Ten Reasons Why "Save Darfur"
is a PR Scam
Justifying the Next US Oil and
Resource Wars in Africa
by Bruce Dixon
The regular manufacture and the constant
maintenance of false realities in the service of American empire
is a core function of the public relations profession and the
corporate news media. Whether it's fake news stories about wonder
drugs and how toxic chemicals are good for you, bribed commentators
and journalists discoursing on the benefits of No Child Left Behind,
Hollywood stars advocating military intervention to save African
orphans, or slick propaganda campaigns employing viral marketing
techniques to reach out to college students, bloggers, churches
and ordinary citizens, it pays to take a close look behind the
Among the latest false realities being
pushed upon the American people are the simplistic pictures of
Black vs. Arab genocide in Darfur, and the proposed solution:
a robust US-backed or US-led military intervention in Western
Sudan. Increasing scrutiny is being focused upon the "Save
Darfur" lobby and the Save Darfur Coalition; upon its founders,
its finances, its methods and motivations and its truthfulness.
In the spirit of furthering that examination we here present ten
reasons to suspect that the "Save Darfur" campaign is
a PR scam to justify US intervention in Africa.
1. It wouldn't be the first Big Lie our
government and media elite told us to justify a war.
Elders among us can recall the Tonkin
Gulf Incident, which the US government deliberately provoked to
justify initiation of the war in Vietnam. This rationale was quickly
succeeded by the need to help the struggling infant "democracy"
in South Vietnam, and the still useful "fight 'em over there
so we don't have to fight 'em over here" nonsense. More recently
the bombings, invasions and occupations of Afghanistan and Iraq
have been variously explained by people on the public payroll
as necessary to "get Bin Laden" as revenge for 9-11,
as measures to take "the world's most dangerous weapons"
from the hands of "the world's most dangerous regimes",
as measures to enable the struggling Iraqi "democracy"
stand on its own two feet, and necessary because it's still better
to "fight them over there so we don't have to fight them
2. It wouldn't even be the first time
the U.S. government and media elite employed "genocide prevention"
as a rationale for military intervention in an oil-rich region.
The 1995 US and NATO military intervention
in Kosovo was supposedly a "peacekeeping" operation
to stop a genocide. The lasting result of that campaign is Camp
Bondsteel, one of the largest military bases on the planet. The
U.S. is practically the only country in the world that maintains
military bases outside its own borders. At just under a thousand
acres, Camp Bondsteel offers the US military the ability to pre-position
large quantities of equipment and supplies within striking distance
of Caspian oil fields, pipeline routes and relevant sea lanes.
It is also widely believed to be the site of one of the US's secret
prison and torture facilities.
3. If stopping genocide in Africa really
was on the agenda, why the focus on Sudan with 200,000 to 400,000
dead rather than Congo with five million dead?
"The notion that a quarter million
Darfuri dead are a genocide and five million dead Congolese are
not is vicious and absurd," according to Congolese activist
Nita Evele. "What's happened and what is still happening
in Congo is not a tribal conflict and it's not a civil war. It
is an invasion. It is a genocide with a death toll of five million,
twenty times that of Darfur, conducted for the purpose of plundering
Congolese mineral and natural resources."
More than anything else, the selective
and cynical application of the term "genocide" to Sudan,
rather than to the Congo where ten to twenty times as many Africans
have been murdered reveals the depth of hypocrisy around the "Save
Darfur" movement. In the Congo, where local gangsters, mercenaries
and warlords along with invading armies from Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi,
Angola engage in slaughter, mass rape and regional depopulation
on a scale that dwarfs anything happening in Sudan, all the players
eagerly compete to guarantee that the extraction of vital coltan
for Western computers and cell phones, the export of uranium for
Western reactors and nukes, along with diamonds, gold, copper,
timber and other Congolese resources continue undisturbed.
Former UN Ambassador Andrew Young and
George H.W. Bush both serve on the board of Barrcik Gold, one
of the largest and most active mining concerns in war-torn Congo.
Evidently, with profits from the brutal extraction of Congolese
wealth flowing to the West, there can be no Congolese "genocide"
worth noting, much less interfering with. For their purposes,
U.S. strategic planners may regard their Congolese model as the
ideal means of capturing African wealth at minimal cost without
the bother of official U.S. boots on the ground.
4. It's all about Sudanese oil.
Sudan, and the Darfur region in particular,
sit atop a lake of oil. But Sudanese oil fields are not being
developed and drilled by Exxon or Chevron or British Petroleum.
Chinese banks, oil and construction firms are making the loans,
drilling the wells, laying the pipelines to take Sudanese oil
where they intend it to go, calling far too many shots for a twenty-first
century in which the U.S. aspires to control the planet's energy
supplies. A U.S. and NATO military intervention will solve that
problem for U.S. planners.
5. It's all about Sudanese uranium, gum
arabic and other natural resources.
