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Sudanese Genocide Gets Worse:

Professor Eric Reeves of Smith College is indefatigable in his determination to try to stop the genocide in Sudan. The SudanReeves website is an outstanding source of information. His latest posts detail how the situation in Darfur has gotten even worse in recent months, and how the African Union "peacekeeping" force (which is only supposed to protect foreigners, not Darfuris) is an abysmal failure even in its limited mission. The Khartoum dictatorship has been perpetrating genocide since 1992--first in the Nuba Mountains, then in south Sudan, and now in Darfur. Reeves predicts that the next target will the oil-rich eastern Sudan.

In the book "Darfur: Genocide Before Our Eyes" (published by the Institute for the Study of Genocide), Reeves makes the case for military intervention by NATO to stop the genocide. Military intervention would be a wonderful idea, and, indeed, there is a good international law argument that every NATO country is legally bound to intervene, since every NATO country is a signatory to the Genocide Convention, which imposes an affirmitive duty to "prevent" genocide.

But the prospects of NATO intervention are, unfortunately, nil. Among NATO governments, only the United States has even used the word "genocide" about the genocide in Darfur. At StrategyPage noted long ago, even a NATO-imposed "No-Fly Zone" in Darfur would do tremendous good, since it would prevent the Sudanese Air Force from supporting the ground attacks of the Arab janjaweed. But there is no indication that NATO will do anything more than continue to provide airlifts to the incompetent African Union forces.

In a forthcoming article in the Notre Dame Law Review, Paul Gallant, Joanne Eisen and I examine the Darfur genocide, and other genocides, and conclude that under existing international law, the victims of an on-going genocide have an over-riding right to acquire and possess defensive arms, notwithstanding any contrary national or international laws on the subject.

Cornellian (mail):
I'm all for arming the targets of genocide so that they can defend themselves, but debating whether they have a right to acquire arms under international law seems pretty futile to me. Would the Sudanese government care if they did? Would the Sudanese legal system? (assuming it even has one worth the name). Would the victims turn down an offer of weapons because of it? Would any foreign power make a decision on whether to intervene or not based on whether the victims had a right to acquire arms?

The UN will do nothing because it never does. The West will do nothing, because it hardly ever does, and the rest of the world will consider Sudan to be nothing more than business as usual. And after it's all over and a few million are dead, we'll get more pious speeches at the UN, repeating the phrase "never again" ad nauseam. It's always "never again" until the next time.
12.20.2005 4:25pm
Rich (mail):
Cornelian

Its all right and good to bash the inaction at the UN and the West in general, but, I have not seen a workable argument to tell a mother or father why we are sending their sons and daughters to Sudan. The bottom line unfortunately is "What's in it for us?" It is the problem from hell.
12.20.2005 4:41pm
Cornellian (mail):
I'm not suggesting the U.S. should send troops to Sudan. The harsh reality is that it really isn't our problem. This kind of thing goes on all the time to a greater or lesser degree all over the world, and the U.S. public simply wouldn't tolerate the notion that it's the job of the U.S. military to invade countries where this kind of thing is going on in order to stop it.

I think the best we can do is to offer assistance that doesn't place U.S. lives at risk. Besides the usual diplomacy and sanctions, I wouldn't have a problem with arming the victims here and that doesn't require sending in the troops.

My criticism of the U.N. is directed to those who propose that any such problem of this nature should go through the U.N., seemingly unaware that "going through the U.N." is a synonym for "make a few speeches but otherwise do nothing."

National sovereignty of such countries doesn't count for much in my view of the world. Any democratic country has the moral right (but not the moral obligation) to invade Sudan tomorrow and depose its government for the purposes of stopping the genocide. Sovereignty is worthy of respect only where the country in question is a democracy.
12.20.2005 4:55pm
Frank Sarsfield (mail) (www):
It will be difficult if not impossible to establish under international law a duty for one country to provide military force to stop genocide in another control. As terrible as genocide is, stopping it is a military and political problem, made urgent, if urgent, by moral conviction.

International law is of little good when it substitutes an moral ideal for a political choice driven by political and military considerations.
12.20.2005 5:50pm
Wintermute (www):
That's "affirmitive" (sic), Sir!

