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Views in brief

October 13, 2006 | Page 8

It's time to save Darfur
Clarification on Islam

Time to say hands off Iran

BUSH'S RECENT speech to the United Nations (UN) General Assembly told the world a number of lies of Hitlerian proportions, such as: war is peace; occupation is liberation; resisters are terrorists; the U.S.-installed puppet governments in Iraq and Afghanistan represent democracy that their people yearn for; and Israeli Prime Minister Olmert is for peace and justice in Palestine and Lebanon.

To prove his point that the new regimes in Iraq and Afghanistan enjoy democracy, Bush said that Saddam and the Taliban are gone.

But the president of Iran, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, let the world know that Bush, selected by the corporate rulers to lead the quest for empire, failed to mention Washington's support during the Cold War for Saddam, the Taliban and al-Qaeda--which included Stinger missiles and intelligence--because they were enemies of "godless communism."

Ahmadinejad exposed the dangerous hypocrisy of the U.S, Britain and Israel on the nuclear issue, the reason used to threaten Iran with sanctions or worse. He said that as signatory to the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and subject to inspections by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Iran could develop peaceful uses of atomic energy.

He urged an ad hoc UN Committee to investigate how, contrary to the NPT, "material, technology and equipment for nuclear weapons was transferred to the Zionist regime."

He asked for a nuclear weapons-free zone in the Middle East. He also called for a complete reform and restructuring of the UN with a seat for the Non-Aligned Movement on the Security Council with veto power, as well as representation on the Council from the African Union, so that the disgraceful failure to achieve an immediate cease-fire in Lebanon could have been averted. All anti-imperialists must organize and say "hands off Iran."
Dave Silver, from the Internet

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It's time to save Darfur

I READ with great interest your latest article arguing against military intervention to stop the genocide in Darfur ("What the U.S. has in store for Sudan," September 29). I found it a frustrating combination of naiveté and cynicism.

David Whitehouse is certainly correct to note that the U.S., United Nations (UN) and NATO have other interests in Sudan, mainly economic ones. But he offers no better alternative to outside intervention besides "stepped-up aid to the victims," which, in the absence of security, is worth nothing.

Whitehouse writes, "The herders [Arabist "janjaweed" groups] traditionally pass between Darfuri farm villages in their yearly migrations. Partition of the land would break up a division of labor that has benefited everybody." Yet he ignores the countless anecdotal reports, backed up by satellite imagery, that show these once nomadic herders settling down in new villages built right beside the charred remains of once-bustling black African villages. This is genocide, or ethnic cleansing, or whatever you want to call it.

Whitehouse here argues against foreign-imposed partition of Darfur, but I know no one who seriously argues for dividing Darfur (even among Darfuri refugees who have fled their homeland). The universal goal is the uniformly longed for "New Sudan," a shared vision of a People's Sudan, with representation from every diverse corner of the country.

An all-out war in Sudan (perhaps featuring countless al-Qaeda fighters, as bin Laden and al-Zawahiri keep threatening) would indeed be an ugly, terrible and possibly lengthy event. But could it possibly be uglier, more terrible or lengthier than the nearly four-year long genocide that has left upwards of half a million dead and 3 million homeless?

Indeed, as Whitehouse writes, "it's clear that the U.S. would exploit a UN/NATO occupation of Darfur as an opportunity to control Sudan's political future," but why should we complain about this?

Right now, Sudan's political future is being controlled by a new incarnation of Nazism. Given the choice between a government led by a genocidal dictator (like Sudan's Omar Bashir) and one led by a heartless, corporate-planted stooge (in the mold of Afghanistan's Hamid Karzai), are we not forced to choose the stooge?

At least he would attempt protect civilians, though he's more likely to think of them as potential consumers. But if you're starving, thirsty, and dying, there are worse things.

A certain amount of cynicism is always welcome when discussing U.S. government policy, but as a Jew, I was offended that Whitehouse claims the facts cast "suspicion on the motives of pro-Israel figures and organizations so prominent among advocates of sending troops to Sudan."

I am a strong supporter of Palestinian rights, politically opposed to almost every faction of the Israel government, and I still want to "Save Darfur." I have yet to meet a Jew active in the U.S. movement for Darfur (in which I have been very involved for the last two years) who argues for intervention simply because they hate Arabs, or some such nonsense.

Almost uniformly, they cite what they feel is a special responsibility to fight against genocide just 60 years after the Holocaust. I have heard many Jews and others say they would be willing to physically fight it themselves, in the event of the creation of a New Abraham Lincoln Brigade, or some sort of International Peace Brigade for Darfur. I know I would fight, and considerations of oil dominance would surely never enter my mind.

But until such a tangible, global movement exists, the only hope for the people of Darfur lies with foreign governments. An evil, yes, but certainly the lesser of two.

Franklin Roosevelt was no enlightened philosopher-king, but I'm still glad he stopped Hitler. Never forget that many Americans were opposed to intervention against Germany as well. It's time to save Darfur.
Nathan Kleinman, Leiden, Netherlands

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Clarification on Islam

I WAS impressed by the political conclusions of your article by Alan Maass about the administration's lies about "Islamo-fascism" ("Another pack of lies to justify war," September 8). However, I found a few statements in the article that bothered me on the basis of fact.

For instance, Maass states, "The history of Islam doesn't set it apart as more oppressive or violent than other religions." He is correct as far as Islam having a peaceful history in general. However, the Koran does justify killing "infidels": "The infidels should not think that they can bypass the law of God. Surely they cannot get away. Prepare against them whatever arms and cavalry you can muster, that you may strike terror into the hearts of the enemies of God and your own and others beside them not known to you, but known to God."

And it states, "Those who barter the life of this world for the nest should fight in the way of god. And we shall bestow on him who fights in the way of God, whether he is killed or victorious, a glorious reward."

Islam, however, has very strong views of social justice. For example, the Koran states, "Oppression is worse than killing." So Islam obviously rejects oppression. Also, the Koran talks of men and women as equal. The extremists who think Muslim women should wear the burqa are drawing on pre-Muslim traditions.

I also noticed that the Taliban were called Wahhabis. They actually belong to a distinct but related sect of Islam called Deobandism.

Thank you for your time. It is these small things that make or break our credibility.
Hannah Morong, Boston

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