Volume 21, Number 1
2007 Anti-War Protests
Readers & writers
Left Electoral Campaign
Venezuela Referendum Lessons
Darfur PR Scam?
Homegrown Terrorism Act Factsheet
Center for constitutional rights
Wisconsin books to prisoners
Review: "The Bubble"
Words of Choice
Eleanor J. Bader
We Own The World
Largely About Oil
Trade & Ghana
NOTE: Z Magazine subscribers and sustainers have access to all Z Magazine articles here and in the archive. The latest Z Magazine articles available to everyone are listed in the Free Articles box at the top of the table of contents, and are starred in the list below. Questions? e-mail Z Magazine Online.
Is Save Darfur a PR Scam to Justify U.S. Resource Wars in Africa
The star-studded hue and cry to Save Darfur and “stop the genocide” has gained enormous traction in U.S. media along with bipartisan support in Congress and the White House. But the Congo, with ten to twenty times as many African dead over the same period, is not called a “genocide” and passes almost unnoticed. Sudan sits atop lakes of oil. It has large supplies of uranium and other minerals, significant water resources, and a strategic location near still more African oil and resources. The unasked question is whether the nation’s Republican and Democratic foreign policy elite are using claims of genocide and appeals for “humanitarian intervention” to grease the way for the next oil and resource wars on the African continent.
The regular manufacture and the constant maintenance of false realities in the service of U.S. empire is a core function of the public relations profession and the corporate news media. Whether it’s fake news stories about wonder drugs and how toxic chemicals are good for you or Hollywood stars advocating military intervention to save African orphans, it pays to take a close look behind the facade.
Among the latest false realities being pushed upon the American people are the simplistic pictures of Black vs. Arab genocide in Darfur and the proposed solution: a robust U.S.-backed or U.S.-led military intervention in Western Sudan. At long last, increasing scrutiny is being focused on the Save Darfur lobby and the Save Darfur Coalition—its founders, finances, methods and motivations, and truthfulness. Here are ten reasons to suspect that the Save Darfur campaign is a PR scam to justify U.S. intervention in Africa.
1. It wouldn’t be the first Big Lie our government and media elite have sold us to justify a war.
Elders among us can recall the Tonkin Gulf incident, which the U.S. government deliberately provoked to justify initiation of the war in Vietnam. This rationale was quickly succeeded by the need to help the struggling infant “democracy” in South Vietnam and the still useful “fight ’em over there so we don’t have to fight ’em over here” nonsense. More recently the bombings, invasions, and occupations of Afghanistan and Iraq have been variously explained by people on the public payroll as necessary to “get Bin Laden” as revenge for 9-11, as measures to take “the world’s most dangerous weapons” from the hands of “the world’s most dangerous regimes,” as measures to enable the struggling Iraqi “democracy” to stand on its own two feet, and necessary because it’s still better to “fight them over there so we don’t have to fight them here.”
2. It wouldn’t even be the first time the U.S. government and media elite used ”genocide prevention” as a rationale for military intervention in an oil-rich region.
The 1995 U.S. and NATO military intervention in Kosovo was supposedly a “peacekeeping” operation to stop a genocide. The lasting result of that campaign is Camp Bondsteel, one of the largest military bases on the planet. The U.S. is practically the only country in the world that maintains military bases outside its own borders. At just under 1,000 acres, Camp Bondsteel offers the U.S. military the ability to pre-position large quantities of equipment and supplies within striking distance of Caspian oil fields, pipeline routes, and relevant sea lanes.
3. If stopping genocide in Africa really was on the agenda, why the focus on Sudan with 200,000 to 400,000 dead, but not the Congo as well, with 5 million dead?
"The notion that a quarter million Darfuri dead are a genocide and five million dead Congolese are not is vicious and absurd,” according to Congolese activist Nita Evele. “What’s happened and what is still happening in the Congo is not a tribal conflict and it’s not a civil war. It is an invasion. It is a genocide with a death toll of five million, twenty times that of Darfur, conducted for the purpose of plundering Congolese mineral and natural resources.”
