Darfur: 400,000 dead, 2.5 million driven from their homes
April 26, 2006 12:20 PM   Subscribe

Is the Bush administration really serious about NATO and UN protection to stop the Darfur genocide? "Is it only weak and incompetent, or is it two-faced?"

What can U.S. citizens do to help end this genocide? For starters, take to the streets: you can register for an April 30th demonstration on the Golden Gate Bridge & at the Presidio, or in Washington, DC. You can also ask your Rep. to sponsor House Resolution 723, a measure that urges the President to help deploy a NATO bridging force to the Darfur region.
posted by n_s_1 (56 comments total)
"serious about NATO and UN protection" == Couldn't give a two shits about it.
posted by Artw at 12:43 PM on April 26, 2006

Sweet merciful crap. How could Iraq not have falsified the whole premise that the US can waltz in and fix any country it so well pleases if only it deigns to do so? Personally, I'm going to do my demonstrating on April 29th in New York -- to get the US army out of its foreign wars.

And if you think that the UN's occupations are just wonderful, you haven't heard much from Haiti lately.
posted by graymouser at 12:52 PM on April 26, 2006

And one day later is May 1st.
posted by smackfu at 1:16 PM on April 26, 2006

Just sending in troops is a good way to get more of them killed. We need a detailed, specific plan of exactly what we're going to accomplish. And we have to be really, REALLY careful about our troop deployments.

After Iraq, most of the countries in the world would squirm about if we tried to pat them on the back, wondering which hand held the knife.
posted by Malor at 1:18 PM on April 26, 2006

This has been up for almost an hour and no one has posted a list of all the Representatives numbers and told us how awesome they are because they have called theirs.

This is why we will never be as cool as Kos or MoveOn. Our calls-to-action are just too weak.
posted by dios at 1:22 PM on April 26, 2006

The US doesn't have to send troops; providing financial and logistical support to the African Union would be a good start. Hell, just about anything would be a good start.
posted by languagehat at 1:28 PM on April 26, 2006

This is why we will never be as cool as Kos or MoveOn.

It's ok, I remember back when I had just seen my first fruitstand, and couldn't distinguish between "apples" and "oranges."

You'll get the hang of it.

Months later, a tornado blew a banana right through my sternum!
posted by sonofsamiam at 1:31 PM on April 26, 2006

Sending troops is supply-side, and never a good first move. We need to hire local militias to achieve our goals and if that doesn't work, then at least we have distance and a hedge from extended disaster. I should note that achieving limited mercenary goals on paper is ethically safer than catching up to an evolving justification for a direct invasion.
posted by Brian B. at 1:35 PM on April 26, 2006

Dios, whatt'feck was the purpose of that comment? At least those people are, in some small way, participating in representative democracy and trying to do something. I'd rather the blame rest on the shoulders of those who are in power right now and do nothing. As languagehat note above, *anything*, even financial support (which is likely all we can do and not get yelled at it, after our Iraq debacle), that the US can do right now would be a start.
posted by notsnot at 1:37 PM on April 26, 2006

Hey, I'm all for democratic and humanitarian participation.

The thing is that I am all against people using Metafilter to promote their pet issues and making a "call to arms."
posted by dios at 1:43 PM on April 26, 2006

Yea cos... you know... trying to stop a genocide is a 'pet issue'. WHAT NEXT SAVE TEH WHALES AM I RITE LOL.
posted by basicchannel at 1:49 PM on April 26, 2006

Were that true, Dios, you would rail against all such "promotion of pet issues" on the front page. You do not. You rail against a specific subtype of such posts. This is dishonesty by omission.
posted by solid-one-love at 1:49 PM on April 26, 2006

Also black people are worth less than white people, ergo, vis a vis, concordantly "pet issue".
posted by basicchannel at 1:51 PM on April 26, 2006

How about let's just keep saying "never again" every ten years, and that maybe in a 100 years, it will actually lead to something..
posted by psmealey at 1:55 PM on April 26, 2006

Yes, by all means, let's everyone pile on dios and ignore the subject of the post.
posted by 327.ca at 1:59 PM on April 26, 2006

Respectfully, 327, Dios ignored the subject of the post and we're merely addressing the content of his post.