I'm tired of being the world's policeman.
12.20.2005 5:56pm
Michael B (mail):
It's long past time for the European Left to stand up and be counted.
12.20.2005 6:10pm
JohnAnnArbor:
Arabs have killed thousands upon thousands of people in order to take their land in the past few years in Sudan.

So, does the great Arab media cover it? Of course not; to them, Arabs can do no wrong.

But let Israel kill a few guys actively trying to shell Israeli towns? "WAR CRIME!"

And the Europeans will agree with enthusiasm.
12.20.2005 6:52pm
NickM (mail) (www):
We appear to have reached a deal with the devil in Sudan. In return for that government's helping round up Al Qaeda members and facilities in their country and providing us intelligence on Al Qaeda and affiliated group activity, we have permitted the genocide to continue by not fighting it militarily.

Considering the state of Sudanese military forces, there would be very little risk to U.S. forces from having a few Air Force B-52 high-altitude bombing runs, and after the first few dozen military and government facilities are reduced to smoking pits, I expect that those remaining portions of a Sudanese government that hadn't heeded a previous ultimatum to immediately cease and desist from the attacks would have a change of mind.

Zimbabwe calls for similar actions IMO.

Nick
12.20.2005 7:16pm
3L LSU (mail):
It is too little, too late. The killing and displacement of people in the Dafur is almost over. The Sudanese have known this (cause they're not stupid) and have been quietly finishing off what remains of the people they're against.

The only possible savior of these people would have been America. NATO cannot act without significant American efforts, and America is helping the Iraqi people who are just as precious as the Sudanese. I wish Europe could do something, but they no longer have a credible military with which to fight the bad guys of the world. If they tried harder they could be in a position to help the Sudanese, but they simply prefer the "good life" to war and violence. So the Sudanese simply are without hope and are going to die or be displaced.

We need to just admit this. The situation is hopeless now. The best that will come out of this is the arrest of some of the perpetrators and being tried in the Netherlands or Belgium. I mean Europeans will want to feel like they did something to help.

We suck.
12.20.2005 8:22pm
3L LSU (mail):
P.S. -- I'm kinda with Rick. Just to feel better about myself, I'd love for some B-52s out of Diego Garcia to bomb the f out some Sudanes Government officials homes and places of work. Killing people sometimes changes how people behave and I'm pretty sure is the only way genocide has ever been stopped while it has been going on (WWII, Cambodia, and Yugoslavia).
12.20.2005 8:26pm
3L LSU (mail):
I mean Nick, sorry.
12.20.2005 8:27pm
Cornellian (mail):
Considering the state of Sudanese military forces, there would be very little risk to U.S. forces from having a few Air Force B-52 high-altitude bombing runs, and after the first few dozen military and government facilities are reduced to smoking pits, I expect that those remaining portions of a Sudanese government that hadn't heeded a previous ultimatum to immediately cease and desist from the attacks would have a change of mind.

I wouldn't bet on that being the reaction. A more likely prospect is that government sets up office in schools, hospitals and churches, and keeps a few women and children strategically placed nearby, so they can parade their corpses in front of Western media after the bombing run. How long will public support for more bombing continue in that scenario? Why would the Sudanese government let a few bombs deter them when they know an invasion isn't in the cards?
12.20.2005 8:41pm
AnandaG:
Some posts above talk about how America was Darfur's only hope, or how bombing would have helped, or how the reality is that Darfur is not our problem.

Here is a simple map of Darfur.

Some salient features of Darfur:

— It's landlocked, and not just by any land, but by the Sahara. Its neighbors are either politically hostile to the U.S., suggesting serious difficulties with securing flyover rights for military aircraft, particularly in the numbers needed to support a major military operation entirely by air — which would be necessary because...

— It has no river access (it is hundreds of miles from the Nile). All of its minor rivers have major obstacles, particularly large waterfalls.

— It has no modern air facilities.

— It has barely any paved roads, and it has a muddy season, rendering the major roads it does have virtually useless.

— It's about the size of California.

