Darfur: Don’t Do Anything – Stop and Think for a Moment
At a moment like this, in which the ICC and the P3 have massively increased their threat against the Government of Sudan, which has retaliated in a manner that causes a new crisis, it is tempting for the UN and western governments to escalate further. Certainly, lives are in the balance. But the reflex to further intensify the threat is perilous. The logical next international counter-move is military, on the logic that bigger the threat to the Sudan Government, the nicer it will be to western governments, aid agencies, and Darfurian IDPs. Western governments are on the brink of becoming parties to the Sudanese conflict.
The response of the blog “˜Wronging Rights‘ to the arrest warrant had it about right, “@)*&U#*()$&!!!!! Are you KIDDING ME?????) @*($)%&)%>>>>>>&*#^%*#&%^>.”
This pretty much sums up international policy too. Such incoherence, tinged with panic and righteous anger, is a terribly bad basis for taking irrevocable steps. Under other circumstances, the UN Secretary General and the Security Council would step in to calm things down and offer a face-saving formula for both sides. But there’s no obvious way to de-escalate this conflict–imagine the columnists’ response to the SG if he were brave enough to try (‘coward’ and ‘appeaser’ would probably be the first adjectives used).
How to get emergency assistance to Darfurians? Threatening President Bashir with being investigated for a ‘war crime’ of expelling agencies doesn’t seem persuasive. The idea of a Kurdish-style ‘safe haven’ stretches the limits of practicality and the military enforcement needed would be an act of war. Access needs to be negotiated with the powers-that-be, on the basis of that age-old principle of neutrality between conflicting parties.
Sometimes there isn’t an immediate solution, especially to a crisis that is partly self-inflicted. It’s time to think for a moment.