Austin Bay

Ratnesar's rather hazy and logistically ignorant operational advice is more "invade to aid" rather than regime change. He justifies his position on the basis of saving hundreds of thousands of lives, which is a goal no one should dismiss. Eliminating a mass murderer is certainly a long-term payoff of toppling Saddam Hussein's regime, though it will be a decade or so before more than a handful in the "international community" of commentators and humanitarian aid advocates follow Bernard Kouchner's lead and acknowledge that.

The "Kosovo Precedent" -- invading to stop mass murder -- is a thorny one. Russia portrays Kosovo as a Western European and U.S. plot to unravel "states they don't like," while Western European and U.S. diplomats maintain Kosovo is unique -- a singular, special situation.

Kosovo, however, is invoked by advocates of military force in Darfur. The Clinton administration, however, invaded Kosovo after four years of fencing with Slobodan Milosevic's thug regime in Serbia -- and after making Milosevic its "peace partner" in Bosnia. For 12 years (1991 to 2003), the United States fought a "slow war" with Iraq. It took the policy sea-change of 9-11 to move the United States (which has enormous interests in the Middle East) to remove Saddam's rogue regime.

In Burma, a few (the junta) wield vast physical power over the rest. Ditto North Korea. Ditto Sudan. Economic sanctions, economic rewards, harsh words, warm words and sharp threats may nudge these regimes, but the dictators only move when it's in their interest. When 100,000 deaths serve the interest of the local thugs, then the realistic options are starkly limited.

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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