Monday, October 09, 2006

Darfur's Delusions

Pounding on the U.N. is compounding the problem.

Darfur is a crime scene. Estimates of deaths in the conflict have ranged from 50,000 to 450,000 with most centering at the high end. Tales of the Janjaweed [meaning "a man with a horse and a gun"], reinforced by the Sudanese national air force, engaging in wholesale massacres and ethnic cleansing have horrified and outraged the world. A deployment of African Union forces are barely adequate to observe and document these atrocities.

Many well-meaning people, involuntary witnesses to the first (arguably) 21st century case of genocide, flagellate themselves into demonstrations, petitions, letter-writing - into any and all actions which can exonerate themselves from complicity. In my own, once great country, liberals and conservatives alike have understandably been aroused from their preoccupations with assorted apolitical distractions and implore,

WON'T SOMEONE PLEASE DO SOMETHING???!!!

And the answer is yes! We would do something because we 'can'. Bush, putatively, is providing the leadership. Listen to Wizard beating the cheer leading drums:
It certainly should be noted that President Bush has been the strongest supporter for African issues . . . Darfur . . . And it should be noted that George Bush, Condoleeza Rice and John Bolton have led the fight for U.N. action.
Ah, there's the rub: It's the United Nations -- the usual suspect and constant whipping boy for American conservatism -- that is responsible for inaction on this moral crusade.
Wizard, himself, piling on in the attack, 2-Sep-06:
. . . . in just three short days, the complete bankruptcy of the United Nations has been exposed.

The United Nations is a toothless tiger. . . .

But the U.N proves to be a great ally to countries like Iran and Sudan because it ties up the larger and theoretically more powerful nations in endless negotiations and spineless rhetoric. . . . The United Nations is worse than useless, it actually empowers tyrants and terrorists and aids their cause.
(As I pointed out to Wizard, when I read this for the first time, the U.N. was also ineffectual in preventing the Anglo-American invasion of Iraq.) But "worse than useless"? That certainly goes beyond John Bolton's famous observation that the U.N. provides useful cover for American foreign policy:
There is no such thing as the United Nations. There is an international community that occasionally can be led by the only real power left in the world and that is the United States when it suits our interest and we can get others to go along.
If Bolton is correct, It's beyond me how Wizard or anyone else can blame the U.N. for anything anymore: any deficiencies in the U.N. can be laid at the feet of insufficient American statesmanship.

But, where, then, does the buck stop on Darfur? Listen to Wizard quoting with approval from an early apostle of Bush's current moral crusade in Iraquagmire, Mort Kondracke:
if the U.N. is going to fail in this endeavor, and it seems to me that their delaying action while the Janjaweed and the Sudanese go around raping and killing people by the hundreds of thousands and it could be another one hundred thousand people get killed, there ought to be a way for the United States if necessary to organize a posse, the cavalry, a force, it doesn't have to be that many people, to go do it. . . . To do whatever it takes. And then organize the holding force later.
What was that? a. . . "posse, the cavalry. . . . organize the holding force later . . ."? Is this not the same bromide -- Kool Aid -- that promised us a quick, painless and clean solution in Iraq?

Believe me when I say, the Sudan government sees the reality behind the pretenses of Neocon pundits even if the Darfurs and many of my fellow Americans do not. A recent message from the Khartoum government read:
In the absence of Sudan's consent to the deployment of U.N. troops, any volunteering to provide peace keeping troops to Darfur will be considered as a hostile act, a prelude to an invasion of a member country of the United Nations.
In other words, "Up Yours"! In other words, "Don't try to Iraq us"! In other words, a "posse won't do, and more you don't have."

The facts are that the West doesn't have the troops to back up any writ they want the U.N. to put on Darfur. There are not enough boots for this ground. Look at Iraq. Look at the unfulfilled pledges for Lebanon. Look at how inadequate American and NATO assets are in the only real war against terror forced upon us Americans by al Qaeda and the Taliban! There, again, Americans are not getting the real story in Afghanistan! Look at Bush's unanswered challenges represented by Iran and North Korea!