In short, there is no way for anyone — NATO, the African Union, or even the space aliens of your choice — to intervene militarily in Darfur without invading Sudan itself. It is not logistically possible. It would require the securing of the Nile, political settlement with Egypt to allow large amounts of men and supplies to transit the Nile, substantial infrastructure buildup of air facilities in Khartoum (which would have to be taken by force since it is the seat of the Sudanese government), as well as equipment preparation and training for a desert environment far different from the Middle East's. Even simply arming the indigenous people of Darfur with rifles and Stinger missiles to take down Janjaweed helicopters poses a logistical and political problem that makes Afghanistan in 1979 look like kindergarten math.

There is no question that what has happened in Darfur is a massive human tragedy. But whether America or anyone else needs to be the world's policeman doesn't come into it. Ought implies can, and we can't.
12.20.2005 8:50pm
Owen Hutchins (mail):
If we invaded Iraq to help out the people with a dictator that had murdered hundreds of thousands, why can't we invade to stop the ongoing murder of millions?
12.20.2005 8:59pm
3L LSU (mail):
Who cares what the Sudanese government does? F them and F the stupid people in the WEst, who are like "NATO is murder" or "war is wrong" or whatever. Seriously who cares what people who think NATO is worst than Milosevic or Bush is worse than Saddam Hussein.

I assume that we would also place a Carrier off the West African coast that would deflect any weak attempts to stop a high-altitude bombing campaign against the bigotted and backwards Sudanese Muslim government. Some of them simply to need to be killed, because if they are not killed the status quo remains and the remaining people in the Dafur are going to die are be pushed into refugee camps in Chad.

... and if we weren't in Iraq, yes, we could invade Sudan and overthrow their pathetic government. we would not have to occupy the whole country, like in Iraq, to stop the killing and displacing. i mean, they don't have a Syria or Iran next door to help. what's Somalia going to do for them, giving rocks to throw at us?

genocide has only been stopped by killing those who are doing the killing. if we aren't going to do that, lets all shut up and just sit back and watch the Roman Holiday, and just say we suck.
12.20.2005 9:00pm
AnandaG:
This is really pretty funny. A high-altitude bombing campaign? Sure, let's reprogram our bombs to only hit Janjaweed. We can do that, right?

And what part of "Darfur is the size of California" don't you understand? You cannot supply a modern force large enough to occupy that much ground by air alone! That itself would necessitate occupying a huge additional chunk of Sudan.

I remember Eric Reeves' series of posts on the TNR blog about Darfur. In those posts he was very candid about the logistical difficulties involved in any Western effort to seriously deal with the militias (he was the one who pointed out that Darfur has a muddy season), but when it came to interventionist solutions, he did mostly handwaving. (Note: I haven't read his book, so if anyone reading this thread has, I'd love to hear if he goes into more detail about how to overcome the problems I listed in my first post.) Nicholas Kristof, the NYT columnist who has been most vocal about Darfur, almost completely avoids the issue of what the West can do about it (his suggestion was an African Union peacekeeping force with Western logistical support, an idea that would have a zero percent chance of success).
12.20.2005 9:18pm
3L LSU (mail):
Ananda,

Did we not bomb Belgrade so that Milosevic and the Serbs would stop killing Kosovars? What about that do you not understand? Khartoum is a city on a map that our planes can find and bomb. If they don't want to be bombed, they better stop the genocide.

Do you get that?
12.20.2005 9:31pm
3L LSU (mail):
... and, if you aren't going to use force that genocide is going to happen and you might as well shut up, because the only way it is going to stop is if the people doing it are forced to stop. there is no other solution. germans had to be killed for jews to live. the khmer rouge had to be bullied so they'd stop killingn people. serbs had to be bombed so they'd stop killing bosnians and kosovars.

so if you aren't prepared to drop some bombs on the Sudan or send some soldiers there, those people are going to be finished off.

do you understand that?
12.20.2005 9:34pm
JB:
And even if you use force, if it's insufficient force or the wrong kind of force you still won't stop the genocide.
12.20.2005 10:04pm
Patrick (mail):
I certainly can't see any country within cooee of Sudan seriously opposing US flyovers. With what?

