The Darfur Double Standard: Globe Calls for Intervention

Darfur today is not Iraq under Saddam. But there are sufficient parallels to render this morning's Boston Globe editorial deeply ironic. While the Globe has condemned the coalition intervention in Iraq, it clamors for aggressive international action in Darfur.

Let's have a look at the Globe's Light on the Darfur Darkness and compare and contrast the situation there with pre-war Iraq.

Darfur editorial: "The areas in which humanitarian aid workers can operate are shrinking, and aid workers are often targeted by government-backed militias."

Saddam's Iraq: Between the embargo and the corruption-riddled oil-for-food program, many spoke of a humanitarian disaster in the country.

Darfur editorial: "Killing of civilians remains widespread including in large-scale attacks.."

Saddam's Iraq: Mass killings of civilians in the Shia south and Kurdish north were well-documented, including the infamous poison-gassing of Kurds in Jalaba.

Darfur editorial: "Rape and sexual violence are widespread and systematic."

Saddam's Iraq: The sexual predations of Saddam, his sons and other ranking members of his regime were notorious.

Darfur editorial: "Torture continues."

Saddam's Iraq: His torture chambers, where unimaginably gruesome practices were commonplace, were infamous.

Darfur editorial: "A climate of impunity prevails."

Saddam's Iraq: We're all familiar with the images of a defiant Saddam wielding a sword and shooting off a shotgun.

Darfur editorial: Accuses the regime of being "perpetrators of genocide."

Saddam's Iraq: The mass killings of oppressed groups, particularly the Kurds, verged on genocide or ethnic cleansing.

What is the Globe's suggested solution to the situation in Darfur? The "deployment of an effective peacekeeping force by the African Union and United Nations." Note that while "peacekeeping" has a gentle ring, you can't keep the peace in such a violent situation without the use of force.

So again, why the double standard? It has become a standing joke to say that the American left does not object to the use of force in foreign countries, so long as the U.S. has no national security interest at stake. But perhaps it's no joke at all.

Aside: the Globe has been beating the intervention-in-Darfur drums for some time.  See, e.g., my item from back in December, Darfur Warriors of the Boston Globe.

Mark was in Iraq in November. Contact him at

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