Monday, June 05, 2006

Darfur Remembered

Hitchens on Darfur.

Patrick Porter at Oxblog finds Christopher Hitchens thinking about Darfur and Iraq.

I sometimes ask myself: if it weren’t for Iraq, could we have done more, or even something about Darfur?...Without this, we might have been able to try and arrest the genocide of our African Moslem brothers and sisters at the hands of death squads of Arab Moslems.

But, even as I say that I realise… that it was decided to play Darfur Kofi Annan’s way. This time it’ll be consultation, this time it’ll be negotiation. This time no pre-emption, this time no unilateralism. And we know that the genocidaires ran out the clock of that spare time to complete the genocide. Now there’s almost no-one left to kill.

So everyone has to face this question. And I’m sorry to say that it will not be decided by jokes about George Bush’s IQ.

Hitchens instantly realizes that from a certain point of view Iraq represents an opportunity to blame America for Darfur. But he is smarter than that. He also realizes that, come to think about it, there are a number of places throughout the world where the International Community has decided to play things the Kofi Annan way where things are not going so well. Darfur is one, but the Congo is another. And those places are in the long, slow road to hell. Not a hell from which there is some prospect of redemption; not one in which formerly destroyed marshes are returning to life; or which has revived, for good or ill its pilgrim trade; only one in which despair is given. Despair not only given, but guaranteed. By the Kofi Annan way. "So everyone has got to face this question," because the Kofi Annan way independently provides a route to damnation. Why, Hitch? It's the very question nobody ever wants to face. Which is why things are always going to be debated in terms of George Bush's IQ.


Blogger desert rat said...

With Mr Bush it is the relative merits of the tactics to achieve Stategic Goals.
Debate on what the Goals sould or could be, perhaps even "really are", can be heated.

But with Mr Anon's technique there is no need for debate, the results are clear and undeniable.

If only Mr Annon could fail as well as US.
Then the UN would be a bright star.

6/05/2006 12:30:00 PM  
Blogger the patriarch said...

The question should also be asked as to whether the Bush administration and the Republican-controlled congress would have voted in favor of military intervention in Darfur, the Congo, or any other place where the intervention would be for purely humanitarian interests. The Dems would be against for other reasons. No one comes out a winner in this situation.

6/05/2006 12:34:00 PM  
Blogger sirius_sir said...

Ever again.

Oops, that's supposed to be: Never again.

6/05/2006 12:46:00 PM  
Blogger wretchard said...

Sirius Sir,

The Holocaust is about "never again". It's from Vietnam that the slogan "ever again" comes from. The problem is that you have to risk the latter to prevent the former.

6/05/2006 12:52:00 PM  
Blogger enscout said...

Walking along the top of Stone Mountain (NC) recently, I realized that the edge of the abyss as not a sharp ledge separating horizontal from vertical but slopes off gradually in an ever increasingly steep arc to the point at which we cannot step back to recover. Unless we have consigliores calling us back to safety before it's too late....we are lost.

We have had voices in the MSM, from the left and from other sources, which have not only failed to warn us of the real danger, but have goaded many to the point of no return. They bear false witness again and again to support their claim as the gods of information without accounting for the losses that are swallowed in their wake.

It has been a gradual process, rather like erosion of a massive granite escarpment that takes millennia between measurements to reconcile the change, but as time goes by, the slope becomes increasingly dangerous for those who cozy up to the point of no return.

As you have pointed out in your last two excellent posts, wretchard, the voices are still out there calling many to an unsuspected end.

6/05/2006 12:53:00 PM  
Blogger sirius_sir said...


Agreed. And it baffles me that people can't, don't, or won't see it.

6/05/2006 01:05:00 PM  
Blogger Starling David Hunter said...


Very telling is your use of the past tense in the title- "Darfur Remembered" rather than "Remembering Darfur". It suggests that this current event has been consigned to the past, that rather than unfolding, it is all over. And to the minds of some it is all over, except for the dying, of course.

6/05/2006 01:13:00 PM  
Blogger Ash said...

You can hang Darfur on GWB's IQ in that his administration did their utmost to undermine multilateral cooperation unless under direct command of the US. Two examples of this are UN attempts to help out in Iraq and the Bush administrations oppostition to the ICC. (note: the US held up action on Darfur at the Security Council because the ICC was to be involved). Now, having blown our load in Iraq and poisoned the well of international co-operation Bush's latest attempt at herding the international cats is heading directly into the wind of the blowback from recent history.

6/05/2006 01:14:00 PM  
Blogger RWE said...

So, is the argument that we used up all of our international goodwill credits blowing up Muslims in Iraq and Afghanistan, so we don't get to do the same in Darfur?

