Commentary Magazine


Topic: Darfur

Clinton, McCain, and Obama: “We Stand United”

Today, Hillary Clinton, John McCain, and Barack Obama issued a joint statement on Darfur: We wish to make clear to the Sudanese government that on this moral issue of tremendous importance, there is no divide between us,” they write. “We stand united and demand that the genocide and violence in Darfur be brought to an end.

The three candidates deplore the violence and condemn Khartoum. They do not say what they will do to stop the killing, yet by issuing the statement they create a marker by which one of them will be judged. All of them deserve our appreciation for the rare show of unity.

Darfur just may be the perfect place to build a national consensus on national security issues. It has three principal advantages for this purpose. First, if Iran is “tiny”–to borrow a word I have heard used to describe it recently–then the western region of Sudan is virtually nonexistent. It is, of course, easy to agree on something not important to us. Second, all Americans feel revulsion because of the rape, slaughter, and genocide. Third, Darfur, although insignificant on its own, brings the critical issues of our time into play.

“There can be no doubt that the Sudanese government is chiefly responsible for the violence and is able to end it,” Clinton, McCain, and Obama state. Yet, as a practical matter, we cannot persuade, intimidate, or punish the abhorrent rulers in Khartoum until we do something about their sponsors, Russia and China. These two states provide arms, material assistance, and diplomatic support to the Sudanese regime. Without their help, the killing stops within weeks.

The three candidates, of course, are not going to have an honest dialogue about the world’s two largest authoritarian powers. But now they have created pressure on the victor to do something about Sudan. And come January–after all, the genocide is “a Day 1 issue”–it is up to the American people to make sure that the next President deals with Darfur by first dealing with Russia and China.

Today, Hillary Clinton, John McCain, and Barack Obama issued a joint statement on Darfur: We wish to make clear to the Sudanese government that on this moral issue of tremendous importance, there is no divide between us,” they write. “We stand united and demand that the genocide and violence in Darfur be brought to an end.

The three candidates deplore the violence and condemn Khartoum. They do not say what they will do to stop the killing, yet by issuing the statement they create a marker by which one of them will be judged. All of them deserve our appreciation for the rare show of unity.

Darfur just may be the perfect place to build a national consensus on national security issues. It has three principal advantages for this purpose. First, if Iran is “tiny”–to borrow a word I have heard used to describe it recently–then the western region of Sudan is virtually nonexistent. It is, of course, easy to agree on something not important to us. Second, all Americans feel revulsion because of the rape, slaughter, and genocide. Third, Darfur, although insignificant on its own, brings the critical issues of our time into play.

“There can be no doubt that the Sudanese government is chiefly responsible for the violence and is able to end it,” Clinton, McCain, and Obama state. Yet, as a practical matter, we cannot persuade, intimidate, or punish the abhorrent rulers in Khartoum until we do something about their sponsors, Russia and China. These two states provide arms, material assistance, and diplomatic support to the Sudanese regime. Without their help, the killing stops within weeks.

The three candidates, of course, are not going to have an honest dialogue about the world’s two largest authoritarian powers. But now they have created pressure on the victor to do something about Sudan. And come January–after all, the genocide is “a Day 1 issue”–it is up to the American people to make sure that the next President deals with Darfur by first dealing with Russia and China.

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Shame Diplomacy

At Slate, Anne Applebaum argues for intervention in Burma. But on her way to making a serious case for action, she takes a frivolous and disingenuous detour through Iraq.

Unfortunately, the phrase “coalition of the willing” is tainted forever–once again proving that the damage done by the Iraq war goes far beyond the Iraqi borders–but a coalition of the willing is exactly what we need. The French–whose foreign minister, Bernard Kouchner, was himself a co-founder of Médecins Sans Frontières–are already talking about finding alternative ways of delivering aid. Others in Europe and Asia might join in, along with some aid organizations. The Chinese should be embarrassed into contributing, asked again and again to help. This is their satrapy, after all, not ours.

Who’s tainted the phrase coalition of the willing? The members of said coalition, who banded together to rid Afghanistan of the Taliban and Iraq of Saddam Hussein? Or those who snickered at that effort and now demand that we leave the people of those two countries to the mercies of terrorists? It’s the fetishists of multilateralism who have made intervention in places like Burma so unlikely. After years of demanding that America shrink her geopolitical influence, retract from the world, and leave “sovereign” states to their own devices, their best plan for international crisis management is to embarrass China into being a kindly neighbor? China! The nation underwriting the massacre in Darfur!

“Think of it as the true test of the Western humanitarian impulse,” Applebaum writes. A much truer test would call upon one to overcome petty and satisfying postures in order to save lives.

At Slate, Anne Applebaum argues for intervention in Burma. But on her way to making a serious case for action, she takes a frivolous and disingenuous detour through Iraq.

Unfortunately, the phrase “coalition of the willing” is tainted forever–once again proving that the damage done by the Iraq war goes far beyond the Iraqi borders–but a coalition of the willing is exactly what we need. The French–whose foreign minister, Bernard Kouchner, was himself a co-founder of Médecins Sans Frontières–are already talking about finding alternative ways of delivering aid. Others in Europe and Asia might join in, along with some aid organizations. The Chinese should be embarrassed into contributing, asked again and again to help. This is their satrapy, after all, not ours.

Who’s tainted the phrase coalition of the willing? The members of said coalition, who banded together to rid Afghanistan of the Taliban and Iraq of Saddam Hussein? Or those who snickered at that effort and now demand that we leave the people of those two countries to the mercies of terrorists? It’s the fetishists of multilateralism who have made intervention in places like Burma so unlikely. After years of demanding that America shrink her geopolitical influence, retract from the world, and leave “sovereign” states to their own devices, their best plan for international crisis management is to embarrass China into being a kindly neighbor? China! The nation underwriting the massacre in Darfur!

“Think of it as the true test of the Western humanitarian impulse,” Applebaum writes. A much truer test would call upon one to overcome petty and satisfying postures in order to save lives.

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The View from the Continent

Last week I was in London attending a Global Leadership Forum, sponsored by the Royal United Services Institute, the Princeton Project on National Security, Newsweek International, and Berwin Leighton Paisner LLP. The attendees–from both the United States and Europe–included academics, scholars, journalists, diplomatic advisers and others who inhabit the foreign policy world. The event was well-organized, the conversations wide-ranging, and there was a genuine effort to hear from a diversity of voices (hence my invitation). But there is no question that the dominant outlook of most of those in attendance was left-leaning, which itself made the trip illuminating.

I came away from the gathering (portions of which I missed) with several broad impressions. One was that multilateralism has become virtually an end in itself. What matters to many Europeans and liberal-leaning Americans is the process rather than the results. What almost never gets discussed is what happens when one’s desire for multilateralism collides with achieving a worthy end (for example, trying to stop genocide in Darfur or prevent Iran from developing a nuclear bomb). The child-like faith in multilateralism as the solution to all that ails the world would be touchingly innocent if it weren’t so terribly dangerous.

There were the predictable assertions made about how the United States, under George W. Bush, was “unilateralist” and that, in the words of one former Clinton Administration official, “multilateralism was a dirty word” in the Bush Administration. This charge is simplistic and demonstrably untrue–and one could cite as evidence everything from the lead up to the Iraq war (in which the United States went to the UN not once but twice, and gained unanimous approval of Resolution 1441); the war itself (which included support from the governments of Britain, Australia, Japan, South Korea, the Philippines, Thailand, Italy, Spain, Poland, Hungary, Bulgaria, Ukraine, Romania, Norway, El Salvador and many other nations); the E3; the Quartet; the Six Party Talks; the Proliferation Security Initiative; a slew of free trade agreements; and more. In fact the Bush Administration was criticized by Democrats for being too multilateralist in their dealings with North Korea; it was said by John Kerry, among other liberals, that we should engage in bilateral talks with North Korea rather than rely on the Six Party Talks.

Another impression I had was that many (if not most) Europeans and American foreign policy experts are caught in a time warp, acting as if we are still in 2006. They simply want to wash their hands of Iraq. They hate the war, are seemingly impervious to the security and political progress we have seen in Iraq since last summer, and they want the next Administration to downplay Iraq as an issue, which they believe has “obsessed” the Bush presidency. What they don’t seem to understand is that ending U.S. involvement in the war won’t end the war. In fact, if Obama or Clinton follow up on their stated commitments, it is likely to trigger mass death and possibly genocide, revitalize al Qaeda, strengthen Iran, and further destabilize the region. The irony would be that the plans laid out by Democrats, if followed, would increase, not decrease, Iraq’s dominance of American foreign policy. An Iraq that is cracking up and caught in a death spiral is not something that even a President Obama or Clinton could ignore.

The third impression I came away with is the widespread view in Europe, as well as among some Americans, that the U.S. has suffered a huge, almost incalculable, loss of “moral authority” (its worth recalling that we heard much the same thing during the Reagan years). The evidence cited is always the same: Guantanamo Bay, rendition and secret prisons, and waterboarding. They are invoked like an incantation. The effect of this is that you would think that the United States is among the leading violators of human rights in the world.

During one of the panel sessions I said it was fine to place on one side of the moral ledger waterboarding three leading al Qaeda figures, which I consider to be a morally complicated issue–but that it’s also worth putting on the other side of the moral ledger the fact that we liberated more than 50 million people from two of the most odious and repressive regimes in modern history. Liberation was not the only impulse that drove the two wars, but it was one of them, and a noble one at that. I borrowed a line from Jeffrey Goldberg of The Atlantic who, while a harsh critic of the execution of the Bush Administration, has written “I find it impossible to denounce a war that led to the removal of a genocidal dictator.” That is especially true now that we have the right strategy in place, that we’re seeing progress on almost every front, and that we have a decent shot at a decent outcome in Iraq. The situation is still hugely challenging and success, if we achieve it, will be long in coming. But the collapse of will that I witnessed among some leading foreign policy voices on both sides of the Atlantic, while not surprising, was still discouraging. It is no wonder that world leaders who do not share that exhaustion are the objects of condemnation.

