It has been eleven years since the genocide that took place in Rwanda. Since then the western world has marked milestones and anniversaries, all with the acknowledgment that more could have been done. Our nation and others in the west have reassured ourselves over and over again, in order to assuage the guilt at our inaction, that we will not let another Rwanda happen.
Yet in the largest nation in Africa, the Sudan, another genocide is being perpetrated against ethnic Africans in the southern Darfur region of the country, by ethnic Arabs from the north. To this point, the global community has done little to end it. The member nations of the U.N. (including the United States), have waffled on imposing sanctions on the Sudanese government. The member nations of the African Union have troops on the ground in Darfur, there ostensibly to provide security for the millions of refugees that have fled from the genocide, but they lack a mandate for seeking out and confronting the perpetrators. In addition, no single powerful state, whether it be the United States, France, Russia, China, etc., has done anything other than pay lip service to the struggle to end the genocide. In fact, there is no struggle. The death squads are free to carry out their horror little short of impunity, with the government in Khartoum providing token trials and sentencing of suspected mass murderers. Every single diplomat and politician on the planet knows that hundreds of thousands of people are being killed in Darfur, yet the world is seemingly unwilling to do anything about it. How will we comfort ourselves eleven years from now when we look back on Darfur? Will Don Cheadle be available for another movie?
It is unrealistic to expect the United States to commit troops to Darfur, whether of the peacekeeping or the killing variety (both are needed). The U.S. military is far too entrenched in and depleted from other conflicts to devote more than a handful of personnel to the region. But a mandate for action must come from the United States government. Without it, no one else will be willing to commit forces to the Sudan. That being said, there are other militaries in this world, especially in Europe, that have not had much to do in the last decade. The list of countries capable of providing forces for the Sudan is quite long. But of course I’m not referring strictly to peacekeeping. The murderers in Darfur will not be stopped by soldiers handing out bags of rice and five gallon jugs of water. They will be stopped only through force, and I suspect this is why the world is balking at stopping the genocide.
Force depletion reports are a fact of life. Picking a fight in Darfur, for whatever the reasons, will result in dead soldiers. Dead soldiers result in headlines in the hometown press that lose elections. Combine this with the Sudan’s status as an Islamic nation, a volatile mix of terrorism and international outrage from the Middle East resulting from a non-Muslim or African nation sending troops to the Sudan, and you have all the makings of a quagmire. That is a worst-case scenario.
There will be no end to the situation in Darfur unless a coalition of countries, with the blessing of the international community as a whole, takes it upon itself to defy the sovereignty of the Sudan (which they relinquished anyway by allowing genocide to occur within their borders), send troops in with a mandate to not only feed and clothe, but to engage an established enemy, establish a no-fly zone over Darfur, impose crushing economic sanctions on the Khartoum government, and remove Darfur from the control of Khartoum. The people in Darfur can’t stand any more waffling debate. This will not end until the world stops it.