Clash of the Titans LXVI: US Troops to Darfur

February 1, 2008, 11:30 am; posted by
Filed under Chloe, Debate, Job  | 11 Comments

In this corner, supporting deployment of American troops to Darfur, is Job!

And in this corner, opposing their use, is Chloe!

I know many people chafe against America’s stint as the world’s police, but if that role were ever necessary, the situation in Darfur is the time. This is not the global equivalent of assault, grand theft auto, or arson. It is, my friends, murder one.

I’m an isolationist at heart, but not spurious in my desire to see American intervention in areas of political or religious upheaval. I think, at times, intervention is necessary, and I support our efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan currently, and Haiti and Somalia in the past. But the sheer scope of the tragedy in Darfur — the injustice, the lawlessness, the bloodshed, and the fact that there are no cool heads to be put towards prevailing — gives this situation a sense of urgency on steroids.

Whatever compassionate, protective, empathetic part of the brain that responded to the great tsunami should also respond to this senseless loss of life. There are not sides to be delicately understood, or diplomatic measures to be massaged here. What is necessary is for the only nation with the willpower, the means, the expertise, and the track record — the United States of America — to send not only our soldiers and sailors to Sudan, but also our Marines.

This can’t be misconstrued as a search for oil or hegemonic dominance. This is an instance where the darkness of the world is winning, while we do nothing about it. I don’t speak of darkness in the Biblical sense — although I could focus this argument entirely on our need as a believing nation to alleviate the suffering there — but rather a darkness of ideology that continues to dim the value of life and the vigor of freedom all over the world. Our indifference — perhaps too strong a term for 2008, but which will most certainly be applied (perhaps accurately) years from now — to the plight sickens me on a personal level and frustrates me on a policy level.

What an opportunity — to reshape an image, reinvigorate our “brand,” and mold an emerging Africa in a better shape — while ending the slaughter (and that is not hyperbole) that should be casting a shadow over our nation’s collective conscience.

It’s a human rights crime. 200,000 to 400,000 dead, over two million displaced. Why the discrepancy in numbers? The chaos makes it impossible to carry out a proper count, but one thing is for sure — the situation is dire. So how could anyone say that the U.S. shouldn’t send troops to Darfur?

It’s simple — sustainability. History has taught us that the only way improvements can occur is through sustainable development. What does that mean? Consider intervention like a drug. Morphine is meant to alleviate pain. Unfortunately, if it’s administered without prudence and discretion, the recipient will become addicted, and the drug will destroy his life.

Likewise for international aid. For example, look at the 2007 report of the Millennium Development Goals. In most cases, there has been improvement, but it is, unfortunately, nominal. NGOs, much like foreign aid, can sometimes facilitate dependency and make it difficult for a country or group to overcome circumstances on their own. Or worse, they will fund the corrupt government, or opposition groups, while civilians continue to be slaughtered.

This is what I fear for Darfur. But aid is exactly what the displaced people are expecting. In a stunning article written in 2007, Amber Henshaw interviewed six people within the camps, asking them questions like, “What do you think is needed to reduce, and hopefully stop, the fighting and killing completely?,” and “What do you think could most change your situation right now?” The answer was always, “Protection from the international community.” The six Sudanese interviewees were convinced that nothing would change until troops, whether from the U.S. or another country, were deployed to shield them from the Janjaweed.

Millions of dollars have been poured into developing countries; yet, as the MDG report testifies, the change is negligible in relation to the resources. Perhaps it’s heartless to say that the Sudanese people have to do it themselves. But the fact of the matter is that history tells us they do.



11 Comments to “Clash of the Titans LXVI: US Troops to Darfur”

  1. Steve on February 1st, 2008 12:59 pm

    Aside from questions of sustainability, most simply, it is not America’s job to send our troops to far-away countries to settle civil wars and prevent inhuman horrors. Our interventions in Iraq and Afghanistan, whether you support(ed) them or not, were carried out with our national security in mind. There is no such connection here, so I see no justification.

    Action in the Sudan under the “Tate Doctrine” (“fight injustice, lawlessness and bloodshed wherever it is found, and when necessary, use Marines”) would create a precedent for unilateral American intervention in — just off the top of my head — Tibet, Ethiopia, the Congo, Rwanda, Indonesia, Kashmir, Saudi Arabia, China, and Newark. And I bet there wouldn’t be any Marines left once we got to Rwanda or so — so sorry, Newark.

    This is a job for the countries of Africa and the pathetic, crooked United Nations to handle; we should and must do only what is necessary to support them and rouse them to action.

  2. Djere on February 2nd, 2008 11:15 pm

    I tend to agree with the Tate doctrine, as an extension of clause two of the Roosevelt (Theodore) doctrine – “Speak softly and carry a big stick and you will go far.”

    Steve – the UN is a waste of billions of dollars, absolute truth. That being true, how can you stand idly by and watch bureaucracy inaction let millions die.