Uranium is vital to the nuclear weapons
industry and an essential fuel for nuclear reactors. Sudan possesses
high quality deposits of uranium. Gum arabic is an essential ingredient
in pharmaceuticals, candies and beverages like Coca-Cola and Pepsi,
and Sudanese exports of this commodity are 80% of the world's
supply. When comprehensive U.S. sanctions against the Sudanese
regime were being considered in 1997, industry lobbyists stepped
up and secured an exemption in the sanctions bill to guarantee
their supplies of this valuable Sudanese commodity. But an in-country
U.S. and NATO military presence is a more secure guarantee that
the extraction of Sudanese resources, like those of the Congo,
flow westward to the U.S. and the European Union.
6. It's all about Sudan's strategic location
Sudan sits opposite Saudi Arabia and the
Gulf States, where a large fraction of the world's easily extracted
oil will be for a few more years. Darfur borders on Libya and
Chad, with their own vast oil resources, is within striking distance
of West and Central Africa, and is a likely pipeline route. The
Nile River flows through Sudan before reaching Egypt, and Southern
Sudan water resources of regional significance too. With the creation
of AFRICOM, the new Pentagon command for the African continent,
the U.S. has made open and explicit its intention to plant a strategic
footprint on the African continent. From permanent Sudanese bases,
the U.S. military could influence the politics and ecocomies of
Africa for a generation to come.
7. The backers and founders of the "Save
Darfur" movement are the well-connected and well-funded U.S.
foreign policy elite.
According to a copyrighted Washington
Post story this summer
"The "Save Darfur (Coalition)
was created in 2005 by two groups concerned about genocide in
the African country - the American Jewish World Service and the
U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum
"The coalition has a staff of 30
with expertise in policy and public relations. Its budget was
about $15 million in the most recent fiscal year
"Save Darfur will not say exactly
how much it has spent on its ads, which this week have attempted
to shame China, host of the 2008 Olympics, into easing its support
for Sudan. But a coalition spokeswoman said the amount is in the
millions of dollars."
Though the "Save Darfur" PR
campaign employs viral marketing techniques, reaching out to college
students, even to black bloggers, it is not a grassroots affair,
as were the movement against apartheid and in support of African
liberation movements in South Africa, Namibia, Angola and Mozambique
a generation ago. Top heavy with evangelical Christians who preach
the coming war for the end of the world, and with elements known
for their uncritical support of Israeli rejectionism in the Middle
East, the Save Darfur movement is clearly an establishment affair,
a propaganda campaign that spends millions of dollars each month
to manfacture consent for US military intervention in Africa under
the cloak of stopping or preventing genocide.
8. None of the funds raised by the "Save
Darfur Coalition", the flagship of the "Save Darfur
Movement" go to help needy Africans on the ground in Darfur,
according to stories in both the Washington Post and the New York
None of the money collected by Save Darfur
goes to help the victims and their families. Instead, the coalition
pours its proceeds into advocacy efforts that are primarily designed
to persuade governments to act.
9. "Save Darfur" partisans in
the U.S. are not interested in political negotiations to end the
conflict in Darfur President Bush has openly and repeatedly attempted
to throw monkey wrenches at peace negotiations to end the war
Even pro-intervention scholars and humanitarian
organizations active on the ground have criticized the U.S. for
endangering humanitarian relief workers, and for effectively urging
rebel parties in Darfur to refuse peace talks and hold out for
U.S. and NATO intervention on their behalf.
The PR campaign which depicts the conflict
as strictly a racial affair, in which Arabs, who are generally
despised in the US media anyway, are exterminating the black population
of Sudan, is slick, seamless and attractive, and seems to leave
no room for negotiation. But in fact, many of Sudan's 'Arabs",
even the Janjiweed, are also black. In any case, they were armed
and unleashed by a government which has the power to disarm them
if it chooses, and refusing to talk to that government's negotiators
is a sure way to avoid any settlement.
10. Blackwater and other U.S. mercenary
contractors, the unofficial armed wings of the Republican party
and the Pentagon are eagerly pitching their services as part of
the solution to the Darfur crisis.
"Chris Taylor, head of strategy for
Blackwater, says his company has a database of thousands of former
police and military officers for security assignments. He says
Blackwater personnel could set up perimeters and guard Darfurian
villages and refugee camp in support of the U.N. Blackwater officials
say it would not take many men to fend off the Janjaweed, a militia
that is supported by the Sudanese government and attacks villages
Apparently Blackwater doesn't need to
come to the Congo, where hunger and malnutrition, depopulation,
mass rape and the disappearance of schools, hospitals and civil
society into vast law free zones ruled by an ever-changing cast
of African proxies (like the son of the late and unlamented Idi
Amin), all under a veil of complicit media silence already constitute
the perfect business-friendly environment for siphoning off the
vast wealth of that country at minimal cost.
Look for the adoption of the Congolese
model across the wide areas of Africa that U.S. strategic planners
call "ungoverned spaces". Just don't look expect to
see details on the evening news, or hear about them from Oprah,
George Clooney or Angelina Jolie.
Bruce Dixon is the managing editor of
the Black Agenda Report, where this article first appeared.