Sunday, March 27, 2005

Don Cheadle and John Prendergast say about the genocide in Darfur: Enough excuses. The time to act is now. Reading this article, which criticizes the U.S. government for all the excuses it's making about not really doing anything to stop the genocide, reminds me of an article republished earlier this year on the occasion of the 60th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz, from the Dec. 11, 1942 edition of the (UK) Guardian. The article discusses the newly available information about the ongoing massacres of Jews in Poland, which the Polish government in exile in London made known to the countries of the United Nations and goes on to say:
The situation obviously calls for something more than a reaffirmation of principles or a condemnation of the indescribable deeds being done in fulfilment of a predetermined policy. There is a growing feeling that in spite of all the difficulties involved practical measures of help must be sought and found.

But it would seem that a change of outlook and approach to the problem must precede any undertaking of the kind. There should in the first place be a relaxation in the official methods which have hitherto so impeded the work of rescue as to make it almost impossible. In the case of countries still liable to an illegal influx of Jewish refugees certain assurances should perhaps be considered. It should be made clear to these States that they will not be left responsible for chance immigrants indefinitely but that provision will be made for them in the general reconstruction after the war.

The German scheme for total extermination can only be combated by radical means, and any plan of rescue must be evolved on a really broad and constructive basis. It is clear, therefore, that whatever body may be chosen to put into practice decisions made by the United Nations must start with a generous mandate, unfettered by petty limitations.

The Polish Note forms an important contribution to the documentation of this black chapter in history. The situation as outlined in the Note has already taken a turn for the worse, according to the most up-to-date information. It is feared that of the weekly average of 25,000 Jews reaching Eastern Poland from the countries of occupied Europe the vast majority are going to a ghastly death.

Emphasis mine. The article also says that since the German invasion of POland in 1939 over one million Polish Jews have been murdered and mentions "new methods of mass slaughter" - probably a reference to the death camps.

This article, if anything, shows that U.N. indecision in the face of genocide has a long and inglorious history, not that the U.S. has any better record. When will it be possible for us to learn from history, rather than simply babbling about "never again"?

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