It is not enough to simply have ‘good’ people or experienced people in Washington. Without fundamental change Rwanda and Darfur are going to happen again and again. If a candidate can deliver on that change, I don’t care if their name is Clinton or Obama. But neither Hillary Clinton nor Barack Obama are wonks on conflict and genocide, so if they’re going to make proposals you and I should be asking very earnestly where these ideas originate.
Two developments in the recent days:
The arrest of Viktor Bout, one of the world’s most successful black market arms dealers. His reach extended from Sierra Leone to Iraq. He made deals with the Taliban to the Pentagon.
And the resignation of Obama advisor Samantha Power, author of A Problem from Hell: America and the Age of Genocide. I’d point out that 99% of the attention on the “Monster” incident was simply that Power called Clinton one, never why. Why? is the question the media is supposed to ask–always. And since the blogosphere’s claim to legitimacy is that we check the media in its abdication of full responsibility–we should remember to do so.
Some in the blogosphere have argued Power could have dealt with the situation by apologizing without a resignation. While Power has been a hero of mine since junior year of high school, I don’t know that the campaign terribly needed her; her weight outside of academic circles is pretty small. That said, I have a feeling she would be key or part of an Obama Administration, which at least gives me great satisfaction, as the policy is what matters, not her touch on the campaign trail.
…But where is genocide in this discussion on MSNBC or CNN, on the blogs?
When it comes to the future of conflict and genocide, climate change must be mentioned. Much has been made of the spread of infectious diseases like West Nile and malaria, yet the real bellwether–war–is getting forgotten. When you combine these monumental results of globalization–100,000 farmer suicides in India, massive refugee crisis from Iraq into Syria and Jordan and from Darfur into Chad and the Central African Republic, and war for oil–what do you think is going to happen when these already hungry or otherwise strained populations suddenly face a worse drought or the loss of a water source and the tipping point of famine comes into place?
Famine was the cause of war in Sudan 40 years ago. Genocide in a vacuum? Only intensified. The famine brought the war, starvation was the tool of war. Inseperable. It is a central tool of war in Palestine. If you do not understand this basic principle–which goes back thousands of years–you know nothing of modern Palestine.
If temperatures are only going to rise with rainfall being more concentrated (flash flooding) and less frequent (drought), what do you think will happen in Sudan, Nepal, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Sudan, Chad, Haiti, Uzbekistan? These are only countries already dealing with conflict and hunger–Sudan: rebellion in the east and Darfur in the west. Their hunger stems from either monstrous overpopulation–by millions more than any system can sustain, or by intense competition for scarce resources. Once temperatures worsen a bit more they’re toast without Arab, European, Chinese or American charity.
Did I mention we’re also on the verge of a global markets collapse? The kind of things that creates worldwide hunger and production shutdown?
We are at a precise moment, economically, militarily and culturally. We need Power’s work on genocide to come to fruition. For us to create a praxis from which history tips America’s unraveling into a new time. Where interventionism is not in the fashion of the old American model (Haiti, Cuba, Philippines) or done by proxy (John Negroponte is still in Washington). Bush’s “Not on my watch” Darfur and Clinton’s Rwanda have come to nothing, no significant change in the way the leaders of the “free world” deal with those who are not free. Only moral grandstanding that excuses these leaders because only the criminals and those who do nothing have faces in this struggle, never the victims of the de facto consent.
We see the direction from Obama on policy, even while he listens to realists from the hawkish Carter Administration. The weight is on Hillary Clinton to prove that her foreign policy is based on human rights–all people being equal, not a scale of “85,000” Iraqis or Rwandans to one American solider, as Bill Clinton did in 1994. So far, I know that Terry McAuliffe has used Power’s Monster comment for fundraising, not an opportunity to point out Hillary’s principled leadership or readiness to deal with conflict and genocide. And the weight is on Obama too, since he let one of the most talented and articulate foreign policy wonks of our time slip through his grasp.