Wednesday, October 03, 2007


Peacekeepers tell of terror in Darfur rebel attack, says the Scotsman. A force of 1,000 Darfuri rebels assaulted an African Union Peacekeeping base while the men were sitting down to dinner, killing 10 and looting the camp. In a prolonged attack that lasted until morning, utilizing support weapons and armored vehicles of their own, the "rebels" stole everything that wasn't embedded in concrete.

The 1,000 Darfuri rebels waited until sunset, the end of the Ramadan fast, to begin their assault. Some of the outgunned African peacekeepers, caught by surprise, fought back. Others fled into the scrublands. At the end of the attack, ten of them were dead.

"We were just preparing for dinner when the first rocket hit us," one peacekeeper said. Another soldier, fighting back tears, said: "The fighting was terrible."

The peacekeepers repelled the first attack after dusk, but the rebels returned and a fresh battle raged for hours. Survivors said the rebels used several armoured vehicles and rocket-propelled grenades - an indication they possess heavier weapons than previously believed. ...

The attackers stormed the camp at about 4am on Sunday, as some of the peacekeepers ran out of ammunition. The AU troops took refuge in a ditch in one corner of the camp, where dozens of empty shell casings from AK-47s were strewn in the sandy soil. "Once we ran out of ammunition, we all laid down in that ditch," Abu Bakr, one of the peacekeepers, said.

The rebels looted the camp on their way out, taking six armoured personnel carriers, a dozen jeeps, fuel, AK-47s and boxes of ammunition. The scene at the base in the aftermath was chaotic. Plastic tents where the peacekeepers slept still smouldered, giving off an acrid smell. The shell of an armoured personnel carrier, apparently hit by rocket-propelled grenade fire, was still burning, its tyres melted. Prefabricated houses that served as the administration headquarters were riddled with bullet holes.

AU troops, some wounded and barefoot, were being ferried out by helicopter to safety, while Sudanese troops stood in combat positions nearby. "They're in a state of shock. They looked like people who've just survived death," said Rodolphe Adada, the chief of the 7,000-member AU mission to Darfur, who is set to head a new joint AU-UN force.

Naturally the UN is outraged and expressed its concern in the strongest possible terms, calling the attack "unacceptable". The VOA reports:

Speaking after the emergency session, Sudan's U.N. Ambassador Abdalmahmood Mohamad welcomed the Council's condemnation and said there is no doubt rebels were involved. "We are happy that the Security Council has now identified the perpetrators of this heinous act, and we expect the Security Council will take the necessary measures against those impeding the peace process," he said.

But Russia's U.N. Ambassador, Vitaly Churkin, expressed disappointment, saying the statement was not strong enough. "We wish it were stronger, but we have to live with what was practical and possible. There were some members of the Security Council for whom, unfortunately, it is difficult for some reason, to point fingers at rebel groups. There was an effort to avoid any kind of reference to rebel groups, which have reportedly been the source of this murderous attack," he said.

And the members of the Security Council who found it difficult to point a finger at the rebel groups were the US, UK and France. The BBC says:

South Africa wanted it called a terrorist attack but the US, Britain and France urged caution on naming those who might be behind the killings, saying it is not yet clear who carried them out, says the BBC's Laura Trevelyan at the UN in New York.

The reason for the Western reluctance to lay the blame on the doorstep of the rebels, as you might have guessed, is that the two major rebel factions -- the Sudan Liberation Army (SLA) and the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) -- are opposed to the government in Khartoum. Hence, any condemnation of the rebels would indirectly become an endorsement of Khartoum, which up until this point has been publicly regarded as the "bad guy" -- together with their Janjaweed militia in the humanitarian disaster in Darfur.

