Comment is free: Darfur: damned by western pity
I was one of those asked to sign the Cif group post calling for UN intervention to "end the crisis" in Darfur, which was also published as a letter in the Guardian.O'Neill says that we shouldn't do anything about Darfur, because liberals tell us we should do something. Hmmm.
In an article for my online magazine Spiked, published last Thursday, I explain why I refused to sign. It isn't because I am part of some nasty "do nothing" brigade, who are so often slammed by pro-interventionists for just not caring about people around the world, or because I want the Darfur crisis to continue. Of course I don't.
On the contrary, it is precisely because I am concerned, as a humanist, with the lives and liberties of people in Sudan, Africa and elsewhere that I wanted nothing whatsoever to do with the "Day for Darfur" campaign.
Because absolutely the worst thing that could have happened to the people of Darfur is to have won the flattery and patronage of liberals and luvvies in America and Europe. Recent history shows us that there is no civil war so bad that it cannot be made worse by the intervention of western liberals.
From Somalia to Bosnia to Kosovo and now Darfur, western activists' "adopt-a-genocide" approach to world affairs has proved disastrous. Their transformation of grubby civil wars into great battles of good and evil have prolonged and intensified conflicts, and made them more bloody and intractable.
The people of Darfur and Sudan, like the people of Bosnia before them, are likely to pay a heavy price indeed for the patronage of their latte-drinking "friends" in the west.
Much as I hate latte-drinking luvvies, you're completely fucking wrong Brendan.
By the way, though, the fuller version at Spiked actually does make some pertinent points, about the thinness of a politics based on celebrity and wristbands. But it also makes some very wrong points.
[T]he pro-Darfur campaigners, like other humanitarian warriors before them, have transformed what is in fact a complex political and social conflict into a simple matter of Good vs Evil. As Guardian columnist Jonathan Steele has argued: ‘The complex grievances that set farmers against nomads was covered with a simplistic template of Arab vs African, even though the region was crisscrossed with tribal and local rivalries that put some villages on the [Sudanese] government’s side and others against it.’O'Neill is right that a rush to moral judgment that skips understanding means bad politics, but the leftist/intellectual lust for analysis that refuses moral judgement can provide succor for evil. Refusal of moral judgment slides easily into moral relativism, which slides easily into denialist thought. Srebernica is a good example of this pattern.
It is interesting that O'Neill cites Jonathan Steele as his authority here. Steele is obsessed with describing the Darfur conflict as a petty squabble between nomads and pastoralists. In fact, it is an exercise in ethnic cleansing, motivated by Arab racism. More on Steele's historical revisionism here.
P.S. As the Muslim Council of Britain tend to get a short shrift in this blog, just thought I'd take the opportunity to commend Inayat Bunglawala for signing the CiF post for Darfur.
P.P.S. Be sure to read Courtney's insightful thoughts in the comments box.
Tags: darfur, Sudan, Africa, Genocide,Politics, UN, African Union, United Nations, Human Rights