The unwilingness to act forcefully in the face of genocide Posted by: McQ
on Thursday, July 26, 2007
That has what has thus far characterized the UN effort as it concerns Darfur:
Britain and France dropped a threat of sanctions against Sudan in a proposed U.N. Security Council resolution that would authorize an expanded peacekeeping force in Darfur, according to a revised draft being circulated.
Britain's U.N. Ambassador Emyr Jones Parry said the co-sponsors toned down the language in the document to try to mollify African countries that had strongly opposed a previous draft.
But Sudan still rejected the softened resolution, saying it was "awful" and "ugly."
The draft resolution, obtained by The Associated Press, calls for the deployment of a joint U.N.-African Union force of up to 26,000 to try to stop the fighting between ethnic African rebels and pro-government Janjaweed militia that has killed more than 200,000 people since 2003.
2003 and more than 200,000 people since the UN first became aware of the problem and still the problem persists and the killings continue. Yet the "international community" can't even pass sanctions against the obvious enabler of the killers.
And no, unlike Joe Biden, I don't think we should send in US troops. There is no national interest involved in that conflict, just as there was none in the Balkans. Africa should handle it just as Europe should have handled the latter.
The African Union, however, has only been able to cobble together a force of 7,000 poorly equipped soldiers who've been totally ineffective. So the best the UN can do, 4 years on, is to put a force of their own in to Darfur, but not before letting the country supporting all the killing have a say in its leadership and length of stay:
Abdalhaleem said Sudan was not backing down from its commitment to allow the "hybrid" U.N.-AU force into Darfur. But he said his government has problems with who will be in charge of the troops and how long they will remain in the country.
Parry said he and his French counterpart, Jean-Marc de La Sabliere, would sit down with Abdalhaleem to discuss his concerns.
Amazing. I'm sure any rules of engagment would be something to see as well.
But Andrew Natsios, the top U.S. envoy on Darfur, was more blunt, telling reporters Sudan's government did not have any more room to negotiate.
"The Sudanese government should not have veto power over what happens," he said. "They need to implement now what they agreed to do. Once this resolution is through, the Sudanese government needs to be accountable."
Uh huh. Why would they suddenly hold Sudan accountable now? And how?
As the diplomats continue to dither:
Meanwhile, the U.N.'s World Food Programme said Wednesday that a dramatic increase in attacks on aid convoys in Darfur is hampering the world's largest humanitarian operation, and some 170,000 people are now out of reach of food aid because of the violence.
Nine food convoys have been ambushed by gunmen during the last two weeks, the WFP said in a statement.
I don’t think we should send any troops because I’m fundamentally against having our people serve under anything other than American leadership. If we go, *we* should go. I know we do have troops assigned to UN missions but I truly hate the idea and if it were me I’d be sorely tempted to pull a Michael New.
Only after that reason do I consider that we don’t have a compelling national interest and probably shouldn’t go... but that is part of the first reason too.
It’s easy to get involved in increments. To do little things that don’t really seem to count at the time but that add up. If we should be in Darfur then we should be in Darfur. Yes or No. On or Off.
I’m more inclined these days to see international intervention in our national interest since misery has a nasty modern habit of going global, just as everything else has done. I might be persuaded about Darfur if someone tried to persuade me. But if there is reason that we should intervene then we should *intervene*, not do some half-*ssed gesture so we can feel good about ourselves for caring.
Granted, we throw our weight around and the world will hate us even more. Maybe that’s a good test too. Is the cause worth being hated? If not, then it’s not worth it.
