So George Clooney has been arrested outside the Sudanese embassy in Washington. After a week addressing Congress, briefing his president and bringing Sudan back into the limelight, he has taken his awareness-raising campaign to the next level by making sure news crews were on hand to watch him having his hands tied behind his back.Continue reading.
This has been quite the week for African conflicts. First we had the Kony 2012 video, which catapulted a long forgotten war in central Africa to the top of the news schedules. Now we have Clooney doing the same for a humanitarian catastrophe unfolding in the Nuba mountains of Sudan, first with his own video and then with Friday's arrest.
"I’m just trying to raise attention. Let your Congress know, let your president know," said Clooney, as he was led away.Ah yes, just trying to raise attention. The modern campaign mantra. And what could be wrong with that? Well, quite a lot as it happens. Clooney has long been raising awareness for Sudan. In the past it was the conflict in Darfur. He spearheaded calls for United Nations peacekeepers to be deployed and for President Omar al Bashir to be indicted on war crimes charges.
There has never been such a successful campaign. Not only did he and the Save Darfur coalition mobilise an unprecedented amount of support for ending a war in a previously obscure region, but they actually got what they wished for. A struggling African Union peacekeeping force was given blue hats of the UN. And President Bashir has been charged with 10 counts of war crimes, including genocide.
And none of it made any difference. President Bashir is still in power in Khartoum and the blue hats ran into exactly the same problem as the African force – finding out the hard way that there is no point deploying peacekeepers if there is no peace to keep...
Actually, it's a nice theory, but too simple. Sometimes there is no peace on the ground, no "homegrown solutions" to develop, so bringing attention to the issue, as Clooney is doing, might indeed to be worth a try, might reduce bloodshed and strife.
See Max Boot for more along those lines: "The Pentagon’s cold feet on Syria."