Google Earth

Google is a benevolent empire that has invaded every portion of our technological lives from basic information search to U.S. patent searches to shopping. Everything is on Google. Therefore, it wasn’t much of a stretch that their new feature: Google Earth would be equally amazing. “Hey! I can see my house from space!” Who doesn’t enjoy that?

When exploring Google Earth, one can scan over areas of the entire world. The United States and much of Western Europe are highly detailed. When you zoom in enough, you can pick out roads, favorite parks, cars, etc. When you drift farther away from the West, the picture becomes a little fuzzier. Tajikistan shows all of the physical characteristics of the country, but I couldn’t see one hut. (But if you want to look at something fun, find Mount Everest). However, there is one part of Google Earth that stands out when you scan the world. In the middle of Africa, you can see a series of fires, videos, and what appears to be a chaotic conglomeration of links and pictures. This is Darfur.

If you look for Darfur on Google Earth, you will come upon a series of interconnected links with photos of destroyed villages, information about the men and women who have been murdered, and a visible account of the atrocities of the janjaweed. The “Crisis in Darfur” button discusses how the Holocaust Museum, in Washington D.C., has proclaimed Darfur as a genocide which must be stopped now.

The other buttons display pictures of destroyed villages, testimonies from people who’s lives have been destroyed by the conflict, and videos of NGO workers in the region who have witnessed this destruction. They are a terribly sad; however, as you look at them, you can’t help but wonder to yourself how is this still going on? After the numerous genocides that occured in the twentieth century-the Holocaust, Rwanda, Bosnia, Albania-how is this being tolerated by the international community in the twenty-first century?

The answer to that question is unknown by policy outsiders like myself. However, from a separated perspective, I can see a few of the reasons why.

One- China. Without the backing of China, the UN and other member-states have been unable to bring this problem to the fore front of discussion in the Security Council. The Chinese have a very close relationship with Khartoum and are unwilling to compromise to end this genocide. China presents itself as an amoral counterweight to the US who are higly involved in putting human rights first on the agenda for foreign countries. China has appealed to Africa by saying, “Hey, you keep giving us oil and other natural resources, and we’ll close our eyes and cover our ears when you ask us to.” A quid pro quo agreement.

Two- the United States. The US is involved in a very costly war in the Middle East and Eurasia at the moment (as we all know). This puts a little distress on US army forces. Currently, the US army is utterly spread out. To add more troops into Africa is not on the top of the Defense Department’s list. After the US debacle in Somalia, the American people have been reticient when it concerns placing troops in the African Horn. Although US troops could help immensely, there is no telling what kind of ripple a unilateral invasion of western Sudan would do to the US’s credibility abroad (already destroyed from the invasion in Iraq). I do not believe that the United States will send troops in any time soon and will continue to just have harsh words every three to six months by President Bush.

Three- the United Nations. The UN is now an impotent group without the ability to enforce any of its agreements without support from the permanent members of the Security Council. As stated in the UN constitution, UN peace keeping forces cannot intervene in a domestic matter unless expressly invited by the government. Khartoum, condoning the violence and even supporting it, will not allow this to happen. Even though the conflict has spilled into neighboring Chad, this still has not given the UN reason to intervene. Even though janjaweed forces are using planes painted with UN colors to smuggle arms, still nothing is being done. African Union forces have pulled out, and Secretary General Ban Ki-moon sits on the sidelines waiting for one of the big boys in the international community to act first before an entire population is eradicated.

These are three of the numerous reasons why nothing is being done in Darfur. I suggest that you download Google Earth now and look at these photos and look at these testimonies. Google has done a wonderful job with this program. It’s ubiquitous display of the world is elegant and well done. However, it is this in-depth display of Darfur that is Google Earth’s greatest aspect. It gives us a unique perspective into this conflict.

I applaud you Google. Keep up the good work.

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