September 11th 2004

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Articles from this issue:

COVER STORY: Battle lines drawn for October 9 Federal poll

EDITORIAL: Issues for the Federal Election

FAMILY: Better deal demanded for families

NOT SO DRY CONTINENT: Australia has water options

FOREIGN AFFAIRS: Taiwan faces continuing threats from Beijing

POPULATION: Falling birth-rates stir action in Taiwan, Singapore

INDIA: The economic test for India's new government

PEACE-KEEPING: Sudan and the progressive mind

OPINION: The case for new states in Australia

STRAWS IN THE WIND: Howard versus New Class Labor / Tap Tap. Who's there?

CINEMA: Bus 174 - A jolting, two-hour masterpiece

CLIMATE: Global warming - the sceptics have won

DEMOCRACY: Lay your hammer down

Labor's foot-soldiers (letter)

Mondragon: a rejoinder (letter)

The West and Islam (letter)

BOOKS: The Last Valley: Dien Bien Phu and the French defeat in Vietnam

BOOKS: 7 Myths of Working Mothers, by Suzanne Venker

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Sudan and the progressive mind

by Geoffrey Partington

News Weekly, September 11, 2004
Many progressive people in Western countries are genuinely distressed that thousands of black Africans in southern Sudan have been, and continue to be, butchered by Muslim Arabs organised in what are usually called militias. Progressive people are also sincerely concerned that hundreds of thousands of black Africans have been forced to flee their homes.

But what should progressive people do about these atrocities? A few might consider becoming human shields, but in Sudan this would be likely to prove a one-way journey and to be totally unproductive.

Unlike the situation in Palestine with Israeli forces, there would not even be photographers present if and when they met their end in Sudan.

A second idea might be to urge the Khartoum Government to disarm the murderous irregular forces.

This resembles the efforts of Soviet communists in the 1930s to let Comrade Stalin know that great wickedness was been carried out by members of the party or state apparatuses, so that the General Secretary would intervene to prevent such acts.

Unfortunately, Comrade Stalin had himself ordered most of the executions.

A third idea might be to press the UN to pass further motions deploring massacres in Sudan, but the Sudanese Government takes little notice of such protests. The Khartoum Government has made it clear that its forces will resist any attempt by UN or other outside forces to enter Sudan to protect black Africans.

In any case, UN forces in Africa have a dismal record when it comes to protection against slaughter. The UN specialises in "peace-keeping" when there is no fighting and little further need to keep the peace. Unless represented by United States forces, or those of its so-called Deputies, the UN is unlikely to expel killing murderous militias from Darfur or anywhere else.

Whilst some Islamic militias kill black Africans, other Arabs only capture them and seek ransoms for them. The families of the captives cannot pay such ransoms, but Christian organisations in Britain have found ransom money for a few score of them.

Lead taken

In Britain, the lead has been taken by the non-progressive Baroness Cox, made a life peer by Margaret Thatcher. Caroline Cox, one of the true saints of our time, has been accused of encouraging further kidnappings by assuring the kidnappers of a steady income, but the only immediate alternative would be the death or permanent enslavement of the people captured.

Solutions are certainly hard to find, whatever may be our general political standpoint.

Some progressive voices in recent days have called on the United States to intervene in Darfur to reduce the carnage. However, the same voices condemned the United States and the fragile "coalition of the willing" when they intervened in Iraq to depose the even more murderous Saddam Hussein.

Furthermore, it would be impossible to expel the militias from Black African villages without further bloodshed, including that of some children and old people. The bodies of those unfortunates would then be displayed by the Western media and their deaths blamed on George W. Bush, John Howard and Tony Blair.

Progressive lawyers would proclaim that the human rights of imprisoned Sudanese militiamen were being infringed. Michael Moore, Philip Adams and the rest have certainly made it very difficult for any Western governments to help defenceless victims in Sudan, Rwanda or anywhere else.

For once, our progressive thinkers ought to advise what should be done, rather than attack whatever the United States and its allies attempt to do as either too much or too little.

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