Last week I was in London attending a Global Leadership Forum, sponsored by the Royal United Services Institute, the Princeton Project on National Security, Newsweek International, and Berwin Leighton Paisner LLP. The attendees–from both the United States and Europe–included academics, scholars, journalists, diplomatic advisers and others who inhabit the foreign policy world. The event was well-organized, the conversations wide-ranging, and there was a genuine effort to hear from a diversity of voices (hence my invitation). But there is no question that the dominant outlook of most of those in attendance was left-leaning, which itself made the trip illuminating.

I came away from the gathering (portions of which I missed) with several broad impressions. One was that multilateralism has become virtually an end in itself. What matters to many Europeans and liberal-leaning Americans is the process rather than the results. What almost never gets discussed is what happens when one’s desire for multilateralism collides with achieving a worthy end (for example, trying to stop genocide in Darfur or prevent Iran from developing a nuclear bomb). The child-like faith in multilateralism as the solution to all that ails the world would be touchingly innocent if it weren’t so terribly dangerous.

There were the predictable assertions made about how the United States, under George W. Bush, was “unilateralist” and that, in the words of one former Clinton Administration official, “multilateralism was a dirty word” in the Bush Administration. This charge is simplistic and demonstrably untrue–and one could cite as evidence everything from the lead up to the Iraq war (in which the United States went to the UN not once but twice, and gained unanimous approval of Resolution 1441); the war itself (which included support from the governments of Britain, Australia, Japan, South Korea, the Philippines, Thailand, Italy, Spain, Poland, Hungary, Bulgaria, Ukraine, Romania, Norway, El Salvador and many other nations); the E3; the Quartet; the Six Party Talks; the Proliferation Security Initiative; a slew of free trade agreements; and more. In fact the Bush Administration was criticized by Democrats for being too multilateralist in their dealings with North Korea; it was said by John Kerry, among other liberals, that we should engage in bilateral talks with North Korea rather than rely on the Six Party Talks.

Another impression I had was that many (if not most) Europeans and American foreign policy experts are caught in a time warp, acting as if we are still in 2006. They simply want to wash their hands of Iraq. They hate the war, are seemingly impervious to the security and political progress we have seen in Iraq since last summer, and they want the next Administration to downplay Iraq as an issue, which they believe has “obsessed” the Bush presidency. What they don’t seem to understand is that ending U.S. involvement in the war won’t end the war. In fact, if Obama or Clinton follow up on their stated commitments, it is likely to trigger mass death and possibly genocide, revitalize al Qaeda, strengthen Iran, and further destabilize the region. The irony would be that the plans laid out by Democrats, if followed, would increase, not decrease, Iraq’s dominance of American foreign policy. An Iraq that is cracking up and caught in a death spiral is not something that even a President Obama or Clinton could ignore.

The third impression I came away with is the widespread view in Europe, as well as among some Americans, that the U.S. has suffered a huge, almost incalculable, loss of “moral authority” (its worth recalling that we heard much the same thing during the Reagan years). The evidence cited is always the same: Guantanamo Bay, rendition and secret prisons, and waterboarding. They are invoked like an incantation. The effect of this is that you would think that the United States is among the leading violators of human rights in the world.

During one of the panel sessions I said it was fine to place on one side of the moral ledger waterboarding three leading al Qaeda figures, which I consider to be a morally complicated issue–but that it’s also worth putting on the other side of the moral ledger the fact that we liberated more than 50 million people from two of the most odious and repressive regimes in modern history. Liberation was not the only impulse that drove the two wars, but it was one of them, and a noble one at that. I borrowed a line from Jeffrey Goldberg of The Atlantic who, while a harsh critic of the execution of the Bush Administration, has written “I find it impossible to denounce a war that led to the removal of a genocidal dictator.” That is especially true now that we have the right strategy in place, that we’re seeing progress on almost every front, and that we have a decent shot at a decent outcome in Iraq. The situation is still hugely challenging and success, if we achieve it, will be long in coming. But the collapse of will that I witnessed among some leading foreign policy voices on both sides of the Atlantic, while not surprising, was still discouraging. It is no wonder that world leaders who do not share that exhaustion are the objects of condemnation.

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Some Things Never Change . . .

Death, taxes, and The Nation‘s desire to further the interests of Russian autocrats, to name but a few. The magazine’s lead editorial this week is a thing to behold. Entitled “Neocon NATO Delusions,” it purports to tell the story of how

many neoconservative and neoliberal hawks, including presumptive Republican presidential nominee John McCain, see Bush’s globalized NATO as the forerunner of a concert of democracies that will replace the UN.

The Nation is purportedly a progressive magazine. Yet it stands opposed to an emergent “concert of democracies.” Why on earth? Because this “globalized NATO” threatens to “encircl[e] Russia and sidelin[e] the United Nations.”

Sound familiar? Russia’s argument against NATO expansion runs along the same lines. But this is hardly the first time the magazine has made Vladimir Putin’s case for him. In a recent essay, contributing editor Robert Dreyfuss complained about John McCain’s calls for an “expanded NATO that will bump up against Russian interests in Central Asia and the Caucasus.” Strange that such a stridently progressive magazine would sympathize with a government that kills journalists and imprisons dissidents. (Or a political figure like Putin, who has enjoyed for the most part unmixed support from George W. Bush.)

In an excellent essay in the current New Republic, Robert Kagan lays out how “autocracy is making a comeback.” Rather than working through international organizations like the United Nations, Russia (and China) are using them to delay international action on issues including the ongoing genocide in Darfur, the humanitarian catastrophe in Zimbabwe, the repression in Burma, and sanctioning Iran. And Putin has personally decried liberal groups (like the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe) as “vulgar institutions.”

In an uncertain world, though, it’s nice to know that some things never change: The Nation is still a collection of useful idiots serving the cause of tyranny.

Death, taxes, and The Nation‘s desire to further the interests of Russian autocrats, to name but a few. The magazine’s lead editorial this week is a thing to behold. Entitled “Neocon NATO Delusions,” it purports to tell the story of how

many neoconservative and neoliberal hawks, including presumptive Republican presidential nominee John McCain, see Bush’s globalized NATO as the forerunner of a concert of democracies that will replace the UN.

The Nation is purportedly a progressive magazine. Yet it stands opposed to an emergent “concert of democracies.” Why on earth? Because this “globalized NATO” threatens to “encircl[e] Russia and sidelin[e] the United Nations.”

Sound familiar? Russia’s argument against NATO expansion runs along the same lines. But this is hardly the first time the magazine has made Vladimir Putin’s case for him. In a recent essay, contributing editor Robert Dreyfuss complained about John McCain’s calls for an “expanded NATO that will bump up against Russian interests in Central Asia and the Caucasus.” Strange that such a stridently progressive magazine would sympathize with a government that kills journalists and imprisons dissidents. (Or a political figure like Putin, who has enjoyed for the most part unmixed support from George W. Bush.)

In an excellent essay in the current New Republic, Robert Kagan lays out how “autocracy is making a comeback.” Rather than working through international organizations like the United Nations, Russia (and China) are using them to delay international action on issues including the ongoing genocide in Darfur, the humanitarian catastrophe in Zimbabwe, the repression in Burma, and sanctioning Iran. And Putin has personally decried liberal groups (like the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe) as “vulgar institutions.”

In an uncertain world, though, it’s nice to know that some things never change: The Nation is still a collection of useful idiots serving the cause of tyranny.

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Politics Of The Olympics

In the substantive debate, aptly argued by Gordon Chang and David Hazony, over whether the U.S. should participate in the Olympics, I find myself searching for a clear middle ground. To my shock, Hillary Clinton steps forward to offer this:

The violent clashes in Tibet and the failure of the Chinese government to use its full leverage with Sudan to stop the genocide in Darfur are opportunities for Presidential leadership. These events underscore why I believe the Bush administration has been wrong to downplay human rights in its policy towards China. At this time, and in light of recent events, I believe President Bush should not plan on attending the opening ceremonies in Beijing, absent major changes by the Chinese government. I encourage the Chinese to take advantage of this moment as an opportunity to live up to universal human aspirations of respect for human rights and unity, ideals that the Olympic games have come to represent. Americans will stand strong in support of freedom of religious and political expression and human rights. Americans will also stand strong and root for the success of American athletes who have worked hard and earned the right to compete in the Olympic Games of 2008.

This strikes me, aside from the argument’s merits, as just plain smart politics. It shifts the focus off Penn-gate. It sounds a note simultaneously likely to appeal to those on the Right (who like standing up to dictators) and Left (who want more attention to human rights). She was first of the candidates to speak up on this issue and now looks bolder than her opponents. If this is a sign of the post-Penn Hillary, things may be looking up.

In the substantive debate, aptly argued by Gordon Chang and David Hazony, over whether the U.S. should participate in the Olympics, I find myself searching for a clear middle ground. To my shock, Hillary Clinton steps forward to offer this:

The violent clashes in Tibet and the failure of the Chinese government to use its full leverage with Sudan to stop the genocide in Darfur are opportunities for Presidential leadership. These events underscore why I believe the Bush administration has been wrong to downplay human rights in its policy towards China. At this time, and in light of recent events, I believe President Bush should not plan on attending the opening ceremonies in Beijing, absent major changes by the Chinese government. I encourage the Chinese to take advantage of this moment as an opportunity to live up to universal human aspirations of respect for human rights and unity, ideals that the Olympic games have come to represent. Americans will stand strong in support of freedom of religious and political expression and human rights. Americans will also stand strong and root for the success of American athletes who have worked hard and earned the right to compete in the Olympic Games of 2008.

