Obama is indifferent to genocide.

He says that since the US doesn’t stop genocides elsewhere, it should not try to stop one in Iraq. This is an odd problem to be relativist about. Except he doesn’t actually call for withdrawal. He’s calling for permanant occupation and continuing the war, but he’s making that position sound “anti-war.”

“Nobody is proposing we leave precipitously. There are still going to be U.S. forces in the region that could intercede

The Pentagon determines actual strategies and force deployments in these regions. So Obama is not withdrawing anything.

Here is his other argument. If he was going to withdraw, which he will not, the prospect of genocide would not stop him. Except the prospect of genocide mandates that US forces will stay.

What is genocide but a one sided war?
To stop genocide, you fight a two sided war.
Anti-war activists prefer genocide.

Except when war is preferable.

His position is illogical, but worse yet, he is deeply ignorant of military counterinsurgency. This, perhaps, explains why an otherwise smart man sounds so confused.

“When you have civil conflict like this, military efforts and protective forces can play an important role, especially if they’re under an international mandate as opposed to simply a U.S. mandate. But you can’t solve the underlying problem at the end of a barrel of a gun,” he said. “There’s got to be a deliberate and constant diplomatic effort to get the various factions to recognize that they are better off arriving at a peaceful resolution of their conflicts.”

He is correct that diplomatic efforts are critical to winning an insurgency. But who carries out this diplomacy? The military. Army and Marine officers negotiate with Afghan and Iraqi tribal leaders, work with the local police, punish corruption, aid in reconstruction efforts through Provincial Reconstruction Teams. They are the ones who intercede on the local level to stop tribal infighting and encourage participation in the local government.

The military provided the opportunity for the Iraqi Awakening and the alliance of Iraqi tribes, who, as Obama says, now recognize that they are better off arriving at a peaceful resolution of their conflicts.

The Combat component of military operations is exceedingly small – perhaps 5% or less of the total operations. Obama is ignorant of military strategy and is just projecting that ignorance as if it was profound.

“Well, look, if that’s the criteria by which we are making decisions on the deployment of U.S. forces, then by that argument you would have 300,000 troops in the Congo right now — where millions have been slaughtered as a consequence of ethnic strife — which we haven’t done,”

We cannot stop genocides in all locations. The environments in the Congo Jungle and the Darfur region make large-scale US operations virtually impossible. We are unable to place 3,000 troops in the Congo. I also dispute the label of genocide in the Congo. Both sides are sufficiently well armed that it is a civil war. A bloody one yes, but still a war.

Africa is a poor environment for US soldiers. There is little infrastructure to rapidly deploy forces and many of these areas lack logistical capacity to sustain long-term operations. They lack roads, ports, bridges, telecommunications, government institutions, etc etc etc. The terrain in the Congo prohibits everything but light infantry. The jungle forces all parties to fight a slow guerrilla war.

Disease is a major worry. Doctors give all the vaccinations and carry the meds with them, but disease will seriously affect US troops. This is a big problem in Iraq, where diseases account for the majority of troops pulled from the line. Malaria is a concern for any African operation. The recent USMC mission in Liberia ran into problems with malaria despite the shots. Almost half of the Marines came down with Malaria or some other diseases.

To stop the genocide in Darfur, for instance, we must to arm the African population so they can resist the Arab Janjaweed in an open war. Waiting for Western intervention, economic sanctions, or UN action only encourages the continuation of genocide.

The key problem with many of these “anti-genocide” activists is that they are more opposed to war than genocide. They seem to assume that genocide has a diplomatic solution – that if both sides negotiate, they can find a common interest. If this were true, then genocide would not have occurred in the first place. So Westerners sit and wait. This is what they did with Rwanda, Sudan, and what they will do with Iraq.

Genocides are not stopped by morale do-gooding.