TCS Daily

Why Sudan But Not Iraq?

By Austin Bay - May 4, 2006 12:00 AM

Note to actor, Dapper Dan man, celebrity dissident and bon vivant George Clooney: Don't get a moral high from the puff-piece media's bravura reviews of your soliloquy at last week's "Save Darfur" rally in Washington. Your international education remains grievously inadequate and incomplete.

A glitterati actor advocating military action in a very hard and chaotic corner of our planet should consider the following details.

Yes, the dictatorship repeatedly launched genocidal attacks on tribal rebels. Indeed, the dictator exploited tribal rivalries to attack dissident bases and split opposition leadership. The dictatorship murdered men, women and children by the hundreds of thousands, despite objections by the United States, Great Britain and the United Nations. The dictatorship fueled its war with billions in petrodollars, while tens of thousands of children and elderly citizens lacked basic medical care.

True, most of the regime's victims are Muslims. Russia, China and France played ambiguous political roles, because of financial interests in the region. And deplore this sad fact: Efforts made by international military forces to protect the vulnerable ethnic groups from the regime's depredations were limited and insufficient.

The dictatorship maintained contact with terrorist organizations. In retrospect, the dictatorship may not have produced weapons of mass destruction -- but as the secretary of defense said, given the regime's track record for mass murder and terror, he'd still order the attack.

I have just described Sudan. For readers who may not know the geography and demography, a terrible genocide directed by the Sudanese government is occurring in Sudan's western Darfur region. George Clooney essentially wants the United States and United Nations to invade Darfur to stop the genocide.

However, I've also sketched Saddam Hussein's Iraq. Clooney and his clan object to the coalition war in Iraq.

Hypocritical? Inexcusably hypocritical, but all too typical of the Hollywood left and their elite media pals.

The parallels between Sudan and Iraq are striking and informative. Substitute Sudan's Darfurian tribes for Iraqi Shias and Kurds. The international forces in Darfur are hapless African Union peacekeepers, who spend their time trying to avoid ambushes. In Iraq, the United States and Great Britain tried to protect the Kurd north and Shia south with air patrols -- it didn't work. Saddam's terror contacts among secular and sectarian terrorists were numerous. Sudan harbored Osama bin Laden. As for the WMD, recall the Clinton administration's strike on the Khartoum pharmaceuticals plant suspected of producing nerve gas. Former Clinton SecDef Bill Cohen still defends the attack. He didn't want to run the risk that terrorists would acquire WMD from a rogue tyranny. The Bush administration didn't want to run that risk with Iraq.

Sudan and Iraq both illustrate the nexus of tyranny and terror that dominates the politically dysfunctional Muslim Middle East. New Iraq is an emerging democratic exception, the potential "stone in the pool," whose ripples of democratic change will alter the region's terrible calculus.

But Clooney and clan don't support the effort in Iraq.

I don't know Clooney's heart, but I've certainly witnessed enough glitz left posturing before cameras and in newspaper columns to suspect that the "Save Darfur" rallying cry is a salve for pained consciences and weak spines.

It's not that I don't think Darfur demands international action. It does. I do not come to that conclusion lightly, for I began writing about Darfur in February 2003 at -- well before Darfur broke as a cause célèbre. (The Feb. 26, 2003, report notes that the Sudanese government had armed Arabized tribal militias, and now Darfur's "rebel" Zaghawa and Fur tribes were fighting back.)

Russia and China, however, block U.N. action in Darfur. NATO could provide troops, but watch the reaction when "U.S. and European colonialists" invade sovereign Sudan -- that's assuming Clooney convinces France and Germany to participate. Al-Qaeda will show up -- bin Laden promised that last week -- so expect a hard slog.

I saw Toby Keith perform in Baghdad, in a place that got mortared two weeks later. Keith has spine. Darfur lacks supply routes, so any effective relief operation will rely on Air Force transports and Army logistics expertise. Clooney should quit the rally circuit to perform for troops in Iraq -- his song and dance act in "O Brother, Where Art Thou?" is a showstopper. A little schtick is the least Clooney can do for the men and women he needs to save Darfur.

Austin Bay is a syndicated columnist and TCS Daily contributing writer.



Check the calendar
Does it make any difference that Saddam hasn't ruled Iraq for years, while in Darfur someone is being killed while you read this?

