The Criminal Nation of Sudan and Us

From Care2Action this email:

Breaking news: three international aid workers were kidnapped just yesterday in the Darfur region of Sudan. The ransom situation comes less than two weeks after the Government of Sudan ordered the closure of humanitarian aid programs in Darfur, North and East Sudan.

The United Nations Secretary must immediately urge the Government of Sudan to reconsider their heartless decision – before even more people are hurt! >>

This decision puts at risk the lives of millions of Sudanese who rely on humanitarian aid for survival. The 13 agencies that have just been expelled were responsible for providing the aid that keeps half of Darfur’s 2.7 million refugees alive!

The situation is dire. The international community has a responsibility to do everything in its power to ensure the delivery of lifesaving aid to vulnerable men, women and children in war-torn Sudan.

When I worked for UNICEF a full decade ago, the same idiocy was going on and the same ineffective responses were being made. You see, we have no national interest in whether millions are killed. This is window dressing if we actually do what is necessary. We will not win anything. I am being beyond cynical here. I am telling the truth. The truth can be expressed in a single sentence.

Sudan will not do the right thing unless forced to do so.

We have never, ever been willing to force Sudan to do anything. So we are left with the problem of how to live in a world where genocide exists because nations let it exist and sit on their hands.

Maybe we need a competition, Russia, China, us. For the nation with the nerve to kick butt in Sudan. I am tired of the humanitarian mantra because the whole thing about having to be there to keep 2,7 million alive covers over a situation which enables humanitarian aid to exist.

The winner of the competition will need to eliminate the need for humanitarianism. And the need for individuals to tremble out there in the desolation as more enemies swoop down to wreak their carnage.

The only reason I bother to write is that this issue relates to the Obama era which is when the world is supposed to move an inch toward being genuinely responsible. If that is so we have a serious problem when we contemplate the criminal nation of Sudan.

politics, theology

When Pro-Life is Really Pro-Life

From Per Caritatem, another in my select list of sources, the following quotation in full from a 1993 Encyclical of Pope John Paul II, Veritas Splendor. It contains an itemization of proscribed incursions that, in all, amount to what one would utterly reject if one had a consistent pro-life position.  Those of us who support a woman’s right to choose should be aware that the church opposes the forms of assault and degradation I have bolded in the quote below. SOURCE

“Reason attests that there are objects of the human act which are by their nature ‘incapable of being ordered’ to God, because they radically contradict the good of the person made in his image. These are the acts which, in the Church’s moral tradition, have been termed ‘intrinsically evil’ (intrinsece malum): they are such always and per se, in other words, on account of their very object, and quite apart from the ulterior intentions of the one acting and the circumstances. Consequently, without in the least denying the influence on morality exercised by circumstances and especially by intentions, the Church teaches that ‘there exist acts which per se and in themselves, independently of circumstances, are always seriously wrong by reason of their object’ [Reconciliatio et Paenitentia (December 2, 1984), 17: AAS 77 (1985), 221; cf. Paul VI, Address to Members of the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer, (September 1967): AAS 59 (1967), 962].  The Second Vatican Council itself, in discussing the respect due to the human person, gives a number of examples of such acts: ‘Whatever is hostile to life itself, such as any kind of homicide, genocide, abortion, euthanasia and voluntary suicide; whatever violates the integrity of the human person, such as mutilation, physical and mental torture and attempts to coerce the spirit; whatever is offensive to human dignity, such as subhuman living conditions, arbitrary imprisonment, deportation, slavery, prostitution and trafficking in women and children; degrading conditions of work which treat labourers as mere instruments of profit, and not as free responsible persons: all these and the like are a disgrace, and so long as they infect human civilization they contaminate those who inflict them more than those who suffer injustice, and they are a negation of the honour due to the Creator’ [Gaudium et Spes, 27].”  http://www.vatican.va/edocs/ENG0222/__P8.HTM (accessed February 25, 2009).

Per Caritatem the blog of scholar Cynthia R. Nielsen and consistently publishes items that are of theological and cultural interest.

bob herbert, genocide, nick kristof, sudan

Nick Kristof Tells the Truth — "China’s Genocide Olympics"

Nick Kristof’s New York Time’s piece — China’s Genocide Olympics — justifies the conclusion that he and Bob Herbert are the largely unsung stars of the paper’s Op-Ed Page. China gets lots of bad raps but it is its support of the outlaw Sudan Government that is both reprehensible and worthy of the censure Kristof has dealt by associating genocide with the Olympics. I appeal now for my candidate Barack Obama to say his yes to Kristof’s column.

Sudan feels confident enough with Chinese backing that on Jan. 7, the Sudanese military ambushed a clearly marked U.N. convoy of peace keepers in Darfur. Sudan claimed the attack was a mistake, but diplomats and U.N. professionals are confident that this was a deliberate attack ordered by the Sudanese leaders to put the U.N. in its place.

Sudan has already barred units from Sweden, Norway, Nepal, Thailand and other countries from joining the U.N. force. It has banned night flights, dithered on a status-of-forces agreement, held up communications equipment and refused to allow the U.N. to bring in foreign helicopters. The growing fear is that the U.N. force will be humiliated in Sudan as it was in Rwanda and Bosnia, causing enormous damage to international peacekeeping.

