Darfur Watch: Polls, and what won’t happen and why

posted at 3:44 pm on February 1, 2007 by Bryan

It’s as predictable as the sun rising in the east: You start talking about a crisis and pretty soon there’s some support among the voting public for doing something about that crisis. I’m sure I’m not the first to make that observation. Second, if you have an interest in an issue and conduct a poll about it, you’re bound to find support for your position.

Regarding Darfur, a new poll says a majority of Americans want something done about it. Sort of.

Nearly two-thirds (62 percent) believe taking action to stop humanitarian crisis like genocide should be a high (42 percent) or the highest (19 percent) foreign policy priority for the country. Among respondents who had heard “a lot” or “some” about Darfur previous to the poll, support climbs further to 71 percent. Sixty three percent support the use of targeted sanctions against Sudanese leaders responsible for carrying out genocide, 54 percent support denying port entry to tankers carrying Sudanese oil, 53 percent want the US to work with the International Criminal Court to bring the perpetrators to justice, and 50 percent favor direct US military action as part of an international peacekeeping force.

Ah, yes, sanctions. They worked so well against Saddam, he was only able to skim billions off the UN’s terrifying wrath and use that cash to buy safety. For a while.

As for working with the ICC, how should we go about apprehending those responsible for the genocide? Send in the police? Leftists made that same argument vis a vis Osama bin Laden after 9-11–that we should bring him to justice without resorting to military force. Reality bites that argument pretty hard though, since the killers in Darfur are heavily armed and currently engaged in a war. In bin Laden’s case, he was sitting behing the Taliban’s army and his own Al Qaeda fighters. In both cases, you need military force to get the bad guys. The same leftists who want us to work with the ICC don’t support putting troops on the ground, though.

The poll report makes an issue out of the fact that support for doing something about Darfur is high in spite of the ongoing carnage in Iraq. That war, by the way, was predicated on among other things ending Saddam’s human rights abuses. He was responsible for about 300,000 Iraqi deaths during peacetime and about 1.5 million deaths total, more or less, for starting the war with Iran and for invading Kuwait. But the majority of the voting public that believes human rights should be a US priority no longer supports the war in Iraq. We have our ideals, and we have reality, and apparently a lot of us never let the two meet.

Free Tibet! Ahem.

One could also add, support is high in spite of the last time we intervened in anything like Darfur with boots on the ground (Somalia, 1992-3) and the fact that unlike Iraq, Darfur doesn’t impact our national security. One could also add that that 50% support for direct military intervention would drop by about half once the first US troop was wounded or killed in any mission in Darfur. Based on history and reality, the support for intervening in Darfur in any way is much softer than the poll makes out. A majority likes the idea, but the reality? Not so much.

The poll was conducted on behalf of something called the Genocide Intervention Network.

I think it’s wonderful that there are groups out there polling Americans on Darfur and prodding us all to action. The genocide there is a monumental crime, among many monumental crimes currently underway around the world.

But you can’t intervene in a crisis with the world you want, you have to intervene or not based on the world you actually have. And the world we actually have includes China, which as I mentioned the other day is likely to use its position as a rising power to land on the wrong side of the genocide.

One potential avenue for diplomatic negotiation that has not been fully explored is through China, which is one of Sudan’s greatest trading partners and largest exporter of the country’s vast oil wealth. Sudanese oil exports declined by 20 percent last year due to the Darfur situation.

China has resisted exhortations that it get involved in human rights negotiations with Sudan and its other African trading partners, wary that such interventions would give other nations license to intervene in its own internal disputes and power struggles with Taiwan. But as Beijing moves to take a greater role in global geopolitics unlinked to its commercial interests, China has begun tentative steps to be a key diplomatic player.

Chinese President Hu Jintao left Tuesday for an eight-country African tour — his second in the last 12 months — to include a stop in Khartoum for talks with his Sudanese counterpart. The talks are to encompass discussions of the prospects of a negotiated political solution to the Darfur crisis.

Stressing that “sanctions will not work,” Chinese Assistant Foreign Minister Zhai Jun said: “China’s position is that solutions to the problems of Darfur should be aimed at stabilizing the region, since deterioration will affect neighboring nations.”

China is concerned with two things on the international scene, and neither of them are the rights of Christians and animists in Sudan (or anywhere else). China is concerned with trade (in this case, oil), and with keeping everyone else out of its business in Taiwan. In Sudan China sees a trading partner in Bashir and a template for others to justify meddling in Taiwan affairs. Thus, if China intervenes in Sudan it would only be to “stabilize” the genocide, not end it. Try getting China’s partnership on any UN-led endeavor to stop the genocide in Darfur. Try getting around its veto on the UNSC. You’ll have to acquiesce to China’s demands, watering down to the point of uselessness anything that finally gets through.

