In 1992, the United States became involved in UNOSOM, a Chapter VII humanitarian mission in Somalia. The original goal of our participation in this mission was to ensure the safe delivery of humanitarian aid to a suffering Somali population. As a part of Operation Restore Hope, we began to focus in on the capture of General Mohamed Farrah Hassan Aidid, a wanted Somali warlord.
From surveillance tool to weapon of war, drones have quickly captured the attention of the world. Most notably used by the U.S. military in Pakistan as a part of the “War on Terror”, many have come to only see the violent side of this technology. In some circles, the word drone has become synonymous with civilian casualties. With the number of civilian deaths, it is hard to argue against this view.
Known on Twitter simply by the hashtag #SudanRevolts, the protests that erupted in Khartoum nearly a month ago now do not seem to be fading. In fact, the movement is gaining momentum, with those involved hoping to finally see real change in the country. Calling for the removal of current President Omar al-Bashir (among other demands), the movement’s goals are ambitious to say the least. Yet as daunting as it may seem, success is crucial both for the people of Sudan and their new neighbor South Sudan.
Sudan’s most recent spate of demonstrations that began on 16 June at the University of Khartoum and have since spread across the country have been a long time coming. Similar student demonstrations began in late January 2011 and were revived in January 2012. Both were met with strong crackdowns by police and the National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS).
In the midst of the referendum on independence in Sudan in early 2011, there was great concern that the situation would deteriorate into a full-blown civil war. Tensions were high, with outbreaks of violence in many of the border towns, such as Abyei. Calls were made stateside for the appointing of a high-level US diplomat for Darfur, as well as making genocide prevention a priority among the international community. After the vote on January 9, 2011, we saw the creation of the new state of South Sudan. There was great hope among many that this was the beginning of a path toward peace in the region.
Views of the Kony2012 campaign launched by Invisible Children (IC) have drastically fallen after its initial premiere on 5 March and the subsequent backlash. On 16 March, IC founder and star of the video Jason Russell was back in the news after having a breakdown in San Diego. The rhetorical space for advocacy around the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) has been eroded. The work of IC, in its own right, has largely been discredited and oversimplified.
While the Responsibility to Protect (R2P) has been gaining traction, particularly with its recent implementation in Libya, the international community is still a far cry from actualizing the doctrine's true potential. Beyond the obvious difficulty of motivating states into a coordinated action, there are additional factors that continually block the implementation of R2P in particular and civilian protection in general.
It can often feel as though our nation is broken down into a multitude of distinct groups that will never come to see eye to eye on any topic. We sense it among our families and friends as we debate the efficacy of a movement such as Occupy Wall Street, in our offices as we heatedly discuss politics, and in our media as we see our nation's political system broken down into the wrong, the right and those that own them. The vitriol in our politics and our media has led to this climate of "us" versus "them" in nearly every aspect of American society.