We Won't Stop Darfur

None of the cost-effective options will be effective on the ground, and we really don’t think any of the options that’d be effective on the ground are worth the costs. This, thru Ezra, is the bottom line from Michael Gerson, who nonetheless concludes that

the choices in Rwanda were also flawed. Once again, the credibility of the United Nations is questioned; its troops are too few in number. Yet their deployment is perhaps the last hope for the betrayed people of Darfur. And we cannot run again.

Yeah but this isn’t happening, and everyone knows it, and almost everyone — even those who feel guilty about it — are, when push comes to shove, resigned to it.

How to feel? Guilt-stricken and ashamed? Or stoically tolerant of our inability to rid the world of genocide? Or something else?

And that’s the issue, isn’t it. Not what to do. But how to feel.

On the one hand, I’m quite certain that nobody but the neocons has the … whatever, moxie, soul, balls — to insist that we actually follow through on our supposed international laws. But on the other, I’m convinced that Darfur proves something about the world, and everyone in it, that needs to be reckoned with as reflective of certain inescapable truths about human life on earth: specifically, that great suffering, as a matter of fact, will not be eradicated from the planet, not now, not anytime soon. And I suspect that there’s something profound in the moral paradox of having deeply held ideals which are also unenforceable.

It’s not a very happy thought — that there are awful things that happen which, when push comes to shove, we must accept only being able to feel bad about. Because in this age, we want to eliminate as much agony as possible, personally, nationally, internationally, even if the tradeoff is a great increase in anxiety. Anxiety can be coped with; and we’ve learned how to cope with the anxiety of letting a genocide happen, too. It seems crass and awful, but it’s also the coping mechanism that allows us to make it through everyday life in our democratic, secular, therapeutic era, by and large.