Monday, August 20, 2007

We Are Not Going To Baby-Sit A Civil War

What's the difference?

What's the difference between a civil war fought over old colonial disputes that caused the brutal deaths of 800,000 people in 100 days- just over 11% of the country's population?

What's the difference between an ongoing civil war fought over religious differences that has so far caused the deaths of 420,000 people?

What's the difference between those two civil wars and another war fought for basically the same reasons?

The US has been and continues to be vilified for doing nothing as genocide brutally took the lives of over a million people in Rwanda and Sudan. How could the freest and richest nation in the world stand idly by while such atrocities were occuring? What happened to the "city on a hill", the beacon of virtue that America proposes to be?

Well, now America could be faced with the same situation. As Congress continues to rush towards a pre-emptive withdrawal from Iraq, the elephant in the room is the very likely scenario of Iraq descending into Rwanda-like genocide. Surely America won't stand idly by and allow this to happen again?

Well, there are at least two presidential candidates that will. Both Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton have staked their campaign wagon to a "leave Iraq no matter what" policy- even if that results in the death of countless Iraqis. As Senator Clinton stated, "I'm sorry, it's over. We are not going to baby sit a civil war."

What's the difference between Rwanda, Sudan and Iraq?



Charles D said...

The US did not intervene in Rwanda because there is no oil there and nothing of strategic importance to US business interests in the region. The US has not intervened in Sudan because the Chinese are heavily involved in Sudan.

Let me also disabuse you of some other notions. Senator Clinton has no intention of withdrawing from Iraq and in fact has stated that US forces should remain there for at least another decade. There is also every reason to believe that the US presence in Iraq is increasing the level of violence in that nation. A "genocide" is certainly not inevitable if the US leaves Iraq, and quite obviously, if the US had not invaded in the first place the Iraqis would be better off - a hundred thousand or so would be alive today for example.

What happened to the "city on the hill", the "Beacon of Virtue"? We have allowed it to be perverted by a lust for power and wealth. We have used our huge military and covert operations agencies to interfere in nations around the world, not to promote democracy or freedom, but often to prevent them. We have allowed our government to trash the Constitution that made America a unique force for good in the world. It is long past time for regime change - in Washington.

Unknown said...

Democracy lover couldn't be more wrong. Hilary Clinton stated on national television last week that once she was president (God forbid that ever happens) she would withdraw the U.S. troops from Iraq. She said it in that very loud shrill voice she has that is similar to the scraping of nails against a chalkboard.

The government of Iraq has begged the U.S. not to leave, stating that the U.S. is the ONLY thing stopping the country from falling into civil war.

Your "city on a hill" comment is so out of context. Muslims, Shiite vs. Suni, have been killing each other for millennia. Would you have really allowed someone as evil as Saddam Hussein and his sons to continue their reign of terror? Do you really believe that they would not have targeted the U.S. at some point and were actively pursuing that very thing? Do you really live with your head in the sand and your fingers in your ears singing "la, la, la, la?"

Come on, wake up. You can't play nice with terrorists. The Middle East is their playground. We were attacked on 9/11, the U.S. government has stopped untold attempts (do the research) by terrorists to attack us once again. While you bitterly complain, you cannot say that this nation has not been protected!

Unknown said...

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Charles D said...

Newsflash Candace! Hillary Clinton lies a lot.

Of course the puppet government we are propping up and protecting doesn't want us to leave - they will probably be killed if we don't take them with us.

Let's talk facts here. Saddam Hussein was a bad guy, but he was not in league with Al Qaeda, he had nothing to do with any terrorist activity aimed at the United States, and he was adamantly opposed to jihadist Islamic groups. Certainly the Iraqi people were oppressed by Saddam, but can anyone in their right mind say they are better off now? Conservatively speaking a half a million people have died needlessly as a result of US intervention, their infrastructure is destroyed, there is no effective government to create order, and their educated middle class has fled the country.

If the US government has actually foiled any terrorist plots to attack the US mainland, they did not achieve this through their illegal and totally unnecessary war in Iraq, they did not achieve this by violating the Geneva Conventions, and they did not achieve this by trashing the Constitution. I think if you "do the research", you'll find that most of the "foiled terrorist plots" are the product of ordinary solid police work and inter-agency cooperation.

Geoffrey Kruse-Safford said...

I think DL managed to answer Cameron's question. Actually, Cameron answered it - "politics" - but DL just filled in the details. Of course, DL forgot the whole "racism" thing, because even though the Iraqis are dark-skinned, they aren't nearly as dark-skinned as those Africans in Rwanda and Sudan.

