I think military intervention in Darfur is a non-starter, and I’m glad about that. But what’s the clear categorical distinction between intervening in Iraq (which I think it’s fair to say Clooney and many other Darfur hawks opposed) and this one? Why does it always seem like progressives support any intervention that clearly does not advance any American interests? (I don’t think invading Iraq advanced our national interests, but people made that case, which you definitely can’t in the case of Sudan.)
The difference between humanitarian intervention in Iraq and humanitarian intervention in Darfur is that intervention in Darfur is (a) more justified and (b) easier. Darfur is the only area where clear, unadulterated genocide is taking place. Hundreds of thousands have died. Iraq, on the other hand, was a mere dictatorship, which was killing people, but at nowhere near that magnitude. It wasn’t even the most brutal dictatorship at that time; North Korea or the government in Khartoum are better candidates. Intervention in Darfur in 2003 would have saved countless more lives than the intervention in Iraq has, especially considering the toll of the insurgency.
Which brings me to my second point: actions like those we took in Bosnia and Kosovo are a heck of a lot easier than nation-building is. The Balkans operations ended genocides, and thus saved many lives, in mere months. The Iraq war has taken over three years, and resulted in more death, and a failed state. Sure, some positive outcomes from Bosnia and Kosovo were the results of dumb luck – the move toward freedom in Serbia, for instance. Indeed, international involvement may have retarded Bosnia’s political development. But it’s hard to argue against the premise that the Bosnia and Kosovo operations were more moral, easier, and more effective than the operation in Iraq.