Darfur: Give War a Chance!

It seems today that "peace negotiations" are as much a part of war as are tanks and artillery. Indeed, it would seem that there is a proportion between the violence on the ground and the amount of useless diplomacy in the hotels. And nowhere is this diplomacy more useless than in Darfur. Sanctions won't work because the Sudanese govmint is protected by the Chinese, who lust after their oil and their development projects. And the Sudanese are happy to attend conference after conference; its a comfortable living and involves little risk.

Of course, the Left, and others, would like us to send a "peace-keeping" force, and have kept up a drumbeat of pressure to do just this. One certainly agrees with their fervor, although what "peace" there is to keep, I cannot detect, but no matter. Even if our army was not tied down in other places, this idea of a non-starter. A modern army is a technological marvel. Unfortunately, it depends on lot's of other technological marvels: roads, water filtration plants, electricity, and so forth. Darfur lacks all of these; every drop of water, every bite of food, every gallon of fuel will have to be brought in from the outside; the logistical problem far outweighs every other problem and we simply can't afford to enrich Halliburton anymore than we already have. Further, Darfur is the size of Texas, but is just a loose network of villages. This means that each village is no more important than any other, and all have to be defended, which means we would have to spread the army in small groups across a Texas-sized landscape; further increasing the logistical nightmare. No general is going to allow that to happen. The truth is, no foreign army can defend Darfur.

So can nothing be done to stop the slaughter? Well, there is, in fact, one army that can defend Darfur: an army of Darfurians. An armed and determined population can resist even a modern army, and much more a band of thugs and cowards such as the Janjiweed. This is a time-tested method. This is how we won wars in Nicaragua, Afghanistan, and Kurdistan. The latter is the war in Iraq that we actually won; we won it by not fighting it, but rather by arming the Kurds to fight their own battles. Hence, having won their own freedom, which some support from us, they have established a stable and prosperous enclave right in the midst of chaos, a chaos that follows a foreign army wherever it goes.

To be sure, it is a method not without its own dangers. In Afghanistan, against the Soviet Army, we backed an obscure group of "freedom fighters" called the Taliban. After their stunning victory over both the Russians and their own internal rivals, their gratitude towards us did not last long. And in Kurdistan, we have created a state within a state that the Turks, the Iranians, and even the Iraqi govmint (such as it is) regards as problematic, if not downright threatening. Nevertheless, this principle is sure: the best army to defend any country is an army of that same country. Nations like the United States can change the balance of power by arming and training one side or the other. But they are unlikely to ever win such a war by fighting it themselves. There are exceptions, of course, such as the American conquest of the Philippines, but the Philippine army had no outside backers to provide them with arms against the Americans, and even at that it took us 13 years to completely subdue them.

An operation to arm the Darfurians with rifles, machine-guns, and grenade launchers would be relatively cheap and small-scale. We could also provide some heavy support by bombing Janjiweed barracks and logistical centers. And it is the only option which has any chance of success. A Janjiweed thug, intent on rape, may find his ardor cooled if his victim is herself pointing a rifle at his "gun." Indeed, the mere threat to arm the population may by itself cause the govmint to reign in the militias.

So why do we not take this option? I suspect that it is because we have made a fetish of peace, forgetting that everyone has right--or rather the duty--to defend themselves. But defense requires the tools of defense, and when only one side has them, defense is futile. The United Nations must realize that as long as the Chinese are willing to ignore any sanctions, then the UN can do nothing, and leave the questions to others who can. And we can, if we would. But we must be willing to give war a chance. Not a war of a foreign army, but a war of indigenous soldiers defending their own heritage, hearths, and homes. We can go on talking peace in the face of genocide, or we can actually do something about it. I believe we have a responsibility to act in the name of solidarity with the poor and helpless, but I do not believe that we can do the job for them, anymore than we could do it in Vietnam or in Baghdad.

1 comments:

dan Saturday, July 7, 2007 at 9:57:00 PM CDT  

Excellent, no frills, analysis of what really needs to be done in Darfur short of being too busy by falling on our forign policy faces everywhwere else.

John get thee to a think tank before it's too late.

Regards, Dan

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