    This is the kind of opportunity that hearkens back to Reaganesque images of America as a city on a hill. Just because the rest of the world is in backward squalor doesn’t mean we can’t intervene. Rescuing Darfur and eliminating the corrupt Jihadists of Sudan, as well as stabilizing Iraq and Afghanistan while NOT expanding the scope of our troop deployments would demonstrate our commitment to truth, justice, and the American Way.

    We don’t necessarily need to engage Sudan militarily: even if we let the assistant deputy undersecretary of state mail this one in, I’m sure we can get somewhere with them. Imagine if we play hard ball.

  3. Steve on February 3rd, 2008 12:42 pm

    Waste of dollars or not, the fact remains that this is their job, not ours. We have neither the right nor the ability to address these sorts of problems wherever they occur. What we do have is the ability to pressure the proper source of help to take the action it should. THAT is what our deputy undersecretary of whatnot should be doing, rather than making plans to send American soldiers to every Backwardsqualorstan in the world. The solution to failed bureaucracy is to fix the bureaucracy — not sentence to death a single American life to solve even the worst unrelated problems of a continent on the other side of the world.

  4. David on February 3rd, 2008 3:26 pm

    I keep running into this quote “The test of a true gentleman is how he treats someone who can do absolutely nothing for him”. Or something close to that. I have to admit it would be nice to see us send in troops to help a nation that doesn’t hold some great benefit to us in a national security or natural resource sense. We just go help them simply because they need help desperately and we can help.

  5. Steve on February 3rd, 2008 11:46 pm

    I just happen to believe that’s the job of our civilian aid organizations, protected by a multi-national force. The US army is for killing people and breaking things.

  6. Chloe on February 4th, 2008 12:53 pm

    Dave – You’re right about that quote, but the word is “gentleman,” not “nation.”

    The fact that you guys are debating this just goes to show that there’s more than one reason not to go. But even if you subscribe to the idea that the U.S. should spend it’s citizens’ lives on turmoil in countries entirely unrelated to the nation, you can’t get around the fact that intervening will make them more helpless, facilitating the problem. So we defeat the Janjaweed. Then what? We leave, opening the door for just one more militant group to take the Janjaweed’s place! History tells us this will happen. It’s a cycle, and it’ll keep on going until the Sudanese people do something about it. And like Steve said, if it’s the job of anyone to equip them in this task, it’s civilian aid organizations, NOT our military.

  7. Job on February 4th, 2008 8:38 pm

    The US Army is for killing and breaking things? I know that was rhetoric but still grossly inaccurate and would neuter what the Army is trying to do in Iraq currently.

    The US Army is for ending the killing and the rebuilding of things. As a member of the military I scorn the idea of us all having a Godsmack soundtrack playing to our heavily-armed actions and wince at your rhetoric – even though I see it for what it is.

    The shocking violence taking place there and the unpredictability of it is precisely why this isn’t for our civilian aid workers and Chloe has never sounded more like Hillary. One more militant group will take their place? So what’s the use of attempting good anywhere and any time?

    We’ve got to help these people out with immediacy and not worry about if we’re only delaying their suffering…

  8. Steve on February 4th, 2008 9:13 pm

    No. It’s not rhetoric, Job. That’s the purpose of an army, period. The biggest reason we’ve struggled in Iraq is because we asked soldiers to build a nation. Did you notice we didn’t have any trouble defeating an army? Wish that’s all we asked of our soldiers. Nation-building and all this touchy-feely stuff is not what our soldiers are trained to do, and not what they should be trained to do.

    I appreciate the role of the Seabees, but you know better than I do that they were originated to build airbases and other required infrastructure to carry out the war in the Pacific circa 1940 — NOT hold people’s hands and do for them what they cannot themselves.

    Do not misunderstand. Sudan needs our help. What they do not need is our army, marching in there to strip them of all responsibility and self-reliance.

  9. Job on February 4th, 2008 9:20 pm

    An Army is not meant for peace-keeping?

    There is an armed and murderous element in Darfur that a civilian aid group would be ill-equipped to counter. I am not suggesting that candy thrown from passing US armored transports is the answer, but rather the escort to American good will they would represent.

    And also – being a deterrent force, really, is the purpose of the American Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines. Their ability to inflict massive harm and casualties when necessary is a chicken and the egg issue.

  10. Steve on February 4th, 2008 9:33 pm

    Yes, naturally. I agree with everything you just said. I simply think a regional or UN-led force is the right answer for this particular situation, for the reasons listed above.

  11. David on February 5th, 2008 12:56 pm

    The parable of the good samaritan is a perfect example of two people (a priest and a levite) who had other purposes in their life that did not include getting involved with the victim of a violent crime—especially one that required long term care and help getting back on to his feet. Fortunately the Good Samaritan was willing to depart from his primary objective in life to intervene on behalf of someone in dire need.

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