Intervention in Dafur

The overall consensus on Darfur from the “international community” is that a massive deployment of UN troops is the only way to halt the genocide and move to real peace settlement. NGOs, humanitarian organisations, the EU, US, AU are all calling for an intervention policy. However, writing in the International Socialist Review, Avery Wear and David Whitehouse explain why Darfur needs to be saved from US intervention.

Wear and Whitehouse present a convincing argument against US intervention through by providing a historical and contemporary imperialistic and local context for the conflict. They sight the US failed interventions in Iraq and Afghanistan and NATO’s failure in Kosovo alongside a potential struggle for resources such as oil between the established Chinese and the wannabe Americans.

The UN force, envisaged as a joint effort with NATO, would replace 7,000 lightly armed African Union (AU) monitors who were posted in Darfur after a now-forgotten 2004 ceasefire. The AU mandate is set to expire at the end of the year, and the U.S. is stepping up pressure on the Sudanese government of Omar al-Bashir to accept the UN/NATO force as a replacement.

Some may be attracted to the campaign to “save Darfur” out of genuine humanitarian concern, but U.S. interests in the region are anything but humanitarian. A “robust” intervention in Darfur, as George Bush demands, would need to bribe, kill, and intimidate the warring parties until they stop fighting. But the only forces with that kind of strength are controlled by people who don’t have Darfurians’ interests at heart. Even if no U.S. troops set foot in Sudan, U.S. support and guidance would be key to the force. U.S. involvement in Sudan is already considerable, and imperial planners will escalate it only if they see it as a way to further their prime objective in the region-to muscle out potential rivals such as China in a scramble for oil and other resources. If the U.S. is allowed to get deeper into Sudan, things could actually get worse for Darfurians-and for many other Africans.

The most convincing part of the argument against US intervention is the answer to what the US is really after which is to use Darfur “as an opportunity to control Sudan’s political future”. This is made more contentious when one looks at the amount of investment China has made in the Sudan and elsewhere in Africa to ensure supply of natural resources. China has already spent $8billion in oil infrastructure in Sudan in return for which they have supplied the government with a huge arsenal of heavy and small arms. The US has to a large extent found itself out in the cold in Sudan and other parts of Africa and is now needing to re-establish a power base in the region as well as access to the resources being eaten up by China. Nonetheless it already has a presence by way of proxy corporate contractors such as Dyncorp – described by CorpWatch as

the world’s premier rent-a-cop business runs the security show in Afghanistan, Iraq, and the US-Mexico border. They also run the coca crop-dusting business in Colombia, and occasional sex trafficking sorties in Bosnia. But what can you expect from a bunch of mercenaries?

In fact Dyncorp and Pacific Architects and Engineers have been in Darfur for the past two years – a contract worth $20 million to give support to the AU troops. Both contractors have operated in the DRC, Sierra Leone, Liberia and Bosnia and have been involved in a range of criminal activities from overcharging to sex trafficking of children and work closely with the CIA.

Where Wear and Whitehouse loose the argument against UN intervention is their failure to come up with any alternative that would protect the people of Darfur against further violence. Whilst I agree the US does not have Darfur’s interest at heart and there’s is yet another imperialist project the violence in Darfur and Chad is getting worse and surely at this moment the highest priority is to protect the lives of those who are suffering.