Monday, May 01, 2006

The Darfur Catch-22

One of the previous US president’s biggest failures was the failure to take action during the Rwandan genocide of the early 90s.

The current president is providing little assistance of value with the situation in Darfur, Sudan, where another campaign of genocide is currently in progress.

The humanitarian in me says the US needs to address this ASAP. The rationalist in me has concerns.

If we do not intervene in some way, the killing in Darfur will most certainly continue.

If we do intervene, we face the same old argument that “imperialist” America is “rattling its saber” and “interfering” in the affairs of other countries.

Then there’s the matter of most of our resources being focused on Iraq right now.

My strong personal belief is we should help stop the slaughter, but a question nags me: How do we provide humanitarian assistance without "interfering" in other countries? I’ve never heard a viable answer from a liberal or a conservative.

Can the line be drawn clearly?

26 comments:

The Flabbergasted Heathen said...

Yup, you can. We Canadians pioneered the process...peacekeeping at its best! (ignore the Somaila incident)

You go in, stop the folk from fighting, provide aid and support for the infrastructure, so when things are calmed down and people have running water again, they mostly forget why they were trying to clense each other in the first place.

It helps to have the mandate of an international organization like the UN.

Pete Bogs said...

flab - that's the ideal... but just "going in" falls under the "interference" category as I understand... and you make it sound as if doing any of those things is simple... your belief that if people have the basic necessities they'll be peaceful is naive as Bush's idea that you can "plant" democracy... it's not just basic needs, it's greed, old rivalries and more that keeps the bullets flying and the blood flowing... Rwanda for example was a "revenge" scenario by one tribe on another...

K9 said...

/bark bark bark

america is damned no matter what. we should help when we can -mainly by stopping corruption in how our aid is distributed. mostly it falls into the hands of thugs who use it to barter for weapons and increase their strength and power.

regarding rwanda: still pending lawsuits against UN peacekeeping forces who raped the women and killed the children -or let them die. they were ineffectual at best.

glad to see this post. this situation begs the question: why intervene for bosnia/serbia? it threatened the continent. why didnt italy or france or anybody do something? wait for america, save thier resources and let us be despised for taking action. and look where we are now in the bosnian nightmare -tables turned.

a bunch of black people in africa? *shrug*

you called this right pete. no furriners are going to go in and settle a local fight. ever been in a school yard battle? the teachers come out, scold everyone, you shake hands, agree to behave, and then meet off campus where the cold fury has had all afternoon to stew and the war continues......


/grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr

Pete Bogs said...

I guess what I'm saying is selfish: I'd LIKE to help, but I don't want any shit from anyone about it if I do...

warvigilent said...

id still say the un is the best option but there is definatly a change needed in its operation and most definitly where its funding comes from. the us provides a major amount of the un funding and that has given it incredible leverage (which it has been abusing see:http://www.krysstal.com/democracy_whyusa03.html for an example of such abuse of power), the un wont function proporly if one country has power over the others in an organisation that is meant to equalise all countries. the rest of the world should step up funding and military support and the us should reduce funding and actuall comply with un resolutions. the interference idea is and will be a problem for the us for a long time and as for the teachers/student metaphore
do we really belive the students will ever behave when they see the teachers beating students, selling drugs and weapons, selling the students out to corperations and constant petty bickering.

Pete Bogs said...

the UN needs to work better... we should pay only our fair share, and pull only our fair share of the burden... but we should join the human rights committees... who are we to say
who belongs on it, with our Abu Ghraibs? some of those countries don't belong on there, but then again, some very brutal countries are pals with us... hypocrisy... yeah, and Bolton's got to go!

The Flabbergasted Heathen said...

Bogs, there are only a few people who are fanning the flames as it were, the average Joe doesn't much care. Give him what he needs (at the same time take it away from those "warlords") and he'll likely be peaceful.

The UN is a joke. The ideal behind it is amazing, but without any actual authority, it's toothless. Why listen to the UN if they can't/won't do anything about it?

Pete Bogs said...

flab - I'm thinking about a scene early on in the movie Black Hawk Down where the UN brings food aid to villagers... the local warload sends his men out with machine guns to take possession of the food... he wasn't starving, he just wanted control... it's like you're saying that if everyone here had food and drink the mafia would have no power... but they'd still lean on people, steal the food and sell it back to others, etc.

there will always be bullies, and others who need to help the less powerful against them... the question is, when do we help, and when do we stay out?

Jack K. said...

The first thing that came to my mind was a program during the Viet Nam era called Phoenix. Surgical removal of selected individuals in the leadership of the enemy. Perhaps we should think about just taking out the corrupt ones.

Of course this won't work because of our own corrupt ones.

Having gotten that out of my system we might want to think of other options. We just need to realize that no matter what we do we will be considered the imperialists.

Part of that perspective is a direct result of the current administration. If you disregard the values of others than you run the risk of being considered an imperialist.

Just some thoughts. Thanks for the question, Pete.

The Flabbergasted Heathen said...

The way to intervene without being seen as imperialist is to do so under the mandate of an international organization

Maybe when Fatty takes over we'll have one with teeth that will enforce the resolutions it enacts.

Jack K. said...

With the team Fatty is putting together there is no doubt in my mind that all will be better.

Pete Bogs said...

and a "child" shall lead them...

I hope you're right...

jack, may have hit it on the head - whatever we do someone will criticize it, so we ought not let that stop us...

K9 said...

/bark bark bark

jack im down with that phoenix opps.
we should have applied it in iraq.

/grrrrrrrrr

Pete Bogs said...

k9 - I don't like the sound of it... seems like if we'd done that Saddam would have risen up from the ashes by now...

