Tragedy in Darfur
Posted on behalf of an anonymous contributor. (In exceptional cases, this blog will post unsigned contributions, when an individual has good strong reasons not to be identified.)
There have been several opinion pieces this summer that have referred to genocide in
As Michael Gerson — a former Bush administration speech writer who somehow hasn’t found the strength to examine the greater numbers of daily civilian deaths in Iraq with the same pity he finds for African conflicts — rightfully points out in an August 10, 2007 column in the Washington Post, the problem is in choosing which plot, or as he says, which "mistake" to learn from. Unfortunately, he, like many of the activists who became inspired to act on Darfur after learning about Rwanda or seeing Hotel Rwanda, opts for Rwanda (in Gerson’s case over Somalia).
But just as not all bad things go together, nor do all good things. David Rieff has drawn out this fact in his June 24, 2007 op-ed in the Los Angeles Times discussing the clash of principles between human rights oriented groups who want solutions and humanitarian aid organizations who want to be able to continue delivering life-saving aid. What aggravates this basic difference in approaches, however, is an increasing difference between groups on the ground and those in the advocacy world about how to understand the situation in Darfur today.
Perhaps the story that has been most missed this summer is one Julie Flint has tried to tell. It is a story of Darfurians "saving" themselves. She reports: "In Ain Siro, Darfurians are putting their lives back together, with no help form the international community"¦ They are doing what they can to improve security, not waiting for the U.N. peacekeepers to come, if they ever do. There is change in
How one chooses which "mistakes" or precursors to learn from reveals what one believes is necessary to know in order to change the current crisis. Searching for catharsis, too many analysts have chased the most dramatic examples available. The tragedy then becomes truly Hegelian, when the desire to ring the alarm bells and stem violence comes into conflict with a willingness to pay attention to what is actually happening.