Austin Bay

The U.N. Department of Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO) has a rhetorical grasp of the problem. The DPKO Website will tell you that peacekeeping "defies simple definition" and that many peacekeeping missions are "multidimensional."

The Darfur conflict is definitely multidimensional. Sudan is clearly involved, as are various Sudanese rebel factions. Darfur tribes have kin living on the Chad side of the Chad-Sudan border, so Chad is involved. Sudan accuses Chad's government of supporting Darfur rebels groups, and it does. Sudan supports anti-Chad government rebels.

The United Nations has confronted similar situations in the past. Somalia and Bosnia ought to provide valuable and critically important lessons, which should organizationally and operationally inform and guide new missions. They do, though only in the most glancing sense. Every major U.N. peacekeeping operation remains a "shake and bake" exercise with personnel contingents assembled piecemeal, equipment a collective hodge-podge, supply a sometimes thing and airlift often supplied by the U.S. Air Force, since no one else can do it.

Recall that the Clinton administration got frustrated with United Nations fiddling in the Balkans and fought the 1999 Kosovo War using NATO as its "peace enforcement" instrument.

Perhaps the United Nations is just not institutionally capable of conducting "anti-genocide peacekeeping" in Darfur. Do the Hollywood stars and Olympic protestors favor a U.S.-British-French invasion of western Sudan? As it is, the Khartoum government paints UNAMID as an "imperialist invasion."

Khartoum's dictatorship is the fundamental problem. The celebrities and protestors ought to call for regime change, though wouldn't that sound uncomfortably like the Bush administration toppling Saddam Hussein's genocidal regime in Iraq?


Austin Bay

Austin Bay is the author of three novels. His third novel, The Wrong Side of Brightness, was published by Putnam/Jove in June 2003. He has also co-authored four non-fiction books, to include A Quick and Dirty Guide to War: Third Edition (with James Dunnigan, Morrow, 1996).
 
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