Additionally, the scale of the two situations is totally different. The Anfal campaign was the closest thing Saddam ever engaged in that resembled Darfur, and that occurred back in 1988-- when Saddam was a protegee of the Bush administration. Horrible as it was, it was over quickly. This thing in Darfur began two years ago and has spread to neighboring Chad. Intervention would seem to be way past due.

It is a true genocide in that black Africans who consider themselves Arabs are intentionally destroying the way of life of other black Africans who are fellow Muslims. The government is openly complicit and contemptuous of criticism. You will recall how Condoleezza was humiliated on her brief visit last year, with members of her entourage detained and roughed up. Did she speak out against the systematic murder of civilians by government air strikes? Not that I recall. The administration has been conspicuously silent on this issue-- as it was against Saddam back in 1988.

All we need is for some official spokesman to say "Never again!" while taking no action and the farce will be complete. But no one even bothers to say we're against genocide any more. It's just not our problem.

I think...
his thesaurus caught fire at the beginning, there.

Strange how ol' hillary wants Bush to send troops there but doesn't support sending troops to Iraq...

to the left
military action is only justified when there is no national interest involved.

As a nation, we had no stake in the Balkans, therefore we had to go in.
Since we had a stake in Iraq and Afghanistan, action there was inexcuseably tainted by self interest, therefore we couldn't possibly do anything.

roy actually believes his lies
Saddam was not a protege of Bush, either one.

If roy truely believes that intervention in Darfur is overdue, I will gladly buy him a gun and a plane ticket.
If roy refuses my offer, would this prove that he is nothing but a chickenhawk?

The Calendar
In September of 2004, after the investigation ordered by the Bush administration, Colin Powell said, "We concluded -- I concluded -- that genocide has been committed in Darfur and that the government of Sudan and the Janjaweed bear responsibility -- and genocide may still be occurring."

We labeled it genocide and pushed the UN for a resolution against Sudan. We were criticized for making the situation "too complicated" with our "genocide" label but we finally got the resolution in 2005. (despite France trying to attach US acceptance of the ICC as a rider to any action against Sudan)

We've been "conspicuously silent on this issue"? You do know that President Bush met with organizers of this latest rally and urged participation, right?

But you're right, Roy, except for diplomatic efforts, pressure on the UN for sanctions, encouragement of grass roots movements, and push for a multinational peacekeeping force, except for that, the Bush administration has been conspicuously silent on this issue.

Singers and Actors
Why is it that many singers and actors habitually assume that since they're famous and they hold the microphone it means that they're obligated to share their expert opinion on all political matters with the rest of humanity? It would be as if the next time Ben Bernanke spoke to Congress he chose to explain why he feels Ice-T is a better musician than Ice Cube. He may or may not be right, but please, that's not what we're paying him for. Same thing goes for Mr. Clooney. Please, stick to your area of expertise. I'll give you a hint: it ain't politics.
Although he doesn't address this issue directly, I think Shelby Steele pretty much nails what motivates Mr. Clooney and the rest of the Hollywood Limo Liberals in his recent piece, "White Guilt and Western Past"

Give it a read if you missed it a couple days ago.

why either one?
Sudan is not a threat to US. It's a sad affair but it their affair, not ours.
Iraq was not either. It is inconceivable that Iraq could in any significant way threaten America.
We should have bribed Hussein by paying him say 20 million per terrorist that he gave us. We should have done as the Israelis did after the Munich murders: send out the black ops guys to kill the individuals involved. Thes highly trained soldiers could have accomplished more this way and it wouldn't have cost us--in $ or lives--anything close to what the ill-conceived invasion and occupation of Iraq has.
Also, Saddam had the radical Islamists controlled; we do not. All we did was create a vacuum into which rushed every dipstick in the middle east.

I remember
back in the 80's, congress invited Sissy Spacek to testify on the farm crisis. Her expertise? She played a farm wife in a critically acclaimed movie.

Iraq had invaded it's neighbors twice.
Iraq was paying terrorists.
Iraq was training terrorists.
Iraq had active chemical and biological programs.
Iraq had an active nuclear program and was taking steps to preserve key elements of that program so that it could be restarted as soon as the sanctions were lifted.

