Thursday, January 12, 2006

3 years late and a mandate short

With the African Union now saying that they can no longer maintain their role in Darfur, the U.N. has indicated that the international community needs to become more involved. Kofi Annan has expressed the hope that the U.S. and Europe will contribute troops. Why? Well because: "the killings are going on, the rapes are going on...We have lost access to some of the needy people. Obviously the international community cannot allow that situation to go unaddressed." Obviously! Could you imagine the world standing by in the 21st century while a government turned armed militias on its own citizens? Unthinkable.

Setting aside for the moment the fact that Kofi is a couple of years late on this one, the fact of the matter is that, as it stands, sending U.S. and European troops to the region will require the approval of the government of Sudan. Why is Sudan suddenly going to submit to intervention by the international community? And if he feels so confident that the U.N. can convince the government in Khartoum to allow a powerful international troop presence in the region, why hasn't it happened sooner?

The African Union was never going to be able to have a significant impact in policing the crisis. They didn't have enough troops, there was insufficient funding and, let's face it, if the European Union can't get anything done, what hope does the African Union have? Of course, it is for these reasons that Sudan allowed the A.U. to have a presence in the first place.

The one reason that the Sudanese government may allow for a non-African policing force is that, with so many already dead or displaced in the region, they have largely accomplished their goal. Government-backed militias have now changed the face of the region; even a strong U.N. force is not going to be able to reverse that.

Of course, I support a strong international presence in Darfur, and if there is an intervention I hope that Canadian soldiers will be a part of it. But the international community dragged its heels while a genocide was perpetrated in Darfur. Even if we intervene now, we have failed.

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