Thom Hartmann traveled to Darfur in the Sudan with other talk show hosts to bring "Sacks of Hope" and to provide awareness of the Sudanese Refugees (more). Carl Wolfson was anchoring the show at the Portland, Oregon end. This was the third and fourth segments of Thom's call in to the show; the first half of the second hour.
Thom Hartmann and Joe Madison in Darfur: 14 March 2008
Thom Hartmann traveled to Darfur in the Sudan with other talk show hosts to bring "Sacks of Hope" and to provide awareness of the Sudanese Refugees (more). Carl Wolfson was anchoring the show at the Portland, Oregon end.
[Carl]: Welcome back. I'm Carl Wolfson in Portland, Oregon, subbing for Thom Hartmann on the Thom Hartmann Program today as we approach the fifth anniversary of George Bush's invasion of Iraq. ...
We're also talking about another area of the world that is troubled where the United States needs to play a role, where we need to be aware and joining us from Darfur in Sudan is Thom Hartmann. Thom, welcome back.
[Thom]: Hey Carl, I'm going to give the phone here to Joe Madison. Joe is one of the main reasons I'm here. He's been here a number of times and is sometimes is referred to as the Black Eagle, a talk show host out of Washington DC and on XM. He can tell you about his show. He's been here a bunch of times and also Joe you can tell us why you don't think we should wear these head lamps. Here's the phone.
[Carl]: Hey Joe, Carl Wolfson in Portland.
[Joe]: Hi, I'm fine. The reason I told him you don't wear the head lamps is because they start shooting me in the head. We're in the middle of a compound; we're safe, I believe. But we've obviously had armed enemies of the government of the Sudanese People Liberation Movement with us, while I was just telling him that it tends to be westerners who come in with head lamps and for some of the enemy it just is a signal, a target to shoot me in the head. So I think we're safe.
[Carl]: Joe, Joe, it's a pleasure to talk to you, WOL-AM out of Washington. And you have been for a long time a great voice for the American people to engage with the situation in Sudan, in Darfur and you have visited the country more than once.
[Joe]: It's been over 8 years.
[Carl]: Yeah. We had...
[Joe]: It's been over 8 years.
[Carl]: We had a caller last hour, Joe, who asked why the media scrutiny isn't there on something as important and essential as the lives of the People of Darfur. Do you have an answer for that caller?
[Joe]: Yes, I know the exact answer because I have begged media types to go. Everyone from Giraldo to NBC to CBS. I've heard excuses, with what hotel do we stay in? Well, there aren't are any hotels. There isn't any running water. We're in the middle of the bush. Well, can I get in and get out? No, you can't get in and get out. You may have to spend 2 or 3 days. So basically it's a very difficult trip. To give you an example, most of us left the States 3 days ago and we're just now getting to our central location where the sacks of hopes are being distributed and where we found 500 people, primarily from the north, some from Darfur, who were literally dropped off at this village with nothing but the clothes on their backs. I mean and that was just probably 2 hours ago.
[Carl]: Joe, How many times have you been to Darfur?
[Joe]: It's a very difficult trip. Four. This is my fourth trip. The first two times I went, they were in the throes of a civil war, a 25 years civil war between the north and the south that cost over 2 million lives, 4 million displaced people. More people were killed in this one civil war than were killed in all the wars, of Americans in all the wars that we fought. We came over here initially because women and children were being taken as slaves, and we were retrieving the se women and children and bringing them back to villages. Even today we met a young lady who had in fact been taken as a slave and she was just returning to her village. Then the last time I came was to bring aid to the displaced people who are being encouraged to come back to Southern Sudan and we also brought aid to many of those from Darfur.
[Carl]: And there are many relief organizations that have been working over the years in Darfur, that's right?
[Joe]: Oh yes, I mean, well let me explain what's happening. There are two conflicts that we have to be concerned about. Every one, and there's a tremendous amount of resources that are now pouring in to Darfur because Darfur is in the news. It is now Arab Moslem against African Moslem and it is about a marginalized people, the Darfurians wanting a say in their government, wanting development.
