We Are All At Fault For Sudan Carnage

Like the American inaction in Rwanda, which Bill Clinton called the worst mistake of his presidency, [New Yorker article] the Sudan crisis shows the ineffectiveness of the world’s governments, and the sickening indifference of its wealthiest citizens–us. UN Secretary General Kofi Annan blames "those valuing abstract notions of sovereignty over human lives; those whose response of solidarity puts them on the sides of governments and not people; and those who fear commercial interests could be jeopardized."

It seems bankrupt leftist dogma of non-intervention has combined with some sort of twisted realpolitik to leave some of the world’s most vulnerable citizens to be slaughtered–again.


Shame on a world that could allow the Holocaust, the Killing Fields, ethnic cleansing in the former Yugoslavia. Shame on a world where people can go see a film like Hotel Rwanda, and then ask "where we gonna eat?" Shame on us all for not taking swift, decisive, multi-lateral action on the current crisis, which has now been festering for over 3 years.

We all seemed to be able to get our act together within 3 weeks, and send a billion dollars in aid to tsunami victims. But when the requirement is to actually save lives, we act like we couldn’t care less. While the world reeled in horror from the Christmas 2004 Indian Ocean disaster, another was already underway which received barely a peep of coverage. While the tsunami was beyond all human control and reckoning, the Darfur atrocity was of our own making, and within our power to stop. We opened our hearts to people who were already dead while ignoring the ones whose desperate predicament would force us to examine our flawed premises and social contracts. This contrast shows how far we will go to avoid confronting our own hypocrisies and moral compromises. Shame.

Genocide. GENOCIDE. The fact that the world can allow it time and time again is the most damning evidence of the dark side of human nature. All while distracting ourselves that–horrors–Britney Spears might have shown a little flesh for the cameras.

Comments (8 comments)

Topher / December 8th, 2006, 12:53 pm / #1

More people need to be made aware of this, and who benefits the most from people not being aware of this, that is something to think about as well.

Mark / December 9th, 2006, 10:58 am / #2

A few points:

You have it right that governments are ineffective at dealing with this sort of problem. In fact, governments cause these problems.

You have it wrong that individuals have a positive moral ~obligation~ to help other people, even to save their lives. Individuals may choose to help, but that’s an individual choice.

You have it wrong that the whole world has some collective responsibility to do anything.

You have it wrong if you think government military interventions don’t often end up doing more harm than good.

You certainly have it wrong that most leftists have been against Western military intervention in Darfur. Many individuals and groups on the left have been pushing for government intervention.

A libertarian policy of non-intervention, which I support, only means the government should not get involved in situations not involving our national defense. Private individuals and groups should be free to take appropriate action.

Sean, I nominate you to lead a squad of freedom fighters to Darfur.

BlackSun / December 10th, 2006, 11:40 pm / #3

Mark, your words ring hollow. I will re-state what Kofi Annan said in his speech. The blame for genocide in Darfur falls on “those who value abstract notions of sovereignty more than the lives of real families, those whose reflex of solidarity puts them on the side of governments and not of peoples.”

You make a mockery of this dialog by proposing I lead some military operation to take on the problem personally. Right. In the same spirit, I nominate you to enter the refugee camps of Sudan, or to a village at the mercy of the Janjaweed militia. You should think about how you would explain your distant and detatched political philosophy to them.

You are correct in stating that no one has an obligation to help or rescue others. But to me it’s a question of my personal values, the universality of ethical principles, of bodily sovereignty, the right of peoples to live free from threat of violence and coercion. These are the true libertarian principles.

Yes, both the left and the right have been responsible in the past. Yes, interventions have been botched before. But that doesn’t mean a nation with the strongest military in the world should stand by–again–and watch hundreds of thousands of innocent people die.

Mojoey / December 12th, 2006, 12:09 pm / #4

The libertarian policy of non-intervention versus a moral obligation to help the week – it is not a tough question for me. I’ve been a libertarian all my life, yet when faced with a question regarding write and wrong, “policy� loses to moral obligations every time. As a nation, as a people, heck – as humanity, our obligation to the suffering people of Sudan is real. It shames me to watch this tragedy.

Rhianna Newton / December 14th, 2006, 2:40 pm / #5

Can somebody explain to me how Libertarian policies would solve these issues? Really and truly, I am listening.

BlackSun / December 14th, 2006, 5:09 pm / #6

Rhianna, Libertarian policies wouldn’t do anything per se to stop the carnage in Sudan. That will have to be a combination of diplomatic and military efforts.

But individualist morality states that everyone has the right to live free of violence and coercion. Since the strong will always prey upon the weak, it is up to us to figure out how to set up a framework which will protect the weak, while involving the minimum of coercion for everyone else.

As I’ve stated before, I don’t think the best system for this has been figured out yet. Democracy involves the tyranny of the majority, Socialism steals from the industrious to give to the indigent. Theocracies and dictatorships are by definition coercive.

The only hope for a future free of violence and coercion is to have a system where objective values carry the day. Once we establish what are objective and universal human needs, those would form the basis of policy.

There are many proposals, some of them involve market anarchy, others libertarian minimum government. What I am proposing is simply an ideal. In the meantime, it seems our flawed representative democracy is the best we can hope for.

But that wasn’t the subject of my post. I am writing to implore the wealthy people of the world to decide they give a shit, and force their representatives to do something about the ongoing carnage. Practical action is necessary. Our international system shouldn’t take 3 years to respond to a human political tragedy on the scale of genocide. What good is the UN or the US for that matter if its response to genocide is not swift, irrevocable, and automatic?

Rhianna Newton / December 16th, 2006, 9:52 am / #7

My previous paradigm about your world view: libertarian with anarchist leanings, have been changed by your recent posts.

Do you see a sort of “Star Wars Federation of Planets” rising out of our present situation (for this one planet, obviously) operating upon a framework of basic human right principles, such as: “everyone has the right to live free of violence and coercion”?

Rhianna Newton / December 16th, 2006, 2:56 pm / #8

I meant Star Trek

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