Help Me Out on Darfur

Many of the very same folks who are vocal critics of the war in Iraq have "Save Darfur" banners on their web site.  I followed one, and clicked around a lot to find out what the hell they thought should be done.  They have some woman on the home page "running for Darfur" but I am not sure that is much of a practical solution.  I see they also want to send in the UN peacekeepers, but they seem to imply the problem is that the government needs to go, and I have never known UN peacekeepers to overthrow any governments (or to do anything really, other than maybe participate in some of the looting themselves).  And I can't believe that any adult really thinks sending aid money to this area with a rapacious government is going to help one bit.

Isn't the only real solution to send in troops, overthrow the old boss, and hang around for a decade or so until the new boss is stable?  And how is that any different than Iraq.

Seriously, I thought opposition to Iraq was about not engaging in wars we don't have to for mainly humanitarian reasons.  I am very sympathetic to this position, but it means that you are just going to have to watch and weep when the inevitable Darfurs come along.  But all this Darfur stuff is making me think that the opposition to Iraq is more about wars started by our guy vs. wars started by your guy.  I think it is perfectly valid to have a discussion about whether we want to try to take on by military force every bad government in the world (see: Cleaning the Augean Stables).  Unfortunately, I think the discussion is instead devolving into whether we should use our army to attack governments George Bush doesn't like vs. those Bono doesn't like.

  • Kevin

    Some people were opposed to attacking Iraq because we shouldn't engage in "wars we don't have to for mainly humanitarian reasons" - but those people are named things like "Pat Buchanan"and "Jim Henley", and probably don't have "Save Darfur" (or "Free Tibet") bumper stickers on their cars.

    The folks with the Darfur bumper stickers and banners aren't going to grant your premise that we invaded Iraq for humanitarian reasons. Ending the sanctions on Iraq, that would have been humanitarian. Invading Iraq, though, that was to enrich Bush's oil-bidness cronies and Halliburton. Or perhaps because Iraq wasn't in compliance with its end of the cease-fire in our ongoing-since-1991 war, or even because of our national security interest in the Middle East, though the bumper-sticker crowd won't grant either of those as good reasons for war, either.

    Even among people who backed the war, like myself, I think you'll find that humanitarian reasons - while nice - were not the primary argument.

  • JoshK

    It's kind of ironic. Many people labeled "neo-cons" are people who were more left-aligned in their thinking 15-20 years ago. I think the failure of socialism / communism had an effect on them.

    But, they subscribe to the ideas that Sharansky set out in "Case for Democracy". But it's an essentially "liberal" idea. We can help remake the world in a better way. It always struck me as strange how the Democrats rejected this and at the same time mouth on about saving Darfur. I think N. Kristoff deserves some credit for pointing out that there was a positive side to removing Saddam in his column. Of course he was pilloried by the left for that one.

  • http://goodmorningeconomics.wordpress.com jsalvati

    I probably oppose intervening in Darfur (don't know much about it, so I don't have much of an opinion), but I think it is at least somewhat different, because the opportunity cost was a lot bigger for the population of Iraq than for the population of Darfur now.
    When we invaded Iraq, the Iraqi government wasn't currently involved in mass slaughter. We destroyed a stable, if authoritarian, country and replaced it with something much worse. The conflict is probably going to go on for decades. The population of Darfur, on the other hand, is starting from a much worse initial position than the population of Iraq was, because there are currently mass killings.

  • Greg

    "When we invaded Iraq, the Iraqi government wasn't currently involved in mass slaughter. We destroyed a stable, if authoritarian, country and replaced it with something much worse..."

    I'm confused. My understanding is that S. Hussein had murdered 500,000 to 1,500,000 of his own people over his term in office (depending on who you ask.) That works out to what, 20k to 60k a year? Even the UN says 50k killed in the war. And most of them were the "bad guys." S.H. used WMDs on his own people. He institutionalized rape. Torture and agonizing death was an art form under this fellow.

    And how is letting people enthusiastically participate in elections, risking their own lives to do so, far worse?

    My impression of the "Save Darfur" crowd is that they feel that just talking to the right people in the right way will make everything all better. None of them are actually willing to work up a sweat about it, though.

    Personally, while I'm not opposed to helping Darfur regain stability, I think we should stay out. Whatever the mess we believe Iraq is, I think Darfur would be worse. Politically I don't think we can hold together for the years required to stabilize the place.

    And what about the next Darfur? And the one after that?

