Between Conscience and Self-Interest

The United States, Sudan and Darfur

UNAMID provides health care to IDPs in Labado
Between Conscience and Self-Interest : The United States, Sudan and Darfur - Alec Barker


What is the United States’ “vital national interest” in stopping the killing in Darfur? How can the United States best contribute to ending the bloodshed in Sudan? This essay examines the many American concerns in Sudan, from oil to the prosecution of crimes against humanity. But it settles on one decisive interest that tips the balance in favor of supporting intervention: the maintenance of international support for American policies as a primary source of US power. The United States should therefore offer serious support to an African-led intervention – an approach that will resolve the Darfur conflict without exacerbating already diminished perceptions of American legitimacy.

The ongoing mass murder in Darfur is a heartbreaking crime perpetrated by a Sudanese government desperately gripping power. But what does it mean to an American superpower fighting a most unconventional world war? How should the United States respond? Firstly, this paper asks what the United States’ strategic interest in stopping the atrocity in Sudan is. Although this appears to be a cold-blooded question, it gives an encouraging answer: the superpower is compelled to act by its need to return to an internationally respectable foreign policy inclusive of moral reasoning and careful analysis. Secondly, the paper asks how the United States can best achieve this interest, seeking in particular a practical approach to the problem. Ironically, the answer lies in dispelling the myth of American omnipotence and acknowledging that strong support to an African-led international intervention is, although imperfect, preferable to both inaction and direct intervention.

In an era when the international community debates the idea of unipolarity, the viability of international norms and institutions, and the limits of sovereignty, the United States debates the effects of its foray into self-interested nation-building in Iraq. The Bush Administration has backpedaled from faith in pre-emption and unilateral action but has simultaneously increased rhetoric about the still-elusive democratic peace. However the words and respective deeds do not correspond. While American intelligence collaborates with the Government of Sudan (GoS) in the war on terror, the US executive has both applauded the southern peace and condemned the Darfur atrocity. The US Congress has demanded an end to the violence but has also reneged on a $50 million pledge to support the African Union (AU) intervention. The government’s confused policies toward Sudan have, in effect, accommodated this ongoing crime, further calling into question the United States’ faltering position as an international leader. But with some Darfur policy adjustments, America can seize the opportunity to reassert itself as a just and powerful world leader.

In the broader context of right and wrong, Darfur represents a chance to build upon lessons learned at high costs in Srebrenica and Rwanda.1 In the decade following the end of the Cold War, principles of collective security were expanded upon to protect against violations of human rights. But a comprehensive, prescient, and executable doctrine did not exist to implement the new mandate. Although peace-seeking international intervention remains an imperfect practice, we have learned that it takes will, money and above all conscience to end crimes against innocent non-combatants.

I. What is the United States' Interest?

It seems heartless to ask, understanding the despicable nature of the Darfur quasi-genocide,2 why the United States should consider intervening to stop the violence. But as with all questions dealing with exerciseing national power, leaders must define the “vital national interest,” or lack thereof. Previously, the coldly calculated economic costs of intervention were far greater than the costs of indifference. But now the cost of indifference is too high and the potential payoff to a smart intervention is too great.3

There are five general categories of strategic interests pertinent to the United States in Sudan. The first four are subordinate to the fifth and will be discussed in the following section. The four subordinate categories of interest are regional stability in Africa, economic concerns, issues related to the “long war” (Pentagon-speak for the war on terror), and problems of international law and conflict management.

A. Subordinate Interests

Continued instability in Darfur in particular and Sudan in general may lead not only to the continuation of the quasi-genocide but also to the expansion of conflict and instability to Chad, the Horn, Great Lakes, and Nile regions. Specifically, the conflict has the potential to topple the Chadian president, Idriss Deby; catalyze renewed war between Eritrea and Ethiopia; fuel murder, rape and slavery in Uganda; and revive tensions between Sudan and Egypt.4 The crisis runs the risk of upending the GoS itself or returning it to radicalism, both of which could result in a failed state that jeopardizes international security. Finally, the US would benefit from a successful AU intervention because it would strengthen a new outlet for conflict management in the troubled region.

