Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Disgusting shit: update

Have you seen the piece that Jonathan Steele had in the Guardian about Darfur the other day?

It repays a close reading. The overall tone is a fatherly lecture to the kind of idealists who just think that something ought to be done.

Steele’s contention is that it would be counterproductive. Yet, you don’t really find out why until near the end of the article. Indeed, he doesn’t even pretend that the humanitarian question should be his prime concern when writing about this issue. He starts by hinting that any intervention would simply provide cover for some imperialist regime change project.

He hints (but provides no rebuttal) that humanitarian pressure groups are exaggerating the scale of the problem or inventing new dimensions to it (he mentions slavery specifically). He suggests that things aren’t as simple as they appear and that all sides in the conflict share the blame.

And there’s plenty more pilgevision in there, bulking out the heart of his article. But only near the end of the article – the penultimate paragraph – do you get the claim that….

"No foreign peacekeepers, whether AU or UN, can monitor all the vast terrain of Darfur." and ...."the "something must be done" brigade will be upset, but sending foreign troops into Sudan without Khartoum's consent would be nothing short of disaster."

Now, this is, potentially, a powerful argument. Anyone who argues for ‘humanitarian intervention’ – as I often do - has to be aware to the huge elephant trap in their own position: That the road to hell is paved with good intentions. That you shouldn’t start something that you can’t finish.

And, for fans of counterintuitive arguments (I'm one) I'd be interested to hear of any substantial arguments on how an intervention in Sudan, at this moment in time, is a nice idea in principle, but one that won't work in practice. Personally, I've no idea on how much of the suffering in Darfur can be alleviated by any intervention. I’m just prepared to defend the principle that, if something can be done, it should be done.

But Steele presents no such argument, because he's quite prepared to offer his undergraduate understanding of national sovereignty (ask Norm if you want that nonsense shredding for you) as a reason why nothing practical can be done to stop civilian slaughter on a huge scale.

There are no facts of any substance presented to contradict the contention that armed peacekeepers, provided by countries that are capable of providing them, are likely to be useful in stopping armed groups that already have an impressive track record in murdering hundreds of thousands of people because of their ethnicity, or that any alternative strategy that might offer a better outcome. Only a contention in the penultimate para. An unsupported, unsubstantiated, contention.

For instance, we could ask…

  • Does Steele know the geography well enough to write with any authority on this?
  • Does he have any expertise in peacekeeping?
  • Does he have any idea of the numbers and ordinance required to do such a job properly (and can he contrast this figure with the numbers that the perfidious ‘international community’ are prepared to offer)

And so on. You know the kind of stuff you'd ask him about if you were an editor considering one of his articles for publication. If I were making the argument that it isn’t practical, then I’d bulk out my article with this kind of information rather than the yesbuttery that makes up the bulk of this 1200-word dungheap.

Such is his lack of confidence. This ‘impracticality’ contention of his should be seen for what it is: nothing more than an arse-covering exercise. Given that tens – maybe hundreds of thousands of lives are at stake on this issue, it would be impossible to write an article such as this without at least making such a contention. It is simply indecent not to actually substantiate what should be a central claim.

Given the lack of substantiation, we can only conclude that this waffle is supposed to be arguing that humanitarian intervention is wrong in principle – no matter what the circumstances or how many lives are at stake.

So we get lots of pseudo-granularity instead. The little details that show that what is happening in Darfur isn't quite as simple as a few running-dog-lackeys for imperialism would have you believe.

Barely any mention anywhere in Steele's article of the hundreds of thousands of murders unless he adds a bit of pilgeresque qualification. "But the rebels also committed atrocities, a fact that was rarely reported since it upset the black-and-white moral image that many editors preferred." Sound familiar? Well, if you'll remember, Serbian nationalism wouldn't have existed without the KLA?

Of course, it wouldn't occur to him that the need to stop it from happening might take priority over the apportioning of blame or the integrity of his unreconstructed Vietnam-demo worldview. You have to wait for the penultimate paragraph to get a passing reference (cloaked in the fog of war, of course) that...

"...many of Khartoum's critics suspect the government has not abandoned its indiscriminate bombing raids and excessive use of force against rebel villages."
The ambivalence is breathtaking. One simple unqualified reference to the central issue - that of civilian murder, ethnic cleansing on a monstrous scale, and the need to put an end to it - would quite simply blow Steele's entire argument out of the water. That's why the scumbag hasn't the decency to address it properly.

