18 September 2006

And you thought the Cold War is over...

World marches to save Darfur, announces Independent. No, let's not get excited - the world mentioned in that headline is not marching on the way to Sudan. Not yet, and not in the near future. It makes many people feel that they have really done something worthwhile, that marching for an hour or two - all the time in the vicinity of a pub or restaurant, under watchful eye of the police. Good for one's health, too. I don't want to sound more cynical than I am (which is difficult to achieve anyway), but the usefulness of these marches is very doubtful. It is the corridors of power where the fate of Darfur is being decided.

"It is over three years since Darfur first came to the attention of the Western world," says BBC under a less optimistic headline No end in sight to Darfur troubles. The ever careful BBC offers a conservative estimate: "Tens of thousands of people, probably many more, died." Independent quotes 300,000 as the number of victims. There are some indications that even the latter estimate is on the low side.

Meanwhile, the government of Sudan is stalling any diplomatic initiative, blaming the Western countries in attempts to re-colonize Sudan, using the cheapest slogans with tacit support from the usual suspects.

Speaking in Havana, at a meeting of non-aligned nations, Mr Bashir said: "We don't want the United Nations back to Sudan, no matter the conditions." He has likened a UN force in Darfur to "Western colonisation" and has vowed to personally lead the "jihad" against it.

Once the magic J word sounded, there is no doubt that it will work its way to the hearts and minds of many totalitarian rulers, so richly represented in Havana. But let's not overestimate their power. With all due respect to Mahmoud The Mad, Hugo the oil drunk and their ilk, the real powers still could do more, much more to stop the insanity in Sudan. Even if the august bodies in charge of UN terminology still bicker about applicability of the term "genocide" to Darfur (of course, what Israel does in the occupied territories is much easier to call genocide for some reason).

But the powers that be seem strangely unable to give birth to a decision on Sudan, and BBC gives a hint about the reasons.

American or European sanctions would undoubtedly hurt but Sudan still has good friends in the Middle East and most of the country's oil is bought by China, which has a less than perfect human rights record.

Strangely, it is the Indy that is more forceful on the subject:

Mr Blair and President George Bush have also been trying to persuade China, one of Sudan's strongest allies, to use its influence to change Mr Bashir's mind. China has lucrative oil ties to Sudan and, along with another country with economic links, Russia, refused to vote for the recent UN resolution to send in peacekeepers.

So, it is Russia and China again. Just like with Iranian nuclear ambitions, their goals are similar - to counter someone else's influence, instead of really addressing a problem. Nothing much changed in the world. The Cold War continues, only the methods and the regions have slightly shifted. The main protagonists are still there, and people are still dying.

UN has adopted the "Never again" motto. They better change it to "Never say 'never' again". Words are cheap, especially when used by cheap politicos.

Cross-posted on Yourish.com