Friday, March 17, 2006

Darfur : Mission Half Assed III

If intervention in Darfur is a dodgy proposition just by itself, we need to factor Sudan in. As the government of Sudan has made clear, it isn't interested in hosting effective foreign forces. It is apparently more than happy to host half assed ineffectual foreign forces, that merely serves as cover for their nefarious activities a la Srebrenica.

Would the Sudanese government subsidise a deniable guerilla insurgency against competent peacekeepers in a limited area (Darfur)? Presumably. In any case, given the logistic constraints described previously, any peacekeeping mission would depend on Sudanese government good will to stay sustainably supplied via rail. They could cut that rail supply at any place or any time of course, via some deniable rag tag proxy group.

What would be the mission endstate? Defend the refugee camps with the half assed small force currently mooted (~20 000)? That can't be indefinate, so presumably there must be returns of refugees to their villages of origin then (like Bosnia or Kosovo). Of course, given Sudanese government actual ill will, any returns would have to protected, which would require the huge force as indicated (~100 000). How long to defend that? If Kosovo/Bosnia is any guide we are talking at least 10-20 YEARS while there is a generation change from the folks who participated in the conflict cycle.

The root problem is the government in Khartoum of course. Is there a solution....other than zapping it?

Could Arabic Sudan resist western invasion forces for long? Of course not. However, the resources for such an adventure would be greater than Iraq :


Population : 40 million
Area : ~ 2 500 000 sq km (or about the same as the USA east of the Mississippi, or 2/3 of the entire EU)
Access very poor, internal rail, limited port access, little existing road network, airport, no developed countries adjacent
Number of NATO forces required to successfully occupy (base guesstimate from area and population from previous examples): 250 000 +

Sudan has the same Arab / muslim oriented population as Iraq, and has been agood host for al Quaida, so the terrorist "flypaper effect"* would be in action again. We can crush Khartoum, but presumably be left with a festering Arab/muslim insurgency in a country with more population spread over an area 5 times that of Iraq, bordering NINE countries (including hostile arabic Libya, dynamically unstable arabic Egypt, and anarchy central failed state Congo), with dozens of languages and tribes (some of which are Kababish, Ga’alin, Rubatab, Manasir, Shaiqiyah, Baggara, Beja , Nubians, Nuba, Fur, Dinka, Shilluk, Nuer, Azande, Bor, Jo Luo, Acholi and Lotuhu. There appear to be MANY more.) Can such a country work at all without a despotic central government? Would we be happy with a new mega-nightmare like the congo replacing the relatively stable (if despotic) current Sudan? Or is Sudan better off as a protectorate for 50 years until it can be tamed into a federation of some form?

Moral of the story : its not real. Intervention in Darfur may require intervention is Sudan as a whole in order to succeed, and that intervention may turn (logically but unexpectedly) into occupation and rebuilding just like Iraq did. That is a non-starter. Occupying Sudan properly is such a astoundingly large task that NATO is not capable of doing it sustainably with current standing forces! The enormous and well funded US armed forces is groaning under the strain of sustaining forces levels in Iraq - force levels less than the ones presumably required for Sudan. The people talking "intervention" should realize that means - if done seriously, and not some half-assed Somlia style venture - partial national mobilisations that would cost hundreds of billions of euros.

Hell, I personally am up for doing it seriously. Large scale drafting of European kids for a years service in Sudan would do wonders in forming a callous and intrepid toughened youth.

I would not be up for doing such a mission half-assed.

No comments: