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,


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,