Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Thinking About Darfur

Dymphna at Gate of Vienna asked tough questions in this post:

Darfur is indeed a tragedy. Americans, having the characteristics we do, are genuinely concerend and want to help. Want to help in an effective way. The tsunami corruption sured soured a lot of people who gave generously in a response to suffering.

You know how corrupt Darfur is. You also know we cannot afford a two-front war. What would you have us do to prevent the suffering and death sure to come?

Meanwhile, the specter of the nuclear weapons in Iran and the sinking realization that it's being run by a genuinely seasoned terrorist with much blood and a lot of American sufferin on his hands has badly distracted many of us.

The UN is worse than useless. They're part of the problem. And now we're being called on to participate in Haiti because no one seems to believe the UN Brazilian forces will be effective.

So, Minh-Duc, if you were in charge, how would you triage? What would be your reasons for your choices?

I have been thinking hard about this issue and it bothers me inmensely. Honestly, I do not see a clear solution. The Genocide in Darfur is clearly justified for military intervention - with or without the UN approval. And normally, I would not hesistate to call for military intervention by the US. I supported the intervention in the Balkan (and participated in the peace-keeping effort). I was genuinely angry with President Clinton when he sat by and let Rwanda descend into barbarity. I am one of those who believe in American exceptionalism and our nobless oblige to fight evil of our time.

But I am hesitant this time. The reasons are obvious. We have a serious military commitment in Iraq in concurrent with other military operation against Islamist globally. It is a bitter struggle that will last for sometime. Unlike the situation during Rwanda, we simply do not have the neccessary force to commit to Darfur.

Let look at the situation on the ground. Currently there are 2,400 African Union troops on the ground. They do a commendable job but it is inadequate for the gravity of the situation. Their number is too small and they lack mobility (vehicles, helicopters) to carry out their mission efficiently. The area is too large. NATO promised to provide airlift and logistical support. But the most serious issue the AU peacekeepers face is that they are only monitors; their mandate does not allow them to enforce peace. This is the same situation of UNPROFOR faced in Bosnia prior to the US involvement. Murderers such as the Janjaweed only understand force. No indictment from the ICC or any other diplomatic means will deter them.

What we need to end the crisis in Darfur is application of force – a willingness to punish wrongdoers with bombs and bullets. But where do we get the force? Europe, as their track record shows, (even within their continent such as Bosnia and Kosovo), lack the backbone to intervene to end genocide, despite having the necessary forces and capability. The African Union is willing but unable to stop the crisis. An African solution for an African problem is an empty meaningless slogan – particularly empty to the victims of genocide.

But I believe there is still solution. The bulk of the US land force is in Iraq, but not our air power and naval power. Our naval power is still project toward the Pacific and our airpower has played a minor role in Iraq since the fall of Baghdad and will continue to be so for sometime. Can a punitive air campaign against the Janjaweed and the Khartoum military can bring the genocide to the halt? I think so. It will at least force them back to the negotiation table. It works against Milosevic ending his genocide in Kosovo. But we still need ground force for the aftermath to enforce the peace – such as one currently in Kosovo.
I have similar misgiving about the UN but unlike my fellow-conservatives believe it is redeemable. That it can play a role in ending genocide. Unlike the Iraq, which was contentious, there is consensus on the gravity of the situation in Sudan. We can pressure for an enhance mandate for the African Union troops on the ground as a stop-gap measure. Through the UN we can still get a modest amount of peacekeepers, sufficient for the mission in Darfur. There are other countries with peacekeeping experience that are also emerging as military power. India is an example of such a nation. India will never send troops to Iraq due to its domestic political environment. But India has sent troops to Africa before. India has a policy of sending troops only as an UN mission. So be it. With the current climate and consensus on the issue, we can get the UN to request India to lead a multi-national force to Darfur. A bonus for India maybe an assurance from the US of support for India entry into the permanent security council (which I believe we plan to support anyway – as Secretary Rice clearly suggested on her South Asian trip). A combination of land force from other willing countries and our airpower should be able to solve the problem of Darfur.
Of course, this solution is merely me thinking out loud - a course of action to be study for feasibility. It may be feasible or it may be wishful thinking on my part. But we need to think about solutions, study them, and see which one is feasible and more likely to produce the desired result. A we need to be quick before there are no more Darfuris to be saved.


Blogger Pedro said...

A well-reasoned response to a complicated issue. One thing I think you've nailed perfectly is the need for force when dealing with situations such as Darfur. In the movie Hotel Rwanda, one of the only things that prevents the Rwandan genocide from spiraling further out of control (and thus saving the people in the movie) was the fear that the US and its allies were going to come in and put an end to the chaos. Notice that the Hutus weren't afraid of UN sanctions, wimpy statements of condemnation by Jacques Chirac, or meaningless and self-indulgent expressions of solidarity by "international peace movements." No, what made them think twice was the fear of force.

If we are going to avoid another Rwanda in the Sudan, somebody is going to have to step up and fight with weapons, not petitions. And we're going to have to place the blame where it belongs -- I note that there are more protesters in Edinburgh right now than there are anywhere protesting the Sudanese government. Hmmm...

I hope you're right that the UN can still serve its original purpose.

10:23 AM  
Blogger Pedro said...

One more thing: of course, part of the awful tragedy of the story in Hotel Rwanda is the fact that, although people are afraid the US is going to come in and end the slaughter, it never did.

Did we learn a lesson? I'm afraid to answer that question.

10:24 AM  
Anonymous Mixed Humor said...

I am in agreement that situations like Rwanda, Bosnia, Kosovo, or Sudan demand a military response at some point. A while back I supported sending a small contingent of U.S. Marines (maybe 1,000?) into Darfur, as more of a symbolic act as anything else. It would certainly draw more attention the that nation and what is going on there if the U.S. military took action. Of course we'd have the usual detractors like Russia and China proclaiming it was a power grab to get access to Sudan's oil.

If we truly stand up for the downtrodden and those who cannot help themselves, sitting back and not acting in Darfur in my view is egregious. Sending in U.S. troops would at least call other nations (ie. Europe) to the carpet and question their commitment on human rights.

8:02 PM  
Blogger MaxedOutMama said...

Minh-Duc, that is one of the more realistic suggestions I have seen on Darfur. Getting India involved might well work wonders.

And I concur with the idea that something involving force (shooting attackers) must be done.

2:57 PM  
Anonymous ilona said...

I see someone mentioned China's oil interest in Sudan, which I believe I had read is one reason that intervention is difficult. What I didn't see mentioned is what I dimly remmeber as a rivalry/enmity between India and China. It was the early sixties when animosities flared at their border. I wonder that India would be risking upsetting China over Darfur...??

Here it is:
Indo-Chinese War

3:35 PM  
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12:24 AM  

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