This strikes me, aside from the argument’s merits, as just plain smart politics. It shifts the focus off Penn-gate. It sounds a note simultaneously likely to appeal to those on the Right (who like standing up to dictators) and Left (who want more attention to human rights). She was first of the candidates to speak up on this issue and now looks bolder than her opponents. If this is a sign of the post-Penn Hillary, things may be looking up.

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Obama’s Hollow Doctrine

Spencer Ackerman has a long piece in the American Prospect which purports to be a serious exposition of Barack Obama’s foreign policy and of his choice of foreign policy advisers. Obama is said to have big, transformative ideas: He “is offering the most sweeping liberal foreign-policy critique we’ve heard from a serious presidential contender in decades.”

I got excited reading this — the kind of expectant feeling one gets upon sitting down to read something that proposes to be new and interesting. Ackerman writes that he “spoke at length with Obama’s foreign-policy brain trust” in order to take the measure of the “new global strategy” that President Obama will implement.

So what does this new strategy entail? Well, it will be

a doctrine that first ends the politics of fear and then moves beyond a hollow, sloganeering “democracy promotion” agenda in favor of “dignity promotion,” to fix the conditions of misery that breed anti-Americanism and prevent liberty, justice, and prosperity from taking root.

So our foreign policy will be guided by “dignity promotion.” Ackerman quotes Samantha Power to flesh out the idea:

Dignity is a way to unite a lot of different strands [of foreign-policy thinking],” she says. “If you start with that, it explains why it’s not enough to spend $3 billion on refugee camps in Darfur, because the way those people are living is not the way they want to live. It’s not a human way to live. It’s graceless — an affront to your sense of dignity.

Power continues, arguing that U.S. policy should be “about meeting people where they’re at. Their fears of going hungry, or of the thug on the street. That’s the swamp that needs draining. If we’re to compete with extremism, we have to be able to provide these things that we’re not [providing].”

This is ludicrous. Islamist ideology itself is in many ways a type of “dignity promotion,” insofar as it is concerned with the recovery of Islam’s world-historical grandeur and the obliteration of western power, which is viewed as a source of humiliation and tyranny. Unfortunately for Obama and his brain trust, Islamism inspires a form of political and cultural dignity that runs far deeper than any sentiments created through enlarged American budgets for food distribution.

How does Barack Obama propose to offer Muslims the sense of dignity that they clearly derive from their participation in resistance movements whose most basic ambition is the rejection of the West? Is this really the sweeping foreign policy that Obama offers — an attempt to smother ideological radicalism with western materialism? This isn’t transformative policy; it is a banal example of defining a problem away.

You can continue reading the piece in search of specifics, but you won’t find any. It ends with a clichéd flourish:

Why not demand the destruction of al-Qaeda? Why not pursue the enlightened global leadership promised by liberal internationalism? Why not abandon fear? What is it we have to fear, exactly?

“He goes back to Roosevelt,” Power says. “Freedom from fear and freedom from want. What if we actually offered that? What if we delivered that in the developing world? That would be a transformative agenda for us.”

What does “liberal internationalism” mean in Ackerman’s imagination? What does “enlightened global leadership” entail? Does that mean we let Iran get the bomb, or not? Who knows. Now what was Ackerman saying at the beginning of his piece about hollow sloganeering?

Spencer Ackerman has a long piece in the American Prospect which purports to be a serious exposition of Barack Obama’s foreign policy and of his choice of foreign policy advisers. Obama is said to have big, transformative ideas: He “is offering the most sweeping liberal foreign-policy critique we’ve heard from a serious presidential contender in decades.”

I got excited reading this — the kind of expectant feeling one gets upon sitting down to read something that proposes to be new and interesting. Ackerman writes that he “spoke at length with Obama’s foreign-policy brain trust” in order to take the measure of the “new global strategy” that President Obama will implement.

So what does this new strategy entail? Well, it will be

a doctrine that first ends the politics of fear and then moves beyond a hollow, sloganeering “democracy promotion” agenda in favor of “dignity promotion,” to fix the conditions of misery that breed anti-Americanism and prevent liberty, justice, and prosperity from taking root.

So our foreign policy will be guided by “dignity promotion.” Ackerman quotes Samantha Power to flesh out the idea:

Dignity is a way to unite a lot of different strands [of foreign-policy thinking],” she says. “If you start with that, it explains why it’s not enough to spend $3 billion on refugee camps in Darfur, because the way those people are living is not the way they want to live. It’s not a human way to live. It’s graceless — an affront to your sense of dignity.

Power continues, arguing that U.S. policy should be “about meeting people where they’re at. Their fears of going hungry, or of the thug on the street. That’s the swamp that needs draining. If we’re to compete with extremism, we have to be able to provide these things that we’re not [providing].”

This is ludicrous. Islamist ideology itself is in many ways a type of “dignity promotion,” insofar as it is concerned with the recovery of Islam’s world-historical grandeur and the obliteration of western power, which is viewed as a source of humiliation and tyranny. Unfortunately for Obama and his brain trust, Islamism inspires a form of political and cultural dignity that runs far deeper than any sentiments created through enlarged American budgets for food distribution.

How does Barack Obama propose to offer Muslims the sense of dignity that they clearly derive from their participation in resistance movements whose most basic ambition is the rejection of the West? Is this really the sweeping foreign policy that Obama offers — an attempt to smother ideological radicalism with western materialism? This isn’t transformative policy; it is a banal example of defining a problem away.

You can continue reading the piece in search of specifics, but you won’t find any. It ends with a clichéd flourish:

Why not demand the destruction of al-Qaeda? Why not pursue the enlightened global leadership promised by liberal internationalism? Why not abandon fear? What is it we have to fear, exactly?

“He goes back to Roosevelt,” Power says. “Freedom from fear and freedom from want. What if we actually offered that? What if we delivered that in the developing world? That would be a transformative agenda for us.”

What does “liberal internationalism” mean in Ackerman’s imagination? What does “enlightened global leadership” entail? Does that mean we let Iran get the bomb, or not? Who knows. Now what was Ackerman saying at the beginning of his piece about hollow sloganeering?

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And Egypt’s Not For Refugees

I’m going to piggyback on Jamie’s post about the gay Palestinian  granted temporary residence status in Israel. Seth Freedman has an excellent piece at the Guardian’s comment is free about Israel’s taking in of refugees from Darfur. The nation whose very existence is an offense to so many of its Muslim neighbors is providing sanctuary for those lucky enough to escape slaughter under the Sudanese government.

Freedman interviews a refugee named Yasin, now the director of Bnei Darfur, an organization that helps other refugees who have escaped the butchery. After most of his family were slaughtered in Darfur, Yasin fled to Egypt. but pervasive and violent racism made things unlivable there. And, after all, Egypt is on the side of the Sudanese government. Freedman writes:

It doesn’t help that the Darfurians are accusing fellow Muslims of genocide, said Yassin, noting that the Muslim states who support the Sudanese government in turn claim that the refugees are collaborating with enemy states in the West. “All of the Arab countries support the government of Sudan – our problem is with the Arab League,” Yassin stated with a shake of his head at his people’s plight.

When Yasin entered Israel illegally he was jailed for many months. But Israel’s democratic institutions paved the way for his release and eventual integration into Israeli society. Israel has a free press, and Yasin’s story got a lot of media attention. NGOs, too, function without restraint there, and various humanitarian organizations intervened on his behalf and on behalf of the larger refugee community. The Israeli government has now granted 600 of the 750 Darfur refugees temporary residence status.

That’s hundreds of Muslims who owe their lives to the evil Zionist state.

I’m going to piggyback on Jamie’s post about the gay Palestinian  granted temporary residence status in Israel. Seth Freedman has an excellent piece at the Guardian’s comment is free about Israel’s taking in of refugees from Darfur. The nation whose very existence is an offense to so many of its Muslim neighbors is providing sanctuary for those lucky enough to escape slaughter under the Sudanese government.

Freedman interviews a refugee named Yasin, now the director of Bnei Darfur, an organization that helps other refugees who have escaped the butchery. After most of his family were slaughtered in Darfur, Yasin fled to Egypt. but pervasive and violent racism made things unlivable there. And, after all, Egypt is on the side of the Sudanese government. Freedman writes:

It doesn’t help that the Darfurians are accusing fellow Muslims of genocide, said Yassin, noting that the Muslim states who support the Sudanese government in turn claim that the refugees are collaborating with enemy states in the West. “All of the Arab countries support the government of Sudan – our problem is with the Arab League,” Yassin stated with a shake of his head at his people’s plight.

When Yasin entered Israel illegally he was jailed for many months. But Israel’s democratic institutions paved the way for his release and eventual integration into Israeli society. Israel has a free press, and Yasin’s story got a lot of media attention. NGOs, too, function without restraint there, and various humanitarian organizations intervened on his behalf and on behalf of the larger refugee community. The Israeli government has now granted 600 of the 750 Darfur refugees temporary residence status.

That’s hundreds of Muslims who owe their lives to the evil Zionist state.

