Sunday, March 27, 2005

Genocide in Darfur

In the free, online version of the Wall Street Journal Don Cheadle and John Prendergast argue for the US to take immediate action to stop the slaughter of innocents by the Sudanese government-sponsored Janjaweed militias. Mr. Cheadle was nominated for an Academy Award for his performance in the film "Hotel Rwanda." Mr. Prendergast is an adviser to the International Crisis Group. They are highly critical of the "lame excuses" offered by the US for the failure to stop the killing.
OpinionJournal - Featured Article: "So what is the real reason why the U.S. has not responded as it should have? The truth is that combating crimes against humanity is simply not considered a national security issue. We don't want to burn our leverage on Sudan in the face of issues such as Iraq, Iran and Syria.

The only antidote to this searing truth--the only way the U.S. will take the kind of leadership necessary to end the horrors for Fatima and her people--is for there to be a political cost to inaction. As American citizens increasingly raise their voices and write their letters about Darfur, the temperature has indeed risen. But not enough. We need to make it a little warmer, a little more uncomfortable for those politicians who would look away. Just a few more degrees. Just a few more thousand letters. It is, frankly, that simple."
We agree that the US goverment should take the lead in stopping these atrocities. It's interesting, however, that there is no serious suggestion in the article of any prospect of the "International Community" taking action. In fact the UN and the Europeans are quite happy to argue semantics about whether it is really "genocide" or not, since a declaration of genocide would require actions. China and Russia are actively opposing any US movement to end the killing through pressure on Sudan.

We saw a suggestion somewhere else that the US simply invade Darfur and hold a referendum on secession from Sudan, followed by democratic elections for a popular government. Such a government would probably welcome US military bases, and these would be a great strategic asset.

This approach neutralizes the "... combating crimes against humanity is simply not considered a national security issue," argument by aligning the two objectives. Of course, some may not find this a benefit. In some quarters any "taint" of national interest fatally undermines the case for military action.

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