Yes, this is probably better talked about int he grey, but (a) this thread is pretty unpopular and thus we're not really nterrupting ontopic discussion and (b) I think it'd be a bti much for yet another predictable "dios is a lying hypocritical troll" callout in the grey.
posted by solid-one-love at 2:02 PM on April 26, 2006

We need to hire local militias to achieve our goals

Our goals? What's this "we" business? You got a mouse in your pocket?

Since when do "we" have goals?

get the US army out of its foreign wars
posted by a3matrix at 2:03 PM on April 26, 2006

Were that true, Dios, you would rail against all such "promotion of pet issues" on the front page. You do not.
posted by solid-one-love at 3:49 PM CST on April 26

Are you blind? Link for me which pet issue call to arms that I approve of if you actually think that. I do rail against all pet issue call to arms that I see, so quit talking out of your ass solid-one-love.

The idea that it is bad to have people promote their pet issues with a call to arms unless that call to arms is Very Important TM creates a completely unworkable framework.

I stand by the bright line rule that all Call to Arms Advocacy posts are bad.

What metric do we use to determine the ones that are Very Important?

Shutting down Love Field. Should I post a call to arms about that? Save the Whales? They are stopping funding for Subterranean Salmon cloning for Sushi Art, call your senator! Should I post some Opus Dei-esque call to arms about the clergy being penetrated by undesireables and have people call their bishops? What about a call to arms about keeping Foreigners out of the United States. Is that sufficiently important to make a call to arms about? What about the funding for my local flood plane? Is that sufficiently important?

If you want a front page full of people's pet issues asking for other people to call senators to support them as well, then you are asking for a Metafilter that I think few would appreciate. The fact that it might be an important issue doesn't make it less of a pet issue, and if people are making a call to arms about it, then it is a pet issue.
Quite simply, the topic either has worth and interest or it doesn't. The call to arms crap adds nothing to it. The post could have just been an informative one without it. And even though I agree that the topic is terrible and want something to be done about it, I will not give this a free pass. People know how to get involved if they want.
posted by dios at 2:05 PM on April 26, 2006

Or to put it another way, the issue has importance that is independent. The goal of a post should be to inform people about it. The goal of a post shouldn't be "Did we mess up or really fuck up big time? Let's protest and fix this by telling your Representative what I think they need to hear."
posted by dios at 2:09 PM on April 26, 2006

Are you blind? Link for me which pet issue call to arms that I approve of if you actually think that.

Well, from the front page alone, there's this FPP, which is a much clearer pet issue anfd call to arms than this one. You didn't comment on it. Thus, you don't rail against all such calls-to-arms.

Thus, it is not I who am talking out of my ass. That's the very first instance on the front page. I have a sawbuck in my pocket that says that I can find at least one per page for the last year that you didn't comment on, which would put the lie to your claim that you comment on "every one [of these calls-to-arms] that [you] see."

Of course, you'll likely respond that he linked post wasn't important enough, or that you missed it, or any number of other bullshit excuses that don't for a moment excuse the partisan hypocrisy each of your posts in this thread have oozed.
posted by solid-one-love at 2:13 PM on April 26, 2006

[...] yet another predictable "dios is a lying hypocritical troll" callout in the grey.

Better there than here. I'm just saying.

BTW, I'm equally disgusted by Canada's dithering over Darfur. It's the same old story.
posted by 327.ca at 2:13 PM on April 26, 2006

This Darfur... there is oil there? No? Ah well...
posted by wfrgms at 2:15 PM on April 26, 2006

"Months later, a tornado blew a banana right through my sternum!"

Right! Today we will learn how to defend yourself against an assailant armed with a ba-naaa-na!!


Re the US backing NATO or UN intervention in Darfur: do they have a lot of oil?



(roleplaying, sarcasm, fatalism, yeah.)

on preview: Argh, wfrgms!
posted by zoogleplex at 2:16 PM on April 26, 2006

I'm pasting here a note I received from a Lieutenant-Colonel with the UN Joint Monitoring & Coordination office in Juba Sudan. It was sent at Christmas so it's a little out of date, but due to the absence of any real reporting on the situation in Sudan this letter holds a ton of information about Sudan, it's people, their culture and what it's like for the UN people there. It's a great read, but I'm warning you, it's not a short note.