My fellow Americans (along with Wizard) should face the fact that -- for Darfur -- there is no additional margin of troops, military assets, financial resources, or moral leadership available to the West, thanks to Iraquagmire. Even the U.N. is implicated (by Iraq and Lebanon) and suspect in Arab eyes.

But Americans are not the only ones deceived by Bush and Blair's duplicity. The Darfurs themselves are convinced that Anglo-American cavalry is just over the horizon.

Darfur is an unmistakably on-going human tragedy. I respect well-meaning people around the world who are attempting to deal with it in their own way.

At the same time I can't avoid the suspicion that Bush and Blair and their fellow travelers are cynically parlaying their specious and phony solutions for ulterior political reasons. It's as if they are looking for anything to get Iraquagmire off the front page; as one headline asks,

30 Moderated Comments:

Blogger skip sievert said...

This whole story is so painful and difficult that I usually change the channel when it comes on.
It is so horrible, and seems to get worse all the time.
Mans inhumanity to man is very astounding.
Has any one figured a way to stop this suffering.?
It has a political base to it. That I know. These people are dying for some political reason. This is so sad. It is frustrating.
This was intentionally done. People are so incredibly cruel.

10/09/2006 05:12:00 PM  
Blogger Indicted Plagiarist said...

I agree with Commenter Sievert and Poster Vigilante: Darfur is a cruel genocide, cynically exploited.

Bush and Blair know that, even if Khartoum were to back down, they will not be sending US or British troops to replace the African Union (AU) force. The well of willing and able cannon fodder has run dry what with all the stop-loss and exhausted, under-strength deployments. Bush and Blair they thunder on about the need for UN troops, but they merely whisper the qualifier:

"Of course, we won't be sending our own soldiers. Other countries will have to send theirs."

10/09/2006 05:35:00 PM  
Anonymous Ellen Dana Nagler said...

We must try to talk to Wes about Darfur.

10/09/2006 05:51:00 PM  
Blogger Messenger said...

I assume you are referring to General Clark. If so, I would like to suggest that Darfur also poses a cruel irony.

Had not Bush been selected over the elected Gore in 2000, arguably we would have gone to war only in Afghanistan and much more decisively terminated the Taliban, al Qaeda, and Osama. The traditionally Democratic policy of engagement might have produced progress in the Two-State Palestinian project - again arguably.

If so, when this Sudan-Darfur civil war developed, the new world order would not have had such a bad name and led by the NATO could have suppressed genocide much in the way we did under Clinton and Wes Clark in Bosnia and Kosovo.

All arguable, of course. And all irony.

10/09/2006 06:11:00 PM  
Blogger Vigilante said...

Yes, Ellen! Yes, let's be sure the General gets a question on Darfur. If his answer does not resemble Messenger's line of reasoning, I'm buying a round!

10/09/2006 07:54:00 PM  
Blogger Recidivist said...

Vigilante, you prepared a meal, set the table, invited guests, but the guest of honor - Wizard - never showed. What fun is that?

10/10/2006 06:16:00 AM  
Blogger the WIZARD, fkap said...

Sorry, folks..... Vigilante only posted this yesterday..... and as he, himself, has pointed out, we all have to work for a living.

I think Vigilante's writings on this issue stand on their own. As usual they are well written and well thought out.

I do hope you will read my own postings (at least over the last 30 days) to get a better picture of my position and involvement in the Darfur issue. the WIZARD, fkap

Far from disagreeing with Vigilante, I agree with most of what he has said. But MUCH MORE IMPORTANTLY I am extremely pleased he has entered into the debate right here in his own forum. Conversation, awareness, discussion and debate are all necessary if we are to solve this problem.

We certainly agree on the centerpiece of Vigilant's argument: Bush's un-provoked, unnecessary, largely unilateral invasion and unplanned occupation of Iraq (UULUIUOI) has greatly dimished the U.S. ability to do anything!!! And the U.S. loss of stature and influence in the world arena has made leadership from our country nearly impossible.

What is lacking in Vigilante's discussion is a solution or recommendation.