If so, this echos the tit for tat Taliban thought process. Within a couple of weeks of the start of our operations in Afghanistan, a Taliban spokesman said "You have now killed 3000 of us, which is the number of people you lost on 911, so you can go home."

6/05/2006 01:16:00 PM  
Blogger wretchard said...


Canada to its credit is attempting to get together a mission on Darfur. In case nobody's noticed, Australia has taken on the Solomons, Timor, Fiji without asking the UN. Actually, any European country that is interested could have taken on Darfur. My guess is that Stephen Harper will get there before them.

6/05/2006 01:22:00 PM  
Blogger Ash said...


The US is a superpower and it is more then just another nation in a coalition and hence its attitudes and actions carry a lot of weight vis a vis international affairs. The ICC is proceeding despite US opposition but it would be a much more effective institution if the US were actively involved and engaged. Similarily the African Union can cobble together a few troops for Darfur and the Canadians can try as well, and these actions may have some effect but not as much then if the US were involved.

6/05/2006 01:33:00 PM  
Blogger wretchard said...


I'm saying it again. Australia has taken on three countries in succession without asking for UN support. Or European support. Or US support. Australian has about 13 battalions total strength and a population of about 19 million people. How many men does France have? When trouble recently erupted in Dili, Oz was there in hours. Maybe if Canada were a little closer to Darfur.

6/05/2006 01:42:00 PM  
Blogger Ash said...

But we end up with a bunch of different countries engaging in military conflicts based on their narrow interests. The likely outcome of such an international order would be an renewed arms race with humanitarian concerns taking a back seat in guiding action. Kind of like urging the states and individuals in the US to revert back to the good ole wild west days.

6/05/2006 01:52:00 PM  
Blogger Brett L said...


What's the alternative? Stasis and genocide? Is it more immoral to act decently on poor motives, to act poorly on decent motives, or not act at all on the best motives?

The US did not waste the UN's credibility. Hell, the US has given the UN more credibility loans than they deserve. Thank god for the ANZACs. If twenty more nations had half their principle or a quarter of their guts, the world would be a better place.

6/05/2006 02:08:00 PM  
Blogger desert rat said...

The World will always be " a bunch of different countries engaging in military conflicts based on their narrow interests. "

Unless they fall in behind US.
If they fall in behind someone else, you will still have "narrow" interests.

When I'm the paymaster, ash, it's my way or the highway. If the others do not want to follow, good enough, they are on their own.
If they do not fulfill their potential, or US ours, little does it matter. To US, 'cause US will still be doin' fine, without 'em.

Only the "little people" suffer, and any charitable soul, European 'cause their close, can help them.
The US has to deal with saving 20 million Mexicans from economic deprivation and 25 million Iraqi from Saddam lite and Osama and the Shia Mullahs, first.

Send those troops from Belgium, those that did oh so well in Rawanda.
With Canadians in Command.

6/05/2006 02:13:00 PM  
Blogger Ash said...

DR, if you look at the history of the US and the coming together of the States to form the Union it was not one state declaring 'it is my way or the highway', similarily you can look the European Union being formed, again, not a single state leading the way.

6/05/2006 02:18:00 PM  
Blogger Nathan said...

Meanwhile, Australia gains clout and credibility in its own sphere of influence by taking the initiative to set things right. If more countries did this there wouldn't be a need for American imperialist interventionism. But it's damned if you do and damned if you don't. The resulting scenario might well be reminiscent of the years before the Great War.

6/05/2006 02:42:00 PM  
Blogger Cannoneer No. 4 said...


Lawfare is not our friend.

Soldiers 'in fear of front line prosecution'

6/05/2006 03:12:00 PM  
Blogger Louis said...

Please spare me. Don't use the Congo to further your specious arguments. Yes, the Congo where peacekeepers wearing blue helmets have died in numbers, have been kidnapped, have chased renegade militias through deep forests. These brave soldiers, from dozens of countries (India, Pakistan, Nepal, Guatemala, Uruguay...) have saved countless lives there. It has nothing to do with US politics or your poor misunderstood GWB. You fail to see that no one has ever called for US military intervention in the Congo-- only continued, and eventually expanded, support for actions that are ongoing. And it would cost about as much as a single Stealth bomber dropping its laser-guided payloads onto hamlets in western Iraq.

6/05/2006 03:14:00 PM  
Blogger Brett L said...


I'm not sure what point you're making, except that it sucks to wear the blue helmet (unless you're a pederast). That's kind of Wretchard's point, too.

6/05/2006 03:33:00 PM  
Blogger Louis said...

Exactly, Brett.. you spit on the UN, you use all the same rhetoric and tactics against their efforts that you would in other circumstances accuse the "left" and the "MSM" of smearing America with. So a few Moroccans with blue helmets seduce village girls with food? That must mean that all peacekeepers are "pederasts." You know nothing about what the mission is, what's been accomplished, or what's at stake-- you just like bashing the UN. But what are a couple of dead Bangladeshis, who died to save a hundred thousand Congolse, to you? Less than nothing, I'm sure. Why don't you just shut up for a change?

