May 3, 2006
If Giving Peace A Chance Doesn’t Work
I heard back from colleagues and friends who attended the “Save Darfur” rally in DC this past weekend. Thanks to everyone who was able to make the trip. They tell me they heard Barack Obama, Elie Wiesel, Samantha Powers and Rev Al Sharpton speak on the issue. I hope that the African Union can continue to mediate between the Sudanese government, rebels and tribal leaders for resolve in Darfur as the deadline for talks was extended yesterday.
The Washington Post had the article “Divisions Cast Aside” on the rally in Monday’s paper. While more people need to know more about the issues and more voices need to be heard, it was great that so many different groups, beliefs and ethnicities came together to support this cause.
“…the Rally to Stop Genocide appeared to be distinctive for being one of the more diverse rallies the capital has seen in years. Most demonstrations attract fairly homogenous crowds, who often share political, religious and ethnic makeup, as was the case when Latinos dominated immigration protests last month. But yesterday’s rally brought together people from dozens of backgrounds and affiliations, many of whom strongly disagree politically and ideologically on many issues.”
I’m not so sure about many strongly disagreeing politically. From what I’ve been told the crowd was progressive and shared the same concern–stopping genocide. Yet, I wonder how many people have thought about—the many times when peace talks were in place and the government or militias continued to carry out atrocities against civilians. It’s happened many times in Africa….Rwanda, DR Congo, Angola, West Africa and Somalia. Mass protests are not always enough. We have to consider pressuring governments to carry out a military intervention if these peace talks fail in Sudan.
Mark Reynolds has an interesting post, “Love Beams Won’t Do It” in his blog, Donklephant. It’s very critical of the ‘give peace a chance’ mentality of rally attendees. I don’t agree with everything he says, but he has a valid argument. I’ve excerpted a part of it here:
“People who oppose the Iraq venture often do so on grounds that we have no right to impose” our world view. Some oppose the war in Iraq on grounds that we failed to build international consensus. Well, what’s needed in Darfur is for us to impose our world view — the one that says, “don’t throw babies onto bonfires, don’t gang-rape women.” And international consensus is hard to achieve when major world players like China and Russia have no moral objection to genocide, and when the French and Germans are so compulsively anti-American in their policies that they would welcome, to steal a Simpsons line, “our new insect overlords,” if it meant poking Uncle Sam in the eye.”
We have to start thinking what we can do when giving peace a chance doesn’t work, because there is no peace to be had between the warring sides.