Sudan and the Politics of Genocide

KPFA Weekend News, 06.18.2011

Sudan, before the 07.09.2011 independence of North and South.


John Prendergast, former Cinton National Security Council Director for African Affairs, and ENOUGH Project Co-founder

KPFA Weekend News Anchor:  On Friday the UN reported that almost 113,000 have fled the disputed, oil-rich region of Abyei to escape fighting by troops of what are expected to become the independent states of North and South Sudan on July 9th. The day before John Prendergast, Bill Clinton's former National Security Council Director for African Affairs, and co-founder of the ENOUGH Project, a non-profit lobbying organization, had called on the Obama Administration to, quote, "begin preparations to provide air defense capabilities to the Government of South Sudan." Critics responded that Prendergast and ENOUGH were encouraging all out war in Sudan and using genocide prevention as an excuse to expand U.S. influence and military dominance in Africa. KPFA's Ann Garrison spoke to one prominent critic, Chicago-based writer and researcher David Peterson, co-author, with Professor Ed Herman, of The Politics of Genocide.  
KPFA/Ann Garrison:  Isn't this a form of selective genocide prevention, where the U.S. says it's going to protect these people but it has not responded to the UN Mapping Report on genocide crime in Congo, and it responded in a very selective way to the Rwandan situation, and hasn't responded at all to the Acholi Genocide in Uganda?
David Peterson:  Yeah, exactly. To put it even more powerfully, it has nothing to do with preventing genocide or preventing crimes against humanity.  It has simply to do with adopting that kind of rhetoric as its cover for what is nothing but the spread of U.S. influence throughout the continent. The Obama Administration's national security strategy states quite explicitly that, quote, "in certain instances" it will use military means to stop genocide and mass atrocities. That's White House policy. When it is advantageous to U.S. policy makers to frame their interventions in terms of stopping genocide and mass atrocities, they will do so. That's exactly the Libyan model we know well that has been implemented since March 2011 on.
KPFA:  Do you see any reason to keep using the word "genocide" in this African context where it's being so severely abused to pursue the U.S. military agenda?
David Peterson:  A case can be made that genocide has resulted, perhaps, in a couple of the major theatres of mass atrocities in Central Africa over the past 20 years. But, without a doubt, the word genocide is abused, on a probably 90 some percent basis these days. If you just look at the rhetoric that emanates from official sources in Washington, for example, there is going to be a place around the world, currently we're talking about the border region between the North and South of Sudan, where there is a potential of bloodshed, and if you want to whip up hysteria both domestically, so you wanta drive an agenda domestically in the United States, and you want to whip up a similar kind of hysteria within the halls of, let's say, the United Nations, amongst the more establishment friendly human rights organizations and so on . . .  If you start framing that violence as genocide, or as having the potential of becoming genocidal, you can essentially mobilize the troops.  And that's how much it's politicized.
KPFA: Didas Gasana, Editor of the Newsline in Kampala, Uganda, said that the real issue for U.S. policy makers, is that Omar Al-Bashir, a friend of Palestine, and an ally of China, with largely Chinese oil concessions in Sudan, is one of the few leaders still beyond U.S. control in East Africa.  Gasana also said that if Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi falls and Libya becomes a NATO protectorate, then Omar Al-Bashir and North Sudan will be next. The Government of South Sudan already displays both the Southern Sudanese and U.S. flags in its official manifestations.
Didas Gasana's writing from East Central Africa can be found on The Newsline and the San Francisco Bay View.  David Peterson and Ed Herman's book, The Politics of Genocide, is available from Monthly Review Press.
For Pacifica, KPFA, and AfrobeatRadio, I'm Ann Garrison.

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