20080815

Darfur In Brief

I often find the pacifism is generally practiced at a great distance to where it would be a real question of survival to do so.

I doubt there are pacifists in Darfur. I'd imagine the contrast is grimer. Men with guns, and those at their mercy, and if anything coming out of Darfur true, mercy is in extremely short supply. However brutal it may be in the region, it is still a preventable, stoppable genocide, where some application of military might may actually prove more fruitful than playing nice.

But before we look at the reasons why it might be a better idea to put boots on the ground, let’s look at what has failed miserably and why.

1. Humanitarian Aid Supplies- Failed miserably because the Sudanese government is attempting genocide through attrition. Essentially, any supplies that western powers attempt to deliver the Sudanese government will stifle.

2. Trade Sanctions – Sanctions are an okay way to get a point across, if you have a large enough population that will suffer as a result of the sanctions, they will prompt their government to do something. Maybe. However, if the intention of the government is to incite one half of the country to wipe out the other, everything bad that happens can be blamed on the target population and the furor for the their blood will increase.

3. Humanitarian Aid Technicians – Sending a large contingent of unarmed medics into a combat zone is really, really unwise in general. In particular to the Sudan, it is a horrendous idea because once again the perpetrators of genocide are in control to start, and they can stop the medical personnel from doing their at any time through the threat of force.

4. Cease-fires, treaties, accords – Once again you have to take the intentions of those hell-bent on destruction into account. There is absolutely no reason to follow up or follow through on any treaty signed until the killing stops. Janjaweed and other factions care only for the deaths of their “enemies” at this time, and outside influence will do very little good. Imagine you are playing a game of soccer, and someone wants to talk about quantum physics in the middle of the game. You’re going to ignore them until you’ve won your game of soccer. So too, will Janjaweed ignore the physics of international politics until they have completed their goal.

The problem with all of those is that they deal with problem in the abstract, and they assume too much about needs and capabilities of the local populations, and specifically what the dynamics are. If you’re going to deny goods and services to a nation, be sure that one half isn’t killing off the other half and in all likelihood deriving most of their supplies from those they kill.

It’s extremely important to note that it is not an invasion force that is committing atrocities in Darfur, but, as stated, one half of local population. Were western powers to intervene on a level beyond what we already have (less than 10,000 peace keeping troops, whose objective appears to be even less clear than typically ambiguous military objectives: “Observe.”), they would have to take into account the “home team advantage” that their enemy would have. Initial action against military forces will probably be as it was in Iraq- piece of cake- however guerilla forces will continue long into the night. But there is an abundance of intelligence available.

One thing Darfur has going for it as place for action of any kind is this: heavy, heavy documentation. Before anyone military force goes anywhere, it demands intelligence. This can be as basic as population figures and relief maps, or as exhaustive as the six books and four documentaries. This means that data about the area is not only readily accessible to the military, but also the inevitable NGO’s that would inevitably augment the peacekeeping efforts.

In addition to an abundance of intel available for free, one primary advantage of the Sudanese forces in their grim work is air power, which can sabotaged on the ground or fought outright with Western air power. (Those who oppose the acquisition of more F-18s as I did, take note, they may yet be a useful tool in this scenario).

One final benefit of action in Darfur, and this is completely self-interested, is that the new African Command (AFRICOM) can stand up with an initial peacekeeping mission that will help gain a foothold not only in terms of capability establishment, but also in terms of establishing the intention of AFRICOM as an entity bent on aide and assistance, not merely the flexing of might.

All of this seems very, very simple. Get in, bring force to bear, a police the area for several years. The biggest factor that prevents this action is the fact the primary perpetrators of the genocide are Africans with a Muslim or Arabic bent. Those that western forces would be protecting are not. One imagines that if true might were brought to bear, it quickly degenerate into “Look at what they’re doing to Muslims!” and a call to action would spread throughout the Islamic world, stressing that Arabs are once again being subjugated by callous western powers, once again, a feeling like Iraq creeps in. Nevermind that in this instance, Islam has little to do with the actions or the reactions of Darfur, it will once again become about the religion of either side.

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