But then you'd just be damned again for imperialistic arrogance, and a penny to a dollar the usual suspects would find a Halliburton or Big Oil or whatever US interest in stopping the genocide faster than the planes could take off.

Unless...you appoint President Clinton as special-Commander-in-Chief-of -Sudanese-Bombing with Colin Powell as Special-Secretary-of- Defence-of-Sudanese-Bombing and Maddy Albright as Special-Secretary-of-Talking- to-the-Europeans-of-Sudanese-Bombing.

Then only Noam Chomsky would object.
12.20.2005 10:14pm
AnandaG:
Of course I understand that. But we cannot send soldiers there. It has nothing to do with morality and everything to do with logistics. It is very law-student-esque of you to argue by analogy, and indeed the situations you describe are morally analogous, but they are not logistically analogous. The logistical situation in the Sudan, the largest country in Africa, is 100% different from the logistical situations in 1990s Serbia, 1944 France, 1970 Cambodia, and even 2003 Iraq. All the moral argumentation in the world won't change that.

Bombing Serbia helped Milosevic retain power in Serbia for longer than he would have otherwise (the people who overthrew him nonviolently in 2000 say so). Bombing the Germans did not stop the Holocaust; the Allied invasion did. The Khmer Rouge was stopped by a ground invasion, not by bombing.

I understand that people who want moral force to translate into actual force would prefer that people who understand that sending soldiers and dropping bombs and all that stuff is a tad more complicated than it sounds would just shut up. But I have no use for hand-wringing and self-flagellation over something that *cannot be helped*. No one is obliged to do the impossible. For the U.S. to stop the genocide in Darfur through military means is and was impossible.
12.20.2005 10:34pm
Smithy (mail):
IT's sad that the liberals who purport to care so much about poverty in this country seem to care so little about genocide in other countries. If they would get behind the president's plans to intervene in Sudan, we could end this horrible conflict once and for all.
12.20.2005 11:04pm
3L LSU (mail):
Ananda,

I think you misunderstand what happened in Yugoslavia. Bombing Serbia DID NOT help Milosevic hold on to power, it in fact convinced many Serbs that he needed to be overthrown, which they did shortly there after (like a year). It also helped that the U.S. provided millions to Milosevic's opposition.

Your right about my other two examples though, there were troops sent in. And I am quite aware that it is not possible for us to send troops there now, or for anybody too. However, I think we could have mounted a successful genocide-stopping butchering of the Sudanese military and element of the Jangaweed if we were free to do so. No kidding the Sudan is big and would be difficult to handle, but the Sudan is smaller than the Far East and Europe, and we could handle that.

Who exactly would supply the Sudan with explosives and what not? Egypt? Somalia?

Could the Egyptian Air Force really stop us? Ethiopia could send them food I guess.

We're capable of pretty much anything if we really want to do it. We just really don't want to do it.

Anyway... these people are dead because nobody is going to help them, since America, like you said, can't. I just wish someone would admit this, instead bs'ing us with "never again".
12.20.2005 11:24pm
Olaf Petersen (mail) (www):
Meanwhile...next summit of the African Union (AU): Khartoum, january 2006

...and: Khartoum International Fair, 25 january - 03 february 2006
12.21.2005 1:14am
Brutus:
At StrategyPage noted long ago, even a NATO-imposed "No-Fly Zone" in Darfur would do tremendous good, since it would prevent the Sudanese Air Force from supporting the ground attacks of the Arab janjaweed.

"NATO imposed" - what a joke! This means US-imposed. And even for the US, this would not be easy. Darfur is about 1000 miles from the ocean, and we would not have bases in any adjacent country (keep in mind we enforced the no-fly-zone in Iraq from Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and Turkey). The Navy could do this for a short time (but they'd really hate having a carrier tied up in the Red Sea), and Air Force fighters basically wouldn't play.

Basing USAF fighters in Chad, as strategypage suggests, would be very difficult, even assuming Chad agreed to let us do this. All the gas and bombs etc. that the fighters use generally comes by sea, and Chad is landlocked. So this idea implicitly counts on cooperation from some other country (Nigeria?). Not to mention it creates a horrible force protection problem and a big fat target for terrorists.