More than anything else, the selective and cynical application of the term “genocide” reveals the depth of hypocrisy around the Save Darfur campaign. In the Congo where local gangsters, mercenaries, and warlords—along with invading armies from Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, and Angola—engage in slaughter, mass rape, and regional depopulation on a scale that dwarfs anything happening in Sudan, all the players eagerly compete to guarantee the continued extraction of vital coltan for Western computers and cell phones, the export of uranium for Western reactors and nukes, along with diamonds, gold, copper, timber, and other Congolese resources.
Former UN Ambassador Andrew Young and George H.W. Bush both serve on the board of Barrick Gold, one of the largest and most active mining concerns in war-torn Congo. Evidently, with profits from the brutal extraction of Congolese wealth flowing to the West, there can be no Congolese “genocide” worth noting, much less interfering with. For their purposes, U.S. strategic planners may regard their Congolese model as the ideal means of capturing African wealth at minimal cost without the bother of official U.S. troops on the ground.
4. It’s about Sudanese oil.
Sudan, and the Darfur region in particular, sits atop a lake of oil. But Sudanese oil fields are not being developed and drilled by Exxon or Chevron or British Petroleum. Chinese banks, oil, and construction firms are making the loans, drilling the wells, and laying the pipelines to take Sudanese oil where they intend it to go, calling far too many shots for a 21st century in which the U.S. aspires to control the planet’s energy supplies. A U.S. and NATO military intervention will solve that problem for U.S. planners.
5. It’s about Sudanese uranium, gum arabic, and other natural resources.
Uranium is vital to the nuclear weapons industry and an essential fuel for nuclear reactors. Sudan possesses high quality deposits of uranium. Gum arabic is an essential ingredient in pharmaceuticals, candies and beverages like Coca-Cola and Pepsi. Sudanese exports of this commodity are 80 percent of the world’s supply. When U.S. sanctions against the Sudanese regime were being considered in 1997, industry lobbyists stepped up and secured an exemption in the sanctions bill to guarantee their supplies of gum arabic. But a U.S. and NATO military presence is a more secure guarantee that the extraction of Sudanese resources, like those of the Congo, flow westward to the U.S. and the European Union.
6. It’s about Sudan’s location.
Sudan sits opposite Saudi Arabia and the Gulf States where a large fraction of the world’s easily extracted oil will be for a few more years. Darfur also borders on Libya and Chad, each with its own vast oil resources, is within striking distance of West and Central Africa, and is a likely pipeline route. The Nile River flows through Sudan before reaching Egypt; Southern Sudan water resources have regional significance, too. With the creation of AFRICOM, the new Pentagon command for the African continent, the U.S. has made explicit its intention to plant a strategic footprint there. From permanent Sudanese bases, the U.S. military could influence the politics and ecocomies of Africa for generations to come.
7. Many of the backers and founders of the Save Darfur movement are the well-connected and funded U.S. foreign policy elite.
According to a Washington Post story this summer, “The Save Darfur (Coalition) was created in 2005 by two groups concerned about genocide in the African country—the American Jewish World Service and the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum.... The coalition has a staff of 30 with expertise in policy and public relations. Its budget was about $15 million in the most recent fiscal year.... Save Darfur will not say exactly how much it has spent on its ads, which this week have attempted to shame China, host of the 2008 Olympics, into easing its support for Sudan. But a coalition spokeswoman said the amount is in the millions of dollars.”
Though the Save Darfur PR campaign employs viral marketing techniques, reaching out to college students, even to black bloggers, it is not a grassroots affair, as was the movement against apartheid and in support of African liberation movements in South Africa, Namibia, Angola, and Mozambique. Top heavy with evangelical Christians who preach the coming war for the end of the world, and with elements known for their uncritical support of Israeli rejectionism in the Middle East, the Save Darfur movement is dominated/controlled by the establishment with a propaganda campaign that spends millions of dollars each month to manufacture consent for U.S. military intervention in Africa under the cloak of stopping or preventing genocide.
