Column - Clooney could make a difference in Sudan
Published: Sunday, March 18, 2012
Updated: Sunday, March 18, 2012 23:03
The tale of an actor turned activist is as old as Hollywood itself.
Even in the times of silent films, stars appealed to political figures due to the public’s admiration for them. While I applaud anyone who is willing to commit selfless deeds to better society, few make an actual difference.
George Clooney, who has committed himself to helping the Sudanese people, could make a real change in U.S. foreign policy.
He was arrested Friday alongside several congressmen, prominent religious figures and his father, Nick Clooney for protesting in front of the Sudanese Embassy.
The people living along the southern border of Sudan have been victims of genocide and starvation by the Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir.
According to www.unitedhumanrights.org, President al-Bashir became the first sitting president to be indicted by the International Criminal Court in 2009 after the genocide in the Darfur region of Sudan which has claimed 400,000 lives and displaced more than 2,500,000 people. The Sudanese government denies these statistics.
Last year, the country was divided – Sudan and South Sudan – and since then, the al-Bashir government has relentlessly bombed the southern border areas, killing hundreds of civilians.
It has also been reported that the Sudanese government has blocked relief efforts to help the starving Sudanese in the region.
"What’s going on right there is exactly what we saw in the beginning of Darfur," Clooney said. "All three men charged with war crimes at The Hague are the same three who are now bombing indiscriminate innocent civilians with Antonov planes with 300-millimeter Chinese rockets."
It is next to impossible for the U.S. government to intervene in every affair in which people are victims of a tyrannical government, but this case is different.
For one, military action is not immediately necessary. Diplomatic measures could be taken because South Sudan has ceased to export crude oil.
"China has a $20 billion oil infrastructure in the Sudan. They get 6 percent of their oil imported from the Sudan. And the South Sudan has the oil and North Sudan has the refineries, and North Sudan was taking that money from the oil and not giving it back and buying weapons to hurt the South. So about six weeks ago, the South said, ‘OK, we’re done.’ And they shut off the oil," Clooney said in a CNN interview.
It has now switched from being a humanitarian cause to an economic burden for China and the United States. Since China has lost its oil imports form Sudan, it will find them somewhere else, which will cause global prices to increase and affect gas prices here in the states.
This allows U.S. officials to gain diplomatic support from China and ultimately put pressure on the Sudanese government.
Although Clooney’s arrest may appear to be shameful to critics, it makes him look more like a martyr than a criminal.
The $100 bail is of no concern to Clooney, whose net worth is around $160 million. And considering other celebrities can bounce back after being arrested for multiple DUIs, drug charges or shoplifting, his short stay in jail should not affect his acting career.
Since his cause is inarguably just and his celebrity status will keep the issue in the media, it would serve a politician justice to jump on board with the cause.
The fact the Sudanese people are suffering and dying should be enough for the world to rally together and help, but it takes more than suffering for issues like this to be resolved.
During the 1990s when genocide occurred as a result of the Bosnian War, it took massive amounts of media exposure to pressure NATO forces to take military action and stop the atrocities in Europe.
This is a similar circumstance, except oil is involved this time.
Hopefully, this provides enough incentive for the U.S. government to provide assistance, or influence other nations to do so.
The world can not turn a blind eye when so many people are being slaughtered.
Clooney should continue to make a positive change in a part of the world that has experienced so much pain. The longer the world waits to help, the worse the situation will become.