The Corner

Jim Pinkerton…

…wrote a column the other day dissenting (mostly) from the view that we should help prevent massive deaths in the Sudan. I admire the questioning spirit of his column and I’m sympathetic with the foreign-policy realism that is its underpinning. Yet, realism begins with having same basic knowledge of a particular foreign-poloicy problem, and unfortunately Jim Pinkerton doesn’t demonstrate that here. He notes, as a reason for staying away, that “Sudan’s 39 million people are spread over a million square miles, an area almost twice the size of Alaska.” Interesting, but I’m not sure how that’s relevant to the crisis in the western province of Darfur. Pinkerton makes it sounds as if to help we’d have to take over the entire country. Mostly what we have to do in Sudan is shame the government into stopping its blocking of humanitarian relief. Is that an impossible goal, too ambitious to even dare? I don’t think so. I don’t have any great hopes for Sudan, besides that we might keep up to 500,000 people from dying in coming months. Pinkerton’s brand of foreign policy thought tends to accept whatever happens in the world as inevitable, so any effort on the part of the U.S. is futile. By this logic, we never should have been involved in diplomacy in the North-South conflict in Sudan (which Pinkerton conflates with Darfur). That diplomacy resulted in a cease-fire. Perfect? No. But it has held for roughly a year and saved lives. I guess Pinkerton thinks we never should have bothered.

Rich Lowry — Rich Lowry is the editor of National Review. He can be reached via email: comments.lowry@nationalreview.com. 

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