The Stone City

Words Made to Last

Monday, May 16, 2005

The Devil You Know

Joseph Britt finishes with a bang at Belgravia Dispatch [where his striking improvement over the past months makes him a blogging power in his own right]. In discussing the role of regional powers in addressing the world's leading humanitarian crises, he is not blind to the possibility that perhaps their leaders, and even their people, simply do not care:
I will not reprise the arguments on this subject other than to express doubt that an Arab culture indifferent to genocide will ever be reliably hostile to terrorism. That is the implication of Darfur of most immediate concern to us.
China's historical memory of foreign interference in its own affairs, the bloody history of the Chinese Communist senior leadership that -- let us be frank -- makes it less sensitive than Westerners are to the vast human suffering in North Korea...

I think there is more than a possibility that Mr. Britt's worst fears are correct: that the starvation of millions in North Korea, and the slaughter of thousands in Darfur, are issues of no import to the leaders of neighboring countries. This makes Mr. Britt's call for action -- for public pressure on these regional governments to do the right thing -- far more, not less, relevant and pressing. If I am wrong, then I and other hawks who support the forcible reconstruction of the Arab self-image must be shown this. An Egypt which can accept a moral duty to protect the innocents in Darfur deserves more respect and operational latitude than one which cannot.

Conversely, if the leaders of even the most advanced nations of their regions, the Egypts and South Africas, are in fact amoral (according to our Christian-inspired morality), then this should also be known as widely as possible. The moral history of these governments is a nearly unbroken string of failures, but a public failure would be a teaching moment for Western adherents to the axiom of moral equivalence and the doctrine of engagement at all costs. By their actions, let us know them.