Arresting an armed and well-protected thug like Bashir requires either a coup d'etat by his opponents within Sudan or regime change by foreign military action. Bashir's opposition, however, is fragmented.
Credible combat power -- well-armed, well-led, well-supported soldiers with full authority to use decisive, deadly force -- can be deployed in Darfur. That will save more lives than an arrest warrant the ICC cannot enforce. The United Nations, however, has failed to get the international support.
The threat of prosecution does have a symbolic purpose. Like Zola's letter, it has media impact. It is an embarrassment for Bashir.
An actual warrant is an intimately personal form of harassment, putting a crimp in Bashir's travel plans should he visit countries other than rogues like North Korea or Eritrea. However, issuing the warrant may make reaching a peace settlement more difficult. The ICC's decision to indict Ugandan rebel leader Joseph Kony ought to give peacemakers pause. Kony faced trial on murder and rape charges. Why make a peace when peace means jail?
Embarrassment? The threat of arrest achieves that purpose. Harassment? An issued warrant achieve this. Imprisonment? Improbable. Promoting a peace agreement? Uncertain.
But as a call for justice? "As they have dared, so shall I dare," Zola wrote in "J'Accuse." "Dare to tell the truth ..."
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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