April 24, 2006

by Reb Yudel
How do you solve a problem like Darfur?

Reb Yudel has been giving the older YudelKids an exceedingly hard time over their participation in this Sunday's "Rally to Stop Genocide" being sponsored by the Save Darfur Coalition.

Reb Yudel says, "What's the point of burning gasoline to travel to Washington to urge an inherently non-responsive government to do something, when anything that could be done would require either the diplomatic support of China -- which wants the Sudanese oil reserves -- or the unilateral use of American troops, which are already overstretched on behalf of Iraqi oil reserves."

To which a YudelDaughter replies: "How can we not do anything? This is at least something we can do. And how can the government not listen to us?"

Reb Yudel replies that, "first of all, the present government -- may the Lord save our country from  it speedily and in our day -- listens to no one, no one at all.

"And in addition, the fate of the poor people in Darfur was sealed by 2001, if not before, when America made the decision to encourage the use of petroleum, and to finance tax cuts for the richest 2% by borrowing from the Chinese.

"Feeling good about doing something," continues Reb Yudel, "if that something is ineffectual, may be worse than doing nothing honestly."

"So what, dear YudelDaughters, would it take to actually save the lives of the people of Darfur?"

The YudelDaughter conceded that her commitment to save the people of Darfur did not extend as far as pledging to enlist in their defense as soon as she reaches the age of 18 -- a lack of zealotry for which, quite frankly, Reb Yudel is quite grateful.

But all this got Reb Yudel thinking: What would it really take to stop the genocide?

Perhaps further Days of Prayer sponsored by the U.S. government would help, but Reb Yudel recalls that people holier than even the holiest U.S. Congressman -- let alone a congregation that includes the likes of Tom Delay -- spent a good part of the years 1933-1945 praying, with no observable effect.

Actual action by the government would still seem to face the obstacles described in The New Yorker 18 months ago:

The United States military is overstretched, given the occupation of
Iraq, and it is unwilling to contribute troops for a peacekeeping
mission. It has not even offered to equip or transport A.U. troops,
which lack the logistical sophistication to deploy on their own.

The Bush Administration has been admirably willing to send relief to Sudan and to condemn the janjaweed.
But, having alienated many of its U.N. allies with its unilateralism
and perceived moralism, it has been unable to rally other nations to
the cause. Countries like Russia and France have exploited the U.S.’s
loss of standing internationally to justify their own inaction on
Sudan. Meanwhile, the Administration, which views the International
Criminal Court with contempt, has not urged the U.N. Security Council
to refer the atrocities in Darfur to the court, although no other
international institution is equipped to prosecute such crimes. In the
end, the U.S. has applied just enough pressure to get humanitarian
relief to many Darfurians, but not enough to persuade the perpetrators
of violence to lay down their arms.

So Reb Yudel sent off an email to John Robb, whose blog and Global Guerrillas site focus on the real intersection of warfare, technology and the global economy of the 21st century, and asked: What could be done for Darfur that might actually work, and would the cost be for such an action?

John Robb generously replied:
Hmm.  You could probably put a brigade of mercs there for $50 m a year.  $75-$100 million with air support and heavier equipment.  The problem is paying for it over the long term and providing the training for self defense.

Of course, that doesn't account for suicide bombers/jihadis, government pressure (both the US/global community and Sudan -- even you if you got cover from Chad), and the general distaste for using white mercs in Africa (there is a long and sordid history there).

Of course, you could do this on the cheap and hire mercs from central/south America, etc.  That would allow you to quadruple the number of soldiers and it would lessen the "white" mercenary charge.

Total free thinking on this.  Not sure if any of this would be doable, but it was fun to think it through.

So: $100 million a year. Anyone interested? Certainly more than 100 times as expensive as organizing rallies... but probably more than a 100 times as effective.

(However, don't forget to take the jihad threat seriously, since it seems that Osama bin Laden has voiced his support for the genocidal killers (suprise!) in the Darfur conflict.)

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