July 08, 2004

DARFUR UPDATE: Has France ever met a murderous regime it didn't like?

France says it does not support US plans for international sanctions on Sudan if violence continues in Darfur.

The UN Security Council is due to discuss a US draft resolution imposing sanctions on militias accused of "ethnic cleansing" against non-Arabs. . . .

"In Darfur, it would be better to help the Sudanese get over the crisis so their country is pacified rather than sanctions which would push them back to their misdeeds of old," junior Foreign Minister Renaud Muselier told French radio.

But wait -- read on and you'll see the claim that the U.S. intervention is all about OOOIIIILLLL! Where have we heard that before? It's certainly not what these people are saying.

UPDATE: Reader David Lowe says I've got the oil bit wrong:

If you take another look at the BBC article about French opposition to
sanctions in Sudan, I think you'll find the story is noting French oil
interests there, not American ones.

France led opposition to US moves at the UN over Iraq, and as in Iraq also
has significant oil interests in Sudan.

Certainly the USAID summary of foreign oil and natural gas concessions in
the Sudan shows no US oil/gas interests there, while the French have a
concession in something known as Block 5: to TotalElFina, of course.


It's nice to see the BBC acknowledge, even in passing, that France has a
financial interest in defending murderers and ethnic cleansers in the Muslim

I looked at the story again and I think the language has changed, as often happens with BBC stories. It's possible that I misread it originally, but I don't think so. Either way, I'm certainly glad to make this point clear -- the oil interests are French, and the French are once again running interference for mass murder.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Unfortunately, Peter Beinart, unlike the BBC (at least now) appears to be peddling that old, tired line: "Africa is a Bush priority for one reason: oil." While there certainly is oil diplomacy regarding Africa (especially around Sao Tome, though that's slipped beneath the radar for the most part), and no doubt TNR would fault Bush if there weren't, this particular statement is so absurdly reductionist that I wonder if he's getting that line from the same TNR researcher who told us that Suriname is a majority-Muslim country?

MORE: Reader Randy Beck emails that the Beeb did change the story:

For what it’s worth, the BBC did change their story. I have a copy:

It’s now: “France led opposition to US moves at the UN over Iraq. As was the case in Iraq, it also has significant oil interests in Sudan.”

It was: “France led opposition to US moves at the UN over Iraq, and as in Iraq the US also has significant oil interests in Sudan.”

Yeah, that's how I remembered it. Thanks! And it wasn't an accident, as another reader writes:

Just wanted to let you know, and all your readers know, that pressure on the BBC works. I wrote them complaining about the oooiiiilllll reference concerning France's attitude toward sanctions on Sudan, and they just wrote to tell me they had corrected the story. The reference to the US was 'accidental.' So, keep on pointing out that we can make a difference; and if mainstream media want to remain meaningful, they had better clean up their act.

Good work! And -- I'm reprinting this just as evidence that nobody can get away with anything anymore -- there's this from reader M. Ajay Chandra in Edinburgh:

You didn't misread the BBC story earlier. I have a printout of the story after following your link, where the text is: "France led opposition to the US moves at the UN over Iraq, and as in Iraq the US also has significant oil interests in Sudan." According to my university printer account, I printed the story at 16:02:05 GMT.

Well, there you are.

STILL MORE: Beinart's remarks generated this comment from Howard Owens:

Given the world economy's dependence on oil, shouldn't oil play a significant
part in our foreign policy decisions?

I'm just sayin' ....

And Daniel Moore emails:

Regarding Peter Beinart saying "Africa is a Bush priority for one
reason: oil" makes me think of this retort -

So let me get this straight : just because there is oil somewhere, does that mean that the U.S. shouldn't go in there? That makes even less sense than going only to places where we do have oil interests. One has to wonder how Beinart is trying to have it. People in oil laden countries deserve to eat also - and not get killed by militias. Isn't this a basic (classical) liberal sensibility?

Yes, but sniping from the sidelines is a contemporary one.