Another possible sign of Sudan’s confidence: an American diplomat, John Granville, was ambushed and murdered in Khartoum early this month. Many in the diplomatic and intelligence community believe that such an assassination could not happen in Khartoum unless elements of the government were involved.

When I went to UNICEF as a media consultant in 1998 my passion became the achievement of steps to stop the outlaw regime in Sudan from governing with impunity, cynically allowing those who might profit by genocidal acts to run rampant. I soon concluded that my best efforts were impotent. We got our head to visit Sudan and a page or so of good coverage. So what.

I firmly believe that there is a tipping point to power and that when people in power act with courage, things change. Both Bob Herbert and Nick Kristof tell it like it is. If anything, they operate with close attention to lines they cannot cross. One responsibility we relatively impotent blog folk can take with pleasure is making clear how accurate and telling the writings of these two are.

Nick Kristof has many allies. Mia Farrow and others have operated modestly and with extreme dedication to try to alert the world to Sudan’s evil.

Why do I speak with such obvious rancor? I do so because I have watched Sudan play their game with impunity close up. I have seen how aid workers have had to literally prostrate their ideals in order to remain in the country and to do what good they can do.

As I write. I see that The New York Times has endorsed Hillary Clinton. This is a vast and significant misjudgment. I am sure there are many Times people who are seriously depressed at this decision, made by a few but implicating many in what is assent to a politics that has been and is now divisive and without the concept or vision to do what the Obama campaign can do. I pray that the verdict of The New York Times is roundly rejected by the electorate.

I wonder if Khartoum is happy with the Times endorsement of someone who is as unlikely as her husband was to act decisively against this criminal regime.

bob herbert
sudan genocide

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benign genocide, genocide, politics

Benign or Casual Genocide

Ported and revised.

Benign or casual genocide is a way of describing the largely unprotested (accepted) death of largely-invisible millions in our world.

This is the term I believe Dr. Sachs and others at the forefront of efforts against deep poverty in the world should use. We have thus far failed to shock the “benign billions” into an acceptance even of the one percent GNP solution, which is a minimal response but vastly beyond what we are now doing.


Benign or casual genocide is an honest name for the capitalist-philanthropic system that, in a macabre dance of mutuality, allows these terrible deaths to take place year after year.

Let the definitions be plain and simple.

By capitalist I mean to embrace the entire realm of business conducted for economic gain. The entire culture of consumer desire. The entire tendency of the world to accept this on its face as the “way things are” economically. The issue I wish to press is not guilt but truth. A true description.

Linked to this is the civilization-destroying growth of gaps between rich and middle class and down (economically) in the rich or privileged parts of the world, creating a culture of acquisition based on an acceptance of predatory principles.

By philanthropic I mean the entire complex of “not for profit” enterprises, ranging from movements and non-governmental organizations to institutions of learning to explicit “charities”, to many government agencies whose purposes are (presented as) eleemosynary. Education, health, so forth.

My contention is that we can call this partnership the engine of Benign or Casual Genocide.

Globally, it represents a failure of mammoth proportions. It need not be. At its heart lies a spiritual failure of nerve and apparent ignorance, even among our most sophisticated media, of this failure.

I am not ignoring the cries of those in media who do understand. I am lamenting the naive belief that anything less than a sea-change of global consciousness will have a remedial effect.

We casually read myriad death statistics and projections. Each year UNICEF and other agencies — ambivalent partners in this promenade — inundate us with these figures.

Even Presidents quote UNICEF.

It is a dance of hypocrisy and idiocy, given the resistance of peoples to a revaluation of the values by which we live. Proper development requires such a revaluation and it is profoundly in eddor to believe anything less.

Essentially, the world system we now have, largely uncontested, accepts Capitalism as the big engine to fuel an unequal wealth/power machine and Philanthropy as the little engine that will toot along and clean up the uglier evidences of a world where wealth, power and place continue to rule under the umbrella of hypocrisies that have been transmuted into simple “realism”.

We need to openly identify the partnership and observe that it does not work. We need to say what the solution is: The very leaders who most understand the problem need to admit that we are engaged in benign and casual genocide. We need to remove the emperor’s clothes. Until this occurs, the the great poverty experts are simply rubbing salt into the world’s gaping wounds.


The truth of the wholesale destruction of millions (dare we add the words women and children?) is currently left to marginalized observers who are never taken seriously by media, governments or the philanthropic-educational community.

Or, even worse, the truth is the province of house prophets in these institutions who deliver ritual Jeremiads to salve conscience as nothing continues to get done.


The name for the hegemony of Capitalism and Philanthropy is benign or casual genocide. We all contribute to this. We are all players on the stage of this sordid and terminally dehumanizing reality. The sooner we acknowledge what we are doing to the point that it convicts governments and media and mobilizes international leadership for a round of hopefully efficacious response, the better.

This is not about yelling louder. It is about saying the present system does not work.