Monday, August 22, 2005

Wes Clark's Stand for Darfur

You don't hear that much in the American media or the blogosphere about Darfur these days. Aside from the furor over Iraq, there are at least two other African crises (in Niger and Zimbabwe) taxing the limited interest of Americans in that continent. And even when it comes to Sudan, the renewed north-south civil war tremors emanating from the death of John Garang seem to be getting as much attention as the ongoing genocide to the west.

That's why I was pleased to hear Wesley Clark speak out on National Public Radio today, calling for a NATO/AU military mission to deploy the estimated 12,000 troops needed right now to stop the genocide.

Think about that number: just twelve thousand peace-keeping troops to stop the slaughter of hundreds of thousands of innocent people, with millions all told suffering homelessness, displacement, semi-starvation, and possible death--not to mention the value of finally showing the civilized world is willing to intervene to halt genocide. Yet the AU is struggling towards a deployment of just over 7,000 troops.

As Clark argues, supplementing the AU force with a small NATO contingent, with full NATO logistical support, could work miracles. Sure, a U.N. authorized force would be even better, but that's virtually impossible thanks to the pro-Khartoum posture of China and Russia.

Given U.S. troop commitments in Iraq and Afghanistan, the U.S. contribution would have to consist of logistics and air cover, but these are critical given the remoteness of Darfur. That's why the U.S. should pressure the U.K., France and Germany, who have shed many crocodile tears over Darfur, to step up to the plate with a small commitment of troops.

The DLC came out for almost exactly the same plan back in April. But when it comes to humanitarian interventions, nobody has the authority of Wes Clark, who has actually carried out one successfully. I hope he keeps it up, and helps shame the Bush administration into action in the one arena where their increasingly ludicrous swagger might actually do some good.
-- Posted at 10:33 PM | Link to this post | Email this post

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