September 26, 2004


End the Genocide Now (William Kristol and Vance Serchuk, September 22, 2004, Washington Post)

The U.S. government has done everything it can diplomatically to resolve the crisis. For nearly six months Bush, Powell and other senior officials have urgently and publicly demanded that the Sudanese government pull back the militia. The U.S. government has repeatedly threatened "consequences" if Sudan failed to do so. In this, the Bush administration has the support, indeed the encouragement, of a bipartisan, right-left, "never again" consensus.

Now it's time for the threats to end and the consequences to begin. After all, in addition to the humanitarian imperative, the United States has a strategic interest in Sudan. Khartoum is one of seven regimes on the U.S. government's list of state sponsors of terrorism, and Sudan's dictatorship has had ties with almost every significant terrorist organization in the broader Middle East. Al Qaeda was based in Sudan during the 1990s, and other terrorist groups continue to operate there freely. This month Die Welt reported that Syria and Sudan have been collaborating in developing chemical weapons and may have used them against civilians in Darfur. Thus, in moving against Khartoum for its human rights abuses, we will also be striking a blow in the war on terrorism.

For months it has been obvious that stopping Sudan's campaign in Darfur will require putting several thousand foreign troops on the ground. It has also been obvious that some of these troops will have to be American. As in the case of the Balkans, Rwanda and Iraq, U.S. policymakers have waited for the United Nations to take the lead in authorizing such a force. But after Saturday's Security Council vote, it is clear that at least two members of the council -- China and Russia -- will veto any genuine action against Sudan. Khartoum enjoys a strategic relationship with Beijing, which is hungry for Sudanese oil and doesn't worry about human rights or, for that matter, genocide. The Kremlin has a robust weapons trade with Sudan, having just this summer shipped an order of the very MiG warplanes that have been implicated in strafing civilians in Darfur. (The Sudanese ambassador in Moscow reports that his government is "very pleased" with the purchase, which the Russians delivered five months ahead of schedule.)

Of course, U.S. policymakers might wish that the problem of Darfur could be outsourced to our allies in the region, and some African nations have indicated that they would be willing to contribute troops. But that contingent will need to be backed up by the United States. If the regime in Khartoum is going to be forced to accept foreign intervention on its territory, or if that regime is going to be changed, Washington must be a leader in the effort.

So, as is so often the case, the coalition of the willing that goes into Sudan is going to have to be largely organized, sustained and financed by the United States, most likely without a U.N. mandate.

It's a great American tadition--show folks starving kids at Thanksgiving and Christmas and they'll approve intervention alomst anywhere.

Posted by Orrin Judd at September 26, 2004 8:10 PM

Better yet, we'll approve the intervention even if Sally Struthers is making the pitch.

Posted by: Fred Jacobsen (San Fran) at September 26, 2004 9:58 PM

We don't need "several thousand foreign troops" in Darfur. We need a company or two of Green Beret soldiers with some logistical support. The Green Berets will train the people of Darfur to defend themselves -- that is, kill the Janjaweed fighters and government soldiers supporting the Janjaweed. That will permit the Furian people to live in relative peace.

No other country except Britain and Australia could do this, as no other country has the combination of independent special forces with experience working with foreign people, political will, and logistical support for such a venture (and the Aussies would need us as partners).

We certainly don't need a heavy-handed, overwrought, U.N. sponsored force in Darfur. They'll become known as "targets". We need to solve the problem, and that involves teaching the Furians to remove the threat of the Janjaweed.

Posted by: Steve White at September 26, 2004 11:13 PM

One notes that both Thanksgiving and Christmas are well after the American Presidential election.

A recent Pew Research Center poll found that 51% of voters are concerned that at least one more war would be conducted during Bush's second term.
(And they're right, there may well be three).

That's probably why the Bush administration hasn't moved on Darfur yet.

Steve White:

Although a generous handful of American SpecOp forces, backed up with heavy air support, could cut the Janjaweed to ribbons, long term peace would require a long term, robust military presence.

All of the factions in Yugoslavia were armed and capable of defending themselves, but it didn't result in a stalemated peace, but rather in a bloodbath.

Posted by: Michael Herdegen at September 27, 2004 12:29 AM

I concur with Steve: Ship in some arms and trainers, and let the people defend themselves. Train the wimmin folk too.

Posted by: Ptah at September 27, 2004 10:00 AM

It has now been over two months and, more or less, 20,000 deaths since Orrin announced the situation intolerable.

We're tolerating it very well, are we not?

Posted by: Harry Eagar at September 28, 2004 12:46 AM

20,000 is chump change. We'll take care of it.

Posted by: oj at September 28, 2004 7:29 AM

I'd not like that on my conscience

Posted by: Harry Eagar at September 28, 2004 2:13 PM