Moral Blindness: The Case Against Troops for Darfur (by David Rieff)
Except for those who frankly favor the anti-government insurgents in Darfur--and they are more to be found on the Christian right, which has supported Minni Minnawi's Sudan Liberation Movement as it once supported John Garang's insurgency in Southern Sudan--advocates of a U.S. deployment have been maddeningly vague about what will transpire in Darfur after foreign forces halt the killing. [-edit-]
To his credit, [Eric] Reeves has written that any outside military force would have to ensure that the rebel guerrillas do not take advantage of the foreign presence to improve their position on the ground. But that is what an international deployment will almost inevitably do, which is why Minnawi and others have been campaigning so hard for one. The deployment of foreign troops, whose mission will be to protect Darfuri civilians, will allow the guerrillas to establish "facts on the ground" that will strengthen their claims for secession. That is what makes the interventionists' claim that the intervention will be purely "humanitarian"--that it will protect civilians being murdered, raped, and displaced by the Janjaweed but do little or nothing else--so disingenuous. For it is virtually certain that this is not the way events will play out if U.S. or [NATO] forces deploy. To the contrary, such a deployment can have only one of two outcomes. The first will be the severing of Darfur from the rest of Sudan and its transformation into some kind of international protectorate, a la Kosovo. But, at least in Kosovo, the protectorate was run by Europeans--by neighbors. In Darfur, by contrast, it will be governed by Americans (who are already at war across the Islamic world) and possibly by [NATO] (i.e., Africa's former colonial masters). Now there's a recipe for stability.
If anything, the second possibility is even worse. Assuming the intervention encounters resistance from the Janjaweed and the government of Sudan (and perhaps Al Qaeda), the foreign intervenors will arrive at the conclusion that the only way to bring stability to Darfur is, well, regime change in Khartoum: In other words, the problems of Darfur are, in fact, the product of Al Bashir's dictatorship, and these problems can be meaningfully addressed only by substituting a more democratic government. Such an intervention may well end up being Iraq redux, and it is disingenuous to pretend otherwise. [-edit-]
The idea that, after Bosnia, Rwanda, Kosovo, and Iraq, intelligent activists can still speak of humanitarian intervention as if it were an uncomplicated act of rescue without grave implications is a testimony to the refusal of the best and brightest among us to think seriously about politics. Is this what the marriage of human rights and American exceptionalism has led us to? If so, God help us. [-edit-]
Reeves may sneer at the idea of national sovereignty and bemoan the African Union's insufficiently aggressive line toward the government of Sudan. The fact remains that the consensus in postcolonial Africa has been to maintain the national borders that existed at the time of independence, despite their obvious artificiality, because, in redrawing them, Africa might reap the whirlwind. But that is why there was so little sympathy in Africa for Katangese or Biafra secession; it is why most African leaders insist that the Eritrean secession remain an exception for the sake of continental stability. There is nothing stupid, venal, or contemptible about this. And, whatever Reeves may imagine, there are many thoughtful African leaders whose reluctance to confront Khartoum is based in large part on these considerations. [-edit-]
If, on reflection, Reeves and those who think like him believe that it [military intervention in Darfur] is worth doing anyway, that is a perfectly defensible position. What is indefensible is not seeing--or pretending not to see--the problem.
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How to avoid another Iraqi quagmire in Sudan
Excerpt from Sudan Watch entry entry Mar 23 2006:
People who cry out for military intervention (an act of war) in Darfur ought to take a few minutes to read a most insightful opinion piece by veteran war correspondent Dr Paul Moorcraft, a Brit who has worked in thirty war zones over twenty years and visits Sudan and Darfur regularly.
Dr Moorcraft's op-ed provides an excellent easy to read summary of Sudan's complex situation. It tells us Sudan has all the potential ingredients to be a failed state and that, quote:More important is the recognition that there is no military solution in Darfur. Neither side can win the war, nor can the AU (nor UN) impose peace where there is none. It will take nine months to a year for the AU to be beefed up. Use this precious time to enforce the peace process, not least in the Nigerian capital, Abuja."
Labels: Paul Moorcraft