While Chinese and Indian corporations ignore the situation in Darfur in their pursuit of energy, the humanitarian disaster in Sudan restricts American companies from contracting the drilling of oil that Chevron discovered some 28 years ago. At a time when the American economy is searching for new sources of energy, yet cannot afford to compromise principles long ago forgone by China and India, the unresolved crisis in Darfur is an obstacle to American development of Sudan’s oil resources.5

There are few lines of economic communication as strategically important as the Suez Canal. Maintenance of this arterial passageway is almost a clichéd American interest. Sudan owns more than 300 miles of Red Sea coastline and is therefore vitally important to securing the southern outlet of the Suez Canal. A civil war between the GoS and the Beja-Rashaida Eastern Front could jeopardize control of this shipping artery. Given the recent increase in maritime piracy in the Indian Ocean and Gulf of Aden, as well as radicalism in Yemen, stability near Sudan’s shores is an essential US interest.

Since the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the United States, cooperation with foreign intelligence services has become vital to the long war. Indeed, Sudan became extremely important after 9/11 because it had information about Bin Laden and Al Qaeda; it could collect intelligence where the CIA could not; and it was trying to shed its image as a pariah state. Close collaboration between the CIA and the Sudanese Mukhabarat enables the American offensive against terrorists, but makes them unlikely allies.6

Americans have a military interest in Sudan which is undeniable. With the US military fully deployed in the long war, and its Army and Marine Corps particularly stretched thin, it is clearly in the United States’ interest not to be in another large protracted engagement. Most American soldiers and marines have served one to two combat deployments since 9/11, and some have spent more than 36 months at war. Many units not historically intended for combat have been sent to Iraq, and Reserve and National Guard units have been relied upon heavily to distribute the burden.7 The US military simply cannot afford another large scale commitment. Any response to Darfur must account for this reality.

A cornerstone of the national security strategy is control of the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction (WMDs). This principle applies not only to rogue states, but also to stateless terrorist organizations such as al Qaeda. But a recent European intelligence assessment claims state-owned enterprises in Sudan have served as a conduit for nuclear program equipment and materials en route to third party nuclear weapons programs.8 The network of disgraced Pakistani nuclear scientist A.Q. Khan is the suspected culprit, and Iran is believed to have been the customer.9 Although the purchases seem to have ended in 2001, the US cannot permit Sudan to be a black market broker for WMDs.

Americans, though some disagree or would prefer not to admit it, have an inherent interest in seeing violations of human rights and international law stopped and punished. Some, like Robert Kagan, argue that the internationalist tendency towards laws and rules is a position taken up by weak states, lacking the physical power to influence world politics.10 But as we have seen in Taliban Afghanistan, the Iraq insurgency, and present-day Somalia, lawlessness is a precondition for terrorism. The United States must support the norms that comprise international law, though it may be required to swallow some bitter pills in the process.

American interest in Darfur is complicated by what Alan J. Kuperman calls the “moral hazard of intervention.”11 To some extent, this has already occurred in Sudan, in that the diplomatic pressure placed on the GoS to finalize the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) has encouraged rebels elsewhere in Sudan to take up arms. American effort to resolve the Darfur crisis must be aware of this principle and act to reduce its effect by pressuring the GoS to include all marginalized people in any Darfur peace settlement.

B. Paramount Strategic Interest

The above are admittedly tired arguments. Advocates of humanitarian intervention have invoked similar reasons before, trying to prod western powers to stop crimes against humanity. As cold as they may seem, they are not cynical enough to spur intervention, especially in Darfur. They have failed in the past, and were they the only concerns here, they would probably fail again.

