Darfur Vs. Iraq

By By Luke Hinz

By Luke Hinz

The White House’s reasons for the war in Iraq have evolved rapidly through the past four years as the rationale for each consecutive argument fell through the floorboards. First, it was about attacking Saddam Hussein before he could unleash his weapons of mass destruction upon the United States.

When the WMDs failed to materialize, the White House pointed to Hussein’s numerous human rights atrocities and declared that the war was about freedom for Iraqis. Now that the Sunnis and Shiites have failed to reconcile within the government and Iraqis are hardly free from car bombs outside their houses, Bush’s entourage has drawn up a new reason, stating that to leave Iraq now would leave a refuge for terrorists.

Yet, as the Bush administration cocked its guns and stormed into Baghdad, a new war was erupting on the sands of Africa that has since fit neatly into Bush’s numerous rationales for war.

The Darfur conflict in Sudan roughly began in the same year as the Iraq war, and like the Iraq war, is still ongoing. Yet, in light of the blatant human rights violations and the constant political maneuvering by Sudan’s president, Omar al-Bashir, Bush seems quite apathetic.

True, the Bush administration was the first to refer to the situation in Darfur as a genocide, but it has still refused to take action on a conflict that has left 200,000 to 400,000 people dead and more than 2.5 million people displaced from their homes. Bush also pushed the United Nations to pass sanctions on al-Bashir and Sudan, but that pales in comparison to Bush’s actions against Hussein.

Hussein was a tyrant guilty of bloody massacres and continual abuse of his people, but al-Bashir is no different. It was al-Bashir who supplied the Janjaweed militias with weapons and the means to start their bloodshed, and it is al-Bashir who continually denies these claims contrary to overwhelming evidence. That sounds much like a certain Middle East dictator denying he had any WMDs.

Al-Bashir has also voiced his goal of a cease-fire with many rebel groups he is in conflict with, but he has also contradicted his own statements. The Sudanese government signed the Darfur Peace Agreement in 2006, only to see it squashed by the boots of the Janjaweed that following August as the government launched a huge offensive in northern Darfur.

The Sudanese president initially accepted a U.S. and U.N. plan calling for a hybrid United Nation-African Union peacekeeping force within Darfur only to renege on the offer at the last moment. There was a particular Middle East despot who often toyed with foreign nations, especially regarding their nuclear weapon inspectors.

Meanwhile, as al-Bashir maneuvers for more time before the Oct. 27 peace talks and fools the world into thinking the genocide is all but “concluded,” as one The Washington Post column put it, recent events suggest otherwise. Recent fighting exploded again in the region, prompting U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon to understate the renewed fighting as “alarming.” During this time, attacks on foreign aid workers in the region have actually increased.

Let America not forget that Sudan has been a continual safe haven for terrorists in the past, including the likes of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad and the Lebanese Hezbollah, much like Iraq aided Osama bin Laden, or as Bush led the nation to believe.

So, while Bush boasts of the recent successes toward democracy and better security in Iraq, any idea of democracy in Darfur has blown away with the desert sand and security talk has been silenced by the Janjaweed’s guns.

Bush hammers home the Iraqis’ need for freedom from oppression and an Iraq purged of terrorists. Yet a country sits a Persian Gulf away that needs the same assistance, the same freedom from oppression and the same need for security.

Sudan and al-Bashir are responsible for more civilian deaths than many of Saddam’s sickest dreams, but Bush does nothing, although it meets every one of his own criterion for war. So, if the United States sits by on the sidelines, what was our true purpose in invading Iraq?

If Bush is going to flaunt his ideology of democracy and freedom as reasons for war, he had better be prepared to enforce it the world over. If other than that, then we should pull out of Iraq now and he should admit his lies. You cannot preach freedom from oppression with one hand and allow genocide with the other. What is it going to be, Mr. President?

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