The Global Security backgrounder on the fighting in Darfur describes the conflict as partly ethnic and partly regional in origin. It is a fight between the Fur and Arab-dominated Khartoum; between the Fur and Zaghawa. And between all the adjoining countries for the control of the region. "Darfur region is located in the western part of the Sudan. It is bordered by Libya in the North, Chad in the West and the Central African Republic in the South West." The Sudanese Liberation Army is backed by Eritrea. Both the JEM and the Sudanese Liberation Army receive support from Chad. And then there are the sinister latter-day night riders. "The Sudan Liberation Army began battling an Arab militia called Janjawid [Janjaweed, meaning 'a man with a horse and a gun'] as well as government troops in the Darfur region of western Sudan. The Janjawid have been pushing local farming communities off their land in a bid to have access to the resources. Critics accuse the Sudanese government of manipulating traditional ethnic tensions and pursuing a policy of 'Arabisation' in Darfur, in order to maintain a support base there." In short, it's a witches' cauldron of such fragmentation it would make Iraq look like a suburban gated community by comparison.

Any peacekeeping force would have to interpose itself into this ethnic/regional African war for any kind of brokered settlement to hold. That means a force able to cope with the savage violence likely to be encountered there and to take and return fire from all directions.

African Union military observers in Darfur reported that Sudanese militias have burned civilians alive. ... While the SLM and Janjaweed are primarily to blame for many of the attacks and raids, the Sudanese government has done virtually nothing to help the AU force that was assined to enforce the ceasefire. To add insult to misery, Khartoum has failed to carry out its ceasefire obligation to disarm or control the Janjaweed.

It has lately been fashionable to urge a US withdrawal from Iraq and a redeployment into Darfur. Whatever the merits of that may be, does anyone seriously think it possible to solve the ills of the world without having to deal with violence, as these African Union peacekeepers have discovered to their dismay?

Romeo Dallaire, the man who commanded the UN peacekeeping mission to Rwanda, offered this advice to Gen. Martin Luther Agwai, who is about to lead the UN mission into Darfur:

You can anticipate being let down by everyone on whom you depend for support, be that troops, funding, logistics or political engagement.... Bear in mind that whoever fails you will, in the end, be the most active in blaming you for whatever goes wrong.

Yes, but the first and most important responsibility of any general is to set the conditions of victory. This means, as it meant in Rwanda, not accepting battle on hopeless terms. Because unlike soldiers defending their country who must sometimes meet the enemy at a disadvantage, UN generals should be able to tell diplomats when they do not have the means to do the job. Otherwise you will wind up like Dallaire, with post-traumatic stress disorder telling anyone who will now listen about how he was sent down the river to hunt a T-rex with a popgun.

Dallaire recounted the myriad difficulties in maintaining a rickety peace in Rwanda. By the time isolated skirmishes escalated into large-scale massacres, he was hamstrung by the UN's bureaucratic inertia and a meagre contingent of troops.

He recounted his dismay at seeing under-equipped international reinforcements arrive in Rwanda. A Ghanaian contingent came with no vehicles – the vehicles were strapped to the deck of a cargo ship and wouldn't be delivered until after the bloody 100-day genocide. And a Bangladeshi regiment turned up with scant munitions and no rations. "The first thing the Bangladeshis said when they stepped off the plane was `Where do we eat?'" Dallaire recalled.

Nearly a million Rwandan deaths later and here we are again.


Blogger wretchard said...

UN involvement can introduce Great Power politics into any Third World backwater. In Rwanda, the French were a hidden presence. In Kosovo, the Russians, the Arabs and NATO were hovering in the background. In Darfur the scenario is repeating itself again. In each of these situations it might be in some Great Power's interest to see the Peacekeeping mission fail.

Although it did not involve a peacekeeping mission, recent events in Burma have shown that the international system, in Vaclav Havel's words, "is broken". On occasion it is worse than broken. It gives false hope and at times the UN seems no better than a Harry Lime, peddling hope to the betrayed as Lime sold fake antibiotics to dying children in postwar Vienna. "Judas, with a kiss do you betray the son of man?" Maybe the dirtiest job in the world isn't being a security contractor for Blackwater or a grunt in the infantry. Maybe it's a being a diplomat for the UN.

Can the world come up with a better system? Surely it can.

10/03/2007 03:43:00 AM  
Blogger The Wobbly Guy said...

It can, but it won't. There are too many parties with a vested interest in seeing the status quo maintained.
One solution would be for a major player to leave the UN. The US could certainly do that. The very basis of the UN would be shaken to its roots.

10/03/2007 05:21:00 AM  
Blogger Peter said...