1. A Categorical Imperative?

The question lying at the heart of international debate over humanitarian intervention is the theoretical categorical imperative that a superpower must stop a foreign state from massacring its own people, irrespective of its territorial sovereignty. This norm is simply not influential in Washington. Although contested by isolationists, this principle has often been presented as a great power’s responsibility or burden. Human rights and international law advocacy groups, such as the International Council on Human Rights Policy, have proposed a government’s “responsibility to protect.” This asserts that “outside states have a duty to act when a government is unwilling to prevent violations of rights in their territories or is itself the cause of those violations… Their duty is to act, within their capacity, to assist and protect those whose rights are being violated.”12

The UN World Summit in September 2005 reaffirmed the emerging norm of a “responsibility to protect” from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing, and crimes against humanity.13 But the UN produces many well-intended resolutions that cannot be enforced. It is clear that national governments make decisions in consideration of the vital interest at stake rather than the survival of a theoretical norm. The notion of a superpower’s inherent or supranational responsibility is an obstacle to US involvement in humanitarian intervention. This is seen as a foreign attempt to control the superpower. But the US should adjust its perspective and recognize the strategic imperative to adopt a moral foreign policy in order to help maintain the current condition of American primacy.

2. A Strategic Imperative

If the United States is to sustain the “unipolar moment,” it must treat the termination of ongoing massacres like the one in Darfur as an element of national strategy.14 Permitting the continued slaughter and displacement of innocent civilians suggests to some foreigners that American democracy is hypocritical and therefore unfit to lead. This undermines international support for American policies. International consensus-building is far more important to the hegemon in a unipolar world than it was in bipolar competition with the Soviet Union. The lesson of the decision to invade Iraq without majority international agreement is that raw force has proven a flimsy way to support American objectives in today’s world, and that the ideological battleground is more important than was assumed.

Prior to the Iraq insurgency, the US had assembled a military machine far superior to any other whose strength no one doubted. But it has since revealed weaknesses and simultaneously alienated some of its key supporters. The priority of the second Bush Administration should have been the restoration of legitimacy as a superpower, but despite some recent positive developments in conciliatory language and diplomacy, it has wholly failed to generate international support. This has devastated US foreign policy.

There is talk in the United States of an “Iraq syndrome,” or a renewed, Vietnam-like public reluctance to allow its commander-in-chief to pursue vague policy goals in deploying the armed forces abroad. The real Iraq syndrome in the future will not be characterized by American popular reluctance to support foreign adventures, but will instead describe the reluctance of international partners to cooperate with US policy initiatives or to participate in American-led military operations.15 It will include their desire to constrain American power and their pursuit of a counter-balance to unipolarity. Some suggest existing alliances are unnecessary vestiges of a bygone era. Although there need not always be an unqualified alliance in, say, American-European relations, there certainly cannot be an enduring rift.

Therefore, the United States has a large strategic interest in demonstrating it is a moral hegemon, a legitimate and wise authority to be trusted and admired. It must also convince its partners that it is capable of advancing carefully reasoned approaches to thoroughly analyzed problems.

The term “moral” is not used here in the sense in which it is often popularly used to connote adherence to a particular system of norms assumed to be superior by the person employing the term. In this parlance, the many contradictory systems of supposedly “moral” behavior can be used to rally various constituencies to widely divergent causes. Rather, it is used here to recall a rational philosophy that acts on full understanding of a problem, making value judgments where necessary.16 This gives a way to derive policy approaches that are neither purely pragmatic (and indifferent to human suffering) nor purely idealist (and recklessly ignorant of associated costs and unintended consequences).

“Moral,” in this context, is more akin in definition to “well-reasoned.” A basis for a moral foreign policy would be found in the rational Augustinian approach to the just war, later developed by Hugo Grotius. The Augustinian tradition balances the idealism of the categorical imperative and the pragmatism of the realist. It asks not only if combat is philosophically just because of its cause, but also what the potential costs and likelihood of achieving that justice are. If these costs are too high, the risks too great, and victory unlikely, a war could be considered unjust no matter how revered the cause.