Simplification - such as this, and the clarity that we should have the right to expect from someone who is paid to write - are, it seems polar opposites in hands such as these. And, in years to come, articles like this one by Jonathan Steele (waived through by a shit-for-brains section editor, and put on the page without a dozen questionmarks in blue pencil from a sub-editor) will be held up as textbook examples of the applied idiocy that has infected left-liberal commentary at the start of the twenty first century.

For once, Comrade Will Rubbish is guilty of understatement. Off you go, Will, get that Profanisaurus of yours out. "Disgusting shit" doesn't even scratch the surface this time.

Update: Freemania picks up a few strands that I decided to leave out, for the sake of .... er.... brevity.


Will said...

oooo that was most excellent comrade Hippy Doubter. Indeed the fuckwit should be made to pay. Expletives are surely not enough for this particular scrotum eater.

Jay McGinley said...

Brilliant, righteous article. A major contribution. Extremely insightful and intelligent rebuttal. Thank you.

Jay McGinley said...


DARFUR VIGIL DAY 116 (now in NYC); 56 DAYS HUNGER STRIKE since July 4, 2006; Jay McGinley ( 484-356-6243

It took just one failed component, one failed component out of millions that painstaking effort had made right, to cause the searing tragedy of the Space Shuttle Challenger explosion. You'll remember that for Challenger it was a faulty "O ring."

The contributions of the many that led to a brilliantly executed September 17th series of worldwide events is something we all should humbly honor, praise, reverence and express our deep respect and gratitude for. I do. It was awesome. And a handful of truly heroic efforts took place - promoting/filling busses from Pittsburgh, Boston, Ohio, Washington...; logistics; PR.... Thank you and God bless your commitment. And your accomplishments including front page coverage in the New York Times, appointment of a special envoy to Darfur as desrcibed in Bush to Name Envoy for Darfur Washington Post, By Colum Lynch and Glenn Kessler Staff Writers Tuesday, September 19, 2006; and finally, a spotlight on China, for example The Genocide Test, Editorial, Washington Post.

What the September 17th teams worldwide did is absolutely necessary! But there is a faulty "O ring" in the Campaign to Save Darfur. SEPTEMBER 17TH, AND THE FOLLOW-ON EVENTS CONTEMPLATED AND PLANNED WILL NOT STOP THE GENOCIDE. And I have yet to have anyone prominently involved with the Darfur movement disagree. And I've asked them. And I've received responses.

A crucial component is missing; a component that has been essential for every previous social-change movement. Stopping Genocide requires Monumental Social-Change - NEVER has genocide been stopped. N-E-V-E-R. Never. Not Rwanda, Cambodia, Kurds, Serbrinka, not 6,000,000 Jews.... Kosovo was far too late addressed to some degree.

What is profoundly missing is a Core Group of Leaders that anyone, EVERYONE SEES is heroically putting their skin in the game, standing up for, getting in harms way for, SACRIFICING PERSONALLY for Darfur. Name major social change that has ever come without this. Civil Rights? Apartheid? Stopping Vietnam War? Suffrage? IT HAS NEVER HAPPENED.

Unmistakable-Sacrificial-Leadership-visible-to-the-masses is the spark plug; the inspiration; the moral clarity; THE PROOF OF IMPORTANCE THAT INSPIRES COMMITTED ACTION IN OTHERS. Leadership of this kind, in sufficient quantity is - the price to Save Darfur. Until the "price" is paid, the genocide will not stop, no matter what else we do.

We can do everything else right (and these are NECESSARY): advertising, PR, rallies, celebrity participation, strategy, Sudan Envoys... but without the ignition, without the spark-plug we've got our "O ring," our efforts will crash in defeat, and 4,000,000 family members in Darfur are exterminated.

I have been begging for two years for such effort: 9/23/04:, 10/17/04:, 8/11/05:, 8/14/05:, 7/11/06:, 8/16/06:, 8/22/05:
So Jay, does all this make you right? What matters is: 1. Might it be correct?; 2. That YOU decide, correctly, in time. As Reverend Gloria said in NYC on Sunday, “It’s about T-I-M-E.”

