The Paducah Sun
The protest in Washington over the plight of the persecuted people of the Darfur region in Sudan showed that some on the left most notably, members of the Hollywood glitterati believe that American power should be asserted in defense of humanitarian ideals.
But the Hollywood left has a rather narrow and limited view of the nations role as a defender of human rights. In the eyes of these political activists, some victims of state-sponsored violence clearly are more deserving of U.S. assistance than others.
Actor George Clooney and the 15,000 other protesters who came to Washington for the Rally to Stop Genocide demanded that the Bush administration act more aggressively to end the brutal campaign of ethnic cleansing in Darfur. More than 200,000 people have been killed and at least 2 million driven from their homes by militias allied with Sudans government.
The vast majority of the victims in Darfur are black African Muslims targeted by Arab Muslims in the government-backed Janjaweed militia. The perpetrators of mass murder in Sudan enjoy the support of none other than Osama bin Laden, who recently appeared in a videotape calling on Muslim radicals to flock to Darfur for a possible holy war against international peacekeepers.
Perhaps bin Ladens lieutenant, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, would volunteer for the mission to help the Sudanese government terrorize their fellow Muslims, if he were not busy in Iraq killing Muslims aligned with the U.S.-backed government.
In recent months, al-Zarqawi, a Jordanian Sunni Muslim, has directed his terrorists to attack Shiite Muslims. Al-Zarqawi hopes to spark a sectarian war that will undermine the government and allow Sunni radicals to take control in central Iraq.
Until the U.S.-led invasion deposed Saddam Husseins regime, the Sunni minority wielded power in Iraq. Saddam ruthlessly suppressed the Shiite majority in southern Iraq and slaughtered thousands of Kurds in the northern part of the country.
According to reliable estimates, hundreds of thousands of Shiites were killed by Saddams death squads. Coalition troops uncovered several mass graves in southern Iraq following the invasion in March 2003.
Saddam conducted a campaign of extermination against the Marsh Arabs in southern Iraq. And, in the perhaps the most infamous use of chemical weapons against innocent civilians in history, Saddams military gassed Kurdish villages, killing thousands of men, women and children.
During the 1980s and 90s, Saddams widely publicized atrocities barely ruffled the political sensibilities of Hollywood. And after George W. Bush decided to end Saddams thuggish reign, Clooney and the anti-war left practically dismissed the dictators genocidal policies while portraying the Bush administration as a gang of warmongers intent on seizing Iraqs oil.
Clooney is right that the genocide in Darfur is a challenge to the consciences of decent people around the world. The protesters also are right in insisting that the United States take a major role in the international effort to stop the genocide. Only the U.S. has the resources and the military power to defend the defenseless against murderous governments.
But genocide is genocide. Whats happening in Darfur is no worse than what happened to the Kurds and Shiites under Saddam. The Hollywood anti-war activists should at least acknowledge that Bush rid the world of a genocidal ruler, even if they disagree with the means the president used to overthrow Saddam and the justifications he cited for the invasion of Iraq.
It would help clarify the debate over the war if the anti-war left recognized and acknowledged the nature of the insurgency in Iraq. The insurgents arent freedom fighters theyre the kind of people who would gladly commit mass murder in the name of Allah or a Baathist dictator.
Clooney should take note that bin Laden wants to drive the U.S. out of Iraq and intimidate the world community into abandoning the black Arabs in Sudan. Bin Laden is fighting a global war against the West and Western values a war that too many people in the U.S. still cannot accept is real despite the carnage in Baghdad, Darfur and, five short years ago, in New York City.