6/05/2006 03:43:00 PM  
Blogger Brian H said...

Happens that GW's IQ (and college grades) > AG's. So just think how bad things would be if Big Al had got in!! Goresh!

6/05/2006 03:43:00 PM  
Blogger Brett L said...


Just name 1 UN success in the last 20 years that didn't involve the US. I'm talking facts here. The fact is that the UN record has sucked since it got run out of Gaza and the West Bank in '56. Even with the US. It is ineffective. I'm sorry that some good guys get painted with a bad brush. Though I hear not just Moroccan, but also French and Belgian troops have been accused of the pederacy. I'm not saying it's a problem of the UN soldier, but it is certainly a problem with the discipline structure of the UN military command.

I'm sure the average Jean, Yusef, and Joe are good soldiers, but the UN military actions have discipline problems and they don't leave functioning states in their wake as a rule - or even an exception.

6/05/2006 03:49:00 PM  
Blogger desert rat said...

I oppose a World Government
It is not in my, my familie's, State or Nation's best interest.

We would average down. It is already happening, real world, in my city. It is not a positive thing for my Society, Culture or Politcal models.

If the ICC was a real World Court, who would be it's Policemen?

The ICC also operates on the presumption of guilt in it's proceedings, as does most of the World. I reject that out of hand.

I reject any subornination of the US Constitution to any other political entity. But that's just my point of view.

6/05/2006 04:02:00 PM  
Blogger desert rat said...

99.9% of US troops are really the best of fellows, lois. The balance cause the challenges to US.

That same standard of Presumed Innocence is not permitted for UN troops. They aren't US, you know.

That is why the ICC is never to be Soveriegn over US troops, others may view US as we view them.

Then we'd never leave home.

6/05/2006 04:10:00 PM  
Blogger desert rat said...

in our wake?

Panama, Philipines. We had to invade Panama and the Philipines is reportedly a "mess".

No other country is in our wake, they are all still on board.
S. Korea, Japan, Germany, Italy are all still "Occupied". No wake to be left in those cases.

Liberia, is that a "success"?
Somalia, the Islamic Court took over today, they were in our wake.

Where has the US occupied, and that it has later left, that has flourished?

6/05/2006 04:18:00 PM  
Blogger whit said...

The I.C.C. is a non-starter in the US. Campaigns here on its behalf are like tilting at windmills.

Just give it up.

6/05/2006 04:21:00 PM  
Blogger wretchard said...


There are about 15,000 UN troops in the Congo. And there are brave UN soldiers beyond a doubt. But let's put a few numbers on your assertions about the intensity of UN combat shall we? On May 27, 2006 a UN Peacekeeper died bringing the 6 year total of UN peacekeeper deaths to 74. And just exactly what have these efforts bought? Let's ask the Harvard Institute of Public Health. Not a conservative source either.

"The war in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is the world's deadliest humanitarian crisis, with an estimated 3.9 million deaths over a six-year period, yet the gravity of the situation remains almost invisible in the eyes of the world, said Richard Brennan, health director of the International Rescue Committee, at a lecture on January 31 in Snyder Auditorium. The number far exceeds those from other recent crises or disasters, including the Bosnian war (250,000 dead), the Rwanda civil war (800,000 dead), and the South Asian tsunami (280,000 dead)."

There are brave individual soldiers on the UN peacekeeping team. But as an organized military effort it's a bust. Here in the South Pacific, it was not lost on readers that the first thing the UN did when trouble broke out in Timor was pull out. Those 74 peacekeepers lost in six years of combat do a lot towards perpetuating the myth that the UN is doing something and it's a shame to use brave men as eu de cologne for UN Le Pew. But that's what they are used for.

6/05/2006 04:24:00 PM  
Blogger whit said...

Rat said: "S. Korea, Japan, Germany, Italy are all still "Occupied"."

Beg to differ.

6/05/2006 04:24:00 PM  
Blogger wretchard said...


Recently a movie was released called the Hotel Rwanda, which described how an innkeeper saved more people on his own than the entire armed UN Peacekeeping Team. A family friend was corresponding by email some years ago from UNMIK. Their supervisor spent most of the time in Austria. One day some UN personnel died in an air crash and they convened a meeting to figure out what procedure they should follow to get coffins. But the meeting came to an abrupt end when NATO showed up with the bodies already in coffins. If there is one anecdote I could choose to describe the UN it would be that. You can't even count on them to bury you.

6/05/2006 04:39:00 PM  
Blogger sirius_sir said...