  • http://www.dawudwalid.com Dawud

    The situation in Darfur is even more complex than Iraq. Darfur, a province the size of France, has 200 different tribes, all black skinned, all Sunni Muslims, with a mix of factors that started the conflict including environmental degradation, competing for natural resources between farmers (so called Africans) and nomands (so-called Arabs), and Western interests in the region. Also, 70% of the Sudanese Army that are supposedly involved in violence against Darfurians are actually Darfurians.

    SEE UN Report from June 2007:
    http://www.unep.org/Documents.Multilingual/Default.asp?DocumentID=512&ArticleID=5621&l=en

    And you're right, the Hollywood celebrity crowd won't break a sweat about truly helping people in Darfur. Are they willing to give up Coca Cola or boycott the soda companies? 80% of the world's gum arabic comes from Sudan, which is a major component of soda and some candies.

    The soda companies that pay for advertisements that pay their multi-million dollar salaries would never go for that!

    This whole thing is shameful.

  • molly

    Hilarious. I just had a visit from my parents, both sporting green "save Darfur" bracelets... I refused to ask.

    The best way to "save" Darfur is to send in the Marines and the 101 Airborne. Wipe out the miserable government. Institute Martial law for the next 10 years. Right? But really, we should be against ridiculous interventionist foreign policies which do no good. OK.

    So what do "save Darfurians" think we should do?

    They left me a book, helpfully HIGHLIGHTED, called "Not on our Watch" by Don Cheadle and John Prendergast. Turns out, the answer to Darfur is to "talk".

    Oh.

    We'll see.

  • molly

    Hilarious. I just had a visit from my parents, both sporting green "save Darfur" bracelets... I refused to ask.

    The best way to "save" Darfur is to send in the Marines and the 101 Airborne. Wipe out the miserable government. Institute Martial law for the next 10 years. Right? But really, we should be against ridiculous interventionist foreign policies which do no good. OK.

    So what do "save Darfurians" think we should do?

    They left me a book, helpfully HIGHLIGHTED, called "Not on our Watch" by Don Cheadle and John Prendergast. Turns out, the answer to Darfur is to "talk".

    Oh.

    We'll see.

  • markm

    I long ago concluded that when leftists "help" someone, it isn't about helping, it's about feeling good about themselves. The actual consequences of their "help" can be ignored, all that counts is that they wanted to help.

    The UN has learned how to enable them in these feel-good campaigns; the blue helmets are visible proof that they're trying to do something, but they are forbidden from shooting first even if there's a massacre going on right under their noses so no one will feel bad about their guys "initiating violence."

    For the rest, read Henry David Thoreau. He had do-gooders pegged a century and a half ago, and he wrote much better than I can.

  • http://alfin2100.blogspot.com Al Fin

    It's all about "feeling relevant." Saving Darfur and Stopping Global Warming are the start of a wonderfully relevant morning. Saving the whales, the rainforests, Africa, and the ozone layer helps complete the afternoon. But to be able to sleep soundly at night, it is necessary to stop Bush-Chimp-Cheney and the neokons, while preventing the oil and coal companies from taking over the world.

    All in all, a highly relevant day.

  • Morgan

    I think that if anyone stopped to do thorough research, they would find that advocates for Darfur are not advocating for the United States military to go to Darfur to do ANYTHING.

    In fact, most Darfur advocacy groups are lobbying for political pressure from the United States government as well as other world powers. They are urging for divestment from large firms who have invested in Sudanese companies. They are asking for China to stop lending its support to the Sudanese government. They are asking for virtually everything BUT action from the United States military.

    This type of political and economic pressure has proved effective in the past. During the 90s when Darfur was charged with harboring terrorists, the United States applied political pressure. Before you know it, there wasn't a terrorist to be found.

    We should never go to war based on purely humanitarian reasons. But we do have an obligation as a society to do SOMETHING to protect the rights of the innocent who are being annihilated at the hands of their own government.

  • Amanda

    I dont understand why people weren't having fundraisers and raising money a long time ago!

  • katie

    You should read your stuff if you want to complain. There are reasons why they want to send peacekeepers (because they can't send troops; the UN refuses to call it a genocide) and governments are unwilling to send troops for various reasons that you'll learn about if you read up on. It's not just another "let's save the whales!" thing. People are being raped, set on fire, mutilated, and more - 400,000 are dead already, and it is because of the ignorance of others and their unwillingness to do anything that nothing is being done.