Am I to assume the position of this group is we must wait until after the Bush and Cheney impeachment before any real progress can be made?

Thank you again, Vigilante, for this lengthy post. I think you underestimate your power and the contribution you have already made.

the Wizard.....

10/10/2006 07:25:00 AM  
Blogger DB Cooper said...

How long can one contend with an adversary as congenial as Wizard?

10/10/2006 08:46:00 AM  
Blogger Indicted Plagiarist said...

The Wizard is congenial, but unresponsive.

The worst thing that could have happened to the people of Darfur is to have won the flattery and patronage of liberals and luvvies in America and Europe. Recent history shows us that there is no civil war so bad that it cannot be made worse by the intervention of western democracies.

From Somalia to Bosnia to Kosovo and now Darfur, western activists' "adopt-a-genocide" approach to world affairs has proved disastrous. Their transformation of grubby civil wars into great battles of good and evil have prolonged and intensified conflicts, and made them more bloody and intractable.

The people of Darfur and Sudan, like the people of Bosnia before them, are likely to pay a heavy price indeed for the patronage of their latte-drinking "friends" in the west.

10/10/2006 09:34:00 AM  
Blogger the WIZARD, fkap said...

dbcooper, I'm a terrible adversary because we are all basically in agreement.

We agree that thte genocide in Darfur is horrific.

We agree there is a genuine need for action.

We agree that Bush's invasion and occupation of Iraq has rendered him virtually impotent.

Vigilante has more faith in the UN than I have. And he feels I bashed the UN unfairly. While I disagree, I wish, hope and pray that Vigilante is right. My dream would be a strong and effective UN.

Still I urge you all to read the full post from which Vigilante quoted. LINK: 12-0-3

Vigilante believes (it seems to me) that Bush is very much the problem with the UN today. But he does seem to agree the UN will be of little help.

I feel the problem is deeper than just George Bush, but is actually a structural and organizational issue.

Small countries with smart leaders learn to manipulate the UN into inaction. That's why Clinton had to take action against Bosnia through NATO and outside the UN umbrella.

And Clinton has said several times that the greatest mistake of his presidency was not taking action in Rwanda.

All this is food for thought.

the Wizard...

10/10/2006 09:45:00 AM  
Blogger the WIZARD, fkap said...

"The people of Darfur and Sudan, like the people of Bosnia before them, are likely to pay a heavy price indeed for the patronage of their latte-drinking "friends" in the west."

indicted plagiarist, Do you really feel NATO's action in Bosnia was a mistake, doing more harm than good?

Do you really feel the UN's failure to act was of benefit during the civil war in Rwanda (and it was, most assuredly, a civil war)?

10/10/2006 09:50:00 AM  
Blogger the WIZARD, fkap said...

Eight hundred thousand people were killed in Rwanda.

Virtually all were killed by Machete, a blunt instrument that requires the victim be hacked many times before he is killed. It is a slow and horific death.

Do you suppose a father watching his children hacked to death, his wife raped multiple times and then killed, said to himself as he prepared to die, "Thank God my latte-drinking 'friends' in the west aren't here to make things worse?"

10/10/2006 09:59:00 AM  
Blogger Vigilante said...

Wizard says

"What is lacking in Vigilante's discussion is a solution or recommendation."

Lest I be indicted by Indicted Plagiarist as unresponsive and misconstrued by Wiz as being in agreement, I hasten to point out (as I hastily depart for this workaday) that it is a peculiarly American pretense that all problems have solutions.

10/10/2006 10:11:00 AM  
Blogger the WIZARD, fkap said...

Vigilante, It is indeed a personal failing on my part that when I see a problem, I look for a solution. I cannot help it.

But I know, intellectually, you are correct. Some probelms DO NOT have a solution.

But I refuse to stop looking.

the Wizard

10/10/2006 10:21:00 AM  
Blogger LittleBill said...

Great column. How many grandiose speeches has Bush made about sending aid to various tragedies, such as Darfur-and where the emptiness of their fulfillment is more apparent to the American people, here at home to New Orleans? Speeches made for self-aggrandizement, no more.

