A Responsibility to Protect

A wide spectrum of religious leaders are calling for an end to the genocide in the Darfur region of Sudan, where more than 400,000 people have been killed and 2.5 million displaced since 2003. While more than 3.5 million people are completely reliant on international aid for survival, aid workers have been threatened and attacked—more than a dozen have been killed since June.

Evangelical Christians have been on the forefront of advocacy around Darfur. Sojourners and the Save Darfur Coalition launched Evangelicals for Darfur in October, calling on President Bush to use his influence with the U.N. Security Council to support “deployment of a strong U.N. peacekeeping force and multilateral economic sanctions.”

We know the atrocities taking place in Darfur, and thus are compelled to act. But we must also have eyes wide open as to what we are advocating and what the consequences may be.

“Humanitarian intervention” has been one of the most controversial foreign policy issues of the last 15 years. The 1993 humanitarian mission debacle in Somalia led world leaders to hesitate from interceding in Rwanda in 1994. Shame over the Rwandan killing fields prompted a need to “do something” in Kosovo in 1999—but the decision to prioritize “force protection” over civilian protection resulted in a “humanitarian” war with huge civilian casualties. The Bush administration also reverted to a “humanitarian causes” rationale for invading Iraq (along with the infamous—and elusive—“weapons of mass destruction”). The most recent report indicates that 426,369 to 793,663 civilians have been killed since the U.S. intervened in March 2003. “Humanitarian wars,” wrote international law expert Eric A. Posner, “will rarely yield humanitarian results.”

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Sojourners Magazine December 2006
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