The current American leadership appears to have failed to deliberate in this way, seemingly substituting determination to fight for sound information and analysis. If the US adopted such an approach now, it could not only accomplish ethically just objectives, but also employ more efficient methods. In Darfur a moral foreign policy demands for the killing to be stopped, although traditional forms of intervention are not appropriate.17

II. Achieving This Interest

We have seen in Sudan that a coldly reckoned interest is also a moral one. In Darfur, the means that America chooses are as important, if not more so, than the end. The use of soft power, cooperation with allies and a thorough understanding of the crisis are essential. The US cannot intervene alone or as a leader, but it cannot afford to do nothing to help stop the atrocities in Darfur. It must wholeheartedly support an African-led intervention with tough diplomacy, financial assistance, equipment, and logistics focused on the specific shortcomings of the mission in Sudan.

A. A Thoughtful Approach

The US should recognize the need to play a supporting role in Sudan. It already suffers from a conflicted mélange of policies and should not further complicate things by either a full intervention or leadership role in any international effort. In addition, an all-out US intervention would further exacerbate the perception of American incursions on “Muslim territory,” a problem which has inflamed anti-American aggression worldwide.

A comprehensive American-led military intervention is inappropriate for three reasons.18 First, a weighty American presence would become an obstacle to peace because it would attract Jihadists, invoke accusations of petro-imperialism, and rouse anti-American, Islamist hard-liners in the GoS, destabilizing al Bashir. Second, Secretary Rumsfeld’s transformation is incompatible with effective peacekeeping operations. The lighter, faster and cheaper hi-tech philosophy may pay lip service to peacekeeping, but neglects the reality that successful peacekeeping operations are technologically basic and require overwhelming traditional capabilities.

But the reason trumping all others is that the US is in fact precluded from militarily intervening in Sudan by its involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan. The Pentagon is simply overextended and cannot now project overwhelming conventional force anywhere else.19

B. Regional Organization

This brings us to the importance of regional organizations, particularly the newly reborn AU and its African Mission in Sudan (AMIS). They are better informed, more culturally aware, and more familiar with the operational environment. They will not be confronted as arrogant outsiders seeking imperial influence.

One critique of the regional peacekeeping operation is that it provides a way for self-interested parties to intercede in a neighbor’s crisis. This does not appear to be a factor in AMIS. The risk that they may not be completely impartial and unbiased in carrying out its mission is minimal and an acceptable one, provided the AU maintains the current force structure. The fact that none of the troop-contributing nations shares a border or long-standing disputes with Sudan is an encouraging factor.20

It is well understood that regional organizations have a mixed record in peacekeeping operations.21 Despite this, the US must invest in AMIS. As one of the AU’s first two peacekeeping operations, the international community is watching its progress closely. If AMIS is able to prove that the African Union is capable of peacekeeping, then it may begin to become the strong stabilizing force African leaders envision. Perhaps the most important reason the United States should support AMIS is the increasing likelihood that as humanitarian crises continue in Africa, the US will be increasingly militarily unable and politically unwilling to project intervening force on the Continent. The long war will likely be a generational war and will exact a high price from the all-volunteer service. Investing now in the AU’s capability will pay long-run dividends.

This is an extension of earlier (still valid) arguments for the African Crisis Response Initiative (ACRI) and its successor, the Africa Contingency Operations Training and Assistance (ACOTA) program. President Clinton proposed ACRI “to help African nations to respond to humanitarian crises and peacekeeping missions in their region.”22 President Bush’s ACOTA has trained peacekeepers from 15 African States and has scheduled the training of an estimated 40,000 more over the next 5 years.23 It has facilitated force interoperability, command and control, and contributed to more capable African peacekeeping.

Moreover, American support for a decisive peacekeeping effort can prevent an intervention from becoming part of the problem. An intervention that does not distinguish between victim and aggressor sustains ambiguity and insecurity, permitting the bloodletting to continue unabated.24 While American rhetoric must not undermine an AU mission by sending conflicting signals about the international community’s partiality or impartiality, it should be applied behind closed doors to convince the AU to take a clear stance against state-sponsored murder. Without a clear challenge to the perpetrator, AMIS may become more a party to the problem than a solution, like UNAMIR in Rwanda or UNPROFOR in Srebrenica.

