What would Reiny say?

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NIebuhr.jpgIn a mano a mano between Franklin Graham and Desmond Tutu, I confess a strong rooting preference for Tutu. Nonetheless, last week’s dueling op-eds in the NYT has given me pause. Tutu argued strongly for African leaders to support the arrest warrant for Sudan’s President Omar Hassan al-Bashir about to be issued by the International Criminal Court, while Graham made the case that the warrant would be counterproductive and that, in this case, peace was preferable to justice. In the event, Bashir has, in response, ordered the evacuation of 13 humanitarian aid groups from Dafur, ratcheting up the crisis in that tragically troubled region of his country. Meanwhile, the NYT’s man on Darfur, Nicholas Kristof, has weighed in on Tutu’s side, with this report on the opinion of the Darfuris themselves:

I was on the Chad-Darfur border a couple of weeks ago, talking to
Darfuri refugees, and they worried that Mr. Bashir might lash out after
an arrest warrant. But they still rejoiced at the prospect, as a sign
that the deaths of their loved ones mattered and as a sign that
impunity for murder and rape might be coming to an end. Not a single
Darfuri I spoke to favored a delay in International Criminal Court

Kristof associates himself with a recommendation from Merrill McPeak, a former general close to the Obama administration, that a no-fly zone be established.

What to do? In this moment of retreat from the high moral certitudes of the Bush administration, there is renewed interest in the theological realism of Reinhold Niebuhr, as evidenced by this article by Brian Urquhart in the New York Review. It’s worth recalling that a signal moment in Niebuhr’s evolution from pacifist to interventionist was Italy’s invasion of Ethiopia. In response, he called for a boycott of Italy. I say he’s be with Tutu and the no-fly zone. And maybe more.