Sudan: To Intervene or not To Intervene

I first published this piece two years ago, but in light of the new talks between the North and the South and the never ending frustration over Darfur, it seems like a good time to re-examine the issue.

“The United States is committed to ending the violence and providing assistance to the suffering people of Darfur, as well as ensuring the peaceful democratic transformation throughout Sudan.” – US Department of State

A Mixed History of Interventions

Traditionally, the United States has only chosen intervention when the perceived gain exceeded the perceived cost. During the period of the Cold War, the calculus that was used in making such a cost to benefit analysis was heavily colored by the fear of communism and the belief that the failure to intervene would hand victories, literal and moral, to the forces that were massed against the free world. The collapse of the Soviet Union and the subsequent headlong rush by many former Soviet states towards the West, market economies, and democratic governance has shifted the calculus such that the costs of failing to intervene are less obvious and the benefits of any such intervention more obtuse. Interventions that have taken place outside the parameters of the Cold War have tended to go poorly, with little obvious benefit to the United States.
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2 Responses to “Sudan: To Intervene or not To Intervene”

  1. Kathleen Lucas Says:

    There is an excellent book that either has just been released or will be in the next few days called Scramble for Africa: Darfur-Intervention and the US. It explains the complexity of the situation very well. There’s a website with other articles by the authors at scrambleforafrica(dot)org. Well worth the read.

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