Celebrating South Sudan is dangerous and hypocritical

With a serious lack of aid from the UN, EU and US, the newly formed state is doomed to fail, and the hollow cheers from world leaders only serves to highlight the sad fact that no one seems to care.

South Sudan 311 (photo credit: REUTERS)
South Sudan 311
(photo credit: REUTERS)
The whole world enthusiastically saluted the declaration of independence of the Republic of South Sudan. The leaders of the great nations sent greetings, delegations and flowers; UN Secretary General, Ban Ki Moon, flew in from New York to greet the new member of the family of nations.
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Following suit, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu welcomed the new “democratic” state and even annexed the event to the peace process by emphasizing that its creation was the fruit of negotiations and that—contrary to the Palestinian approach—South Sudan was not the result of a unilateral vote at the UN General Assembly.
The local media were beside themselves with fervor, with one Israeli daily even devoting its first three pages to the new country.
Then the festivities were over, the delegations flew back home, and left South Sudan—the poorest and most primitive country in Africa and among the poorest in the world – to its sorry fate.
South Sudan has about 8 million inhabitants. Since Sudanese independence, the region has been torn by civil wars that have resulted in 2.5 million people killed and about 5 million displaced persons. An internal war continues in 9 of the 10 South Sudanese provinces; Sudan covets the oil reserves in South Sudan and refuses to be satisfied with 50% of the income, as was the case in the past.
The danger of a war between the newly formed state and its neighbor Sudan is almost palpable. Many parts of South Sudan are ravaged by hunger. With the highest rate of maternal and infant mortality, the country has the worst health infrastructure in the world.
In 2004, there were only 3 hospitals in all of South Sudan with one doctor per 500,000 inhabitants and a total of 3 surgeons for the entire population. The country’s rural economy and lack of democratic tradition begs the question of how it will survive.
All the observers, experts and scientists predict a bleak future for this new country. So apart from sowing the seeds of false hope in millions, what purpose did this festival of independence serve?  What good will come of bombastic declarations by the UN Secretary General and others when the South Sudanese are dying of hunger?
The celebrations and speeches and greetings were nothing but a display of hypocrisy at its best.
After all, not one voice dared to utter the simple truth: South Sudan was not and is not ready for independence. It does not have the manpower, the stability, or any other of the manifold resources needed to start building institutions, an educational system, health care, and economy, among myriad other democratic structures.
But who cares?
One solution to South Sudan could have been establishing a UN mandate for 10 years, coupled with a solid commitment to invest so many millions of dollars a year into building the country. A commitment is needed to send thousands of teachers, doctors, civil servants, and economic experts to plan the country’s future. In addition, a peacekeeping force must be implemented in order to protect the nation’s fragile borders.
Yet the UN claims it is too poor; how could anyone have the cheek to ask it to establish a mandate to take care of the needs of an infant nation in Africa? In addition to it being an impossible task, it is also not politically correct.
So let them starve to death instead.
Another solution could have been if the US or the EU had decided to “adopt” South Sudan for several years, managing and financing the creation of a viable nation. But this idea looks like a bad joke. America is in the middle of a terrible debt crisis, the EU is engaged in a Sisyphean effort to buoy the failing economies of Greece, Spain, Ireland… Certainly, they have no cash to spare.
So how will South Sudan survive?
A couple of years ago an article in the New York Times magazine suggested “re-colonizing” certain African nations, with a single goal in mind: to help them achieve real independence and basic standards of democracy, health, education, economic management, and human rights. The article provided a blueprint that was free of patronization for saving African nations from the infernal cycles of tribal wars, massacres, coups d’état, poverty and hunger.
If submitted today, I doubt that the Times would have published the article.
These days hypocrisy serves as the basic rule of international relations, as exemplified in this region: The Palestinians have the right to independence (a magic word it seems) and the hell with negotiations; the children of Gaza are oppressed by the occupier (played by Israel of course) and Hamas are the ones that are democratically elected; the Palestinians living in Syria, Lebanon and other countries have full rights to destroy border fences and march into Israel – after all, they are returning to their own homes. And so on and so forth.
The rude awakening that will no doubt follow these false formulas, prophecies, and hollow celebrations is going to be very painful – both in the Middle East and in South Sudan, the newest member of a thrilled Family of Nations.
The writer is a former Labor Party MK and the official biographer of David Ben-Gurion and Shimon Peres.