The U.N. Relief Director has hit the newspapers in an effort to drum up some political pressure for American help on African crises. Apparently, our compassionate conservatism is not quite being compassionate enough. I've excerpted a portion of his interview after the jump, you really need to read it to understand how bad things are getting (not to mention why putting the Ten Commandments in schools won't save us, and may in fact bring about some of the worst horrors on memory). Unfortunately, his interview also shows his problem. From what he's saying, there's currently an urgent humanitarian crisis in Sudan, Chad, the Congo, the Central African Republic, Somalia, Togo, Malawi, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Swaziland, Mozambique, Ethiopia, Eritrea, and Uganda, among others. Think about that -- a pressing crisis in at least 14 countries. The world is remarkably slow, inept, and reluctant to deliver aid and avert catastrophes, so what do you think our chances are of responding effectively 14 times over?
It's possible that some of the unwillingness to help Africa is racism, but I doubt it. Much of it, I fear, comes from a sense of hopelessness. A feeling that problems there are entirely intractable, trying to solve one will have no greater impact than nailing the first brown flash in a game of whack-a-mole. To some degree, that's our fault. A close relative of racism does cause us to see the African continent as a whole, rather than a collection of distinct countries whose problems need to be viewed individually. And to some degree, it's simply the truth of a region that seems intent on winning the prize for world's largest, longest, most creative parade of modern horrors.
What do we do? Damned if I know, try and deal with Sudan, I guess. I remain of the belief that a swift, sure, and powerful attack against one or two genocidal forces would cause future incarnations to think twice, particularly if it became clear that Western strike forces would intervene as soon as the body bags proved serious and systemic. But, as Justin Logan will surely point out, that stance has its own set of problems, and may not fix anything either. So I've got no good solutions for you, but do read the interview after the jump. Doing that, at least, is easy.
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