Génocide, droite religieuse et Darfour/ Genocide, Religious Right and Darfur

Selon un article de Mahmood Mamdani dans la London Review of Books, les conflits au Darfour et en Iraq ont des similarités: même nombre estimé de victimes au cours des trois dernières années, même agresseurs (groupes paramilitaires), victimes identifiables en tant que membres de groupes ethnico-religieux plutôt que comme individus.

Mais, la différence entre les deux conflits vient dans les désignations qu’on leurs attribue. L’Iraq est un conflit avec des cycles d’insurretion et de contre-insurrection alors que le Darfour vit un génocide. Pourquoi?

Mamdani indique que la raison vient de l’effet qu’a la présence américaine en Iraq. Elle montre au public américain la complexité politique de cet État et le dilemme du retrait des troupes auquel est confronté l’administration Bush. Pas de cela au Soudan. Le conflit du Darfour est purgé de tout élément politique: il est un “conflit apolitique”. Il ne marque donc pas les psychés des américains (ou canadiens). Le conflit du Darfour consiste donc en un acte simplifié impliquant des “Arabes” éliminant des “Africains”. Cette simplification excessive masque la réalité soudanaise et facilite sa désignation en tant que génocide. Ce terme facilite à son tour la formation de regroupements divers qui militeront pour une intervention américaine au Soudan. Mais pourquoi le terme génocide et pourquoi forcer une intervention au Soudan?

La réponse vient de Conn Hallinan de l’IRC. Ce sont les néo-conservateurs et la droite religieuse qui demandent une telle intervention américaine au Darfour. En voulant rendre la politique étrangère américaine plus morale, ce groupe ce sent concerné par le “génocide” du Darfour. Les agresseurs doivent payer de leurs actes. Hallinan dresse une liste des personnes influentes de ces milieux de droite qui demandent une telle intervention (voir la section anglaise pour les noms). En réduisant la complexité du problème du Darfour à sa plus simple expression, la tâche de faire entendre sa cause est rendue plus facile. De plus, cette réthorique aidera les États-Unis a assoir une présence plus accrue dans le continent africain. Un phénomène en branle depuis un moment déjà, notamment avec la création de l’AFRICOM.

According to Mahmood Mamdani, writing an interesting paper in the London Review of Books, the conflicts in Iraq and Sudan have similarities:

The estimate of the number of civilians killed over the past three years is roughly similar. The killers are mostly paramilitaries, closely linked to the official military, which is said to be their main source of arms. The victims too are by and large identified as members of groups, rather than targeted as individuals.

But the big difference is in the naming. The conflict in Iraq is called a “cycle of insurgency and counter-insurgency” and in Darfur, a genocide. Why?

The most powerful mobilisation in New York City is in relation to Darfur, not Iraq. One would expect the reverse, for no other reason than that most New Yorkers are American citizens and so should feel directly responsible for the violence in occupied Iraq. But Iraq is a messy place in the American imagination, a place with messy politics. Americans worry about what their government should do in Iraq. Should it withdraw? What would happen if it did? In contrast, there is nothing messy about Darfur. It is a place without history and without politics; simply a site where perpetrators clearly identifiable as ‘Arabs’ confront victims clearly identifiable as ‘Africans’.

Since Sudan and Darfur don’t have a direct impact in the american (or canadian) psyche, it is an “apolitical conflict”. That kind of conflict helps oversimplifying what’s really happening there. That’s why the reports we have from Darfur are always twisted and imply an “Arab” side exterminating an “African” side. For Mamdani, hiding the political complexity of Sudan makes it easier to tag the conflict as a genocide. In turn, the term genocide will make the gathering of a support for an american intervention in Darfur easier. But why calling it a genocide and why pushing for an intervention in Sudan?

The answer is found by Conn Hallinan from IRC:

[…] a seasoned cadre of neoconservatives and right-wingers have latched on to the issue, pushing an agenda that favors military over political solutions.

They include Elliott Abrams and Nina Shea (both of whom played key roles in the Reagan administration’s wars in El Salvador and Nicaragua), leading conservative evangelical Christians, and two of the country’s most right-wing legislators, Sen. Sam Brownback (R-KS) and Rep. Tom Tancredo (R-CO).

Typical of the rhetoric of this group was a commentary from Brownback published in the Orlando Sentinel last month. Brownback wrote that while he supports a diplomatic solution to Darfur, “We must be prepared to take strong action against the Khartoum government if diplomacy continues not to yield positive results.” He added: “The parties responsible for the genocide in Darfur must pay a price for their role in the continuing attacks on civilians and their refusal to accept international peace keeping forces” (Orlando Sentinel, February 27, 2007).

Behind the rhetoric of the “war on terrorism,” the Bush administration has a long-term strategy for Africa that turns butter into guns. The White House recently established a separate U.S. military command for Africa—AFRICOM—and this past December directly intervened in Somalia’s civil war. Washington is also spreading a network of military clients throughout North Africa and the Sahara and is even considering military action against anti-government insurgents in Nigeria. (See, for example, transcript of Associated Press interview with U.S. Gen. James L. Jones, supreme commander of the NATO, August 31, 2006.).

So, there we have it… Oversimplification at work to permit the push for an intervention in Sudan advocated by the Right (religious and neocons) . It will enable the USA to establish their presence in Africa.

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