Loose Canons

Carterism, Janjaweed, and Lemonade

Whatever we do we should stay out. Darfur is gutcheck time for the gutless U.N.

By 8.9.04

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About ten years ago, then Air Force Chief of Staff General Tony McPeak -- now one of the Kerry General Staff -- told me that America had a moral duty to intervene militarily to stop genocide wherever it occurs. McPeak stated the military corollary to Carterism: that America's first and foremost interest was always human rights. McPeak spoke at about that same time the Clinton administration -- still recovering from its disastrous failure in Somalia -- sat back and watched while about 800,000 people were killed in a Rwandan genocide. Last week, Jimmy was preaching a revival of his doctrine. The ongoing mass murder in Sudan's Darfur province makes the resuscitation of Carterism more than an academic question. Should we intervene in Sudan? The answer is no.

In Darfur -- a region roughly the size of Texas -- at least 30,000 have been killed in a government-backed campaign by the "Janjaweed militias." By some estimates, a million people will be murdered (by violence or starvation) in Darfur in the next year.

Sudan is an oil-rich nation that is dirt-poor because it has been misgoverned by one military junta after another since the Brits left almost fifty years ago. The current bunch of rats came to power in a 1989 coup, and is made up of Islamic militants who are much inclined toward terrorism. They would probably be engaged in it were they not fully occupied by their own civil wars and by causing problems for their neighbors, Eritrea, Kenya, and Ethiopia. According to the CIA, since 1983 about two million deaths have resulted from Sudan's civil wars. The Sudanese are, if little else, consistent.

The Sudanese government has an infrequently equaled human rights record, being one of the few nations on earth that permits chattel slavery. It is, of course, a member in good standing of the U.N. Human Rights Commission. Sudan's Islamist government is composed of lighter-skinned African Muslims that fancy themselves "Arabs." The genocide is directed against darker-skinned African Muslims.

All you need to know about the Darfur genocide is in the report compiled by Sen. Sam Brownback and Rep. Frank Wolf last June after their two-day tour of Darfur. The "Janjaweed" militias aren't named after some hallucinogen they smoke. The Arabic term means "wild men on horses with G-3 guns" (the G-3 being a German assault rifle). As the Brownback/Wolf report explains, the typical Janjaweed attack begins with a strike on a village by Sudanese air force aircraft or army helicopters. The Janjaweed follow, murdering and raping all along the way.

There have been cease-fire agreements, hand-shake deals to protect humanitarian relief for the Darfuris, and "communiqués" between the U.N. and Sudan, all of which have come to naught. On July 30, the U.N. Security Council passed a resolution demanding the Sudanese disarm the Janjaweed militias within thirty days, but stopped short of threatening direct action if they fail to comply. The Arab League is about to meet and perform its usual ritual of demanding action by Sudan while doing their best to stall, objecting to any international intervention before Sudan is allowed more time to stop the killing. The U.N. will fiddle and diddle, and the Sudanese will dance the Saddam Shuffle indefinitely. Meanwhile, another thousand or more die every day. Looks like a job for the Good Guy Superpower, right? Wrong.

The U.N.'s latest deadline is fast approaching, and it will expire on the first day of the Republican convention. If Tony McPeak has his way, John Kerry will be bashing the president for not taking time out from the convention to go across town to demand the U.N. take action. Because Sudan's regime is radical Islamist, Kerry and his surrogates (such as Howard Dean, the Washington Post, and the New York Times) will argue that intervention in Sudan would be a more direct way to fight terrorism than to take on innocents such as Saddam.

The answer to this nonsense is threefold. First, America has important interests in Africa but not in the Sudan. Al Qaeda is active and growing in many of African nations, as are other jihadist-terrorist organizations. As one faithful reader points out, the jihadists are aiming to topple the Egyptian government of Hosni Mubarak and establish another Iran-like kakistocracy there. (More on that in a future piece.) The terrorist networks are working hard to threaten access to Nigerian oil. But our national security and economic interests do not compel us to intervene in Sudan. Nothing we could do there would stem the growth of jihadist power. If we intervened with sufficient force to stop the genocide, all we would do is create a pause in the killing. The moment we pulled out the situation would almost immediately return to what it is now, as it did when Lil' Billy ran from the Blackhawk Down debacle. Intervention in Sudan -- without establishing a large and permanent military presence -- would be a feckless adventure.

Second, the choice is not between American intervention and nothing. Just because we are what the EUnuchs call a "hyperpower" doesn't mean that no one else is capable of doing what needs to be done. Our ill-mannered enemy, France, has a considerable force of troops and helicopters right next door in Chad, with more in nearby Djibouti. They could be the core around which a significant multinational force could be formed. France is not alone. Rwanda and Nigeria are offering about 2,000 troops between them. Many other African nations (as well as Russia, China, and others) have significant military forces they could contribute. Those who decline to help in the Middle East and Southwest Asia should shoulder this burden without us.

Third, and not least, there are and will forever be nations in which civil wars and genocides occur. What's happening in Sudan is ghastly, a crime against humanity. But it is different only in degree from what happens regularly in many corners of the Third World. A chunk of Colombia the size of Switzerland is held by the FARC narco-terrorists. Are we going to intervene to free its people? Somalia is still a murderous mess. Should we go back to where we were in 1993 and try to finish the job? You see where this goes: everywhere and nowhere.

The President can turn this lemon into lemonade pretty easily. Because this issue implicates neither our national security nor our economic interests, it is a proper subject to bring before the United Nations. Ambassador Danforth should be instructed to venture into the Asylum with a draft Security Council resolution in hand. That resolution should condemn Sudan's government in the strongest terms, authorize military action against it forthwith, and -- for good measure -- throw it out of the U.N. for violation of its most basic obligations under the U.N. Charter. Mr. Danforth should make it clear that we will support the resolution strongly but -- sorry guys -- we're busy so you'll have to mount the intervention without us. There's a billion-to-one shot it might work. If it does, some Sudanese lives may be saved. If it doesn't work, it will prove -- for the umpteenth time -- that the U.N. has outlived its usefulness.

TAS Contributing Editor Jed Babbin is the author of, Inside the Asylum: Why the U.N. and Old Europe Are Worse Than You Think (Regnery Publishing).

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About the Author
Jed Babbin served as a Deputy Undersecretary of Defense under George H.W. Bush. He is the author of several bestselling books including Inside the Asylum and In the Words of Our Enemies. He is coauthor (with Herbert London) of the new book The BDS War Against Israel. You can follow him on Twitter@jedbabbin.