Saturday, April 05, 2008

Wusses without Borders

The UN continues to do what it does best: fail.

Darfur violence may be worse, despite U.N. efforts

By Louis Charbonneau Fri Apr 4, 4:29 PM ET

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - The violence against civilians in Sudan's Darfur region may be worsening, despite seven U.N. Security Council resolutions and four years of efforts to end it, the United Nations chief said on Friday.

"Four years ago this week, the Security Council first took up the issue of Darfur," Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said in a statement. "The situation remains grim today, as then, if not worse."

"Violence targeting civilians, including women and girls, continues at alarming levels with no accountability or end in sight" and Kartoum and the rebels have yet to "lay down their arms and commit to a peaceful settlement," he said.

"A peacekeeping operation can only be effective when there is a peace to keep."

Speaking of accountability, where is the accountability for the UN? When the UN was formed, its purpose was for the civilized nations of the world that respected human rights and dignity to unite against those rogue regimes that didn't. It was based on the idea that there should be a higher international law that individual states would be made subject to, and that military action would be authorized and blessed by the international community of states to ensure that the goals of such actions were not for the benefit of a single state or people to the detriment of another, but served all the world's peoples.

Well now we have the textbook situation for which the UN was originally formed. A powerless ethnic group is being systematically slaughtered by another, and a corrupt and ineffectual regime is allowing it to happen. The world's civilized states are lined up under the UN umbrella to put a stop to the slaughter, and yet four years on the situation continues to worsen.

The "peacekeeping" mantra is a massive copout by an organization that wants authority without responsibility. If there were a peace to keep, then the UN would not be needed. There would not be a problem. It's up to the UN to make that peace. And you don't make peace by sending troops in blue helmets to stand idly by while women and children are raped and slaughtered. You make peace by identifying the parties that are most responsible for breaking the peace, then moving in and kicking their asses until they are destroyed or are forced to surrender. It's that simple

The UN signatories gave up their right to conduct unilateral warfare so that a united body of states would make warfare on their behalf. If the UN wants the authority to decide when war is necessary to meet the goals of the international community, then it has to be responsible for making war when war is called for.

Ban's comments came after the U.S. presidential envoy for Darfur, Richard Williamson, sent him a letter urging him to speed up deployment of peacekeepers to Darfur and ensure that at least 3,600 new soldiers and police are there by June.

Only some 9,000 of the planned 26,000 U.N.-African Union peacekeepers have been deployed to Darfur.

Western governments have blamed Khartoum for the slow progress, saying it has delayed approval of the composition of the force and set up unnecessary obstacles.
Ban's spokeswoman Marie Okabe said Khartoum had officially approved the deployment of the Thai and Nepalese troops, though Sudan's U.N. envoy indicated Khartoum could be hesitating.

"We will exhaust all possibilities for troops from Africa," Sudan's U.N. Ambassador Abdalmahmoud Abdalhaleem told Reuters. "After that we will consider others, with the consultation and approval of the government."

Why is the UN deferring to the government in Khartoum? The Sudanese government is either responsible for instigating and perpetuating the conflict, or is so totally corrupt and ineffectual that it shouldn't even be considered the legitimate government of the country. The UN has the authority and the justification to overrule Khartoum. That's the reason for having a UN, to have a higher authority to appeal to. By making the UN forces deployment subject to the government that is complicit with the situation in the first place, the UN has abdicated the very authority that it has been entrusted to yield.


Blogger Harry Eagar said...

If you think of the UN as the legislature of, say, Indiana, it becomes clearer.

The 1946 UNO was really a fig leaf for big power balance of power state actions as usual. No one (as far as I can tell) really thought through what would happen if instead of 5 power states, the UN became an actual democracy of 200 members.

The concept turned out to be silly. In the Assembly, a nation like Fiji has an equal voice with the U.S.

It's as if Gary, Ind., and California had equal voices in Congress.

Although it is easy to scold the UN for its moral failings, I don't find international behavior through the UN any less moral than the old-fashioned kind. It was a structure that was not designed to fail but was not designed to function in a world that has evolved -- evolved in large part because of the UN moral sanction for self-government, which was (and is) something the USA is in a poor position to be pointing fingers about.

April 05, 2008 10:58 AM  
Blogger Duck said...

Harry, the member states have agreed to take action, so the problem you are describing doesn't seem to apply here. The problem is with what the UN thinks "action" means.

Moral failings should be pointed out, regardless of past US failings. Past failings cannot be reversed, but people are dying because of the the UN's moral obtuseness.

April 05, 2008 4:05 PM  
Blogger Harry Eagar said...

What I'm saying is that agreement in this forum doesn't mean anything for structural as well as moral or other reasons.

I don't believe in collective security.

Clauswitz didn't either. He pointed out that in every coalition, as soon as it neared success, the lesser members would start backing out in order to maximize their spoils.

For failing coalitions, the decay sets in sooner.

If we assumed that all or most of the member states really had universal peace and non-aggression as a goal -- a naive assumption -- something like the UN still probably wouldn't work, because of its structure which ignores how states really perceive and behave.

The UN has never been able to define aggression.

I have recently finished an old book, Edgar Davidson's 'The German Trials,' which has an admirable and brief (20 pages) discussion in the context of the Nuremberg trials.

(Davidson is sympathetic to the view, common in foreign ministries the world over, and among the academic claques that justify them, that it is impertinent to assess morality against states. I do not agree, but except for the USA, on a few occasions, it isn't easy to find states that do operate on moral precepts.)

The big moral failing is for anyone, after 80 years of watching collective security organizations in action, to still expect them to work. They don't. They can't.

God is still on the side of the big battalions.

April 05, 2008 9:33 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The UN has the authority and the justification to overrule Khartoum.

I think you might want to think that one through a bit more, Duck. I don't see how you can get far arguing that the UN is bumbling and craven with respect to the countries you don't like but presumptuous and high-handed with the ones you do.

Completely OT, for old times sake, I just had to share this with you guys. Just as funny is the comment thread here as the great man and his disciples try to figure out what the joke is and who is being made mocked. Fun bunch.

April 06, 2008 3:48 AM  
Blogger Harry Eagar said...

To get away from general ruminations about the UN and down to cases, the reason nothing is being done about Darfur is that nobody gives a damn,

Jonathan Utley wrote a book, 'Going to War with Japan 1937-1941' that was, on the surface, an analysis of the US policy of embargo. It included, though, a profound assessment of why nations move from appeasement to action.

(In his case, Utley considered that the US considered it had no vital interests in China but it did in Southeast Asia. So, with China playing role of Darfur, despite a clear moral revulsion against what the Japanese were doing, the US did not act.)

I've already said, long ago, that if the US cared about the Darurians, a carrier strike from the Red Sea to take out the helicopers would be cheap and helpful.

I personally, if I were king, would have no hesitation in destroying the Sudan regime, but that would take -- get ready! -- lots of infantry.

I doubt many policymakers in Washington, and I guarantee that none of the celebrities bleating about Darfur, know the name Naguib.

The reason there even is a state of Sudan is that Egypt wanted to incorporate Sudan as a province after Farouk was thrown out, but Britain (with US support) didn't want Naguib aggrandized to that extent.

A bit of reflection at the time might have suggested that an independent state of Sudan was a bad idea. Churchill, of all people, might have seen that, and he was prime minister, too, and he didn't see it.

April 06, 2008 10:40 AM  

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