Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Authorization of Military Force

Former Clinton staffer, avowed liberal, and Human Rights Watch (a group that has surprised me before) Advocacy Director Tom Malinowski gives the hard truth that liberals need to face up to regarding Darfur:

Military force is necessary.
The administration has been clear and correct about what should happen. The African Union should deploy additional forces. Sudan should cooperate with those forces, rein in its murderous militias and seek a diplomatic solution. But, as with Bosnia, no one wants to confront the obvious question: What if none of these things happen? What if the African Union, for reasons of regional pride or fear of confronting Sudan, never asks NATO for real help? What if Sudan concludes, as the Serbs did in Bosnia, that the way to ease international pressure is to complete its ethnic cleansing? Then Darfur will be free of violence (since the victims will be dead or concentrated in camps), and the international community might move on.

This fear is very similar to problem I've articulated before regarding the exclusive use of diplomatic pressure to stop human rights atrocities:
Realistically speaking, expressions of moral indignation toward human rights abuses can only last so long before they become "old news." Making our human rights policy solely dependent on diplomatic pressure lets dictators try and "wait out the storm" and hope that by stalling for time, they can avoid any substantial US or international intervention to stop the abuse. At best, a policy based on diplomacy will only encourage oppressive regimes to violate human rights more quietly, and as North Korea, Saudi Arabia, and China among others demonstrate, it is rather easy to violate human rights systematically, persistently, and egregiously without arousing a sustainable international outcry.

If Darfur is proving anything to us now, it is that the condemnation of the world, absent any other action, will leave the victims as dead as they would be if the world said nothing at all.

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