C. Employing Real Strength: Money, Material and Transport

The popular misconception that the American military is omnipotent suggests that its supposedly awesome capabilities require the US to intervene in Darfur based on its “responsibility to protect.” This is a dangerously influential notion that has, at times, caused blame to shift from the very criminals responsible to the non-intervening superpower. The idea that the US is compelled to act by virtue of its “power” is short-sighted; it historically has very little relative power in humanitarian crises. Somalia, Bosnia-Herzegovina and Rwanda prove its military has no extraordinarily pre-eminent expertise in stability operations. Therefore, the United States is not compelled to lead a traditional intervention by the “power brings responsibility” argument. However, it is “powerful” with respect to its position to fund, equip and provide logistical support to an intervention, and should therefore treat this as a moral responsibility.25

Several studies of the AU’s effort in Darfur have determined that AMIS is ill- equipped, poorly trained and unprepared to fulfill its purpose. In November 2005, the Brookings Institution’s University of Bern Project on Internal Displacement and the humanitarian NGO, Refugees International, published separate analyses of AMIS and reached a similar conclusion: that significant reinforcement is required for AMIS to become an effective deterrent to violence in Darfur.

The United States should pursue the following on behalf of AMIS:

1. An increase in personnel commensurate with the expansive territory it must patrol, to between 12,500 and 20,000 peacekeepers. This increase should be manned by AU member states, preferably those least partial to the GoS or the Darfur rebels, and not the NATO troops Bush has called for. But AMIS’s recent payroll troubles show it would be hardpressed to fund such an expansion.

2. Delivery on the $50 million pledge made in April 2005. This funding is critical. AU Peace and Security Commissioner Said Djinnit has warned that AMIS only has enough funding to sustain itself through April 2006, despite a December 2005 donation by the European Union of 70 million euros, or $84 million.26

3. A strengthened mandate. The current mandate places the primary responsibility for protecting civilians on the GoS. This forces AMIS to abstain from intervention in any situation where government forces assert sovereignty, even with clear indications that a criminal act is taking place. The mandate also requires AU troops to fight only in self-defense and reduces their effectiveness to a weak deterrent. A revised mandate should empower AMIS with the clear responsibility to actively and forcefully protect civilians and humanitarian agencies.

4. Increased capabilities in transport, logistics, intelligence, command and control, and civilian police.27 It should match the Canadian donation of armored personnel carriers with a large fleet of 2.5 and 5 ton trucks outfitted for cargo, personnel transport, and convoy escort (including anti-vehicular weaponry), as well as the parts needed to fix them. AMIS needs intelligence training, support, and equipment, in addition to the clear authority to collect intelligence as necessary to monitor and prevent attacks against civilians. The force also needs long-range tactical radios with encryption features to enable its transport and security operations. These are simple examples of the many ways in which the mission lacks basic capabilities.

5. More firepower. This issue is a very controversial one, as enhancing a peace operation’s offensive capability seems counterproductive. But, no peace will endure until the janjaweed are deterred by a robust and determined foreign presence. AMIS needs heavy machine guns, basic anti-armor weapons, helicopter gunships, and fixed wing attack aircraft to provide credible deterrence and to defend itself.

6. Increased pressure on GoS. This should begin with an AU-declared and internationally supported no-fly zone over Darfur. The GoS must stop paying lip service to ending the atrocities and demonstrate that it is truly ending its foray into indiscriminate counter-insurgency by disarming the janjaweed.

7. Coordinated information operations. There is a basic tendency for those within a conflict to misunderstand the goals and mandate of intervening forces, leading to unrealistic demands, low morale and a deficit of trust. In the worst cases, these misunderstandings flare into violence. A clear message delivered in the colloquial language would help mitigate this problem.

The aforementioned are just a sampling of some of the basic changes necessary to improve AMIS.28 The list is by no means comprehensive, but the bottom line is that the US and the international community must enable the AU Mission in Sudan, unlike previous peace keeping operations, to truly protect and not simply to monitor or serve as a witness to crime.

D. Long-Run Consideration

No effort in Sudan will succeed unless it addresses the root causes of the conflict, of which there are many that initially appear intractable.