10/10/2006 12:50:00 PM  
Blogger MadMike said...

When National Socialism had Germany in its grasp and the persecution of Jews was the policy of the day, similar discussions were had all over the world and between leaders of many nations, including the United States. The fact is there were other priorities, sad as that may sound. Unfortunately, when war is on everyone's mind compassion has a tendency to go the way of common sense. If the members of the security council wanted to do something about the horror of Darfur something would be done.

10/10/2006 03:40:00 PM  
Blogger Messenger said...

Yeah, well I. P., as colorful as your rant was about non-interference in civil wars, I have to agree with the Wizard that you ran off the tracks somewhere between Bosnia and Kosovo, maybe in Sarajevo? The Bill Clinton/Wesley Clark intervention did not solve all the problems in that instance of the wars of Yugoslavian dissolution, but it has stanched the bloodletting and more than somewhat. And without a single American dying in combat, I might add.

And I can't help reminding all, as I said above, the Wesley Clark air war tactic might have been politically feasible now, had we not bombed the dickens out of Iraq (needlessly) or cheer-leaded the Israelis bombing the dickens out of Lebanon (again, needlessly). For Americans or NATO to bomb Khartoum into submission in the context of these two colossal blunders would be as unthinkable as it would be to expect the U.N. to find robust boots to place in Darfur.

In this regard, I can't help but state that I find Wizard's criticism of the U.N. either sophomoric or cavalier (I can't decide.) With the Chinese having material interests (oil) in the Sudan, they are not about to KOwTOW to the moral (moralistic) imperatives of those of us (and I do) who object to any and all genocide 'on our watch'. Last time I looked the Chinese have a veto on the Security Council. If you need to blame someone, Wiz, blame the Chinese.

10/10/2006 05:54:00 PM  
Blogger the WIZARD, fkap said...

Messenger, You are 100% correct. China bears the brunt of the blame for the current situation.

Messenger said: "If you need to blame someone, Wiz, blame the Chinese."

In my entry titled 12-0-3 I wrote: "The United Nations Security Council approved deployment of the robust peace keeping force of 21,000 by a vote of 12 to 0 with 3 absentions. And the three abstentions were China, Russia and Qatar."

"In order to earn the three abstentions, the resolution was written in such a way that it required the approval of Sudan before any force could be deployed. Of course Sudan rejected the plan."


I certainly hope I'm not sophomoric, but you can rest assured I am anything but cavalier.

the Wizard...

10/10/2006 07:49:00 PM  
Blogger E said...

Vigilante, this is a great piece, as is Wizard's. It is so disturbing to know that we can't act where we are needed and where we have clear moral authority because we no longer have "the boots on the ground" nor the moral authority to do so.

I wish I had a solution, but I fear I am one of those people for whom this issue seems so large--and the current US political situation so f'ing bleak, lamentable and unacceptable--that I can't figure out where to even start making things better (outside a new POTUS). I'm completely beaten down by where our nation has found itself, sharing human rights honors with places like Myanmar, that we can't find the wherewithal to end genocide when we see it occurring under our noses.

10/10/2006 09:18:00 PM  
Blogger Vigilante said...

Thank you, E, for that comment. Yes, I agree, what we need is a new POTUS before we can move forward on America's problems, foreign and domestic. Unfortunately elections -- even the stolen varieties -- have consequences. Four year consequences.

To quote Wizard (out of context):
"we must wait until after the Bush and Cheney impeachment before any real progress can be made?

Bush has thoroughly disgraced America and discredited himself, disqualifying our once great country as a leader of world democracies and world order. The World Can't Wait. It's time for him to go.

10/11/2006 08:13:00 AM  
Blogger Vigilante said...

Mad Mike, thanks for commenting.

I note you say that

"If the members of the security council wanted to do something about the horror of Darfur something would be done."

Maybe - just maybe - the UNSC wants to do something about Darfur but, looking around, they can't think of whose soldiers' boots they can deploy in the Sudan under blue helmets. And, as I have pointed out in my column, it will take robust boots. What's the point of the UNSC of writing checks that no one will cash?

