Thursday, September 16, 2004

Never again... unless it happens again

Clearing the slate today - this is an older story, but no less relevant.

UN Adopts Sudan Resolution, Arabs Suspicious

UNITED NATIONS, July 30 ( & News Agencies) - The UN Security Council Friday, July30 , adopted a US-drafted resolution threatening Sudan with 'measures' unless it reigned in militias responsible for atrocities in Darfur, as Arabs expressed fear the move could lead to American-led invasion of yet another country in their region.

Look out, Sudan! If you don't start acting like a marginally civilized nation, you'll face measures! Well, that is in the event that a majority of security council members can agree that perhaps maybe there's a possibility that measures conceivably could be called for, as long as they're not too specific. Provided that Sudan isn't perchance enjoying France's protection racket, it's imaginable that measures might be somewhere on Sudan's horizon at some indeterminate and speculative point in the future, pending further consideration.

The 13 - 0 vote, with abstentions from China and Pakistan, came after the United States, facing considerable opposition, deleted the word "sanctions" and substituted a reference to a section of the U.N. Charter permitting punitive measures.

Now, why would the word "sanctions" need to be removed? Because even if no implement of torture could make them say it out loud, a majority of Security Council members are aware of what eurotwinks and several former US presidents won't admit either: that if effective resolution is the desired result, sanctions are just one step in a process. This process requires you to recognize when sanctions have failed, and step up to measures of greater consequence in a squeezing progression - something anathema to both the milquetoast nations who would be called upon to realize the progressing measures, as well as oppressive regimes who could easily find themselves with the shoe on the other foot at some point in the future. If you're keeping score at home, you'll have noted that puts most of the UN at odds with the entire concept of being effective.

This provision, called Article 41, allows the "interruption" of economic, transport, communications or diplomatic measures, which amounts to sanctions, according to Reuters.

The resolution, co-sponsored by Britain, France, Germany, Spain, Chile and Romania, demands that Khartoum disarm and prosecute within 30 days militia known as Janjaweed or the Security Council will consider punitive measures under Article41.

Yes, they should not be called "sanctions" as that removes the option of denying that sanctions were ever the idea in the first place. To determined oppressive tyrants, sanctions are hardly a speed bump. Sanctions seem to seldom hit the regime; the regime tends to duck and the people behind them get hit. Since sanctions will likely fail to accomplish anything but the amplification of misery, that means that once you've declared santions you should be on the path to actually doing something. In other words, if you're willing to go to sanctions, you need to be open to the eventuality that troops will be required for resolution. If you're utterly unwilling to go that route, sanctions typically accomplish squat.

Words are infinitely preferable to the UN, even if words have casualty rates hundreds of times higher than peacekeeping or war. Operating on the premise that scowling discontent ought to be pressure enough to bring about change, it does not recognize decades of evidence that this is an ineffective approach. The greatest abusers of human rights simply do not share this view. Looking askance at Sudan has only prompted Sudan to ask "And what are you looking at?". The Times urges the UN to cast it's gaze downward and answer "Nothing".

The UN, in it's "international governance as popularity contest" mode, is a perfect mechanism for amplifying human misery.


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