Tuesday, May 22, 2007

US Troops In Darfur?

Senator Joseph Biden (D-DE) has called for the deployment of US troops into Sudan to stop the on-going genocide in Darfur. Biden, who was attending a multinational meeting at the UN on the Darfur crisis, stated that he would impose a no-fly zone and send American soldiers into the region immediately, and also said that President Bush is considering implementing a large sanctions regime against Sudan if the Sudanese government continues to refuse to admit a larger peacekeeping force.

It's nice to see Biden go out a limb like this; the rest of the congressional delegation (Sen. Bob Corker [R-TN] and Sen. Benjamin Cardin [D-MD]) weren't willing to go as far as Biden and call for an intervention. However, despite the designation of the crisis as a genocide by President Bush, an armed intervention is unlikely to happen. The UN is far too gutless and hamstrung by its bureaucratic procedures to pass a Security Council resolution, the US military is strained by the deployments in Afghanistan and Iraq, and there is very likely little will -- political or public -- in the US right now for such an intervention.

But, even if Bush decided to send troops, how would such a move be greeted by those who have opposed the use of force in Iraq? An intervention in Darfur is almost guaranteed to be "illegal" in that it will not have the sanction of the UN Security Council, just as the invasion of Iraq did not. Does that mean the US shouldn't intervene? The US public has shown a willingness to tolerate the casualties sustained in Iraq...but will that continue in Darfur? Or will it be a repeat of Somalia where, unconvinced of the national interest at stake, a few US casualties undermined the whole operation?

If such an intervention is to occur, President Bush, along with Senator Biden and the rest of Congress, need to prepare the US public. Specifically, they need to make the case of why the US should expend its treasure, and more importantly, why US soldiers should risk their lives and even die to protect the Darfuris. As I have said before, this is not a hard case to make. But it needs to be made, or else an intervention in Darfur, or anywhere else the US intervenes for humanitarian purposes, will follow the same road as Somalia.


Matt Bondy said...

Hi there, Seth.

Remembering your (and less importantly, my) support for McCain's 'league of democracies' idea, I wonder how such a league might be prepared to act in the face of a crisis like the one presently being borne out in Darfur.

Would it be beyond the realm of the possible for an Anglosphere or League of Democracies kind of alliance to maintain a permanent rapid reaction force to deal with genocides once a majority of member states conclude that a genocide is indeed taking place?

This - much like former Canadian PM Paul Martin's idea of R2P - seems like a more realistic and assertive option than whatever the UN might manage.


The Dominion Pages

Seth Weinberger said...

I'd think the question would be much more about the political will than the military/technical feasibility. I wouldn't think it would be that difficult for NATO or some other "democratic league" to maintain a rapid deployment force to send in to potential genocides.

MB said...

I would argue that military means can generally be found a lot more readily than political will.

That said (if I can play devil's advocate again) - I also believe it would be increadibly difficult for NATO or any other such body to practically establish and maintain a rapid deployment force for genocides. Such forces have to multi-task - not least in that many of those with a capacity to intervene are currently suffering from overstretch.

It is difficult enough given the aforementioned lack of political will to have such a mission be taken up by the likes of the NRF or even an EU Battlegroup. To envisage it being taken up by some sort of dedicated genocide-intervention force seems to me a stretch of the imagination too far at this point (however desirable it might be.)

NYkrinDC said...

An intervention in Darfur is almost guaranteed to be "illegal" in that it will not have the sanction of the UN Security Council, just as the invasion of Iraq did not. Does that mean the US shouldn't intervene?

Not necessarily. The US can use its leverage to get the AU to sanction any such intervention, and to call for the aid of the US and NATO. That would make it legal in the same sense that the intervention in the Balkans was legal even in the absence of a UN mandate.

Other than that, I agree with you and also think Sen. Biden should be commended for taking a lead role in pushing for action on Darfur.

et go home said...

The US should aim to stir the subject at an international level and exert pressure to allies in order to create a multinational force, with the participation of the AU. However what should come first is the development of an integrated plan providing clear and pragmatic exits for all those involved. What the international community should avoid is another intervention that will drag itself for a long time without tangible results.

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