Darfur: Harder Than It Seems

For indispensable reporting on the coronavirus crisis, the election, and more, subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily newsletter.


There’s not exactly a groundswell for sending more troops overseas these days, but The New Republic’s editors are still trying to make the case for intervention in Darfur. The argument’s worth reading, although the idea that intervention would “only” take 20,000 NATO troops seems absurdly optimistic, reminiscent of prewar Pentagon estimates about how many troops would be needed to occupy Iraq—low-ball figures that TNR and other liberal hawks have criticized in hindsight. And then there’s this:

This is not Iraq: A few weeks ago, thousands of Darfuris demonstrated in a camp, chanting, “Welcome, welcome, USA. Welcome, welcome, international force.”

This, it seems, is TNR’s way of saying that Darfur would be a “cakewalk” and we’d be welcomed with “rose water and flowers.” As the links in that last sentence suggest, that’s exactly the same thing that was predicted about Iraq, before the war. And more to the point, a lot of Iraqis really did welcome American troops in the early days of the war, as Anthony Shadid’s Night Draws Near shows. But obviously all that “rose water” and goodwill quickly evaporated once things went to shit and people started dying. The same would almost certainly be true in Darfur.

That said, I think Eric Reeves has made a decent case that intervention in Darfur could well succeed and save a lot of lives. But any confidence that it would be simple seems preposterous. To take another “non-controversial” humanitarian intervention, the UN has been in the Balkans for a decade, the region is still extremely unstable, and there are no signs that they can leave anytime soon. So are we talking about a decade-long occupation in Sudan? Maybe. If there’s anything to be learned from history, it’s that intervening in Darfur would likely be far, far more difficult than anything currently being contemplated.

DEMOCRACY DOES NOT EXIST...

without free and fair elections, a vigorous free press, and engaged citizens to reclaim power from those who abuse it.

In this election year unlike any other—against a backdrop of a pandemic, an economic crisis, racial reckoning, and so much daily crazy—Mother Jones' journalism is driven by one simple question: Will America will move closer to, or further from, justice and equity in the years to come?

If you're able to, please join us in this mission with a donation today. Our reporting right now is focused on voting rights and election security, corruption, disinformation, racial and gender equity, and the climate crisis. We can’t do it without the support of readers like you, and we need to give it everything we've got between now and November. Thank you.

DEMOCRACY DOES NOT EXIST...

without free and fair elections, a vigorous free press, and engaged citizens to reclaim power from those who abuse it.

In this election year unlike any other—against a backdrop of a pandemic, an economic crisis, racial reckoning, and so much daily crazy—Mother Jones' journalism is driven by one simple question: Will America will move closer to, or further from, justice and equity in the years to come?

If you're able to, please join us in this mission with a donation today. Our reporting right now is focused on voting rights and election security, corruption, disinformation, racial and gender equity, and the climate crisis. We can’t do it without the support of readers like you, and we need to give it everything we've got between now and November. Thank you.

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our newsletters

Subscribe and we'll send Mother Jones straight to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate