Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
April 01, 2009

The False Darfur 'Genocide' Numbers

Headlined In Defense of Genocide the neoconned WaPo editors condemn the Arab league for hosting Sudan's President Bashir while at the same time accusing Israel of war-crimes. The polemic includes this sentence:

T]he United Nations has reported more than 300,000 civilian deaths in Darfur as a result of the genocidal campaign sponsored by Mr. Bashir.

There are three false claims in this one sentence. As these false claims are often repeated from the far right to the interventionist left, let me try to dispel them once and for all.

  1. The number of 300,000 is false.
  2. The UN did not 'report' that number.
  3. There was no genocide in Darfur.

The 300,000 number is simply taken from hot air. It is based on a exaggerated statement by the UN's humanitarian chief John Holmes:

Up to to 300,000 people may have died from the combined effects of war, famine and disease in Sudan's Darfur region since 2003, UN humanitarian chief John Holmes said Tuesday although he conceded this was just an "extrapolation."

"A study in 2006 suggested that 200,000 had lost their lives from the combined effects of the conflict," John Holmes told the UN Security Council. "That figure must be much higher now, perhaps half as much again."

Queried about how he arrived at the new figure, Holmes later told reporters: "I am not saying I am sure. I said it's a reasonable hypothesis, a reasonable extrapolation from the previous figures from studies done elsewhere."

"I am not trying to suggest this is a very scientifically-based figure. It is not a very scientifically-based figure, except on the basis of extrapolation,' he added.
Holmes recalled that the figure of 200,000 dead had been used by the United Nations in 2006 based on extrapolation contained in a study by the World Health Organization.

That vague statement by Holmes is what the Washington Post characterizes as the 'UN reported'.

Holmes extrapolated to 300,000 from a 2006 UN figure of 200,000 which itself was a not justifiable extrapolation from studies that found less excess death.

The Belgium Centre for Research on the Epidemiology of Disasters (CRED) did a comparison study of the various studies done by the World Health Organization and others and concluded:

In summary, the CRED method estimated approximately 134,000 total deaths in Darfur and Eastern Chad over the 17 months from September 2003 to January 2005. Of these deaths, 120,000 were excess deaths directly attributable to the conflict, 35,000 of which were violent deaths. The US State Department method estimated a possible range of 98,000 – 181,000 total deaths over 23 months - from March 2003 to January 2005. Estimates of excess deaths due to the conflict ranged from 63,000 – 146,000 over the same period.

For a November 2006 report to Congress the Government Accountability Office asked twelve experts in epidemiology about such studies and concluded:

The experts we consulted did not consistently rate any of the death estimates as having a high level of accuracy and noted that all of the studies had methodological strengths and shortcomings. Most of the experts had the highest overall confidence in the estimates by the Centre for Research on the Epidemiology of Disasters (CRED), which relied primarily on a statistical analysis of about 30 mortality surveys, and they rated the CRED estimates’ accuracy and methodological strengths highest among the six. The experts had a slightly lower level of confidence in the State estimate and gave it slightly lower ratings for accuracy and methodological strengths.

So the most acclaimed study on Darfur came away with "120,000 were excess deaths directly attributable to the conflict, 35,000 of which were violent deaths".

From there all higher numbers are simply taken from the air by 'extrapolating' on the fly. Such extrapolations are not justified. Since mid 2004 the various UN agencies are fully engaged in Darfur and,  while there is still strife, no major slaughter has taken place since then.

According to the Darfur timeline the major violence there took place in 2003 and early 2004. There is thereby no ground to extrapolate the excess death numbers from that time of hard violence into the time of relative calm. Would it be justified to estimated World War II casualties in 1946/47 from casualty numbers in 1944/45? Certainly not, but that is similar to what John Holmes and others are doing.

Now onto the genocide claim.

In early 2005 the Report of the International Commission of Inquiry on Darfur to the United Nations Secretary-General (pdf) found:

The Commission concluded that the Government of the Sudan has not pursued a policy of genocide. Arguably, two elements of genocide might be deduced from the gross violations of human rights perpetrated by Government forces and the militias under their control. These two elements are, first, the actus reus consisting of killing, or causing serious bodily or mental harm, or deliberately inflicting conditions of life likely to bring about physical destruction; and, second, on the basis of a subjective standard, the existence of a protected group being targeted by the authors of criminal conduct. However, the crucial element of genocidal intent appears to be missing, at least as far as the central Government authorities are concerned. Generally speaking the policy of attacking, killing and forcibly displacing members of some tribes does not evince a specific intent to annihilate, in whole or in part, a group distinguished on racial, ethnic, national or religious grounds. Rather, it would seem that those who planned and organized attacks on villages pursued the intent to drive the victims from their homes, primarily for purposes of counter-insurgency warfare.

Still the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, Luis Moreno-Ocampo, tried to get President Bashir charged for genocide. Given the above report he could not claim that genocide happened in 2003 and 2004. He therefore argued that some hindrances of access to refugee camps and problems with food distribution in 2005 and 2006 were willful acts by the Sudanese government with the intent of genocide.