Hit the . key if you want to pass by this long post. (2500 words)
Subject: Christmas Greetings from the Sudan

Merry Christmas to my friends and neighbours in the land of ice and snow. I hope this email finds you doing well and enjoying the onset of winter. Life here in South Sudan goes on at a quick pace. I've been in the mission area for two months now and the days are flying by, which is a great sign.

I have an incredibly interesting job that allows considerable travel in this diverse but troubled country. I've already been to some fascinating places and met dozens of truly remarkable people. Juba, the town where I'm living, is 1,200 kilometres away from, but a continent distant from Sudan's capital, Khartoum. Juba has been aptly described as the largest village in Africa as it consists of hundreds of small neighbourhoods made up of tukuls (mud huts with straw roofs) and there is only one building that's over two stories. Anything that's not made of mud was built before 1956 and probably hasn't been painted since then. The city and its people have suffered terribly during this long and horrendous civil war, but the people here in Juba are stoically cheerful and get on with re-building their lives as best they can. People tell me Juba has a population of 250,000. You would never know it to look at the town from the ground, and a census hasn't been done here for decades. No one really knows how many live here, but one thing is certain, it's growing rapidly.

There is no place like South Sudan for people watching. Each day I see new groups of people on the streets. This morning there were small crowds of tired, dusty, barefoot herdsmen shuffling into town from the West. They were all carrying empty game bags and they had spears and arrows on their shoulders, except for a few young men at the back who had AK47s slung on their backs. Despite wearing brightly coloured bush smocks, these newcomers looked grim and determined. The locals I spoke to weren't certain where they came from, but someone suggested an inaccessible area over by the border with the Central African Republic. Each one of them was sporting an unusual set of very deep horizontal tribal scars, quite different from the usual tribal markings you see here.

In addition to the people moving in from the outlying areas, every day also brings a new flood of returning refugees. People just seem to drift in from Darfur, the Kordofan and the camps outside Khartoum. The new migration pattern is driven in part by the Peace Agreement in the South; but there is also a major increase in banditry in and around Juba and many people are coming here to find safety. For the last two nights running the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) has terrorized outlying settlements. The LRA is a vicious and absolutely lunatic group from Uganda. It's made up largely of abducted child soldiers and has existed for nearly twenty years. The LRA is fighting to overthrow the Ugandan government in order to institute a new social order based upon the Ten Commandments. They have twice raided Gumba, a small village four kilometres away from here on the East bank of the Nile. They looted whatever they could find, abducted two children and killed several people. Once they got what they needed to keep themselves going, they slipped back into the night. Some suggest that it's not the LRA, but a band of unemployed soldiers who have never been paid. I'd guess that some of the lawlessness farther West can certainly be blamed on that. However, on the weekend the LRA left a pretty convincing letter written in Acholi, a Ugandan language. Their list of demands is as crazy and scattered as the organization itself.

We had some heavy tribal fighting in Yambio a little over a week ago, but the Sudanese People's Liberation Army (SPLA) moved their Dinka troops out of the town and replaced them with soldiers from the local tribes. UN observers and Bangladeshi infantry are there now and that combination has quietened things down almost as quickly as it took for the trouble to flare up. Despite having a mixture of many different tribes living here, Juba itself is reasonably quiet. Last weekend, as planned, the SPLA moved back in strength into town. Their entrance into town was the most jubilant event I've ever witnessed. Two full brigades of former guerrillas in new uniforms and sporting brand new weapons marched and drove by crammed onto civilian trucks. The crowds were ecstatic: a bull was sacrificed on the main street followed by deliriously happy surging crowds, women ululating, kids dancing, drummers pounding, horns blowing, flags waving, drunks lurching around, people cheering themselves hoarse. It was really something to witness. VE day couldn't have been more of a celebration. I've enclosed a picture of some of the SPLA in their new uniforms loaded onto a truck outside town. - Like that photo everyday I see so many different scenes that keep hammering home to me the message that "Michael, you are living in one very different corner of the world."

You would think that with two brigades of SPLA in a town that has been held by the Sudanese Army for the entire war, it would be an explosive situation; but the problems appear to be minor ones. There have been some deadly fights, but so far it's been criminal activity not organized fighting and things have happily remained under control. The Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) have pretty much stayed in their barracks and UN sponsored "Joint Integrated Units" of SPLA/SAF military police have been patrolling and they have managed to keep a lid on things.

