American Proscenium

Out of Iraq, Into Darfur?

In the fourth Democratic presidential debate (July 23), the candidates were united on the need for the United States to withdraw from Iraq.  But most of them (with the notable exception of Bill Richardson) were equally convinced of the need to intervene in Darfur.  Sen. Joe Biden was out front on that issue, arguing that the United States should take action whenever it can make a difference in humanitarian crises.  We should intervene in Darfur, Biden intoned, “because we can.”  He proposed sending 2,500 American ground troops as part of a NATO mission.  Although most of the other Democrats on the stage have not yet gone that far, they are on record as favoring at least U.S. logistical support and the establishment of a no-fly zone.

Such enthusiasm for intervention in Darfur suggests that the Democratic presidential candidates have learned little from the Iraq debacle.  They are not against elective wars—interventions that have little or no connection to the security and well-being of the United States—as a matter of principle.  Instead, they appear merely to be against Republican elective wars—especially those that go badly.

No one disputes that the situation in Darfur is an humanitarian tragedy.  By most estimates, more than 200,000 civilians have perished in nearly a decade of civil strife.  There is also little doubt that the Sudanese...

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