Mr. Ban Goes to Cairo
Darfur is tragic and Darfur is very complex. So complex that I do not even begin to grasp the multi-faceted nuance of the conflict. That said, it seems to me that when you shave away all the (admittedly important) details, you are left with a basic, unavoidable story line: The government in Khartoum implemented a policy of counter-insurgency by arming a band of nomadic ranchers, even providing them air support, and a green light to run wild in Darfur – raping, pillaging, murdering to their heart’s delight. Yes, the insurgents have done bad things. We should not be blind to that. This is not a morality play. This is reality, and as such it is drenched in gray. But again, there is a fundamental storyline and it is important not to lose sight of it the more complex all these diplomatic machinations become.
My brother asks the vital question: Where is the outrage from the rest of the world? The silence is vital because it lays bare an important truth. For all the deafening griping about American heavy handedness, and interventionism, and unilateralism, and all the related crap heard in various precincts in America but even more predominantly in Europe and beyond (Moscow) about America being uncouth (for lack of a better term), let it be remembered that virtually NOTHING GETS DONE WITHOUT AMERICAN LEADERSHIP. When it comes to all the accusations about the (troubling) US Human Rights record during the War on Terror, let it be acknowledged that for all their elevated talk, the European Union is punching well below its weight when it comes to human rights issues (and this criticism is not limited to Darfur). UN Sec-General Ban Ki-moon’s recent trip to Cairo perfectly exemplifies how the UN has no power.
And there is this: For all of those who counsel a more modest role for the United States in the world. I understand the argument. It makes sense on a lot of levels. But those that make that case, that resort to endless chatter about multilateralism and the UN, must acknowledge the consequences of such an approach: Issues like Darfur will simply never be addressed. There is no constituency agitating on these issues and no military powers willing to expend resources rectifying them (or at least ameliorating them). For instance, Mr. Ban is in the region for the forthcoming Arab League Summit. The Arab League is a deeply cynical outfit, a deliberative body that can do nothing unless the culprit they wish to call to account is Israeli. (In this it shares its predilection with the UN Human Rights Commission.)
A chastened, humble, modest (choose your adjective) American foreign policy? Sure. But let us at least be honest about the consequences.