Willbanks 1 Jonathan Willbanks Writing 140 Michael Cucher November 9, 2007 Red Blood, Black Oil Why didn’t

we do anything? How could we stand back and just let it happen? These are the questions the world has asked itself in the wake of atrocities like the holocaust, the Cambodian genocide, and the ethnic cleansing of Rwanda. If international policy does not soon change, we will find ourselves asking the same questions about Darfur. It is in this region of Sudan that government-backed Arab militias are actively embarking on a widespread campaign to cleanse blacks from the oil-rich fields in the region. Thankfully, some groups are trying to affect this change. Rebel groups are actively involved in armed conflict to protect displaced refuges from the Darfur region. Unfortunately, this is little more than a band-aid on a gaping wound. The Sudanese government’s disregard for international outcry and public opinion also renders purely political or diplomatic efforts insufficient to stop the violence in the region. Exacerbate the dilemma, political initiatives are often hindered by western governments’ unwillingness to commit to the expenditure of political capital necessary to impact Sudanese policy. Economic pressures prove to be the best means to bring peace to Sudan because they can be implemented both at the national and grassroots level, cutting off the government-dependent military from the cash flow it desperately needs to fund militia groups and their ethnic cleansing in the Darfur. If there is a solution to the Darfur crisis it is an economic one; historically, economic pressure has been one of the few effective

Willbanks 2 means of coercion against the Sudanese government, and it is only through economic measures such as targeted sanctions and divestment that the world community has seen any significant tangible moves toward peace in the war-torn region, and it is only through measures such as these, specifically against heavily invested oil companies in the region that further progress toward peace can be made and the oil-driven ethnic cleansing will come to an end. In the exploration of economic measures against Sudan, it becomes apparent that oil in inextricably entwined in the Sudanese economy and may in fact motivate many of the government’s ethnic cleansing efforts in Darfur. When the oil industry emerged in Sudan in the late 1990’s, the sleepy isolationist policies of a destitute Khartoum began to give way to a growing economy that embraced foreign trade, leading to massive economic growth. “With the construction of a[n oil] pipeline, oil extracted from the south is now earning the Sudan's government well over a million dollars a day,” by far the government’s largest source of income (Martin, 1). With the emergence of its oil industry, Khartoum became acutely aware of its own economic potential. Driven largely by a desire to satiate hungry foreign oil companies like PetroChina, Petronas, Total, and Talisman, the Sudanese government began looking to increase production by creating more drill sites (Martin, 3). Unfortunately for the people of Sudan’s Darfur region, many of them populate the fields directly above the valuable oil reserves. Though the global community can do little more than speculate, some believe that the Sudanese government’s ethnic cleansing campaign against the black population of Darfur is largely motivated by a desire to clear the land for oil production. According to foreign affairs analyst Randolf Martin, “Some of the world’s largest oil companies have large financial

Willbanks 3 interests in Sudan, making “foreign emissaries […] more circumspect in their criticism of the regime. (Martin, 3). Because of their large oil interests, few foreign countries are willing to criticize or pressure Khartoum to end the violence in Darfur for fear of alienating an oil supplier and trading partner. The US is the only country to virtually eliminate oil imports from Sudan, a move that instantly raised oil prices for the American people. But its efforts alone will not be enough to sufficiently impact the Sudanese oil industry or its economy because even if the US is not directly buying oil from Sudan, all foreign contracts are conducted in US dollars, essentially forcing an economic relationship between the two countries. Further efforts through international forums like the UN are frequently hindered by Sudan’s powerful oil-dependent trading partners, most notably China, a UN Security Council member whose PetroChina has a massive stake in Sudanese oil production. For sanction and divestment strategies to be effective, broad international support will be required, particularly from Sudan’s neighbor states. Some argue that sanction and divestment strategies often prove more harmful to ordinary citizens than to their corrupt government. In response to these concerns, many organizations are choosing to implement the “Task Force’ model of divestment,” which “is tailored to carefully target only the most egregiously offending companies,” such as the American firm Berkshire Hathaway, the largest domestic shareholder in PetroChina. The Task Force Divestment Model excludes any company that substantially benefits those outside of government circles,” thus theoretically preventing the economic devastation that occurred in South Africa, Cuba, and Iraq in the wake of the similarly well-intentioned but poorly executed blanketed economic sanctions against those nations (Sudan Divestment UK). This model takes care to exclude companies involved in

Willbanks 4 medicine, agriculture, education, and general consumer goods that the people of Sudan depend upon in their daily lives. Though there will be some inevitable trickle-down of these economic measures which may affect the Sudanese people, the situation is somewhat alleviated by the government’s tendency to invest little in improving its people’s standard of living, but rather in military and government expansion. With little money going to the people in the first place, there will not be much for them to miss if it is taken away. Whatever negative effects targeted sanctions and divestment may have on the Sudanese people, the impact on their daily lives should be minimal, and the costs are far outweighed by the potential for peace in the region. (Sudan Divestment UK, 2) Diplomacy’s ineffectiveness in the case of Sudan leads to economic pressure as the only effective possible course of action. As a developing nation, one of the Sudanese government’s greatest priorities is maintaining the flow of foreign investment into the country. When this is threatened, Khartoum pays attention. In 1997, the US was successful in ending Sudan’s support of terrorist groups when it levied economic sanctions on Sudan. Sanctions and divestment initiatives also serve to keep Darfur in the headlines. “The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, International Herald Tribune, LA Times, BBC, Financial Times, NPR, Christian Science Monitor, and many other media outlets,” have given media attention to these economic measures against Sudan, keeping the Darfur crisis on the forefront of public consciousness (Rogoff). An informed public is the best mechanism to pressure Western governments into economic action. But how is this economic pressure implemented? There are two primary economic means by which Khartoum may be coerced: sanctions and divestment. Economic sanctions are typically levied on one country by

