Thursday, April 13, 2006


What Would the New York Times Do? In today's NYT, we find yet another editorial calling for action in Darfur. Noting that "it is enormously distressing to watch the sausage-making that passes for the world's attempt to do something about the carnage in Darfur," the Times lambastes the UN for "dawdling over plans to replace the African Union force currently there with a well-armed U.N. peacekeeping force," asks "Where are the Muslims who took to the streets to protest Danish cartoons? Where are the African leaders who demanded boycotts of South Africa?" castigates "Security Council members, like China, Qatar, Ghana and Tanzania, that continue to give diplomatic cover to Sudan" and praises President Bush for "trying to push the United Nations in the right direction."

Even if the UN does decide to take action, it will likely begin by imposing sanction on Sudan and perhaps on individual Sudanese officials for their roles in the genocide. Such sanctions are unlikely to work, and even if they do, will be cold comfort to those who have already died, or will die waiting for the Sudanese government to feel the pain in its pocketbook. And, it's certainly no guarantee that the UN will even decide to act at all. China and Russia have opposed any and all calls to action and fear setting precedents for international intervention to protect oppressed minorities.

So, What Would The New York Times Do? If one is to be serious about ending genocide, protecting the human security of individuals, and promoting basic levels of human rights, the UN cannot be the preferred option. But, how would the Times react if Bush decided to intervene, either with NATO, an ad-hoc coalition, or (gasp) unilaterally? If the Times seriously cares about ending the conflict in Darfur, it must be willing to support action taken outside of the UN framework. Sad editorials like today's that place hope in the UN and the international community do nothing but assuage guilty consciences and ensure that more people will die while the UN fiddles.

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