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Debate: International military intervention in Darfur

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Should the international community intervene militarily in Darfur?

Background and context

The War in Darfur refers to the civil war taking place in Darfur, Sudan. Unlike the Second Sudanese Civil War, this is believed to be an ethnic, rather than a religious war.[7]

The conflict began in February 2003. There are various estimates on the number of human casualties (see Mortality figures below). One side of the armed conflicts is composed mainly of the Sudanese military and the Janjaweed, a Sudanese militia group recruited mostly from the Afro-Arab Abbala tribes of the northern Rizeigat region in Sudan. These tribes are mainly camel-herding nomads. The other side is composed of rebel groups, notably the Sudan Liberation Movement/Army and the Justice and Equality Movement, recruited primarily from the non-Arab Fur, Zaghawa, and Masalit ethnic groups. The Sudanese government, while publicly denying that it supports the Janjaweed, is accused of providing financial assistance to the militia, and of participating in joint attacks targeting civilians.

The Sudanese government has been accused of tampering with evidence, such as attempting to cover up mass graves.[10][11][12] The Sudanese government has also arrested and harassed journalists, thus limiting the extent of press coverage of the situation in Darfur.[

While the United States government has described the conflict as genocide, the UN has not recognized the conflict as such. At many states, the question confronting the international community was whether to intervene. A part of the question is whether "genocide" is taking place. Yet, even without a formal definition of "genocide", many believe that foreign military intervention would be justified.

Contents

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Genocide? Can the violence in Darfur be considered Genocide?

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Yes

  • The violence in Darfur could be considered Genocide Genocide is defined by most to include the systematic murders of a group of peoples as well as deliberate displacement and abuse. More than 200,000 people have died since 2003 with other estimates ranging up to 400,000 according to Amnesty International and the UN. Over 2 million people have become displaced and many are in danger of starvation due to lack of water and food. Conclusively, Darfur is the worst humanitarian abuse in Africa. To the extent that the Janjaweed is systematically overseeing this mass-murder, and to the extent that the government is involved in supporting the Janjaweed, Darfur's crisis can be considered a genocide.
President Bush has classified the situation in Darfur as genocide as have several House and Senate members. Some of these members such as Steve Israel have been proactive in passing legislation calling for U.S. action.
  • NATO should intervene militarily in Darfur Peter Beinart. "How to Save Darfur". Time. September 24, 2006 - "There's only one way to save Darfur: tell Sudan it can either accept the U.N. force or face war against the world's most powerful military alliance. Though the U.N. can't fight its way into Darfur, NATO can. If it does, al-Bashir could end up following Serbia's Slobodan Milosevic and Liberia's Charles Taylor to a war-crimes trial at the Hague. Confronted with that prospect, al-Bashir might conclude that a U.N. peacekeeping force isn't so bad
...NATO must first impose a no-fly zone over Darfur so Sudanese MiGs can't keep assisting Arab militias from the air. That's doable.
A congressional expert estimates that it would require 12 to 18 fighter jets, probably French and American, based in neighboring Chad. If shooting down a few Sudanese planes (and thus eliminating much of the Sudanese air force) didn't make al-Bashir relent, NATO would probably have to bomb Khartoum. And while doing so, it would have to begin preparations for a ground invasion."
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No

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Military feasibility: Is a successful intervention possible militarily at reasonable costs?

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Yes

  • International peacekeepers can have a huge impact on the ground.
  • A no-fly zone around Darfur can be easily established with great impact. A contingent of Western fighter jets could effectively contain the serious role of Sudanese and Janjeweed gunships in the genocide.
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No

  • Intervention that is coordinated by the UN is destined to fail. Many troops are under-supplied and lack basic military training. Beyond a lack of training, many soldiers do not even speak the same language making effective communication an impossibility. The funding for intervention is non existent. First hand accounts report currently deployed AU and UN peace keepers flee at the impending attacks of the Janjaweed due to fear and incapability. UN and AU troops do not stand a chance against the better armed and better funded Janjaweed.
  • Key international powers such as Russia and China would prevent the success of any mission undertaken. Russia and China are hesitant if not outright opposed to sanctions against Sudan, let alone military action. China imports 80% of Sudan's oil and has guarded economic interests in the nation while Russia has sold arms to Sudan in the past. These compounding factors make the possibility of military strikes infeasible.
  • Reasonable costs being a criterion, an intervention would fail. Intervention in Darfur would be a conduit for Muslim hatred as Sudan is a Muslim country and thus violating its sovereignty would be seen as presumptuous of the Western world.
But in doing so we made war on Muslims, enraging much of the Islamic world.
If we were to take military action in Darfur, we could expect to succeed in the immediate objective as we did in Somalia and Iraq. But we should also expect that most of the Muslim world will get pretty upset."
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International security: Is the situation in Darfur a threat to the international system?

