Powell uses the G-word

09.09.04

Colin Powell called a spade a spade today, when he used the word “genocide” to describe the horrible mass killings that have been going on in Darfur, Sudan for months:

In the strongest U.S. statement to date on the humanitarian crisis in Sudan, Secretary of State Colin L. Powell today said for the first time that “genocide” has been committed there and that the government of Sudan and Arab militias “bear responsibility.”

[ . . . ]

Powell’s use of the word “genocide” for the first time in describing the situation in Sudan followed a strong debate within the government. On one side of the argument, some human rights officials contended that a declaration of genocide would be a powerful statement that would draw world attention to Darfur and promote efforts to halt mass killings there.

However, some in the U.S. government argued that the explicit use of the word might alienate the Sudanese government and limit U. S. ability to pressure its leaders to halt marauding Arab militias, which have killed, raped and tortured black African refugees in the region.

Right. The Sudanese government. The people who armed the Janjaweed in the first place. Let’s tiptoe around because we certainly wouldn’t want to piss them off.

U.S. Congress already declared the situation a genocide, but the White House has been reluctant to say so until now. However, that’s better than the United Nations and the European Union, both of which are running scared from the term, because it would imply that action would be required by the international community.

Tens of thousands of people keep dying in Sudan. And the world refuses to do anything about it. Now that the Bush administration has used the G-word, will it really change anything?

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