Thanks to Roving Bandit for identifying this infographic by Smith College professor Eric Reeves showing the extent of Sudan’s bombings of its neighbor, South Sudan. This long-running conflict may have become a bonafide war.
George Clooney, who has praised the Stop Kony campaign aimed at ridding east-central Africa of warlord Joseph Kony, is trying to make sure our focus on such efforts isn’t too singular.
The actor and human rights advocate has long been focused on the ongoing atrocities in Sudan and recently testified in Congress to draw attention to the killings, conflict and suffering. He recently snuck into a dangerous part of the country and produced this powerful, disturbing video.
While there’s no denying the criminality and terrible legacy of Joseph Kony and his Lord’s Resistance Army, Kony’s ability to inflict death and destruction is fairly limited these days. Clooney’s efforts in southern Sudan should serve as a reminder that there are many fronts in the war on those who commit crimes against humanity.
Some related stories
Foreign Policy The Other Sudanese Civil War
NOTE: Clooney’s video has had about 26,000 views on YouTube as of this writing. That compares to something like 70 million so far for the Stop Kony video.
Brett Keller asks Who is Sam Childers?
At first, I said to myself: Who cares?
But I do like Keller’s stuff, so I read on:
He goes by many names, Reverend Sam and the “Machine Gun Preacher” amongst them. If you haven’t heard much from Sam Childers, you will soon. To date he’s been featured in a few mainstream publications, but most of his exposure has come from forays into Christian media outlets and cross-country speaking tours of churches. In 2009 he published his memoir, Another Man’s War. But Childers is about to become much better known: his life story is being made into a movie titled Machine Gun Preacher. It hits the big screen this September, starring Gerard Butler (300) and directed by Oscar-winner Marc Forster (Monster’s Ball, Quantum of Solace).
In answer to my question, why should you care, Keller says:
If you’re concerned about Africa (especially the newly independent South Sudan), neutrality and humanitarianism, or how small charities sometimes make it big on dubious stories, Childers is a scary character. By his own admission Sam Childers is a Christian and a savior to hundreds of children, as well as a small-time arms-dealer and a killer. And, as far as I can tell, he’s a self-aggrandizing liar who chronically exaggerates his own stories and has been denounced by many, including the rebel group of which he claimed to be a commander.
The impending Hollywood celebration and promotion of Childers has Keller concerned, so he is going after his claims — and the dangerous implications of making him a heroic figure.
Keller has broken his examination of the Machine Gun Preacher into two parts, the link above being the first in a five-part series. Or you can read Keller’s whole treatise here.
It’s fascinating, and disturbing.
The popular revolt in Libya began in Tunisia, gained force in Egypt, and is continuing its spread across much of the Arab world.
Libya is different mostly in that we are supporting the rebellion militarily, which has raised other questions.
The Arab revolt appears to be re-writing the political power grid in the Middle East and yet some continue to argue that none of this is in our national interest. Why then has Egypt been one of the top recipients of U.S. foreign aid?
Those who contend the Arab revolt has nothing to do with our national interests appear to have their heads in the desert sand. Geopolitically speaking.
But as a humanitarian issue, if this popular revolt continues to spread and grow, as some think it will, one question we need to ask is if we would intervene again.
Would we take action in another Arab country if there is a similar risk of large-scale, violent government retaliation? Is there a moral obligation, a precedent being set here, that will shift the discussion beyond the ever-debated political calculus focused simply on whether or not it is in our interest?
That’s what I wondered after hearing the question being asked by NPR’s Jackie Northam in a report today, Will U.S. policy in Libya spread to other nations? Continue reading
Newsweek recently published a profile of actor George Clooney’s work in the Sudan, where he and others assisted in providing oversight of the referendum vote for independence in the south. Said Newsweek:
Clooney has been leveraging his celebrity to get people to care about something more important than celebrity. South Sudan’s January referendum for independence was quickly followed by uprisings that toppled North African and Arab dictatorships, with power moving away from centralized political bureaucracies and toward broader popular engagement. In this new environment—fueled by social networking—fame is a potent commodity that can have more influence on public debate than many elected officials and even some nation-states.
Former President Jimmy Carter is among the foreign notables — George Clooney, Sen. John Kerry, Enough‘s John Prendergast — in Sudan doing election watch duty as the southern half of Africa’s largest country appears likely to vote itself into becoming the world’s newest nation.
He’s also in Sudan because of a really awful parasitic worm.
The BBC gives a good overview of what has prompted and preceded this vote, and what’s at stake.
I’m usually not a big fan of celebrities inserting themselves — and their usually simplistic strategies — into the public dialogue around such issues or events. But chances are, many of you have paid attention to Sudan partly due to the fact that actor George Clooney has been helping draw attention to what’s going on there. Continue reading