10/11/2006 08:29:00 AM  
Blogger Malfrat said...

According to Reuters, American and Iraqi public health experts have calculated that about 655,000 Iraqis have died as a result of the March 2003 U.S.-led invasion and subsequent violence, far above previous estimates.

According to Vigilante's original statement in this thread in Darfur's 'genocide',

estimates of deaths in the conflict have ranged from 50,000 to 450,000 with most centering at the high end.

If these figures are accurate, wouldn't it be more productive to manage the holocaust/civil war we started before we try to manage the holocaust/civil war others have started?

10/11/2006 12:59:00 PM  
Blogger skip sievert said...

Iraq only gets worse from here. How many more people will die.?
Arrest Bush now. Put him in jail. Strip him of his war mongering bigoted authority before he literally turns on the American people also.
Bush will begin to kill us in the same way over his idiotic beliefs.
You doubt this.?
Think about it.
We are close to being in a state of emergency in this country.
Remember the Nazis? This is on a par with that.

10/11/2006 03:16:00 PM  
Blogger skip sievert said...

Are many of you here aware of the Carlyle group.?
James Baker is one of their main functionaries.
Bush's strings are now going to be pulled by this group more now.
This group is a group of power brokers , who are controlled by religious nuts , and price system flunkies. Do the people on this site understand the dynamic here.
We are in a fascist/authoritarian/dictatorship now. It revolves around this idiocracy of corporate/religious crackpots. They run it. Wake up people. They run the other side also.

10/11/2006 05:04:00 PM  
Blogger M.D. said...

Back in August 2004, I wrote to "Ask the White House" to ask why they hadn't declared a genocide in Darfur.

I naively thought that declaring a genocide would set in motion a chain of actions that would do much to end the problem.

Nope, it doesn't work that way, especially for an administration that doesn't care what it says, as long as it sounds good.

I quoted the definition of genocide in the Geneva Conventions and then asked:

Given the definition, why has the United States not labeled the Darfur atrocities genocide?

The response (from over two years ago!):

Sean McCormack
We have a team in the field collecting information as to what is taking place in Darfur. The team’s findings will add to the review that the Secretary of State has initiated. Regardless of what you call it, what is happening is horrific and we are acting with the utmost urgency to stop it.


I would add that the President has challenged the international community to address the situation in Darfur, and asked Secretary Powell to visit Darfur himself to assess the situation. As a result, we have provided more than $179 million in aid to date, of the $299 million planned through the next fiscal year.

Pretty sad.

10/11/2006 05:37:00 PM  
Blogger MadMike said...

You may have a point Vigilante, however the nations that make up the security council could muster the forces if there were a collective will. Sadly, the United States is a member, and is viewed as the nation that always leads the way. As you say, since we are otherwise preoccupied the other nations are reluctant to take that first step, no pun intended. It is a terrible situation as Skip said.

10/12/2006 05:05:00 PM  
Blogger Beach Bum said...

I have been reluctant to add this because I'm uncertain if it is relevant but while speaking about current troubles in the world Darfur was brought up and the response I got from someone was: "Darfur, where in Iraq is it?" There was another comment from someone else I won't even write.

10/12/2006 07:43:00 PM  
Blogger Vigilante said...

Deep, Beach. That is the deepest thing I have heard all week. I'm going to have to take an evening walk now, just to contemplate on that before bed.

10/12/2006 08:08:00 PM  
Blogger MadMike said...

That doesn't surprise me at all BB! Not at all.....You would be amazed at the number of people who think Idaho is in Iraq, and I'm not kidding!

10/13/2006 07:02:00 AM  
Blogger Soros' Proxy said...

Mr. Fkap says,

. Some probelms DO NOT have a solution.

But I refuse to stop looking.


You are not looking for solutions, Mr. Wizard. You are looking for someone to blame. And only a morally blind man would think of Kofi Annan as a place to assign blame.

10/14/2006 05:41:00 PM  

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