The pre-trial chamber of the ICC rejected (pdf, para 110ff) that view as implausible:

[T]he Prosecution acknowledges that (i) it does not have any direct evidence in relation to Omar Al Bashir’s alleged responsibility for the crime of genocide, and that therefore (ii) its allegations concerning genocide are solely based on certain inferences that, according from the Prosecution, can be drawn from the facts of the case.

The pre-trial ICC chamber rules that there is not enough 'reasonable grounds to believe' - the pre-trial standard - that a genocide happened. A conviction in a full fledged trial in court would require the much higher standard of proof 'beyond all reasonable doubt'.

The prosecutor now tries to have the pre-trial ruling overruled by an appeal chamber. Alex De Waal, an expert on the Darfur conflict, asked three legal experts who all conclude that the chances of that appeal are very low. There is simply no proof for any intent that is require to designate some slaughter as genocide. Still we should note that others do not agree with the pre-trial chambers arguments and decision. See for example legal scholar Kevin Jon Heller's various posts on the ICC trial at Opinio Juris.

Bashir was charged by the ICC with several war-crimes. One day a court may decide about those charges and may find Bashir guilty. Until it does Bashir has the right to be seen as innocent. The prosecutor is only wasting time over an issue that is, in the bigger picture, irrelevant.

But back to where we started.

Likely much less than 300,000 people died in Darfur. It is possible that some 35,000 died there due do violence in 2003 and 2004 from the several sides of the conflict and more due to hunger and other circumstances. Currently there is no major fighting but a long term refugee problem that somehow will have to be solved.

The UN never 'reported' 300,000 death. One UN person unjustifiable 'extrapolated' numbers from a time of violence to a time of relative calm.

The case for 'genocide' was never convincing and a major UN commission as well as the International Criminal Court have found it without merit.

So why are the neocon WaPo editors still offering this claptrap?

Two theories:

1. There is a lot of oil under the sands of Darfur and Sudan is friendly with China - a combination that is automatically seen as hostile by an empire that strives to control all world energy resources.

2.  Another possible motivation behind the hostile position towards Sudan are Israeli considerations like the "Yeor plan" which envisions water supply for Israel through pipelines from the Nile:

Ethiopia and the Sudan have already reacted with alarm to published reports that there are plans to divert Nile water to Israel. Ethiopia provides Egypt with 86% of its Nile water and is desperately in need of water development projects on its own territory in order to feed its growing population of more than 62 million. (In 1960 Egypt's population was under 30 million.)

From the point of view of the Nile's main riparians, Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia, the great danger of sharing Nile water with Israel is that, however small the initial amount may be, and even if nominally the water were for Palestinian use, once Israel begins to take water from the Nile it may then contend, under international law, for larger shares in future.

Supporting the suspicion that water for Israel is a motive for the false claims against Sudan is the fact that the "Save Darfur" movement is driven by Jewish interest groups. As the Jerusalem Post reported:

Little known, however, is that the ["Save Darfur"] coalition, which has presented itself as "an alliance of over 130 diverse faith-based, humanitarian, and human rights organization" was actually begun exclusively as an initiative of the American Jewish community.

And even now, days before the rally, that coalition is heavily weighted with a politically and religiously diverse collection of local and national Jewish groups.

In reality I suspect a mixture of motives that drive the general hostile U.S. position towards Sudan, the false accusations of genocide and the overstatements of casualty numbers in the Darfur conflict. The simple fact that Sudan does not do what the U.S. says it should do is probably enough for the Washington Post editors to condemn it.

They are free to do so. But besides false numbers and wrong claims they have little to make their case.

Posted by b on April 1, 2009 at 14:50 UTC | Permalink


thank you b

Posted by: annie | Apr 1 2009 15:54 utc | 1

Also the dramatic story angle based on residual pandering to the Christ crazies. They love it when heathens kill Christians. it makes them feel all saintly and beleaguered.

Posted by: ...---... | Apr 1 2009 15:58 utc | 2

in addition to the two theories you put up, mamdani, in his new book, ties in how the (strictly) "moral" imperative associated w/ demands for a western military response in darfur is a depoliticized & decontextualized extension of the overall u.s.-declared "war on terror", which is also recognized as yet another crusade against islam. i'll elaborate later.

Posted by: b real | Apr 1 2009 16:05 utc | 3

Eli at Left Eye on the News has been following the Darfur numbers inflation and documenting it at Left Eye on the News. I can't get into the site recently unless I switch over the Firefox (have no idea why; had happened in the past, but always seemed to rectify itself; anyway, can't give specific links for posts), but he comments regularly on the Israeli/Palestinian situation as well as Darfur, Cuba, capitalism, other stuff.

Today he posts about Netanyahu's comment that the US must do something about Iran's nukes (!?!) or Israel will have to, and it must be done not in years but months.

BBC has article about Lieberman saying that the Annapolis agreement to work toward a two state solution has no validity.

Netanyahu and Lieberman, what a team! They may well rip any remaining veil of respectability off the Israeli government and its actions "not in years but in months." Weeks?

