May 8, 2006

DARFUR UPDATE:

Were the 1990s really that long ago? They are remembered now as the halcyon and money-happy interval between the war against Soviet totalitarianism and the war against Islamic totalitarianism, but the truth is that, even in the years immediately following the cold war, history never relented. The ’90s were a decade of genocides–unimpeded (Rwanda) and partially impeded (Bosnia) and impeded (Kosovo). The relative success of those genocides was owed generally to the indifference of that chimera known as “the international community,” but, more specifically, it was owed to the learning curve of an American president about the moral–and therefore the operational–difference between genocide and other foreign policy crises. The difference is simple. In the response to most foreign policy crises, the use of military force is properly viewed as a last resort. In the response to genocide, the use of military force is properly viewed as a first resort.

The notion of force as a first resort defies the foundations of diplomacy and also of common sense: A willingness to use hard power abroad must not become a willingness to use it wildly. But if you are not willing to use force against genocide immediately, then you do not understand what genocide is. . . .

Then there is the other alibi for Western inaction, the distinguished one: the belief that salvation will come from blue helmets. After the slaughters of the ’90s, all of which numbered the fecklessness–and even the cynicism–of the United Nations among their causes, it defies belief that people of goodwill would turn to the United Nations for effective action. The United Nations is not even prepared to call the atrocities in Darfur a genocide. Kofi Annan says all sorts of lofty things, but everybody knows that he is only the humble servant of a notoriously recalcitrant body. Meanwhile the Sudanese regime maneuvers skillfully–what is the Chinese word for oil?–to prevent reprisals of any kind from the Security Council.

Given recent statements about Israel by Iran, and Iranian actions, this suggests that military action against the mullahs is an imperative sooner, rather than later. Right?

Meanwhile, Mark Steyn talks about what needs to be done in Darfur:

I wish the celebs well. Those of us who wanted action on Darfur years ago will hope their advocacy produces more results than ours did. Clooney’s concern for the people of the region appears to be genuine and serious. But unless he’s also serious about backing the only forces in the world with the capability and will to act in Sudan, he’s just another showboating pretty boy of no use to anyone.

Here’s the lesson of the past three years: The UN kills.

In 2003, you’ll recall, the US was reviled as a unilateralist cowboy because it and its coalition of the poodles waged an illegal war unauthorised by the UN against a sovereign state run by a thug regime that was no threat to anyone apart from selected ethnocultural groups within its borders, which it killed in large numbers (Kurds and Shia).

Well, Washington learned its lesson. Faced with another thug regime that’s no threat to anyone apart from selected ethnocultural groups within its borders which it kills in large numbers (African Muslims and southern Christians), the unilateralist cowboy decided to go by the book. No unlawful actions here. Instead, meetings at the UN. Consultations with allies. Possible referral to the Security Council.

And as I wrote on this page in July 2004: “The problem is, by the time you’ve gone through the UN, everyone’s dead.” And as I wrote in Britain’s Daily Telegraph in September 2004: “The US agreed to go the UN route and it looks like they’ll have a really strongish compromise resolution ready to go about a week after the last villager’s been murdered and his wife gang-raped.”

Several hundred thousand corpses later Clooney is now demanding a “stronger multinational force to protect the civilians of Darfur”.

Agreed. So let’s get on to the details. If by “multinational” Clooney means a military intervention authorised by the UN, then he’s a poseur and a fraud, and we should pay him no further heed. . . .

So who, in the end, does “multinational action” boil down to? The same small group of nations responsible for almost any meaningful global action, from Sierra Leone to Iraq to Afghanistan to the tsunami-devastated Sri Lanka, Thailand and Indonesia and on to East Timor and the Solomon Islands. The same core of English-speaking countries, technically multinational but distressingly unicultural and unilingual and indeed, given that most of them share the same head of state, uniregal. The US, Britain, Australia and Canada (back in the game in Afghanistan) certainly attract other partners, from the gallant Poles to the Kingdom of Tonga.

Read the whole thing.

UPDATE: A reader emails:

Regarding your posting on Darfur and intervention in genocides, you leave out the genocide of Kurds and Marsh Arabs in Iraq. Considering that more than 300,000 appear to have been slaughtered by Saddam in the 1990s because of who these groups were, and what they represented, it would have presented the very kinds of issues that those on the Left are now trying to suggest in Darfur.

And the ties between Saddam and those who carried out his orders in Iraq are far more direct than the relationship between the Janjaweed and Khartoum.

Good point. Someone should ask Clooney about it.

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