8. None of the funds raised by the Save Darfur Coalition go to help needy Africans in Darfur.
According to stories in both the Washington Post and the New York Times, “None of the money collected by Save Darfur goes to help the victims and their families. Instead, the coalition pours its proceeds into advocacy efforts that are primarily designed to persuade governments to act.”
9. Most Save Darfur partisans in the U.S. are not interested in political negotiations to end the conflict.
President Bush has openly and repeatedly attempted to throw monkey wrenches at peace negotiations to end the war in Darfur. Even pro-intervention scholars and humanitarian organizations active on the ground have criticized the U.S. for endangering humanitarian relief workers and for effectively urging rebel parties in Darfur to refuse peace talks and hold out for U.S. and NATO intervention on their behalf.
The PR campaign that depicts the conflict as strictly a racial affair, in which Arabs are exterminating the black population of Sudan, is slick, seamless, and attractive. It seems to leave no room for negotiation. In fact, many of Sudan’s “Arabs,” even the Janjiweed, are also black. In any case, they were armed and unleashed by a government that has the power to disarm them if it chooses. Refusing to talk to that government’s negotiators is a sure way to avoid any settlement.
10. Blackwater and other U.S. mercenary contractors, the unofficial armed wings of the Republican party and the Pentagon, are eagerly pitching their services.
Chris Taylor, head of strategy for Blackwater, says his company has a database of thousands of former police and military officers for security assignments. He says Blackwater personnel could set up perimeters and guard Darfurian villages and refugee camps in support of the UN. Blackwater officials say it would not take many men to fend off the Janjiweed, a militia that is supported by the Sudanese government and attacks villages on camelback.
Apparently Blackwater doesn’t need to go to the Congo where hunger and malnutrition, depopulation, mass rape, and the disappearance of schools, hospitals, and civil society into vast lawless zones ruled by an ever-changing cast of African proxies (like the son of the late and unlamented Idi Amin), operate under a veil of complicit media silence.
Look for the adoption of the Congolese model across those wide areas of Africa that U.S. strategic planners call “ungoverned spaces.” Just don’t expect to see details on the evening news or hear about them from Oprah, George Clooney, or Angelina Jolie.
Bruce Dixon is managing editor of the Black Agenda Report. This article appears at www.blackagendareport.com.
Z Magazine Archive
AnnouncementsLABOR - May 1 is May Day. Workers of the world will celebrate the 124th anniversary of International Worker’s Day. Born out of a call for an 8-hour workday in the United States, this day is an opportunity for all workers to show their solidarity with one another, as well as to renew the call for labor rights.
FARM CONFERENCE - The Farm Conference on Community and Sustainability will be held May 24-26 in Summertown, TN, in partnership with the Fellowship of Intentional Communities. Tour green homes, see sustainable food production, learn about solar installations, alternative education, midwifery, and more.
Contact: Douglas@thefarmcommunity.com; http://www.thefarmcommunity.com/.
PALESTINE - The Conference of the Palestinian Shatat in North American will be held June 3-5 in Vancouver. The conference will examine the future of the Palestinian liberation movement.
Contact: email@example.com; http://www.palestinianconference.org/.
LABOR - The Pacific Northwest Labor History Association’s 45th annual conference will be held May 3-5, in Portland, OR. This year’s theme is Labor Under Attack: Learning from the Past and Preparing for the Future. A call for presentations, workshops and papers is currently underway.
Contact: PNLHA, 27920 68th Ave. East, Graham, WA 98338; 206-406-2604; PNLHA1@aol.com; http://www3.telus.net.
MARIJUANA - On the first Saturday of May marijuana legalization activists will hold informational and educational events, rallies and marches in over 300 cities around the world.
ECONOMICS - The Union For Radical Political Economics will hold its 39th annual conference May 9-11 in New York City.
