Sunday, September 17, 2006

Darfur or against?

For a reason stupider than I care to go into, I wasn’t at the Darfur protest today. The lunchtime news said there were hundreds of people at the Sudanese Embassy in London, which I suppose isn’t bad going for a cause that doesn’t have Bush or Blair as its chief bogeymen.

Perhaps it also reflects the fact that – assuming the killers refuse to stop killing – there are no comfortable answers.

I’ve read a fair amount of reportage and commentary on Sudan over the last couple of years, but I have yet to see a decent attempt at a cost-benefit analysis of sending in a large UN force to provide security in Darfur and disarm the militias without the consent of the Sudanese government.

The slaughter and starvation organised by that government is an atrocity beyond any justification, and since Bosnia and Rwanda I’ve tended to be part of the ‘something-must-be-done’ brigade. But I don’t believe in supporting any action to stop deliberate evil, regardless of the unintended consequences.

Can somebody say with confidence that fewer people would die as a result of an invasion and occupation? Would there be no protracted insurgency based on the rival militias? Would the rest of Sudan not lurch towards civil war? Would al-Qaeda not be drawn like a pyromaniac moth to a flame? Would the civil conflicts in Chad and Uganda, already connected up to those in Sudan, not be inflamed further?

These aren’t rhetorical questions. If somebody knows some good thinking on these, I’d like to see it. Because, if Sudan won’t accept the UN force mandated by resolution 1706, I have no damn clue what would be the best thing to do.

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