Posted by: jawbone | Apr 1 2009 17:10 utc | 4

Diverting Nile waters for Israel? Who's the insane moron who came with such a ludicrous idea?
They wanted their country, they have it, now they have to live with what they get on it, period.
I mean, it's not as if Nile waters were already needed by tens of millions of people who actually live close to them. If Israelis want Nile waters, they can always (try to) migrate back to Egypt, back to step one.

Posted by: CluelessJoe | Apr 1 2009 22:08 utc | 5

I think I love you for posting this great post of yours. I'm an avid reader of your blog. Keep it up!!!

Posted by: Anthony | Apr 1 2009 22:09 utc | 6

by Keith Harmon Snow


What has not anywhere in the English press been reported is that the United States of America has just stepped up its ongoing war for control of Sudan and her resources: petroleum, copper, gold, uranium, fertile plantation lands for sugar and gum Arabic (essential to Coke, Pepsi and Ben & Jerry’s ice cream). This war has been playing out on the ground in Darfur through so-called ‘humanitarian’ NGOs, private military companies, ‘peacekeeping’ operations and covert military operations backed by the U.S. and its closest allies.

However, the U.S. war for Sudan has always revolved around ‘humanitarian’ operations—purportedly neutral and presumably concerned only about protecting innocent human lives—that often provide cover for clandestine destabilizing activities and interventions.

Americans need to recognize that the Administration of President Barack Obama has begun to step up war for control of Sudan in keeping with the permanent warfare agenda of both Republicans and Democrats. The current destabilization of Sudan mirrors the illegal covert guerrilla war carried out in Rwanda—also launched and supplied from Uganda—from October 1990 to July 1994. The Rwandan Defense Forces (then called the Rwandan Patriotic Army) led by Major General Paul Kagame achieved the U.S. objective of a coup d’etat in Rwanda through that campaign, and President Kagame has been a key interlocutor in the covert warfare underway in Darfur, Sudan.

During the Presidency of George W. Bush the U.S. Government was involved with the intelligence apparatus of the Government of Sudan (GoS). At the same time, other U.S. political and corporate factions were pressing for a declaration of genocide against the GoS. Now, given the shift of power and the appointment of top Clinton officials formerly involved in covert operations in Rwanda, Uganda, Congo and Sudan during the Clinton years, pressure has been applied to heighten the campaign to destabilize the GoS, portrayed as a ‘terrorist” Arab regime, but an entity operating outside the U.S.-controlled banking system. The former campaign saw overt military action with the U.S. military missile attacks against the Al-Shifa Pharmaceutical factory in Sudan (1998): this was an international war crime by the Clinton Administration and it involved officials now in power.
. . .
The former Clinton officials most heavily focused on the destabilization of Sudan include: Susan Rice, Madeleine Albright, Roger Winter, Prudence Bushnell, Hillary Clinton, John Podesta, Anthony Lake and John Prendergast. Carr Center for Human Rights co-founder Samantha Power, now on the Obama National Security Council, has helped to whitewash clandestine U.S. involvement in Sudan.

& from Oil in Darfur? Special Ops in Somalia? The New Old “Humanitarian” Warfare in Africa (7 Feb, 2007):

The plant, which had its official opening in June 1997, was privately owned and partly financed by the Eastern and Southern African Preferential Trade Association. Al-Shifa was extremely important to the Sudan: it had raised the country's self-sufficiency in medicine from about 3% to over 50%. It produced 60-90% of the drugs used to treat the Sudan's seven leading causes of death; malaria and tuberculosis are at the top of the list. Al-Shifa also produced virtually all of the country's veterinary medicine. The Sudan has very large herds of camels, cattle, sheep and goats, all vital to the economy and food supply, and all susceptible to treatable infestations and diseases.

The plant was bombed in August of 1998, after one year in operation, and the message was clear: there will be no independent economic players impinging on Western pharmaceutical profits and their global empires.


“Save Darfur” is today the rallying cry for a broad coalition of special interests. Advocacy groups—from the local Massachusetts Congregation B’Nai Israel chapter to the International Crises Group and USAID—have fueled the conflict through a relentless, but selective, public relations campaign that disingenuously serves a narrow policy agenda. These interests offer no opportunity for corrective analyses, but stubbornly press their agenda, and they are widely criticized for inflaming tensions in Darfur. This is what we might call Darfurism.

The latest Lockheed Martin contract with the United Nations illustrates the latest stage in the transformation of international conflict whereby military-industrial giants are openly engaged, rather than clandestinely, as has been previously the case. This development parallels the rise of Darfurism— a mass movement in the West designed to channel popular sympathy and agitate people to act on a cause they know nothing about, but think they do. Darfurism is a pathological mix of fear, patriotism, social immaturity, opportunism and unconsciousness akin to fascism. Under the current climate of apathy, fear and public opinion, anything goes, and warfare involves humanitarian agencies as active players in the mix. Like the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum they are seen as neutral, described as apolitical, but nothing could be further from the truth.

