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February 14, 2006

Darfur Needs More Cheek and Less Bush
Posted by Heather Hurlburt

Number of troops and/or dollars President Bush committed on Monday to UN peacekeeping mission for Darfur, Sudan, after a request for support from UN Secretary General Kofi Annan in an Oval Office meeting: 0.

Number of troops and/or dollars American speedskater Joey Cheek committed to Sudanese relief after winning a $25,000 bonus for his Olympic gold medal:  $25,000.

Ok, Derek brings you the substance and I bring you the guy in tights.    Joey_cheek_jpeg

But this points up both how far Darfur and its horrors have crept into the public consciousness (through the unlikely triumverate of aid groups, evangelicals, and MTV) and how little both the folks in power and the media have responded to those concerns.

So, reasons for optimism:  1) Americans really do care about this one; and 2) Cheek is skating for the kids of Darfur again later this week, and Darfur will get more airtime on NBC thanks to Mr. Cheek than the peace talks and Kofi Annan's pleas combined.

Go, Joey.

Reasons for pessimism:  remember how lambasted the Clinton Administration was for its slow response to Bosnia?  the Bosnian conflict lasted for three years and killed between 100-200,000; in Darfur, we're coming up on three years and 180,000 dead.  Or is that a reason for optimism?  Is three years and six figures our real threshold for genocide?


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Gee, what about Clinton et al and the DRC in 1998? I think the dead toll there is 3.5M and rising. So, I guess the threshold is higher, no? Actually, I think the threshold is geographic, not numeric. The further you are from good plane connections to the US (and Europe), the harder it is to get the West interested.

Heather, you say that Bush committed no troops "after a request from UN Secretary General Kofi Annan in an Oval Office meeting."

But the story you cite from Forbes explicitly contradicts that assertion:

Secretary-General Kofi Annan agreed on Monday to work with other nations to have an effective peacekeeping force in Sudan's Darfur region, but Annan did not ask the president to supply U.S. troops.

The pattern of US direct action abroad is clear: when a vital national interest is threatened, the US is willing to act unilaterally; when a vital national interest is not threatened, the US tends act multilaterally. The US has led the push for UN action on the Sudan crisis. And don't forget, the UN General Assembly elected Sudan to the Human Rights council specifically to block US diplomacy on the issue.

With due respect to the victims, no vital national interest is threatened in the Sudan. Hence, you can expect the US to adopt a multilateral approach.

As an aside, the religious nature of the violence in Sudan is often overlooked. Sudanese Muslims (mainly Sunni) compel African Christians and animists to convert, live under a dhimmi, be impressed into slavery, or die.

Why does the UN refuse to act? Why does the General Assembly oppose action? The answers are obvious.

Why does the UN refuse to act? Why does the General Assembly oppose action? The answers are obvious.

Yes. There's no money in it.

Jeff Younger --- And yet the Darfur tribes subject to genocide by Khartoum are all Muslim, and if anything more Islamist than the Khartoum government. Indeed, many of the Fur and Zaghawa tribal militias that make up the Darfur rebel groups acquired their military expertise in the Sudanese Army or with Khartoum-allied mercenary or auxiliary units fighting in the south.

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