17 July 2005

Ignorance is Bliss (CS)

A common complaint from the political Right is that news coverage on Iraq only focuses on the negative aspects of the war. I am no media industry insider so I can't testify to whether or not they ignore what good is being accomplished, but it is at least true that we should not simply ignore what they ARE reporting from Iraq.
We should not simply ignore that, despite the siege, enforced police state and protracted campaign to control Fallujah, apparantly it is rising again as a hotbed of insurgent activity. We should not simply ignore that the body count in Iraq (both Iraqi and American) continues to skyrocket. We should not ignore that Bush and Rummy's buddy Paul Bremer lead the Coalition Provisional Authority in Iraq with bookkeeping unfit for running a pet store, much less the major reconstruction project of an entire country.

But the general public (and especially politicians) have had a notorious tunnel vision when it comes to focusing on worldwide and even American humanitarian injustice. This seems never more true than when politicians smell the blood of their opponents in the water. As the news pours in on what is being dubbed Plamegate (including the recent "All Rove, All The Time" focus of most Democrats) the statistics, facts, and attrocities (not just in Iraq but around the globe as well) largely get ignored. How else does one explain the continued foot dragging (or lack of any movement whatsoever) in relation to the crisis in Darfur?
The crisis in Darfur has been building for years and of course comes from a history of civil war and conflict. In the last couple years hundreds of thousands have died at the hands of government backed militias known as the Janjaweed. And although John Garang, head of the southern Sudan People's Liberation Movement/Army, was named First Vice President of the "unity" government recently, Muslim clerics in Khartoum have issued a fatwa against Garang and the SPLM (meaning the killings will likely continue) and at least 2 Million refugees are left displaced and largely without resources of any kind.

Leading into the war with Iraq, one of the favorite justifications by warhawks for the uprooting of Saddam Hussein was that he "gassed his own people." Nevermind that this occured in the 1980s and the United States was comfortable in ignoring it then. As the Bush administration ramped up support for the war, the fact that Saddam would murder the people of his own country was seen as irrefutable proof that Hussein was a madman and only good could come from his downfall. Why is there not half as much public and governmental idnignation over the Janjaweed slaughtering non-Arab farmers and the wholesale destruction of their villages? Perhaps we are biding our time and waiting until AFTER this area becomes an area of terrorist camps and activity (frankly, it seems like only a matter of time).

The situation in Sudan becomes even more complicated when one considers that due to its natural resources of oil, China and Russia have stonewalled many efforts within the United Nations to put pressure on the Sudanese government. The oil is quite possibly also a reason for American reluctance to intervene, but imagine for a moment that we had a President, administration, and government that could ingore the prospect of oil in the face of undeniable humanitarian crisis. In this dream instance it would still take a concerted effort by the United States to gather international pressures not only in motivating action within the UN and various nations themselves, but also to discourage the absolutely frightening potential military bloc of Russia and China from using their vetoes within the UN Securty Council should a plan of interventin against genocide be declared.

Of course, this is where President Bush's international policies truly come into focus as despairingly damaging. For one, the continued war in Iraq continues to generate a distaste within the country for foreign intervention and sending men and women overseas. Another problem is that by creating extended war efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan and shouldering the burden almost purely ourselves, we've left our resources spread too thin to take care of the current situations there, making it a pipe dream to extend said resources into areas where they may be direly needed. And finally, our alienation of and stand-offish attitude against the majority of the international community has left them with a measure of distrust towards any actions taken by the United States, domestic or international. This is of course not to say that the European nations are perfect. They fail in many aspects of being good neighbors to the world as well and their histories can be called just as questionable and even damaging as America's. However, it is crucial to pick your battles and arguments wisely and the Bush administration has shown nothing but brazen thick headedness and poor decision making in that aspect on the international stage.

In the face of all these international problems that we create, ignore, or even propagate, does it really seem so important that we get out our pitchforks and torches for Karl Rove, dirty rat that he may be? While we spend a bit too much time to ponder Micheal Jackson's weirdness, our international situation becomes intractable. Does it worry you that people like Rush Limbaugh and the crew at Fox News complain that there's too much focus on the trouble in Iraq and Gitmo rather than complain that there's not enough focus on injustice elsewhere? As usual, I recommend you look into these things yourself. After that, go ahead and return to your regularly scheduled programing.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

You are spot on. We need to tell both Afganistan and Iraq we are getting out within one year. they need to figure out what they want. We are going to have to deal with terrorism for the foreseeable future but being in these two countries only exasperates the problem. Actually we need to bring all our military home from the entire world. We need to stop being the world policeman.

7/17/2005 9:54 PM  
Blogger Craig said...

While I agree that we have overextended ourselves terribly and that we should not carry the moniker of being "the world's policeman," I do think that it would be naive to not monitor injustice in the world at large and do our part to correct that injustice. Along the lines of self interest, it only makes sense in an age where it's so easy to build a bomb there and bring it here (or come here and build a bomb) that we should be concerned with threats from abroad or areas that could be festering grounds for future threats. Furthermore, we cannot stand back neutrally while genocide and evil occurs. As JFK put it, “The hottest places in hell are reserved for those who in a period of moral crisis maintain their neutrality.” My point above all else is to not be so blinded by rage as to focus on one target and ignore the world at large. We must build international support against injustice and we must choose our battles prudently and manage them wisely. Finally, corruption in these matters cannot be tolerated.

7/17/2005 10:05 PM  
Blogger ORF said...

Well written post, Craig. And thanks for the linkylove ;)!

Minor note: that quote in your comment is not from JFK but rather Dante's "Inferno." JFK may have borrowed it, tho.

7/18/2005 5:01 PM  
Blogger Craig said...

I thought Dante said the inner most circle of Hell was reserved for traitors?

7/18/2005 9:54 PM  
Blogger ORF said...

He very well might have said that too, but there were like 9 circles right? He talked a lot about hell in that book. Prolly why they titled it "Inferno"...

Anyway, I KNOW KNOW KNOW its from Dante because I have that quote on a poster that hangs in my kitchen, which my third grade teacher gave to me when I graduated from high school. Yes, I still talk to my third grade teacher. Because she is awesome!

Either way, it's still a kickass quote.

7/19/2005 1:26 PM  
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