There is absolutely no night-life here (not much day life to speak of either for that matter) and in the last couple weeks, with the changes in the town, the market area has become seriously dangerous after dark - but to put this into context, I can say the same thing about numerous other more developed cities I've spent time in as well.

Life here is fascinating; and as much as I miss my beautiful wife and family, Africa is a rush. Everyday there is something completely different and intriguing. The place actually smells different; there is always dust in the air mixed with the ever-present tang of burning garbage and burning grass.

I live in a tent, which is fine by me. On the whole the conditions are probably at least as comfortable as what the average Canadian soldier puts up with in the field in winter. - It's quite hot here, yesterday at noon the thermometer in our camp registered 46 degrees. Think of the hottest days in Ontario in July with high humidity, then crank up a few degrees of brilliantly hot sunshine and that's South Sudan. Juba is in a transitional area, something between the savanna and the jungle. It's more savanna than jungle with a healthy sprinkling of mango trees and grasslands. The climate supports more insects than you would believe possible and as a result at night we have hundreds of harmless toads in the camp. The downside of toads is that they attract snakes, and although they are very rarely a problem, we had an Egyptian cobra three nights ago slithering into in the tent next to mine. As a result, I'm very careful when I reach for my shower thongs in the morning and I keep my tent flap tightly zipped.

The food's tolerable. It's healthy, but monotonous. We get two choices of rice and chicken, rice and curried beef or rice and lamb (a.k.a. goat) for both lunch and dinner every single day - all the other nationals in our camp think Tabasco Sauce is a Canadian dietary staple. I'm not complaining. When you see what the poor locals are eating, these things keep the UN's relatively comfortable lives in sharp perspective.

There are no identified direct threats to the UN here in Sudan - so, in real terms we're pretty safe. In fact, the SPLA and the Sudanese government army actually work alongside us. Nonetheless, there's no question, the peace here is a fragile one. The place is swimming in weapons and there are still about sixty "Other Armed Groups" - private militias, tribes, warlords and gangs who have not signed up to the peace agreement. We are trying to get them all signed up and aligned with either the SAF or the SPLA early in the New Year; but we'll have to wait and see how that plays out. The Other Armed Groups could be a problem, because if any one of them gets out of hand, they could possibly send the place up in flames again. Also, after so many years of such a brutal war neither side trusts the other, and it wouldn't take much to get the most antagonistic elements back to fighting each other again. Nonetheless, we do see gains made and we can all see progress on a daily basis. The UN presence here, and the policy, in this particular mission, of doing everything jointly - the UN, the Sudanese Armed Forces and the Sudanese People's Liberation Army doing monitoring and verification tasks together is working quite well and will probably become a new standard procedure for peacekeeping missions.

My job is totally absorbing and I'm grateful that I managed to get such a good one. I work with twelve other officers in The Joint Monitoring & Coordination Office, (JMCO) which does the groundwork for the development and coordination of overall ceasefire policy as well as hammers out with the SPLA and SAF all those military issues that can't be resolved regionally. The JMCO was wisely positioned well forward, in the heart of the most southerly state. As a result, we are right beside the most pressing issues as they happen. It means that we are well informed and we can react fairly quickly. The distance from the Force Headquarters in Khartoum is not a great problem (cynics say it's an advantage, although the military components of the headquarters that I deal with are quite reasonable and doing their best.) We couldn't have operated like this a few years ago. Now, we are connected right across the country by satellite links with mobile phones, radios and the internet. Unfortunately, the SAF and the SPLA do not have the kinds of communication capabilities we have and it makes quite a difference in their ability to react and to pass on information to their more remotely deployed troops. This is particularly true of the SPLA who are quite literally moving from being a hardscrabble guerrilla movement to a modern army and although they are trying their hardest, the problems they face are enormous.

One of the characteristics of the mission in Sudan is that from an operational viewpoint it's extremely complex. Both sides are highly factionalized and there are numerous competing interests that influence what's going on here. Tribalism, oil, religion, ethnicity, language, established power groups such as the police and intelligence services, private militias as well as the influence of border states and other neighbouring insurgencies all combine to make the simplest things complex. There are also numerous factors within the UN mission itself that complicate the situation. There are over seventy-five nations deployed here from every corner of the earth, each with different cultures, different perceptions of time, different ideas on hygiene, different views on how urgent things should be, different thinking on hierarchy, authority and dignity, different ideas as to what constitutes good manners - and not the least, radically different abilities in English, the common mission language. It all adds up to make for some interesting moments.

