Last year, in commemoration of the 60th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz, the United Nations reiterated its founding promise–Never Again. Unfortunately, it has been an empty promise. Countless genocides have occurred on the UN watch. After much hand-wringing over its failure to stop the Rwandan genocide in 1994, the UN repeated the promise. Yet twelve years later, the world finds itself in a now familiar situation–staring genocide in the face as the UN sits paralyzed by its less humanitarian members.
The latest genocide is happening in western Sudan. Janjaweed militias, allegedly armed by the Sudanese government, have slaughtered hundreds of thousands of black Muslims in the western province of Darfur. The State Department estimates that between 63,000 to 146,000 “excess” deaths can be attributed to violence, disease and malnutrition in the region since 2003.
Americans, famous and not, are finally taking notice. Earlier this month, thousands of demonstrators took to the streets of Washington, D.C., to demand action. Though the crowd was ideologically diverse, the headline speakers were liberals–including Russell Simmons, Dick Gregory and George Clooney among non-politicians.
In Darfur, it seems these liberals have finally found a cause worth fighting for–but not so fast. Most liberals are not calling for U.S. military action. That would be too direct. Instead, they are pushing for a UN peacekeeping force and an increased presence for troops from the African Union.
There’s only one problem. These “solutions” have already been tried. The United States began using the magic word, “genocide,” as long ago as September 2004 to urge UN action in Darfur. The Security Council has done little in the nineteen months since. China and Russia have even objected to sanctions against Sudanese individuals responsible for the genocide, and the European states on the Council are always reticent to send troops to world hotspots. As for the African Union, Arab states in the coalition have blocked all serious attempts to stop the violence.
Liberals are delusional if they think Chinese, Russian, European or Arab leaders are going to be persuaded by their calls for humanitarian intervention. In the end, the only option for stopping the ongoing nightmare is another “coalition of the willing” led by the United States. This would not necessarily involve substantial U.S. ground troops, but it would have to be done outside the confines of the UN. And therein lies the problem: if liberals really want to save Darfur, they have to do the unthinkable–endorse the use of U.S. military power in defiance of the UN Security Council.
The Darfur crisis could prove to be the proverbial straw that breaks the camel’s back. Once again, the Security Council has shown that it cannot be counted on to fulfill its most basic mission–the prevention of genocide. If it cannot do that, why should the United States trust it to decide issues of national security? Any honest answer to that question has a distinctly neoconservative flavor.
Though liberals like Clooney won’t want to admit their slide to a neoconservative foreign policy, they might not have a choice regarding Darfur. When it comes to the most important issues, the United States must sometimes go it alone. It’s not the preferred route–not even for neocons. But our interests and the interests of the world’s most desperate peoples are not the same as Chinese, Russian or European interests. For Darfur, it is more than merely permissible for American policy-makers to ignore the moral vacuum that is the Security Council. It is morally imperative that they set us on our own way–even if that means using American force before we pass the “global test.”
It remains to be seen whether Clooney and his ilk will have the intellectual courage to call for unilateral action. But even if they do not, they have done immeasurable good for the people of Darfur by putting their plight on the front pages. Here’s hoping they go one step further, and put aside their ideological blinders to support the only hope left for Darfur: the proven political courage of George W. Bush, Tony Blair and other leaders in the “coalition of the willing” to ignore paralysis at the Security Council.
Jason Barnes is a freelance writer, and the editor of www.beltwayblitz.com in Arlington, Virginia.
Source: AFF Doublethink Online | Joseph Hammond
Source: AFF Doublethink Online | Emma Elliott Freire