The United Nations and African Union serve as pseudo-privatized military forces backing a hegemonic, corporate, political and economic agenda. Someone who produces both the danger and, at a price, the shield against it is a racketeer.[99] The future has arrived, and it uses human rights institutions, the label of genocide and accusations of atrocities, and the ever-expanding international AID and charity industry—operating out of pure profit motives—as pivotal elements in the Western portfolio of soft and hard weapons used to further the prerogatives of Empire and clear the land for absolute corporate exploitation.

Posted by: Arcturus | Apr 1 2009 22:48 utc | 7


Posted by: wadosy | Apr 4 2009 2:47 utc | 8

after it closes down, you gots to wonder who will be there to put the chairs on the tables and sweep up.

Posted by: wadosy | Apr 4 2009 3:32 utc | 9

this could be interesting b/c it seems such an obvious setup

Djibouti will not honor its Rome Statute obligations, invites Sudan’s Bashir

April 5, 2009 (KHARTOUM) – The government of Djibouti announced that it has extended an official invitation to Sudanese president Omer Hassan Al-Bashir despite an arrest warrant issued by the International Criminal Court (ICC) for him.

The Djiboutian justice minister Mohamed Parkad told the Sudanese pro-government Al-Rayaam that his government “welcomes Bashir’s visit at anytime”.

“We will secure his visit without any negative implications on Sudan” Parkad said.

Djibouti ratified the Rome Statute which is the founding text of the ICC in 2002 making the country legally obligated to apprehend Bashir once he arrives on their territory.

However the Djiboutian official said his government will “breach” its commitment to the ICC without elaborating on whether this means they will officially withdraw from the court.


In the event that Djibouti refuses to comply with cooperation request from the ICC the ICC may refer the matter to the Assembly of State Parties for further action.

The Sudanese president had made visits to half a dozen states, though none of them were members of the ICC.

However despite the invitation, Bashir may be unwilling to visit Djibouti as it hosts French and US military bases.

Some officials in Khartoum have expressed fears that foreign fighters may intercept Bashir’s plane and force him to land in a country where he would be extradited to The Hague.

and the story comes on the heels of this one from the day before

US, France unhappy about Arab & African support to Sudan’s Bashir: report

April 4, 2009 (PARIS) – The US and French government have agreed that the support lent by Arab states to embattled Sudanese president is “regrettable”, according to a news report.

The Saudi owned Al-Hayat newspaper quoting a source familiar with talks, said that the US president Barack Obama and his French president Nicolas Sarkozy discussed the indictment of Sudanese president Omer Hassan Al-Bashir by the International Criminal Court (ICC) last month.

Obama is visiting France for the summit of the North Atlantic Organization (NATO).

The source said that both Obama and Sarkozy were disappointed at the backing of the Arab League and African Union (AU) to Bashir.

Both organizations have expressed dissatisfaction at the ICC move against Bashir and alleged double standards in dealings with crimes worldwide.

The Arab League leadership summit held this week in Qatar issued a resolution rejecting of the ICC warrant and called on its members not to cooperate with the court.

The Arab leaders also described the ICC warrant as violation of international law preserving immunity of state officials and arguing that Sudan is not bound by the court’s decision because it has not ratified its founding Rome Statute.

AU officials said that African states who are ICC members will hold a meeting in June to discuss possibility of removing themselves from the court by unsigning the Rome Statute.

but for the very reason that it would be such an obvious setup, it's difficult to imagine anyone falling for it, esp w/ the intel apparatus that the sudan's govt has

Posted by: b real | Apr 6 2009 4:54 utc | 10

Watch "The Devil Came on Horseback" and also "God Grew Tired of Us". Then tell me that this genocide isn't real.

Posted by: Mae | Apr 8 2009 10:16 utc | 11

@mae - read mamdani's new book & then come back & tell us the makers of those two narratives have a clue as to what's going on in darfur & sudan

Posted by: b real | Apr 8 2009 14:14 utc | 12

some comments by Keith Harmon Snow (in a thread to his article The US’s War In Darfur) re Mamdani:

On Mamdani, I am suggesting that Mamdani — while studiously decrying “silences” (esp. as in his book WHEN VICTIMS BECOME KILLERS) he is clearly upholding teh silence of, for example, Uganda’s role in all this. Why? Hmmm… email Mr. Mamdani and ask him where he was, and what he was doing, in the mid 1980’s.


Listen to the interview with Mamdani which is posted linked above. At the very start they say: MM …. “is from Uganda” and “fled the regime of Idi Amin” and “retunred to teach …blahblablah.. at university in Tanzania and Uganda and…

Mamdani “fled the Idid Amin regime” and his article was published by the LONDON REVIEW OF BOOKS. Amin was backed by powerful Britis, US and European inetersts and so was Obote and so was/is Museveni. Its no accident that the London review of Books will propagate Mamdani’s non-scholarship on the region: Mamdani says nothing about the Acholi genocide today in Uganda and he defends the RPF/RDF/Kagame regime of terror in Rwanda.