And then simultaneous to that you have what is called the comprehensive peace agreement. This is the peace agreement that they are now trying to implement that was the result of the 25 year war. It involves revenue sharing of oil, it involves a census so that an election can take place. And the people of Southern Sudan are determined whether or non they will have a unified Sudan or whether there will be a succession or what will in essence end up being a new Sudan.
If that vote took place today based on a meeting we had, Thom and a group of other talk show personalities had with president Kiir, Salva Kiir, they would probably vote to, for succession. So, and the fact that again, that this is an oil rich nation. And the people where we are right now I can tell you emphatically, without hyperbole, these people live the same way they lived 400 years ago and they are sitting on probably the richest oil reserve in the world.
[Carl]: Joe, when was that agreement negotiated, and how long has it been 'til it will go into effect? You mentioned, how many years has that been?
[Joe]: The agreement I believe, Thom, if I'm not mistaken, was agreed to about 2 years ago. It was somewhere about 2 years ago. And it involved (1) creating a line of demarcation between the north and the south, between the northern Arabs in the north and Khartoum the capital of Sudan, and the south, in Juba, where we are now.
It also dealt with, one of the principles was revenue sharing. Most of the oil of Sudan is found in the south. Most of the controversy now with the CPA [comprehensive peace agreement - ed.] as they call it has been the fact that the Khartoum government is moving the goal posts, so and here's the reason why. When oil is found in the South, the southern Sudanese get only 50 percent of the revenue and the north gets 50 percent. If oil is found in the north, the Arab government in the north gets a hundred percent of the revenue.
So oil exploration has been going on in the especially with the Chinese who have been destroying villages, who have brought in their own military, begun to drill oil and what they have done is they have moved the line of demarcation; the government has moved it. So every time an oil reserve is found, they say, "oh no, this is in the north". So they get 100 percent.
The other problem is bringing back people who were displaced during the 25 year civil war. So Salva Kiir, who is president of Southern Sudan, vice President of the country of Sudan, said that he believes that if they did a census which they are scheduled to do and they're behind schedule on doing it, they may have as many as ten million people. The importance of the census is (1) to determine who will vote, and (2) of course to determine how much revenue they are to get.
The other problem, finally, is the people are very impatient because there was a terrible war. It made Darfur look like a cakewalk. And they have not seen the peace dividend. So you now have former generals, former soldiers, former commanders who are now civilian lawmakers and they must bring these peace dividends about quickly or else there will be other skirmishes. And we're now in a region where there have been skirmishes in the past. So if war breaks out in the south, in addition to what's happening in Darfur, Sudan for all practical purposes is a mess.
And I haven't even talked about the Nubian region where the Chinese, in cooperation with the Khartoum government, is preparing to flood the entire Nubian region underwater in order to build a dam. Now what does that mean? Some of the oldest archaeological finds on the planet are found in the Nubian region. The Nubian people basically taught the Egyptians how to build pyramids.
[Carl]: Joe, we're up against the clock. I'd love you to hold on for the next segment. Just invaluable information, and I want to talk to you about what the Chinese are doing there, what the response has been from the United States government as well, and what we can all do to help. Joe, I hope you can hold on for the next segment. Joe Madison, XM satellite radio, the Black Eagle, on the ground in Darfur. Carl Wolfson with you on the Thom Hartmann program on Air America Radio. 13 minutes past the hour.
[Carl]: We're back. Carl Wolfson along with you in the Thom Hartmann Program. The Thom Hartmann Program brought to you in part by the 200,000 health and hospital workers at SEIU 1199, fighting for quality affordable health care for all Americans; keeping our families healthy should be a right, not a privilege.
Thom Hartmann on the ground in Darfur, in Sudan, along with Joe Madison, the Black Eagle, XM satellite radio. Joe, are you there?
[Thom]: No, Joe took off. He had to go help his wife put together the tent. So you're back with me, Carl.
[Carl]: I'm always glad to be back with you, Thom. What's on the schedule for the next several days. Believe me, I'm glad to be with you. What's your itinerary? Is it night time there?
