The Darfurians and the Sudanese

Visit almost any American church or college these days, and you will be confronted with pleas to "Save Darfur" - not "Free Tibet" or "Liberate Zimbabwe" - before you have been there very long. The only other cause that resonates with the same intensity is environmentalism, which is a religion for some people.

You will also encounter Darfurism and environmentalism in our synagogues. Not only are the rabbis preaching Eco-Judaism and urging their congregants to join COEJL, the Coalition on the Environment and Jewish Life, but they are equating the tragedy in Darfur with what happened to the Jews of Europe during Hitler's Holocaust. Their mantra is Hillel's famous passage in the Talmud's Sayings of the Fathers:

"If I am not for myself, who will be for me? But if I am only for myself, who am I? If not now, when?" 
Darfurism is a an excellent example of the disconnect between word and deed. 

With some 200,000 Sudanese murdered and at least 2.5 million displaced, made possible in large part by Chinese shipments of arms and material into the area, there is no doubt that genocide is occurring in Darfur. 

But what should the American people and government do about it? Do the Darfurians want Washington to break relations with Beijing, which is our second largest trading partner and which supplies Americans with the well-made, low-cost goods that they crave and are so eager to buy?

Since political pressure, economic sanctions, and moral suasion never work in places like Darfur (as they did not work in Nazi Germany), do the Darfurians want the United States to send in troops? Do they want NATO to send in troops? Do they want the United Nations to send in troops? Do they want the Arab League or the Organization of the Islamic Conference to send in troops? Do they want the Israelis, many of whose recent ancestors were  victims of genocide during the Second World War, to go into Darfur?

And when these foreign troops arrive, will the Darfurians let them stay long enough to end the genocide? Or will they clamor for their removal as soon as they begin to suffer deaths and heavy casualties?

Are those Darfurians who are young enough willing to volunteer for Darfur duty? Do they want others to volunteer? Do they want America to revive conscription - an institution most Darfurians loathe - so that we can have enough soldiers to respond to future Darfurs?

The rub is that so many Darfurians (or their parents and professors) hated the U.S. military during the Vietnam war era. So many Darfurians oppose the present war in Iraq and in Afghanistan. And so many of them believe that dispatching American military forces anywhere to solve anything is an example of post-modernist imperialism. 
To Darfurians the solution to every problem is negotiation. They accept outgoing French President Jacques Chirac's contention that

"War is always proof of failure. It is always the worst of solutions, because it brings death and misery."
Both Chirac and the Darfurians forget that sometimes war, even with its resultant death and misery, is the only solution to evil. Both Chirac and the Darfurians forget that soldiers stopped the Muslim Turks at the Battle of Vienna in the seventeenth century, soldiers freed the American colonists from British tyranny in the eighteenth century, soldiers emancipated America's blacks in the nineteenth century, soldiers liberated the remnants of the Holocaust in the twentieth century, and soldiers stand between the State of Israel and its destruction in the twenty-first century.

In other words, besides sermonizing from pulpits, writing letters to editors, demonstrating on streets and campuses, and speechifying in Congress, what practical suggestions do the Darfurians have for ending the slaughter in the Sudan?

Edward Berndard Glick is Professor Emeritus at Temple University, Philadelphia.