The slaughters in Rwanda, Sierra Leone, Congo, Somalia, Uganda, and Sudan, and to lesser extents in other countries, all within the last 15 years, has gotten little attention or response. After Somalia the reaction to the death of Americans who were dragged through the streets meant no effort at all to stop the Rwandan genocide. The war in Congo, the deadliest on the planet since WWII, got nary a mention. Sierre Leone’s horrors led to a few people deciding not to buy diamonds, but the civil war ran it’s course for ten years, with massive death, casulties, atrocities and horrors. The LRA in Uganda kidnaps children. Child soldiers are in all these wars, often drugged with cocaine and sent to battle as soon as they are strong enough to carry a weapon. Now Sudan. It isn’t anything new or special, just another in the list of conflicts in Africa fueled by corruption, fake borders, and the fact colonialism obliterated the political culture that created stability before.
Intervention of a major sort isn’t going to happen thanks to sovereignty. While most people wouldn’t go to the extreme of saying "our soldiers should only be under our country’s command" people don’t want to die for the problems in another country, far away. The EU might be willing, but their military forces are overstretched already in other peace keeping operations, and in Afghanistan. Simply, there will not be the political will to fix this with military means or save those who are suffering. Sanctions — ineffective, and countries like China have a vested interest in Sudanese oil (and they are on the Security Council).
This is where the real conflict will emerge. A charismatic African leader someday, recognizing the need of the West for vast mineral deposits in Africa, will start a movement to convince people on the continent to put their own hatreds aside and work together. No one is going to save Africa but the Africans. And most likely, the enemy will be the west, who will be blamed for exploiting Africa and ignoring the atrocities there while spending a lot on lesser conflicts in Kosovo, Bosnia, Afghanistan and Iraq. You want to know what the threat will be 20 or 30 years from now, look at Africa.
So what’s the solution? I doubt there is a military solution, the violence is a symptom of deeper problems. (Of course there is the party pleasure dome solution, from my blog on July 25.)
Nit: Did the pre-colonial political culture in Africa create stability? Was there stability or was there simply not large enough conflicts to count?
Nit: The EU is not willing to fight or die. Their "military forces" are limited by politics (with the rare exception) to non-combat action. They keep the peace, perhaps, as a holding action, but are generally prohibited from fighting. Recall the offers of troops for Lebanon... just so long as no shooting happened.
Nit: The military is not separate from other forms of diplomacy. Thus there can not be a purely "military" solution. This idea that the military is one thing and other methods or concerns are something else is wrong. Purely and simply wrong. You use the hammer for the nails and use the screwdriver for the screws and both the hammer and screwdriver are kept in the same tool bag because they are both tools for the same greater purpose. To say, Oh dangit, there are screws and not just nails so we can’t use the hammer is *stupid*. Because then you end up wacking the dumb nails with the screwdriver handle. (I’m a girl, trust me that I’ve done this.)
There will not be the political will to fix this with committed use of the military because it is a matter of faith among so many that the military doesn’t work. So we get half-*ssed measures. And when we don’t, when we actually commit our military the anti-military sorts sit on their hands and refuse to use the dang screwdrivers because they want to prove that the military is no good for the purpose.
The violence is a symptom of deeper problems? No doubt it is. But the violence is real and exists and inhibits dealing with the deeper problems in any meaningful way. Refusing to deal with surface problems because there are deeper problems or refusing to deal with deeper problems because you’re (a general "you’re") in a snit about the fact someone thought the military might be helpful is pretty dang lame.
Should we or shouldn’t we is one question. If the answer is that we *should* then we must do so decisively and with committed purpose... and using all of our tools.
Synova: Africa was no worse off than Europe in pre-colonial times, with trade routes, some empires, and some areas still in a hunter gatherer mode. Colonialism destroyed this completely, and most of the problems in Africa are outgrowths of the damage done by colonialism. It was a savagery against Africa that few really comprehend.
As far as EU troops go, it depends on the situation. French, British and Belgian troops have historically been willing to fight and die for some things, politically there is less will to do so for others. The EU generally has recognized that military force is of limited value in dealing with most issues, and often it appears to be something that can work "on paper" if only we are committed and do "whatever necessary." In reality, that kind of certain is illusory.
