Friday, August 6, 2004
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The UN weighs in on Darfur
Alexander Higgins of the Associated Press reports that the United Nations is not happy with Sudan's government:
Here's a link to the UN News account -- I looked for the actual report, but the UN website was not forthcoming.
In TNR Online, David Englin discusses the resources that would be needed should a military intervention be necessary.posted by Dan on 08.06.04 at 11:16 PM
the United Nations is not happy with Sudan's government
What took 'em so long?posted by: Alan K. Henderson on 08.06.04 at 11:16 PM [permalink]
Ironically, while the most damning report was authored by a Pakistani lawyer, the Musharraf government (and China) abstained from a security council resolution seeking to impose sanctions on Sudan.
That was because they wanted to give the Sudanese government the 'necessary space' to tackle the problems.
Yeah, right!posted by: Nitin on 08.06.04 at 11:16 PM [permalink]
Why would anyone be surprised by the uselessness of the United Nations? What planet have they been living on? Either the United States normally acts "unilaterally"---or we are screwed! Most of our so-called allies tend toward pacifism and will find every excuse in the book not to fight terrorism. If nothing else, they shy away from spending the necessary money.posted by: David Thomson on 08.06.04 at 11:16 PM [permalink]
This is an excellent opportunity for President Bush to silence those who accuse him of being unserious about using American power to promote democracy and human rights abroad. Moreover, it is an opportunity for America to atone somewhat for our flaccid responses to Bosnia and Rwanda.
The Bush administration should immediately draft a UNSC resolution demanding an end to the atrocities being perpetrated in Sudan, and authorizing Chapter VII intervention if this does not happen.
I supported our actions in Afghanistan, and vehemently opposed the Iraq war. Nobody here can mistake me for one of Bush's fans. But I will stand behind him on this one if he chooses to take substantial and meaningful action.posted by: Catsy on 08.06.04 at 11:16 PM [permalink]
"And if concerned nations are serious about military intervention, they had better make sure they have the stomach to endure casualties in what could turn out to be a bloody fight."
Oh well, we know that's not going to happen. It looks like these poor people will indeed continue to be murdered by the Sudan government. Politicians are learning that to get invoved in such tragedies will only lessen the possibility of their reelection. They see what occurred in Spain---and what might happen here in the United States. Best to look the other way.posted by: David Thomson on 08.06.04 at 11:16 PM [permalink]
As an aside: yes, the resolution passed last Friday makes the same demands I mentioned above under Chapter VII. But like S/RES 1442 regarding Iraq, it lacks specific language outlining consequences for noncompliance.posted by: Catsy on 08.06.04 at 11:16 PM [permalink]
So, what are the odds (assuming that the U.S. doesn't act unilaterally in the matter) of the UN actually taking substantial action towards ending the slaughter? My guess is that they will find a way to hem and haw until a few hundred thousand or more are dead before even considering renouncing Sudan's seat on the UNHRC, much less taking any kind military mission.posted by: MB on 08.06.04 at 11:16 PM [permalink]
“This is an excellent opportunity for President Bush to silence those who accuse him of being unserious about using American power to promote democracy and human rights abroad.”
“....and (I) vehemently opposed the Iraq war.”
Huh? Are you drinking some Sterno squeezed through a dirty sock mixed with orange juice? How does one reconcile the two above views? Oh well, I guess that Saddam Hussein was really a benevolent leader similar to Mahatma Ghandi.posted by: David Thomson on 08.06.04 at 11:16 PM [permalink]
“So, what are the odds (assuming that the U.S. doesn't act unilaterally in the matter) of the UN actually taking substantial action towards ending the slaughter?”
The odds are similar to Yao Ming begging me for mercy on a basketball court. Virtually zero. This is one of the central reasons why a sane person should hold John Kerry in contempt. He foolishly believes that many of our allies really give an excrement about these horrors.posted by: David Thomson on 08.06.04 at 11:16 PM [permalink]
Huh? Are you drinking some Sterno squeezed through a dirty sock mixed with orange juice? How does one reconcile the two above views? Oh well, I guess that Saddam Hussein was really a benevolent leader similar to Mahatma Ghandi.
When you decide you're capable of carrying on a discussion like a civilized human being instead of spending every comment whining and snarking about liberals and the UN, David, ask me a question that has to do with Sudan.posted by: Catsy on 08.06.04 at 11:16 PM [permalink]
“...ask me a question that has to do with Sudan.”
I’m sorry but I am not going to encourage you to continue with your self deception. There is no rational way to distinguish between the horrors occurring in the Sudan and those committed by Saddam Hussein. You are being intellectually dishonest.posted by: David Thomson on 08.06.04 at 11:16 PM [permalink]
I’m sorry but I am not going to encourage you to continue with your self deception. There is no rational way to distinguish between the horrors occurring in the Sudan and those committed by Saddam Hussein. You are being intellectually dishonest.
Setting aside your compulsive snarking so that we can productively discuss what to do about Sudan is encouraging self-deception?
