Who will bell the cat?
Top news billing is split between Michael Hayden's nomination as head of the CIA and President Ahmadinejad's mystery letter to GWB. In the second tier is President Bush's call for a UN "Peace Force" to stop the killings in Darfur. The Boston Globe described what the President had in mind:
WASHINGTON -- President Bush called yesterday for the United Nations to take over peacekeeping in the Darfur region of Sudan and promised to expedite food aid. He welcomed a proposed peace accord as ''the beginnings of hope" for Darfur's poverty-stricken population. Bush said Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice would go to the United Nations today to press for a new UN resolution increasing the number of peacekeepers. ...
In New York, John R. Bolton, the US ambassador to the United Nations, said the Security Council would meet today on Darfur. Bolton said the United States was circulating a proposed resolution that would extend the UN peacekeeping in southern Sudan to the Western Darfur region. That 10,000-strong force is monitoring a January 2005 peace accord that ended a 21-year civil war between the Sudanese government and southern rebels that cost millions of lives.
Mark Steyn, writing in the Australian is skeptical about whether any UN intervention force however large can help Darfur at all. Although he doesn't say directly, his disbelief in the UN appears rooted in a conviction that the World Organization exists precisely to do nothing. Its primary goal insofar as possible is to lock national boundaries and regimes in place and thereby "preserve the peace". Not only is the UN dedicated to preserving the principle of noninterference in the "internal affair of nations" it exists precisely to maintain it. Because the mission of the UN from its inception was to promote stasis -- not a bad thing during the Cold War when the supreme value was the maintenance of peace -- it is unsuited to action which perforce dismantles genocidal states and redraws boundaries. Committed to inaction, the UN becomes the graveyard of action. To those who want to stop the killings in Darfur via the UN Steyn says:
If you think the case for intervention in Darfur depends on whether or not the Chinese guy raises his hand, sorry, you're not being serious. The good people of Darfur have been entrusted to the legitimacy of the UN for more than two years and it's killing them. In 2004, after months of expressing deep concern, grave concern, deep concern over the graves and deep grave concern over whether the graves were deep enough, Kofi Annan took decisive action and appointed a UN committee to look into what's going on. Eventually, they reported back that it's not genocide.
Thank goodness for that. Because, as yet another Kofi-appointed UN committee boldly declared, "genocide anywhere is a threat to the security of all and should never be tolerated". So fortunately what's going on in the Sudan isn't genocide. Instead, it's just hundreds of thousands of corpses who happen to be from the same ethnic group, which means the UN can go on tolerating it until everyone's dead, at which point the so-called "decent left" can support a "multinational" force under the auspices of the Arab League going in to ensure the corpses don't pollute the water supply.
Victor Davis Hanson in an interview with Hugh Hewitt astutely remarked that the UN was principally used to give the appearance of action by states who actually wanted to do nothing.
And we also know that when the United Nations takes a role in things, that people, as Mark Steyn pointed out, die. They simply die because the United Nations acts as if it's going to do things, so it thwarts unilateralism on the part of responsible parties, and it does nothing, and people perish and are forgotten.
Austin Bay notes that by any rational standard the International Community would be less worried about Darfur than the Congo which journalist Johann Hari calls the "the deadliest war since Adolf Hitler’s armies marched across Europe". How does the Congo compare with Darfur?
|The Second Congo War||Darfur|
|The Second Congo War was a
conflict that took place largely in the territory of Democratic Republic
of the Congo (formerly Zaire). The war began in 1998 and officially
ended in 2003 when a Transitional Government took power. The widest
interstate war in modern African history, it directly involved nine
African nations, as well as about twenty armed groups, and earned the
epithets of "Africa's World War" and the Great War of
Africa". An estimated 3.8 million people died, mostly from
starvation and disease brought about by the deadliest conflict since
World War II. Millions more were displaced from their homes or sought
asylum in neighboring countries.
Despite a formal end to the war in July 2003 and an agreement by the former belligerents to create a government of national unity, the state remains weak and much of the eastern region continues to suffer from violent conflict. In 2004, an estimated one thousand people died every day from violence and disruptions to basic social services and food supply. Sporadic outbreaks of fighting continue to lead to large scale forced migration.
|The Darfur conflict is an
ongoing conflict in the Darfur region of western Sudan, mainly between
the Janjaweed, a militia group recruited from local Arab tribes, and the
non-Arab peoples of the region. The Sudanese government, while publicly
denying that it supports the Janjaweed, is providing arms and assistance
and has participated in joint attacks with the group. The conflict began
in February 2003.
The conflict has been described by the Western media as "ethnic cleansing" and "genocide". In September 2004, the World Health Organization (WHO) estimated there have been 50,000 deaths in Darfur since the beginning of the conflict, mostly as a result of starvation. That estimate rose in October to 71,000 deaths due to starvation and disease between March and October 2004 alone. Both of these figures were misleading, because they only considered short periods and limited locations. A recent British Parliamentary Report estimates that over 300,000 people have already died, and others have estimated even more  the United Nations estimates that 180,000 have died in the past eighteen months of the conflict.  More than 1.8 million people have been displaced from their homes. Two hundred thousand have fled to neighboring Chad.
Bad as Darfur is the Congo by any measurement is far worse. Yet the Congo already has a UN Peacekeeping team: MONUC which is the largest UN Peacekeeping force in the world with over 16,000 soldiers. It is 50% larger than the proposed Peacekeeping Force for Darfur. And how effective is MONUC? While its spokesmen have described it as the 'only hope' of the Congolese President Musseveni of Uganda called it "useless" and no more than a bunch of tourists. So while the effectiveness of a 10,000 man UN Peacekeeping team in Darfur has yet to be empirically tested, there are historical grounds for thinking they will be no more effective than 10, 100 or 1,000 UN soldiers, and possibly as effective as 100,000.
Victor Hanson thinks that the President in calling for a UN solution to Darfur is doing nothing more than saying, 'here, you do it.'
So I think the United States is saying look, we're willing to step forward, but we're not going to do this anymore where we get hung out to dry in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the Balkans, and Panama. Every time we try to do something to stop a dictator or a thug, we have these triangulators who want it to be done, but not us to do it. So I think we're sort of seeing an American zen now, where the United States is trying to say you wanted this type of world, you have it. And then yet not being completely nihilistic, in the sense that we will act, finally, if no one else will, but we want this other dialogue to play out.
And of course the UN won't. Because any effective change in Darfur means altering the politics within the Sudan which is precisely what the UN will prevent at all costs. Mark Steyn describes the deadly gap between the wish and the deed that haunts international politics.
What's the quintessential leftist cause? It's the one you see on a gazillion bumper stickers: Free Tibet. Every college in the US has a Free Tibet society: There's the Indiana University Students for a Free Tibet, and the University of Wisconsin-Madison Students for a Free Tibet, and the Students for a Free Tibet University of Michigan Chapter. Everyone's for a free Tibet, but no one's for freeing Tibet.
No one is willing to do what is necessary, not when they realize what it would take.