Tell me where you base the combat search-and-rescue forces in case one of our planes goes down?

I say a no-fly-zone in Darfur just won't fly...
12.21.2005 8:02am
cfw (mail):
Why do the targets of the agression lack the manpower to defend themselves? They cannot form their own militias? They cannot buy needed food and weapons (with CIA financing as needed)? They cannot drill as needed to learn to function as guerillas or on the field of battle (with help from militarty contractors financed as needed by the CIA)?

Seems like something akin to the mujahedeen in Afganistan (minus the stingers) might be feasible. If not, because the boys and men of Sudan are too emotionally destitute to stand up and fight, why should my son help provide the labor in Sudan needed to protect one or more sons of a Sudanese?

My only request is that the CIA use recycled weapons - say those seized in Iraq. Let's not create more. They last 40 years, so keeping the weapons population down keeps them from falling into the hands of terrorists, etc. Also, lay off the stingers, which terrorists could use to bring down aircraft. Learn from the stuff done in Afganistan when OBL supported out side.

I could say yes to artillery shells and RPGs if really needed, but we must assume they will be sold to terrorists and end up in IED's, etc, yes?
12.21.2005 1:15pm
NickM (mail) (www):
I wouldn't bet on that being the reaction. A more likely prospect is that government sets up office in schools, hospitals and churches, and keeps a few women and children strategically placed nearby, so they can parade their corpses in front of Western media after the bombing run. How long will public support for more bombing continue in that scenario? Why would the Sudanese government let a few bombs deter them when they know an invasion isn't in the cards?

This is Sudan. Schools and hospitals are few and far between. So are churches (although mosques are common).

Relocating a government and military into noncombatant-used buildings is not as easy as it sounds. Military bases and supply centers are especially difficult to move.

An invasion doesn't have to be in the cards for deterrence to work. The Sudanese government officials who can put a stop to the Janjaweed just need to be in sufficient fear for their own lives (and unwilling to become martyrs for the cause of ethnic cleansing). We can also see how much al-Bashir really wants to spend his life on the run.

This is really pretty funny. A high-altitude bombing campaign? Sure, let's reprogram our bombs to only hit Janjaweed. We can do that, right?

Why are you talking aobut bombing the Janjaweed paramilitaries? I'm talking about hitting command centers in Khartoum and other cities and military bases. Those are fairly easy to find, and even our "dumb bombs" have sufficient precision to normally accurately strike a large target such as those.

Sudan has basically no air force to speak of. High-altitude bombing runs render RPGs and SAMs normally wholly ineffective.

Bombing Serbia helped Milosevic retain power in Serbia for longer than he would have otherwise (the people who overthrew him nonviolently in 2000 say so). Bombing the Germans did not stop the Holocaust; the Allied invasion did. The Khmer Rouge was stopped by a ground invasion, not by bombing.

And Imperial Japan was stopped by bombing. The degree of damage you do and the fear of further destruction that you inspire have a lot to do with the effect of the bombing.

Nick
12.21.2005 3:02pm
3L LSU (mail):
If we are really serious about stopping the finishing of the genocide, we may have to think about threatening targeted assasiantions/bombings/kidnappings of Sudanese government officials. If the Sudanese government is really responsible for assissting in the genocide and can do something to undermine it, we need to threaten with serious harm and harm them if they refuse to do anything.

I aware "international law" prohibits such action, but like the law review article says, the genocide convention is jus cogens so anything to stop genocide could be argued to be a lawful act. Who really cares if some Sudanese thug official is killed so that the genocide in the Dafur ends?
12.21.2005 3:07pm
3L LSU (mail):
If we are really serious about stopping the finishing of the genocide, we may have to think about threatening targeted assasiantions/bombings/kidnappings of Sudanese government officials. If the Sudanese government is really responsible for assissting in the genocide and can do something to undermine it, we need to threaten with serious harm and harm them if they refuse to do anything.

