As we honor the memory of President Ronald Reagan, we?re reminded of the many wise things he said. For example, in 1992 he told the Oxford Union Society, ?Evil still stalks the planet. Its ideology may be nothing more than bloodlust ? but it is evil all the same.?
Evil was on display ten years ago, when ethnic Hutus in Rwanda began a killing spree after the country?s president died when his plane was shot down. In three months, more than 800,000 Tutsis were murdered. Their bodies piled up in churches, floated down rivers, rotted in the sun. It was ?ethnic cleansing.? In the face of that evil, the rest of the world did almost nothing.
After it was all over, though, we promised we?d never let it happen again. ?All over the world there were people like me sitting in offices who did not fully appreciate the depth and the speed with which you were being engulfed by this unimaginable terror,? President Clinton announced during a 1998 visit to Rwanda. ?Never again.?
Well, it?s happening again.
In Darfur, Sudan, Arabs known as the Janjaweed have driven more than a million black Africans from their homes. U.N. Emergency Relief Coordinator Jan Egeland says the Arabs are engaged in ethnic cleansing.
?Scorched-earth tactics are being employed throughout Darfur, including the deliberate destruction of schools, wells, seeds and food supplies, making whole towns and villages uninhabitable,? Egeland said.
So far, though, we?ve responded only with words.
At the G-8 summit in Georgia, world leaders expressed ?grave concern? over the humanitarian and political crisis in Sudan. ?We call especially on the Sudanese government to disarm immediately the Janjaweed and other armed groups which are responsible for massive human rights violations in Darfur. We call on the conflict parties to address the roots of the Darfur conflict and to seek a political solution,? they announced in a statement.
But as we should have learned in Rwanda, words aren?t enough.
Right now, more than a million Sudanese are homeless. Some 150,000 have fled to Chad, where they lack food, shelter and medicine. Without international help, hundreds of thousands could starve. Meanwhile, the government of Sudan is doing all it can to keep workers and aid from reaching the refugees.
Words won?t help these people. We need boots on the ground. Luckily, we?ve got well-trained soldiers available.
Last month 1,300 Spanish soldiers returned from Iraq to their base in Badajoz. Recently elected Prime Minister Jos?uis Rodr?ez Zapatero was keeping a campaign promise by withdrawing these soldiers from Iraq. But many believe the withdrawal was also a response to the March 11 Madrid train bombing, an attack blamed on Islamic militants. If that?s the case, then certainly Zapatero could appease Muslims the world over by coming to the aid of the Sudanese Muslims who?ve been chased from their homes.
The Spanish troops probably would be eager to help. After all, many weren?t pleased at being pulled out of Iraq. ?We should have stayed and finished our mission,? 29-year-old Jos?rancisco Casteneda told the Boston Globe. ?When you are there on the ground, you see the poverty and people living in mud houses next to Saddam?s palaces,? another 29-year-old, Cesar Royo told the paper, ?the work we were doing seems justified. It had valor.?
Royo is right. And helping the Sudanese maintain the tentative peace agreement they signed just last month would have valor, too.
Germany, France and Russia claim they took the moral high road by opposing the coalition?s intervention in Iraq. Recently the foreign minister of Spain got in on the act. He now says his nation ?will not have any presence in Iraq because we?re convinced that the best way of speeding up the process of the stabilization of Iraq is that foreign occupation forces withdraw.?
Well, the best way -- in fact the only way -- to maintain stability in Sudan would be to bring in troops. If the Russians, French and Germans would match the Spanish contingent, the world could have more than 5,000 men on the ground within weeks, protecting the peace and delivering aid and comfort to more than a million oppressed Muslims.
Bombs, missiles and chemical weapons aren?t the only Weapons of Mass Destruction.
People are, too. Sudan?s Janjaweed know that, and they?re doing all they can to kill hundreds of thousands of people. The world can stop them -- and it should.
We?ve done our part for peace, by taking out Saddam Hussein, a WMD who killed more than 300,000 Iraqi Muslims.
Now it?s time for Europe to step up. Just a few thousand European soldiers could stop the killing in Sudan, and save untold thousands of Sudanese Muslims. Let?s see those who consider themselves our moral betters do what?s right, and fight for peace on earth. We?ve said ?never again.? This time, let?s mean it.