doing nothing


In the summer of 2007, Mahmood Mamdani found himself at a meeting of activists and politicians, listening to sentiments that had by then become quite common among a certain class of politically active Americans. The speakers were calling on the United Nations to send peacekeepers to Darfur. Fed up with the inability of African Union troops–who were already on the ground in western Sudan–to stop the ongoing bloodshed, they insisted that U.N. forces could do better. The United Nations, explained one politician, echoing a view you could have heard on any number of college campuses at the time, would grant “mercy” to the people of Darfur. Mamdani was appalled at what he was hearing. “The naivete of these assumptions was breathtaking,” he fumes in his new book, as he recalls the meeting. And it was not just this gathering that irked him. Other activists of his acquaintance were going even further. One friend was hoping that Americans would “impose a no-fly zone and … hit selected targets.” Meanwhile a “highly respected activist” had even raised the possibility of the United States sending its own ground troops to Sudan, or mustering troops from other countries for the humanitarian mission. Could Americans solve the problems of Darfur? an incredulous Mamdani asked. “Not really,” the activist replied.

more from Richard Just at TNR here.