The Flabbergasted Heathen said...

It's important, too, to know who you're killing.

Sure, if you kill the head badguy, you might stop what he's been doing. But watch out for the people in the background that are waiting to do worse...

K9 said...

/bark bark bark

just like freddy krueger eeee eeee, eeee eeee

/grrrrrrrrrr

Bird said...

we won't do anything about dafur. the region has nothing we want.

we don't do anything for humanitarian reasons alone - there's got to be someting in it for us - and there's nothing we want there.

and even if there was - we're tapped out - we can't afford to do anything - we don't have enough manpower or finances for another adventure - even if it is what most of us would consider "noble."

CROAK said...

No UN then what? Nothing?
Love your writing Pete.

Pete Bogs said...

bird - you're right, but isn't Sudan helping in some way in the war on terror, making Bush reluctant to act against them?

croak - didn't you guys nearly overrun Oz a while back?

Aunty Belle said...

Well, shoot--I'se late to this discussion--but this is my playyard fer shur.

Bawgs, sugar pie, we should do somethin' about Darfur--yer heard OBL done threatened any who stood up to Khartoum? Uh huh...and the current Sudanese crisis is msulim on muslim--arab ( via gov't sponsored janjaweed) against black. Our new method is to pressure, via USAID, other nations who support Khartoum
--slow and clumsy, but uses dimplomacy not a breach of sovereignty. (Don't forget that in 2000 Khartoum was killin' the CHriistian blacks in the South of Sudan...but Madeline Albright said Sudan "doesn't sell in America")

Humanitarian aid becomes a weapon in the hands of the strongmen--example, India was in famine in many provinces 1984-- US shipped thousands of tons of (free) grain--that India then sold to Russia for MIGS.

The problem is that some nations do not value life--thus they are unconcerned about the morality of genocide--it is business as usual in most places.

Rwanda is interesting
--Flabbergasted Heathen , your own Romeo Dallaire sent urgent crisis messages to Kofi Annan (During Boutous's Sec Gen term, Kofi was in charge of UN Peacekeeping missions), telling him well in advance that mass slaughter of the tutsis...Kofi Annan even admits this is so--that he withheld the troops...and folks, the reason si that many of the peacekeepers were Ghanan troops--Kofi is Ghanan too.

For all respondents--UN is discredited --we hate to hear it cause the idea is a good one, but reality is that the oil-for-food scandal is but ONE of the siphon schemes in ALL branches of the UN --iit is truly rotten to the core. Imagine that money--a BILLION dollars siphoned on oil-for-food
--spent on medicine for AIDS in Africa!!

The UNs "new" human rights council (replaces the embarrassingly politicized Commission) will also be still born when its first session convenes in June. Already the human rights offenders are trying to line up votes (The votes are from the whole membership, not just ECOSOC) to have themselves elected--in order to SHIELD themselves from charges of genocide...

Ole Aunt B could go on and on and on...think how hard for NGO organizations to git in and give aid to dying people on their own--that is, not as a political or national rep, but just human to human...as ya'll have seen, they shoot the aid workers.

Pete Bogs said...

Aunt B - I agree we should to something... it's not specifically OLB that concerns me as it is an overall "perception" of the US as a meddler, which gets us into all kinds of trouble...

K9 said...

/bark bark bark

what is so painfully missing again and again in the comments on darfur is that OBL has supported the slaughter of blacks in the sudan and chad, and that this is a campaign of terror waged once again by our friends at funde-islam inc. maybe george clooney can meditate on that for a few moments while jetting off to lake como in his gulfstream. having him lecture us paycheck to paycheck chumps in the hamster wheel on "what we gotta do" gets my fur high and stiff.

the US administration called the situation genocide over a year ago and the UN has YET to do so. thanks aunty belle for your detailed post, you can always be counted on to bring the much need historical context.

bolton's gotta go? i'm glad he's there.
/grrrrrrrrrrrrrr

Pete Bogs said...

Bolton's completely unsuitable... it's very simple: you don't make a guy who says the local university should be burned to the ground the president of the university! I love how consternatives have spun his vitriol as "reform!" what a crock!

Pete Bogs said...

PS: I'm not sure I agree with the "celebrities stay out of politics" thing either... Republicant names like Reagan, Eastwood, (Sonny) Bono and Heston seem to agree with me...

K9 said...

/bark bark bark
no, im not saying hollywood voices are not appropriate. or that they dont have the right to use their platform to do good works. i am saying that it is annoying to see them telling middle america about what we should do about whatever. a good example is the katrina lecture oprah gave us. well, she could fix as much with a sweep of her pen as she sould get out of countless donations from us plebes. and not touch her lifestyle. as it is, we are the most charity giving nation on the planet. and as you well know its getting harder for people to maintain their middle class status as the gap between big money and no money widens. it is easy to advocate for something once your end is set up, solid and untouchable. no so for schmo at the walmart. his big job is keeping food on the table. if he can maintain that he can then look to the situation of others.

that said, the notion of less governement and our taxes being used in a productive way is not apparent currently. pete, i hope you guys can pull together a viable candidate for 2008. i do not see anyone on the horizon that can sell the virues of true conservatism.

/grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr

Aunty Belle said...

BAwgs,,,did'ja know that Kofi Annan actually told US that he was looking forward to Bolton, a K.A. sort who'd cut through the diplomatic posturing and DRIVE some sort of reform through?

Yep--he said that.

The UN doan need no more caviar suckin' parasites and Bolton ain't amused by their shennanigans...if the place is gonna survie, it's goona haf to clean up, but lcaks discipline or will to do so...Bolton is the very sort that can hep 'em if ANY thing can---which Aunty B doubts.