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December 10, 2006


Meanwhile, in Africa, all hell is breaking loose and there appear to be no grown-ups around to stop it.  The biggest "grown-up" is off in Iraq creating its own disaster.  But, is there someone benefiting from this lack of attention to the spreading genocide and chaos?  Well, yes, perhaps there is.   

Devilstower, writing at DailyKos, reminds us that the Darfur situation is in free-fall and likely to only get worse.  He references an article in tomorrow's Christian Science Monitor by Rich Schapiro.  Most of us have a vague understanding that the janjuweed, the Arab militiamen that have colluded with the Sudanese government, have been slaughtering the mostly black African population "in what the United Nations calls the world's worst humanitarian emergency".  Up until now, the rape, murder and destruction has been confined to western Sudan. 

No more. 

The article in the Monitor reports that we have the recipe for an ever spreading tragedy:

The crisis in Darfur has exploded in recent weeks, and now threatens to drag fragile neighboring countries into a regional war.

Both Chad and the Central African Republic (CAR) have become engulfed in fighting that involves a toxic mix of rebel groups, government forces, armed militias, and civilians.

"It's not a steady deterioration," Jan Egeland, the outgoing UN humanitarian chief, told reporters last week. "It's a free fall, and it includes Darfur, eastern Chad, and northern Central African Republic."

Let's take Chad as an example of the downward slide.  Devilstower says, 

Chad, one of the countries being overrun by both refugees and chaos spreading out from Darfur, has already been named one of the world's "top ten failed states."  Only ten years ago, Chad seemed to be edging away from a history of unrest and invasion.  But a decade after the first multi-party elections, the country is once again crumbling under the combined weight of insurgency and the disaster in Darfur.  Rebel groups operating in Chad have even captured some of the Darfur refugee camps and driven out humanitarian groups.

Here's a young democracy, with an economy based on oil, trying to hold out against forces from both inside and out.  That sounds a lot like Iraq.  But no one is rushing in troops to help Chad.

Somalia is already a failed state.  The Central African Republic is going down the same road. 

Devilstower comes to a depressing conclusion as to why this is being allowed. 

Why not?  Maybe because it's Africa.  Chaos in African has opened up the mineral wealth of a continent to a world that's come to understand that it's much cheaper to fund chaos and corruption than it is to pay taxes and fair market prices.

As long as western corporations (and western governments) think that misery in Africa means bargains in the supply chain, they'll tut-tut over the problems.  But they won't act.

Our government, mired in a war we never needed to fight, has few resources to spare and won't for years.   A distracted American public, likely to go into isolationism as a result of the severe damage to our treasury, our reputation, and our ability to act in the world, not to mention the shame of a preemptive war that has destroyed a reasonably functioning country that wasn't doing a lot to bother us, has not put pressure on the government to act and is unlikely to do so.  And in the Sudan and now Chad and the Central African Republic, we see the negative results of our neglect.  The benefits will likely accrue very quietly to a few well-financed commodity producers.  Colonialism without any fuss. 

Posted by Lynn Allen on December 10, 2006 at 09:27 PM in National and International Politics | Permalink


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