About That Curious Line
Over the course of its short, too often dormant existence, small-d has not been shy about criticizing the editorial position of The Nation. (Caveat: more accurately, I have not been shy about lambasting the editorial position of The Nation – while always taking care to note the very significant exceptions. As a professional courtesy, I leave my PITC out of this). As I have probably stipulated previously, The Nation’s front section suffers from being maddeningly predictable, while the back of the book offers consistently terrific literary criticism as well as consistently wrong-headed foreign policy prescriptions.
So it is only proper that I acknowledge my very pleasant surprise to see that Adam LeBor has a review essay in the current number of the magazine. (LeBor is the author of a searing new indictment of the United Nation’s complicity in acts of genocide during the tenure of Kofi Annan.) The essay is worth a read in its entirety, but one passage in particular warrants special citation.
Wrongly viewing Darfur through the prism of the Iraq War, much of the left, both in the United States and Europe, seems paralyzed by the fear of being seen to support another overseas adventure. For all its complications–pre-existing conflicts over water and agricultural land, desertification and arbitrary international borders–the crisis in Darfur is also simple. The Sudanese government is waging a sustained campaign of murder, ethnic cleansing and displacement against the people of Darfur, a campaign extensively documented by the UN, Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International, among others. The slaughter could be curtailed or even brought to a close without Western military intervention. Such steps might include: deploying UN troops inside Sudan; deploying peacekeepers in Chad to prevent cross-border raids; targeted sanctions on Sudan’s oil industry; targeted sanctions on Sudanese government ministers, army and intelligence officers; using US trade as a weapon to pressure China, Sudan’s main sponsor, to stop the carnage; and even threats to boycott the Beijing Olympics. [Emphasis my own]
LeBor offers many compelling prescriptions in here. None terribly novel, but each warranting considerably more attention than they have been receiving in the trans-Atlantic halls of power as of late. That said, I question the notion that “the slaughter could be curtailed or even brought to a close without Western military intervention.” This questioning is not to say that such an intervention would be prudent. LeBor may very well think it not. He would be in good company. My questioning is to say that I am very curious about how this line found its way into this paragraph. Mere speculation, but having read some of LeBor’s work, it strikes me as curious and perhaps a bit out of character.
This non-consequential (and tediously minor) compunction notwithstanding, the essay covers a great deal of new literature in the field of genocide studies.