Iraq was most definitely a danger. To the US, and to everyone else.

good example
heh, it seems that Warren Beatty's motivation for contemplating a run for CA governor might have been his role in the movie "Bullworth".
I hope Doogie Howser gets a shot at being the Surgeon General one day.

Words not deeds
I stand corrected. I hadn't realized that John Bolton had been instrumental in putting together the UN resolution. That's at least something.

Heretofore I've seen nothing in the press that indicated we were taking any interest in the situation, and C. Rice, notably, on her visit failed to convey any message of importance to Omar Bashir. By "importance", I mean substantive threats of consequences. She did offer the vaguest of platitudes during her face to face, which Bashir promptly ignored. Her predecessor, R Zoellick, was similarly ineffectual. You could almost hear Bashir laughing.

He's off the hook. Nothing bad is going to happen. There is no pressure being brought to bear. But I suppose a UN resolution is better than nothing.

When Bush met with organizers of a rally, what did he tell them he was going to do about it?

Good point
Bosnia was their favorite intervention because we mainly conducted an antiseptic air campaign. Clinton said we would only be there one year with peacekeepers protecting Muslims and we wound up being there for years. The silence from the left was deafening.
Not long after that intervention, we were attacked by Muslim fanatics on 9-11, how ironic. Facts like these are why reasonable and well informed citizens are dubious of the left and their intentions.
Clooney is a poster boy for privlidge in this country. He should stand tall for all the oppressed if he truly believes in helping humankind. Until then, he will be another opportunist and cafeteria humanitarian from Hollyweird.

we spent 15 years pressuring Saddam with UN resolutions
I thought you guys wanted to have everything justified through the UN before any hostilities can be taken.

Why do you care about the suffering in Darfur, but don't care at all about the suffering of the Iraqi's under Saddam?

First Bush Administration
There was no Bush Administration until 1989. Nice try!

Dipsticks Rush In
We are killing those dipsticks there, rather than waiting for them to come here and kill us. I like that bargain!

...and, the Euroweanies were agitating to have the sanctions removed. Just go back and review what is known about the "Oil for Palaces, Payloads and Payoffs Program". Benon Savan is still not rotting in prison for his role in that fiasco!

Second Reagan Administration
Thanks for the correction-- quite so.

But Bush One was the administration's point man with Saddam from 1986. And before him, Rumsfeld handled the negotiations from 1983. Reagan pursued a policy of unknowing in such matters, and others did the work so as not to embarrass the old man. This was the policy of plausible deniability.

A mountain of information puts the elder Bush in charge of assisting Saddam in his war against Iran. Among the schemes was operational intel from our satellites, clandestine lines of credit to purchase weapons, and such items as germs from our American Type Collection. All had battlefield value.

Cheney was also a part of the business, as were many minor players who surfaced next in the Project for a New American Century. You can look all this up if you care to.

They were scattered and did not have easy access to us here in America. (Iraq as a nation had not a prayer of attacking us here at home. If they had tried they would have been annihilated.) The reality is that they have flocked to Iraq and have easy access to our troops via ambush and ied's.

Sure our soldiers are good and have killed lots of them, but I would feel a lot safer with our guys here at home and stationed on the borders. You must understand that defending against terrorists is a lot different that against the armies of another nation--it's much more personal against terrorists. The Israelies have written the book on that and we would have done well to study that before rushing in and creating chaos. How easy it is to see that our guys destroyed the conventional forces of Iraq---but they were not the problem.

Bribing Hussein and making "our tyrant" like we did when he was attacking the Iranians would have saved lives and agony and probably netted more dead bad guys. Remember this, an Israeli team of five Mosad agents killed 9 major terrorists and obtained information that lead to a successful raid by their comnmandos, netting many more dead--all in the space of two years. Just think what a hundred teams could do.
History is scattered with the remains of ill-fated attempts by large national armies that tried to take on those fighting on home turf---we should use this fact to our advantage.

Salman Pak
Don't forget that the 9/11 "martyrs" trained somewhere. Iraq was training terrorists. Terrorists attacked us here at home. They also attacked us other places.

The best part of the 20th hijacker verdict is that old Zacharias won't get to be a martyr and won't get his 72 virgins. (Twelve Virginians got him instead.) They'll keep him in solitary so that he doesn't become somebody's "girlfriend" while in prison.