In the 1980’s when Museveni seized power his director of military intelligence — now this is a terrorist agent of blood and horror — was Paul Kagame. Mamdani was prof at U of Dar Es Salaam in the 1970’s and his students were Paul Kagame, Yoweri Museveni, John Garang, Wamba dia Wamba (see Ota Benga Alliance)… When Mamdani opens his book “When Victims Become Killers” he says he arrived in rwanda and voila! much to his surprise he found his old students there! Paul Kagame and the RPF. There was no surprise about it. Mamdani has a problem.


Mahmood Mamdani decries all these “silences” and yet he perpetuates them. There must be some subliminal current informing his work.

First there was “Imperialism and Fascism in Uganda” 1983- published while Mamdani was comfortably living in Uganda with his buddies Museveni and Kagame. But even before that, we find Mamdani teaching at Univ of Dar Es Salaam — a “marxist” university in the 1970’s — and his students ae a remarkablly motley crew who, unremarkably, end up in all these key positions of power. Yoweri Museveni, Paul Kagame, John Garang (assassinated), Laurent Desire Kabila (assassinated), Wamba Dia Wamba. Wayne Madsen (in his important book: Genocide and Covert Operations in Africa, 1993-1999) I believe also includes Meles Zenawi in this motley crew.

Museveni is the savior who ousts the regime (Obote) who exiled Mamdani the second time. (His Imperialsim and Fascism is about Idi Amin who exiled Mamdani the first time.) Mamdani takes on positions of power in Uganda in parallel with the rise of power of Museveni and the massive bloodletting that occurs in consolidation of the NRM project 1981-1989. Mamdani seems to continue working with Museveni through the 1990’s. he has a house in Kampala… meanwhile Museveni is perpetrating genocide in Northern Uganda and backing the invasions of Rwanda (1990-1995) and Congo (1996-1997, and 1998-present) and ongoing war in Congo.

When Mamdani talks about “silences” it strikes me as a little close to the (untold) truth. WHEN VICTIMS BECOME KILLERS says nothing, and supports his former students Kagame and Museveni.

If Mamdani is honest his veracity is subordinated to the very real probability that he would be silenced himself if he were to honestly expose what he knows to in fact be true. So Mamdani then has to be seen in the white supremacist construct of “embraceable” black men: as long as he doesnt cross a certain line, or enter into the terrain that does not reside on the spectrum of allowed and encouraged — even radical — debate (remember “radicals” are necessary to the facade of free speech) then he can enjoy all the perks of the white project. And he does. Herbert blah blah blah Lehman professor of Anthropology at Columbia — a hotbed of CIA activity.

So, no, I don’t disagree with mamdani’s overall assertion about Darfur. It’s just that, given the really heavy involvement of all these wetsren covert forces and “humanitarian” (quite literally shipping weapons) armies…. Mamdani is not radical.

also, from Merchants of Death: Exposing Corporate Financed Holocaust in Africa, more on the actors:

First there was the Rwanda Patriotic Front/Army (RPF/A) that invaded Rwanda, and then came the Alliance for the Democratic Liberation of Zaire (ADFL) that marched across Zaire to unseat President Mobutu. Next came the "rebellion" with Jean-Pierre Bemba and the Movement for the Liberation of Congo (MLC), and all the different factions of the Rassemblement Congolais pour la Démocratie, or Congolese Rally for Democracy—RCD, RCD-G (Goma), RCD-K, RCD-K-ML—backed by Rwanda and Uganda.

Here are the comrades in arms who studied together at the Marxist University of Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania: Yoweri Museveni, Uganda’s president; Laurent Desiré Kabila, the ADFL figurehead and assassinated president of the Democratic Republic of Congo; Meles Zenawi, president of Ethiopia; Isaias Afwerki, president of Eritrea; Africa scholar Mahmood Mamdani; former RCD leader Wamba dia Wamba; Paul Kagame, Rwanda’s president; and John Garang (d. 2005), former leader of the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) and first president of South Sudan.

Both the RPF/A and SPLA waged successful covert guerrilla wars against governments that were considered "undesirable" by Washington; both achieved their objectives of seizing land and gaining control, and both insurgencies were covertly backed by U.S. Committee for Refugees official Roger Winter—a pivotal U.S. intelligence asset operating in Sudan and a dedicated ally of Yoweri Museveni, Paul Kagame and John Garang.

Winter’s protégé is Susan Rice, Clinton’s Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs. Rice was one of the primary architects of the Pentagon’s prized Africa Crisis Response Initiative (ACRI)—a euphemistically named entity created to project U.S. power in Africa, and run by U.S. Army Special Forces Command (SOCOM).[2]

The coups d’etat in Rwanda and Burundi occurred after the presidents Juvenal Habyarimana and Cyprien Ntaryamira were assassinated on April 6, 1994. Similarly, more than a decade of covert U.S. military support for the SPLA, channeled through Uganda and Ethiopia, led to the Naivasha Peace Agreement of January 2005 and the creation of the autonomous country of South Sudan.

