Sudan/Darfur is Test Case for Obama’s “Humanitarian” Aggression By Glen Ford

“Obama has not broken the American mold, but rather, appears to be fine-tuning a ‘humanitarian’ interventionist doctrine.”

Any government in the world that believes it has been targeted for regime change by the United States and its allies would be foolish to allow western-based nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) to operate freely in its territory. When Sudanese President Omar Al-Bashir evicted 13 western NGOs from his country last month, he was responding quite rationally to the clear threat of so-called “humanitarian” military intervention by the U.S. under the pretext of “rescuing” Sudanese in the war-torn Darfur region.

Under the Obama administration, a military interventionist doctrine is rapidly crystallizing around the concept of “Responsibility to Protect,” or R2P, which holds that nations have a responsibility to forcibly intervene when a state is judged to be unwilling or unable to protect or otherwise fulfill its responsibilities to its people – responsibilities that can be broadly or narrowly defined. United Nations Ambassador Susan Rice and Samantha Power, a member of Obama’s National Security Council, are leading advocates of a broad and unilateralist interpretation of R2P. Both are very close to President Obama, and can be assumed to reflect his thinking on foreign policy. And both are implacably hostile to Omar Al-Bashir’s government in Sudan. Rice is eager to blockade Sudan’s ports and to launch “selective” bombing raids.

“Almost the entire Arab and African world supports Sudan against the ICC.”

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is also a hawk on Sudan, who talks of enforcing no-fly zones over Darfur. That’s the same policy the U.S. pursued against Iraq in the interim between the 1991 and 2003 wars. The logic leads inexorably to incremental invasion and regime change in Sudan.

The crisis exploded when Bashir was indicted for “crimes against humanity” – a step below formal charges of genocide – by the International Criminal Court (ICC), a body whose prosecutorial urges seem limited to Africa. As reported by IRIN, a news service of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs: “Almost the entire Arab and African world supports Sudan against the ICC, arguing it is a biased and political tool that only targets Africans and infringes sovereignty.” The African Union and the Arab League have long opposed ICC action against Sudan, on national sovereignty grounds and because an indictment could have been predicted to lead to disruptions in international aid to Darfuran refugees.

President Obama has dispatched a U.S. Air Force general as his special envoy to Sudan to deal with, in Obama’s words, the “immediate crisis prompted by the Khartoum government’s expulsion of non-governmental organizations that are providing aid to displaced persons inside of Sudan.” Obama is reaching for the heights of hypocrisy. First, the United States is not a signatory to the International Criminal Court, fearing that its own numerous and constant violations of international law might land an American president in the dock, one day. Second, the entire purpose of U.S. policy toward Sudan is to create a crisis in hopes of toppling the regime and transforming the largest country in Africa – or big, dismembered chunks of it – into a client of the United States. Susan Rice can’t wait for her “Bomb, bomb, bomb, bomb, bomb Sudan” moment to arrive. Obama’s envoy/general would like to get an audience with his Sudanese military counterparts, and talk coup.

“Susan Rice can’t wait for her ‘Bomb, bomb, bomb, bomb, bomb Sudan’ moment to arrive.”

The American search for a pretext for “humanitarian” military intervention is perfectly understood by the Darfur rebel groups seeking to topple Bashir, who control the refugee camps in Darfur. No sooner had President Bashir kicked the western NGOs out, than “activists” in the 88,000-person Kalma refugee camp organized a “strike” against accepting aid from United Nations relief organizations. As the Los Angeles Times reported on March 21:

“’We want the international [aid groups] back,’ said Ali Abdel Khaman Tahir, the chief sheik at Kalma, speaking by telephone because the government is refusing to allow journalists in the camp, which is on the edge of Nyala, the capital of Southern Darfur province.

“’If we allow them to distribute the food, then the government will be able to say to the world that everything is OK in Kalma,’ said Mubarak Shafi, a camp activist. ‘We want all the other problems solved first.’”

The “problems” the “activist” refers to are political, ultimately devolving to autonomy or independence for the region. The rebel groups are intimately involved with U.S. allies in the region and western individuals and NGOs attached to the aid effort. In accordance with Washington’s wishes, the rebel-led refugees demanded that their pipelines to western media, the NGOs, be allowed back in. Food and medicine were not the issue. Nor is refugee relief a priority of the Obama administration. It’s all about regime change.

“The rebel groups are intimately involved with U.S. allies in the region and western individuals and NGOs attached to the aid effort.”

The Justice and Equality Movement (JEM), a major rebel faction, has offices in Tel Aviv. ABC News reports that “Israel has conducted three military strikes against targets in Sudan since January in an effort to prevent what were believed to be Iranian weapons shipments from reaching Hamas in the Gaza Strip.” The alleged Gaza/Iran connection is for western consumption. In fact, Israel is in the vanguard of U.S. clients, including Uganda, Rwanda, Kenya, Ethiopia and Chad, that connive to dissolve the Sudanese state.

When “humanitarian” intervention and “Responsibility to Protect” are the watchwords of superpower imperial destabilization policies, no targeted nation can afford to host western “aid” groups that feed the propaganda machines of aggressors. Ethnic and other conflicts in Sudan are quite complex (see Mahmood Mamdani, “What’s Really Happening In Darfur?” BAR), and the numbers and nature of mortality in Darfur are in serious dispute everywhere except in the U.S. corporate media. The Washington narrative is constructed for the sole purpose of overthrowing the Sudanese government.

States will do whatever is necessary to preserve themselves, and in Sudan’s case, that meant the western echo-operatives in the “aid” industry in Darfur had to go. The U.S. knew full well that its destabilization campaign against Sudan would ultimately achieve just such a result.

“The Washington narrative is constructed for the sole purpose of overthrowing the Sudanese government.”

The United Nations has also adopted a form of R2P, which authorizes the UN Security Council to intervene in the affairs of individual states when “national authorities [are] manifestly failing to protect their populations from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity.” But the United States cannot count on manipulating the UN Security Council, which includes China and Russia, to achieve its narrow imperialist goals – in this case, regime change in Sudan. The Americans are unilateralists. They can’t even bring themselves to join the International Criminal Court – although they revel in its indictments of Africans. Obama has not broken the American mold, but rather, appears to be fine-tuning a “humanitarian” interventionist doctrine that is applicable to any point on the planet where crises can be exploited to create chaos worthy of the Lone Ranger’s armed attentions.

Call it Disaster Imperialism.

BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at

Source: Black Agenda Report

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