I couldn't help recalling the poem “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner” as I listened to a BBC interviewer asking President Bush why he would not send American troops to Sudan, “despite what he calls a genocide taking place there.”
The conversation took place, between Bush and Matt Frei of the BBC, on the eve of President Bush's departure for Africa, Ghana being one of the major stops on this trip.
Bush described his refusal to send a force to Sudan as a "seminal decision" because of his “desire not to send US troops into another Muslim country.” Frankly, were I in his shoes, my response to the questioner would have been less charitable.
How about Iraq as reason for an uncharitable answer? Bush intervenes in Iraq and the venture has turned into an albatross which he has to wear around his neck for the rest his time in office, hence, my recall of Samuel Taylor Coleridge's poem.
However, what is an American force to do in Sudan when the one in Iraq is regarded as an occupational force in a Muslim country? There is no doubt that a force is sorely needed to stabilize the situation in Sudan. An American force would have been very helpful, but the world's condemnation of Bush's Iraq policy has made this proposition impractical.
Meanwhile, the death toll in Darfur continues to mount. The question is who will wear the albatross this time for this genocide.
A revisit of the assault on Bush immediately after the Iraq incursion is needed here: There was no just cause for his action. No weapons of mass destruction found. He simply went because of oil; an excuse uttered so often that it assumed the authority of a pseudo-savant's mind.
Some went on, as did Timothy Garton Ash in his article "To strengthen Miliband's case for democracy, drop Iraq, add Europe,", to state cynically that “among the most remarkable achievements of George Bush is that he has come close to giving democracy a bad name.”
For forceful intervention in Iraq, Ash has concluded that Bush has given democracy a bad name. What name does the inaction on Sudan give humanity, one ought to ask Ash. Bush was first to call Darfur genocide. Now the world has come to admit, howbeit reluctantly, that genocide is taking place in Sudan.
For all the arguments advanced against Saddam Hussein, the point that was never pursued aggressively was whether he committed genocide. The Human Rights Organization thought that his attacks on the Kurds were. But this admission proved to be too much for some since doing so would have meant that Bush was, at least, half right on his call on Iraq.
The admission could also have justified an American incursion into Sudan today. Instead, the moral impasse that resulted from the opposition to Bush has led to the worsening of the situation in Darfur.
Omar Hasan Ahmad al-Bashir, President of Sudan and the Janjaweed Arab gang know that, regardless the abuses they pile on Darfur, they would never have to experience the fate of Saddam Hussein, given the current world opinion about Bush. The Bush Doctrine has been successfully marginalized by world opinion. Unfortunate for the rest of humanity, no effective doctrine has replaced it. Consequently, thousands in Darfur must die.
Whatever happened to that profound lesson of history that said “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing” (Edmund Burke, 1729-1797)?
Perhaps, the few good men left are mounting protests in Western capitals against Sudan. Sessions upon sessions of UN Security Council meetings have been held, but none has dislodged Sudan from her intransigent ways.
The Africa Union has peacekeepers in place in Darfur but her force is too weak and too small to cause any consequence. Bluntly speaking, that force has become a joke and a symbol of how weak an African force can be in the face of Arab aggression.
Coincidentally, there is an outside power in Sudan that has also been operating in several countries in Africa. That power is China.
China is in Africa for economic gains and especially in Sudan for oil, just like Bush has been said to be doing in Iraq. The difference, however, is that the Americans are dying in Iraq for their oil while in Sudan, the Darfurians are dying so the Chinese can have easy access to Sudanese oil.
Clearly, China is in a position to pressure Sudan for change. But her problem is oil. Her hunger for this commodity is too great to allow her to jeopardize her access with humanitarian concerns for Darfur.
China has insisted on non-interference from her lofty position at the UN Security Council. Her policy position, obviously, is in direct conflict with the Bush Doctrine. She may even not acknowledge the one lesson that Edmund Burke taught – that evil triumphs when good men opt out of a fight against it.
Luckily, China is being prodded from another side by some men of conscience; Steven Spielberg, the Hollywood mogul, Don Cheadle, Mia Farrow, actor and actress respectively, and others.
Spielberg, until last week, was serving as the artistic advisor to the 2008 Summer Olympics in China when he tendered his resignation to protest against her stance on Sudan.
He said in his resignation letter that “my conscience will not allow me to continue with business as usual.”
Spielberg continued “China's economic, military and diplomatic ties to the government of Sudan … provide it with the opportunity and obligation to press for change.” The question is would China change her ways?
Darfur should not be the battle ground for adjusting the world's posture on conscience. But this is now being done at the cost of thousands of lives. It did not take this long and this many lives for the World to respond to Kosovo. Come to think of it, the so called civilized world did not respond to the genocide in Rwanda either until some 800,000 people were murdered.
Must we therefore conclude that while the world dithered, people died in Darfur; or shall we blame it all on Bush - again?
E. Ablorh-Odjidja,Publsiher www.ghanadot.com, Washington, DC, February 14, 2008