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More in Defense of Power

The lip-smacking glee with which the resignation of Obama adviser Samantha Power is being greeted on the right is perhaps an understandable reaction to the sanctimony (and success) of the Obama campaign. But some of the comments are simply over the top. For instance, Scott Johnson at Powerline (a blog which I regularly read and greatly respect) calls Power “self-righteous, high-minded, and utterly unserious — in short, a pompous phony.”

I can only imagine that Johnson has not read Power’s A Problem from Hell: America in the Age of Genocide, a deeply serious, exhaustively-researched, 610-page work of history that garnered just about every literary prize in the known universe. If he has read it, I am at a loss to see how he could fling so many insults at its author.

Power doesn’t deserve all this venom. She is a centrist Democrat and a passionate human-rights activist who has risked her neck to cover carnage from Bosnia to Darfur. She shares a commitment with many conservatives that America is and should be a force for good in the world, even if she disagrees with them over some specific policies. Some of the very comments that got her into such hot water are, in fact, evidence of her fundamental seriousness.

When asked, for example, whether Obama would withdrew all American troops from Iraq within 16 months, she told a British interviewer “You can’t make a commitment in March 2008 about what circumstances will be like in January of 2009. He will, of course, not rely on some plan that he’s crafted as a presidential candidate or a U.S. Senator. He will rely upon a plan–an operational plan–that he pulls together in consultation with people who are on the ground to whom he doesn’t have daily access now, as a result of not being the president.” That’s a gaffe only in the Kinsleyesque sense of the word, in which telling the truth in politics can be a faux pas.

Her downfall was not due to her having said anything intrinsically terrible; it was simply because her statements (calling Hillary Clinton a “monster”;  saying she was “confused by what’s happened to Gordon Brown”) have been subjected to the kind of minute scrutiny given to a high-level politician or administration official, rather than the kind of treatment she’s received in the past as an academic and author. No doubt Power erred in not realizing the greater weight her public words would carry given her closeness to the Democratic front-runner, but that hardly justifies the pummeling she is taking.

The lip-smacking glee with which the resignation of Obama adviser Samantha Power is being greeted on the right is perhaps an understandable reaction to the sanctimony (and success) of the Obama campaign. But some of the comments are simply over the top. For instance, Scott Johnson at Powerline (a blog which I regularly read and greatly respect) calls Power “self-righteous, high-minded, and utterly unserious — in short, a pompous phony.”

I can only imagine that Johnson has not read Power’s A Problem from Hell: America in the Age of Genocide, a deeply serious, exhaustively-researched, 610-page work of history that garnered just about every literary prize in the known universe. If he has read it, I am at a loss to see how he could fling so many insults at its author.

Power doesn’t deserve all this venom. She is a centrist Democrat and a passionate human-rights activist who has risked her neck to cover carnage from Bosnia to Darfur. She shares a commitment with many conservatives that America is and should be a force for good in the world, even if she disagrees with them over some specific policies. Some of the very comments that got her into such hot water are, in fact, evidence of her fundamental seriousness.

When asked, for example, whether Obama would withdrew all American troops from Iraq within 16 months, she told a British interviewer “You can’t make a commitment in March 2008 about what circumstances will be like in January of 2009. He will, of course, not rely on some plan that he’s crafted as a presidential candidate or a U.S. Senator. He will rely upon a plan–an operational plan–that he pulls together in consultation with people who are on the ground to whom he doesn’t have daily access now, as a result of not being the president.” That’s a gaffe only in the Kinsleyesque sense of the word, in which telling the truth in politics can be a faux pas.

Her downfall was not due to her having said anything intrinsically terrible; it was simply because her statements (calling Hillary Clinton a “monster”;  saying she was “confused by what’s happened to Gordon Brown”) have been subjected to the kind of minute scrutiny given to a high-level politician or administration official, rather than the kind of treatment she’s received in the past as an academic and author. No doubt Power erred in not realizing the greater weight her public words would carry given her closeness to the Democratic front-runner, but that hardly justifies the pummeling she is taking.

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China Says Bush Supports Beijing against Activists

On Friday, Liu Guijin, Beijing’s special envoy for Sudan, argued that the attendance of Western leaders at this year’s Summer Olympics means they support China in its ongoing campaign against activist groups. “More and more spokesmen and public figures have decided that politicization of the Olympic Games is not compatible with the Olympic spirit,” he explained.

Are the Olympics a political event? Whether or not they were before, they are now. Beijing and its detractors are engaged in highly public struggles over Darfur, Tibet, human rights, democracy, and a dozen other topics in connection with the Olympic extravaganza. And Liu, in presenting Beijing’s case, has just explicitly politicized the attendance of foreign leaders. President Bush can no longer claim that he is going to the Games merely for the sport. Unfortunately, his host has contradicted him and is using him against the activists.

So the American leader must make a decision: Will he side with Beijing’s autocrats, who, among other things, repress the Chinese people and enable the mass slaughter in Darfur? The world awaits his answer.

On Friday, Liu Guijin, Beijing’s special envoy for Sudan, argued that the attendance of Western leaders at this year’s Summer Olympics means they support China in its ongoing campaign against activist groups. “More and more spokesmen and public figures have decided that politicization of the Olympic Games is not compatible with the Olympic spirit,” he explained.

Are the Olympics a political event? Whether or not they were before, they are now. Beijing and its detractors are engaged in highly public struggles over Darfur, Tibet, human rights, democracy, and a dozen other topics in connection with the Olympic extravaganza. And Liu, in presenting Beijing’s case, has just explicitly politicized the attendance of foreign leaders. President Bush can no longer claim that he is going to the Games merely for the sport. Unfortunately, his host has contradicted him and is using him against the activists.

So the American leader must make a decision: Will he side with Beijing’s autocrats, who, among other things, repress the Chinese people and enable the mass slaughter in Darfur? The world awaits his answer.

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Walzer Calls for Blackwater

Chalk up another recruit for the idea of using mercenaries to stop the killing in Darfur: the liberal political philosopher Michael Walzer, author of Just and Unjust Wars.

In an essay in The New Republic, he notes that “neither the United Nations nor NATO has any intention of deploying a military force that would actually be capable of stopping the Darfur genocide.” So what’s the alternative? “Some of us might prefer something like the International Brigade that fought in Spain over a force of Blackwater mercenaries,” he writes, but failing another International Brigade, he endorses hiring firms like Blackwater (notwithstanding his aversion to security contractors in general).

This is a cause I’ve been pushing for a while (Walzer describes me in the article as “the leading neoconservative writer on military affairs”–I’m not sure whether that’s intended to be a compliment), and I’m happy to see Walzer lend his support. But the real challenge will be to get policymakers, whether at the UN or in the U.S., to go along, and so far there’s no sign of that. So the killing goes on.

Chalk up another recruit for the idea of using mercenaries to stop the killing in Darfur: the liberal political philosopher Michael Walzer, author of Just and Unjust Wars.

In an essay in The New Republic, he notes that “neither the United Nations nor NATO has any intention of deploying a military force that would actually be capable of stopping the Darfur genocide.” So what’s the alternative? “Some of us might prefer something like the International Brigade that fought in Spain over a force of Blackwater mercenaries,” he writes, but failing another International Brigade, he endorses hiring firms like Blackwater (notwithstanding his aversion to security contractors in general).

This is a cause I’ve been pushing for a while (Walzer describes me in the article as “the leading neoconservative writer on military affairs”–I’m not sure whether that’s intended to be a compliment), and I’m happy to see Walzer lend his support. But the real challenge will be to get policymakers, whether at the UN or in the U.S., to go along, and so far there’s no sign of that. So the killing goes on.

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Out of Africa

Africans have received George Bush with palpable affection during his current tour of the continent. And with good reason. As James Kirchick pointed out in contentions, Bush’s record on Africa shows an unprecedented American commitment to humanitarianism. Sadly, this record of sympathy and largesse may not be matched anytime soon. Having scoured the websites of John McCain, Hillary Clinton, and Barack Obama, I’m sorry to report that among the extensive dropdown menus covering important issues there’s precious little (if any) African policy to be found.

As the very last item under the heading “Restoring America’s Standing in the World” you’ll find on Hillary’s site:

Hillary has been a forceful and consistent advocate for a more robust response to the violence in Darfur since May 2004. She has raised the issue with the Bush administration and pushed for more resources for peacekeeping efforts.

“Raising the issue” of Darfur peacekeeping is an interesting way to go about “restoring America’s standing.” She may want to try pushing the UN to live up to its revered multilateral mandate and do something about the round-the-clock slaughter, instead.

Beyond a trove of archived speeches and editorials, John McCain’s campaign website had nothing current to say on Africa.  Barack Obama, born to a Kenyan father, has a full paragraph on issues pertaining to “sportsmen” (“Barack Obama did not grow up hunting and fishing, but he recognizes the great conservation legacy of America’s hunters and anglers and has great respect for the passion that hunters and anglers have for their sport.”) but the candidate for change offers only these 20 words on Africa:

Obama will stop shuttering consulates and start opening them in the tough and hopeless corners of the world – particularly in Africa.

African policy as a detail of larger diplomatic cuddliness. Jeez.
In 2006, when Bob Geldof organized the Live 8 multimedia event for African relief, he forbade performers from bad-mouthing George W. Bush on stage. As the overheated war crimes rant has become a dependable staple of rock-and-roll theater, you can be sure that Geldof’s line-up was none too happy. However, as Geldof said of Bush and his critics: “They refuse to accept, because of their political ideology, that he has actually done more than any American president for Africa. But it’s empirically so.”

Geldof, the only pop activist  worthy of the term (aside from Bono, who also praises Bush on this score) is once again defending Bush’s African policies. He said recently of Bush’s African agenda: “This is the triumph of American policy really. It was probably unexpected of the man. It was expected of the nation, but not of the man, but both rose to the occasion.”