The "Rwanda genocide" began with the 1990 invasion of northern Rwanda by Ugandan forces that brutally targeted everyone in their path. By the time the RPF/A forces—comprised mostly of seasoned Ugandan troops—reached Kigali, more than 800,000 IDPs (internally displaced persons) were hovering around the capital city: they were terrified, they were homeless, they were hungry, they were angry and—justifiably—they took up arms. The United Nations Assistance Mission for Rwanda (UNAMIR) and its Canadian General Romeo Dallaire clandestinely backed the illegal guerrilla war.[3]

The guerrilla wars in Rwanda and South Sudan were prosecuted much like the CIA-backed low-intensity guerrilla warfare, spawned by Washington, against populist movements in Honduras, Nicaragua, Chile and Guatemala. This is exactly what is playing out in Congo and Sudan today: low-intensity guerrilla warfare prosecuted by powerful shadow forces competing for land and loot.

SPLA leader John Garang received military training at the School of the Americas, Fort Benning, Georgia. Paul Kagame received training at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. At the time he was sent for training, Kagame was Museveni’s director of military intelligence; upon his return he assumed command of the army created, financed and trained by Uganda: the Rwanda Patriotic Army.

Both Garang and Kagame likely received "counter-insurgency" training through the Pentagon’s International Military Education and Training Program (IMET). Since 1998, the IMET program has provided training to 318 RDF and 291 UPDF soldiers. Many other IMET soldiers who attended the notorious School of the Americas are today known human rights violators in Latin America.

Posted by: Arcturus | Apr 12 2009 17:45 utc | 13

hmm, links aren't showing - here are:

The US’s War In Darfur

Merchants of Death: Exposing Corporate Financed Holocaust in Africa

Posted by: Arcturus | Apr 12 2009 17:52 utc | 14

khs can be a real egotistical idiot sometimes & reaches too far often, but he does dig up helpful stuff & fills a niche keeping counter-narratives available to wider audiences. not all of them hold up, but if it keeps people thinking & asking better questions i'm usually for it. in the extracts above he obviously hasn't read mamdani's latest book to continue to claim that the scholar avoids acholi or museveni & kagame's role in rwanda & eastern congo.

Posted by: b real | Apr 12 2009 20:04 utc | 15

understand what you mean abt khs - who could also use better organization at times - but lots of leads in his work - & brings up questions/issues/NAMES most others aren't willing to raise - I didn't note that the comments above were from 2007 - can't read a book (which I have yet to look at myself) that hadn't yet been published . . .

Posted by: Arcturus | Apr 12 2009 21:27 utc | 16


i hadn't followed the links yet, though i still find his attacks on mamdani weak, over the top & counterproductive

Posted by: b real | Apr 13 2009 4:50 utc | 17

iirc, Mamdani in that lrb piece mentions how Museveni & Kagame were operating in the Congo as US proxies, but don't recall him mentioning Uganda's role in Sudan, let alone talking about who is arming the rebels, or the NGO problem - so the criticism of silence there at least seems justified - maybe it's different in the new book? not sure what, if anything, to make of the nexus of players coming out of the U of Dar Es Salaam, but it's at least a curios coincidence - guess I'm not so quick to dismiss

Posted by: Arcturus | Apr 14 2009 18:02 utc | 18

in addition to pointing out that kagame & museveni were u.s. proxies in rwanda & still are in the congo, mamdani spends a couple of pages on the counterinsurgency in northern uganda, mostly using it as an example to illustrate the selective politicizing of the label genocide by the united states. (the other example is the u.s. invasion in iraq.)

the core of the book, part II, darfur in context, "the historical part", as mamdani refers to it, spends roughly 150 of the book's 300 pages detailing how things got to where they are today. he does cover the rebel movements in much detail, locating the different conflicts in their local, regional & global contexts. the latter two revolve around cold war/gwot geopolitics. uganda isn't directly mentioned in the txt as a supplier of the insurgencies, probably b/c it is only one of a number of neighboring countries playing a small proxy role for the u.s., israel, and some other western powers. libya & chad get most of the ink for laying out that accounting of historical context.

re NGO's, overall he takes a nuanced approach, as seems more rational than throwing out the baby w/ the bathwater. a number of int'l NGO's are responsible for spreading the lies about darfur, he points out, yet the best mortality figures also come from NGOs. NGO's have lined up w/ the imperialist "responsibility to protect" doctrine, part of this new "international humanitarian order" that "heralds a new system of trusteeship" where citizens of once sovereign states are now only acknowledged as wards of larger int'l powers. essentially, recolonization.

in that context he also elaborates on how sudanese NGOs are unable to compete w/ INGOs. and it doesn't help that surveys show a majority preference in IDP camps of INGOs over local NGOs.

pointing out (the obvious) that INGOs serve an intelligence function for other powers falls outside of the scope of his book

Posted by: b real | Apr 15 2009 3:56 utc | 19

Aid Watch on Mamdani's book:

I have long been a fan of Mahmood Mamdani. His new book Saviors and Survivors: Darfur, Politics, and the War on Terror is very critical of the Western approach to Darfur. In brief, he accuses advocacy campaigns like Save Darfur of making the achievement of peace in Darfur more difficult by portraying the conflict simplistically between “bad Arabs” and “good Africans,” and by advocating foreign military intervention.

I’ll repeat just a few points from Mamdani that stuck in my mind, but I encourage you strongly to pick up the book.

