Once more, posturing trumps action. Despite all the hot air expended in U.N. debates and news conferences by Western politicians, the people of Darfur continue to be left to their grim plight.
Last summer, the U.N. Security Council passed Resolution 1769, authorizing the creation of a hybrid U.N./African Union mission to protect the Darfuris. The plan calls for 26,000 soldiers and civilian police.
But a combination of Sudanese intransigence and Western inaction is threatening the so-called UNAMID before it even gets off the ground. Literally. The force needs a couple of dozen helicopters to carry out its work. Not a single NATO country has delivered. Couple that with the fact that the Khartoum regime is blocking landing rights for the heavy aircraft needed by the force and has imposed a set of other conditions that makes its task nearly impossible, and you have a recipe for disaster.
The head of the U.N.'s peacekeeping operations says it is possible UNAMID may be stillborn. Late last month, he offered this grim choice: "Do we move ahead with the deployment of a force that will not make a difference, that will not have the capability to defend itself, and that carries the risk of humiliation of the Security Council and the United Nations and tragic failure for the people of Darfur?"
That such a question is even being asked speaks volumes about Western commitment to saving the people of Darfur. Make no mistake, finding the right formula to checkmate the Sudanese regime is a diplomatic challenge that cannot be underestimated. But finding a few helicopters is another matter entirely.
If members of the Security Council can't come up with the equipment needed to support a mission for which they voted, it is not a matter of Khartoum humiliating them, they will have already humiliated themselves.