The JMCO, the group I work in is responsible for keeping three levels of inter-factional meetings going and so we work seven days a week. We convene a meeting each morning with both SAF and SPLA officers. It's a busy pace and we spend about twelve to thirteen hours each day working on a comprehensive range of issues such as monitoring troop movements, troop withdrawals, de-mining operations, disarming militias, demobilization of ex-soldiers, the formation of a new joint and integrated army as well as more narrowly focussed things such as child soldiers, deserters, disarming the nomads, helping Non Government Organizations and UN agencies set up programs for disabled ex combatants and setting up joint SPLA and Govt of Sudan monitoring teams. The work is totally absorbing and the days seem to connect into a long fast forward blur. There's lots to do, and as I said, it allows for plenty of travel and daily interaction with both sides. I love it. It's certainly the most interesting and rewarding professional work I've ever done.

From the internet I see that very little of what goes on down here ever makes it into the press because there are no foreign reporters anywhere for hundreds and hundreds of kilometres. It's kind of like a tree falling in the forest and no one being there to hear it. If the peace holds - and the UN and a lot of Sudanese are working as hard as they can to ensure that it does - then there is no doubt that things will eventually get a lot better. There are some signs of improvement now. I see more little road side stands popping up here and there. People sitting on the verge of dirt roads selling a few bottles of soft drinks, soap and other simple luxuries. There is also a small bus service operating now that wasn't around a few weeks ago. Small things, but they add up in the aggregate. There are plans for much larger international aid projects to start coming on stream in the next several months and things like a working electrical grid, a clean water supply and sewage lines will make a vast difference in people's lives down here. I'm sincerely looking forward to the day when the armies have stood back from one another, when the roads are open, the mines are gone and the bandits and crazy leftovers are all cleared. Then, the economy can start up again and people can begin to resume something close to normal lives.

There's really not much else to report. My days are full and things are going about as well as we could have hoped for out here out in the land of sticky sweltering eternal blistering sunshine. If one has to be far from home at Christmas, I can't honestly think of a better reason for it than doing what we're doing - and I don't regret it for a second. I wish you and your families a very Merry Christmas and a happy, healthy and prosperous New Year. I look forward to seeing you all again in May.

All the best,

L Col Michael Goodspeed
Deputy Chief of Staff
Joint Monitoring & Coordination Office, Juba
posted by furtive at 2:16 PM on April 26, 2006


Gen. George Casey, the top U.S. commander in Iraq, has tentative plans to reduce U.S. troops levels in Iraq by about 30,000 by the end of the year, senior military officials said Wednesday.

The officials said the U.S. plan is to consolidate forces at several large "super-bases," to lower their profile and move them out of the line of fire.

No , really ? Don't tell me they are leaving bases to secure the oil ? I'm shocked ! Obviously it will be the request from an official (puppet) government. No wonder Iran and the rest of the world is preparing nukes.
posted by elpapacito at 2:26 PM on April 26, 2006

That was an interesting letter, furtive. Goodspeed sounds like he's approaching his task with pragmatism and hope. I really want us to do more in the Sudan.
posted by 327.ca at 2:29 PM on April 26, 2006

Sorry, the reference to advocacy was based on a belief that genocide warrants a mention re methods of advocacy. If Rwanda was a pet issue, if Cambodia was a pet issue, then let Darfur be a 'pet issue.' Yesterday was Yom HaShoah, Holocaust Remembrance Day.

But about the current state of Darfur policy.

The US doesn't have to send troops; providing financial and logistical support to the African Union would be a good start. Hell, just about anything would be a good start.

Unfortunately, there's a growing consensus that the African Union can't do end the violence itself. Two reports: 1) Brookings and 2) Refugees Int'l.

Arguably, this leaves us with two options. The United Nations has already started contigency planning for a UN-led Darfur mission, but the authorizing Security Council resolution might very well be voted down by China and Russia, who have entrenched oil and arms interests, respectively, in and with Sudan. UN officials themselves admit that we won't see UN boots on the ground until 2007 at the earliest.

NATO has definite rapid response capabilities, but many don't want to see Western troops in the Darfur region.