I am aware "international law" prohibits such action, but like the law review article says, the genocide convention is jus cogens so anything to stop genocide could be argued to be a lawful act. Who really cares if some Sudanese thug official is killed so that the genocide in the Dafur ends?
12.21.2005 3:07pm
3L LSU (mail):
If we are really serious about stopping the finishing of the genocide, we may have to think about threatening targeted assasiantions/bombings/kidnappings of Sudanese government officials. If the Sudanese government is really responsible for assissting in the genocide and can do something to undermine it, we need to threaten with serious harm and harm them if they refuse to do anything.

I am aware "international law" prohibits such action, but like the law review article says, the genocide convention is jus cogens so anything to stop genocide could be argued to be a lawful act. Who really cares if some Sudanese thug official is killed so that the genocide in the Dafur ends?
12.21.2005 3:07pm
3L LSU (mail):
Sorry about the double post.

... and if need be Congress could declare War against Sudan and then we could kill just about anybody who got in our way. So the Navy would hate having to stick a Carrier group in the Red Sea, well cry me a river. And is Chad really any worse than Afghanistan or Uzbekistan or Tajikistan?

Our Marines are not exactly soft, and hell Jesse Jackson might even vist them to give them to sustain their fighting spirit.

If we are serious about this, we can make the impossible possible.
12.21.2005 3:15pm
AnandaG:
And Imperial Japan was stopped by bombing. The degree of damage you do and the fear of further destruction that you inspire have a lot to do with the effect of the bombing.

If you are suggesting that we nuke Sudan, even with low-yield atomic weapons such as those used against Japan in 1945, in order to deter the Sudanese government from the Darfur genocide... well, OK, I take it back: that is indeed a military solution which might succeed in accomplishing that specific goal. I leave it to others to imagine the political consequences, both domestically and internationally, of initiating a nuclear first strike against an Islamic nation on humanitarian grounds.

But we are getting away from the logistics of it and into the politics, about which I am much less certain.

This is Sudan. Schools and hospitals are few and far between. So are churches (although mosques are common).

EVERYTHING is few and far between. This is the largest country in Africa! There is no shortage of places to hide.

Why are you talking aobut bombing the Janjaweed paramilitaries? I'm talking about hitting command centers in Khartoum and other cities and military bases. Those are fairly easy to find, and even our "dumb bombs" have sufficient precision to normally accurately strike a large target such as those.

The militias are mostly irregular forces with self-contained command and low-level supply needs. Their effectiveness will be reduced, but not very much, by bombing. The real effect of bombing, as I think you understand, is that their superiors will *tell* them to stop.

Bombing targets in Khartoum and other cities (such as they are) will result in civilian casualties, and the higher the altitude you bomb from, the less precise your bombing will be, and the more civilian casualties you will cause. Again, that's not logistics, that's politics, so perhaps you are right to think that the Sudanese government would rather stop the genocide than be bombed in that way.

But the story hardly stops there. Saddam, after all, refused to cooperate fully with inspectors even under threat of imminent invasion. What happens if the U.S. carrier group shows up in the Red Sea loaded for bear with bombers and munitions, and the Sudanese government agrees to stop killing Darfuris? Do we go home? If so, what do we do when, two months later, the killing resumes? Do we say it's too late, you had your chance, and bomb them anyway? This is why "bomb them unless they agree to stop killing people" is not a strategy. How is such agreement to be enforced? More bombs? Then you're back to square one. To enforce the agreement you need people on the ground. To do that, you need to invade, which is not possible.
12.21.2005 3:28pm
Colin:
AnandaG,

Your logistical analysis is very persuasive, and makes some extremely cogent points that I had never considered before. Can you recommend some sources for such analysis?
12.21.2005 4:06pm
cfw (mail):
3L LSU:

"Who really cares if some Sudanese thug official is killed so that the genocide in the Dafur ends?"

What about the idea that if we try to assassinate those we dislike, we create business for professional assassins, who will start piking off our government leaders? We end up playing their game, rather than using our (primarily economic) strengths, eh?
12.21.2005 4:16pm
3L LSU (mail):
ananda,

so like me, you're saying there is no hope for these people and they're as good as dead?

what about threatening the Sudanese government with arrest or assassination? and who cares what Europe or the "international community" thinks. what are they going to do about it? speeches and street protests won't break our bones you know.

