreading. There is talk of U.N. peacekeepers someday, but none are anywhere in sight.

The moral of the story? Never, ever be born to a tribe that is victim to genocide in Africa.

Arabs have often argued that Americans have a double standard in the Middle East: We are more solicitous of casualties in Israel than in Gaza or Lebanon. I think they're right, for a variety of reasons. (One is that terror attacks are particularly newsworthy; another is that journalists are more likely to live in Jerusalem than Gaza.)

But if we have double standards, so do Arabs. I sympathize with their horror at what is happening in Lebanon, but I wish they were just as outraged when Muslims slaughter Muslims in Darfur.

Even the world as a whole has double standards. The U.S. and European countries are working frenetically on a U.N. solution in Lebanon, and there is talk of rapidly sending European peacekeepers to stop the bloodshed. In Darfur, there is nothing like as much interest in what is often considered the ultimate human crime: genocide.

Remember the green wristbands?