Yeah, but I bet a UN coffin carries more moral authority than a NATO coffin. (Esp. if there's a UN-related corpse inside.)

6/05/2006 05:12:00 PM  
Blogger wretchard said...


There's another way in which lives are used as deodorant for corrupt UN practices. The UN is supposed to reimburse governments for their contingents at the base rate of $1,303 per month, per troop, tax free. This is wildly more than most Third World soldiers receive and there's often intense competition among Third World soldiers to get in. Here's what happens next. The contributing government skims money off the salaries.

Here, for example, is the left wing Philippine Daily Inquirer on the subject.

"THE SENATE must investigate the alleged unauthorized pay cut imposed by the Armed Forces of the Philippines on members of Filipino contingents to United Nations peacekeeping missions, opposition Senator Jose “Jinggoy” Ejercito Estrada said in a statement Monday.

He said he would ask Senator Rodolfo Biazon, head of the committee on national defense, to determine why the military leadership cut the 1,000-dollar-a-month allowance that Filipino peacekeepers received from the UN."

Now there are lots of Filipinos in the US Armed Forces, and quite a few have been decorated for bravery in the GWOT. Robbing them is as low as a anyone can go. Imagine if they were treated the way UN Peacekeepers are treated. Eu de cologne for UN Le Pew.

6/05/2006 05:30:00 PM  
Blogger Brett L said...


Well, you've got a point there. Is France still technically occupied (or technically a democratic government?). Also, Nicaragua and El Salvador have been relatively peaceful (and good friends). But the point was that the UN most certainly does NOT have a better track record with or without the US leading the way.

And I agree, a world government that does not respect my right to keep and bear arms or put the burden of proof upon the government is not in MY interest, nor those of anyone I know personally. Shoot, I'm doubting that the US government can handle those 2 basic premises for more than another decade.

6/05/2006 05:59:00 PM  
Blogger Ash said...

Desert Rat,

Mr. Bush likes to speak of 'rule of law' but I presume you disagree? To go from the acceptance of a treaty based form of international law to One World Government is a mighty big step. A nation, such as the US can agree to basic norms in international behavior and accept the following constaints on its sovereignty without endangering its basic freedoms. We do it all the time when we sign treaties, NAFTA for example. What is your problem with it governing more heinous crimes such as genocide?

6/05/2006 06:01:00 PM  
Blogger orlandoslug said...


To see nothing wrong with some bureaucrats in Brussels passing judgement on our boys for public consumption is to jump straight from your standard peace corp era rose color glasses straight to blinders... goes against a host of core values which formed the basis of the founding of this country...

I wish you would ask those that we are putting in harms way what they thought about the ICC...

...but perhaps I'm just a mental slug that cannot measure up to the likes of such worldly elites as yourself...

...perhaps if I keep reading reports by your buddies in the press about Haditha I'll see the wisdom of the ICC serving justice on our boys...

Although it could be argued that subjecting ourselves to such a legal castration might win points in the propaganda war, I want no part of it because it is so wrong headed and so goes against my gut instinct; additionally, it is disingenuous and sets a dangerous example of compromising a core value.

Our system is based upon a certain decency and uprightness; but, I'm fearful that it could be twisted into a state of disfunction by those that have no pragmatic values or by the likes of Al Queda, who have evil intent...

6/05/2006 07:40:00 PM  
Blogger desert rat said...

Garrisoned "would" have been a more accurate word, but that was why the quote marks were there.

NAFTA does no violate any of the Admendments regarding Civil Rights of US citizens and others in the US, the ICC Treaty does.
It's basic premise is counter my Oath. Could never support even the idea.
Would fight the implementation of any portion of the Treaty I read, if it came to that.

6/05/2006 07:57:00 PM  
Blogger desert rat said...

And Nicaragua and El Salvador , neither were Occupied, recently.
The Marines being there in the early part of the last Century, I guess would qualify, technically.

Didn't think back in history that far.

6/05/2006 08:01:00 PM  
Blogger Louis said...


You point out many of the failings of UN peacekeeping. But with Haditha and countless instances of financial corruption come to light in Iraq, it's hardly convincing that the UN's inadequacies justify dismantling it, or whatever it is you are suggesting. You know, I saw first hand in the Congo what a UN force mandated for combat can do. And I know villagers personally who thank and praise their work.

Your stance is confusing to me. You blame the UN for being weak-- but also wish for powerful nations to stop supporting it. The UN really is nothing without the nations that make it up. If American and European troops were employed in its framework, unilateral US military action wouldn't be necessary. Instead peacekeeping is left to third world proxies. You have confused causes and effects. If the UN fails, it's because the world powers aren't backing it up. You can't criticize an institution for being weak, while simultaneously refusing to support it. Unless you're being completely disingenuous.

6/05/2006 08:06:00 PM  

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