Who’s rising now?

Africans have received George Bush with palpable affection during his current tour of the continent. And with good reason. As James Kirchick pointed out in contentions, Bush’s record on Africa shows an unprecedented American commitment to humanitarianism. Sadly, this record of sympathy and largesse may not be matched anytime soon. Having scoured the websites of John McCain, Hillary Clinton, and Barack Obama, I’m sorry to report that among the extensive dropdown menus covering important issues there’s precious little (if any) African policy to be found.

As the very last item under the heading “Restoring America’s Standing in the World” you’ll find on Hillary’s site:

Hillary has been a forceful and consistent advocate for a more robust response to the violence in Darfur since May 2004. She has raised the issue with the Bush administration and pushed for more resources for peacekeeping efforts.

“Raising the issue” of Darfur peacekeeping is an interesting way to go about “restoring America’s standing.” She may want to try pushing the UN to live up to its revered multilateral mandate and do something about the round-the-clock slaughter, instead.

Beyond a trove of archived speeches and editorials, John McCain’s campaign website had nothing current to say on Africa.  Barack Obama, born to a Kenyan father, has a full paragraph on issues pertaining to “sportsmen” (“Barack Obama did not grow up hunting and fishing, but he recognizes the great conservation legacy of America’s hunters and anglers and has great respect for the passion that hunters and anglers have for their sport.”) but the candidate for change offers only these 20 words on Africa:

Obama will stop shuttering consulates and start opening them in the tough and hopeless corners of the world – particularly in Africa.

African policy as a detail of larger diplomatic cuddliness. Jeez.
In 2006, when Bob Geldof organized the Live 8 multimedia event for African relief, he forbade performers from bad-mouthing George W. Bush on stage. As the overheated war crimes rant has become a dependable staple of rock-and-roll theater, you can be sure that Geldof’s line-up was none too happy. However, as Geldof said of Bush and his critics: “They refuse to accept, because of their political ideology, that he has actually done more than any American president for Africa. But it’s empirically so.”

Geldof, the only pop activist  worthy of the term (aside from Bono, who also praises Bush on this score) is once again defending Bush’s African policies. He said recently of Bush’s African agenda: “This is the triumph of American policy really. It was probably unexpected of the man. It was expected of the nation, but not of the man, but both rose to the occasion.”

Who’s rising now?

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Bring Back Observers

A young army officer of my acquaintance has recently made a terrific suggestion on the Warlord Loop (an online forum for the discussion of military affairs), which he has agreed to let me pass along to a wider audience. He proposes to resurrect the practice of sending American officers to observe other conflicts around the world first hand.

This used to be quite common. For instance, a young Jack Pershing traveled with the Japanese army during the Russo-Japanese War in 1904-05. And in the 1930s and early 1940s the U.S. Marine Corps sent officers to China to observe the fighting against Japan; they spent time with both Nationalist and Communist forces and learned some valuable lessons that were applied in the island-hopping campaign. But the U.S. military no longer sends its officers to watch foreign conflicts; too many of them are stuck instead in paper-pushing jobs at the Pentagon or on other staffs around the world.

This young officer writes:

I firmly believe that a cadre of mid-level and senior leaders who had, among other things, witnessed first hand Africa’s world war and other conflicts of the 1990s would have avoided many of the missteps of both Afghanistan and Iraq.  Military observers have as long and storied (and, admittedly, troubled) history as military advisors.  Perhaps serving as a military observer as a senior NCO or field grade would be a good pre-requisite for ongoing service in a MAAG [Military Assistance Advisory Group] or its newfangled equivalent.

A contemporary military observer might not only be limited to observing for one armed force or another.  A number of inter-governmental organizations (particularly the UN) and possibly NGOs if done out of uniform could possibly be a platform (I realize how sticky, although certainly not impossible, the latter might be). The peace-keeping mission by the AU [African Union] in Darfur also might present opportunities to observe from a “neutral status.”

Classical country intelligence and relationship building would be an adjunct to two other key results of reinstating military observers:

1) increasing the breadth of experience of field grade officers
2) increasing understanding throughout the military of the evolving nature of conflict through their contributions to journals, etc.

While I think we do an excellent job with the FAO [Foreign Area Officer] program, we also commit FAOs to that line of work almost indefinitely.  Military observers should return to jobs as infantrymen, in intelligence, civil affairs, information operations, armor, etc. rather than remain in a FAO field.

I heartily agree.

A young army officer of my acquaintance has recently made a terrific suggestion on the Warlord Loop (an online forum for the discussion of military affairs), which he has agreed to let me pass along to a wider audience. He proposes to resurrect the practice of sending American officers to observe other conflicts around the world first hand.

This used to be quite common. For instance, a young Jack Pershing traveled with the Japanese army during the Russo-Japanese War in 1904-05. And in the 1930s and early 1940s the U.S. Marine Corps sent officers to China to observe the fighting against Japan; they spent time with both Nationalist and Communist forces and learned some valuable lessons that were applied in the island-hopping campaign. But the U.S. military no longer sends its officers to watch foreign conflicts; too many of them are stuck instead in paper-pushing jobs at the Pentagon or on other staffs around the world.

This young officer writes:

I firmly believe that a cadre of mid-level and senior leaders who had, among other things, witnessed first hand Africa’s world war and other conflicts of the 1990s would have avoided many of the missteps of both Afghanistan and Iraq.  Military observers have as long and storied (and, admittedly, troubled) history as military advisors.  Perhaps serving as a military observer as a senior NCO or field grade would be a good pre-requisite for ongoing service in a MAAG [Military Assistance Advisory Group] or its newfangled equivalent.

A contemporary military observer might not only be limited to observing for one armed force or another.  A number of inter-governmental organizations (particularly the UN) and possibly NGOs if done out of uniform could possibly be a platform (I realize how sticky, although certainly not impossible, the latter might be). The peace-keeping mission by the AU [African Union] in Darfur also might present opportunities to observe from a “neutral status.”

Classical country intelligence and relationship building would be an adjunct to two other key results of reinstating military observers:

1) increasing the breadth of experience of field grade officers
2) increasing understanding throughout the military of the evolving nature of conflict through their contributions to journals, etc.

While I think we do an excellent job with the FAO [Foreign Area Officer] program, we also commit FAOs to that line of work almost indefinitely.  Military observers should return to jobs as infantrymen, in intelligence, civil affairs, information operations, armor, etc. rather than remain in a FAO field.

I heartily agree.

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Spielberg Withdraws from the Olympics

Yesterday, Steven Spielberg announced that he had severed his role as artistic advisor to this year’s Summer Olympics, which begins in August. “I find that my conscience will not allow me to continue business as usual,” he said in a statement. “At this point, my time and energy must be spent not on Olympic ceremonies, but on doing all I can to help bring an end to the unspeakable crimes against humanity that continue to be committed in Darfur.”

China is committing no such crimes in Darfur. It is, however, providing crucial material support to the government in Khartoum as well as diplomatic help, especially in the U.N Security Council. That government, in turn, is sponsoring the Janjaweed militia, which has rightly been accused of genocide. So far, about 200,000 to 400,000 people have died according to the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees. Spielberg, by refusing to continue his work on the opening and closing ceremonies, implicitly says that participation in the Olympics is tantamount to supporting the atrocities, including mass murder and rape, taking place in western Sudan.

In the wake of the famed director’s withdrawal, Human Rights Watch has asked others to think about their personal responsibility. “These influential players should be prepared to show the steps they are taking to address the worsening rights climate in China, or they risk being tarnished by a human rights debacle,” said Minky Worden, the group’s media director, yesterday.

Worden raises a fundamental issue: At what point does personal participation imply guilt? Beijing’s response is predictable: “As the Darfur issue is neither an internal issue of China, nor is it caused by China, it is completely unreasonable, irresponsible and unfair for certain organizations and individuals to link the two as one,” the Chinese embassy in Washington said in a statement yesterday. Beijing’s position, however reasonable it seems on its face, is unconvincing simply because the tragedy in Darfur would not be occurring were it not for China.

Today, there is a growing sentiment that China is too damn close to the Janjaweed militia. On Tuesday, 25 individuals, including Nobel peace laureates, called on Chinese President Hu Jintao to take steps to end the slaughter sponsored by Khartoum. Whether Beijing likes it or not, people are starting to make the connections between death in Darfur and the celebrations in Beijing. It is high time we examine our national—and personal—responsibility for China’s acts because we are enabling the Chinese regime through our policies of engagement.

“Repression in China is on the rise, and Olympic sponsors, governments, or world leaders—especially those planning to attend the Games—can’t pretend otherwise,” said Worden. At least Prince Charles is on the side of the angels. He has said that he will not attend the Games. President Bush, however, is going to Beijing in August for the spectacle. Regrettably, he has tried to lessen his personal responsibility by saying that he is doing so only as a sports fan. As Spielberg has just shown us, however, that is not possible in today’s climate. Let me quote Bush to Bush: you’re either with the Chinese autocrats or against them.

And if you’re with me, you insist that your leaders in Washington not associate themselves with ugly events taking place in Darfur by supporting the extravaganza in Beijing.

Yesterday, Steven Spielberg announced that he had severed his role as artistic advisor to this year’s Summer Olympics, which begins in August. “I find that my conscience will not allow me to continue business as usual,” he said in a statement. “At this point, my time and energy must be spent not on Olympic ceremonies, but on doing all I can to help bring an end to the unspeakable crimes against humanity that continue to be committed in Darfur.”

