Falling short in Darfur

Paper pushing is the worst way to deal with genocidal crises.

Paper pushing worsens the situation in Darfur in Sudan, while the discussion of placing U.N. peacekeeping forces is in its preliminary state.

To prevent a greater catastrophe from contributing to what already is the gravest human condition in our world today, urgency is required. Yugoslavia and Rwanda taught that it is not enough to just have the troops; that it also is necessary to have a mandate allowing troops to intervene if the situation calls for such measures. Stopping the violence requires a large enough peacekeeping force that bears some authority. The conflict in Sudan is growing, and the resettlement of 200,000 refuges proves that the conflict literally has leaked into Chad.

To date, there actually has been no action as far as sending U.N. peacekeeping forces to the region. The United Nations has, however, planned to prepare for such an occasion in case a resolution is passed. The African Union has been in Sudan for more than a year without much success; it lacks the financial support it needs to serve its purpose as a peacekeeping force. The African Union itself maintains that its resources are almost exhausted and soon will cease to function in the region. The inadequacy of the 7,000 African Union troops funded by the European Union is clear; the troops simply are outsourced and outnumbered. In February, the United States was the U.N. head country and it did a fair enough job of being consistent on the issue, but the United States itself cannot do much, especially considering the idea that U.S. citizens would be drastically opposed to the idea of sending American troops.

It is interesting how the United States was quick to send forces into Afghanistan and Iraq, but it could not help its own citizens after Katrina, and it does not dare think of placing American troops in conflicted Darfur even though the humanitarian concern is obvious. This is not to undermine the work of the United States, but it is true that not enough is being done.

When disasters strike, we allow them to continue to punish and penetrate their victims. The compression of space and time is one of the characteristics of our world. Yet, when urgency and efficiency is crucial, a few papers are pushed around from office to office while people die.