Can the world come up with a better system?

The world? No. There are about 192 nation states. 51 of them are Islamic. That 25% of the world's political entities operate under the delusion that they have a divine right to dictate on every facet of life to the others automatically precludes the possibility of a better system, a just system, or even a workable system.

Add the philosophical dung of postmodernism to the mix so that the people who make the big decisions cannot tell up from down, or even that it makes a difference, and the possibility of anything better than what we have is nil.

10/03/2007 05:43:00 AM  
Blogger davod said...

The US cannot get out of the UN. US, UN relations is like the Gordion Knot.

We complain about China, Russia and sometimes France and their vetoes. What would The Security Council vote to do if the US was not there.

10/03/2007 05:52:00 AM  
Blogger Doug said...

John Bolton says the value of the UN is all the meetings that take place elsewhere in New York, saving much time and Jet Fuel, and allowing a lot to get done in a little time when a bunch of the deciders are all in one place.
I was shocked to hear such a message from that source, but there it is!

10/03/2007 06:04:00 AM  
Blogger LarryD said...

The UN's purpose is to delay action until it is too late (Burma), or make sure action is ineffective (Darfur, etc).

Failure is not an option, it is the objective.

The UN Is mostly made up of murderous tyrannies, of course this is how it works.

10/03/2007 06:59:00 AM  
Blogger Alexis said...

Look down there. Would you really feel any pity if one of those dots stopped moving forever? If I offered you 20,000 pounds for every dot that stopped, would you really, old man, tell me to keep my money? Or would you calculate how many dots you could afford to spare? Free of income tax, old man, free of income tax.

-- Harry Lime, from The Third Man

What do you expect when the mantras of our times are "globalization" and "free trade"? One century ago, human rights campaigners argued that "free trade" cannot possibly be free if it is based upon forced labor and severed hands in Congo Free State.

Now, the Thomas Friedmans of the world insist on free trade, as if Americans all wanted to eat Chinese melamine and wanted their children to eat lead paint! How can we call it "free trade" when we import our supplies from enslaved nations, when people from China, Burma, and Dubai are enslaved?

Trade can be free only when the people involved in the trade are free; trade with slave nations makes us half slave, half free. Yet the ideologies of "globalization" and "free trade" are based upon a "one world" mentality that requires an organization like United Nations to exist; without the United Nations, people would be less likely to "think globally", with the effect that states increase their sovereignty over their national economies.

The United Nations may squash its dots, but it also gives exaggerated importance to the New York Times. Do you really think the New York Times will give up a captive audience at the United Nations?

Men like Thomas Friedman and George Soros cannot tell the difference between openness and freedom. Forcing a woman to be "open" isn't freedom; it's rape.

10/03/2007 10:01:00 AM  
Blogger F said...

Davod: Confronted with the Gordian knot, Alexander drew his sword and cut it in two. Similarly, the US (and only the US) has the power to cut through the knot that the UN has become. Let China, France, and Russia to do something without our being there to object: who will fund it? Or fly the UN to its proposed place of action without US aircraft?

Doug: Perhaps a lot of work gets done on the margins of the UN, as Bolton says. Is it work that really benefits the US or the world?

Bottom line: as a career diplomat I am hardly a poster boy for the "get-outta-the-UN" crowd, but I have come to conclusion in the past decade that the UN is no longer a mechanism for doing little at the greatest cost, it is rather a mechanism for doing nothing at the greatest cost. Venality has become a high art form and is personified by the people at the very top -- Kofi Annan and his ilk.

We reformed UNICEF by opting out; perhaps we can accomplish the same with the entire UN organization. If not, having the UN fail would not be a disaster. And if it does not fail (as I believe it will), then we can continue to do business with it from a distance. Sounds like a win-win situation to me. F

10/03/2007 10:37:00 AM  
Blogger NahnCee said...

Can the world come up with a better system? Surely it can.

Who's gonna pay for it?

I'm sure not eager to spend any more American tax dollars on the black hole that is Africa, whether it be for drought, famine, or just every-day rapine. And increasingly, not for the Middle East, Malaysia, Indonesia or the Phillippines, either.