There are many reasons why a military solution is impossible, or even a political solution resting on military intervention. Military interventions often backfire, and create animosity against the one intervening — after all, an outsider is coming in and killing people, often not truly understanding the underlying conflicts and problems. They also are costly, and they can reinforce the idea that violence is what works. Moreover, in this case the chances of getting enough outside will to engage militarily is virtually nil. In any event, I think military force is vastly overrated as a way to make a positive change to a situation. I think we’re seeing that in Iraq. What we euphemize as "military intervention" is, after all, destruction, death, and killing. It’s hard to turn that into something positive, other than winning a war or defending from aggression.
The thing is that things other than colonialism changed. I’m not saying that colonialism was not a bad thing in Africa, only that the issue might be more complicated than "Europe went there and screwed it all up."
You have several assumptions in the rest of it... "EU generally has recognized that military force is of limited value..." Recognized or decided? A change in opinion doesn’t mean the opinion is correct.
Another one... military intervention often creates animosity... that is the common wisdom isn’t it, but is it historically supportable? Certainly the way UN forces behave in Africa it’s not likely to turn out well. Still, you say, look at Iraq... much has been made about how they all hate us without ever once mentioning that compared to Al Qaida’s efforts to win hearts and minds we’re saints. Is animosity toward the US in Iraq actually any greater than it was before? Do people there really blame us and only us for the death, destruction and killing?
I don’t think that can be supported by anything other than a belief system that insists that it is true.
And even if intervention is not popular with the locals and even if it does, indeed, involve destruction, death and killing... what is standing back to watch? Theater?
For all the insistence that the use of the military creates problems and doesn’t solve them, has anyone come up with a better solution? Lately people (like Obama) seem to be coming right out and saying that it’s best to just watch genocide from a distance... at least that way it’s not our fault.
No perfect solution so no solution at all.
Let it all work out. Eventually they’ll tire of killing each other and some charismatic strong man will take control and make the trains run on time.
I don’t know where this comes from. I expect certain libertarian sorts to say that we don’t have a moral obligation to anyone but ourselves in the world. I don’t expect it of liberals but that’s where we’re hearing it. Over and over and without a bit of shame.
My class thought maybe a private force that would be based on volunteers would be available for human rights enforcement missions. Sort of a military NGO for "worst case scenarios." Lots of problems with that idea, but the the power of sovereignty works against efforts to enforce even the most basic human rights laws.
For now, only the UN Security Council can pull that off, and yet a lot of what we’ve done lately is weaken rather than strengthen that body. Until we get a strong UN Security Council willing to burden share and act, then nothing really can be done. Some problems can’t be solved with the means at our disposal. Recognizing reality means recognizing that we still live in a world full of violence and poverty — and that’s not likely to change quickly.
The UN Security Council isn’t itself a government, but a place where major powers meet, along with representative minor powers, to try to coordinate activities and deal with threats to the peace. If the Security Council could get its act together, it alone has the capacity to deal with these threats — and that means that the member states have to agree to make these issues a priority, burden share, and take atrocities seriously. So far, the states don’t — and the states make up the Security Council. It’s an artifact that can be as effective as the states involved make it.
Why is it in the African Union’s ’national’ interest to intervene if it is not in ours?
For the same reason that the Balkans was in the ’national’ interest of the Europeans - its on their continent and lawlessness and genocide are certainly not in their best interest (I’m not sure whether there’s a risk of it spreading, but that’s another reason to want it stopped).
A crime epidemic in Birmingham is a something in the interest of Birmingham’s local law enforcement and perhaps state law enforcement’s best interest to stop. It isn’t the best interest of or any business of Atlanta or GA law enforcement officials.
"colonialism obliterated the political culture that created stability before."
Ah yes, the old song about the peaceful, happy natives living in harmony with each other and nature until the nasty old Europeans came and introduced alien concepts like war, conquest, slavery, etc. I suppose also that, like Hugo Chavez, Shaka was forced by Europeans to become a cruel and blood stained tyrant rather than the peaceful and inspirational leader he would have prefered to be.