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January 24, 2006
DARFUR UPDATE: Writing in the New York Review of Books, Nicholas Kristof reviews two books on Darfur -- Julie Flint and Alex de Waal's Darfur : A Short History of a Long War, and Gerard Prunier's Darfur: The Ambiguous Genocide. Kristof writes:
Much the same has been true of the Western response to the Armenian genocide of 1915, the Cambodian genocide of the 1970s, and the Bosnian massacres of the 1990s. In each case, we have wrung our hands afterward and offered the lame excuse that it all happened too fast, or that we didn't fully comprehend the carnage when it was still under way.
And now the same tragedy is unfolding in Darfur, but this time we don't even have any sort of excuse. In Darfur genocide is taking place in slow motion, and there is vast documentary proof of the atrocities. Some of the evidence can be seen in the photo reproduced with this essay, which was leaked from an African Union archive containing thousands of other such photos. And now, the latest proof comes in the form of two new books that tell the sorry tale of Darfur: it's appalling that the publishing industry manages to respond more quickly to genocide than the UN and world leaders do.
Norm Geras comments: "It's hard not to be led to the most disheartening of conclusions about the putative legitimacy of the international system. For those of us who look towards a strengthening of transnational institutions, and of the quality and the reach of international law, whether in working for peaceful outcomes, in bringing to justice the perpetrators of crimes against humanity, or in preventing major atrocities, especially genocide, how is it possible to speak for that emergent legitimacy, or the claim to one, when the international community repeatedly just stands by as the worst crime on its books unfolds?"
How, indeed? Here are some earlier thoughts of mine on this topic.