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Did Somebody Say Genocide?; response/summary essay

calvinphoon 2 / -  
Oct 23, 2006   #1
Overall, i would like some constructive criticism for my essay, regarding whether my points are consistent or not/vocabulary/grammar/does it flow neatly?/any other areas i might need help in.

your assistance is appreciated,

Did Somebody Say Genocide? (A Response)

At some point, you may have heard about the Darfur Crisis. It is a continuously unfolding tragedy sweeping the Darfur region of Sudan, a country in Northern Africa. Though much of the world has called for "action" since hearing of this ongoing butchery, little has been done, with some saying that it is not our problem, and others continuously squabbling over what label to place on the situation (avoiding the word "genocide"), as well as what action to take, if any.

For much of the planet, the "ethnic cleansing" occurring in Darfur proved to be a media darling for yellow journalism, in spite of the fact that many were ignorant to what was happening in the region. Though the mass media would not get to sensationalize this story until 2004, the conflict had been raging on for 3 to 4 years before that to much of humanity's obliviousness. Though the clash officially began sometime in 1999, the ethnic tension has existed in Darfur since colonialism under the European powers. After much negligence under the British colonial rule of the early 20th century, the province had to endure even more neglect under the newly independent, self-governing Sudanese regime. A group of people who were faced with a similar situation (of disregard), the largely Christian South suddenly decided to revolt. While a peace treaty was being brokered in the capital, Khartoum, the Islamic Darfuris chose to revolt, certain that they would be, yet again, subject to neglect under the new provisions. The Sudanese government, faced with a defense force that was unwilling to go and shoot their own Darfuri relatives, chose a malicious strategy: they told the Darfuri Arabs of the region that the slaves were going to rebel, and as a result, the dreaded Janjaweed (militiamen) began slaughtering the entire area, butchering and raping villages everywhere. Many members of the international community, including the European Union and the United States expressed considerable outrage, yet displayed "a complete lack of resolve and coordination" in trying to fix the situation. Some nations, like Germany and the Netherlands, gave substantial financial support (and erupted into ineffectual noise), but little actual assistance. Nearly all talk of pursuing peace in the region, turned out to be no more than just that: talk. Since little could be agreed upon concerning what course of action to take, it became popular to "refer" the matter to the U.N., who was essentially given the responsibility of taking action without the political means to do so. As a result, the situation was thrust onto the shoulders of the already shaky and unstable African Union, who did little but quarrel about how the aid money could be spent. It seemed clear now that private and charitable organizations would have to spearhead the effort to help the Darfuris through their bloodbath. Even this plan had its limitations because of the shortage of funds available to assist the local communities. Although most would readily concur that the massacring of thousands upon thousands of an innocent people is wrong, nay, unacceptable, few, including most of the industrialized world, have ever taken any useful course of action to help remedy the crisis, let alone even acknowledge that what is occurring right now in the region can, indeed, be considered genocide. As the author argues, "It is a measure of the cynicism of our times that we appear to think the killing of 250,000 people in a genocide more deserving of our attention than that of 250,000 people in nongenocidal measures" (Prunier 19), how can the level of commitment we give to this situation and these poor, unfortunate people rely purely on the accuracy of the media label, genocide? The author asserts that, in order to effectively provide a long-term solution to the crisis that can offer any hope for these people, as opposed to an unsteady and faulty peace agreement, we need to actually take action. Much like the author, I agree without a doubt, that if the ethnic conflict occurring in Darfur continues to worsen, with the rest of humanity indifferently going about its business, the world will have another Holocaust or Rwanda on its hands.

In Gerard Prunier's article, "Did Somebody Say Genocide?" there is a huge lack of the author's actual opinion. Though through his diction and vocabulary, you can sense the author's viewpoint regarding the situation, there are few places in the article where he actually says it outright. One point however, where I differ with the author, is his proposed definition of the word "genocide", which calls for "...a coordinated attempt to destroy a racially, religiously, or politically predefined group in its entirety," limiting the otherwise very broad (yet necessary) definition of genocide. If this definition was officially adopted into international politics and diplomacy, our political leaders would be even less obliged to do anything about it (if that is possible).

Even just by scanning his article, it is clear to any reader that Prunier's intended audience was a well educated and informed one, specifically in the areas of history, politics, and current events. The author's intention here is to speak as a current-events specialist to others who are in the same (or related) fields, with his primary purpose being largely informative; to educate readers with a more detailed account of the tragedy, the internal events that caused it, media and diplomatic response, and the recent developments of the genocide. Though the article is primarily intended for a historical-enthusiast audience, it is quite possible (with some dictionary-browsing and brief research) to wade through the sea of names, organizations, and vocabulary and come to a coherent understanding of the editorial. Given the fact that this article was published in an issue of Current History, a magazine devoted to world affairs, it can be assumed that the genre of Prunier's writing is mainly that of an intellectual nature; designed specifically to cater to those who are familiar with areas of politics and international relations.

Also, Prunier gives us ample amounts of information regarding important political figures and organizations, something that is crucial to our understanding of the article. While he simply could have said "the international community was indifferent", he instead chooses to show us, by discussing the United States' brief, transient interest in the situation (until our attention was diverted by more, "important" matters), the French ulterior motive for preserving a neighboring regime, and the rest of the developed world's "we don't really care" donations, constant bickering, and pointless racket. Although this vast confusion of names, dates, historical facts, is overwhelming at first, I laud the author for his great attention to detail on the situation, something an average, uninformed audience would fail to appreciate.

In addition to supporting Prunier's stance that we (the developed world) should actively intervene in the Darfur Crisis, I also believe that the United States needs to live up to the paternal reputation it has built up for itself. While some isolationists here and abroad argue that the United States mind its own business and not meddle continuously in international affairs, I believe that our past decisions to do so, such as our involvement in both world wars, the Vietnam War, the declaration of war against Iraq, have set the precedent for a long time to come, and since we have remained a world leader for at least a century, we should not disappoint. For most of our history, the U.S. has always been eager and willing to lend a hand to countries in political and economic turmoil; even those that hated us, including North Korea, received generous amounts of humanitarian aid from our benevolent country. Why, all of a sudden, should we fail to act now? We have always been a very decisive people, and always seem to have an opinion on even the most trivial of issues (to the annoyance of the rest of the world), but why are we now reluctant to intervene on behalf of the oppressed Darfuris?

In sum, Prunier's article offers some valuable insight to the situation occurring in Darfur, while providing a pleasant contrast to the sugar-coated and watered-down version fed to us by the market-driven media. Though the majority of the paper is informative, the author makes a very important point: unless the international community does something to remedy this bloodbath, the Darfuri people may continue to suffer their plight for decades.
EF_Team2 1 / 1,708  
Oct 25, 2006   #2

You have written an excellent, informative essay which does a good job of explaining the complex factors involved in the Darfur situation. I just have a couple of suggestions.

I was surprised when, halfway through the essay, the focus turned from the Darfur Crisis itself to Prunier's article about it. Other than "(A Response)" in the title there was no indication in the first half that this essay was meant to be a critique of an article. I'd suggest mentioning Prunier much earlier, and also stress the importance of the distinction (or perceived distinction) between genocidal and non-genocidal actions earlier on. Perhaps starting off with a quote from Prunier and a one- or two-sentence summary of the article before launching into the history of the conflict would help make this clear.

A few of your sentences, while not technically "run-on" sentences, might benefit from being divided into two; most notably, the third sentence in the essay. You also start two sentences in a row with "Though." Other than that, I see nothing that requires changing. Your writing is clear, concise and interesting to read.

Good job!

Sarah, EssayForum.com

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