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The New York Times editorial board declares that genocide is “looming” in the Central African Republic.

For a counterpoint, see my interview with Dr. Louisa Lombard, an anthropologist and one of America’s leading experts on the politics of CAR. Talk of “genocide,” she argues, is irresponsible and an inaccurate description of what is happening. We recorded this three weeks ago.

Alas, The New York Times is a somewhat larger platform than BloggingHeads or UN Dispatch. So this editorial will probably become more of an inflection point in the public debate about CAR than Lombard’s trenchant observations.

Still, I do buy the utilitarian argument that an editorial like this can be a useful way to provoke the international community to take specific actions to prevent or deter mass atrocity. In this case, what is urgently needed is twofold: more international peacekeepers to help protect vulnerable populations and greater financial support for a fledgling humanitarian operation.┬áIf an op-ed that perhaps improperly invokes the specter of “genocide” is the way to mobilize Americans and catch the international community’s attention, then so be it.

The ends (more peacekeepers and more food for displaced people) justify the means.

 

 

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