How to Stop a Genocide

I just saw first-hand how terrorists are made. Mix together a genocide, a civil war, oil, a failed state, and non-intervention by the global community until it is too late. And voila.
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I just saw first-hand how terrorists are made. Mix together a genocide, a civil war, oil, a failed state, and non-intervention by the global community until it is too late. And voila.

My name is Jon Corzine, and I’m one of the two US Senators who represents the state of New Jersey. Most people don’t really know what a Senator does. In my case, among other things, I spend a lot of time trying to figure out how to prevent this country from being attacked. My state was hit hard by 9/11, and preventing another catastrophe is paramount in my job description.

Last week, I went to Iraq and Chad. I visited troops in Iraq from my home state. These soldiers are professionals in the most magnificant sense of the word, prepared to give their lives to protect our country.

But why did I also go to Chad? Well, because while Iraq is a war-zone, Chad is right next to another war-zone, the Western regions of Darfur in the Sudan, where genocide is tearing a country apart and creating the conditions for a new failed state and breeding ground for terrorists.

Here are a couple of interesting facts about the Sudan. First, there’s oil there. Second, Osama bin Laden used to spend time there before venturing to Afghanistan. Third, a fundamentalist strain of militant Islam is quite strong within the political culture. To top it all off the country is buffeted by civil war, and a brutal genocide. Over 2 million people have been displaced by the government trying to kill or starve them by preventing humanitarian aid from coming through.

There are real, pragmatic reasons for intervening to ameliorate this situation, but first I want to make the moral case. That case is simple. Stopping the slaughter of an entire people is the greatest moral challenge of our time. Evil on this scale is unimaginable to most, which is why historically we do not act on genocide until it is too late. But this time we can act, and stop this new holocaust. And we should. In the wake of demanding democracy in the Middle East, our nation's value system requires it.

But even if you put aside the moral case for ending genocide for a moment, consider our own interests in the matter. The failed state that is being created in the wake of this horrific crime will be a hotbed for global instability. I was there, and I saw what’s happening. As I stood in the refugee camps of Eastern Chad, into which hundreds of thousands of desperate people are pouring over the border, I realized how dangerous to America the situation has become. Not only is Darfur a lawless part of an unstable state, but the conflict there is destabilizing Chad.

The refugees, even when they are receiving food and shelter, have nothing to do. Resentment is building. And Eastern Chad, which has insufficient resources for its own population, cannot accomodate the refugees for long. We must stop this genocide, and we also must bring about a long-term political solution to this crisis. With two million people in refugee camps in Chad and camps for displaced persons in Darfur, we are creating the conditions for the collapse of law and order in an entire region and, potentially, for terrorism.

So what can we do? What’s remarkable about this crisis is that it’s not that difficult a task to resolve the situation. The people perpetrating the genocide don't have a massive conventional army. They may stop if they think there will be consequences to their actions. The warlords are betting on our inaction, and so far, their bet is paying off.

I sponsored a bipartisan bill in the Senate that passed called the ‘Darfur Accountability Act’ to impose consequences and threaten these warlords. This bill would provide the tools to stop the genocide, including sanctions against those responsible for genocide and crimes against humanity, an arms embargo against the government of Sudan, and a no-fly zone over Darfur. It also calls for the appointment of a Special Envoy, whose job it would be to work with all the parties to bring an end to the crisis. Without this level of engagement, I am deeply afraid that the situation will fester and more terrorists will emerge who may threaten our country. Last week, the Republicans in the House, with the support of the Bush Administration, neutered this bill by stripping out the most important provisions.

This fight does not end here. I’m going to keep blogging on this topic, and in future posts I’ll let you know how you personally can help the situation.

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