Another War for Oil?

The Darfur/Sudan dispute is primarily over who will control the newly-discovered oil-rich lands of Darfur, in western Sudan. As often happens, the indigenous poor there have been ruthlessly pushed aside by voracious corporate and national interests in a typical no-holds-barred international competition for scarce valuable resources.


China’s respectful diplomacy toward the legitimate Muslim government of Sudan has given the Chinese an “in” which they are very profitably exploiting. The bumbling U.S. strategy of arming Sudan’s neighbors has won us only suspicion and resentment.


A mysteriously (well) funded “Save Darfur” media campaign has legitimately excited the sympathies of people everywhere to help the innocents, perhaps also to “justify” future aggressions. Historically, many illegal invasions, occupations, and wars of greed have been “sold” as rescue missions.


China has much to teach the U.S. about win-win diplomacy and trade, just as the U.S. has many important and wonderful things to teach China. May we generously support peaceful international humanitarian efforts to assist the victims in Sudan, and may we use the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing to further mutual peaceful understanding, dialogue, and good will with our trading partner, China.


(I wrote the above letter-to-the-editor in response to the following letter-to-the-editor in our local newspaper:)


Local Physician Who Volunteered at Torino Won't Be in Beijing


I was a physician volunteer at the Winter Olympics in Torino, Italy. Several people have asked me if I was going to go to Beijing in 2008 for the summer games. As I'm more of a fan of the Winter Games, and as Beijing in the summer is probably very hot, I told them, “No.” Recently, I discovered a much more compelling reason not to go and to encourage everyone to boycott those games.


In a recent article in The Wall Street Journal, Ronan Farrow and Mia Farrow (he a Yale law student, she an actress) made assertions which, if accurate, should cause a renaming of the Summer Olympics in China to the “genocide games”–and compel all moral people to boycott them. They state that China is “pouring billions of dollars into Sudan,” and that “they,” the Chinese, “purchase an overwhelming majority of Sudan's oil exports.”


With this money, the Sudanese buy bombers, assault helicopters, armored vehicles and small arms, most of Chinese manufacture. These arms are used by the brutal Janjaweed militia. The airports that are used by the Chinese, who have repeatedly used their veto power in the U.N. to block efforts to bring in peace keepers to stop the slaughter.


To date, more than 400,000 people have been killed and 2.3 million have been displaced from villages by the Chinese-backed Sudanese government. Efforts by our government have been unable to convince the powers that be to stop the killing. To his credit, President George Bush vows to go it alone to take action against Sudan if the other countries of the world will not.


A reasonable, moral person would likely conclude that, if the assertions above are accurate, he or she would have nothing to do with these games. What are some prominent people doing? Well, let's see:


Steven Spielberg, who founded the Shoah Foundation to allow the testimony of survivors of another holocaust to be heard, is preparing to help stage the Olympic ceremonies in Beijing. Johnson & Johnson, Coca-Cola, General Electric and McDonald's are some of the high-profile sponsors of these games. If accurate, these assertions should cause these people to rethink their positions. Maybe with some forthright action, the Chinese can be embarrassed into changing their ways to allow the killing to be stopped.


Specifically, of Steven Spielberg, I would ask: “Is one holocaust worse than another?” And: “Would you have helped stage the ceremonies for the 1936 Olympics in Berlin?” Rabbi Akiva, of biblical times, said, “Where there are no men, Be thou a man.”


Hopefully, there are still some men who will do something to stop this tragedy. Anyone who would like a copy of the article can call me.


(The author left his name and phone number.)





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