Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Libya: Darfur's not a genocide... GAZA is

With less than 24 hours to go before the International Criminal Court -- in all probability -- indicts the first sitting head of state for war crimes, Omar al-Bashir of Sudan, the presidency of the Security Council has rotated to none other than Libya, champion of Bashir's attempt to get the Court's indictment deferred. Libya's Ambassador spoke to the press this afternoon. He said that what is going on in Gaza "has never happened in human history," and downplayed the violence in Darfur relative to the violence in Afghanistan:

In Darfur there is now an armed conflict. It was a tribal conflict that developed into an armed conflict. Now, there is a legitimate government. There are rebels, or armed factions, that are against the govenrment. Certainly we feel the govenrment shoudl take all the necessary steps to secure the security and peace in that place. We expect that implementing its powers, the government may make mistakes possibly, and we see displacement of civilians and reports of the armed conflicts, this is the case all over the world. Victims also because of the armed conflict will certainly [happen], as usual, as in conflicts all over the world. As you know, hundreds of civilians died. The highest number was last year in Afghanistan on the hands of the multinational force in Afghanistan, and usually they say it was by mistake, whether it was a school or a simple citizen, it was by mistake. ... In Darfur, the Sudanese government they don't have this hihg-tech military technology, these smart bombers to attack selected targets, but we know that the forces in Afghanistan, they ahve the highest technology. However, so many people die each month because of the attacks by the Multinational force. ... So we should look at these issues impartially.

Pressed about Gaza being a genocide, he asked: "What else do you call it when 1,500 Palestinians are killed in a matter of days?"

As preposterous as the analogy is, the Libyans do have a point on Darfur specifically, insomuch as it is a tribal conflict started by armed rebels and that the government doesn't have high-tech weapons so it's just burning everyones' houses down, often with the inhabitants inside. This doesn't make the government any less reprehensible, of course, but I do think the rebels get an awfully free pass, given how much culpability they have in all of this. If I went up to Mike Tyson and punched him in the face and then he beat the tar out of me, he shouldn't get in more trouble than I do just because he inflicted more damage.

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