Of course, the important and concomitant issue is one of humanitarian intervention. As I see it, more than 400,000 dead---with the very real prospect of that number being over 1 million at the end of this year---requires serious debate on the part of those who would dismiss this intervention as being just another unjustified foreign war.

I should mention that the April 30th rally in Washington, DC is attracting a diverse set of speakers: Elie Wiesel, Barack Obama, Nancy Pelosi, George Clooney...but also the heads of some of the biggest evangelical groups in the country. On the Congressional side, a recent Senate resolution calling for NATO intervention passed with a kind of bipartisan mandate. Both Brownback and Biden, for example, want NATO troops on the ground.

Also, here's a Zogby poll about Darfur from last year.

Also, I agree that, if NATO and/or the UN were to go in, we'd need a clear sense of purpose, a clear sense of what the rules of engagement are, and a clear exit strategy.
posted by n_s_1 at 2:31 PM on April 26, 2006

And even though I agree that the topic is terrible and want something to be done about it, I will not give this a free pass. People know how to get involved if they want.

Yes, and apparently you don't know how to skip a post. Free pass... get over yourself.

The goal of a post should be to inform people about it. The goal of a post shouldn't be "Did we mess up or really fuck up big time? Let's protest and fix this by telling your Representative what I think they need to hear."


What can U.S. citizens do to help end this genocide? For starters, take to the streets: you can register for an April 30th demonstration on the Golden Gate Bridge & at the Presidio, or in Washington, DC. You can also ask your Rep. to sponsor House Resolution 723, a measure that urges the President to help deploy a NATO bridging force to the Darfur region.

You notice - absolutely nowhere - does it say should. So thanks for interpreting the point of the FPP for the entirety of fucking MetaFilter - can't let this slide, then you won't even have enough tickets to hand out (in place of your hitherto generously dispersed free passes?) due to the absolute deluge of CALLS TO ACTION. The sad thing is, nobody has to bring up a strawman image of you that's insufferable and stuffed with double standards. You make quite the display on your own. All of your comments in this thread should be removed, as well as anyone who replied to you. Worthless, the lot of them - start with this one. I will not give you a free pass.
posted by prostyle at 2:46 PM on April 26, 2006

So, the $50,000,000,000 that has been poured into Africa didn't solve the problems, eh?

Hrm. What are *we* going to do about it right now? There's protests against the Iraq war, but it's ok to get involved in Darfur?

Yeah, great plan. "President Bush must lead the international community in immediately deploying a NATO-led rapid response force of at least 12,000 troops."

Someone needs to think their cunning plan all the way through.
posted by drstein at 2:47 PM on April 26, 2006

Also, I agree that, if NATO and/or the UN were to go in, we'd need a clear sense of purpose, a clear sense of what the rules of engagement are, and a clear exit strategy.

I agree. While the Powell Doctrine is famous for its "overwhelming force" description, equally important is the "well-defined strategic national interests" portion. Leadership without vision is impossible.

It's a shame a little more Powell didn't rub off on the rest of Bush's cabinet, and doubly a shame a little less of that cabinet didn't rub off on Powell. Maybe we'd have the budget, manpower, leadership, and support necessary to do something about this Genocide.
posted by Richard Daly at 2:52 PM on April 26, 2006

Look, I don't have an opinion about dios' approach in this thread. But here's a better place to discuss it.
posted by 327.ca at 2:54 PM on April 26, 2006

n_s_1: If we can be clear about the objectives and exactly how we're going to accomplish them, I could be talked into supporting some kind of intervention. But it would need to be VERY clear and VERY limited. I don't think it's fair to ask much more of our troops than we're already demanding.

I'd really like to hear from Lt. Col. Goodspeed up yonder on what he thinks needs to be done. Since he was so closely entwined with the peace process, he may know what went wrong and where we could do the most good, if troops would even help.

I suspect they probably wouldn't... if they're really determined to kill each other, I'm not sure we can stop them. We certainly haven't succeeded in Iraq, where it can be argued we might be supported by a majority of the population. (or at least, we once were.)

dios: one of these days, you'll figure out that we really don't care what you think.
posted by Malor at 3:00 PM on April 26, 2006

There's protests against the Iraq war, but it's ok to get involved in Darfur?