China is committing no such crimes in Darfur. It is, however, providing crucial material support to the government in Khartoum as well as diplomatic help, especially in the U.N Security Council. That government, in turn, is sponsoring the Janjaweed militia, which has rightly been accused of genocide. So far, about 200,000 to 400,000 people have died according to the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees. Spielberg, by refusing to continue his work on the opening and closing ceremonies, implicitly says that participation in the Olympics is tantamount to supporting the atrocities, including mass murder and rape, taking place in western Sudan.

In the wake of the famed director’s withdrawal, Human Rights Watch has asked others to think about their personal responsibility. “These influential players should be prepared to show the steps they are taking to address the worsening rights climate in China, or they risk being tarnished by a human rights debacle,” said Minky Worden, the group’s media director, yesterday.

Worden raises a fundamental issue: At what point does personal participation imply guilt? Beijing’s response is predictable: “As the Darfur issue is neither an internal issue of China, nor is it caused by China, it is completely unreasonable, irresponsible and unfair for certain organizations and individuals to link the two as one,” the Chinese embassy in Washington said in a statement yesterday. Beijing’s position, however reasonable it seems on its face, is unconvincing simply because the tragedy in Darfur would not be occurring were it not for China.

Today, there is a growing sentiment that China is too damn close to the Janjaweed militia. On Tuesday, 25 individuals, including Nobel peace laureates, called on Chinese President Hu Jintao to take steps to end the slaughter sponsored by Khartoum. Whether Beijing likes it or not, people are starting to make the connections between death in Darfur and the celebrations in Beijing. It is high time we examine our national—and personal—responsibility for China’s acts because we are enabling the Chinese regime through our policies of engagement.

“Repression in China is on the rise, and Olympic sponsors, governments, or world leaders—especially those planning to attend the Games—can’t pretend otherwise,” said Worden. At least Prince Charles is on the side of the angels. He has said that he will not attend the Games. President Bush, however, is going to Beijing in August for the spectacle. Regrettably, he has tried to lessen his personal responsibility by saying that he is doing so only as a sports fan. As Spielberg has just shown us, however, that is not possible in today’s climate. Let me quote Bush to Bush: you’re either with the Chinese autocrats or against them.

And if you’re with me, you insist that your leaders in Washington not associate themselves with ugly events taking place in Darfur by supporting the extravaganza in Beijing.

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Tom Lantos, R.I.P

Congressman Tom Lantos died yesterday morning at the age of 80. A Hungarian survivor of the Nazi death camps who immigrated to the United States as a teenager, there was perhaps no other member of Congress who better understood the promise and potential of America. Lantos lost most of his family during the Holocaust, and unlike the vast majority of his colleagues, he experienced genocidal totalitarianism–and the consequences of appeasing it–first hand.

As such, Lantos was the most vociferous advocate on behalf of international human rights in the House of Representatives, spending much time and effort drawing the body’s attention to crises around the world from Burma to Darfur. While Lantos was a fervent critic of the Bush administration’s handling of the post-invasion reconstruction of Iraq, he never apologized for his decision to vote in favor of the United States overthrowing a murderous dictator. He was also a strong supporter of Israel during his near three-decade tenure in Congress.

This report in the San Francisco Chronicle covers some of Lantos’s many achievements in the House.

Upon announcing his retirement from Congress last year, Lantos issued a statement which read, in part:

It is only in the United States that a penniless survivor of the Holocaust … could have received an education, raised a family and had the privilege of serving the last three decades of his life as a member of Congress. I will never be able to express fully my profoundly felt gratitude to this great country.

Few people in public life better embodied, or conveyed, the American immigrant experience than Tom Lantos. This country–and the world–is a lesser place without him.

Congressman Tom Lantos died yesterday morning at the age of 80. A Hungarian survivor of the Nazi death camps who immigrated to the United States as a teenager, there was perhaps no other member of Congress who better understood the promise and potential of America. Lantos lost most of his family during the Holocaust, and unlike the vast majority of his colleagues, he experienced genocidal totalitarianism–and the consequences of appeasing it–first hand.

As such, Lantos was the most vociferous advocate on behalf of international human rights in the House of Representatives, spending much time and effort drawing the body’s attention to crises around the world from Burma to Darfur. While Lantos was a fervent critic of the Bush administration’s handling of the post-invasion reconstruction of Iraq, he never apologized for his decision to vote in favor of the United States overthrowing a murderous dictator. He was also a strong supporter of Israel during his near three-decade tenure in Congress.

This report in the San Francisco Chronicle covers some of Lantos’s many achievements in the House.

Upon announcing his retirement from Congress last year, Lantos issued a statement which read, in part:

It is only in the United States that a penniless survivor of the Holocaust … could have received an education, raised a family and had the privilege of serving the last three decades of his life as a member of Congress. I will never be able to express fully my profoundly felt gratitude to this great country.

Few people in public life better embodied, or conveyed, the American immigrant experience than Tom Lantos. This country–and the world–is a lesser place without him.

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Christmas in Darfur

In a letter recently published in the British newspaper, The Mirror, England’s Prime Minister Gordon Brown wrote, “As we join our families for Christmas, we must not forget the mothers, fathers and children of Darfur.” He went on:

I am determined that Darfur’s tragedy should not continue. This determination is shared by the hundreds of humanitarian workers who continue to deliver aid to the people of the region in atrocious conditions, and the millions of campaigners throughout the world, including Mirror readers, who have kept Darfur on the world’s agenda.

Darfur is a test of whether the international community has the guts to stand up for its values.

If one takes an honest assessment of those values it seems the international community is passing the test with flying colors. Reviewing over four years of multilateralism on Darfur, one finds: a quarter-million corpses, two million people displaced, four million people on aid, incalculable billions in Chinese oil deals and investments, four toothless U.N. resolutions, and one earnest George Clooney documentary.

But no cowboy diplomacy, and that’s the important thing, after all. The endless Darfur horror is a perfect example of multilateralism for multilateralism’s sake. This article by Eric Reeves, re-printed in the Sudan Tribune, is a must-read primer on the ways in which China (using the U.N.) has endorsed and bankrolled a five-year massacre.

In his letter, Gordon Brown cites enthusiastically the deployment to Darfur of a large group of U.N. peace-keepers this coming January. With no peace to keep (and no orders to fight), the men in blue helmets will merely bear witness as all the figures mentioned above continue to climb.

In a letter recently published in the British newspaper, The Mirror, England’s Prime Minister Gordon Brown wrote, “As we join our families for Christmas, we must not forget the mothers, fathers and children of Darfur.” He went on:

I am determined that Darfur’s tragedy should not continue. This determination is shared by the hundreds of humanitarian workers who continue to deliver aid to the people of the region in atrocious conditions, and the millions of campaigners throughout the world, including Mirror readers, who have kept Darfur on the world’s agenda.

Darfur is a test of whether the international community has the guts to stand up for its values.

If one takes an honest assessment of those values it seems the international community is passing the test with flying colors. Reviewing over four years of multilateralism on Darfur, one finds: a quarter-million corpses, two million people displaced, four million people on aid, incalculable billions in Chinese oil deals and investments, four toothless U.N. resolutions, and one earnest George Clooney documentary.

But no cowboy diplomacy, and that’s the important thing, after all. The endless Darfur horror is a perfect example of multilateralism for multilateralism’s sake. This article by Eric Reeves, re-printed in the Sudan Tribune, is a must-read primer on the ways in which China (using the U.N.) has endorsed and bankrolled a five-year massacre.

In his letter, Gordon Brown cites enthusiastically the deployment to Darfur of a large group of U.N. peace-keepers this coming January. With no peace to keep (and no orders to fight), the men in blue helmets will merely bear witness as all the figures mentioned above continue to climb.

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Reds Wearing Blue in Darfur

Yesterday, 135 Chinese engineers and medical officers entered Nyala, capital of the South Darfur region of Sudan, as United Nations peacekeepers. The Justice and Equality Movement, a rebel group, demanded that the Chinese leave immediately. “China is complicit in the genocide being carried out in Darfur,” said a JEM commander. The Paris-based Darfur Internationally Displaced People also called on Beijing to depart because “genocide and robbery are taking place in Darfur since 2003 thanks to Chinese weapons.”

China is the largest supplier of weapons to the Sudanese government, which has sponsored the murderous Janjaweed militia. Reuters reports that Beijing has increased its arms sales to Khartoum by 25-fold between 2002 and 2005, and the Chinese are still providing the tools of war. More importantly, China has continually protected Khartoum in the United Nations Security Council, where it has threatened to exercise its veto to prevent any action that might stop the killing in Darfur. It’s no wonder that Sudan President Omar Hassan al-Bashir insisted on Chinese participation in the peacekeeping force if non-Africans were included. After all, Beijing is genocide’s best friend.

So the arrival of Chinese peacekeepers in Darfur is a hideous development. Who is responsible? The most visible culprit, of course, is the United Nations. Yet the UN is complicit because its member states make it so. Washington, for example, may not be able to prevent Beijing from using its veto to prolong mass murder in Darfur, yet we also have a veto. And we should have used all our power to prevent the Chinese from going there wearing the blue berets and scarves of the United Nations.

Yesterday, 135 Chinese engineers and medical officers entered Nyala, capital of the South Darfur region of Sudan, as United Nations peacekeepers. The Justice and Equality Movement, a rebel group, demanded that the Chinese leave immediately. “China is complicit in the genocide being carried out in Darfur,” said a JEM commander. The Paris-based Darfur Internationally Displaced People also called on Beijing to depart because “genocide and robbery are taking place in Darfur since 2003 thanks to Chinese weapons.”

