To George Clooney and the other Americans who demonstrated and demanded that the U.S. intervene in the Darfur region of Sudan, I have a simple and clear message: Buy yourself a gun and plenty of ammunition, and go intervene yourself.
In the 1930s, a tougher breed of Americans didn’t just demonstrate. They formed the Abraham Lincoln Brigade, went to Spain and fought in the Spanish Civil War. A famous movie star, Errol Flynn, risked his life and suffered wounds carrying money through enemy lines to the loyalist forces. Of course, Flynn was no sissy. Before becoming an actor, he was a deep-water sailor and smuggler and barroom brawler par excellence. He was real man, not an image of a man.
Today’s liberals are made of softer stuff. They don’t want to fight or get shot at. They are too wealthy and live too comfortable a life. They want some poor American kid making $1,200 a month to go to the African desert and get killed.
It’s a heck of a note when rich people can salve their conscience by sending poor kids to fight and die instead of going themselves. Granted, Clooney would have to do without his personal assistant, script, air-conditioned trailer and stunt people, but who knows, he might find real combat exhilarating.
The fighting in Darfur is not a conflict of good guy versus bad guy. It is bad guy versus bad guy. Both sides are armed. Both sides have committed atrocities. Both sides show as much sympathy and mercy for the other as a rattlesnake does for a mouse.
It is not a conflict of white versus black. Both sides are black. It is not a Muslim-versus-Christian conflict. Both sides are Muslim. It might have even started the way the old range wars started in Wyoming in the 19th century. One side is nomadic herdsmen; the other side is farmers. When farmers try to keep herds from grass and water, there is sure to be gunfire, whether in Sudan or in 19th-century Wyoming.
The conflict is, most of all, none of our business. It does not affect the United States one iota. If it goes on for 10 years, it will not affect the United States. If it is resolved tomorrow, it will not affect the United States. We have no strategic or national interests whatsoever in Sudan. If the people in Sudan wish to kill each other, that is their business, not ours.
It is past time for the American people to demand that Congress and the president stop sending American youth to die in other people’s wars. The idea of using American youth as a hypocritical humanitarian police force (hypocritical because liberals are always selective in choosing their crises) is both obscene and unconstitutional. These young men and women join the armed forces to defend America, not to inject themselves into other people’s local quarrels.
If George Bush sends American military forces to Sudan, Osama bin Laden will be so elated he’ll dance a jig. He’s already warned that Western intervention in Sudan would be another attack against Islam. Our forces would find themselves in yet another hornet’s nest. And what are they going to do? Pick one side and shoot the other? Or shoot people on both sides? Whatever, our intervention will increase the human misery, not make it better.
The casualty statistics you keep hearing are unreliable, though I don’t doubt they are high. As for genocide, that word has been defined so loosely you could be charged with it for shooting a burglar. We did nothing when Stalin and Mao were slaughtering millions; we did nothing when Pol Pot murdered a third to a half of the Cambodian population. We did nothing when the Ibos were wiped out in the Nigeria Civil War. What’s happening in Sudan is Little League compared with all the mass murders we’ve ignored.
Americans ought to remember Mogadishu. The people in western Sudan are so poor, they’ll kill you for your boots. But a barefooted poor man with a gun is just as lethal as a college-educated American boy. There are large pockets of human misery all over the world, and we definitely are not the world’s policeman. Why American liberals have decided to get excited about Darfur, I don’t know. I wouldn’t be surprised to find out that the rebel faction has hired a public-relations firm.
At any rate, let those itching to intervene go themselves and put their bodies on the line. They have no right whatsoever to deprive an American mother of her son just so they can feel good about themselves at their next cocktail party.
These pseudo-humanitarians are enough to make you throw up.
Charley Reese [send him mail] has been a journalist for 49 years.