There's other ways to be engaged and doing useful work besides sending in the marines and shooting up the joint. The letter furtive posted is a good example.
posted by 327.ca at 3:01 PM on April 26, 2006

I hope I don't end up drafted to go to Darfur due to a public outcry to save Rwanda.
posted by buzzman at 3:17 PM on April 26, 2006

Malor: The mandate given to a UN or NATO force could be ostensibly clear. But by 'limited,' do you think that we should prevent troops from offensively engaging the genocidaires? The problem with the current African Union mission is that their mandate only allows them to monitor international monitors as well as protect civilians in their immediate vicinity. They can't proactively find out the militias and Sudanese military commiting the mass murder and systematic rape.

Drstein: I think the reason for the '12,000 NATO troops' recommendation is that Darfur is a region the size of Texas/France. Note that NATO officials sent in something like 60,000 troops to Bosnia in order to enforce the Dayton Peace Accords. I'd be interested to hear from everyone why NATO isn't the way to go here?

For all the talk about forceful diplomacy and carrots & sticks as opposed to outright intervention, it seems that Khartoum has hijacked the current talks between the Darfur rebel groups and the National Islamic Front. Peace talks have been going on for more than two and a half years.

I hope I don't end up drafted to go to Darfur due to a public outcry to save Rwanda.

What's worth risking your life for? Worth it to stop the destruction of a people? In any case, it won't be American lives in the event of an intervention---it'd be South Asians (via the UN), other Africans, perhaps some Europeans who'd go in.

Perhaps it's unfair to say this, but what would be the international response if this happened in 2003/2006 in Eastern Europe? You could imagine some hard preconditions---country X was a failed state, it was a haven for violent fundamendalists, etc.---but even given these, I'm sure we'd still do more than what we're doing right now for Western Sudan.
posted by n_s_1 at 3:32 PM on April 26, 2006

You should sign up to protest for Darfur becuase protests were so effective in stopping the war in Iraq from happening!

And if the only difference between Iraq and Darfur is oil, then why is it that we have not already attacked Iran? There is a lot more oil there than there is in Iraq.
posted by Mister Fyodor at 3:36 PM on April 26, 2006

"What can U.S. citizens do to help end this genocide?"

Well, one thing they can do is support the Bush Administration and its efforts to either reform the UN, or, if that doesn't work, get it the hell out of the US so that its stature is reduced to irrelevancy.

John Bolton is a great man, and he may be our last hope to fix the UN before its time to just get rid of it.
posted by ParisParamus at 3:55 PM on April 26, 2006

n_s_1: Unfortunately, I'm too ignorant about the situation to make terribly intelligent suggestions. But I do think the mission needs to be more than 'protect civilians', because that's open-ended and can mean almost anything. 'Destroy groups X, Y, and Z' might be a possibility, if we think we can actually do that.

I was a lot younger then, and I didn't have access to the information I do now, but I remember thinking, during the Bosnian massacres, that we should just send them weapons with which to fight back, rather than involving ourselves directly. (Of course, what I didn't realize at the time was that the untrained civilians would be likely to lose the weapons to the bad guys, so in essence we'd be arming the aggressors.) I wonder if we could work out some variant on that?

I guess, without understanding _why_ it's happening, and I know almost nothing about Darfur, it'll be tough to have much of a conversation about it. I suppose I should go educate myself.

And the UN needs reform, but Bolton is not the man to do it. People who abuse subordinates don't belong in positions of power. It's also worth pointing out that, as far as I know, Bolton was never confirmed. Even the Republican-dominated Congress couldn't stomach the man. That should tell you something. "Great man", my ass.
posted by Malor at 4:19 PM on April 26, 2006

Do you have a great ass? I don't see the connection between your anatomy, and the need for a forceful leader at the UN. There was a smear campaign in the Senate against Bolton. He should have been confirmed, and his work at the UN since then only CONFIRMS this.

In any case, all you need is for Bolton to be better, smarter and have more integrity than the UN has without Bolton. If you seriously care about fixing the UN, you will see behind the petty politics of his recess appointment and support him.
posted by ParisParamus at 4:28 PM on April 26, 2006

Paris, I don't know what planet you come from, but if even the REPUBLICANS can't stand the man, he's obviously vile.
posted by Malor at 4:57 PM on April 26, 2006

I am not aware that "the Republicans" can't stand the man. But I really don't care. I ascribe to a politics of ideas; not party affiliation. There are fools and hacks from one side of the "political spectrum" to the other.