... and look, nobody is saying that the Sudan is not a logistical nightmare, obviously it is, but that does not mean going there and affecting change is impossible.
12.21.2005 4:17pm
3L LSU (mail):
cfw,

... assassination because you don't appreciate the guy's politics is one thing, but genocide is apparently a serious enough offense under international law to justify anything that will prevent it. i mean, in the case of the Sudan, you might have an exception to not assassinating a country's leader, regardless of how bad they are, because they are assissting genocide. genocide is that bad.

i don't know, but all I know is that what is going on in the Sudan has to stop, and if an occupation of Sudan is not possible, than we need to resort to something else. economic sanctions doesn't cut it. arming the Sudanese won't happen fast enough. but maybe kidnapping and killing some Sudanese leaders will affect the desired change. if we can't stop the janjaweed, let's stop their enablers.
12.21.2005 4:30pm
3L LSU (mail):
ananda,

when i said high-altitude bombing, i was thinking about cruise missiles being launched from B-52s like they were in the Kosovo bombing campaign. cruise missiles are pretty precise.
12.21.2005 4:31pm
NickM (mail) (www):
"And Imperial Japan was stopped by bombing. The degree of damage you do and the fear of further destruction that you inspire have a lot to do with the effect of the bombing."

If you are suggesting that we nuke Sudan, even with low-yield atomic weapons such as those used against Japan in 1945, in order to deter the Sudanese government from the Darfur genocide... well, OK, I take it back: that is indeed a military solution which might succeed in accomplishing that specific goal. I leave it to others to imagine the political consequences, both domestically and internationally, of initiating a nuclear first strike against an Islamic nation on humanitarian grounds.


During World War II, we destroyed some German cities with conventional bombing, using a few hundred to a few thousand tons of bombs. One B-52 carries 35 tons of armaments. We have them at Diego Garcia, and Sudan is well within their unrefueled flight radius. Considering that military bases are strong fuel sources for secondary explosions and that our current munitions are much higher yield than 60 years ago, we are not talking about very many bombing runs before the Sudanese military is unable to provide large-scale assistance to the militias and the Sudanese government is decimated.

But we are getting away from the logistics of it and into the politics, about which I am much less certain.

"This is Sudan. Schools and hospitals are few and far between. So are churches (although mosques are common)."

EVERYTHING is few and far between. This is the largest country in Africa! There is no shortage of places to hide.


Many of the high-priority targets are very hard to hide, and even if the people desert tham, they then need to decide how willing they are to spend the rest of their lives hiding. A crater where the parliament used to meet sobers the mind.

"Why are you talking aobut bombing the Janjaweed paramilitaries? I'm talking about hitting command centers in Khartoum and other cities and military bases. Those are fairly easy to find, and even our "dumb bombs" have sufficient precision to normally accurately strike a large target such as those."

The militias are mostly irregular forces with self-contained command and low-level supply needs. Their effectiveness will be reduced, but not very much, by bombing. The real effect of bombing, as I think you understand, is that their superiors will *tell* them to stop.

Bombing targets in Khartoum and other cities (such as they are) will result in civilian casualties, and the higher the altitude you bomb from, the less precise your bombing will be, and the more civilian casualties you will cause. Again, that's not logistics, that's politics, so perhaps you are right to think that the Sudanese government would rather stop the genocide than be bombed in that way.

But the story hardly stops there. Saddam, after all, refused to cooperate fully with inspectors even under threat of imminent invasion. What happens if the U.S. carrier group shows up in the Red Sea loaded for bear with bombers and munitions, and the Sudanese government agrees to stop killing Darfuris? Do we go home? If so, what do we do when, two months later, the killing resumes? Do we say it's too late, you had your chance, and bomb them anyway? This is why "bomb them unless they agree to stop killing people" is not a strategy. How is such agreement to be enforced? More bombs? Then you're back to square one. To enforce the agreement you need people on the ground. To do that, you need to invade, which is not possible.


