Friday, February 01, 2008

The Lessons of Darfur

Slate's Shmuel Rosner provides a thoughtful perspective on the international efforts in Darfur. In stopping the genocide, he contends that we've achieved most of our objectives, except for the most important one.

"The campaign to save Darfur is alive, but it is no longer kicking. You could say that it has achieved all its stated goals: public awareness, international pressure, congressional action, the administration's involvement. Well, all but one: The crisis in Darfur is not yet solved, and the campaign to save Darfur is running out of options."

"So, here's the problem of the campaign to save Darfur: Public interest has waned, the simple options have all been exhausted, the political machinery is mired in the election process, and other problems - Pakistan, Iran - have taken over the front pages."

"This story provides many valuable lessons, but we shouldn't forget the most elusive: The good people of America who wanted and still want to save the miserable people of Darfur expect too much of their government. And many of their desires are contradictory - almost impossible to achieve. Darfur illustrates these contradictions nicely."

"Americans who want to help the persecuted people of Darfur want U.S. policy to be righteous, but they also prefer a government that doesn't pursue its goals too aggressively. They want the U.S. government to cooperate with the international community but also to be effective. They want America to be the policeman of the world, but in most cases, they are willing to support it only when it acts like a social worker."

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