At least now I know you have nothing to contribute, and can ignore you with a clear conscience.posted by: Catsy on 08.06.04 at 11:16 PM [permalink]
If George W. Bush loses the election---it will significantly make it more difficult to send troops to places like Sudan. A “prudent” politician will decide to stay out of harm’s way. That’s the cynical fact of life. Dead soldiers upset a lot of voters. They will be far more inclined to vote for the brave politician's opponent. Did somebody tell you life was fair? If so, they lied to you.posted by: David Thomson on 08.06.04 at 11:16 PM [permalink]
"...a writer, activist and policy entrepeneur." Wow. Now I know how to explain posting to the comment section of this blog on my resume.
A note about Sudan: how well it is able to use the modern aircraft it has acquired is critical. It could be the case that even very modern Russian aircraft in the hands of undertrained pilots and support crews would not be risked in operations against, say, French troops operating from bases in Chad over Darfur. However, if it is true that Sudan has the ability in fact as well as on paper to disrupt relief operations with its air force the safest course would clearly be to destroy as much of that air force as possible on the ground in the first day or so of a military campaign. I very much doubt that any Western nation besides the United States has the ability to do that.
The distances in Saharan Africa make anything from relief operations to air and ground military operations more difficult, but an additional political constraint Englin does not discuss may be a more important check on European nations' wishing to intervene to stop the Darfur genocide. Sudan will be considered by Arabs to be an Arab country, and the genocide is being carried out by Arabs. Using force to stop it is likely to be seen in the Arab world not as action to stop genocide but as an attack on Arabs. To Europeans concerned about giving provocation to Arabs looking for an excuse to practice terrorism in Europe this will be a significant consideration.posted by: Zathras on 08.06.04 at 11:16 PM [permalink]
Now would be a great time for the rest of the world to put their money (and blood) where their mouths are and show the evil U.S. how things should really be done. You know, nuanced, intellectual, and sensitive. Show America how well the world would do without us. Can't think of a better time to prove it.
Catsy, why was Saddam's murdering of hundreds of thousands different than the equally brutal but far fewer atrocities being committed in Sudan?posted by: Ptolemy on 08.06.04 at 11:16 PM [permalink]
It does appear to be hypocritical for those who opposed the war in Iraq to support “unilateral” US action in Sudan because the great percentage of the opposition was based on the fact that we did not have UN approval. UN approval was deemed essential for US action to be considered legitimate. Those same people now have no objections to the US doing whatever is necessary in Sudan without any consultation with the UN. What happened to the great moral authority of the UN?
There is also the fact that Sudan is on the UN’s Human Rights Commission. At the time of the Iraq war great moral authority was given to the UN by those opposed to the war, so it would appear impossible for a country that was a member of the UN’s HRC to be committing atrocities. Remember, the US was kicked off of the commission because of its human rights violations. Would Sudan be one of the countries monitoring the presidential elections if the UN responds to Democratic requests for election monitors?
Actually, I hope the president does take forceful action to prevent further killing in Sudan, but people who opposed the war in Iraq because it lacked UN approval and now call for forceful US action without regard to the UN are true hypocrites.
Ptolemy, ROA, Zathras, et al,
Let’s get down to the nitty-gritty. I hate to put you folks on the spot. But since I’m something of a low life slime ball, I will go ahead and do it anyway. Does anyone disagree with my argument that if President Bush loses this election, then other politicians will also “learn” that it’s best to ignore massacres being committed throughout the world. Do you disagree?
Jose Maria Aznar, Tony Blair, and George W. Bush are paying a huge political price for their decisions pertaining to Iraq. What are other politicians to conclude? Am I missing something?posted by: David Thomson on 08.06.04 at 11:16 PM [permalink]
I agree. I am curious if the crisis in Sudan will help president Bush by highlighting the hypocrisy of those who opposed the war in Iraq because it lacked UN approval. It is also true that president Bush has already done more in Sudan than president Clinton did in Rwanda during his entire presidency, but he still has almost no support among African-Americans.
David, if western media were not talking about the Sudan, Chirac would have had Sudanese leaders over for a red carpet kiss ass session. No in Europe cares about the Sudanese. Perhaps if there is a way to attach Isreal to the massacre we might actually see Europe, the UN, and the NAACP in full attack mode. Until then its up to America to once again take up the thankless job of trying to make a better world. Of course Canada will no doubt send another massive 30 or 40 soldiers to assist us and then whine about being taken for granted by us.posted by: Ptolemy on 08.06.04 at 11:16 PM [permalink]
...if western media were not talking about the Sudan, Chirac would have had Sudanese leaders over for a red carpet kiss ass session. No in Europe cares about the Sudanese..
Indeed. Where are the tens, nay hundreds of thousands of Europeans protesting this slaughter? Why are we not seeing banners proclaiming paix in the streets of London, Madrid, Berlin, Rome and Paris? Where are the German-Franco-Belgian politicians and diplomats holding press conferences before the whole world expressing their outrage? Where are the Hollywood celebrities (Yes YOU Susan Sarandon, Tim Robbins, Barbara Streisand, ad nauseum)? Where are the Int'l ANSWER, Not In My Name activists, Berkley leftists, et al who were so concerned about protecting the Baathist monsters who had terrorized their own people for thirty years? Why is the Muslim world silent to the fact that their brothers and sister are being killed wholesale?