As someone who has worked with an NGO in Africa . . .
...for many years, I think that Clooney and all the rest of you should think very, very carefully about getting involved in Africa. Even if it is for the wonderful cause of not letting the Chinese and the Canadians get all of Sudan's oil. By the way, the Muslim Arabic northerners of Sudan have been fighting and killing the black Sudanese southerners (animists, tribalists, and Christians) for DECADES - many, many thousands!! Gosh, where was Hollywood then? Anyway, think no further than our humanitarian operation in Somalia, very close by. Do we really want military intervention in Sudan, a far less accessible place??

George Clooney, embodiment of evil
You're right, it seems like someone is always killing someone in Africa. The post-Rwanda conflicts in eastern Congo (Kivu) are now winding down, after twelve years and an estimated 4-1/2 million dead. Should someone police those people, or just leave them alone?

The revolt in southern Sudan went on for over thirty years, until they signed an agreement and made John Garang vice president. Then, a month later, an unfortunate plane crash left him dead. Now the rebel leaders in Darfur are insisting on a vice presidency. So it goes.

I don't think we can condemn a George Clooney for deciding at some point to step in and add his opinion. The general attitude here has been that the buzz word "Hollywood actor" has generated more outrage by far than the mere existence of hundreds of thousands killed, displaced and starving. Damn those Hollywood elitists!

we agree to some extent...
"Don't forget that the 9/11 "martyrs" trained somewhere. Iraq was training terrorists. Terrorists attacked us here at home. They also attacked us other places."

Yes, that is why the Israeli approach would work better. Good intel fueling our own teams could take these guys out before they get here. Conventional forces cannot do this "quietly" and innocents are always taken in the process.

"They'll keep him in solitary so that he doesn't become somebody's "girlfriend" while in prison."

Now that really is too bad...I think he needs to be somebody's cell 'ho. He could pretend to be one of the 72 least for the first time.

Scattered troops are hard to find and kill. By concentrating themselves in Iraq, they makethemselves easier to find and kill. And die they are, by the 10's of thousands.

As to your claim that it was hard for them to strike the US. That's absurd, they struck us any time they wanted to.

9/11 was the second attack on the twin towers.

Yeah, but that takes us back to the original question
The original question being, "Why bitterly complain about war in Iraq and then demand intervention in Sudan?" I don't vouch for GWB's motives in Iraq, but there was a dictator oppressing and killing thousands there, and there is a dictator oppressing and killing thousands in Sudan. Bravo for Clooney, Hollywood, and any one else to become outraged about genocide and mass killings!! But, be uniform in your both your desires and in your condemnations.

My answer
One key difference is that in Iraq we never minded when Saddam was killing people. When he launched his Anfal campaign against the Kurds, we were selling him weapons. We took no official notice of how they were being used. And the same when he invaded Iran. He was on our team back then, and the mass killings were okay.

The only time he killed a large number of people after that was in 1991, when we pulled out of Iraq on the cusp of victory. The Shiites, emboldened to think we might back them in a bid for independence, rose up in arms. But we did nothing as the Republican Guard came back in and took control, killing thousands.

Many of us are far too cynical to believe we now suddenly decided to get rid of Saddam for humanitarian reasons. In 2003 he had had no one left to kill for ten years. Political murders were at a low rate compared to, say, Myanmar. Ever hear about us having a beef with Myanmar?

The situation in Sudan had advanced far, far beyond that by 2004. Entire populations were being displaced, villages burned and people murdered by the hundreds of thousands. Many individual crimes, of course, have been much more grisly. And it continues today. Are we going to stop it now when there's still time to do some good?

Or are we going to do what we did in Iraq-- wait another ten years, until we want some pretext to get rid of Bashir, and then inflame the world that there once was a time when he was "killing his own citizens"?

It stinks.

we could go on and on...
but, history will reveal which of us is right. Until, then we all have our opinions.

Big differences
1) We never sold Saddam much in the way of weapons. Most of those weapons that we did sell him were helicopters. Not the attack variety. Brazil sold more weapons to Saddam than we did, even including the helicopters.

2) There have been 4 presidents since we sold "weapons" to Iraq. Roy apparently finds it highly cynical to believe that the policies of one president will be different from the policies of another.

3) The world has changed a lot since we sold "weapons" to Iraq. Little things like the Gulf War and 9/11. Roy thinks it's cynical to change your positions based on changing circumstances.

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