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Sep 22, 2004 9:59 pm

More on Sudan

William Kristol and Vince Serchuk make a cogent, nonpartisan case for stopping the genocide in Sudan now in their op-ed piece today. Given Kristol’s status as editor of the conservative magazine The Weekly Standard, emphasizing the nonpartisan nature of this issue is vital. This is not, should not be, an issue about Republicans or Democrats. Rather it should be about right and wrong. They strike a cautiously hopeful note, as in this money quotation:

The United States will eventually act on Darfur. After the election president Bush or President Kerry will not sit idly by and permit a second genocide in Africa in a decade. We will intervene – belatedly. The question is how belatedly, and how effectively.
This is indeed the question. The Bush administration could act now. A Kerry administration will not be able to act until January, and then only if their transition is smooth enough to allow them to instigate foreign policy initiatives, assuming the Bush administration is still dilly-dallying while Africans die. By the time action comes we may be patting ourselves on the back even as the worst of it is over. As we saw in Rwanda in 1994, cycles of genocide can play out in days and weeks rather than months. We have already allowed months to pass.

I would not place much faith in the United Nations, even with the Security Council’s recent resolution threatening Sudan with oil sanctions and ordering the ever-intimidating inquiry into whether genocide has occurred in Darfur or elsewhere. (I have conducted my own inquiry, and have come up with two possible answers: 1) Yes. 2) If you have to ask, you have to act.) Khartoum has responded, naturally, by labeling the Security Council resolution as being ”unfair.” As Kristol and Serchuck point out, the Security Council resolution will likely not follow with any troop action on the ground. Both China and Russia have cozy relationships with the Sudanese government and will not be willing to jeopardize those relationships for the sake of something like human rights or genocide.

They also argue that we have strategic interests in the Sudan, (something I have tried to argue on several occasions before, including in an HNN article back in November 2003, albeit more about policy toward Africa broadly, and in a different context). Sudan has ties to major terrorist organizations across the Middle East, is one of the seven countries on the US’s list of state sponsors of terror, and is a hotbed of Islamofascism, the genocide within the country’s midst being just the most obvious example.

All of this said, we may, then, have to go it alone. For all of the horrors of Beslan, horrors that ought to have opened Russian eyes about the moral corruptness inherent in cozying up to terrorists and the states who love them, it looks as if they and the ever intractable Chinese regime will stand in the way of the UN action so romanticized by those who hate the idea of America going it alone. But if go it alone we must, and if the UN will not or cannot act, I hope that we will have the support of even the UN’s staunchest, sometimes blindest, supporters.

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Lloyd Kilford - 9/24/2004

but I can't say that I am that enthusiastic, to be honest.

Problems I see:

1. I've supported various interventions (Bosnia, Kosovo, Somalia, Sierra Leone, Afghanistan, Iraq) and the record has been mixed at best. Dr Catsam is an honest and honourable man, but I am sure that some other people will back intervention now and if anything goes wrong will quickly turn on those of us who continue to support such interventions.

2. It will cost us quite a lot of money. Some people here in the UK are making noises about how charity begins at home. I am not sure that I completely disagree.

3. It won't make us any friends.

4. It won't make us much safer. Every soldier in the Sudan isn't in Afghanistan hunting Bin Laden or in Iraq keeping the peace.

On the other hand, we should intervene because:

5. It's A Genocide. No clarification needed.

6. We've failed to act so many times before that it's become embarrassing and shaming. From Biafra to Uganda to the Central African Republic to Rwanda to the Congo, we have failed. Now we might have a chance to start to redeem ourselves.

Stephen Tootle - 9/24/2004


Derek Charles Catsam - 9/23/2004

Steve --
How about pretending, for one brief and shining moment, that we are professionals and that arguments on one post do not seep in (by which I mean that you do not drag them in) from one post to another? You've done it on this one and you did it on the post about Hispanics. Let's also pretend that each post, and thus each argument, can stand on its own right. Can we do that? Huh? Can we?

chris l pettit - 9/23/2004

the ignorance and vitriol in this article is hard to swallow...

I love the Islamic fascist comment...extremists abound everywhere...this guy seems to be a cheerleader for US atrocities (crimes against humanity) in Iraq and Afghanistan, Russian atrocities (crimes against humanity) in Chechnya, Israelis crimes against humanity in Palestine, NATO and US crimes in Bosnia...he seems to be the ultimate one sided twit mouth organ of the nationalist rah rah society. I suppose might makes right and the end justifies the means ultimately rules the day and we ultimately will never use our ability to reason and know right from wrong that distinguishes from the animals that follow their own primative urges. Of course that sort of argument renders DC's post absolutely moot do the fact that, if might makes right, and the larger powers can impose their moralities on everyone else simply because they are the sovereign, then they have to allow everyone else to utilize this concept as well. You cannot have it both ways. Either you respect humanity and the rule of law set out by the international community or you don;t and we live by the law of the jungle. So if one wants to take the position advocated by the guy who wrote this article, I dont want to hear any more whining about human rights, any more condemnation of suicide bombers or al Qaeda, or any more legal, moral or ethical justifications. just come out and state that we have the power so we are going to impose our morality on the rest of the planet. it is as simple as that. There can be no "war on terrorism" because terrorism becomes obsolete since anything goes when might makes right. Can you see how this position leads to total anarchy, not too mention total hypocrisy from those who take this position and then try and turn around and argue any kind of legal moral or ethical argument?

