Use of Force to Stop Darfur Genocide
Austin Bay calls for an aggressive international intervention to stop the genocide in Darfur.
In February 2004, reflecting on Rwanda’s genocide, U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan said: “There can be no more binding obligation for the international community than the prevention of genocide. … The events in Rwanda … were especially shameful. The international community clearly had the capacity to prevent those events, but failed to summon the will. … We must ensure that we never again fail to summon the will.” Lack of political will and lack of credible military power contributed to the Rwandan disaster.
Ending the Darfur genocide means terminating Khartoum’s savage policy. That means peacekeeping forces combating the militias would be waging war against allies of the “host” Sudanese government.
Credible combat power — well-armed, well-led, well-supported soldiers with full authority to use decisive, deadly force — can be deployed in Darfur. That credible combat power must be backed by credible leaders, however. That means leaders with the spine to intervene despite Khartoum’s intransigence and leaders with the grit to continue this difficult mission when (it is inevitable) the fighting gets dirty, good soldiers die and tragic mistakes occur.
Despite Annan’s fine words, outside of London and Washington such leadership is not in evidence. Until it appears, “the international community” deserves to be shamed.
Bay is certainly right that the Darfur genocide will continue unabated if we wait for consensus in the United Nations to muster. The UN does many things well but bold military action is not among them.
The question, then, is whether it is in the interests of the United States and the United Kingdom to intervene. Sadly, the answer is No.
What vital interest does either country have at stake? None that I can think of.
Purely humanitarian interventions can only be justified when the costs, in blood and treasure, are relatively low. That would not be the case here. Indeed, not only would it re-ignite charges of Western Imperialism (not unreasonably, incidentally) but it would even further inflame Muslim resentment against us, given that our fight would be with the Muslim Janjaweed militias.