Willbanks 5 another, or by the global community through organizations like the UN. Divestment is another effective means by which economic pressure can be applied to Sudan. At the national and grassroots level, divestment initiatives aim to stop investment in companies or governments contributing to the genocide-sponsoring Sudanese government, and by extension its military. It is these two methods of economic pressure that should be most heavily explored in the fight to end genocide in Darfur. Given the growing Sudanese economy’s heavy dependence upon foreign investment, it is especially susceptible to economic pressure from its trading partners. The US in particular has led the charge in implementing coercive economic measures against Khartoum. Beginning in 2002, the Bush administration levied such sanctions on Sudan for its failure to stop the genocide in Darfur, “providing $10 million in aid to Sudanese opposition forces,” and imposing “stock market sanctions on those invested in Sudan,” effectively evicting them from the New York Stock Exchange (Martin, 4). This Sudan Peace Act also seeks a UN Security Council Resolution for an arms embargo on Sudan, instructs US executives to oppose loans, credits, and other guarantees to Sudan, and most importantly aims to take steps to deny the Sudanese government access to oil revenue which may be used for military purposes (US Department of State, 1). These measures have proven somewhat effective, yielding “tangible results on the four major issues in the negotiations: security arrangements; wealth-sharing; power-sharing; and the three conflict areas of Abyei, Nuba Mountains, and Southern Blue Nile. Historically however, the US’ economic sanctions have not always resulted in a desirable outcome, frequently resulting in unwanted “blowback,” or unforeseen, undesirable consequences as a result of the sanctions. Such was the case with Iraq in the 1990’s, when US-levied

Willbanks 6 economic sanctions crippled the Iraqi economy, consolidating Saddam Hussein’s power base while harming the Iraqi people. For this reason, the US has chosen to implement primarily targeted sanctions, or sanctions intended to reduce military and government income which may be used to sponsor further ethnic cleansing, rather than enacting blanket economic sanctions and throwing the people of Sudan into further poverty, hopefully avoiding another disaster like Iraq. While history books can help us avoid the pitfalls of sanctions of the past, a new means of economic pressure finds itself on lesscertain ground: divestment. Through targeted divestment, corporations and individuals avoid investing in or terminate their existing investments in companies that do business with Sudan in an effort to keep money out of the Sudanese government’s hands. Several large companies including Xerox, Chevron, and numerous investment firms have led this initiative to divest in Sudan. Even some state governments are taking an active role in the divestment efforts, led by Governor Schwarzenegger of California, who recently signed legislation to divest the state from Sudanese interests. One of the most appealing aspects of divestment however is the ability of individuals to participate at the grassroots level, making personal investment choices that avoid companies tied to Sudan. The combined state and grassroots efforts have made a noticeable impact on the amount of new foreign investment entering Sudan. “Perceiving the divestment movement as a clear threat, the Khartoum government has taken considerable steps to publicly oppose divestment,” going so far as to place “a $1 million advertisement in The New York Times extolling the virtues of investing in Sudan. and issuing both a press release and an op-ed condemning the divestment movement,” (Rogoff, 2). Once signs of divestment’s efficacy came to

Willbanks 7 light, support quickly gathered for further divestment action. In 2007, the US congress passed the Darfur Accountability and Divestment Act which authorizes and strongly encourages state governments to divest, and even goes so far as to prohibit federal contracts with any foreign companies linked to funding the genocide. Though divestment is not by itself an answer to the violence in Darfur, it is making a difference. An emerging economy such as Sudan’s cannot survive sustained foreign divestment and Khartoum will eventually be forced to react. In the case of Sudan, traditional diplomatic, political, and military resistance movements can have at best minimal results, leaving economic action as the primary means by which to encourage peace in Darfur. Even this is not a clear-cut solution, as policy-makers must wade through an intricate web of global economic ties to Sudan’s oil industry, preventing large-scale global action against Sudan. However, through the sanctions imposed by the US government, as well as the targeted divestment efforts of companies and individuals around the world, there may be hope to inflict enough economic pressure on Khartoum that an end to the violence can be reached. If however our measures do not prove effective, we may soon be asking ourselves the questions, “Why didn’t we do anything? How could we stand back and just let it happen?”

Willbanks 8 Works Cited

VOA NEWS: CONGRESS, PRESIDENT MAY FACE SHOWDOWN OVER DARFUR SANCTIONS. (2007, October 4). US Fed News Service, Including US State News, Retrieved November 9, 2007, from General Interest Module database. (Document ID: 1357235461). Randolph Martin (2002). Sudan's Perfect War. Foreign Affairs, 81(2), 111-127. Retrieved November 9, 2007, from ABI/INFORM Global database. (Document ID: 107398532). Rogoff, Lisa. "Sleeping with the Enemy: What’s Driving U.S. Policy Toward Sudan?" Young Professionals in Foreign Policy. 22 Aug. 2007. Young Professionals in Foreign Policy. 08 Oct. 2007 <http://www.ypfp.org/sleeping_with_the_enemy_what_s_driving_u_s_policy_to ward_sudan>. "Darfur Demands Sanctions, Not Words." Human Rights Watch. 13 Dec. 2006. Human Rights Watch. 9 Nov. 2007 <http://hrw.org/english/docs/2006/12/12/darfur14833.htm>. "Sudan Peace Act." US Department of State. 21 Oct. 2002. 9 Nov. 2007 <http://www.state.gov/r/pa/prs/ps/2002/14531.htm>. "Sudan Divestment UK." Sudan Divestment UK. 2007. Sudan Divestment Task Force. 9 Nov. 2007 <http://www.sudandivestment.co.uk/>.

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