General Merrill McPeak (Ret.) and Kurt Bassuener advise the Obama administration to consider enforcing a no-fly-zone in Darfur by attacking Sudanese air assets. (McPeak, for the uninitiated, is a former air force general and a co-chair of the Obama campaign.)
Whenever this kind of suggestion comes up, humanitarian relief organizations generally protest. They argue that 1) a no-fly-zone would hinder their access to the most vulnerable, 2) they would be the likely target of Sudanese government retribution. Well, now that aid groups are being summarily expelled from Darfur these objections are somewhat less relevant. Still, I’m wary of this kind of logic.
By taking away the Sudanese government’s freedom to use air power to terrorize its population, the West would finally get enough leverage with Khartoum to negotiate the entry of a stronger U.N. ground force.
While it’s true that Khartoum has not been the most cooperative of host countries, the main problem in standing up UNAMID is that member states have not been willing to pony up the troops or equipment needed to make the mission a success. Still. STILL! UNAMID does not have adequate equipment, like transport helicopters, that the mission requires. This has little to do with Omar al Bashir and a lot to do with the apathy of key UN member states.