Thursday, January 19, 2017

Bearing witness to a genocide?

In July 2011, I blogged about the birth of South Sudan.  I wrote then:
On July 9th, South Sudan will officially become the latest country on this planet.
It does not mean that life will be peaceful from the 9th on, after decades of atrocious violence. I worry that things will get even worse. The Sudanese split will not be a Czechoslovakian story. Perhaps I am projecting here an understanding of the history of the sibling rivalry ever since the partition of India, where I was born, and Pakistan.
Even normally, in daily life, nobody listens to me, and my prognostications suffer from a Cassandra's curse.  You think anybody really cared what I thought about the conflict in Sudan and the birth of South Sudan?  Oh well, I do what I do.

Total chaos.
Hopes for South Sudan’s future soared when it became a nation, but now diplomats are scrambling to make sense of what went wrong. Some blame greed. As the new nation’s oil wells generated billions in revenue, a chaotic scramble for cash ensued. The rudimentary banking system couldn’t even handle credit cards, and government transactions were conducted using cardboard boxes filled with currency notes. Grandmothers and even four-year-old children were placed on the Army’s payroll. Some four billion dollars went astray.
It didn't take long for the new country to erupt into a civil war.  Into this civil war, Uganda stepped in as well:
Ugandan troops propped up Kiir and fought Machar. Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni had long seen Kiir as a protégé and Machar as a rival. The stalemate greatly prolonged the war, killing tens of thousands of people and causing over a million to flee their homes. Many South Sudanese saw Uganda’s presence as a foreign occupation, and many Ugandans, who have suffered mightily under thirty years of Museveni’s despotic and corrupt rule, wondered what their army, dispatched without parliamentary approval, was doing there.
Museveni has done enough and more damage at home that he now decides to cause more havoc outside too?  What a tragedy!

After peace treaties that were quickly torn, the usual catastrophe of "many innocent men, women, and children are again being massacred."

Where was the US?
the Obama administration’s South Sudan strategy is in tatters. Tens of thousands of people have been killed, the United Nations says, and rape has been rampant.
But, Ambassador Samantha Power?
But poor timing, bad judgment and a lack of a unified strategy have hampered the administration’s own efforts to avert a catastrophe, many advocates, aid workers and former United States officials say. In turn, it has drawn attention to the limits of American influence — that, too, in a country whose independence from Sudan the United States supported enthusiastically.
It is also a reminder of how challenging it has been for Ms. Power in particular to put into effect the idea that she is best known for: using diplomacy to prevent mass atrocities.
The "g" word comes up, again!
In her 2002 book, “A Problem from Hell,” Ambassador Power called for a global responsibility to protect people everywhere from crimes against humanity. Now that she’s about to retire, perhaps she’ll explain why this is easier said than done, but here’s some advice for the Trump Administration: genocide doesn’t happen overnight. It begins with small injustices, power grabs, and callous dismissals of the rule of law. Even more important than the responsibility to protect is the responsibility to prevent, using negotiation, diplomacy, and sanctions long before the killing starts. By then, it is far, far too late.
What did you say?  "Never again!"?  Bullshit!
“We have all been bystanders to genocide,” [Power] wrote. “The crucial question is why.”

2 comments:

Ramesh said...

Yes South Sudan is a disaster and the sad fact was that it was entirely predictable.

This is an issue where we have had fundamental differences - the idea of nationhood. I am completely against parts of a country spinning off the become new nations. Its easy to get caught up in the euphoria of asking for independence based on ethnic or religious or language or some other sort of identity. Instead we should be trying the opposite - groups coming together to work as one. If you can't exit within a unified country and proposer, you won;t be able to do it as a smaller independent country either.

That is why I marvel at India, even though you don't share the sentiment. We are all infinitely better off as Indians than we would have been as the 1000 or so independent princely states.

Sriram Khé said...

"That is why I marvel at India, even though you don't share the sentiment."

You marvel because you are selectively reading the tea leaves.
You are forgetting that Kashmir is the most militarized domestic part of any country in this world. Such a state of affairs is nothing to be marveled at.
It took a bloody carnage to end the internal war in Punjab. Another bloody carnage in Nagaland. Yet another in Mizoram. And another in Assam. So much so that if anybody who is not an Indian national wants to go to these places, then special permission from the government is needed.
These are not the only instances however ... if the other side had had more weapons, then the conflicts would have been as bad as they have been in many other parts of the world. Or, to put it another way, the "whole" India is a whole unit only because of the massive police state that has been in place ever since August 15, 1947.

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