If millions of people allow themselves to become massacred without fighting back or lifting a finger to prevent it, one really has to wonder how valuable they were towards advancing humanity's goals in the first place.

10/03/2007 12:22:00 PM  
Blogger whiskey_199 said...

The fix to the system is relatively straightforward.

China needs resources and material for it's economy, which are jeopardized by instability and insurrection.

China can either form an expeditionary force (they have the spare men without wives or any hope of them) and solve two problems: export their unmarriageable men and solve their resource problems.

"New Colonialism." The Left would shut it's mouth because it's China not Europe or the US. The natives would be ruled by colonial masters perhaps crueler than the others but there you go, at least you'd end the chaotic set of affairs as in Darfur.

The other means is for companies and nations that want access to resources without chaos and destruction, as in Nigeria, most of West Africa, etc. and are tired of banditry and rebels. Hire Blackwater and be done with it. Native governments benefit since Blackwater can deal with internal rivals and won't be a coup in the making.

10/03/2007 01:12:00 PM  
Blogger David M said...

Trackbacked by The Thunder Run - Web Reconnaissance for 10/03/2007
A short recon of what’s out there that might draw your attention, updated throughout the check back often.

10/03/2007 01:23:00 PM  
Blogger Peter Grynch said...

James Lewis observes:

Today, many on the peacenik Left are eager to boycott Israel and protest America. But somehow they were nowhere to be found in the fight against Soviet imperialism, against Pol Pot's genocide, against Rwandan mass murder, against Balkan massacres and rape rooms, against two decades of Sudanese jihad against starving African infidels, against Saddam Hussein's torture regime, against Mahmoud A'jad's nuke program, against indoctrinated teenagers bombing innocent kids in Israel, while the terror bosses were having orgies in their mansions ...

See a pattern here?

They were perfectly sincere about yearning for world peace, living (as they always do), in safe neighborhoods with excellent police protection -- so good, in fact, that they never had to think about crime. They hated guns and violence. They were well-fed, and filled with pious words and good intentions, went on righteous peace marches, and always voted for the most "compassionate" smooth talker on the Left. By now, generations of Westerners have been taught to believe that peace can be achieved cheaply.

When Sally Field declared "If mothers ruled the world there would be no more wars!" she was delusional, but that is the heart of leftist ideology. Faced with a massacre in Darfur, the Congo, or Burma they first ask "Is it worth fighting over?" and the answer, in their minds, is always "No."

10/03/2007 01:52:00 PM  
Blogger Peter said...

Hire Blackwater and be done with it.

Not too long ago African governments were hiring South African mercenary companies to clean up local messes. They were very effective.

I don't think there is any chance of a US based PMC handing out Have Gun Will Travel cards but it's not too hard to see a Russian or an Eastern European based outfit doing so.

10/03/2007 03:11:00 PM  
Blogger bobalharb said...

One thing we are damned sure of is Nahncee doesn't want to pay for it.

10/03/2007 09:32:00 PM  
Blogger bobalharb said...

But then we know now while she might be willing to pay for her own protection, she is not going to put out a buck for anyone else's. Not a dime.

10/03/2007 09:36:00 PM  
Blogger bobalharb said...

Who's gonna pay for it?

Not Nahncee.

10/03/2007 09:39:00 PM  
Blogger Utopia Parkway said...

As in the Iraq-Iran neighborhood we find that in Darfur there are plenty of bad guys. If we, or someone, goes in an knocks off one bad guy the other bad guys will just get stronger.

The "you break it, you buy it" rule applies.

10/03/2007 10:17:00 PM  
Blogger Marzouq the Redneck Muslim said...

I found it interesting where it was noted in the article the "peace keepers" ran out of ammo but in a later paragraph it is stated the "rebels" made off with AK's amd boxes of ammo.

All shall be well in Darfur. Haven't you heard Jimmy Carter is there? Maybe the Carter Center can do it better than the UN!

Yeahhhh, Rigggght.

As I stated before, the UN can move off the NY shore and all Democracies start an alternative organization. Hopefully China comes our way. I like the Chinese Peacekeeper idea.

Salaam eleikum Y'all!

10/04/2007 07:55:00 AM  

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