May 11, 2006

Steyn and TNR on Darfur

It always comes down to "the doughty musketeers of the Anglosphere" says Mark Steyn:

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. Meaningful UN action is never gonna happen. Sudan has at least two Security Council vetoes in its pocket: China gets 6 per cent of its oil from the country, while Russia has less obviously commercial reasons and more of a general philosophical belief in the right of sovereign states to butcher their own...

...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.

But, whatever international law has to say on the subject, the only effective intervention around the world comes from ad hoc coalitions of the willing led by the doughty musketeers of the Anglosphere.

TNR devotes an entire issue (free reg. req'd) to Darfur, including their editorial "Again", in which they call for direct U.S. military action. As you might expect, the Clinton years are seen through the most forgiving lens possible (he had "a learning curve", you see) and it is Bush apparently, who doesn't know genocide when he sees it:

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. Genocide is not a crisis that escalates into evil. It is evil from its inception.

At least TRN is a center-left organ that acknowledges evil's existence, and the whole op-ed is worth a read. Marisa Katz has a feature on the Bush administration's policy of "appeasement". It's an interesting take, since the Bush team at least achieved the agreement with the South, and the author has very little of substance to offer as preferable options. She says the administration was so concerned with preserving the North-South peace deal they had negotiated that they took too long to turn their attention to stopping the other genocide, to the west at Darfur. Then they are criticized for not being unilateral enough in negotiations (the African Union nations insisted on a leading role and we deferred to their sensibilities.) It's not difficult to imagine the "Cowboy Bully" accusations had we simply imposed our will on the proceedings. It's hard to win when you're just the last, best hope.

Here's the author's example of what the Bush administration could have, and should have done to show our seriousness...

Washington could do more to target the individual perpetrators of the genocide. For example, President Bashir and Vice President Taha have not been added to our list of Specially Designated Nationals and Blocked Persons. At the very least, individual sanctions would signal a level of U.S. seriousness.

Blocked Persons List? Sorry if that doesn't strike me as terribly serious or likely to shame the Sudanese thugocracy. But it might help to drive to Sudan even further into the China-Iran orbit. What do I know? Read all you can, but before you decide if we should "do something to stop it...now!", try to imagine CNN video of the U.S. Marines shooting machete-wielding Janjaweed warriors off of their horses in the African countryside. How's that gonna play in Peoria, to say nothing of Paris? The first time one of those machetes mutilates a 19-year old from New Jersey, will Cindy Sheehan demonstrate against government policy at his funeral?

The Left (not TNR) will have a tough time differentiating Sudan from Iraq, even when they invoke the "G" word, as a situation justifying direct U.S. military action, where in their view (of the moment), Iraq does not. For now, they are contenting themselves to demand that "more" be done, and criticizing the person and the country that have done the most to end the killing.

Posted by dan at May 11, 2006 11:11 AM