Do Progressives Care About Darfur - Part V

Friday, November 04, 2005

Do Progressives Care About Darfur - Part V

I have been asking for months if "progressives" cared about Darfur - and the answer was always "no."

But today, Richard Just has this great article in The New Republic
And anyone who calls himself a liberal ought to agree that something must be done about Darfur.


Any fair reading of the principles behind foreign-policy idealism would require some kind of Western intervention in Darfur. That's because Darfur, unlike Iraq, is an extreme case. Idealism, like all worldviews, is a spectrum: An aggressive idealist might counsel action to overthrow a regime like Saddam's; a more cautious idealist might urge progress through diplomatic means. But because idealism at its core is a belief in the role of morality in foreign policy, and because there is no greater moral evil than ongoing genocide, it is simply impossible to conceive of an idealism that would not demand strong action--diplomatic and, if necessary, military--to end the Darfur slaughter. In fact, there is only one label for a worldview that counsels inaction and silence in the face of genocide: realism.


To be sure, President Bush and the Republicans currently hold most of the power in Washington. No one should let them off the hook regarding Darfur. History will assign them--along with leaders of the United Nations and other Western countries--the greatest culpability for allowing this genocide to take place on their watch. But the primary culpability of Bush does not erase entirely the culpability of other actors on the political stage; and so liberals, too, have a duty to propose action. This obligation cuts to the heart of the unfolding debate over what a liberal foreign policy should look like. A liberalism that cannot make genocide prevention a central plank of its foreign policy is not an idealistic brand of liberalism. Nor is it a liberalism that people of conscience will ever find particularly attractive.

All of which brings me to a proposal of sorts. Darfur presents, first and foremost, a foreign policy challenge that must be met by those in power--and soon. But it also presents a chance for liberals to clarify their worldview, for themselves and for the country they aspire to once again lead. Precisely because Darfur is an easy case, it should unite those liberals who favored the Iraq war and those who opposed it; those who consider themselves liberal hawks and liberal doves; those who supported Joe Lieberman in 2004 and those who preferred Dennis Kucinich. Anyone who considers himself a liberal idealist should know where to stand on Darfur, and what must be done. The only people left on the outside of this coalition will be the most hard-hearted of the liberal realists; and I'm not sure those people deserve to be called liberals anyway.

It is incumbent on President Bush to act in Darfur--to lead our Western allies in a multilateral effort to secure the area. But since he seems to have no intention of doing this, it has become incumbent upon the political opposition to shame him into action. So let the Democratic foreign-policy thinkers draw a clear distinction on this issue between what our party would do and what President Bush has done. Let them tell voters clearly that ours is a political philosophy of human empathy and moral strength. Let every Democrat who hopes to win the presidential nomination in 2008--from Hillary in the center to Feingold on the left--offer a plan to end the Darfur genocide as a clear indication of their idealistic credentials. And should one of them win the White House, and should it still be necessary, let that person act decisively to save the people of Darfur--not despite his or her liberal instincts, but because of them.

0 comments in Do Progressives Care About Darfur - Part V

Post a Comment

Do Progressives Care About Darfur - Part V | Demagogue Copyright © 2010