China is the largest supplier of weapons to the Sudanese government, which has sponsored the murderous Janjaweed militia. Reuters reports that Beijing has increased its arms sales to Khartoum by 25-fold between 2002 and 2005, and the Chinese are still providing the tools of war. More importantly, China has continually protected Khartoum in the United Nations Security Council, where it has threatened to exercise its veto to prevent any action that might stop the killing in Darfur. It’s no wonder that Sudan President Omar Hassan al-Bashir insisted on Chinese participation in the peacekeeping force if non-Africans were included. After all, Beijing is genocide’s best friend.

So the arrival of Chinese peacekeepers in Darfur is a hideous development. Who is responsible? The most visible culprit, of course, is the United Nations. Yet the UN is complicit because its member states make it so. Washington, for example, may not be able to prevent Beijing from using its veto to prolong mass murder in Darfur, yet we also have a veto. And we should have used all our power to prevent the Chinese from going there wearing the blue berets and scarves of the United Nations.

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Jolie’s Journalism

The current issue of the Economist, a special edition entitled, “The World in 2008,” includes essays by a variety of well-known figures including New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, the Dalai Lama, and . . . actress Angelina Jolie.

The thrust of Jolie’s piece—calling upon the international community to bring the perpetrators of the Darfur genocide to justice—is admirable, if a bit naive, the first quality an unusual one for the political pontifications of celebrities, the second nearly universal. She writes:

I hope that the Sudanese government will hand over the government minister and the janjaweed militia leader who have been indicted for war crimes by the ICC, and that the teenager I met in Chad will get to see the trial he seeks. I hope that those responsible for the atrocities in Darfur will be held to account, not only for that young man’s sake, but for the world’s.

But what are the actual chances of this happening? The Sudanese government has supported the continuation of this conflict for years, and the international community has been able to achieve little—despite the heady warnings of Ms. Jolie.

The phenomenon of celebrities attempting to shape foreign policy is not a new one (think Jane Fonda), but it has become de riguer of late. Despite their fame and popularity, however, it seems that celebrities are usually unable to achieve their goals in the international realm. Daniel Drezner has an excellent cover story in the latest National Interest entitled “Foreign Policy Goes Glam,” explaining why this is the case, and it applies to the specific example of Jolie:

A deeper problem celebrities face is that the implicit theory of politics that guides their activism does not necessarily apply to all facets of international relations. The goal of most social activism is to bring greater attention to a problem. The assumption is that once people become aware of the problem, there will be a groundswell of support for direct action. This is not how politics necessarily works, particularly in the global realm. Any solution to a problem like global warming, for example, involves significant costs. As people become more aware of the policy problem, it is far from guaranteed that a consensus will emerge about the best way to solve it. It is therefore not surprising that celebs have had their greatest successes in touting humanitarian causes and almost no effect on ending militarized conflicts.

The current issue of the Economist, a special edition entitled, “The World in 2008,” includes essays by a variety of well-known figures including New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, the Dalai Lama, and . . . actress Angelina Jolie.

The thrust of Jolie’s piece—calling upon the international community to bring the perpetrators of the Darfur genocide to justice—is admirable, if a bit naive, the first quality an unusual one for the political pontifications of celebrities, the second nearly universal. She writes:

I hope that the Sudanese government will hand over the government minister and the janjaweed militia leader who have been indicted for war crimes by the ICC, and that the teenager I met in Chad will get to see the trial he seeks. I hope that those responsible for the atrocities in Darfur will be held to account, not only for that young man’s sake, but for the world’s.

But what are the actual chances of this happening? The Sudanese government has supported the continuation of this conflict for years, and the international community has been able to achieve little—despite the heady warnings of Ms. Jolie.

The phenomenon of celebrities attempting to shape foreign policy is not a new one (think Jane Fonda), but it has become de riguer of late. Despite their fame and popularity, however, it seems that celebrities are usually unable to achieve their goals in the international realm. Daniel Drezner has an excellent cover story in the latest National Interest entitled “Foreign Policy Goes Glam,” explaining why this is the case, and it applies to the specific example of Jolie:

A deeper problem celebrities face is that the implicit theory of politics that guides their activism does not necessarily apply to all facets of international relations. The goal of most social activism is to bring greater attention to a problem. The assumption is that once people become aware of the problem, there will be a groundswell of support for direct action. This is not how politics necessarily works, particularly in the global realm. Any solution to a problem like global warming, for example, involves significant costs. As people become more aware of the policy problem, it is far from guaranteed that a consensus will emerge about the best way to solve it. It is therefore not surprising that celebs have had their greatest successes in touting humanitarian causes and almost no effect on ending militarized conflicts.

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All the Fault of the Neocons

Arche de Zoé, a rickety French NGO thrown together to rescue 10,000 Darfur orphans (see the original press release here), has capsized in Chad. As of this writing, six activists of the NGO, four Chadian collaborators, three members of a Spanish flight crew, and one Belgian pilot are detained in a maximum security prison in N’jamena, accused of kidnapping 103 children. The wild ambitions of volunteer fireman Eric Breteau and his companion Emilie Lelouch came down to a sordid humanitarian swindle with international ramifications. Though an ocean of incriminating evidence testifies to their criminal methods, loyal supporters and high-minded analysts throw the would-be do-gooders life jackets marked “good intentions,” while Socialist opponents tongue-lash the Sarkozy government, and far-out geopolitical experts blame it on American neocons.

How’s that? According to Jean-Philippe Remy of Le Monde and Antoine Glaser, director of La Lettre du Continent, a bi-monthly journal on Africa, over-sensitive idealists were pushed to excess by made-in-the-U.S.A. “Save Darfur” propaganda. Remy and Glaser believe that such propaganda misrepresents a conflict between the Sudanese government and armed rebels, a conflict that is overheated by various oil interests in Sudan and Chad. Two hundred thousand victims does not a genocide make. Besides, says Glaser, it’s winding down. French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner, of Doctors without Borders fame, is accused of infecting the Sarkozy government with Save Darfur hysteria.

Others claim the government knew enough to stop Breteau before he touched the hair of one child’s head. Furthermore, Socialist leader François Hollande sputters that Sarkozy is leaving the unfortunate humanitarians in the clutches of an unspeakable (African) jurisdiction instead of bringing them back to be judged (more clemently) in France. Hollande and his ilk are furious at Nicolas Sarkozy for flying to Chad last Sunday to bring back the journalists and the four airline stewardesses, conditionally liberated as per his request relayed to the court by Chad’s President Idriss Déby.

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Arche de Zoé, a rickety French NGO thrown together to rescue 10,000 Darfur orphans (see the original press release here), has capsized in Chad. As of this writing, six activists of the NGO, four Chadian collaborators, three members of a Spanish flight crew, and one Belgian pilot are detained in a maximum security prison in N’jamena, accused of kidnapping 103 children. The wild ambitions of volunteer fireman Eric Breteau and his companion Emilie Lelouch came down to a sordid humanitarian swindle with international ramifications. Though an ocean of incriminating evidence testifies to their criminal methods, loyal supporters and high-minded analysts throw the would-be do-gooders life jackets marked “good intentions,” while Socialist opponents tongue-lash the Sarkozy government, and far-out geopolitical experts blame it on American neocons.

How’s that? According to Jean-Philippe Remy of Le Monde and Antoine Glaser, director of La Lettre du Continent, a bi-monthly journal on Africa, over-sensitive idealists were pushed to excess by made-in-the-U.S.A. “Save Darfur” propaganda. Remy and Glaser believe that such propaganda misrepresents a conflict between the Sudanese government and armed rebels, a conflict that is overheated by various oil interests in Sudan and Chad. Two hundred thousand victims does not a genocide make. Besides, says Glaser, it’s winding down. French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner, of Doctors without Borders fame, is accused of infecting the Sarkozy government with Save Darfur hysteria.

Others claim the government knew enough to stop Breteau before he touched the hair of one child’s head. Furthermore, Socialist leader François Hollande sputters that Sarkozy is leaving the unfortunate humanitarians in the clutches of an unspeakable (African) jurisdiction instead of bringing them back to be judged (more clemently) in France. Hollande and his ilk are furious at Nicolas Sarkozy for flying to Chad last Sunday to bring back the journalists and the four airline stewardesses, conditionally liberated as per his request relayed to the court by Chad’s President Idriss Déby.

And so it goes, down the line of an inverted ethical system by which the closer you get to the actual misdeed the lighter the responsibility. The journalists slipped out through the free press escape hatch, though their relations with the operation were not always clear. Marie-Agnès Peleran was on “humanitarian leave of absence” from France 3 television, and was a candidate for hosting a refugee child. Jean-Daniel Guillou, of the Synchro X photo agency, openly declared his sympathy for the Zoé six, who are “idealists, not criminals.” Marc Garmirian, of the Capa Agency, filmed the operation, including the planned middle of the night evacuation, without blowing any whistles.

Garmirian’s film is an eloquent testimony to the evil doings of the humanitarian kidnappers. The footage edited while he was imprisoned and screened while he was on his way back to Paris documents the inhumane folie à deux of Breteau and Lelouch that engulfed French do-gooders and exploited, employed, or bribed Chadian accomplices. Over a hundred children, caught in the middle, served as human shields for a humanitarian delusion.

Yes, the Darfur orphans plucked from the jaws of death were in fact healthy Chadian children, most of them between four and five years old. They were disguised with fake bandages, bloodstains, and IV’s (shades of al-Dura) for the stealthy “medical evacuation” that almost took place via a chartered Girjet plane with its (Spanish) crew of seven waiting on a primitive airstrip in the bush near the city of Abéché, where Arche de Zoé, disguised as “Children Rescue,” had set up an outpost. The convoy was stopped at the eleventh hour. The artificial orphans are still stranded in Abéché.