Any solution must overcome the fundamental problems in Sudanese center-periphery relations. Feasible political solutions include a consociational democratic constitution in either the letter or the spirit of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA), partition, and/or independence. The unity option must provide simultaneous redress for all of Sudan’s marginalized people. Accordingly, US Deputy Secretary of State Robert Zoellick has insisted that any solution to Darfur should be addressed within a CPA framework and should include the Eastern Front.

A power-sharing political arrangement could begin to facilitate an end to unequal development in the outlying regions. GoS representatives have prevaricated in dealing with development for decades, making stale promises of potable water and paved roads to pacify the demands of the neglected. Only a truly representative power-sharing arrangement or self-government will address these needs.

Competition for and extraction of Sudanese resources by foreign investors will continue to provide incentive for the GoS to hold on to total power and thereby benefit from revenue. Removing this incentive will be difficult, because it will mean engaging the governments of China and India in a conversation about their human-rights-ignorant energy policies. The international community has heretofore been unsuccessful in persuading China to leverage the link between Sudanese oil and the Darfur crisis.29 In the long run, international organizations must ameliorate this condition.

To a lesser extent, the GoS must address ethnic and religious divides. Theoretically, a government of national unity should make public reconciliation a goal. However, until there is a concerted effort to recognize and place value on the differences among Sudan’s many fractured groups, the government cannot achieve reconciliation. It will take a combination of dynamic leadership, transparency and effort in good faith. The current composition of the GoS makes the prospects for such reconciliation unlikely in the short term. But fortunately, ethnicity is not the major cause of violence and it is probable that if the required political and economic changes follow a demobilization of the janjaweed, the Sudanese people will return to an ethnically intermingled lifestyle.

The United States should get used to enabling peacekeeping in Africa. To some extent, the Africa Contingency Operations Training and Assistance program demonstrates it already has. But this is only an investment in human capital, a highly perishable commodity. When the time comes, the US must be prepared to fund and equip African (hopefully AU-led) peacekeeping operations. This capitalizes on US relative strengths, reduces the need to use its own troops, and reinforces its role as a well-deserved world leader.

Finally, a long term solution must deal with the dilemma of conflict displacement. This suggestion implies that an intervention may succeed in stabilizing Sudan, but may also succeed in destabilizing the surrounding region in the process. While there is no panacea to such a complex problem, strong support of AMIS now might validate the AU’s overall mandate and thereby reinforce the young organization, providing a potential future outlet for conflict prevention and mediation on the continent.

III. Conclusion

With respect to Darfur specifically and humanitarian interventions in general, American leaders should be neither true believers nor cynics, but rather seek the most effective solution to this horrific problem and simultaneously seize an opportunity to reaffirm their nation’s role as a powerful and just world leader.

What does Darfur really mean to the US? Although it represents many tangible and short term interests, the conflict’s overarching significance is a chance for the US to recapture legitimacy as a benevolent hegemon.30 Thankfully, this opportunity can be fulfilled with a relatively small investment in an African-led peacekeeping operation.31 Successful execution of this approach requires a middle-of-the-road policy. It must resist the temptation towards idealistic justifications and strategies for intervention, but must also guard against purely self-interested and heartless indifference. Furthermore, a balanced assessment of costs reflects both the material expense of total intervention and the political damage caused by diffidence to confront atrocity. Careful evaluation of internal political sensitivities to the situation in Darfur demonstrates that the American contribution to an intervention must avoid the historic tendency to dominate. Only this type of reasoned approach to foreign policy will justify and maintain international support for the US in a unipolar framework.


1 The public has yet to fully realize the enormity of the recent atrocities in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), from which there are also many other important lessons to be drawn.

2 A detailed analysis of the controversy over the definition of genocide in Darfur is contained in “Understanding the Darfur Crisis,” an unpublished paper available from the author. “Quasi-genocide” is Gerard Prunier’s apt description of the atrocity in Darfur. There is a great deal of controversy over defining the genocidal character of the Darfur conflict, but we lack the ability to properly address the topic here. Briefly, we can say this controversy variously informs and confuses the real issues causing violence in Darfur: deficiencies in center-periphery relations, uneven distribution of political and economic power, and the GoS’s sophomoric decision to use unofficial militia and ethnicity as tools of counter-insurgency.

