The Belgravia Dispatch has an outstanding post on something so obvious but has never been commented on in just this way. I have seen a number of commentators decrying the massacres in Darfur. but almost all have focused on the questions: what has the US done, what will the US do, why has Bush not acted (the bum). This article asks why no one in the Arab world lifted a finger to stop the genocide.
Tom Friedman had one of his culture analysis pieces in the Times yesterday, relating the thoughts of a friend of his resident in Cairo about Arab terrorism ...[snip]
Friedman doesn't mention Darfur in this column. By contrast, his fellow Times columnist Nick Kristof writes frequently about Darfur without mentioning any Arab country or government other than Sudan's. This is a remarkable coincidence, at least to an admitted layman to whom one slaughter looks much like another. Arabs in Darfur seem to use rape as a weapon more often than Arabs from Saudi Arabia or Ramadi, and explosives not as often. But these look like details to me, a case of different people relying on different chapters of The Savage's Handbook.
I know all the likely rebuttals to this deliberately brutal and inflammatory language. None of them explain the Arab genocide in Darfur; the silence of other Arabs about Arab genocide in Darfur; or the Western media's silence about Arabs' silence about Arab genocide in Darfur. Friedman, for example, seems oblivious to the subject. Kristof, who is not, follows the conventional practice of American journalists witnessing something awful. This is to demand that the American government do something about it.
Well, this is fine. We'd all like Washington to put out this particular fire before it burns itself out, and I don't really object to any of the specific steps Kristof recommends in this case. As a practical matter, though, this habitual treatment of every actual or potential disaster around the world as primarily an American problem is a good way to ensure that actual disasters get worse and potential disasters turn into real ones.
We all saw in the last decade how many people in the former Yugoslavia had to die while European powers fiddled around waiting for the Americans. Europe had the means to stop the fighting sooner, but not the will. At least European countries provided relief to the surviving victims of warfare and ethnic cleansing, and eventually sent large numbers of peacekeepers to Bosnia and Kosovo once it was clear the risk of actual combat was low. Also, European media covered the Balkan wars extensively from beginning to end. At the end of it all European governments had the grace to show some sense of guilt and remorse about the whole sorry business.
The Arab world isn't even doing that about Darfur. No peacekeepers, no aid, no media coverage, and for damn sure no guilt. Does Tom Friedman during all his earnest chin-stroking about the problem of terrorism and Arab culture pause to consider that this might be related somehow? Saudi imams get young men inspired to blow themselves up in the middle of Iraqi crowds, but we sure don't hear too many reports of young Saudi men risking death to stand between Muslim villagers in Darfur and the janjaweed.
What about Nick Kristof, who has access to the same maps of Africa that the rest of us do? Does he wonder that the largest Arab country, directly north of Sudan with a large army and an air force hundreds of planes strong, has never made a move toward establishing, say, a no-fly zone over any part of Darfur? Demanded UN sanctions against Sudan, or imposed any of its own? To be honest, I doubt the idea has even crossed his mind.
Read the whole thing.