U.S. Academics’ Rush to Nazify Sudan
Barely a week goes by without a welter of intellectual indulgence (or think of a word that rhymes with vibration) from some more Johnny-Come-Lately American academic “˜experts’ about Sudan.
I live here in El Fasher, North Darfur have traveled the length and breadth of Darfur (and the rest of Sudan), am Sudanese with no political agenda (i.e. the ubiquitous “˜silent majority’), and none of what Daniel Chirot reflects or enters the ‘subjective universe’ i.e. the reality, rather than the academic’s own personal prejudices or views, that informs state and non-state actors in Darfur or elsewhere in Sudan – surely the point of any academic research?
Mr Chirot, riddle me this: if the so-called “˜Sudanese Arab’ elite are wannabe Caucasians as you ludicrously claim (Francis Deng might be big in the UN and the corridors of academia and think tanks in DC and elsewhere in the US and Europe, but he means diddly-squat here – just another professional Sudanese international circuit speaker), then why do “˜Sudanese Arabs’ use the term “˜halabi’ (i.e. light skinned) as a polemical term for somebody lacking character, honesty, and a backbone? In other words as an insult?
Moreover, casually brushing aside US brutalities in Iraq – and the US’s role in providing the weaponry, intelligence, technical know-how, and diplomatic cover for Israel’s recent horrific tearing-up of Gaza as US academics like yourself do and taking some false moral high ground over Darfur without missing a heartbeat – “trivialises the suffering there” (in Gaza and Iraq), does it not? In other words, 100,000s of Iraqis killed and maimed, millions internally and externally displaced, over 600 Gaza kids killed, homes and lives destroyed? That double standard in the US – academia, media and think-tanks – is not a conspiracy as Mr Chirot put it: it’s a reality. Fancy blaming Hamas for the leveling of Gaza or, as Nick Kristoff shamelessly wrote recently, maybe Hamas lured Israel into that destruction as a means to a public relations victory! That’s an astounding statement coming from a self-professed humanitarian and human rights activist, who’s been at pains to write verbatim how his heart has ached for Darfur…..
“Groundless accusations”, Mr. Chirot? Ahem, I beg to differ, e.g. the unprecedented variation in the Darfur death toll 12,000 to 400,000 (Note – the Sudanese government number only includes battlefield deaths – as is standard in any war that doesn’t get sucked into an activist agenda). I could go on, but there are too many falsehoods, stereotypes and half-baked certitudes of US moral authority – let alone Mr Chriot’s truly absurd psychoanalytical babble about the “Sudanese Arab elite”.
I, like most of the silent majority of Sudanese, are just sick-and-tired of attempts by well-meaning, but half-witted, US academics and activists over-hyping Darfur (no, I’m not impervious to the misery or the suffering, I’m here in El Fasher and a Fur by the way), and trying to Nazify “Sudanese Arabs” – whatever that means. It’s just so horrible when an issue gets sucked in by the obsessive, folk devil tendencies of US civil society and government; remember the run-up to the Iraq war, Iran in the ’80s and early ’90s, Libya during the Reagan era, for example?
US academia, plus America’s media, activists and civil society organizations, are clearly (if unwittingly) trying to de-humanise Sudan in the same way Iraq was in the run up to the invasion (though not saying that’s on the cards); e.g. blurring the distinction between the name ‘Sudan’ and its government (i.e. they soon become interchangeable in people’s minds) in the same way that Saddam Hussein and the nation of Iraq were blurred into one.
Take note of the number of US and other international media reports that have led with ‘Sudan bombs Darfur’, rather than the Sudanese army or government bombs Darfur, which it least paves the way for half-baked, anything goes proposals (no matter how short-sighted they are – witness Tony Obsersschall’s posting last week calling on the international community (read the USA) “to distribute and train villagers with defensive weapons and organize a village militia”) for Darfur. It is truly amazing that somebody clearly as smart as Mr Obserschall can come up with such a convoluted “˜solution’ for Darfur, rather then focus on the blindingly obvious: full and concerted pressure for a comprehensive political solution/intervention/agreement in Darfur.
How long will US academics in particular (and by extension the US administration, and civil society organisations) content themselves with just carry on drawing attention to the situation without mentioning or putting their back into a comprehensive political settlement for Darfur? For example, has anybody seen or heard of any US academic (or Western media organization) demand or write an interview with Djibril Bassole (the UN/African Union mediator for Darfur) to check-in to see how the political process is going? Thought not. How can anybody expect a regular Sudanese like myself to think anything other than that the US and the rest of the West (despite its gnashing of teeth) is not really serious about solving Darfur (through helping to broker a comprehensive peace agreement), but is just using it as an elixir for self-aggrandising moral posturing – especially given their response to Gaza or Somalia (all of which could have the same charge sheet as Darfur).
I suspect that many readers of this blog may shrug their shoulders and say “tough”, no point talking about the double standards and, though unfair, the Sudanese government has to abide by the rules of the game. That’s very difficult, though when one side (read the US, UK, France in particular) is making up the rules as it goes along, and often picks up and takes the ball home (i.e. abandons stuff, e.g. the DPA, save for the US – I’ll concede on that) when things go awry.
So, why does the ball end up being picked up or taken home by the US and other Western nations in conjunction with their sudden changing of the rules of the game? Quite simply because the whole debate in the US and other Western nations about what to do about Darfur (and the resulting international interventions of the last five years) has been conducted over Sudanese peoples’ heads. So, here’s a suggestion: crowd out the shallow US academic activists and regular activists, and crowd-in Sudanese voices who know their country and the way for solutions best (like any other nationals). Simple slogan and a simple demand isn’t it Mr Chirot, Mr Obserschall and others?
Put simply, please, give us Sudanese a break so we can find our own solutions to our own problems and grow the institutions to regulate them!!
The author is a country risk consultant, based in El Fasher, North Darfur, Sudan.