FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Beware the Do-Gooders in Body Armor

by JOHN V. WALSH

In Massachusetts as in many other states, there is a “movement” to divest pension funds of their holdings in companies doing business in Sudan, principally in Chinese oil companies there. The ostensible objective is to relieve the sufferings of the people of Darfur, whereas the real purpose seems to lie elsewhere. The campaign in Massachusetts has been spearheaded by State Senator Ed Augustus and by U.S. Congressmen James McGovern and Michael Capuano of Massachusetts.

If you are a state worker, State Senator Ed Augustus, backed by Congressmen McGovern and Capuano, wants to meddle with your pension fund investments for a dubious purpose.

Let me explain with a riddle. There is a country that sits on top of huge oil reserves, it is run by a nasty dictator, Israel regards it as an enemy state, it is Muslim, it is said to harbor “terrorists,” and President Bush expresses hostility toward it. In 2002, that country was Iraq; in 2007 that country is Sudan. And there is a move afoot to take action against Sudan ­ but this time it is being led by the Democratic wing of the War Party. Are the American people about to be suckered into another intervention?

But you may say, is there not a “genocide” going on in the Darfur region of Sudan under the auspices of Sudan’s brutal dictator? Interestingly, only President Bush and the U.S. government, label the fighting in Darfur as a “genocide.” The UN and Bishop Desmond Tutu have called it a civil war, which is a very different story. But is there not terrible suffering going on in Darfur? The answer is yes. Perhaps 200,000 have been killed and a million displaced. But this is not the “worst” humanitarian disaster in the world. In fact 650,000 have been killed due to the U.S. war and occupation in Iraq and millions displaced. It is passing strange that President Bush is so concerned about Sudan when he wants to press on in Iraq. And for his part, Congressmen Capuano and McGovern, for all their talk of opposing the war on Iraq refuse to vote to cut off funding as have eight House Democrats and two Republicans in opposition to the war. So why do Bush and Capuano and McGovern not act to curtail the suffering in Iraq by simply leaving?

But you may say, there is real and terrible suffering in Darfur and in fact throughout Sudan. That is undeniably true. And the U.S. should be sending all the humanitarian aid it can to alleviate that suffering. In fact the U.S. could do more. In 2006, there were more deaths from malaria in Sudan and Darfur than from the civil war there. And in large part that is because the only pharmaceutical factory in Sudan, and the one that produced antimalarials at affordable prices was bombed “mistakenly” by the Democrat Bill Clinton in 1998. There has never been an apology by the U.S. for that act which borders on a war crime. And there has never been an offer of restitution. Perhaps Congressmen Capuano and McGovern might introduce a bill to provide funds to rebuild that factory.

Nevertheless there is heart-wrenching suffering in Sudan and Darfur. But here is the awful part. The measure proposed by Senator Augustus will add to that suffering not alleviate it. You see, Augustus is calling for the state pension funds to divest in Sudan, most particularly the Chinese oil companies doing business there. Sudan is already a very, very poor country with much of its population, including the people of Darfur living in poverty. The divestment campaign is designed by its backers to bankrupt Sudan and bring it to its knees, at the same time depriving China, which the neocons perceive as yet another enemy of the U.S., of Sudanese oil. The divestment and sanctions will fall most heavily on the people of the Sudan and because of the trading routes and how they work very heavily on the people of Darfur.

It is also strange that some of the same neocon groups as well as groups associated closely with AIPAC are pushing for this action against Sudan. These are the very groups that pushed us into war with Iraq and advocate war on Iran. For an example, see: www.DivestTerror.org. Is it just a coincidence that this campaign is driving a wedge between African Americans and Arab Americans? Who benefits from that? Finally the U.S. is already involved in neighboring Somalia, using Ethiopian troops as proxies and American Special Forces to oust a Muslim regime that is not to the liking of the administration and the neocons. And here again oil is involved. This is causing awful death and destruction in Somalia in the name of democracy and progress. Is Sudan next?

