Thursday, April 7

Who ARE We, Anyway?

So now we have determined -- or more accurately the Florida courts have decided -- that not everyone who is alive has the right to life guaranteed by the US Constitution.

When you think of it, that's pretty consistent with the rest of the world. We like to think that we in America are special, that we value life and liberty. Lately we've taken pride in freeing the oppressed and giving them what we now call God's gift of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. We congratulate ourselves on freeing the Iraqi people; we point to Bosnia, Croatia and Hertzogovinia with a certain pride while we ignore genocide in Africa. We remember Somalia.

The situation in Darfur is intolerable to people who value life and claim to defend the innocent and the helpless. In a nutshell it's fairly simple: The Muslim government and militia are systematically torturing and killing the African population.

The early history of the area is a story of sultans, wars and rulers and the Kingdom of Darfar. Islam came into the region in the 1300s. Egypt ruled it for a while until the British came in 1879 and re-established the original ruling family. In 1916 the rulers of the area joined the Ottoman Empire to take up arms against the British -- and lost. The sultan was killed and Darfur became part of British-ruled Sudan. In 1956, it became independent with the rest of the Sudan.

In 2003, two rebel groups, the Sudanese Liberation Army and the Justice and Equality Movement took up arms against the Arab government. In response, the government mounted a campaign of aerial bombardment supporting ground attacks by an Arab militia, the Janjaweed.

The government-supported Janjaweed raped, looted and killed residents of the non-Arab population of Darfur. They burn down whole villages and drive the survivors into refugee camps. Then they surround the camps. By last summer 80,000 people had died and a million were refugees. The UN and NATO have declared the area in a major humanitarian crisis.

US assistance so far this year is $344,944,264.00. Obviously money isn't solving the problem since we've spent $603,389,944.00 since 2003. Human rights agencies have set up medical facilities and are offering help as fast as they can and the genocide continues.

Obviously the only way to solve the problem is to get rid of the government and the militia. The people of Darfur don't want them; they tried unsuccessfully to throw them out and initiated the problem.

So is it time for the US to go into Darfur? There's plenty of precedent and this morning, two American senators, Sen. Brownback (R-KS) and Sen. Corzine (D-NJ), appeared on C-Span and called for Americans to wake up. You can see their segment HERE.

If we are to be consistent in stopping genocide it would seem that sending troops to Darfur would be the thing to do. Senators Brownback and Corzine say they just need about 20,000 troops to protect the villagers. But how would that work? How would we know which villages would be attacked and when? And what good does it do to put troops in harm's way without the goal of fixing the problem for once and all?

There are complicating factors. Allies of the Arab Darfur government include the Chinese, the Russians and Pakistan. Finding ourselves in a position to irritate Pakistan is particularly awkward now, when they are helping (such as it is) with our operations in Afghanistan and Iraq. This is hardly the time to put that already somewhat shaky alliance in jeopardy.

So what do we do? Turn our backs on genocide? We did that in WWII and wound up fighting a World War that led us to atomic weapons. We did that in the Sudan just a few years ago, regretted it and vowed never again.

When we have stopped genocide, we have seen good results. When we have ignored it, the problems escalated and more people suffered and died.

So who has a right to life? Do any of us? It's nice of the Constitution to offer it, but is it realistic? It should be. But is it? Is the only life we truly value our own, with maybe those we love included if things don't get too difficult? What is our responsibility to the world? Or do we have any? What about the UN and NATO?

By ignoring the plight of Darfur are we international Michael Schiavos and Attorney Feroses? We're doing exactly the same thing to millions of people that we did to Terri Schiavo.

Who ARE we, anyway?

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

Right on. Even though Florida's constitution recognizes each citizen's inalienable right to "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness", this right (which by definition is inherent, unable to be divorced or separated from our humanity) was trampled and authority was placed in the hands of men with murderous intentions. God help our country when evil men decide who lives and who dies. They know neither right nor wrong.

Anonymous said...

Right on. Even though Florida's constitution recognizes each citizen's inalienable right to "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness", this right (which by definition is inherent, unable to be divorced or separated from our humanity) was trampled and authority was placed in the hands of men with murderous intentions. God help our country when evil men decide who lives and who dies. They know neither right nor wrong.

Anonymous said...

Right on. Even though Florida's constitution recognizes each citizen's inalienable right to "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness", this right (which by definition is inherent, unable to be divorced or separated from our humanity) was trampled and authority was placed in the hands of men with murderous intentions. God help our country when evil men decide who lives and who dies. They know neither right nor wrong.

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