May 03, 2006

George Clooney and Darfur

Note to actor, celebrity dissident and bon vivant George Clooney: Don't get a moral high from the puff-piece media's bravura reviews of your soliloquy at last week's "Save Darfur" rally in Washington. Your international education remains grievously inadequate and incomplete.

A glitterati actor advocating military action in a very hard and chaotic corner of our planet should consider the following details.

Yes, the dictatorship repeatedly launched genocidal attacks on tribal rebels. Indeed, the dictator exploited tribal rivalries to attack dissident bases and split opposition leadership. The dictatorship murdered men, women and children by the hundreds of thousands, despite objections by the United States, Great Britain and the United Nations. The dictatorship fueled its war with billions in petrodollars, while tens of thousands of children and elderly citizens lacked basic medical care
True, most of the regime's victims are Muslims. Russia, China and France played ambiguous political roles, because of financial interests in the region. And deplore this sad fact: Efforts made by international military forces to protect the vulnerable ethnic groups from the regime's depredations were limited and insufficient.

The dictatorship maintained contact with terrorist organizations. In retrospect, the dictatorship may not have produced weapons of mass destruction -- but as the secretary of defense said, given the regime's track record for mass murder and terror, he'd still order the attack.

I have just described Sudan. For readers who may not know the geography and demography, a terrible genocide directed by the Sudanese government is occurring in Sudan's western Darfur region. George Clooney essentially wants the United States and United Nations to invade Darfur to stop the genocide.

However, I've also sketched Saddam Hussein's Iraq. Clooney and his clan object to the coalition war in Iraq.

Hypocritical? Inexcusably hypocritical, but all too typical of the Hollywood left and their elite media pals.

The parallels between Sudan and Iraq are striking and informative. Substitute Sudan's Darfurian tribes for Iraqi Shias and Kurds. The international forces in Darfur are hapless African Union peacekeepers, who spend their time trying to avoid ambushes. In Iraq, the United States and Great Britain tried to protect the Kurd north and Shia south with air patrols -- it didn't work. Saddam's terror contacts among secular and sectarian terrorists were numerous. Sudan harbored Osama bin Laden. As for the WMD, recall the Clinton administration's strike on the Khartoum pharmaceuticals plant suspected of producing nerve gas. Former Clinton SecDef Bill Cohen still defends the attack. He didn't want to run the risk that terrorists would acquire WMD from a rogue tyranny. The Bush administration didn't want to run that risk with Iraq....It's not that I don't think Darfur demands international action. It does. I do not come to that conclusion lightly, for I began writing about Darfur in February 2003 at StrategyPage.com -- well before Darfur broke as a cause celebre. (The Feb. 26, 2003, report notes that the Sudanese government had armed Arabized tribal militias, and now Darfur's "rebel" Zaghawa and Fur tribes were fighting back.)

Russia and China, however, block U.N. action in Darfur. NATO could provide troops, but watch the reaction when "U.S. and European colonialists" invade sovereign Sudan -- that's assuming Clooney convinces France and Germany to participate. Al-Qaida will show up -- bin Laden promised that last week -- so expect a hard slog.

He makes some really good points.

Look, I often criticize celebrities that get involved in politics and pretend to be "experts" on whatever cause that they have chosen to champion. I do, admittedly, get irritated by celebrities that believe experience in television or movies makes them more intellectual or intelligent than those leading the country.

I do believe that, in this particular situation, George Clooney is using his celebrity for a good cause - to provide publicity to a very horrible situation (quite frankly, it is about time - the slaughter in Darfur has been going on for years.)

However, by now, it is clear that "world opinion" or "bad publicity" is not going to stop the genocide in Darfur. George Clooney's efforts, unfortunately, are going to amount to nothing.

So, what are the other options? Negotiations? Not going to work. Military action? Sorry, but George Clooney has been telling us for four years that military action is not justified in Iraq (a country in which human rights atrocities were committed on a daily basis), so why should he now favor military action in another part of the world for a similar reason?
Well, George Clooney will never be forced to confront this hypocrisy. Military action is very unlikely.
The U.N. is reluctant to classify the situation as a genocide and the matter is hopelessly deadlocked in the U.N. Security Council. No country has indicated a real willingness to commit troops and intervene militarily.

Should the U.S. intervene? Yes. Will the U.S. intervene. Not likely.

The Democrat's reaction to the Iraq war has essentially guaranteed that the Bush administration will not likely intervene. Since March of 2003, the Democrats have created an environment that would discourage any further military intervention. The Democrats have worked hard to turn U.S. public opinion against military interventions and toward isolationism. Quite frankly, they have been pretty successful at doing so.

The anti-war liberals (the majority of the Democratic party - or at least the most vocal) would never get behind a military intervention in Darfur - or would they? For the last four years we have been told that war is the ultimate evil and that the ends (freeing people from oppression) are not justified by the means. After all, Saddam Hussein was responsible for the torture and deaths of millions of people. Yet, the anti-war liberals will never acknowledge that the invasion was justified on that basis alone. Rather, they have attempted to argue that Bush somehow lied about WMD's to get us into Iraq and, as a result, the entire operation should have never occurred - regardless of the side benefit of freeing millions from tyranny and oppression.
We have been told by the Democrats, including George Clooney, that the U.S. cannot be the world's policeman, that democracies are not workable in the third world and that we cannot solve all of the world's problems - so why bother?

For four long years, I have listened to lecturing from Nancy Pelosi, Ted Kennedy and Cindy Sheehan that the casualties we have suffered in Iraq (which are light by any honest historical analysis or comparison to other historical conflicts of similar nature) are too heavy, not justified and warrant our immediate withdrawal. If we intervened in Darfur, it is very likely we would suffer similar casualties. Would the Democrats complain and criticize the administration for getting us into an "unwinnable war" or a "quagmire" in Darfur?

If the Democrats do support an intervention in Darfur for humanitarian reasons, then the Democrats would need to explain the inherent contradiction with their position on Iraq.
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