Gulay Misses Key Difference: Sudan Is A Genocide

It is hard to know where to begin criticizing Erol N. Gulay’s Nov. 29 comment (“Iraq: Our Very Own Dafur [sic]”). Here, at least, is one candidate. In analogizing Sudanese government actions in Darfur with U.S. government actions in Iraq, Gulay conceals nothing less than the central feature of the Darfur conflict: That it is a genocide. Genocidal perpetrators, according to the 1948 Genocide Convention, harbor “intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such.” Gulay describes the wars in Sudan and Iraq as “illegal” actions in which “state-sponsored militias and killing squads swoop down into villages andravage them.” He suggests, albeit without evidence, that both the Sudanese andthe Americans fight “merely to avenge past wrongs and to impose an arbitraryvision of order beholden only to themselves.” That is an assertion curious in itself, but that is not even the biggest problem. The sine qua non of genocide—the intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a certain group—Gulay omits.

I concede: When one neglects the ends for which a state fights and selectively describes the means a state employs, all violent conflict does start to look rather similar.


November 29