Bolton is a good man. He is pointing out and trying to reform the UN. There's so much work that it may never get done, and reform won't be obvious for years, but I challenge you to find a more suitable UN Ambassador.
posted by ParisParamus at 5:06 PM on April 26, 2006

Personally, I'd go for Scott Ritter. That guy has the cojones to go to the wall when he believes in something, is one of the most patriotic Americans I've ever heard speak, and was smart enough to see through the WMD bullshit.

I'd take him as the UN ambassador in a heartbeat.

This is off-track now, though.
posted by Malor at 5:19 PM on April 26, 2006

Guys, Iraq and Darfur are different issues. Yes, I know that Americans are myopic enough to just count number of American military killed, but come on, people are being slaughtered in Darfur. It's not like Iraq where the invasion is the problem.

So, the $50,000,000,000 that has been poured into Africa didn't solve the problems, eh?

What the fuck? Turn your gaze away from ethnic cleansing because you're "fed up with those guys"?
posted by Firas at 5:40 PM on April 26, 2006

This deserves to be off track. Dios is right; Metafilter is not the place to advertise your pet project, whether it be commercial or political. This could have been a fine post without the call to rally in the streets etc.
posted by caddis at 5:40 PM on April 26, 2006

posted by flabdablet at 5:45 PM on April 26, 2006

Firas, but it's the SAME ARMY you're asking to do the job. Don't you think they've sacrificed enough as it is?

We fucked up, we invaded Iraq, and guess what? We just don't have the resources to go into Darfur.

Give us a clear, definite plan of exactly what you want to accomplish, and how you propose to go about it, and then maybe there's something to talk about. Helpless handwaving doesn't do anyone any good.

Pre-Iraq, we could have just dumped troops in and then figured it out, but we don't have that luxury anymore.
posted by Malor at 7:39 PM on April 26, 2006

or is it two-faced?

posted by homunculus at 7:42 PM on April 26, 2006

Why the fuck is anybody responding to ParisParamus? He's not here for the hunting.
posted by I Love Tacos at 8:02 PM on April 26, 2006

what would be the international response if this happened in 2003/2006 in Eastern Europe?

I don't know about the international response, per se, but I'm pretty sure I recall the American response to our involvement in just such a situation in the late 1990's. Let me just Nexis up a vintage WSJ editorial. Here we go:

posted by aaronetc at 8:15 PM on April 26, 2006

Here is why the US can't do anything other than pay lip service:

1) It doesn't have the resources to commit troops to Sudan, even under the auspices of NATO (remember, the bulk of the forces that NATO deployed in Kosovo were ostensibly US)

2) Sending in forces in a region with conflicts that are so nuanced would only do more harm than good. Imagine using a chainsaw to do work meant for a scalpel. Any type of western intervention (read US) would only inflame the already upset fundamentalist islamists, and do more harm than good to the Sudanese peace process

3) No one can secure a mandate in the UN, esp with China so reluctant to pass any resolution that might impinge on the sovereignty of Khartoum

4) The problems are more than just Tribesman v. Militia backed by government, the conflict is also about trying to share a rapidly depleting resource between many parties, in this case, land (there is a huge problem of deserfication near the Darfur region).

I want something to be done, but it seems like there are more problems than solutions.
posted by phyrewerx at 12:00 AM on April 27, 2006

The U.S. should do nothing. Why should it? How about China do something... or France, maybe Germany or Iran? Perhaps Canada could lead the way? Damned if we do, damned if we don't, or so it seems.
posted by Witty at 5:23 AM on April 27, 2006

Witty, don't forget Poland!!!
posted by inigo2 at 7:01 AM on April 27, 2006

Malor, oh, I don't think we should dump troops from any country in. I think the international community should pressure/support/augment the African Union force.

As you hint, it is *very* important to not 'just send' US troops there without blue helmets on their heads...
posted by Firas at 7:17 AM on April 27, 2006

So what I'm specifically saying is, we should pressure our governments out of complacency and appeasement. I agree that what is to be done in particular is unclear and the issue is naunced and further inflammable--but I mean, at least stop the killing, yeah?
posted by Firas at 7:19 AM on April 27, 2006

why is it that we have not already attacked Iran?

Because Iran can fight back.
posted by Clay201 at 2:18 AM on April 28, 2006

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