James Leroy Wilson's blog

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Calling Attention

In an interview this past winter, George Clooney admitted that his activism in Darfur may have been counter-productive: "“I’ve been very depressed since I got back. I’m terrified that it isn’t in any way helping. That bringing attention can cause more damage. You dig a well or build a health-care facility and they’re a target for somebody.”

That's the trouble with civil wars and "internal matters" in other countries. If the international community takes one side - usually the side that's losing - it will only increase the determination of the oppressors. Sure, they may fall or die sometime, but often it's years or decades later.

Armed intervention will only make the invaders another, disruptive factor in the conflict, as the U.S. invasion of Iraq shows. Often, the "good guys" are nearly as bad as or worse than "bad guys," with only media propaganda telling us different. Peace-keeping forces may end up presiding in a "reverse ethnic cleansing" as they have in Kosovo. Trade sanctions will actually solidify the grip on power of the oppressor and hurt that nation's opposition, minorities, and poor people the hardest. Even mere diplomatic condemnation will offend the regime and poison its relations with neighbors and the international community, further steeling their resolve to hold onto power.

Many people look back in shame at Rwanda. But if US/UN intervention was even logistically possible, they would have been forced to choose sides and end up slaughtering one side and take responsibility for governing Rwanda after, whereas today Rwanda is rapidly developing and relatively stable on its own.

Remember that the U.S. intervention in Vietnam probably added a million deaths to that conflict. Since the U.S. left in defeat, Vietnam has also experienced rapid development.

The other night on ABC News anchor Elizabeth Vargas was virtually clamoring for U.S. intervention in Zimbabwe. It appears to me that the best course is to do nothing. Condemning Mugabe and his regime won't lessen his grip on power, but only make him more likely to lash out at his opponents. If the people want to resist through armed conflict, that's their business, not ours. And if they decide instead to wait the old man out, that, too, is their business. Trade sanctions and condemnations will only make things worse for them.

No comments:

Post a Comment