I don't believe we need to send a carrier group. With the base in Diego Garcia, I believe we can have serious bombing commence within a day of when the order is given. I believe the ability to deliver swift consequences exists without putting troops on the ground, and that will enable us to hold al-Bashir to a promise.

have seen nothing which indicates he has a megalomania comparable to Saddam's, so I believe that if he is convinced that the U.S. government means business, and that we will devastate his government and military if there is any genocide occurring, that he will not recklessly gamble his own life . If I'm wrong, under this policy we would end up continuing bombing until either he was forced to suppress the militias (by other elements in the Sudanese government) or he was no longer holding power and new leaders there ended the genocide. It might take multiple decapitations of their government to accomplish the goal, but eventually someone would take power who sufficiently values his own life.

Nick
12.21.2005 6:11pm
cfw (mail):
3L LSU:

"arming the Sudanese won't happen fast enough."

This assumes no one has anything underway at present. I would be shocked if the targets of the agression are not clamoring for weapons now, and finding some, but not enough. Let's assume they have backbones but limited assets.

I understand NATO has supplies airlifted into support troops from other African countries. Hence, it seems NATO has one or more airfields. Say the CIA ponies up a credit for $250 million, for food for troops and weapons (recycled from Iraq). Are you saying victimized folks in the area the size of California where millions may end up dying have no leadership capable of putting guns, food, etc. to good use to defend themselves? Sounds unlikely to me.

Why send in smart bombs if you can arm an opposition militia? What would stop the CIA from providing food and guns in meaningful amounts in 30 days (if not doing so now)? Only impediments I see have to do with objections from other NATO countries, objections from other African countries, and objections from Khartoum. Nothing unmanageable, I suspect, esp. if US operated via CIA and contractors (so no one in Africa or NATO or Khartoum loses "face").
12.21.2005 6:59pm
AnandaG:
Colin -- My (mild) obsession with logistics stems from my military history hobby. I initially tuned into it when reading histories of WWII, especially the Pacific and Russian campaigns, but any good military history treatment will discuss logistics issues to some extent.

3L LSU -- I don't know enough about assassination politics to comment on your idea that the U.S. should adopt assassination as a tool of foreign policy. (I am certainly not morally opposed to it -- far better to pinpoint definite wrongdoers than to kill civilians!) It definitely would have the effect of tightening ties between our intelligence services and professional assassins around the world, which raises some interesting questions for a liberal democracy. I am definitely not aware of any historical precedent for the success of such a foreign policy decision.

As for high-altitude bombing, the Tomahawk cruise missile is spec'ed for accuracy to within 30 feet (of course they also cost $2 million apiece). In practice, their Gulf War target record was around 85%, and that may be generous. Keep in mind that previous Tomahawk deployments have had spotters on the ground, often covertly, and without extremely up-to-date human intel, the accuracy record of cruise missiles plummets. After all, suppose your initial intel says that there's an army HQ in a village. Your satellite shows you the village and there's a jeep parked next to 3 houses. Which house do you blow up? Even assuming you hit the one you aim at, you need a human being to verify that the middle house, not the one on the left or right, has the bad guy in it.
12.21.2005 7:07pm
AnandaG:
NickM -- you are unquestionably right about the ability of B-52s to bomb Sudan from Diego Garcia. I guess I am a bit skeptical of the U.S.'s ability to target specific individuals given our track record with bin Laden, Zarqawi, and so forth.
12.21.2005 7:19pm
3L LSU (mail):
ananda,

you seem to be missing what we're saying. i'm not talking about engaging "professional assasins" or a targeted killing with a cruise missile. i'm talking about american special forces kidnapping or killing government officials they can find (like hit the place when there is assembly of officials or something) and I'm talking about bombing public buildings. if the president isn't there, so what. it's all about moving these jackasses to do something about the genocide going on in the country. it isn't necessarily about us controlling the country. we just want to affect a change of behavior.
12.21.2005 9:12pm
NickM (mail) (www):
I agree that if they are hiding or perpetually on the move, they are much harder to find. If they want to try to run a country, however, they are much easier to find. I also do not think the Sudanese government welcomes a fight against the U.S., which would make the prospect of running less appealing to them. I think the risk-reward calculus shifts dramatically for them if they consider annihilation as a present risk, even if not that likely, from letting the genocide continue.

Nick
12.22.2005 3:11am