3 An essential analysis of national interest and the politics of genocide is captured in the Pulitzer Prize-winning contribution of Samantha Power, A Problem from Hell: America and the Age of Genocide. (London: Flamingo, 2002).

4 There are also less likely scenarios in which the very complex situation in the eastern DRC could be inflamed.

5 Despite this fact, Sudan’s oil is not even a partial answer to the US’s energy problems. Technological development away from the current dependency on petroleum is the long run solution.

6 Although intelligence cooperation is critical to the long war and offers Sudan a potential way to leverage the American economic sanctions begun during the Clinton years, neither Bush nor al Bashir is eager to publicize the relationship. Al Bashir is opposed by hardliners within his government who denounce any cooperation with the US. And for Bush Darfur makes rewarding Sudanese cooperation with the end of sanctions and its removal from the list of states sponsoring terrorism unpalatable. A senior US government official familiar with terrorist threats in the region said Khartoum was not at present a state sponsor of terrorism. “These are not all nice guys, but they have gone way past a passing grade on counter-terrorism cooperation and don’t technically belong on the list,” he said. “The reason they are still there is Darfur, which is not related to state-sponsored terrorism but makes lifting sanctions now politically impossible.” See Silverstein, Ken, “Official Pariah Sudan Valuable to America’s War on Terrorism.” Los Angeles Times 29 April 2005.

7 It might be hard to conceive of a uniformed military unit “not intended for combat deployment,” but there are several in the US Defense Department such as the 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment, 1/509th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 1/3rd Infantry Regiment, and Combat Training Center Operations Groups that have exclusively training or ceremonial missions and have deployed since 9/11.

8 Traynor, Ian and Ian Coban, “Clandestine Nuclear Deals Linked to Sudan.” The Guardian 5 January 2006.

9 Ibid.

10 Kagan, Robert, Paradise and Power: America and Europe in the New World Order (London: Atlantic Books, 2003).

11 This principle suggests foreign powers which intervene on behalf of a minority in a sovereign state’s internal conflict offer incentive to other groups to instigate a crisis in the hope they too will be supported by external saviors, thereby making the problem worse. See Kuperman, Alan J. “Humanitarian Hazard: Revisiting Doctrines of Intervention,” Harvard International Review, vol. 26, no. 1 (Spring 2004). Also, “Transnational Causes of Genocide, or How the West Exacerbates Ethnic Conflict” in Yugoslavia Unraveled: Sovereignty, Self-Determination, Intervention, Raju G. C. Thomas, ed. (Oxford: Lexington Books, 2003).

12 International Council on Human Rights Policy, “Duties Sans Frontieres: Human Rights and Global Social Justice” (2003): p 51.

13 UN World Summit Outcome, A/RES/60/1, 15 September 2005: paragraphs 138-39.

14 Is the unipolar condition desirable, for the US or the rest of the world? That is the topic of an entirely different debate which cannot be examined here. We assume American unipolarity for the indefinite future is desirable, acknowledging this is a highly debatable premise to be discussed elsewhere.

15 To some unilateralists this may be a good result, but they fail to see unipolarity is unsustainable without international cooperation.

16 By “full understanding,” I refer to an understanding based on a decision-making process that considers divergent points of view, that seeks information from unfiltered primary sources, that challenges its assumptions, and comprehensively evaluates costs.

17 To be sure, the United States’ foremost foreign responsibility is to leave Iraq in the hands of a capable, democratically elected government equipped with the basic tools necessary to develop its economy and defend itself. But ending the mass murder in Sudan is linked to America’s recovery from its failures in the Iraq war.

18 And in the possible framework of a US-led United Nations intervention, there is a fourth reason. Any UN proposal to forcibly intervene in Darfur faces the likelihood of a Chinese veto in the Security Council. China may avoid alienating the GoS to protect its energy interests.

