[DEBATE] : Sorry, it's not our job to save Africa from itself
grinker at mweb.co.za
Sat Sep 22 06:47:33 BST 2007
>From The Times
September 18, 2007
Sorry, it's not our job to save Africa from itself
Mick Hume: Thunderer
Spotted on the London Underground: an Amnesty sticker demanding "Stop raping
Darfur". Who was that aimed at: commuting Sudanese militiamen? Or was it
just there to turn our work journey into another guilt trip?
Some of those on Sunday's London march for action on Darfur wore blindfolds,
supposedly to symbolise the West's refusal to face the truth. To me it
rather symbolised the blind ignorance of the pro-intervention lobby. Why are
those who protest against the disastrous intervention in Iraq demanding more
of the same for Sudan? Do they really think it will be all right if Brown
and Sarkozy lead the charge instead of Bush and Blair? Duhh-fur!
The crusaders won't learn the lesson that such interventions do not work.
They perpetuate conflicts, turn civil wars into international theatres where
local actors compete to win outside support, and impose hopeless states.
Never mind Iraq, look at "success stories" such as Kosovo or East Timor.
The pro-interventionists drown out these inconvenient truths with pop videos
and atrocity stories. As Professor Mahmood Mamdani, of Columbia University,
points out, their presentation of the Darfur conflict looks more like a
voyeuristic "pornography of violence", spiced up with promiscuous claims of
deaths - now 120,000, now a quarter of million, now 400,000.
But then, the liberal crusaders for Darfur are really driven more by events
over here, seeking a foreign cause to provide a sense of outraged moral
righteousness. They are drawn to Africa as a stage on which to strike
dramatic poses and draw the clear line between Good and Evil that seems
elusive at home. So the interventionist script reduces the historical and
political complexities of the Darfur conflict to a fairytale.
As George Clooney informs us: "It's not a political issue. There is only
right and wrong." Or as a bloke from the British pop group Travis, who went
to Darfur for Save the Children, writes: "Africa is a very complex place,
but the Darfur crisis is quite simple." Thanks for the analysis - send in
I have been among those few on the Left who opposed such self-serving moral
crusades, from Bosnia to Darfur, because turning these crises into moral
melodramas can only make matters worse for those on the receiving end of
compassionate militarism. It is not so easy to get a bandwagon rolling after
Iraq. Mr Brown will support the UNAfrican Union forces, but won't be Gordon
of Khartoum. Yet the crusaders maintain the imperial illusion that is "our"
job to save Africa from itself.
"Don't look away now" is their campaign slogan. For once, they have a point.
Let's not look away, but face up to the hard truth about interventions and
conclude, as they say: never again.
More information about the Debate-list