RECLAIM THE DREAM - The 2013 Poor People’s Campaign & March from Baltimore to Washington D.C. will be May 11. Communities, schools and unions interested in participating are encouraged to contact the Baltimore People’s Assembly.
Contact: 410-500-2168; 410-218-4835; BaltimorePeoplesAssembly@gmail.com; Southern Christian Leadership Conference of Baltimore and the Baltimore Peoples Power Assembly, 2011 N. Charles St., Baltimore, MD 21218.
MOTHER’S DAY - The 17th Annual Mother’s Day Walk For Peace will be May 12th, in Dorchester, MA. The walk began in 1996 for families who had lost children to violence. The day has become a way for thousands of people to financially support the work of the Louis Brown Peace Institute.
Contact: http://www.ldbpeaceinstitute.org/; http://mothersdaywalk4peace.org/.
NATO 5 - An International Week of Solidarity with the NATO 5 has been called for May 16-21. Supports call on supporters to raise awareness of the NATO 5 and support funds for the defendants on the one-year anniversary of their preemptive arrests.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; https://nato5support.wordpress.com.
MOUNTAINTOP - The 2013 Mountain Justice Summer Activist Training Camp will be held May 19-27 in Damascus, VA. It will be a week of workshops, field trips to view Mountain Top Removal coal mines, direct actions, and service project.
FEMINIST SCI-FI - The feminist science fiction convention WisCon 37 is scheduled for May 24-27 in Madison, WI.
Contact: WisCon, ? SF3, PO Box 1624, Madison, WI 53701; email@example.com; http://www.wiscon.info/.
ANARCHY FEST - A month-long Festival of Anarchy is scheduled for May in Montreal. The festival includes The Montreal Anarchist Bookfair (May 19-20).
Contact: http://www.anarchistbookfair.ca/; http://www.radicalmontreal.com/.
LABOR - The International Labor Rights Forum will present: Down the Supply Chain, Driving Corporate Accountability, on May 22 in Washington, DC. The Labor Rights Awards Ceremony and Reception will honor pioneers in supply chain worker organizing, working solidarity and international labor rights policy.
MULTICULTURE - The 26th annual National Conference on Race & Ethnicity in American Higher Education (NCORE) will take place May 28-June 1, in New Orleans.
Contact: SWCHRS, 3200 Marshall Avenue, Suite 290, Norman, OK 73072; 405-325-3694; firstname.lastname@example.org; www.ncore.ou.edu.
MEDIA - The 2013 Alliance for Community Media Annual Conference will be held May 29-31, in San Francisco, CA. Participants will include educators, community leaders, media professionals, journalists, nonprofit leaders, policymakers and students.
RADIO - The 38th Annual Community Radio Conference is schedule for May 29-June 1, in San Francisco, CA, with discussions and workshops.
Contact: 1101 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, Suite 600, Washington, DC 20004; 202-756-2268; email@example.com; http://www.nfcb.org/.
BRADLEY MANNING - On June 1, a rally will be held at Fort Meade in support of Bradley Manning.
BIKES - Bikes Not Bombs is holding its 24th annual Bike-A-Thon and Green Roots Festival in Boston, MA on June 3, with several bike rides scheduled, music, exhibitors and more.
Contact: Bikes Not Bombs, 284 Amory St., Jamaica Plain, MA 02130; 617-522-0222; firstname.lastname@example.org; www.bikesnotbombs.org.
LEFT FORUM - The 2013 Left Forum will be held June 7-9, at Pace University in New York City.
Contact: 365 Fifth Avenue, CUNY Graduated Center, ? Sociology Dept., New York, NY 10016; http://www.leftforum.org/.
VEGAN FEST - Mad City Vegan Fest will be held in Madison, WI, June 8. The annual event features food, speakers, and exhibitors.
Contact: 122 State Street, Suite 405 B, Madison, WI 53701; email@example.com; http://veganfest.org/.
ADC CONFERENCE - The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) holds its annual conference June 13-16, in Washington, DC, with panel discussions and workshops on civil rights, media and other topics.