In the world that is, as opposed to the world we want, Darfur will suffer because a) it doesn’t directly threaten us and we’re in the middle of a simmering war of our own and b) other powers have an amoral worldview that places absolutely no value on human life, and through bodies like the UN we have magnified their influence at our own expense.

I would love to see regimes like Bashir’s ended forever. Crimes such as that against the people of Darfur ought to be stopped and those responsible, punished. But when the only world power that has the will and the capacity to do anything about anything like Darfur actually acts, half our own country denounces us and most of the world does everything it can to stop us. The world calls America a criminal for her desire to stop criminals, and the loudest voices against us come from fellow Americans.

That is the world we have. And that world is why Darfurs happen and why they will continue to happen.

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We (The USA) should push the UN to do something but tell the UN we are busy right now, so they need to find other member countries to take care of this problem.

Wade on February 1, 2007 at 3:50 PM

Darfur doesn’t impact our national security

Au contraire. Failed states do impact our national security because they are like festering wounds where the jihadis can recruit and operate without worry about the local government crashing the party. That’s why Somalia was an ongoing threat, why Darfur is an ongoing concern, and why other failed states in Africa and Asia are a concern.

lawhawk on February 1, 2007 at 4:10 PM

Think it’s bad dealing with China and Russia on the Security Council now? Give it a decade or two and see how much fun we have when France and Great Britain are majority Muslim.

Hopefully that disgraceful organization will no longer exist and New Yorkers can reclaim Turtle Bay, a couple of hundred historic brownstones, and about 15,000 badly needed parking spaces.

IrishEi on February 1, 2007 at 4:12 PM

There is no country on Earth except the USA and maybe Britain that will do anything!!! The world still hasn’t learned that to stop what’s happening, not only in Darfur, but all over, is to get in there are kill the bad guys!

The Left, tinfoil hatted loons, socialists, communists and any other “ists” won’t do anyting but open their mouths and talk, talk, talk. They never have and they never will.

Hey, I say send John Kerry over there to use his influence with France and his other buddies to take care of this business.

You are right, Wade, we are just too busy right now.

sharinlite on February 1, 2007 at 4:12 PM

That is the world we have. And that world is why Darfurs happen and why they will continue to happen.

Exactly right. The United Nations won’t do anything about Darfur – other than engage in their “customary child rape” as Mark Steyn would say. And the moment U.S. troops get within a mile of the Sudanese border, suddenly we’ll be oil-hungry occupiers.

I hate opinion polls.

Enrique on February 1, 2007 at 4:15 PM

Darfur is exactly why there’s a UN, to deal with atrocities like Darfur, and it’s exactly why the UN we actually have is a pathetic POS.

This job is not for American forces, which are needed to deal with situations in which we have a national interest (other than our altruistic interest in preventing bloodshed). Let the worthless countries, like Germany, Belgium, and Canada send troops to Darfur. I’m serious. It might actually help.

Attila (Pillage Idiot) on February 1, 2007 at 4:16 PM

Translation of poll results: “We want something done about Darfur so that we can feel good about ourselves, but we don’t want any intervention to require any actual sacrifices.”

Does that sum it up?

thirteen28 on February 1, 2007 at 4:19 PM

We are not the world police. Just say “No”, to Darfur.

Theworldisnotenough on February 1, 2007 at 4:35 PM

…and if we did intervene, the usual suspects would be telling us it was all about the oil. Which it is — to China, France and Russia, just as it was to them on Iraq.

Karl on February 1, 2007 at 4:40 PM

Want to solve, or at least modify Darfur without putting a single American boot on the ground?

Just crank up a factory for a couple of weeks to make the good old WWII Liberty Pistol – “the only gun that takes longer to reload than to make.”

I can’t verify it from here behind the work firewall but this link appears to be a discussion of it.

Basically it’s a .45 that in WWII was made in something like 23 seconds – mostly stamped and folded. Came with 10 round of ammo and a pictorial user’s guide. They were air-dropped into France to soften things up before the Allies went in.

The Liberty Pistol’s sole purpose in life is to let you get a better gun from a bad guy.

I absolutely agree that they’re nearly useless against a full-auto AK-47. But if you have a mob of 50 people with them, and one or two thugs with AK-47s… well, pretty soon you have a slightly smaller mob with 50 Liberty Pistols and two AK-47s.