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Yes

  • Sudan is a threat to African peace. By showing an obvious disregard for its own people, Sudan has hinted that it is unlikely to show regard for territorial recognition of its fellow African nations. Such an apathy to African stability is especially troubling considering Khartoum's rhetoric on efforts to become an African superpower.
    • History likens Sudan's actions to that of Hitler. Precedence shows that countries that start with internal acts of terror are very likely to extend their terror beyond their borders. Hitler's Germany is a prime example of a country that rallied for geographical extension following a removal of domestic human rights. The analogous issue of Darfur does not bode well for the future of Africa if we are non progressive.
  • Sudan is a threat beyond its own campaign of genocide. Sudan has historically been linked to terrorists including Al Qaeda. Sudan served as Osama Bin Laden's base for operation in the past. Many argue that the Janjaweed itself is a terrorist organization supported tacitly by the state.
  • Darfur and the chaos there is a threat to the international system: There are a number of threats presented by Darfur, including regional and international humanitarian, moral threats.
    • Darfur is a threat to the region in Africa. The chaos in Darfur is spilling over Sudan's borders. Chad has become a destination for Darfur refugees. This creates tensions between these countries and potential for conflict. Resistance to the Janjeweed, for example, can be staged in Chad, and possibly lead to the belief among the Sudanese government that they must intervene in Chad to quell this threat.
    • Impotency in responding to Darfur undermines confidence and engagement in international bodies: Many instances of genocide have occurred in recent decades without international intervention, and this has weakened confidence in the UN and the international community's ability to respond to international crises and to generally act meaningfully in the international system. This growing lack of confidence is dangerous as it jeopardizes the international legal framework for action, making it appear that unilateral action is a more functional course of action.
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No

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Military humanism: Would intervention improve the humanitarian situation?

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Yes

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No

  • US and NATO humanitarian military interventions bring their own set of atrocities Noam Chomsky's The New Military Humanism , makes the case that NATO forces committed atrocities as bad or worse than the genocide that led to NATO's intervention in 1999. He argues that the United States and NATO do not hold themselves to the same humanitarian, international-legal standards as it expects from other countries. Nevertheless, the United States and NATO are the most likely to lead any intervention in Darfur. Those that advocate for intervention should understand this reality, and the accompanying risks of US-NATO action.
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War on terror: Would intervention help the war on terror?

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Yes

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No

  • Intervention might lead to more anti-Western sentiments.-Dr. David Hoile. The European-Sudanese Public Affairs Council. 5 March 2006.“Any UN or NATO intervention in Darfur would serve as a focus for anti-Western forces in the Horn of Africa and the African Sahel region, areas that are strategic to western interests and central to the war on terrorism. Such an intervention would also fuel radical Islamist forces within Sudan and would serve to undermine the present Government of National Unity in Khartoum and destabilise the comprehensive Peace Agreement signed in January 2005 which ended Sudan’s 50-year long North-South civil war. We would see another Iraq-type disaster in a strategically vital part of the world that is also politically delicate and religiously fragile.”
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US resources/priorities: Is the US able and willing to prioritize military intervention?

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Yes

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No

  • A military intervention is unlikely from America. The United States is constrained in the War in Iraq and popular opinion is against any more wars considering the released criticisms on the debacles of intelligence in the pre-Iraq escalation. Thus, the most likely U.S. action would be sanctions, particularly economic ones that force the Bashir regime to restore human rights to the Fur peoples.
  • Preventing genocide in Darfur with US troops would take them away from preventing genocide in Iraq. Why favor one over the other? Since the United States is already military strained in Iraq, it is presumable that any commitment in Darfur would result in some weakening of resources for Iraq. But, many sources consider the weakening of resources in Iraq or any withdrawal of troops to be a recipe for internecine violence and genocide in Iraq. Why should we trade one for another? Are Iraqis not equally deserving of protection from genocide as Sudanese?
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Pro/con bibliography

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Yes

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No

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Organizations pro and con

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Yes

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No

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International leaders on the pro and con sides of this debate

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Yes

  • Retired U.S. general Wesley Clark[4]
  • Anthony Lake, former National Security Adviser to President Clinton, said in 2006, "It’s time to get tough with Sudan". [5]
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No

Libyan Foreign Minister Ali Treki

See also

External links and resources:

Books

YouTube Videos

One - U2 & Mary J. Blige (Save Darfur):

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