Puts It All Together–Vastly Superior to State Department,
December 1, 2001
I read this book at the same time that I read the quasi-official story on Sudan (“Inside Sudan: Political Islam, Conflict, and Catastrophe”) and I have to say, not only is this collection of edited articles–and the editorial summary–quite pleasing in its professional grasp of history, its depth, its coverage of the core issues in a comprehensive and actionable way–but it also causes me extreme anguish when I compare it to what can only be described as a self-centered mediocre State Department memoire.This is good solid stuff. It is especially helpful in setting aside the superficial views that ethnic conflict or European-drawn borders are the root of Sudan's internal conflict issues, and it cuts to chase: “it's about wealth, simpleton!”.
The history of Sudan is well-drawn out, with the bottom line being that the southerners and their especially rich territory have been constantly besieged and ravished by the northern elite. The only time of peace in the 200 year war has been when the British imposed that peace, and there is a suggestive air about that finding.
The varied discussions of genocide and “cultural cleansing”, including the forced rape of the women in the groups being eradicated, and the use of famine to kill two million, are dismaying in the extreme.
“Ecology and economics provide controlling metaphors.” This is an excellent summary of the book.
Also helpful is the book's coverage of the relations between Egypt and Sudan (both historical and current), the explicit (northern) Sudanese sponsorship of terrorism and hosting of many Islamic and other terrorist groups within its territory, and the general references to the varying influences of the Turks, the British, and the missionaries.
This is a serious book, by serious people, and it does the Sudan issues full justice. One puts the book down feeling somewhat aghast at the ignorance of the U.S. government, the incapacity of the United Nations, and the blatant malevolence of the northern Sudanese predators. This book is strongly recommended for any person who wonders about their government's competence and compassion. Sudan is a cancer, not just within Africa, but within the larger world, and the continued acceptance of the genocide and slavery and related plagues that characterize this place call into question the legitimacy, the ethics, the accountabilty, of all Western governments.