* The Save Darfur campaign repeatedly ignored and distorted the facts on the ground.

* Darfur is an insurgency and an extremely vicious counter-insurgency, but there was never the intent to eliminate any specific group and so the word “genocide” is inappropriate. But the word “genocide” gave the West and the UN a free hand to intervene.

* The prospect of foreign military intervention encouraged the rebels to hold out rather than agreeing to a peace deal, while hardening and attracting additional support for the position of the government to “defend national sovereignty.”

* There were also terrible atrocities on the “good African” side.

* The “good African” side includes one key player, the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM), that is an opposition Islamist movement that was previously on the “bad Arab” side in the North-South civil war between “bad Arabs” and “good Africans.”

* There was a sharp decrease in violence after 2005 just as the Save Darfur campaign picked up steam.

* The ICC is not credible to much of the non-Western world as a judge of war crimes since the US itself does not subject itself to the ICC, and since the ICC seems to selectively prosecute US enemies and turn a blind eye to war crimes by US allies.

* The Western pressure based on distorted facts has set back attempts within Sudan and within Africa to reach a peace settlement in Darfur, which is the only way the tragedy will end.

Posted by: b | Apr 15 2009 12:47 utc | 20

Mamdani knows very little about Darfur. Read Prunier's response to his LRB piece here and Daly's review of his silly new book here.

Prunier and Daly are real scholars of Sudan, whereas Mamdani has just decided to hitch his wagon to the hot topic du jour. Rwanda: check. War on terror: check. Darfur: check. Look for him to become an "expert" on whatever the next big thing is...

If you're interested in quality books on Darfur, check out Prunier, O'Fahey and Burr & Collins. Don't waste your time or money on Mamdani. I just read his latest and strongly recommend saving your eyes for something worthwhile.

Posted by: sean | Apr 16 2009 16:33 utc | 21

not to get into any silly flame wars, but geez, prunier of all people? hard to take any attempt to discredit mamdani's knowledge of sudan seriously after that!

Posted by: b real | Apr 16 2009 17:49 utc | 22

What exactly would be your problem with Prunier?

Posted by: sean | Apr 16 2009 18:04 utc | 23

heh, sean. that's some revealing review you wrote there of (the first quarter) of mamdani's book.

not interested in engaging you on ideological opinions - but compelled to respond to one of your stmts & point out the following

you wrote: Mamdani knows very little about Darfur ... Mamdani has just decided to hitch his wagon to the hot topic du jour ... Look for him to become an "expert" on whatever the next big thing is

if the reader will permit me to quote from mamdani's introduction in saviors and survivors where he lays out his credentials on this subject, i'll leave it to them to draw their own conclusions on the merits of your accusation, as if your blog entry isn't enough...

My next trips to Sudan were not until 2003, the year the armed insurgency in Darfur began raging full-force. I spent the first of my two visits that year meeting Sudanese intellectuals, both within and outside the university, hoping to map the outlines of the Sudanese debate on Sudan. During the second visit, I shifted my attention from intellectuals to political parties and rebel groups.

My preoccupation with Sudan has intensified since 2003 and has involved more visits to Sudan and to Darfur. Three different sponsorships have helped make these visits possible: the Ford and Guggenheim Foundations and the African Union. I was a recipient of a Ford Foundation research grant in 2003-5 and a Guggenheim grant during 2007=8. The Ford grant made possible earlier visits and the Guggenheim additional visits to Sudan and the United Kingdom for archival work (at the National Archives in Khartoum and the Sudan Archive at Durham University in the United Kingdom) and to Darfur for interviews. It was during one such visit in 2006 that I made contact with the Darfur-Darfur Dialogue and Consultation (DDDC) office in the African Union. The DDDC had been set up as a result of a provision in the Abuja agreement that mandated it to promote consultation with and among different groups in Darfur so as to nurture an internal reflection on how to move beyond a conflict-ridden present. The opening phase involved meetings in three states of Darfur: West Darfur (Zalingei), South Darfur (Nyala), and North Darfur (El Fasher). In each of these locations, separate day-long meetings were held with representatives of five different groups: traditonal leaders (consisting of the hierarchy of chiefs in the native administration), political parties (both government and opposition), representatives of IDPs (internally displaced persons) from different camps, local community-based organization, and academics and intellectuals (each of the three states of Darfur has a university with a center that specializes in conflict resolution.) The leadership of the DDC asked me to act as a consultant to the process. My job was to read background documents, attend the meetings, listen to the proceedings, and point out which issues and which points of view had been left out of the discussion or needed fuller articulation. It was a job ideally suited to thinking through the Darfur crisis from multiple vantage points.

Posted by: b real | Apr 17 2009 3:48 utc | 25

Exactly my point. Mamdani started looking into Darfur when it became a hot topic, in 2003-05. People like O'Fahey, Burr, Collins, Prunier and Daly have been researching and publishing on Sudan for decades, way before Nicholas Kristof and Mahmoud Mamdani. Kristof is a journalist, but Mamdani doesn't have the same excuse.

You dismiss Prunier's research out of hand, so I'll ask again. Which of Prunier's books and articles have you read, and what exactly do you take issue with?

