From the recently released U.N. report on Darfur:

“The Commission concluded that the Government of the Sudan has not pursued a policy of genocide. Arguably, two elements of genocide might be deduced from the gross violations of human rights perpetrated by Government forces and the militias under their control. These two elements are, first, the actus reus consisting of killing, or causing serious bodily or mental harm, or deliberately inflicting conditions of life likely to bring about physical destruction; and, second, on the basis of a subjective standard, the existence of a protected group being targeted by the authors of criminal conduct. However, the crucial element of genocidal intent appears to be missing, at least as far as the central Government authorities are concerned. Generally speaking the policy of attacking, killing and forcibly displacing members of some tribes does not evince a specific intent to annihilate, in whole or in part, a group distinguished on racial, ethnic, national or religious grounds. Rather, it would seem that those who planned and organized attacks on villages pursued the intent to drive the victims from their homes, primarily for purposes of counter-insurgency warfare.”

When the U.N. puts itself forward as the alternative to a unilateralist U.S. policy, then releases timid reports that countenance a maximum of risk-free prudence and stagey hand-wringing, it damages its own credibility. Essentially this report says, “If you would like a polite and ineffective condemnation of acts that are ‘unfortunate,’ you’ve come to the right place. If you want these acts to stop, man are you in the wrong place.”

So, no real international pressure, no mechanisms of dissuasion, and certainly no physical interference, just a we’ll-put-it-in-the-files referral to the International Criminal Court. I’m sure the janjaweed are shaking in their blood-soaked boots.

“The Commission also recommends a number of measures to be taken by other bodies to help break the cycle of impunity. These include the exercise of universal jurisdiction by other States, re-establishment by the Commission on Human Rights of the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on human rights in Sudan, and public and periodic reports on the human rights situation in Darfur by the High Commissioner for Human Rights.”

So, stop worrying, victims of Darfur. The U.N. is recommending that the Commission on Human Rights re-establish the mandate of the Special Rapporteur… You’re saved!

So what do we have? On one hand, an unctuous U.N. more concerned with splitting legal hairs than saving lives and on the other, a self-aggrandizing U.S. administration more interested in playing its own psychodrama out on the world stage than in stepping forward to use its authority in the pursuit of authentically moral goals.

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