Rosa Parks was a seamstress. Steven Beko was from no organization. Ghandi was a young lawyer and the wave upon wave of fellow leaders were from all walks of life. Dr. King a brilliant minister and many co-leaders were uneducated laborers. King said, "Anyone can be great because anyone can serve." Gandhi said, 'The frailest, old crippled body can be just as powerful as any head of state."

BUT THE MOST LIKELY SOURCE FOR THE LEADERSHIP CORE IS STUDENTS. This has been true in every movement. And if the students of this country do not rise up for humanity and justice, NOW, there is no hope. THEY must form the core of our leadership. We adults in the NGOs, Churches, Synagogues, Mosques HAVE MADE OUR POSITION CLEAR. WE WILL NOT GET IN HARMS WAY FOR DARFUR.

Someone(s) cried out about the "O ring" long, long before the Challenger exploded. I'm sure of it. He/She/They were blown off as troublemaker, renegade, lone ranger, loner, outsider, not-a-team-player.... The Challenger exploded. All that is left are, regrets. Jay McGinley

Jay McGinley said...


Darfur Vigil DAY 118 (now in NYC); 56 Days Hunger Strike since July 4, 2006

Young Rachel Corrie saw a bulldozer intentionally bearing down on the house of a family, a family she probably never knew. She got in front of that bulldozer, between the bulldozer and the house, between the threat, and the innocents. (

We need to get between what is killing Darfur (Bashir's performance and lack thereof by we-the-people) - and our children, sisters and brothers in Darfur. Now. And as of now we are not ( How do we do that? How do we make it happen? What would a sufficient "wake up" look like? IF SOMEONE HAS THIS ALREADY STARTED, LET ME KNOW. I'll join you, or even back out if that is best.

I am deciding what I will do next, what I expect to be my final attempt to spark the Rescue of Darfur by waking up sufficient numbers of we humans in time, converting us from spectators, critics and activists-of-convenience into antiviolent warriors (think Civil Rights struggle) of profound courage, wisdom, tenacity and effectiveness; utilizing to the max the few weeks, days and seconds that our Darfur family has left.

What would Rachel Corrie start THIS WEEK? This question strikes me as the way to approach the task of deciding. The way to focus the mind to come up with the appropriate, proportional response of greatest chance - THE BEST AIMED "HAIL MARY" PASS.

Rachel Corrie stood in front of a bulldozer about to destroy a house in Palestine ( Would a different role model help you more? How about Steve Beko (South Africa, movie, Denzel), a young Gandhi, a young Nelson Mandella, an antivioloent Rambo, Deitrich Bonhoeffer, John Q (from the Denzel Washington movie)...? You get the idea. Think of your own role model APPROPRIATE to this situation.

LET’S JOIN TOGETHER IN THIS QUANDARY, before it is too late, please: Send me, or post, your ideas ( Now. I expect to embark on whatever best plan by early next week at the latest, with anyone that wants to join together.

A CONSTRAINT: Suggestions must centrally embrace this notion of the problem from Samantha Power's inspired, Pulitzer Prize-winning book, "Problem from Hell" (and I paraphrase AND take license): THE BATTLE TO STOP GENOCIDE HAS ALWAYS BEEN LOST ON THE FIELD OF PUBLIC OPINION. THE PEOPLE [WE THE PEOPLE OF THE WORLD]... HAVE NEVER STOOD UP SUFFICIENTLY TO STOP IT.

HUNCH: The plan should involve leveraging STAND's Oct 5th Fast to make it into the END OF THE GONOICIDE, the START of a WORLDWIDE FAST UNTIL DARFUR GENOCIDE IS ENDING. One-day only by all participants is too-little-too-late. A one day fast is NOT what the world's response to the Holocaust, the extermination of 6,000,000 Jews lacked. Not by many orders of magnitude. Death rates are climbing toward 25,000 per week in Darfur, NOW. We must be REALISTIC. Code Pink's "Troops Home Fast" could be a model ( Make STAND's October 5th the START? THAT COULD DO IT.

But, WE NEED EVEN BETTER, MUCH BETTER SUGGESTIONS and specific ideas for approach and execution than I am hinting at.

RESPOND. PLEASE. Deadline: FRIDAY, 9/22/06, because THERE IS NO MORE T-I-M-E. (For those of you that just want to watch, and have a good laugh at my frantic gyrations, enjoy.)

What would Rachel Corrie start THIS WEEK?

Jay McGinley ( 484-356-6243