The other day, I brought up the subject of the ongoing genocide in Darfur, and linked to an earlier piece where I said that, as horrendous as the situation is, I didn’t see a damned thing we could do about it. I asked — nay, begged — for folks to prove me wrong.
Many of you did take up the challenge, but I am loath to admit that I remain unconvinced.
Several cited some great, compelling moral arguments. I respect them, accept them, and even agree with most of them. But that’s as far as I can go.
It’s often said that amateurs study battles, historians study strategy and tactics, but generals study logistics. Despite my own standing as barely qualified as amateur, I try to follow that cold, pragmatic advice. And despite your and my best efforts, I remain unswayed. I simply don’t see the United States gaining the cooperation of Rwanda’s neighbors we’d need to intervene, nor do I see the American people suddenly finding it a grave matter of national concern.
The one suggestion that might have a little merit is the arming of the victims. It’s relatively cheap, easy, and potentially has a great deal of “bang for the buck” (if you’ll pardon the pun). But I see great problems in that approach.
Some would cite the example of Afghanistan as a model. That doesn’t work. In Afghanistan, we had the advantage of a somewhat trained and disciplined local force (the Northern Alliance) that also happened to be the UN-sanctioned “official” government of Afghanistan that we could assist. Thanks to their presence, we managed to keep the number of US forces actually sent in on the ground to a minimum.
In Rwanda, there is no native force to assist. Simply dumping massive quantities of weapons into the area would be a recipe for disaster. And I’m not talking about some five-star restaurant dessert recipe, I’m talking something right out of Chapter One of Senseless, Massive Carnage For Dummies.
So we’d need to send in advisors and trainers with the weapons to make sure that the would-be victims knew how to defend themselves. As much as I hate to admit it, that’s pretty much how we got started in Viet Nam — and we all know how well THAT turned out.
One commenter said this might be a great opportunity for Pakistan to step forward, offer its own intervention, and take its place on the world stage. Not a bad idea, but I think that the folks of Pakistan might be a bit too busy with their own concerns about rising Islamism to take on this kind of a burden.
The one idea that struck me as worth further investigation would be a US-hired and trained mercenary corps. ed suggested we recruit Gurkhas, and I think that has some potential. I’ve called before for an American Foreign Legion, which would give would-be immigrants who want US citizenship a “fast-track” through service; perhaps those two ideas could be combined. The expenditures would be minimal, and the benefits tremendous — just imagine the effect on the American populace with an infusion of new citizens with that level of commitment and investment in our nation even before they can take the oath of citizenship.
But those are all long-term solutions, and little more than pie in the sky. I hate to say it, but I just don’t see any way the United States can end the slaughter.
I find myself rebelling against my agnostic beliefs and hoping there is a God, so that the perpetrators of this massive crime against humanity will face justice in the next life — because it looks like they won’t in this life any time soon.