[Thom]: Yes, well, here's, yeah it is. It's quite dark. It's interesting, last night we were in Juba and one of the guys with us was just absolutely shocked by the fact that the hotels had, you know, a bucket for a shower and ? and the hot water and the cold water ran a third of the time and this was like the best hotel in Juba. And I'm like, you know, hey, welcome to the third world. And of course that's the only, probably, I dunno, one of 2 or 3 hotels in all of Southern Sudan, I guess. But what I find so fascinating here, and I saw it today as we arrived, we...
Well, first of all, you asked me about my schedule, about our schedule. We flew from Juba from the UN compound up into the central western part here today. We're in one village. Tomorrow we'll be traveling overland to another village. The day after that we're traveling overland to another village. And the day after that we'll be taking a plane. We'll get on a plane to Loki, I think is the next town, and from there to Nairobi, and then from Nairobi to Zurich and Zurich to back home. And it'll be literally about a 35 hour non-stop trip that Justin and I are going to take on the way back home. And then I get home Tuesday morning, Tuesday night at midnight and I'll be on the air Wednesday with you at 8 o'clock morning.
[Thom]: So that's the schedule
[Carl]: Flying from Zurich in Switzerland to where you are in Africa and in Darfur, and I know you've traveled the world and you're well read. Do you get a sense of the haves and the have nots and those who are neglected in this world? Do you get a greater sense of it? I imagine you do.
[Thom]: Well, you know, that's the interesting thing that I was hoping to get into with you, is the ambivalence of that. Joe, you want to talk a little more about this stuff? Yes. Here, let me, I can get into this riff here in just a minute. Joe just walked by here and he can finish up the segment here, Carl, with you, stuff that he started, OK?
[Carl]: Great, great.
[Thom]: Here's Joe now.
[Carl]: Yeah Joe Madison, XM satellite radio, the Black Eagle. Joe?
[Joe]: Yeah, yes, and look, I don't want it to be underestimated or marginalized how important it is that Thom Hartmann's here. There aren't very many talk show personalities, as a matter of fact, let me tell you, this is the first time that a delegation of talk show personalities have come to this part of the region to observe this conflict head on. And it's not just observation. They've actually come and raised money for the sacks of hope and I think Thom would agree we immediately saw, did we not, Thom, the impact that these sacks of hope would have on a family. We saw a family of 6 with nothing and here we are landing with a cargo full, a plane full of hope. At least giving them an opportunity to have some possessions that will get them through maybe the next six months. Without it there would be children who'd probably die of malnourishment and people who would basically be sleeping under a tree like we're doing tonight.
[Carl]: Joe, you've been on this beat, on this story for a long time. The United States policy, we know that George Bush has called it genocide, he did so on a speech and then went to Europe and bragged that he used the word genocide. The United States policy, is it lacking? Assess it for us.
[Joe]: Yes, it's lacking, and let's not forget the reason that George Bush did call it genocide. It was after a summer of civil disobedience in front of the White House, the Sudan embassy and the State Department. People like Danny Glover, Charlie Rangel, Joe Madison, five grandmothers on their birthdays who got arrested and we did it for 9 straight days, Ben and Jerry, who came down from Vermont and they submitted themselves for arrest. That was the reason, it was good old fashioned anti-apartheid scheming type civil disobedience. Finally he declared it. But here's what's been happening. For lack of a better phrase, he's playing footsies with the Bashir government for the purpose of what? Getting information on terrorism. And so on one hand, you know, it's always the threat with the carrot, I mean with the stick, and then on the other hand he offers a carrot.
[Carl]: Yeah. Joe, we're up against another break. Joe Madison the Black Eagle with us on the ground in Darfur along with our own Thom Hartmann here on the Thom Hartmann Program. We'll be speaking more with Thom and Joe and others on the ground in Darfur. Carl Wolfson with you in Portland, Oregon on Air America Radio right now. 28 minutes past the hour.
This page consists of the third and fourth segments that Thom called in - the first half hour of the second hour of the show. Remaining segments to follow.