Contact: 1990 M Street, Suite 610, Washington, DC, 20036; 202-244-2990; firstname.lastname@example.org http://convention.adc.org/.
CUBA/SOCIALISM - A Cuban-North American Dialog on Socialist Renewal and Global Capitalist Crisis will be held in Havana, Cuba, June 16-30. There will be a 5 day Seminar at University of Havana, plus visits to a cooperative, urban garden, community development project, social research centers, and educational & medical institutions.
Contact: email@example.com; http://www.globaljusticecenter.org/.
NETROOTS - The 8th Annual Netroots Nation conference will take place June 20-23 in San Jose, CA. The event features panels, trainings, networking, screenings, and keynotes.
Contact: 164 Robles Way, #276, Vallejo, CA 94591; firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.netrootsnation.org/.
MEDIA - The 15th annual Allied Media Conference will be held June 20-23, in Detroit.
Contact: 4126 Third Street, Detroit, MI 48201; http://alliedmedia.org/.
GRASSROOTS - The United We Stand Festival will be hosted by Free & Equal, June 22 in Little Rock, Arkansas. The festival aims to reform the electoral process throughout the U.S.
SOCIALISM - The Socialism 2013 Conference is scheduled for June 27-30 in Chicago, featuring talks and panel discussions.
Contact: email@example.com; http://www.socialismconference.org.
LITERACY - The National Association for Media Literacy Education (NAMLE) will hold its conference July 12-13 in Los Angeles under the heading, Intersections: Teaching and Learning Across Media.
Contact: 10 Laurel Hill Drive, Cherry Hill, NJ 08003; http://namle.net/conference/.
IWW - The North American Work People’s College will take place July 12-16 at Mesaba Co-op Park in northern Minnesota. The event will bring together Wobblies from branches across the continent to learn new skills and build One Big Union.
PEACESTOCK - On July 13th, the 11th Annual Peacestock: A Gathering for Peace, will take place at Windbeam Farm in Hager City, WI. The event is a mixture of music, speakers and community for peace. Sponsored by Veterans for Peace.
Contact: Bill Habedank, 1913 Grandview Ave., Red Wing, MN 55066; 651-388-7733; firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.peacestockvfp.org.
CHILDREN’S DEFENSE - July 15-19, join clergy, seminarians, Christian educators, young adult leaders and other faith-based advocates for children at CDF Haley Farm in Clinton, Tennessee, for five days of spiritual renewal, networking, movement building workshops, and continuing education about the urgent needs of children at the 19th annual Proctor Institute for Child Advocacy Ministry.
Contact: email@example.com; http://www.childrensdefense.org.
ACTIVIST CAMP - Youth Empowered Action (YEA) Camp will have sessions in July and August in Ben Lomond, CA; Portland, OR; Charlton, MA. YEA Camp is designed for activists 12-17 years old who want to make a difference in the world.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; http://yeacamp.org/.
LA RAZA - The annual National Council of La Raza (NCLR) Conference is scheduled for July 18-19 in New Orleans, with workshops, presentations and panel discussions.
Contact: NCLR Headquarters Office, Raul Yzaguirre Building, 1126 16th Street, NW, Washington, DC 20036; 202-785-1670; www.nclr.org.
LABOR - The Eastern Conference For Workplace Democracy: Growing Our Cooperatives, Growing Our Communities, will be held at Drexel University in Philadelphia, PA, July 26-28.
Contact: email@example.com; http://east.usworker.coop/.
WOMEN/LYNNE STEWART- Radical Women is asking for support letters and cards to be sent to Lynne Stewart. Stewart is a civil rights attorney and political prisoner who is currently in jail. She has breast cancer and authorities have denied her request for transfer from her Texas prison to the New York City hospital where she received medical attention during a prior bout of breast cancer. Send messages and cards to: Lynne Stewart 53504-054, Federal Medical Center Carswell, P.O. Box 27137, Fort Worth, TX 76127.
