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My solution to the Darfur crisis

With all the foreign-policy attention recently on Iraq, Afghanistan, and Georgia, the Darfur civil war has faded again from the spotlight.

Substantial numbers of activists — including STAND at our own University and many others — continue to raise money, write letters, and do what little they can to help, but we should realize that asking our politicians to “act” is likely futile: we all know other countries are unwilling, and, due to Iraq and Afghanistan, the United States unable, to commit military resources to solve the Darfur crisis.

But what can we do instead?

Doing nothing has been a tragedy for five years and will only become more tragic as the deaths pile up. The small UN peacekeeping mission now in place is unable to protect all the refugees and humanitarian workers, or ensure enough supplies are delivered. This simply forces refugees to leave the relative safety of the camps to forage for supplies unprotected.

Therefore, I propose a simple solution. As we cannot currently protect the refugees, we should equip the refugees to protect themselves.

Being refugees, they are not likely to have anything better to do with their now wretched lives, so a steady job and some protection would be a step up for them. Suitably healthy refugees of proper character should be recruited from the camps, trained in weapon use and peacekeeping, and then allowed to establish a defensive perimeter encompassing not just the camp but also any nearby sources of water and other needed supplies.

Within this perimeter, foraging refugees from the camp could safely gather, and additional supplies (such as medicine) could be airdropped in more easily.

The United States is easily suited to such a project. We cannot send large numbers of troops, but we can certainly send just a few military advisors — or pay for mercenary advisers, such as Blackwater troops — and donate assault rifles, missiles and ammunition to arm the refugees.

Countries such as China have already been exporting weapons to the Sudanese government — enemies of the refugees — for some time, so we should be justified in restoring the balance through our own exports.

The Sudanese regime will, of course, protest angrily against this violation of their sovereignty. However, if pressed, our government can deny involvement, since the military advisers are from private companies and are not officially American troops.

We might even contract more mercenaries, or covertly use special forces, to protect the humanitarian aid workers and convoys. Donations of money for Darfur could actually accomplish a lot if used in this way. Just to measure of the effectiveness of brutal mercenaries, it is important to note no major foreign dignitaries have been killed in Iraq under Blackwater’s protection so far. Furthermore, according to a 2007 article in Newsweek, “U.S. officials prefer Blackwater and other private security bodyguards because they regard them as more highly trained than military guards, who are often reservists from MP units.”

The last argument against such a scheme is we would be aiding people who want to secede from Sudan to pursue their aims violently, perhaps splitting the country into several warring states.

This may be true, as most refugees will understandably have rebellious tendencies after being shot and raped by their own government for so long. However, the pressing humanitarian concerns leave us no better or more realistic option at this time.

It is better, and looks better, to let the refugees defend themselves than to allow them to die in ugly one-sided massacres.

Perhaps when the Sudanese regime starts taking casualties proportionate to what it inflicts, it will be more inclined to negotiate for a peaceful settlement.

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