Many schools around the country have what is called a “zero tolerance” policy on fighting. When two students are involved in a fight, the policy of the school is to punish them both equally, regardless of the circumstances or who started it. Put simply, the punishment for the bully and the victim is the same. It is not a policy that delivers “Justice,” nor intends to be such. It is merely an example of a timid bureaucracy using a blanket policy to avoid actual decision-making or making a moral choice. In practice, of course, while the punishment is the same, the policy greatly favors the attacker. It supports the bully, who, since he started the fight, presumably does not have any concern for the consequences — not giving a thought to any eventual administrative scolding. The victim, on the other hand, suffers the added indignity of not only being attacked, but then being punished although completely innocent. Is it any wonder then, that we are constantly being reminded that there exists an apparent epidemic of bullying among our youth?
We sit through public service announcements by television personalities, reminding us that “discriminating against others” is wrong. In truth however, it is the system’s FAILURE to discriminate, between right and wrong, and between those being assaulted and those defending themselves, which has raised the problem to epidemic proportions. We have raised a generation of young people who have been told to expect to be punished even if you are the one attacked — and certainly expect to be punished if you try to defend yourself.
I mention this because it serves as a perfect allegory for recent U.S. policy towards Southern Sudan, in particular, Khartoum’s recent brutal assault against the South Kordofan/Nuba Mountains region. Since the beginning of June, indicted war criminal and Sudanese President Omar Bashir has renewed a long campaign of ethnic cleansing against the people of the Nuba Mountains, both Christian and Muslim, utilizing everything from MIG-29 jets and bombers to having his regular armed forces and Islamist militias slit throats, burn churches, and execute their standing orders to shoot Nuba people on sight. Even refugees in UN compounds have not been spared bombing, as this amateur video clearly shows.
Indeed, the very UN forces which are there to protect the Nuba people have been complicit in their destruction. In a statement published by “Nuba Mountains/South Kordofan Women and Children on the current Humanitarian crises,” it is revealed that the Egyptian troops of the UN protective mission have collaborated with the Sudanese government by providing government troops and Islamist militias with transport via armored personnel carriers, allowing the arrest and detention of refugees in UN camps by government security forces, and failing to provide basic services to the refugees under their protection.
The situation worsens by the day, yet President Obama’s June 22nd statement on the ethnic cleansing in the South Kordofan/Nuba Mountains spread blame equally on both the aggressive Sudanese army and militias as well as those Nuba simply defending their homes, saying “both parties” needed to end the violence. And while the statement did single out the Sudanese government for its aerial bombardment, it condemned violence, “on both sides,” as though there is some moral equivalence between the bomber and those dying under the bombardment. Additionally, the statement offered no threats of action against the Sudanese government for its ethnic cleansing, except the vapid warning that “without these [remedial] actions, the roadmap for better relations with the Government of Sudan cannot be carried forward.” The statement even fails to specify that it is the Sudanese government that is perpetuating its continued policy of ethnic cleansing, mentioning only reports of “ethnic attacks” having occurred.
This feckless, “even-handed”, and amoral approach is unlikely to put much fear into the genocidal regime of Khartoum, while it leaves the Nuba people defenseless and abandoned. Unlike in Libya, where the President instituted a No-Fly Zone, despite the allegations of Al Qaeda ties among the Libyan rebels, in South Kordofan, it is the Sudanese government that has former Al Qaeda ties — and yet nothing is being done.
The Nuba people have an inalienable right to defend themselves from the ruthless campaign of ethnic cleansing being perpetrated by Omar Bashir and the Khartoum regime. What they need from the U.S. is not mealy-mouthed platitudes calling for violence to end, but the means to protect themselves and prevent their own destruction. In 2008, President Bush approved a request by South Sudan for an air defense system, yet that request was never implemented. The time has come for that to change. An air defense system would allow the Nuba people to defend themselves from Khartoum’s air raids — all the more important as reports are flowing in on the apparent use of chemical weapons in test cases. If the free world chooses to ignore this assault, then widespread chemical attacks may be the result. Certainly the aerial bombardment will continue. That must not be allowed to happen. To stand back, and “urge restraint from both sides” has been the below standard response for much of the Obama administration. In fact, it was the way candidate Obama described the Russian invasion of Georgia during his election campaign. It is unconscionable that we allow U.S. foreign policy, like the “zero tolerance” policy of the school yard, to side with the attacker over the victim.
But especially in the case of the Nuba Mountain peoples, it is tantamount to waving the green flag for Khartoum to finish off the Nuba people once and for all. During WWII, George Orwell warned that, “Pacifism is objectively pro-Fascist.” So to, Obama’s “call for restraint on all sides,” is objectively pro-Khartoum and pro-genocide. To call for peace, in the face of an enemy who seeks another’s total annihilation, means the peace of the dead. So it will be in the case of the Nuba Mountain peoples unless this administration finally takes a moral and proper stand and does something — and does something soon.
Dinner Chair David Green – EMET Rays of Light Dinner
The Syrian Tragedy
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