Contact: 747 Polk Street, San Francisco, CA 94109; 415-864-1278; RadicalWomenUS@gmail.com; http://lynnestewart.org/; http://www.radicalwomen.org/.
HAITI/WOMEN - Haiti’s government is considering a legal reform measure that would prohibit and punish all sexual assault, including marital rape. MADRE and the International Campaign to Stop Rape & Gender Violence in Conflict are launching a petition to raise international support for this push to address violence against women in Haiti.
Contact: 121 West 27th Street, #301, New York, NY 10001; 212-627-0444; firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.madre.org.
SYRIA/MIDDLE EAST - The Middle East Children’s Alliance (MECA) is currently seeking funds to assist more than 200,000 refugees fleeing violence in Syria.
FOLK FESTIVAL - The Falcon Ridge Folk Festival will be held August 2-4, in the Berkshires, NY.
Contact: http://www.falconridgefolk.com/; email@example.com.
WAR RESISTERS - The War Resisters League will hold its 90th anniversary conference, Revolutionary Nonviolence: Building Bridges Across Generations and Communities, August 1-4, at Georgetown University. The event will focus on the U.S.’ long history of antimilitarism.
Contact: 339 Lafayette Street, New York, NY 10012; 212-228-0450; firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.warresisters.org.
POPULAR ECONOMICS - The Center for Popular Economics is holding its 2013 Summer Institute August 4-9 at Hampshire College in Amherst, MA. No background in economics is needed for this intensive training. This year’s theme is, The Care Economy: Building a Just Economy with a Heart.
Contact: Center for Popular Economics, PO Box 785 Amherst, MA 01004; 413-545-0743; email@example.com; www.populareconomics.org.
VETERANS - Veterans for Peace is holding the 28th annual convention August 6-11 in Madison, WI. This year’s theme is, Power To The Peaceful.
DEMOCRACY - The Democracy Convention will take place August 7-11 in Madison, WI. The convention brings together nine conferences including topics such as media, education, defense, race, environment and others.
MEN - The 38th National Conference on Men & Masculinity: Forging Justice: Creating Safe, Equal and Accountable Communities, presented in partnership with HAVEN, will be held in Detroit, MI, August 8-10.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.nomas.org/.
OCCUPY - An Occupy National Gathering will be held in Kalamazoo, MI, August 21-25.
Contact: email@example.com; http://occupynationalgathering.net/.
COMMUNITIES - The Communities Conference is a networking and learning opportunity for co-operative or communal lifestyles, with workshops, events and entertainment; scheduled for August 30-September 2 at the Twin Oaks Community in Louisa, Virginia.
LABOR DAY - The 29th annual Bread and Roses Festival, a celebration of the ethnic diversity and labor history of Lawrence, MA, will be held September 2, in honor of the 1912 Bread and Roses Strike. There will be music, dance, poetry, drama, ethnic food, historical demonstrations, walking & trolley tours.
Contact: PO Box 1137, Lawrence, MA 01842; 978-794-1655; http://www.breadandrosesheritage.org/.
OCCUPY WALL STREET - September 17 is the two-year anniversary of the Occupy Wall Street movement. Events are planned in New York City and worldwide.
TEACHERS - The 13th Annual Conference, “Teaching for Social Justice: The Politics of Pedagogy,” will be held October 12 in San Francisco, CA. The free event features workshops, resources, and free childcare.
Contact: 415-676-7844; firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.t4sj.org/.
HAITI - International Action, which brings clean water and chlorinators to Haiti, seeks office space capable of housing up to six people and their office equipment.
Contact: Zach Bremer, Zbrehmer@haitiwater.org; 202-488-0735; http://www.haitiwater.org/.
MEDIA - The Union for Democratic Communications and Project Censored are sponsoring a joint conference on media democracy, media activism and social justice to be held November 1-3 at the University of San Francisco. Proposals for presentations, workshops and panels from activists and critical scholars are invited.