RE: “Kiir and Riek can fight, on one condition” (The New Times, July 17).
In any armed conflict with modern mass death-dealing weaponry, innocents die. In fact, since the American civil war and the North’s scorched earth strategy to deny the enemy the means to sustain its resistance, more unarmed civilians have tended to die than armed soldiers.
In Vietnam, the consequences of the US’s scorched earth policy – including the use of Agent Orange to destroy that country’s forests to deprive the Viet Mihn guerillas of cover – was accompanied by such other actions as the Phoenix Programme that deliberately targeted the assassination of civilians in hamlets suspected of being communist supporters or sympathisers.
Thousands were killed in those operations. The My Lai Massacre of infamy was far from being an accident or even rare. It was well within the US war policy of atrocity to frighten North Vietnam-leaning peasant communities to stop their anti-foreigner sentiments.
Southern Sudanese conflict is no different from any other modern armed conflict; it kills more innocents than the armed fighters.
And, too often the adversaries deliberately target those they see as their enemies’ civilians, perhaps to sap their morale and to ‘cure’ them of the will to continue the fight.
Thus, civilians in any modern war are rarely ‘collateral damage’, despite what the Americans claim; they are often the intended victims.
And so, if Salva Kiir and Riek Machar want to decide, who is the Alpha Dog, give them AK47s and lock them somewhere alone to decide the issue. But neither will accept that suggestion.
They would rather fight to the last Nuer and last Dinka, and take any Shilluk, Azande, Acholi, or Kakwa unfortunate enough to remain in the way.
In my view, this is one of the situations where Africa, through our continental organisation, the AU, should just move into South Sudan, take it over long enough to help build a government more interested in the people’s welfare than its current crop of ‘leaders’ seem capable of ever learning to do.