Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Genocide in Darfur

Tom Malinowski, an official of Human Rights Watch, has a column in the Washington Post today about the continuing genocide in the Darfur province of Sudan. He compares the lack of action by the Bush Administration to similar slow responses of the Clinton Administration:

In his willingness to confront evil head-on, President Bush likes to think he's more decisive than that mushy-headed multilateralist Bill Clinton. But when I look at the Bush administration's response to what it has itself called genocide in the Darfur region of Sudan, I can't help thinking I've seen this movie before. It recalls the early Clinton administration (in which I served) and its initially ineffectual stand against genocide in Bosnia.

In 1993 and 1994 the United States could point to dozens of good things it had done about Bosnia: imposing sanctions, brokering peace talks, supporting U.N. peacekeepers and providing humanitarian aid. But America's commitment to end genocide was hollow, because it was not, at that point, backed by political and military muscle. The same is true in Darfur today. ...

Before it took action in Bosnia, the Clinton administration hid behind the United Nations. Warren Christopher said in June 1994, "NATO has done [in Bosnia] whatever has been asked of it by the United Nations." The Bush administration is hiding behind the African Union, which has taken months to deploy just 2,000 troops in Darfur. Rice said last week: "We've been very active, but what we really all are focusing on now . . . is the African Union, which is taking the lead. . . . The African Union may need some help with capacity. If there is a request, I would hope that NATO would act favorably." ...

I have no doubt that the Bush administration cares about Sudan. The United States has done more than any other Western country for Darfur. To its credit, the administration even allowed the U.N. Security Council to refer the atrocities there to the International Criminal Court, despite its bitter opposition to this court. ...

When the Clinton administration finally made Bosnia a priority and began leading international institutions instead of hiding behind them, the killing there ended. It's not too late for the Bush administration to do the same for Darfur.

It is well within the ability of the United States to take action to help stop the genocide in Darfur, even with our current level of commitment in Iraq. When are we going act?

7 Comments:

Anonymous Josh Ferguson said...

I have to wonder if it's for political reasonse that we haven't taken for of a lead in the Sudan. What would the general public's reaction be if an announcement was made that we were sending troops into another area of the world?

Our primary obligation, of course is where America's interests lie, but I think we do have a moral obligation as human beings to stop genocide when we can. What would be the troop requirements? Will there be a backlash from the military that are already over-worked and on long deployments? Would we be going in to stop one despot in favor of another? These are questions I'd like answered.

4:55 PM, May 03, 2005  
Blogger Kevin said...

Tom,

I completely agree with you on this subject. If we are that shining light on the hill or champion of justice, we can not pick and choose our battles. We need to take them all on, the chip will fall where they may.

Like T.R. said, we may fail, but we can not be counted in those cold timid souls that neither know victory or defeat.

Kev

6:05 AM, May 04, 2005  
Anonymous Marc Schneider said...

Not to be too cynical about this, but my answer is NEVER. Let's face it, countries talk about defending humanitarian interests but, unless there is some vital national interest involved, no country is going to make the effort necessary to stop genocide. I'm not saying Bush doesn't care about genocide, but it was a lot easier to do something about Saddam Hussein (who, horrible as he was, really was not committing genocide)because we had obvious interests in Iraq. There is no way Bush or any other president is going to incur a lot of costs (lives, money) to stop Africans from killing each other. And how many Americans would really want him too? It's much easier to talk about it at the UN than it is to back up that talk with force, especially given how stretched our forces are now.

9:55 AM, May 04, 2005  
Blogger Cyn said...

Darfur Through the Eyes of Innocents

3:47 PM, May 05, 2005  
Blogger Esther said...

It is all sooooooo sad. I really wish we could find a way not only to help but to put a stop to it. Even better would be if the UN would finally step up (or even NATO) and do their job there.

5:02 PM, May 05, 2005  
Blogger MaxedOutMama said...

I think the problem is that the US would have to take "illegal" unilateral action again. But I agree with Kevin. We can't pick and choose. The death toll is what matters.

5:23 PM, May 05, 2005  
Blogger Tom Carter said...

Josh, it seems pretty clear that we have the capacity to do what needs to be done. What's being talked about now is some logistical support to AU troops, airpower, and a few people on the ground to make it work.

Marc, I think the short answer is that intervening in clear-cut cases of genocide is in our national interest, in that it defends basic principles our country is founded on. It falls to the U.S. to lead the UN, NATO, and Europe in efforts like this, along with providing reasonable levels of military and materiel support. We were wrong not to stop genocide in Rwanda, and we're wrong not to stop it in Sudan. The UN is incompetent and corrupt; waiting for it to take effective action is tantamount to condoning the killing.

6:58 PM, May 05, 2005  

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