A few weeks ago a friend asked why I never post anything about Sudan. Good question. I have certainly read quite a bit about it and it is an almost unspeakably tragic situation but I just don't know what I can add on a blog. To some extent I feel I am in good company since most of the mainstream press doesn't say a whole hell of a lot about it either. (The exception being Nicholas Kristof at the NYT who manages to find space for the conflict on a regular basis.) I suppose that part of the problem is that tho it is an incredible humanitarian crisis there is not much "news" on a week to week basis and therefore not much media attention. Personally, I think the case for American military intervention there was better than the case for Iraq but that idea is obviously going nowhere in today's media and political climate. But I figure the least I can do in the meantime is pass along some items of interest when I come across them. This one was a letter to the editor in The Economist last week:
Considering the investment we have made in a dubious war in Iraq committing 22 airplanes to Sudan doesn't seem like a lot to ask, especially when you consider the lives that could be saved in the process. And to be fair, it is a small enough commitment that a number of European nations could undertake it as well.
SIR – You rightly note the urgency of a meaningful response to the continuing attacks on Darfur's population by the government of Sudan and its proxy janjaweed militia (“Death and division”, August 6th). But while a “bridging-force” of NATO troops to assist African Union peacekeepers would no doubt be helpful, such a response would take some time to assemble, even if there were a summoning of the will to put boots on the ground. Time is certainly not on the side of the refugees and displaced of Darfur. A far more rapid NATO response that would encounter less resistance would be to establish a no-fly zone over the region from French bases in neighbouring Chad. Retired General Merrill McPeak, former chief of staff of the United States Air Force, has estimated that a squadron of 12-18 fighters and four AWACS aircraft would successfully deter or neutralise Sudanese airpower. This would represent a useful interim response, as Sudanese helicopters and fixed-wing aircraft have been instrumental in attacks on villages. It would also be well within the means of NATO or a combined task-force composed of NATO members. This help should be offered to the African Union mission immediately.
And of course there is never a bad time to make a donation to the American Refugee Committee who are doing good work in the Darfur region of Sudan as well as numerous other places around the world.