Those who credit Breteau and his accomplices with misguided good intentions think they were swindled by Chadian intermediaries. A more plausible explanation, based on verifiable concrete facts, is that Breteau was caught in his own contradictions. Some 350 families were convinced to contribute 2400 euros (that would make a total of 840,000 euros) for the privilege of hosting—and eventually adopting—the refugee children. Stumped by the impossibility of approaching Darfur refugee camps, he had to keep his word to the French families…and, perhaps, lie to himself.

President Sarkozy has vowed to return to Chad and bring back the remaining French prisoners, “no matter what they’ve done.” But Chadian officials promise to give the kidnappers a taste of their famous prisons. Policemen thrash angry demonstrators to keep them from attacking the prisoners as they are transferred from the jail to the courthouse. A clash of civilizations, as it were.

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Humanitarian Kidnappers

On the eve of the deployment of a joint European-African force on the Chad-Sudanese border in a modest attempt to protect long-suffering Darfur refugees, a slapdash French NGO has created a diplomatic incident. L’Arche de Zoé (a play on l’Arche de Noé, French for Noah’s ark) was caught trying to spirit 103 children out of Chad for delivery to French do-gooders. Six French humanitarians, three journalists, seven members of a Spanish cabin crew, and a Belgian pilot detained in an Abéché lockup since October 25 will be arraigned today and then hastily transferred to N’djamena because of credible threats of lynching by local Islamists.

The story has been covered with unusual diligence by French media. A crisis room was set up at the Foreign Affairs Ministry under the direction of Rama Yade, Under Secretary for Human Rights. President Sarkozy apologized to Idriss Déby, the President of Chad, and French ambassador Bruno Foucher abandoned the distraught humanitarians to the local jurisdiction.

Video footage of an informal interrogation of the suspects by the Chadian President resembled a soft version of a jihadi hostage show, except for the kidnapped children howling in the background, complete with snotty noses, tears welling up in big black eyes, and little hands hugging mugs. The plane crew in uniform and the kidnappers in humanitarian garb are seated on mats on the floor. Zoé’s Ark director Eric Breteau, looking like a naughty boy, stands face to face with the President and his scowling aides. The prisoners are led out in handcuffs. President Déby faces the camera and accuses the humanitarians of stealing African children to sell to pedophiles or, worse, to kill them and sell their organs. (He also accused them of tearing Muslim children away from their faith, but the media brushed over that one.)

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On the eve of the deployment of a joint European-African force on the Chad-Sudanese border in a modest attempt to protect long-suffering Darfur refugees, a slapdash French NGO has created a diplomatic incident. L’Arche de Zoé (a play on l’Arche de Noé, French for Noah’s ark) was caught trying to spirit 103 children out of Chad for delivery to French do-gooders. Six French humanitarians, three journalists, seven members of a Spanish cabin crew, and a Belgian pilot detained in an Abéché lockup since October 25 will be arraigned today and then hastily transferred to N’djamena because of credible threats of lynching by local Islamists.

The story has been covered with unusual diligence by French media. A crisis room was set up at the Foreign Affairs Ministry under the direction of Rama Yade, Under Secretary for Human Rights. President Sarkozy apologized to Idriss Déby, the President of Chad, and French ambassador Bruno Foucher abandoned the distraught humanitarians to the local jurisdiction.

Video footage of an informal interrogation of the suspects by the Chadian President resembled a soft version of a jihadi hostage show, except for the kidnapped children howling in the background, complete with snotty noses, tears welling up in big black eyes, and little hands hugging mugs. The plane crew in uniform and the kidnappers in humanitarian garb are seated on mats on the floor. Zoé’s Ark director Eric Breteau, looking like a naughty boy, stands face to face with the President and his scowling aides. The prisoners are led out in handcuffs. President Déby faces the camera and accuses the humanitarians of stealing African children to sell to pedophiles or, worse, to kill them and sell their organs. (He also accused them of tearing Muslim children away from their faith, but the media brushed over that one.)

Families that had contributed thousands of euros waited in vain at a provincial French airport for the precious cargo of Darfur refugees they were hoping to rescue and eventually adopt. In an initial reaction to the arrests, Zoé’s Ark spokespersons claimed they had acted in full legality, with the cooperation of French and Chadian authorities who suddenly reneged on prior agreements. Members of the association had hopped rides on French military aircraft; isn’t that proof that everyone knew and no one disapproved? French Foreign Ministry officials declare, on the contrary, that they had firmly advised the association to abandon its ill-conceived evacuation plan, which was presented openly as an end run around Chadian regulations against adoption. Other NGO’s operating in the region had filed complaints to remove their logos illegally posted on the Zoé’s Ark website.

But Breteau forged ahead under cover of a straw association—Children Rescue—through which he obtained authorizations to provide humanitarian relief to Darfur refugees in Chad. Apparently untroubled by the grammatical irregularity of “children rescue” and never doubting the connection with Zoe’s Ark, French military pilots unwittingly ferried them; local authorities allowed them to pursue their activities. No one in France has a good word to say about the grounded humanitarians…except for the Human Rights League and the Ark’s high profile lawyer, maître Gilbert Collard. Sordid revelations tumble out hourly. The kids were covered with bandages to corroborate the pretext of a “humanitarian evacuation.” The children are from Chad, not Darfur, and they are not orphans. Two of the older evacuees say their parents let them go with “some whites” who promised to send them to school and give them money, cookies, and a car when they grow up.

There is some NGO folly to the madness of this botched evacuation. Breteau, a former sales rep and volunteer fireman, branched out on his own after doing tsunami rescue work with the Red Cross. The tragic situation in Darfur fueled his megalomaniacal delusions. The extravagant ambitions announced on the Zoe’s Ark website came down to the pitiful transfer of a hundred pseudo-refugees. Now he and his accomplices are up against the harsh realities of a merciless African government and may soon be at the mercy of enraged Muslim fellow prisoners.

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Send in the Mercenaries

Michael Abramowitz of the Washington Post has an interesting and instructive article on the U.S. failure to do something meaningful about the genocide in Darfur. The gist of the piece is that, while President Bush personally is committed to action, he has not been able or willing to mobilize the government to get tough with the murderous Janjaweed militia and their sponsors in Khartoum who have been responsible for an estimated 200,000 deaths since 2003.

The article is full of damning quotes such as this one:

“Bush probably does want something done, but the lack of hands-on follow-up from this White House allowed this to drift,” said one former State Department official involved in Darfur who did not want to be quoted by name criticizing the president. “If he says, ‘There is not going to be genocide on my watch,’ and then two and a half years later we are just getting tough action, what gives? He has made statements, but his administration has not given meaning to those statements.”

This is symptomatic of a larger problem with this administration, which too often has coupled stirring rhetoric about defeating terrorists, promoting democracy, and curbing human rights abuses with sadly inadequate or incoherent action. In the case of Darfur, Abramowitz aptly sums up the failure:

While almost everyone involved in Darfur policy agrees that an African Union peacekeeping force of just 7,000 troops is not up to the task, the United States has refused to send troops and, despite promises of reinforcements, has yet to secure many additional troops from other countries. At the same time, it has been unable to broker a diplomatic resolution that might ease the violence.

As I’ve been arguing for some time, there is a simple solution that is hiding in plain sight: send in the mercenaries. If we’re not willing to put our own troops into Darfur—and there are good reasons why we’re not—why not hire private security companies like Blackwater to aid the African Union peacekeepers in their assigned mission? Executive Outcomes, a now-defunct South African firm, worked wonders in stopping a civil war in Sierra Leone in the 1990’s. Similar firms could be equally effective in Darfur today.

But this solution is too politically incorrect to contemplate. Much better, it seems, simply to let the killing continue unabated.

Michael Abramowitz of the Washington Post has an interesting and instructive article on the U.S. failure to do something meaningful about the genocide in Darfur. The gist of the piece is that, while President Bush personally is committed to action, he has not been able or willing to mobilize the government to get tough with the murderous Janjaweed militia and their sponsors in Khartoum who have been responsible for an estimated 200,000 deaths since 2003.

The article is full of damning quotes such as this one:

“Bush probably does want something done, but the lack of hands-on follow-up from this White House allowed this to drift,” said one former State Department official involved in Darfur who did not want to be quoted by name criticizing the president. “If he says, ‘There is not going to be genocide on my watch,’ and then two and a half years later we are just getting tough action, what gives? He has made statements, but his administration has not given meaning to those statements.”

This is symptomatic of a larger problem with this administration, which too often has coupled stirring rhetoric about defeating terrorists, promoting democracy, and curbing human rights abuses with sadly inadequate or incoherent action. In the case of Darfur, Abramowitz aptly sums up the failure:

While almost everyone involved in Darfur policy agrees that an African Union peacekeeping force of just 7,000 troops is not up to the task, the United States has refused to send troops and, despite promises of reinforcements, has yet to secure many additional troops from other countries. At the same time, it has been unable to broker a diplomatic resolution that might ease the violence.

As I’ve been arguing for some time, there is a simple solution that is hiding in plain sight: send in the mercenaries. If we’re not willing to put our own troops into Darfur—and there are good reasons why we’re not—why not hire private security companies like Blackwater to aid the African Union peacekeepers in their assigned mission? Executive Outcomes, a now-defunct South African firm, worked wonders in stopping a civil war in Sierra Leone in the 1990’s. Similar firms could be equally effective in Darfur today.

But this solution is too politically incorrect to contemplate. Much better, it seems, simply to let the killing continue unabated.

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