Darfur is a Security Issue

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I don’t really have an opinion one way or the other about the Huffington Post—Arianna Huffington’s new mega-celebrity blog with some exponential number of posts each day. But I am glad that Sen. Jon Corzine (D-NJ) is blogging there, and raising awareness about Darfur. Here’s a post from two days ago:

There are real, pragmatic reasons for intervening to ameliorate this situation, but first I want to make the moral case. That case is simple. Stopping the slaughter of an entire people is the greatest moral challenge of our time. Evil on this scale is unimaginable to most, which is why historically we do not act on genocide until it is too late. But this time we can act, and stop this new holocaust. And we should. In the wake of demanding democracy in the Middle East, our nation’s value system requires it.

But even if you put aside the moral case for ending genocide for a moment, consider our own interests in the matter. The failed state that is being created in the wake of this horrific crime will be a hotbed for global instability. I was there, and I saw what’s happening. As I stood in the refugee camps of Eastern Chad, into which hundreds of thousands of desperate people are pouring over the border, I realized how dangerous to America the situation has become. Not only is Darfur a lawless part of an unstable state, but the conflict there is destabilizing Chad.

Worth a repeat: There are real, pragmatic reasons for intervening. As we learned a couple of weeks ago, the Los Angeles Times‘ Ken Silverstein reported that the United States has been cooperating with Sudanese intelligence services to round up Islamist terrorists around the country. In part this may explain why, as Mark Goldberg first reported in the American Prospect, the White House has been quietly working to scuttle the Darfur Accountability Act, which, while hardly enough to stop genocide in Darfur, is a crucial first step towards serious action. But the way many people have been talking about it, this looks like a simple tradeoff between stopping genocide and national security. The White House, it seems, is choosing national security. What’s so wrong with that?

Well, everything. And Sen. Corzine makes that case nicely. Look, genocide breeds instability. Instability breeds terrorism. As we’ve recently learned, Darfur’s going to become a big oil-producing region in the coming years. Hm, oil plus instability plus radical Islam. No, that doesn’t seem like a national security problem, now does it? Furthermore, the man we are cooperating with in Khartoum, Salah Abdallah Gosh, head of the Sudanese intelligence services, is not only carrying out the genocide in Darfur, but he’s something of a radical himself, a man who had regular contacts with Osama bin Laden during the 1990s. Who’s helping who here?

Indeed, there have been a number of reports that Khartoum is presently wracked with infighting among radical Islamists, and it seems that, by backing Gosh, we’re not actually cooperating with an ally against terrorism. No, we’re simply backing one set of terrorists to fight and capture another set. Historically, this isn’t the sort of strategy that’s worked out very well for us. As I’ve written before, intervention will likely be a difficult task, but that’s no reason to shy away from it, and certainly the argument that genocide in Darfur has nothing to do with our “national interests” is a specious one at best. And that’s to say nothing of the overwhelming moral case.

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This feels like the most important fundraising drive since I've been CEO of Mother Jones, with staggeringly high stakes and so much uncertainty. In "News Is Just Like Waste Management," I try to unpack the reality we all face and how we can rise to the challenge. If you're able to, this is a critical moment to support Mother Jones’ nonprofit journalism: We need to raise $400,000 to help cover the vital reporting projects we have planned, and right now is no time to pull back.

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