What to do in Darfur?

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

What to do in Darfur?

Matthew Yglesias and Mark Leon Goldberg are having a bit of a debate about what to do in Darfur.

Yglesias pretty much dismisses the idea of humanitarian intervention as implausible while Goldberg argues that the most important thing right now is for the ICC to hand down indictments and try those senior officials responsible for the genocide.

I tend to agree with Goldberg, though I don't have all that much faith in the ability of the ICC to actually detain people for trial, much less gain convictions.

And while Yglesias makes many good points, I think he falls into the trap of assuming that any intervention in Darfur would require large numbers of US troops. I don't think that is necessarily the case, and the International Crisis Group just released a report earlier this month calling for in increased AU mission with an expanded mandate and possibly a NATO bridging force to protect civilians.

The debate over how we solve the situation in Darfur just grows more complex by the week - in part, because nobody seems to be taking the question seriously. This has been going on for two years and nobody seems to have any idea what to do about it other than wait it out and hope it goes away.

As Goldberg noted, Darfur has become a genocide by attrition where starvation and diseases have taken the place of bullets and bombs as the weapons of choice.

There are 3 million people requiring assistance, still plagued by insecurity. Their villages have been destroyed, their animals have died and their land has been stolen. As I noted last month, solving Darfur requires world leaders to start making a serious and concerted effort to make Khartoum understand that it will be accountable for its genocidal policies. But such efforts have been sadly lacking.

So my main suggestion, for now, is for the African Union to start "embedding" journalists with its expanded force. The news coverage from Darfur has been drying up over the last few weeks and perhaps if international journalists could travel with AU patrols in Darfur, the world would begin to understand just what is taking place there.

Obviously, this is not going to stop the violence or feed the starving - but at least it is a start.

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