Excellent reporting from David Axe in The American Prospect.
As has been reported elsewhere and is given further proof from Axe’s reporting, the militia-ization of Sudan/Chad continues apace. It is fragmenting along ethnic, tribal lines. There are criminal gang militias, government sponsored militias (the janjaweed), rebel militias with human atrocities/violations committed on all sides—rebel groups are taking child soldiers to fight the genocide-sponsoring Khartoum government for example.
The U.N. says that the war shows no signs of ending anytime soon and that more aid will be needed. But based on conversations with sources at Iridimi and elsewhere in eastern Chad, it’s possible that the largely Western-funded humanitarian effort to “save Darfur” is actually prolonging the conflict by providing a safe haven in Chad for the rebel groups fighting Khartoum and its janjaweed militia proxies. The rebels have become so empowered that they declined to attend Libyan-sponsored, U.S.-supported peace talks last year.
With both US prez candidates talking about intervening in Darfur, some sober reflection is required. Obama’s plan for Darfur can be found here (scroll down the page). It involves a no fly zone, tougher sanctions on the Khartoum government, and more support for the African Union.
But that plan it would seem fails to take into account the rebel movement and its own human rights violations. [One of the key platforms of Obama's FP influenced by Samantha Power is ending Genocide. Her classic text on the subject, here]. It also in other words fits a basic template of Clintonian-Blairian-Powell Doctrine liberal humanitarianism. Sanctions, no fly zones, etc a la Iraq policy during the 90s or African policy in the 90s (Liberia, SIerra Leone).
I checked John McCain’s website and (not surprisingly) there is nothing about Darfur/African policy. [Sidenote: Unbelievably (and to my horror) there is nothing under the Issues Frame about Afghanistan and Pakistan. It's all Iraq. But there is talk of missile defense!!! See here.]
I did find this Washington Post op-ed McCain co-authored with Bob Dole in 2006 on Darfur. It’s basically the same plan as Obama’s: keep the AU troops in, financial sanctions on Khartoum, no fly zone, and intelligence sharing].
Interesting this regard that McCain compares the situation to the Balkans given the recent declaration of independence by Kosovo. On this trend line, it would seem Sudan could headed for breakup. That could be the first (along with Somalia and Congo) in a trajectory of deconstruction/recreation of African states.
On the priority list of Afghanistan-Pakistan, Iraq, Iran, Darfur it obviously comes in a distant fourth. But given the post Obama presidency (assuming he has an 8 year run let’s say) will be increasingly focused on African policy and our relationship with China (given China essentially is building Africa brick by brick). This is one to keep on the horizon. As Thomas Barnett I think correctly predicted years ago, Africa, particularly middle zone Africa, will be the next major staging ground of al-Qaeda like jihadism. It is unclear if the stationing of foreign troops in Sudan/Chad will later (a la Bin Laden’s anger over US stationing of troops in Saudi Arabia during Gulf War I) be used as rallying cry for such movements.