19 James Kurth writes, “Instead of pursuing humanitarian interventions, the United States has engaged in two wars, one in Afghanistan and one in Iraq, that the Bush administration justified in human rights terms. This is especially true in the case of Iraq, but the real impact of that war has been to make humanitarian intervention by the United States elsewhere impossible. This radically reduces the prospects for successful humanitarian interventions in the future, while improving the prospects for undeterred and uninhibited ethnic massacres or genocides, such as has been occurring in western Sudan.” See Kurth, James, “Humanitarian Intervention After Iraq: Legal Ideals vs. Military Realities.” Orbis, vol. 50, no. 1, (Winter 2006): p. 88.

20 Ibid., p 121. Rwandan initiative is critical to the success of AMIS. Paul Kagame’s government was not only one of the first to respond to the AU’s call for help in Darfur, but its troops are highly motivated by personal memories of their own genocide and the inability of UNAMIR to stop it. Rwandan soldiers make AMIS far different from previous attempts at regional peacekeeping and must be supported.

21 Only two operations are considered anything but failures. The 1965 Organization of American States intervention in the Dominican Republic restored order and made a timely departure, but is criticized as a veneer for US imperial interventionism. The 1990 Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) effort in Liberia may have mitigated an all-out catastrophe, but it failed to enforce a cease fire and in the long term, more unrest and war led to a UN intervention. See Diehl, Paul F., International Peacekeeping (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1999): pp. 121-122.

22 According to ACRI’s US State Department website, accessed 8 January 2006. <>

23 White House press release: “Fact Sheet: United States and G8 Renew Strong Commitment to Africa,” 8 July 2005.

24 Matthew Krain discusses the weaknesses of peacekeeping models that are either impartial or offer the presence of a international witness as the lone deterrent to mass killing, arguing instead for interventions against the perpetrating party. See also the report of the Lakhdar Brahimi panel: “No failure did more to damage the standing and credibility of United Nations peacekeeping in the 1990s than its reluctance to distinguish victim from aggressor.” Report of the Panel on United Nations Peace Operations, A/55/305 S/2000/809, 21 August 2000, p. ix.

25 The stories of UNAMIR’s failures in Rwanda demonstrate it lacked several empowering characteristics which could have helped prevent or stop the genocide. Canadian Lieutenant General Romeo Dallaire’s account almost gives a formula for poor peace operations: insufficient troop numbers, a weak mandate, unfulfilled pledges of financial support, inadequate transport, bad logistics, nonexistent intelligence, and the presence of spoilers. We see all of these characteristics in AMIS and Darfur today, yet no remedy has been offered. This is perhaps due to a pervasive general pessimism in the west about sponsoring African peace operations. It seems the calls for a UN takeover of AMIS began as soon as AMIS was authorized. See Dallaire, Romeo A. and Brent Beardsley, Shake Hands with the Devil: The Failure of Humanity in Rwanda (New York: Carroll & Graf Publishers, 2003).

26 “Sudan: AU Mission in Darfur Running out of Cash,” Reuters Alert Net, 16 December 2005 (accessed at on 17 December 2005). This covers all but $51 million of a $135 million projected AMIS shortfall. The United States should read between the lines: the EU’s decision to leave approximately $50 million unfunded is a thinly veiled challenge to Capitol Hill’s decision not to honor its McDoom, Opheera, “Arabs Pledge to Fund African Darfur Troops.” Reuters Alert Net, 28 March 2006 (accessed at on 8 April 2006).

27 The US did provide air transport of AMIS troops into Sudan, using two aircraft to move Rwandan and Nigerian units. Office of the Press Secretary (White House), “Statement on the Expanded African Union (AU) Mission in Sudan,” dated 18 October 2004 (accessed at on 14 January 2006).

28 For more on these suggestions, see the Brookings-Bern and Refugees International reports.

29 China has promised a badly needed combat medical company to UNMIS, but it has not yet deployed to Sudan.

30 The United States was most recently recognizable as a benevolent hegemon at the end of the Persian Gulf War.

31 Relative to the costs of the current efforts in Iraq.

Alec Barker is an M.A. candidate at the Bologna Center, concentrating in strategic studies. He is a former United States Army officer.