So one must distinguish between genuine suffering under cruel dictatorships, a terrible reality in Sudan and many other places, and the political uses to which these can be put. We were lied into the war in Iraq partly by the successful way that the neocons played on our good intentions about the benefits of removing an “evil” dictator. Using our good intentions, they led us into a long, cruel and deadly war, which in reality had nothing to do with removing Saddam Hussein. Let us not repeat the same mistake in the Sudan. Yes Congressmen Capuano and McGovern, let us increase humanitarian aid to Darfur. Let us pay reparations for the pharmaceutical plant there. But, Senator Augustus, do not get involved with risky meddling with the hard-earned pensions of the state workers to further increase the suffering in Sudan and Darfur. Hands off the suffering people of Sudan and hands off the state pensions.

JOHN V. WALSH is a long time peace activist and a resident of Cambridge, MA. He can be reached at John.Endwar@gmail.com.

He urges CounterPunch readers to look back at Conn Hallinan’s excellent piece on the same subject in CP, “The Right’s Stuff in Africa“.

 

 

 

More articles by:

John V. Walsh can be reached at John.Endwar@gmail.com

Weekend Edition
February 23, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Richard D. Wolff
Capitalism as Obstacle to Equality and Democracy: the US Story
Paul Street
Where’s the Beef Stroganoff? Eight Sacrilegious Reflections on Russiagate
Jeffrey St. Clair
They Came, They Saw, They Tweeted
Andrew Levine
Their Meddlers and Ours
Charles Pierson
Nuclear Nonproliferation, American Style
Joseph Essertier
Why Japan’s Ultranationalists Hate the Olympic Truce
W. T. Whitney
US and Allies Look to Military Intervention in Venezuela
John Laforge
Maybe All Threats of Mass Destruction are “Mentally Deranged”
Matthew Stevenson
Why Vietnam Still Matters: an American Reckoning
David Rosen
For Some Reason, Being White Still Matters
Robert Fantina
Nikki Haley: the U.S. Embarrassment at the United Nations
Joyce Nelson
Why Mueller’s Indictments Are Hugely Important
Joshua Frank
Pearl Jam, Will You Help Stop Sen. Tester From Destroying Montana’s Public Lands?
Dana E. Abizaid
The Attack on Historical Perspective
Conn Hallinan
Immigration and the Italian Elections
George Ochenski
The Great Danger of Anthropocentricity
Pete Dolack
China Can’t Save Capitalism from Environmental Destruction
Joseph Natoli
Broken Lives
Manuel García, Jr.
Why Did Russia Vote For Trump?
Geoff Dutton
One Regime to Rule Them All
Torkil Lauesen – Gabriel Kuhn
Radical Theory and Academia: a Thorny Relationship
Wilfred Burchett
Vietnam Will Win: The Work of Persuasion
Thomas Klikauer
Umberto Eco and Germany’s New Fascism
George Burchett
La Folie Des Grandeurs
Howard Lisnoff
Minister of War
Eileen Appelbaum
Why Trump’s Plan Won’t Solve the Problems of America’s Crumbling Infrastructure
Ramzy Baroud
More Than a Fight over Couscous: Why the Palestinian Narrative Must Be Embraced
Jill Richardson
Mass Shootings Shouldn’t Be the Only Time We Talk About Mental Illness
Jessicah Pierre
Racism is Killing African American Mothers
Steve Horn
Wyoming Now Third State to Propose ALEC Bill Cracking Down on Pipeline Protests
David Griscom
When ‘Fake News’ is Good For Business
Barton Kunstler
Brainwashed Nation
Griffin Bird
I’m an Eagle Scout and I Don’t Want Pipelines in My Wilderness
Edward Curtin
The Coming Wars to End All Wars
Missy Comley Beattie
Message To New Activists
Jonah Raskin
Literary Hubbub in Sonoma: Novel about Mrs. Jack London Roils the Faithful
Binoy Kampmark
Frontiersman of the Internet: John Perry Barlow
Chelli Stanley
The Mirrors of Palestine
James McEnteer
How Brexit Won World War Two
Ralph Nader
Absorbing the Irresistible Consumer Reports Magazine
Cesar Chelala
A Word I Shouldn’t Use
Louis Proyect
Marx at the Movies
Osha Neumann
A White Guy Watches “The Black Panther”
Stephen Cooper
Rebel Talk with Nattali Rize: the Interview
David Yearsley
Market Music
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail