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across, the “sloganising politics of the past”still has the edge. People expect politics to be competitive, and ifyou are not prepared to shout, you must be prepared not to be heard. As Obama has discovered in televised debates, in the context ofa 60second window to articulate your position, nice can seem more waffly than wise. As Chesterton put it, “Tolerance is the virtue ofthe man without convictions.” Hillary Clinton, by contrast, has embraced the opposite style and is pulling ahead of Obama in the polls for the Democratic nomination. Learning from the 2004 lesson of John Kerry, whose patrician gentility left him wide open to the Swift Boat attacks of the Republicans, she is deliberately casting herselfas a bit ofa bruiser who is up for a fight. “For 15 years I have stood up against the right-wing machine,” she says, “so ifyou want a winner who knows how to take them on, I’m your girl.” Gordon Brown’s fight for the centre ground ofBritish politics may be a sound strategy in policy terms, but in terms of style he should learn from the difficulties of others and realise that the politics of nicey-nicey works better in theory than in practice. His best bet is to dispatch the gentle leader of the opposition with a clunking, impolite slug ofhis fist.
Send in the peacemakers BY ALEX DE WAAL
Diplomacy and a peace deal, not military intervention, offer the best hope ofsolving the Darfur crisis
The “responsibility to protect” is the doctrine that the victims of civil war or humanitarian disaster have a right to foreign succour and, in extremis, the protection of international troops, should their own government, either from incapacity or malice, fail to do the job. The principle of the responsibility to protect—“R2P”in diplomatic shorthand— was adopted unanimously by the UN general assembly in September 2005. It was a mantra for Blair’s personal foreign policy. The R2P is a noble concept, an example of progress in global moral standards. But it is impractical except in
Alex de Waal advised the African Union mediation on Darfur
the tiniest ofdysfunctional nations, such as Sierra Leone, Kosovo and East Timor, and even then at great difficulty. In a middle-sized country, the burdens and risks would tax the capability ofa superpower. Since early 2004, columnists and advocates have called for armed intervention to “save”Darfur from “genocide.”Gareth Evans, former Australian foreign minister and president ofthe International Crisis Group (ICG), heralded Darfur as the test case for R2P. While flirting with outright military intervention, Evans’s focus has been on what is known in the trade as “coercive protection”—a UN peacekeeping force that can enforce its will by UN mandate and sufficient firepower. This tries to split the difference between traditional peacekeeping and outright intervention, but as Evans and his comradesin-rhetoric have rattled their sabres over Darfur, it has become clear that the sober advice of professional peacekeepers was right all along: there is no middle way. International policies towards Darfur have failed. The world didn’t stop the immense army-Janjaweed offensives of 2003 and 2004, which killed tens ofthousands, plus perhaps a further 150,000 through starvation and disease, and displaced 2m. There’s no working peace agreement, and a few hundred people are
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India:8.5% GDP growth rate in 2006
Turkey: 6.1% GDP growth rate in 2006
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killed each month in local conflicts. A UN force of26,000 with a limited protection mandate (it is allowed to use force to protect civilians) is only now on its way and will be operational early next year. The accepted script is: blame world leaders’ lack of political will for their failure to stand up to Khartoum’s evil designs. There is an alternative view and it is this. Darfur is a typical, complex African civil war and can be resolved, given the right political alignments and good diplomacy, with a peace agreement that can allow in a peacekeeping force. Negotiations to end the war are messy and involve unsavoury compromises with leaders who have blood on their hands. But the R2P has ruled out these least-bad options in favour ofa fantastical ideal. Since the Darfur crisis erupted, international attention has focused overwhelmingly on the dispatch of military forces rather than peace negotiations. Every seasoned official in the UN department of peacekeeping operations and every British or American diplomat who had been involved in the successful negotiations to end Sudan’s separate northsouth war advised against this reprioritisation. At the critical juncture of the Darfur peace talks in March 2006, the ICG published a report, “To Save Dar
fur,” which had seven times as much space devoted to UN troops as to the peace process. The key Sudan policymakers in Washington DC and New York report that their time was divided in about the same ratio. Peacemaking was driven by the needs ofpeacekeeping, not vice versa. Unsurprisingly, both failed. Ironically, Sudan had already accepted international troops, from the African Union, in 2004. More progressive than
Once the AU soldiers realised the world saw them as second best, their morale plummeted
the UN charter, the AU’s Constitutive Act contains the principle of intervention in the case of humanitarian emergency or gross human rights abuses. The AU’s first force commander in Darfur interpreted his mandate creatively—he was far more energetic than his UN counterpart stationed to keep the peace in the nextdoor region ofKordofan. But the Darfur campaign insisted on the UN. In reality, a UN force will at best be a bigger version of the AU force, with many of the same African soldiers. It’s called “re-hatting”in the business: Bush, Blair and thousands
ofprotesters in New York’s Central park on the world’s first “Day for Darfur”on 17th September 2006 were campaigning to get Nigerian and Senegalese troops to change green AU helmets for blue UN ones. Already suffering from logistics and corruption problems, once the AU soldiers realised the world regarded them as second best, their morale plummeted. Today the AU operation is almost at a standstill—the need for the UN became a self-fulfilling prophecy. Darfur’s rebel leaders are a disorganised bunch whose miscalculations, political recklessness and opportunistic alliances have impeded the search for solutions. Abdel Wahid al-Nur, founding chairman ofthe largest group, the Sudan Liberation Movement, is a political ingéénue, catapulted into the international spotlight and flattered by his instant celebrity status. Uniquely among liberation front leaders, he put international intervention at the top of his political agenda. In the final session of the peace talks in May 2006, Abdel Wahid demanded that the US provide guarantees “like in Bosnia.”He wanted an intervention and wouldn’t sign without one. I was there, and my heart sank as I realised that international Darfur activists were not only refusing to make the case for the
Russia: 6.6% GDP growth rate in 2006
Where will you find this year’s hottest market? Probably not where you’d expect.
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