Posted by: sean | Apr 17 2009 4:13 utc | 26

good review @ mondoweiss of the mamdani-prendergast debate on the 14th - Mamdani is persuasive in Darfur debate, Prendergast waffles

Posted by: b real | Apr 20 2009 5:54 utc | 27

does it matter ? does it matter if the death role is 200, 000 or 10, 000? the point is that PEOPLE ARE BEING MURDERED AND NOBODY IS DOING NOTHING ABOUT IT. for god sake. have u visited darfur recently ??

Posted by: g | May 20 2009 13:36 utc | 28

Why the ICC is not qualified to deliver justice?

1. The International Criminal Court (ICC) is structurally unable to deliver justice as it is controlled by the UN Security Council which has the power to refer whatever case it deems fit to the ICC, and to intervene to suspend the proceedings of the court at any stage. The selectivity, double-standards and injustice that characterize the acts and positions of the Security Council are self-evident. As such, the ICC can never act against big powers, wielders of veto right, three of whom do not recognize the jurisdiction of the ICC. The only conclusion that can be made here is that the ICC is meant solely to deal with developing and weak states, especially the African Countries. Currently all the cases before the ICC belong to African Countries. The ICC is, therefore, a tool to reinforce and perpetuate the injustice and double-standards that prevail in the intentional relations.

2. According to International Law experts who studied the Rome Statute 1998, and how it come into being, articles 97 of the Statute, on the Principal of complimentarity and article 98-2, were tailored especially to address the concerns of the US that the Rome Statute might be used against its nationals given its world-wide military operations and occupation of Iraq.

3. The resolution 1593 of the Security Council to refer the situation in Darfur in the ICC has provided for the exemption of the US Nationals from being prosecuted for any crimes occurred in Darfur.

4. For some of International Law experts, it is against the spirit of the Rome Statute that a body, some of its members do not recognize the ICC, the Security Council, could refer the situation in Darfur to the very same ICC. The irony is that the US which was instrumental in taking the issue of Darfur to the Security Council and was behind most of its resolutions on the issue that culminated in the resolution 1593, does not recognize the jurisdiction of ICC and has exerted all possible pressure to see to it that its national are totally exempted from the jurisdiction of the ICC. And once again, the US is now blocking attempts by the African Union, Arab League and NAM Countries to use article 16 of the Rome Statute to defer the proceedings of ICC with regards to the Darfur Conflict.

5. France, which is on the forefront in adopting and supporting the ICC move against the Sudan, has readily rejected the findings of the Independent Commission of investigation into the Rwanda Genocide of 1994, that, following more than two years of investigation, accused the French Government not only of being aware of the preparations for the Genocide, and helping train the perpetrators, but also of direct involvement in the killings. Published in August 2008, the report named 33 French Politicians and Military Senior Officers as suspects to be prosecuted with regards to the Genocide. Among them are the Late President Mitterand and two former Prime Ministers; Allan Juppe, and Dominique Villepain. The report confirmed the accusations that have been haunting France for the past 14 years of partial responsibility of the Genocide, especially in the light of the fact that the main supporter of the Rwandan government responsible of the genocide and the presence of significant French Military in Rwanda at the time. In fact, the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) through its ten years investigation produced sufficient evidence to try French Government Officials. Rather than co-operating with the ICTR France actually did its best to undermine its work. In June 2004, the European Court of Human Rights condemned France for sheltering suspected perpetrators of Rwanda Genocide wanted by the ICTR. The Paris-based International Federation for Human Rights asserted that cases related to the Rwandan Genocide had been in general met by “Certain Coolness by the French Judiciary Authorities”.

6. Despite having the power to initiate his own investigation upon receiving information about possible occurrence of crimes that the Rome Statute covers, the ICC prosecutor has adamantly rejected to act on documented complaints about atrocities committed by the US occupying forces in Iraq. He has equally been reluctant to act on the complaints by the Palestine National Authority about the recent Israeli heinous atrocities in Gaza. Israel crimes have been characterized as war crimes by a UN investigation committee in 2006, headed by Archbishop Desmond Tutu, but has been continuously shielded in the Security Council by US and the UK.

7. The ICC prosecutor has never visited Darfur, the scene of the alleged crimes, nor have any of his assistants for first hand information. Instead, he relied on information outsourced from dubious organizations and on hearsay allegations. Thus, it is not surprising that the application submitted by the ICC prosecutor is abound with sweeping generalizations and far-fetched allegations that reflect ignorance of social and demographical realities in Darfur.

8. The decision of the ICC on the 4th of March to approve the application of the prosecutor to issue warrant of arrest against the President of the Republic of the Sudan on account of war crimes and crimes against humanity accusations, and not Genocide accusation, has long been disclosed by Western quarters before the announcement by the court. It was disclosed by the former US Envoy to the UN last October, while many Western media outlets published details of the decision several weeks ago. This suffices to show that the ICC is not immune from political influence and raises serious questions about its integrity and impartiality.

Posted by: Awad | Jun 2 2009 8:24 utc | 29

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