October 9, 2005


Negotiating With Genocide (Washington Post, October 9, 2005)

MOST ARGUMENTS about the Darfur genocide boil down to a question of urgency. The Post and other critics have called for immediate pressure on the sponsors of genocide in Sudan's government and a quicker deployment of outside troops to defend civilians. Meanwhile the Bush administration has worked toward these goals, but slowly.

Rather than changing Sudan's behavior by, say, imposing a no-fly zone, the administration has sought a durable political solution to the tension between Sudan's government and its regions. Instead of pressing for a quick NATO deployment, the administration has ceded the job of protecting civilians to the slow-moving African Union. To be charitable, the administration's argument is not only that the direct application of U.S. or Western power would be costly and risky. It's that, in the long term, there won't be peace in Darfur without a political solution and that Africa will remain miserable unless it builds up the African Union to address its problems. Recent news has revealed some strength and much weakness in this approach.

The positive news is that the search for a political solution is inching ahead. Last year the administration pressed successfully for a north-south peace deal, under which southerners would be invited into Sudan's central government and given a share of the nation's oil wealth. To secure this deal, the Bush team had to forgo aggressive options such as a no-fly zone; when criticized for this choice of priorities, the administration argued that the north-south settlement would help Darfur because the power-sharing model could be extended to the territory, ending the root cause of its violence. Slowly, the administration is pursuing this vision. Despite the destabilizing death of John Garang, the southern leader, southerners have taken up positions in the central government. The next step is to include them in the government team that is negotiating with Darfur's rebels. If that can be achieved, it would boost peace prospects in Darfur. [...]

The administration's long-term desire for a negotiated peace and for African self-reliance in peacekeeping is laudable. But it needs a more muscular short-term strategy. What about punishing the government for its recent massacres by destroying the participating helicopters? What about supplementing African Union troops with NATO ones? To be sure, NATO resources are stretched thin by Iraq and Afghanistan, and Western leaders are tempted to regard Sudan as marginal to their interests. But NATO was born -- indeed, the idea of "the West" was born -- out of the ashes of Hitler's genocide. If it refuses to fight the modern echoes of that barbarism, what does the West stand for?

They sound so bold until it comes to their own recipe for action and then it's just mush. If blacks, the Left, and the MSM cared enough about Darfur to call for unilateral military action they'd get it.

Posted by Orrin Judd at October 9, 2005 9:13 AM

The positive news is that the search for a political solution is inching ahead.

Um, positive for whom?

Posted by: Barry Meislin at October 9, 2005 9:25 AM

everyone but the janjaweed

Posted by: oj at October 9, 2005 9:34 AM

Go tell it to the raped, the dead and dying, and the soon to be.

Posted by: Barry Meislin at October 9, 2005 10:55 AM

we will.

Posted by: oj at October 9, 2005 11:25 AM

. . . the rapes are also inching ahead, six inches at a time.

Posted by: obc at October 9, 2005 11:28 AM

Military action in the Sudan basically means finding a thousand or so janjaweed somewhere and killing them all in a particularly violent night (with helicopters, jets, and probably some insertions). If the Sudanese object or get in the way, 200 bombs on Khartoum will cow them for the next 10 years.

And in order to assure the proper gathering of janjaweed, utilize the African 'troops' as either decoys or as flypaper. Let them prove their mettle as well.

Sure, the left will never endorse such a thing. But that doesn't mean it shouldn't be done.

And if Robert Mugabe were killed the same night, the continent might begin to change faster than any liberal could ever imagine.

Posted by: jim hamlen at October 9, 2005 10:03 PM