Kristof on Darfur


[O]utrage at genocide is tragically difficult to sustain. There are only a few groups that are trying to do so: university students who have led the anti-genocide campaign and formed groups like the Genocide Intervention Network; Jewish humanitarian organizations, for whom the word “genocide” has intense meaning; the Smith College professor Eric Reeves, who has helped lead the campaign to protest the genocide; some US churches; and aid workers who daily brave the dangers of Dar-fur (like the one who chronicles her experiences in the blog “Sleepless in Sudan”[2] ). Some organizations, like Human Rights Watch and the International Crisis Group, have also produced a series of excellent reports on Darfur—underscoring that this time the nations of the world know exactly what they are turning away from and cannot claim ignorance.

Sad to say, one of the best books for understanding the lame international response is Samantha Power’s superb “A Problem from Hell”: America and the Age of Genocide[3]—even though it was written too early even to mention Darfur. But when you read Power’s account of international dithering as Armenians, Jews, Bosnians, and others were being slaughtered, you realize that the pattern today is almost exactly the same. Once again, the international response has been to debate whether the word “genocide” is really appropriate, to point out that the situation is immensely complex, to shrug that it’s horrifying but that there’s nothing much we can do. The slogan “Never Again” is being transformed into “One More Time.”

more from The New York Review of Books here.