Both DL and Candace share this in common - neither one like Sen. Clinton all that much, albeit from opposite ends of the political spectrum, it seems. I actually tend to agree with DL on this one, if for no other reason than during the 1992 campaign, the treatment of Haitian refugees versus Cuban refugees became an acute problem that candidate Bill Clinton addressed specifically. Once elected, however, he did nothing to change the conditions under which Haitian refugees were treated, or the differences with which they were initially greeted. This is just one example of Clinton, ahem, backing off a campaign pledge. . .

The situation in Sudan is fueled by the Christian Right because of the religious dimensions of the Sudanese Civil War. This does not make their advocacy wrong; it merely indicates their interest might be different than others, is all. They also seem blithely unaware of the geographic problems involved in intervening in Sudan. The nation of Sudan is as large as Western Europe; the Darfur "region" (which contains several provinces of Sudan) is the size of France. It would take a force of millions to be effective and no one is willing to step up and provide the resources to actually do something about this. Even if the United States had the political will right now to do so, we couldn't because our military is a bit tied up elsewhere in the world.

I think the Sudanese situation is a wonderful example of why we need a strengthened UN, as well as a test case for liberals working with Christian conservatives on an issue of serious human rights problems. It might actually show some on the Christian right that we lefties don't have horns, cloven hooves, and swishing tails.

Cameron said...

Most Democratic candidates are now advocating leaving a small force in or around Iraq to "keep the peace." Which is a departure from their earlier campaign-pandering stances of "If president Bush doesn't end the war in Iraq before he leaves office, when I'm president, I will." So it seems like they've all lied to some degree.

Of course, a limited troop presence in Iraq is the exact opposite of what many congressional leaders were calling for 3 or 4 years ago. So that's a bit of a reversal as well.

The point here is that the limited troop levels currently advocated by these hopefuls will not be enough to prevent or stop genocide in Iraq. The three major Democratic candidates were asked what they would do in that scenario, and Sens. Obama and Clinton said they would allow the genocide to continue.

Many people are and have been very critical of the United States' inaction in Rwanda and Sudan. Those same people are now saying the US should not intervene if Iraq falls into genocide, even though Iraq does have oil and strategic importance and Iraqis aren't black. So what's the difference?

Somebody wants to get elected.

Charles D said...

Limited troop levels are certainly not going to help the Iraqis and they are not designed to. Retaining any military force in Iraq is a blatant provocation to the Iraqi people and makes it clear that we will not recognize the sovereignty of any government in Baghdad. By touting this as a "solution", the Democratic front-runners are showing that they are part and parcel of the same insider thinking that got us into this mess in the first place.

We have a serious problem in the world. The US, by insisting on being the commanding superpower and the Decider for the world, is destroying any possibility that the world community can respond properly to humanitarian disasters like those in Rwanda and Darfur. Our government blocks action in the Security Council, refuses to countenance a permanent UN military force that could intervene, shows its utter disregard for humanitarian law by refusing to sign the International Criminal Court treaty and its utter disregard for the UN Charter and the Geneva Conventions in Iraq.

It is not up to the US to intervene when thugs in some nation decide to kill their own people. We are not and cannot be the world's policeman, and a casual review of recent history reveals that far from being a rescue squad that intervenes in humanitarian crises, the US has a record of causing humanitarian crises by intervening to protect business interests and punish those who challenge US hegemony.

The UN failed in Rwanda for a number of reasons and there are several books on the subject that outline those failures. The UN is failing to deal with Darfur as well. The answer is to reform and strengthen the UN in cooperation with other member states, not to unilaterally appoint ourselves as policeman, judge, jury and executioner for the world.

Cameron said...

"It is not up to the US to intervene when thugs in some nation decide to kill their own people."

So we just stand by and let it happen? Hundreds of thousands of people die by machete, and our answer is, oh well, it's not our affair?

For as much as you supposedly dislike Mrs. Clinton, your politics are awfully similar.

Charles D said...

We must develop alternatives other than US unilateral intervention and permitting genocide. That's exactly what the UN was supposed to do, but it is in drastic need of reform.

The US chooses when and where to intervene based not on humanitarian concerns, but on its national strategic and economic priorities. There are very few cases of any nation unilaterally intervening in another nation for strictly humanitarian reasons. No nation can take upon itself the role of global policeman - at least with any credibility.

A true leader (if we had one as President) would initiate a process of reform and re-organization in the UN to create a viable peacemaking and peacekeeping operation that had as near to universal support as possible. Idealistic, of course, but we have little choice.

Cameron said...

A true leader, instead of passing responsibility off to the bureaucratic black hole that is the UN, would lead.