3/06 Armed People, Not Peacekeeping Troops

Peacekeeping Troops Not As Effective As Armed People

by Paul Gallant

Michael Gisser’s solutions to the genocide committed in Darfur, Sudan, exhibited an oversimplification and misunderstanding of political realities.

Gisser complained about Congress voting down $50 million in aid, which “would have included vital money for African Union peacekeeping troops.” However, the mandate for the Standby Force of the African Union is only to protect international aid workers, not to protect the people of Darfur. Their mission statement reads: “Protection of the civilian population is the responsibility of the GoS (Government of Sudan).” But it is the Government of Sudan that has been leading the genocide.

That $50 million could not stop the genocide. Although the African Standby Force in Darfur grew to approximately 6,200 peacekeepers by October 2005, “peacekeeping” and “peacemaking” are not synonymous. U.N. peacekeepers “monitor and observe peace processes that emerge in post-conflict situations and assist ex-combatants to implement the peace agreements….”

But peacemakers (soldiers) are required in this case. Miliary experts estimate that 45,000-50,000 peacemakers would be needed to suppress the Arab janjaweed militias in Darfur. And the leaders of such an aggressive force would need to be willing to violate the national sovereignty of Sudan.

The survivors of Darfur’s genocide are primarily those remaining in refugee camps. If monetary aid were aimed toward helping the refugees in those camps, let us first acknowledge that those who guard the camps are the same people who created the need for such camps.

Never in human history has a genocide-in-progress been so visible. Yet the United Nations and the rest of the international community, including the U.S., have not taken action that would successfully end the violence in Darfur.

This would be termed “invasion.” But imagine the political fallout were President Bush to have sent our men and women to Sudan.

Various nations, acting on their own and in violation of international law, have stopped genocide; however, the end of the genocide was usually a by-product of an invasion undertaken for other reasons. Nevertheless, in all these cases, the genocide had basically been completed, and millions had already died.

According to genocide expert Rudolph Rummel, genocide, the murder by government of its own citizens, claimed the lives of 262 million innocents in the 20th century. This represents nearly 5 percent of the world population as of 2005.

Although Gisser notes, “We cannot let another generation of children be murdered,” I respond that “we” cannot save them. The real question is how can genocide, the deaths of men, women and children, be prevented? And if it cannot, how can its effects be mitigated?

To date, no remedies have been proposed by the international community that have been effective in alleviating the horrors mankind visits upon itself. These include nonviolent coercion, such as sanctions and embargoes, and proposals for the forceful coercion of rogue nations.

The international community has manifestly failed, and is continuing to fail, to prevent genocide.

An alternative remedy focuses on empowering genocide victims, rather than asking them to wait helplessly until the international community rescues them. In a paper co-authored by myself, David B. Kopel, and Joanne D. Eisen (forthcoming “Notre Dame Law Review”), we explore various methods of enforcement of anti-genocide law and the potential for victim possession of weapons to address the scourge of genocide.

Civilian armament has historically been very effective at preventing genocide. Indeed, genocide scholars have found that genocide are carried out almost exclusively against populations that have first been systematically disarmed. And evidence suggests that prior disarmament is the sine qua non for beginning a genocide.

On April 19, 1943, the Jews in the Warsaw ghetto refused to become passive victims of the Nazis, and, with a few firearms, they staged a revolt. Many died. They would have anyway, but they died proudly and took many German casualties with them. Significantly, the Nazis had to spend more time subduing the Warsaw uprising than they did conquering the entire nations of Poland or France.

In Darfur, where rape is used as a tool of genocide, what soldier would advance upon a nubile woman aiming an AK-47 at him? The real threat of her use of force would tend to make even well-trained soldiers think twice. Yet, in Sudan, it is almost impossible for a woman to legally own a firearm.

These women have the right to defend themselves and their families and cannot be obliged to wait for foreign governments or world organizations to rescue them. That would likely be a very long wait.

The 1948 U.N. Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, which is binding, positive international law, establishes an affirmative duty of its signatory nations to “prevent” genocide, and even provides for punishment for those complicit in genocide.

Any interference, including interference under color of law, with the self-defense of genocide victims, constitutes a grave violation of the most fundamental of all rights: the right to life. Enforcement of anti-gun laws would render the enforcing authority complicit in genocide, and liable to prosecution and punishment.

If someone can propose a better remedy, which in practice actually saves more genocide victims than would our remedy, I accede. But the terrible genocide of the last century suggest that there is no remedy better than civilian possession of weapons.