KCSteve on February 1, 2007 at 4:40 PM

WHat’s wrong with Southern Sudan or Equatorial Sudan?
WHat are they? They’re Sudanese who been on the receiving end of genocide delivered by the northerners.
Maybe since the MSM has studiously ignored those people, no one knows about their plight. There are reporters who have gone to other palces in Sudan and reported, but their eidtors won’t print their articles. Can anyone explain why they support Darfur and have zip to say about Southern Sudan?
Whatever is reported about Sudan is pure MSM bias – the Left is solely interested in Darfur as a potential lever to pry America out of Iraq. The moment US troops were to disappear from Iraq, the Darfur “issue” will be dumped.

naliaka on February 1, 2007 at 4:46 PM

Like North Korea, Iraq, Iran and to some extent venezuala…the problem is brutal leadership. If you can’t consittanly get to where the aid is…It will never change.

Does this require endless war..not really. But if you can’t agree on taking out the obvious and most doable, Saddam…any hope of finding a REAL solution is a fallacy.

People will continue patting themselves on the back and saying they care…Live aid and garbage like that. That is putting the cart beyond the horse. It is like finding a needle in a haystack.

tomas on February 1, 2007 at 5:01 PM

Want a fantasy? Have our U.N. Ambassador stand up in front of the general assembly with a HUGE map of the oil contracts in the Sudan behind him. Call on the countries; China, FRANCE, Russia and other European countries proudly displayed on the map to stop the BLOOD FOR OIL! Ask THEM why they continue to allow the genocide for oil that has been taking place in that country…
If the U.S. Ambassador is still standing after 5 minutes, have him/her ask the Arab nations why they ignore this problem and point out that the United States gets not one drop of oil from the Sudan as the country has been under United States trading sanction for years…

Babs on February 1, 2007 at 5:36 PM

Oh, and stop selling frickin wrist bands in the high schools to “Save Darfor”. Change the name of the wristbands to “Make China and France own up to their human rights abuses”….

Babs on February 1, 2007 at 5:40 PM

Iowa State says, paint a tear;

Paint a tear to raise awareness, show support for Darfur on Thursday

This Thursday, I urge you students to participate by drawing or painting a red tear below your eye and to think about those far more desperate and in need than us. Let us not sit by and let another genocide occur but instead look upon our past failures to act as reminders that it is our duty as human beings to speak up and help the cause.

Don’t just “sit by”– paint your face like a clown. Jihadis fear clowns.

Terp Mole on February 1, 2007 at 5:48 PM

Darfur is exactly why there’s a UN, to deal with atrocities like Darfur, and it’s exactly why the UN we actually have is a pathetic POS.

I was just going to ask..WHY do we have, and support the UN any longer? The criminal Kofi Annan family is gone, with way too much of the worlds UN money, but how bad is it still? Criminal charges should flow out of there like hot oil, but they don’t.
It would take an army of CPA’s a year to figure out how bad it is in the bay that should have sunk. But we’ll put another few BILLION $’s into the pit, and still get blamed for all the worlds woes.

shooter on February 1, 2007 at 6:42 PM

I was just going to ask..WHY do we have, and support the UN any longer?

I think the ugly truth is that it’s hardwired into our cultural psyche that the UN is a good thing. Every smart person I know still clings to the “Well, we should really get UN approval before blahblahblah” as if the UN’s blessing has any moral currency. For whatever reason, people want to believe that the UN can be some ideal community of nations that respects human rights and works for social justice or whatever, if we just give it another chance.

It’s embedded in our circuitry. It would take a world war to change that circuitry at this point.

Enrique on February 1, 2007 at 6:57 PM

Bryan; I would love to see regimes like Bashir’s ended forever.

Ending forever isn’t the problem, having and will last forever is.

Africa is the very best way in the world to waste American lives.

It’s all very sad to everyone with a heart but many thousands of years of genocide will not stop.

Speakup on February 1, 2007 at 8:00 PM

Well the Army and the Marines are kinda busy right now, but the Navy and the Air Force could solve this problem in about 24 hours.

Tony737 on February 1, 2007 at 9:53 PM

The UN had strong incentive to get involved in Iraq. With the “Oil for Food” program they were able to steal billions from the helpless and starving. But unfortuntly the helpless, starving and decimated people of Darfur have no resorces that can be so easily plundered. Thus the UN will do nothing.

Maxx on February 1, 2007 at 9:54 PM