Stephen, i can only hope that you did not take this article seriously or actually think that there was anything worthwhile inside its contents. The author can lament the problems in the UN all he wants. The reason it is problematic is because of the greed and self interest of the P5 and the paucity of the nation state system, not any flaws in the UN Charter or the general principles. One need only look at the nation who has used its veto the most over the past decades, including the only time a P5 member has vetoed a resolution condeming it for crimes against humanity...the US.

I would hope you were smarter than to claim this guy as an influence.


Stephen Tootle - 9/23/2004

One answer, from today's WSJ:

The title is "The U.N.? Who Cares?"

chris l pettit - 9/23/2004

...and I see you pulled out the miracle against my Duderinos this week. Congrats.

DC...I am not sure that you would label me a staunch and blind supporter of the UN or not. Actually, the more I thought about it the more I thought you would not, given my bitter problems with the UN system.

This problem has me in a huge philosophical quandry. How does one support the rule of law and what is morally right and wrong when the means to do so may end up being as destructive as the ends? We are in total agreement about the atrocities taking place in Sudan, even though we may differ on the technical term of what to call them.

It is blatantly obvious that the UN is at a loss to deal with the Sudan problem because of the self interest of the nation states. THis to me points to the need to change the system. But the crisis in Sudan needs an immediate solution. DO we allow the US, who is illegally engaged worldwide and guilty of its own atrocities to go in unilaterally? Would this be a short term solution? Yes, but the future problems it would cause may be even worse than the short term relief. Not to mention the legal complexities (I should say the blatant illegalities). As I mentioned before, it is not as though the US does not have strategic interests (oil and others) in Sudan and has not been guilty of supplying Chadian paramilitaries and southern Sudanese rebels who are also guilty of atrocities against the Islamic culture of Sudan. For my money, the US is in almost as bad of a position as the Chinese and Russians. That being said, the primary concern is for the poor innocents being slaughtered and starved. Would the US intervention actually end their suffering? Or would it strengthen US backed forces in the region while conveniently eliminating an admittedly awful government that the US does not agree with.

What part can the Uniting For Peace Resolution in the UN play in this? It states that if a Chapter 7 matter relating to international peace and security is being held up in the SC do to a veto (absolute legality) or other problems (interpretations abound), the GA can then issue a legally binding resolution to address the problem. This was developed in 1950 in response to the Korean Crisis and seems as though it can be powerfully utilized today, if used in the correct manner. It was brought back to the forefront of international thinking by the ICJ in the Wall case (not meaning to bring Israel in at all...just trying to give some historical background). Can this be utilized in a better way, with better results and less implications on the international community and legal structure that some sort of unilateral US action? I really have no idea, but it is something that I have not really seen suggested in UN diplomatic circles that deserves consideration. i know the US would not like it because it precludes their self interested interventions at the SC level and would strengthen a dangerous precedent that would actually create an equitable international system, but if we do actually care about what is morally right and wrong and for the poor people on the ground, why should this matter. (And yes, I probably will bring this back to haunt you in a later debate, but still I think I have an excellent point)

So my response to your last comment would be (if I am considered a staunch and blind supporter) that I would be cautiously in support only if all other means had been attempted. In the meantime, the US can live up to its financial obligations and actually give the UN humanitarian agencies the money they need to alleviate the international crisis and protect the refugees from the threat of atrocities. That would be an important first step in showing the international community that the US was actually interested in helping out the poor innocents that should be the ones to matter instead of promoting its own self interest and ultimately leaving the innocents to be slaughtered and starve, much like we are doing in Iraq.

I must reiterate that the ends NEVER justify the means. i really feel that we must abandon this misinterpretation of Machiavelli and must take a much more complex and long term outlook if we are to really make any progress for humanity. I can only hope that the humanitarian agencies get the aid they need to try and avert the crisis and that the AU gets its act together to try and end this crisis.

By the way...did you see the Sec Gen of the ANC on Hard Talk on BBC last night? he got himself ripped a new hiney about the Zim situation by the host whose name escapes me at the moment. It was a quality performance...haha.


Stephen Keith Tootle - 9/23/2004

I would agree with you, but I am afraid I would do it incorrectly, and upset you.

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