May 08, 2006

Darfur and the Musketeers of the Anglosphere

Via Instapundit, the always-invaluable Mark Steyn notices something coincidental about the short list of effective anti-genocide actions in the past several decades. UN leadership? Well, not quite.

Mark addresses a few words to George Clooney, newly excited about the ongoing genocide in Darfur, on the topic:

So who, in the end, does "multinational action" boil down to? The same small group of nations responsible for almost any meaningful global action, from Sierra Leone to Iraq to Afghanistan to the tsunami-devastated Sri Lanka, Thailand and Indonesia and on to East Timor and the Solomon Islands. The same core of English-speaking countries, technically multinational but distressingly unicultural and unilingual and indeed, given that most of them share the same head of state, uniregal. The US, Britain, Australia and Canada (back in the game in Afghanistan) certainly attract other partners, from the gallant Poles to the Kingdom of Tonga.

But, whatever international law has to say on the subject, the only effective intervention around the world comes from ad hoc coalitions of the willing led by the doughty musketeers of the Anglosphere. Right now who's on the ground dragging the reluctant Sudanese through their negotiations with the African Union? America's Deputy Secretary of State Bob Zoellick and Britain's International Development Secretary Hilary Benn. Sorry, George, that's as "multinational" as it's gonna get.

And he concludes:

As Alexander Downer put it: "Outcomes are more important than blind faith in the principles of non-intervention, sovereignty and multilateralism." Just so. Regrettably, the Australian Foreign Minister isn't as big a star as Clooney, but I'm sure Downer wouldn't mind if Clooney wanted to appropriate it as the Clooney Doctrine. If Anglosphere action isn't multinational enough for Sudan, it might confirm the suspicion that the Left's conscience is now just some tedious shell game in which it frantically scrambles the thimbles but, whether you look under the Iraqi or Afghan or Sudanese one, you somehow never find the shrivelled pea of The Military Intervention We're Willing To Support.

Just a coincidence, probably.

Posted by James C. Bennett at May 8, 2006 02:50 PM

Clooney is an absolute clown as are most of the Hollywood fruitcakes. The argument that they will always support American intervention when it is not in American's interests holds for the various commentators on all sides of the political spectrum as well. But, speaking as someone who has been writing about Darfur for some time, nobody has done anything very much, until just now. And Hilary Benn is far too busy flying round the world finding more black holes to sluice taxpayers' money down. The latest idea is DR Congo. There's a worthy recipient of money from us.

Posted by: Helen at May 9, 2006 04:03 AM

Obviously, I meant political commentators on all sides of the political spectrum on this side of the Pond.

Posted by: Helen at May 9, 2006 04:04 AM

So hasn't Europe and Japan had some role in "any meaningful global action"? Am thinking of Japan's high contribution to global development, including but beyond the tsunami - higher as a % of its GDP than the States. Or is this not what you mean, or not important? Hasn't Germany had some role in trying to deal with Iran?

Posted by: tachi at May 9, 2006 10:40 PM

Talking about foreign aid as % of GDP is a silly argument. It's irrelevant whether Belgium spends a higher percentage of its GDP on foreign aid than the US. You don't purchase food and medicine for the needy with "% of GDP." Absolute sums is what matters and on that score, US foreign aid exceeds any other nation by a wide margin.

Germany's efforts on Iran has added up to precisely nothing. I find it impossible to credit anyone for accomplishing nothing in particular.

Posted by: htjyang at May 10, 2006 12:08 AM

Germany's role in dealing with Iran was to take part in the EU3 (Germany, France and UK) negotiations, which the Iranian government prolonged in order to give themselves time to build nuclear plants. This is their story. The European story is that the negotiations got nowhere.

When it came to the post-tsunami effort, there is no question that Japan was one of the main participants. It was the US, Australia, India and Japan who moved in ther fast and efficiently.

Not sure what any of that has to do with Darfur, though.

Posted by: Helen at May 10, 2006 10:37 AM

I thought the key point at stake, although obviously related to Darfur, was the willingness and ability of nation states and coalitions of the willing, to intervene in global crises.

I am not arguing that Japan and European countries are at least as willing and able as Anglosphere countries, but merely raising the issue. Neither am I arguing that % of GDP spent on overseas development is the criterion to judge nations' willingness to intervene.

Having said that, I don't think the absolute amount of development aid is an adequate indicator of willingness to intervene in global crises. But willingness in the context of ones ability, or resources, is surely a worthy consideration.

In any case, whilst I am in agreement with Mark Steyn and Jim Bennett 's general line of attack on this issue, I would of thought that some clearer criteria would be useful to judge 'willingess and ability' to intervene in global crises. This would be useful to clarify and strengthen the argument.

This isn't reducible to, or exhausted by, results - even though I agree results surely reflect ability and matter most to the end-users or beneficiaries. Its more complex than total budgets and results.

Its surely also about long-term sustainability, and motivations. What may motivate the Anglosphere nations may be for better democratic institutions and freer markets, as opposed to say the motivations for the Chinese to intervene (yes with the U.S.) in the North Korea dilemma, which, I might say cynically, is all about Chinese face and securing its position on the global political stage.

I think there is another point worth raising, which is the role of non-governmental intervention in global, but also local, crises. Political intervention at the state level is one thing, but money, information and labor all flow beneath the macro-surface in ways to assist those in need. Perhaps the Anglosphere is also the strongest participator in this field of activity too?

Posted by: tachi at May 12, 2006 02:40 AM
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