Friday, September 15, 2006

Save Darfur: from the pro-war 'humanitarian' interventionists.

If there's one thing I've learnt about Iraq, Afghanistan, Yugoslavia, or Somalia, it is, that Western wars of intervention don't work. I've concluded from these events that Western militarism cannot 'liberate', 'restore hope', or 'save' other people on their behalf - it just doesn't work. That's why I'm opposed to all Western wars of intervention. However, it seems that many people are drawing a rather different conclusion from those wars.

Many have concluded, that the ideas of national self-determination and sovereignty, are not even worth bothering to defend anymore. The principle of intervention is quietly put to one side, in favour of more intervention in order to uphold human rights. Even if the situation in Darfur is as bad as the pro-interventionists says it is, it's still won't be entirely self-evident as to what 10,000 heavily armed troops can do to stop the violence in western Sudan.

It doesn't seem to have occurred to many people that outside military interference might not improve matters for the people of Darfur. Sudan was just a little colonial plaything for the British up until 1956 - the country has been a divided hell-hole ever since. The current internationalising of Sudan's internal tensions, will only suceed in inflaming those tensions and exacerbating the conflict in the Darfur region. For all the talk about getting tough with the Sudanese government, there is little to scant consideration about what happens after the intervention - when the authorities have fallen, leaving behind them a dangerous vacuum.

You only need to take a look at Somalia, where the Americans, in a desperate move to stabilise the country, lent their support to the warlords who had booted them out, back in 1990's. The intervention led to the fall of Mogadishu, at the hands of an Islamic militia. It's a perfect example of how the policy of Western intervention can create an Islamic state in Somalia without too much effort. Doesn't anyone think it's about time we stopped begging incompetent Western leaders like President Bush, who can't even sort out New Orleans. Or worse still, the British Prime Minister Blair, who can't even sort out his own political party, let alone Darfur?


At 10:45 PM, Anonymous Lucyp said...

Well said Courtney. How long before the West realises that they cannot go stompin garound the world with their armies. The recent examples of Iraq and Afghanistan should be proof enough that brute force just does not work.

At 1:43 PM, Blogger Roland Dodds said...

Good piece Courtney, you are sure to get some heated responses.

I do have to take issue with the idea that the West should never intervene in a conflict. I think a much greater problem than western intervention is the misleading claims made by politicians that get western nations into wars that their people have no interest in. Clinton’s decision to get involved in Somalia in the early 90s is a good example. He knew that most Americans had no interest in stabilizing some African nation they had never heard of, and the moment a few soldiers died, there was an immediate call to remove them from the nation. By throwing our troops in, to then quickly backpedal on that decision escalated the conflict and left it in a worse situation than had been there prior.

You are right in saying little thought is given to what happens when all federal and state authorities fall. I can only speak for Americans, but there has been a constant brainwashing over the last 30 years that our military can handle any situation, and this is simply not true. The moment a powerful nation like our own gets involved in another countries ordeals, you have to make the commitment to be there indefinitely. Heck, we are still in Korea and Germany, and while we may have overstayed our welcome, it goes to show that international involvement is a major commitment that is not measured in months, but decades.

And unfortunately, I don’t think Americans have the stomach for it. But they have a right to not be, and every politician who advances the cause of intervention should know that.

But I do think there is a duty to stand up for basic democracy and human rights, even when it is not practical to do so every time rights are abused by a tyranny. And while western involvement in a regional or national conflict may escalate its intensity, it may also slow it down. I think the Balkan wars and the west’s involvement in them are a good example of why military participation is occasionally necessary. Sure, people died who may not have if the Serbian government and their paramilitaries were left in charge, but I don’t know of many who would say things are worse now that each individual country has the ability to self determine its direction without reprisals from Belgrade. Even when it is difficult to help bring peace to a region, I do not know if the alternative is much better.

A great topic, and I am interested to see what other folks think about this issue.

At 10:50 PM, Anonymous Lucyp said...

I am in general agreement with you Roland, but i see a huge difference between a peace keeping force and an invading army. What we have in Lebanon is a peacekeepign force, what we have in Afghanistan is an occupying force.
As you pointed out, the danger of sending troops anywhere is that the force has to stay there for decades, even until the next generation are in the ascendancy and ill feelings are subsiding through the generations.
Another problem is exactly your use of Kosovo. I was covering the Kosovan crisis and when the UN and NATO became involved the story had moved on and it was the Serbs who were painted as the bad guys despite them being the victims for so long at the start.
Even a high ranking NATO officer said that it was like a flip of a coin to decide to who was the bad guys.
That is where intervention becomes a problem.

At 6:15 PM, Blogger Rev. Dr. Incitatus said...

Armed intervention always comes at a cost. The question is whether those costs outweigh the costs of inaction.

I guess it's possible, but I would take some convincing that Rwanda would have been an even worse disaster had we actually allowed the existing UN peacekeepers to intervene and stop the initial slaughter. The reason Darfur is such a hot-button issue right now is because nobody wants to see another Rwanda. As it is, the fact that it's taken this long for the UN to investigate the situation in the Sudan is worrisome; fortunate though it is that a 'genocide' apparently hasn't taken place, the fact is that if one had, we would probably have missed it - again.

Courtney's right though: in many of these war-torn regions the conflicting elements are not going to solve their problems just because a peacekeeping force is keeping them apart. Tensions remain, and conflict inevitably resumes as soon as those intervening powers run out of money/interest and withdraw.

However, I don't write-off intervention - and even nation building' - simply because it's generally failed in the past. IMHO, the reason it fails is usually due to an inherent corruption in its execution, or through shear incompetence, rather than a flaw in the basic principle. If intervention is done right, and for the right reasons, I believe it can be a force for good.

The ideal of sovereignty is certainly one worth living up to, but it's complicated by the fact that, due to the disastrous foreign policies of our imperial ancestors, we have many countries for which the borders are badly drawn. In these cases, 'sovereignty' is very much in the eye of the faction you're addressing. Respecting sovereignty can be difficult if a faction's claims to such are in direct opposition to another's (e.g. 'Kurdistan'/Turkey

At 11:58 PM, Anonymous Lucyp said...

It is shameful that the Darfur crisis has been 'on the backburner', and even now it is not getting the exposure that it deserves in the media.
We should be asking why.

At 1:09 PM, Anonymous Gabriel said...

If you even botheredlooked at the picture you posted, Einstein, you'd see that it's mostly not western interventionists asking for action it's black African pleading for someone to save their brothers and sisters from rape and murder.

I truly, truly hope an Arab Islamist militia rapes your wife and children in front of your eyes before slitting your throat. I sincerely promise to lead the campaign against intervention on your behalf.

At 12:36 PM, Blogger Courtney Hamilton said...

Well... thank you very much for your thoughtful and considerate reply.

What those few people in the photo above would like is for the might West to meddle and poke their warmongering noses into the internal affairs of a sovereign African state.

What those black protestors don't seem to realise is that Bush & Blair are incapable of 'saving Dafur' on their behalf. Indeed, where is their evidence that Western military intervention will improve the situation in Western Darfur? The facts are, they haven't got any, niether have you.

I'm opposed to Western military interference regardless of the colour of the protestors that advocate such demands - they, like you Gabriel, have no consideration whatsoever as to what would happen after 'peacekeeping' forces have taken over half the country.

As far as I'm concerned, there is no bloody war on Earth that Western militarism cannot make more bloodier still.


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