Hypocrites, each and everyone of them. Although I am an atheist and do not believe in hell, I hope sometimes that there is one because these people all deserve a special place in it.posted by: MB on 08.06.04 at 11:16 PM [permalink]
In addition to Zathras' well-reasoned comments, let me add that military operations in the Darfur region are a MASSIVE undertaking. There are no nearby ports and few airfields--maybe none--in reasonable range of Darfur that can handle C-17 and C-5 cargo jets (or the Russian equivalent) while possessing enough ramp space to support supply distribution. You're probably looking at bringing in substantial civil engineering assets to build/upgrade one or more airfields, then bringing in enormous amounts of supplies--7,000 troops, each requiring about 10 gallons of water a day (it's really hot there) means over 250 TONS of water each day. Plus vehicles, weapons, ammunition, food, personnel, spare parts, etc.
If this stuff were easy, we'd have done it already.posted by: Jem on 08.06.04 at 11:16 PM [permalink]
I find it very disturbing that this most important thread received such little response. It is almost frightening. One could easily conclude that some hard questions are being conveniently ignored, possibly even by the host of this blog, Daniel Drezner. He needs to address these issues.posted by: David Thomson on 08.06.04 at 11:16 PM [permalink]
For once, David, you are exactly right. Hard questions are being ignored, because outrage is easier.
The logistics of an effective intervention by Western and African nations in Darfur could be handled, with some difficulty, out of American resources if the will was there in other countries to supply combat troops and other personnel (e.g. aid workers) who would of necessity need to go in harm's way. But the will isn't there -- and in fairness this seems to be more a problem in Europe than in Africa -- and with so much of the American military committed to Iraq and Afghanistan there is no way the United States will intervene in Darfur alone.
Could the Bush administration raise the profile of this issue though public pressure on European, and Arab governments to address the disgraceful conduct of Sudan's government. Theoretically, yes, but only theoretically. As a practical matter the administration is entirely focused on the election campaign, the potential for terrorism inside the US, and Iraq, in that order. Darfur is not an issue that resonates in domestic politics, is not directly related to al Qaeda activities in the US, and would if anything represent a diversion of resources from American military activities in Iraq.
I regret this situation but am unable to see now how it will change. As in Rwanda, and Bosnia, nothing will happen with regard to Darfur unless the United States provides the direction and does most of the work.posted by: Zathras on 08.06.04 at 11:16 PM [permalink]
I find it very disturbing that this most important thread received such little response. It is almost frightening. One could easily conclude that some hard questions are being conveniently ignored, possibly even by the host of this blog, Daniel Drezner. He needs to address these issues.
Perhaps you might consider whether it has anything to do with your eagerness--and that of a few others here--to focus on a fairly irrelevant side comment about Iraq and gleefully try to score cheap political points in lieu of engaging in substantive discussion about Sudan and what can (and should) be done about it. After being asked more than once.
You, and others, spent most of the last 20 posts going back and forth echoing what hypocrites you think Iraq war opponents are, and making unproductive snark about the likelihood of anyone doing anything about this or the effects of Bush losing the election, and you're actually /surprised/ when no one seems interested in constructively discussing Sudan with you?
Grow up, Mr. Thomson, and get over yourself. Meanwhile, the adults will be elsewhere, engaging each other on the issues.posted by: Catsy on 08.06.04 at 11:16 PM [permalink]
This is ridiculous -- the UN really doesn't have the resources, in terms of political clout, to take on something like Sudan without US help, and lo and behold, when a real crisis pops up, and the Congress has already declared "genocide" in Sudan, the Bush administration still hasn't decided it fits the legal definition, and if it does fit the definition, if it really requires them to act.
The UN has been ineffective over the years largely because the US is almost always in direct opposition to any goals not directly serving American interests. Kofi Annan has been calling for help in Sudan for months; the European press was calling for it before that. But the vastly smaller military budgets and economies of most of the other member states can't be committed to such a vast undertaking without US help -- we're having trouble with Iraq, where there was no current humanitarian crisis (outside of sanctions and Hussein combining to starve the populace); to tackle Sudan, where this active fighting AND the "peace to be won" (as in winning the war and winning the peace as well) would likely be a disaster for the relatively weaker European states without US support, at least token support.
Bush has not promised such support yet, and seems extremely reluctant to try.
Re: Iraq and Sudan and hypocrites; please. Iraq had no current humanitarian crisis, and it's not clear (to Iraqis, at the very least) that it was worth the 12,000+ Iraqi civilians who have been killed, and the thousands of soldiers (who, like our own, were likely considered Iraq's treasure to their own families, especially as many of them were pressed into service) also killed. Iraq was not under a current threat to its own populace; its own populace was ambivalent about an invasion; its own populace now thinks it wasn't worth it.
Intervening in a current crisis and intervening to destroy a dictator we helped to consolidate his power 20 years ago, during the height of his atrocities, is not the same thing.posted by: J on 08.06.04 at 11:16 PM [permalink]
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