Saturday, July 02, 2005
Powell's cynical genocide declaration
The Bush administration described the Darfur atrocities as genocide in order to please the Christian right ahead of the American presidential elections, according to a senior US official.
America's former ambassador to the United Nations, John Danforth, made the admission in an interview in which he confirmed that the Bush administration's stance was dictated by domestic considerations.
The Bush administration aligned its position last year with that of the US Congress, which urged President Bush in a vote in July to call the mass killings and ethnic cleansing in western Sudan "by their rightful name: genocide".
Mr Danforth was asked by the BBC's Panorama programme whether the characterisation of genocide by President Bush and the Secretary of State, Colin Powell, had hindered a resolution to the Darfur conflict because of the loaded nature of the word.
"I didn't think it had much of an effect one way or another. I just thought that this was something that was said for internal consumption within the US. I did not think it would have very much effect within Sudan," Mr Danforth said. Asked whether "internal consumption" referred to the kind of language that would have appealed to the Christian right, he replied: "Right."
Mr. Danforth is being honest, but not completely honest. Here we have an egregious instance of the interviewee giving the interviewer what he or she wanted to hear and was predisposed to believe.
It's true that the genocide declaration was made for internal consumption and that the Christo-Republicans were among the intended consumers. But they were not the most important consumers. The most important consumers were the media, whose editors wiped most of the stories on Iraq that were in the pipeline and replaced them with the guff about Powell's genocide declaration. It was Karl Rove at his best.
Powell made his genocide statement before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on a Thursday and by Friday this was the Washington Post's page-one news—U.S. Calls Killings In Sudan Genocide: Khartoum and Arab Militias Are Responsible, Powell Says.
That Sunday this story slipped out—
Surge of Baghdad violence leaves 59 dead
Insurgents hammered central Baghdad on Sunday with one of their most intense mortar and rocket barrages ever in the heart of the capital, heralding a day of violence that killed nearly 60 people nationwide as security appeared to spiral out of control.
At least 37 people were killed in Baghdad alone. Many of them died when a U.S. helicopter fired on a disabled U.S. Bradley fighting vehicle as Iraqis swarmed around it, cheering, throwing stones and waving the black and yellow sunburst banner of Iraq's most-feared terror organization.
The dead from the helicopter strike included Arab television reporter Mazen al-Tumeizi, who screamed, 'I'm dying! I'm dying!' as a cameraman recorded the chaotic scene. An Iraqi cameraman working for the Reuters news agency and an Iraqi freelance photographer for Getty Images were wounded.
Maimed and lifeless bodies of young men and boys lay in the street as the stricken U.S. vehicle was engulfed in flames and thick black smoke.
But by Monday the problem was fixed.